reese darling home birth vbac 17

i have been writing this post in my head over the last few days
as i try to make sense of what just happened here.

i am one who loves birth stories, and some don’t.
i don’t want to forget anything.
i am happy to have these memories.

and though, this was the hardest thing i have ever done in all my life,
the most taxing physically, emotionally, mentally,
i realize that i already have rose glasses.
the sweetest parts have surfaced, and i can say with confidence,
i am so happy we did it this way. 

as i sit to write this, every muscle in my body still aches,
my body is still working to regain energy, 
and every bit of pain reminds me how happy i am to be on this side of birth…

monday morning july 22

i woke up with some contractions.
harder than the braxton hicks i had been having for days.
and these started to pattern.
i teased cc that i would be calling him home from work, so be ready!
{boy were we wrong…}
my mom and i cleaned the house from our weekend full of last-minute projects to get ready in case we were indeed having a baby that night…

we clocked contractions about 10 minutes apart while shopping for fabric for reese’s quilt…
i called the midwife, just to give her the heads up that we were in “early labor” and she said to keep watch, take it easy, and call her with updates…

by the time chris was home from work,
i was having regular, tougher contractions…
i came home and we left B for the night, hoping to have a baby soon…

when it was just us,
i went to the bathroom and found quite a bit of blood.
not gushing, but bright red. the kind they say you need to make a phone call for.
since we weren’t sure what it was, i called my midwife who said we needed to get to a hospital to have it checked out. she wasn’t sure if it was the placenta, or if it was just cervical fluid. it had to be seen on an ultrasound.

i wept for 20 minutes, terrified of being admitted to a hospital that hates VBACs, that might freak us out into staying, or a number of other scenarios that went through my head.
after a weepy blessing from chris, we decided to get dressed to go, just in case.

mindy {my aunt who i asked to be with us for the birth} showed up and phoned an OBGYN friend who assured us {as the midwife did} that if the bleeding stopped, not to worry so much and that it probably was cervical fluid or the “bloody show” that many say is another early sign of labor…

i called my dad, i texted some family, they knew i was upset and worried…
each time i was told families knelt in prayer for me, and i wept reading it.  there were many prayers.
and i felt them immediately.

i called the midwife a few hours later to tell her we didn’t go, but that contractions were now closer to 7-8 minutes apart and getting tougher yet… and the blood had all but stopped.

she said to get some rest and call her in the morning.
{what? i’m supposed to sleep through these?!!!} 

mindy stayed the night, and i slept a little each hour,
waking up to clamp up during contractions…

tuesday july 23

i woke up about 5am with a big one
and made cc get in the shower with me to see what would happen.
contractions slowed way down, but were stronger.
it wasn’t until about 10 or 11am that they were back to 8-10 minutes apart.

the biggest issue so far was that i hadn’t eaten much. since monday night,
food sounded like vomit, so all i had in me was water mostly… mindy brought me a jamba juice around 11 that i chugged half of and was starting to feel a little better… like this could be a fun adventure even…

we played games, tried to watch shows… i even had a few contractions that i “danced” through to get through the pain. we were laughing, smiling, and excited to see what would happen…

about noon, i had a painful contraction that i couldn’t dance through,
and i tried to get to my knees but it didn’t help, i vomited all hope of sustenance from the previous 12 hours, and decided to retreat to the tub.
i stayed there in the tub for hours and cc was there with me.
with his iphone app in one hand, and mine in his other,
we breathed through contractions as they came. one by one.

reese darling home birth vbac 10

i had a friend tell me days before that she stared right at her husband and that helped her get through them, so i did. it makes me emotional now to think of his face, steady, calm, and a few times even a little welled up, as he watched me go through each wave of pain…
it was the only thing that worked for me to focus.

about 1pm we called my midwife again to tell her we were at 2-4 minutes apart and they were strong.
she had me on the phone to listen to my breath and voice as i tried to talk through them…
she casually said she’d stop by, but she was sure we were still in early labor.

an hour or so later, she came and told me i was 90% effaced, and only 1.5 centimeters dilated.
she told me to keep spirits up but that i would probably not be calling her back for another 12 hours…
that first labors are hard and that i had to work for it.

i wanted to slap her, or yell at her,
but i didn’t have the energy to.
she asked me if i was discouraged…
i wanted to shout “HELL YES, i’m discouraged!” 

she told Mindy and Chris that i needed fluids, gatorade, juice if i could so i could have energy…
i had vomited again just before she arrived and was at the lowest point in energy,
i practically slept between contractions…

reese darling home birth vbac 5
she also had them give me a suppository to help the vomiting, but it also caused drowsiness.
i didn’t vomit again, but i also didn’t eat again… i was practically lifeless just a few hours later.

we stayed near the tub, and they fed me liquids and a bite or two of watermelon.
the lights were low, chris had music on, and as mindy kept saying, we were so zen over here…
the two took shifts holding my hand beside the tub while i tried to make sense of it all.

i tried a shower again and through tears,
i quietly asked cc if he would just take me to the hospital.
the thought of enduring the pain for another 8-10 hours was so excruciating mentally.
he calmly told me i could do this, and that i didn’t want to give up just yet.

