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Thread: Second born - A VBAC Home birth

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    Default Second born - A VBAC Home birth

    [This is part two of my epic birth story double, the first part - Birth one can be found here

    Birth two!

    I began researching my birth options before I even fell pregnant. In fact we had a little bit of a challenge falling pregnant this time so had a lot of time to explore the ins and outs of birth post caesarean. I learnt with dismay that my chances of being accepted into a low-intervention birth centre were nil as I was now considered ‘high risk’. I started to develop a real anxiety about giving birth again, but this time it was anxiety around what was looking like a lack of choice of birth options. I had conquered my fear of giving birth and had complete faith in my body to do so, and now dreaded having to face a birth suite and a lack of support as I gave birth, or having to give birth on the defensive.



    It took us longer than planned to fall pregnant and I was crushed with an overwhelming sense of urgency – the cut off for maternity choices was looming with the government threatening to make it illegal to give birth at home. I could feel my chances of having a natural birth slipping away from me and I was not even pregnant yet! I hadn’t decided I wanted a home birth necessarily, I just wanted the best chance I could to have a VBAC. I wanted to have a choice and a say in where and how I gave birth.

    When I finally discovered I was pregnant, the first thing I did was to make two important phone calls that would shape the next 9 months for me and determined how my DD2 would come into this world. I don’t really think I can find the words to describe the difference between those two phone calls except to say that they were diametrically opposed! First I made contact with the RWH and found myself on the phone to a curt nurse who seemed exasperated to have to deal with me. It was not what I needed after loosing faith in the hospital and medical staff attitudes with my first birth and after I was given the brush off by her – (get a referral from your GP if you want to come here) I felt infuriated that I may be locked into giving birth in a hospital with such attitude, all because I had a scar on my abdomen. Although I was feeling a bit defeated by then, I decided to take action and called a Midwife group to enquire about what other options I may have open to me. The woman who answered the phone went on to be my midwife and it was her warm, caring attitude, her openness and nous that sold me on the idea that I was going to give birth at home.

    The rest of my pregnancy was a joy. I was happy and secure in the care of my midwives, Helen and Mal, and threw myself into the preparations for my birth. This preparation was so full on and involved that my husband described it as my full time job! I was really motivated to do everything I could to give myself the best chance of birthing naturally after my last experience and believed that knowledge and real preparation was the key. Although I had read and researched for my last birth, in hindsight, I realise now that I had not read the right information and was in reality underprepared. This time I read widely. I sought out better advice and I had my midwives with their combined knowledge and fantastic record of successful VBACs. By the time I reached 35 weeks, I was so relaxed and confident that I had inadvertently dropped the term VBAC when talking about my impending labour and merely described it as ‘the birth’. I was in a good headspace and I knew I could do it.
    I had an inkling that I would give birth a) when I was ready, as in, when I had finished all of the pre-birth prep I needed to do, and b) at around the 38 week mark.

    At 37 weeks I started getting really stressed, as I still had not pulled out any baby clothes, had not set up the birth pool for a trial run and did not feel ready. DH set up the pool that night and we figured out a rough time frame of how long it would take to fill. DD1 and I had a lovely little play in the ‘big bath’ and I began to relax a little. I got my first sign of contraction with a dull period pain for a brief moment at 37+2 (Thursday), but I still didn’t feel ready! My nesting instinct really kicked in then but I was too busy running after my DD1 to get things done and that night I felt a majorly stressed and spent a fitful sleepless night grinding my teeth at the thought of having this baby before I had the house ready. The teeth grinding set of an incredible jaw ache and jaw lock that included a splitting headache. To top it all off I also had a head cold that had been hanging around for 3 weeks and my 2 year old was sleeping poorly all of a sudden, keeping me awake at night. After all of my preparation, I was devastated to think that I was about to go into labour so unwell, so out of sorts and so on the back foot. After my long, long last labour, which fell apart due to tiredness mostly, my greatest fear was to be in labour without proper sleep and unable to summon the strength to deal with the contractions and this looked exactly like what was about to happen. Unfortunately this was the start of my bad headspace.

