Our Little Young Fighter
My water broke two days after my “guess” date at 6am in the morning and the contractions started immediately. I was excited we would finally get to meet our baby soon. As I had taken a Hypnobabies course, which taught me how to use relaxation techniques to be more comfortable during my birthing time and hopefully avoid pain medication, I was able to stay very calm throughout the day. I baked muffins, and my husband and I went for a long walk. By the late afternoon, my contractions were 4-5 minutes apart. I called my mid-wife and doula again to give them an update, and my doula offered to come over to see how things were going. Given the progress I had made, we were hopeful the baby would be coming later that evening or maybe the next morning.
However, the next morning rolled around and instead of speeding up, my contractions became more spaced out. They had become stronger though. As a result, I didn’t sleep much that night. My mid-wife was over at our place now, and she recommended a vaginal exam to see how far I had dilated. However, I knew that a vaginal exam would increase my chances of an infection, particularly given that my bag of waters had broken. So I politely turned down the recommendation, at least for the time being. Instead, I went for another walk with my husband and it seemed to help speed up my contractions again. They also became more intense.
That afternoon, I felt I was ready to start labouring in the birthing pool that my doula had set up. However, after an hour and a half, there was still no progress and the contractions slowed down again. When my mid-wife recommended a vaginal exam again, I finally agreed. We decided that my mid-wife would perform the exam but would not tell me how many centimetres I had dilated so that I wouldn’t become discouraged. She would only provide me with a recommendation on what to do next. After the exam, she recommended that I move around some more to help speed up the contractions again. We went for another walk, and my contractions did speed up and they became even more intense. But after a second vaginal exam that evening, my mid-wife recommended that I transfer to the hospital. Apparently, even though the intensity and strength of my contractions had increased over the last couple of days, the frequency of contractions were still not high enough and the contractions were not long enough. As a result, I had only dilated one additional centimetre between the two vaginal exams.
I felt very discouraged at that point, yet I was not ready to give in and go to the hospital. Aside from being a very long birthing time, everything seemed to be alright. My baby’s heart rate was perfectly fine and my blood pressure remained normal. By then, my contractions had also started to get so intense that my hips were hurting. With each contraction, my hips felt like they were on fire and the only thing that brought some relief was someone squeezing my hips hard during each contraction. I could not bear the thought of sitting in a car while having contractions. I discussed the mid-wife’s recommendation with my doula and my husband, and we decided that we would give it a few more hours to see how much I would progress and my mid-wife agreed with the idea. Knowing that I might have to transfer to a hospital, my body seemed to kick into gear. That night, I continued to labour at home and by the next morning, I had dilated some more so the hospital transfer could be put off for the time being.
However, as the day wore on, the baby still refused to come out. By now, everyone was exhausted with very little to no sleep. My doula had to call in her back-up doula so that she could go home and get some rest. To top it off, my mid-wife found that the baby was now facing my tummy instead of my back and there was meconium in the bag of waters. As a result, my mid-wife once again recommended a hospital transfer. But yet again, we came to an agreement to wait for a few more hours to see if the situation would improve.
Right away, everyone did what they could to get the baby to turn. I spent as much time as I could on all fours, and my doula used a rebozo and a variety of techniques to get the baby to turn. An acupuncturist was also called to our home to help encourage the baby to turn. After all of that, another exam a few hours later revealed that the baby had turned. Hooray!
But, after a few hours, the baby decided to turn back. This meant we had to repeat the same steps again and call in another acupuncturist, which was not easy since it was now the middle of the night. And throughout this time, my hips were hurting very badly. Each time I had a contraction, it was difficult not to scream. The entire lower half of my body shook and felt like it was being electrocuted with each contraction. I needed someone to be by my side at all times so that they could squeeze my hips HARD during the contractions. Earlier in the day, I had also stopped urinating. I simply couldn’t, likely due to the baby’s head pushing against my bladder. As a result, I had to have a catheter inserted several times to empty my bladder. This was definitely not a welcoming addition to the excruciating hip pain.
There were many points throughout the three days when I wished I could take a break from the contractions, even a short one. But of course, there were no breaks to be had. There was no going back, and at the same time I could not speed up what was happening to me and get the baby to come out. Luckily, while the hypnotic techniques I had learned were not able to help me with my pain, they did help me stay calm.
Finally in the wee hours of the morning of the fourth day, my mid-wife recommended that I take an herbal cocktail to further speed up the contractions. As we did not have all of the ingredients for this cocktail on hand, my husband had to bike to several grocery stores at 2am before he could find all of the ingredients. When all of the ingredients were finally assembled, I had to gulp down two large glasses of it. Then we waited.
I tried to rest, but it was impossible given the strength and frequency of the contractions had increased. After what seemed like a very long time, my mid-wives and doula finally told me it was time to evict the baby!
After two hours of pushing, we found that my contractions had slowed down again. To encourage the contractions to speed up again, I walked up and down the stairs in our home. When I went down the stairs the second time, I had a very strong contraction and a great urge to push HARD. As a result, after all of the preparatory work my mid-wives had done so that I could give birth in either of our two bedrooms, my baby decided to be born on the landing of our stairs.
As it turned out, he was a relatively big baby. You would never have guessed it looking at my relatively small belly, but he was almost 8 and a half pounds! To this day, my husband still wonders where the baby was hiding inside me.
I cannot express enough gratitude to the community of mid-wives, doulas, and acupuncturists who enabled me to have a very successful, albeit long, home birth. We would not have been able to get through it without their help. Indeed, birth does take a village, and I was privileged enough to have the best village behind me.
When it came time to name our son, we settled on Owen. It seemed very appropriate for him, given that it means “a young fighter”. And he definitely was, during those 77 hours of labour.