    Mild pre-labour contractions began that night about every 20 minutes but I was mostly able to deal with them and get back to sleep – when I wasn’t getting up to my DD1! During the day the contractions backed off completely and I managed to get help for my jaw and headaches by seeing an Osteopath and a Myotherapist who managed to get my pain from a head splitting 9/10 to a more manageable 4/10. I figured I was experiencing classic pre-labour with lots of stopping and starting and I figured I still had a long time to go – if this was in fact the real thing. My mother was visiting from the country, and the plan was that she would take DD1 to visit a friend for a few days when I went into labour, as I didn’t want her to be there – I felt that she was too young and I really didn’t want the distraction of a toddler when in labour. I didn’t want to tell mum I was experiencing early labour, as I knew she would completely overreact and get jittery, the last thing I needed. I guess I just wanted to let things take their course without being watched and questioned by mum. When she busted me in the bath in the middle of the night trying to deal with the contractions (still every 20-30 minutes apart) I just told her it was my headache! So I made it through Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday - day and night like this but on Monday morning (37+6) I noticed that my contractions were not going away. It was time to come clean to mum and get busy with the business of going into labour.

    DH headed out to work (only a few doors away from home) and I spent the morning packing bags for DD in between leaning on furniture (“what you doing mummy?”) with the intention that she would be away for at least 4 days. After my last labour was so long, I was expecting another marathon effort. DD was off with Nana at 11am and my contractions were all over the place, sometimes 10 minutes, sometimes 20, some lasting for 10 seconds and some for 60 seconds. I called the midwife and we both agreed that I was probably in for a really long haul with such irregular contractions and I was feeling really down about it. Although I was fine about labour taking a long time, I was really upset that I was so tired and sick and not at all physically at my best. I knew it could very well be my undoing.

    I was quite aware of an intense desire to either wee of poo with every contraction and wondered whether it meant that the baby was well down and on her way but I did not dare entertain the idea really as I didn’t want any false ideas of a fast labour. Helen was of the opinion that it could mean that the baby was exerting pressure on my bladder and bowel or it could just mean that I really needed to do a poo! (I was a bit constipated at the time and thought that the fact that I had not had a pre-labour loosening this was a sign that I still had a way to go.) Given the negative frame of mind I was in, I grasped this unlikely scenario as the reality. Helen gleaned from the position I was choosing to be in when contracting that the baby’s head was deflexed and the pre-labour was working to get her head correctly positioned. Again, with my negative frame of mind this left me feeling completely deflated. This was what happened with DD1 and I did not have the resolve left anymore to be in a positive mindset about this. I decided it was best to try to sleep so headed back to bed with my midwife’s words resonating in my ears – sleep as much as you can even if it is just grabs between contractions, until you can no longer lie down during them.

    I only managed to stay in bed for about an hour before I realised I could no longer lie down during the contractions. Hindsight tells me that this was probably when my labour was beginning to step up a gear but at the time, such was my negative spin that rather than recognise that I was in labour, I blamed myself and explained it away as merely being too tired to integrate the sensation. It was about 2pm. I decided to call my support person, Tash, to give her the heads up that things were underway, she had been present at my last birth and knew very well that we were expecting a long labour. I had a number of contractions while on the phone to her, all reasonably mild, enough to make me get off the phone temporarily but I was still able to resume the normal conversation in between. I was adamant that this was still pre-labour but Tash pointed out that there was only 1-2 minutes between each contraction. I was not to be told otherwise though and as focusing on the fact that they were still irregular, there were some contractions 5 minutes apart amongst them all. I was so burnt by my last experience in thinking things were further along than they actually were, I was not noticing the mounting evidence that I was in labour!! I again called my Helen to give her an update and we agreed that the irregularity was suspect but that things could change. She suggested a bath and that she would check in again soon.

    DH had dropped in to check on me and when he mentioned that he just had to pop out again, I began to cry (once again, another sign that perhaps I was in labour?). I again could see my last labour unfolding before me, on my own at home with no idea when he would return. I never ever tell him not to leave when he has to go to work, but this time I said directly “I need you – don’t leave me”. When he said that he would have to cancel his afternoon appointment, I almost said not to worry, but luckily another contraction overtook me… if he had headed off again, I think I may have delivered my own baby!

    It was about now (3.30) that the urge to do a poo was becoming increasingly overwhelming (check one for ‘signs of a woman about to give birth). Once again, hindsight is a wonderful thing, I can now see the mounting evidence that a baby was surely about to arrive but at the time I was sure it was not proper established labour. I went to the toilet but could not pass a motion and was getting increasingly distressed about it (check 2). I was sure that if I could just do a poo, I could get on with the business of labouring. Little did I know that what I really needed to do was pass a baby! I suddenly felt the desire to stay in the bathroom; I needed the security of the dark small room (check three). DH suggested that we should call for some help – Tash, the doula or a midwife. I refused, worried that I had hours more of this ahead of me and needed to save my ‘Calvary’ for later when I really needed them. (Again burnt by last experience where I wore everyone out by labouring for too long!).

    I was in a lather of hot sweat by now, screeching for cold flannels between contractions and begging DH not to leave the room (he kept trying to go and fill the birth pool). My contractions were really hotting up and getting quite difficult to manage. We decided to try the TENS unit for relief, however, my unit is a manual one and requires the user to manage the output. DH had never used it before and after quick instructions from me between contractions he hooked me up and broke the cardinal rule, he switched it on without checking the settings. Unfortunately it was set quite high, much too high for a person to bear without warming up to it. A contraction was not due at that time but the sudden electrical impulse sent through my body induced an almighty contraction beginning at its peak rather than warming up to it. The phrase ‘bouncing off the walls’ does not begin to describe what it did to me! I think the confines of that bathroom did see some bouncing, a hell of a lot of wall slapping and a few unladylike words. Needless to say, we gave up on the TENS.

    I was labouring leaning against the bathroom wall, holding onto the towel rail when suddenly I found myself crashing backwards and a gush of fluid between my legs, I had managed to pull the towel rail off the holders and break my waters at the same time! (check 4) I was absolutely beside myself as suddenly this labour had morphed into a freight train that I wasn’t ready for and couldn’t get off. I recognised that my waters breaking was indeed labour, but unfortunately I had entered that place of incommunicado and was going inward to labour land. Poor DH didn’t know what to do and against his better judgement decided not to use his instinct and call for help but honour my last verbal wish, which was to not call for help yet. To be honest I was really scared. I was out of control and in a world of pain and just couldn’t get it together to deal with what was going on. I was pushing, I wanted to get that poo out as I still believed it was hindering my labour and found myself pushing with all my might (check 5). I was sure I was too early to be pushing and was most likely pushing against cervix, I just couldn’t help it.

    DH finally decided to call Tash and also sent a message to Helen to ask if it was ok to jump into the birth pool (at the last labour we were told by the hospital staff we were not allowed into the birth pool too early as it would hinder my labour). Helen thought it to be a strange request so called DH straight back and she heard me in the background – recognised the sounds of a woman in stage 2 labour pushing and was straight in the car. Helen lived 45 minutes away, more in peak hour, as she had to get across town. It was now 4.45 just on the cusp of the bad traffic and she made it to us in a record 30 minutes!

    By this stage I had hopped into the pool, which was only half full of cool water. DH had the hose on full with hot water to try to get the water to temperature but I was so hot from the sheer work my body was doing that I was very happy with the cool temperature. Tash arrived and DH had to run downstairs to answer the door leaving me holding the thrashing hose with boiling water pointed away from me. A contraction hit as they got back and I was up to one-word statements at this point – hose, hose, hose. Thankfully Tash jumped strait to action and relieved me from the responsibility of not burning myself! The doorbell rang again and it was Helen. I remember feeling such relief! Someone, somewhere was looking out for me to get that midwife there in time considering the state I was in! Helen was not happy to see neither the pool so shallow and so cool as she knew that it was not deep enough nor warm enough to deliver a baby into, so set DH and Tash to work. Helen did not want to leave me but had to get her ‘kit’ from the car so sent Tash down to get it. I remember hearing her say “My car is a *make* and *model*” and seeing Tash look confused and I thought, “for goodness sake, don’t tell a woman the make and model, tell her the colour and the style!” So, even in the depths of labour, one can be attuned and logical!

    Apparently at this stage, unbeknownst to Helen and myself DH and Tash had managed to lock themselves out of the house. DH had gone down to help Tash pick up the kit and had inadvertently locked the door behind him. Now this is very telling, as DH never makes silly mistakes like that, but bless him; he had closed it so that the neighbours couldn’t hear my yelling! (We live on a very busy street in the center of town with our door opening right onto the sidewalk and lots of passing foot traffic). I don’t think either one of them wanted to risk Helen’s wrath by ringing the doorbell and making her come downstairs so DH manically ran to a neighbours who had a spare key for us and mercifully, they were home! I never knew of this until a few days had passed and Helen certainly could see the funny side when we told her at a post birth appointment.

    Back up in the ‘birth suite’ Helen asked if I minded having a VE even though she usually wouldn’t want to but I was more than keen. I needed to know if I had been pushing against cervix and whether I had an hour or so of trying to hold back the force of the labour to try to allow any swelling to go down. I managed to make it out of the bath and to my great relief, Helen reported that I was about to give birth, no cervical swelling just a baby head “right there”.

    From this moment on, it was pure bedlam! I can seriously remember everyone running around and around tripping over each other! It was all hands on to help me during a contraction and back to stations to get the room ready for baby between them. To complicate matters, I began having incapacitating cramps in my quads, hamstrings or adductors or all of them during contractions due to the speed and intensity of my labour. I was yelping “hammy, hammy, right hammy, quad, left quad…” with each contraction and being rubbed down by the nearest pair of hands which was apparently quite a challenge as I kept moving around. I remember thinking – where is my calm moment, my serenity, my rest period. All of the water birth videos I had watched in preparation for the birth showed women resting and relaxing between contractions but mine had come on so fast and furious I was unable to relax. I was fed magnesium tablets, hydrolyte icy poles and dosed up on rescue remedy by the dropper full when possible and left to my own devices with each contraction. It worked, the cramping muscles eased a bit and before I knew it, Helen was instructing DH into position and I felt that stingy, burning pain I knew was a sign of birth.
    I really freaked out at this point; I had no problem following Helen’s instructions to take things slowly as I found the urge to protect my perineum incredibly strong. I really needed to regroup and mentally get over that hurdle to allow myself to calmly birth my baby’s head. The calm that descended as her head was born was beautiful, but cut short when I suddenly felt an intense pain! I think I shrieked, ‘What is that?’ and Helen guessed that my little one was having a kick while waiting to be born. Seems she was in a great big rush to get into the real world and hanging about in the birth canal wasn’t part of her plan! Geez it hurt. It was particularly painful as it was completely unexpected. I thought the crowning was supposed to be the bad bit. I can’t remember now whether I waited for another contraction but I do remember saying “Get it out, get it out!” and next thing Helen was desperately saying to DH, “not that way”! Apparently in all the confusion he was trying to pull baby up behind me even though he had been drilled to pass her through my legs to the front. I was mighty sick it all by then so I grabbed her myself and suddenly, I had a little girl on my chest.

    DD took a while to take her first breath, rather odd to be in go slow mode after such a rushed arrival but I was sort of expecting that after having been warned that water birthed babies were often born very relaxed. When she finally took her first lung full of oxygen and let out a little squawk I took a peek between her legs and got that funny feeling you do when a baby is born. Even though I was absolutely sure she was going to be a boy all the way through the pregnancy, when I realised we had our second girl I just thought “Ah, yes. Of course!”

    I think I sat there like a stunned mullet for a good 20 minutes. We let the cord stop pulsating before detaching her – just as I had wanted and I got those gorgeous newborn eyes fixing on me with that intent stare – just as I had longed for. DH got his first cuddle when I delivered the placenta naturally and was pretty pleased with the whole situation. It was perfect. No rubber gloves, no vernix removed, no unnecessary wrapping and removing, just a natural birth, letting nature take its course.

    Our poor second midwife Mal arrived about 5 minutes after the birth, Helen had called her when she left (Mal also lives about 45min away) but Mal decided to finish off a few things at home first then got stuck in traffic and took over an hour to get to our place. Our poor Doula didn’t get a look in either, as she was never even called in the confusion. Natasha Claire (named after my friend and birth support partner) was born at 6.15 in the evening, at 3635g, 49.5cm after what was decided was 3hrs and 45min of established labour. After I was settled on the couch, Natasha took straight to the breast and the midwives, DH and Tash all sat down to dinner. I was blown away at how normal the whole situation seemed. It was so starkly different to my last experience (both birth, post birth, breastfeeding and bonding), and even though I wish it had taken a little more time and not been so full on and that the midwives had been there to help me along, I really couldn’t ask for any more. Our investment in homebirth had paid off and I really and truly feel that I was able to provide the best possible start in life for my little girl as well as experience a truly healing birth myself. I have also been blown away at how simple and speedy my recovery was this time around and how much more I have enjoyed my baby. It really felt easy and sometimes seems to good to be true.
    Last edited by jackrose; April 1st, 2013 at 05:09 PM. Reason: Fixing links that had stopped working...

  2. #2

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    Wow, what a birth! Well done!!

  3. #3

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    wow!! That was Brilliant!! you had me hooked in from word go, I went and made myself a coffee and read part one, I was feeling all your emotions through your words, that was one hell of a ride! part two has me now sobbing into my laptop with DP looking on wondering why I am crying with a big goofy grin on my face!
    You are an inspiration, for me anyway, I thank you enormously for posting your two very different, incredibly well written birth stories xxx

  4. #4

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    What a fabulous birth story JR!! You're a great inspiration, I so hope I will be able to join you in a VBAC HB next year. It's great to read stories like yours, they really give me the motivation to go through with it.

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    thank you so much for sharing your stories! they were gripping from the beginning!

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful homebirth story...just what i needed to read as I try to get ready for our first HB of our second baby...thank you xx

    (also stoked to hear that the midwives can get there in time lol...one *slight* fear of mine lol!)

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    Brilliant. Just bloody brilliant

    Had me in tears of joy for you, and some of it was similar to mine (including the birth time!)

    Well done - you rock.

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    beautiful.

  8. #8

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    Awesome, awesome, awesome!
    A beautiful birth story. Thanks for sharing it.

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    A beautiful birth story. I also liked how 'normal' it was that you sat down and fed your baby while the others had tea - fantastic!

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    Thank you so much for sharing! I started to read this earlier in the night and got to about halfway before I realised that I should have left for work about ten minutes earlier! Whoopsie! So here I am with a few spare minutes at work to finish the rest of it! I was so engrossed in your story, it almost felt like I was there in the room with you.

    Congratulations on your HBAC and your new little daughter! I hope that you and your family are enjoying this special time.

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    amazing huni. huge congrats and you did fantastic xox

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    Fantastic I hung on every word - and I totally understand what you meant about not realising how far along you were in your labour - I was the same! Even down to thinking it was just the need to go to the loo. Congratulations and well done

  13. #13

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    Thank you all so much for your lovely responses, I have been really taken aback by your kind words.

    At the time of the birth I didn't recognise the magnitude of what I had done, as time has gone on and with responses such as yours, I am feeling more and more proud!

    ...and more and more distressed that the choice of having a home birth is not available to all women. I know it is not for everyone, and that is fine. I just wish we all had the option.

  14. #14

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    Default Second born - A VBAC Home birth

    Just finished reading both your stories - in my best Todd McKinney impersonation from last weeks dancing show - loved it loved it loved it loved it.

    I have long been a fan of the long birth stories, I think the detail makes you feel more of a part of it all. I certainly felt that way with yours!

    Way to go on your vbac hun!!!

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    I find both your birth stories inspiring.

    Being a high risk pregnancy myself, i have been thinking alot about how i want my next birth to go, i didnt like the feeling of how out of control some of my births have been. I already have thoughts about certain things i want to be different with my next birth, i just hope i will be "allowed" to have them. Reading stories like yours inspires me, hopefully i can achieve the things i want.

    You did an awesome job with both births.

    Well done and Congratulations

  16. #16

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    Thanks so much for sharing your story and congrats on achieving your VBAC!
    xx

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    Oh hun, another fabulous story, it was so beautiful to read how different your HB VBAC birth was to your first birthing experience, you had me in tears
    Thankyou so much for taking the time to share both stories xxoo

  18. #18

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    Both of your birth stories were beautifully written! I love detailed stories as I think birth is such a miraculus thing! And congrats on getting the birth you wished for, and worked so hard for!

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