reese darling home birth vbac 3

back in the tub, i stared at that man’s eyes through each wave of pain.
pain i was sure i couldn’t get through, but he was.
i tried to let go of my body,
let it contract without clenching up, to just let go and give in…

he was right.
within the hour, things picked up again.
the waves came one after the other, and by about 7 or 8 pm,
i couldn’t help but start to push through some contractions…
really? i feel like pushing?!

so we called my midwife,
and i told her to get here. i felt like pushing and these were at the peak,
i was certain of it.

she said happily, “you sound like you’re having a baby soon,
i’m coming right over!
fill up that tub and get in it!”

reese darling home birth vbac 16

i am not sure why we didn’t labor in that awesome tub earlier…
i was in water almost all day, but the birthing tub was amazing.
i had pain in my back, and the contractions had me writhing,
but it was easier to feel the end near. it was warmer, softer, and like a little parachuted gift from sponsors in the hunger games – perfectly timed.

the midwife arrived and checked me again in the water and told me i was most definitely at a 10 and 100%. “you went from 1-10 in 5 hours!!” she told me to start pushing if i felt like it, but reminded me it still could take a while and to be patient.

reese darling home birth vbac 8
there was a surge of excitement in the room…
i have never felt this devoid of energy,
i had to smack myself to stay focused. i knew this next part would be the hardest,
and that i had to do it myself.

with mindy on my right hand, and chris on my left,
i started to push. 

reese darling home birth vbac 7

it was more satisfying to push for sure, but it wasn’t for another 15-20 minutes until all of my on-lookers started smiling as they stared into the water, “we see hair!!”
i watched their faces for confirmation as i pushed through to see if they would say more…
i had her an inch or so out, and the room was fluttering, they were all so excited,
and i knew if i didn’t finish this, she’d retreat, and i would have to put that work in again,
work i wasn’t sure my body could handle after 30 hours of no food and using every muscle in my body…

every time they checked her heartbeat, she was strong and steady. not the slightest dip.
i don’t know if they said it, or if i did, but i heard “you’re a fighter little reese!”

reese darling home birth vbac 13

they held a mirror up so i could see her head, and i gave another determined push or two until i could lean over and see her myself!

chris lit up and with a smile told me  
we were almost there, don’t let go. you’ve got this…
i was trying to be steady so i wouldn’t tear. my midwife said once she crowned, i could breathe her out steadily and i wouldn’t tear. i tried to concentrate so i could ease her home.

reese darling home birth vbac 14

i prayed quickly for strength. i needed it. i had none.
i pushed one last time, knowing i would tear anyway,
and her head was out, the rest practically breathed out into my hands.

i reached down and pulled reese’s little body up to my chest immediately,
with no help. it was amazing. she was here.

reese darling home birth vbac 18
reese darling home birth vbac 4

she was clean, perfect, rosy, and wide-eyed.
she looked right up at me and stared.

i wasn’t nearly as emotional then as i am now,
i didn’t have the wits to be,
but this moment did me in:

cc came around to hold me and whispered in my ear:
“you did this. all by yourself. you did this.”

it made me realize one of the reasons i am glad we did this.
i knew he would be the perfect partner to get me through it.

reese darling home birth vbac 15  reese darling home birth vbac 12
reese darling home birth vbac 1
reese darling home birth vbac 2reese darling home birth vbac 9
reese darling clifford
july 23, 2013
10:44 pm
7lbs 12oz 21in

the aftermath drama:

i thought we were done. i started to relax with a baby in my arm,
but we had the placenta to birth.

it wasn’t coming.
after trying to push it out, my midwife helped me out of the tub to the bed.
still it didn’t come.

i was still losing blood from my tears, and i was practically asleep,
so incoherent.

she walked me to the toilet to try to help push out the placenta,
and i blacked out.
they lowered me to the ground with towels under me.
she told the other midwife to get the paramedics on the phone in case i bled out,
because she was going in to get the placenta herself.

the next 5 minutes were more painful than the previous 12 hours combined.
i screamed whole-heartedly as my midwife reached her arm, passed her elbow,
into my body to pull out the placenta herself.

i remember seeing a pale chris holding the baby skin-to-skin and talking to me to keep me alert.
it was like in the movies where faces are blurred and hovering over me as i faded in and out.
a legitimately scary moment.

she declared that i wasn’t losing too much blood and to call off the paramedic,
then attempted to give me an IV to restore fluids.
i was so dehydrated that after multiple attempts, she couldn’t.
mindy hovered over with watermelon and water,
then they all helped me back to the bed where i was stitched up from 2nd degree tears,
someone fed me reheated pizza that i actually ate,
and then i was wrapped in ice and left to sleep.

my sweet aunt mindy stayed with us all night.
poor chris and i were both so wasted.
she held and watched reese all night, and never once lost her energy.
with a smile, she fed us, and brought reese in and out so we could rest.
she stayed most of the day too and washed every bit of evidence of a home birth.
no blood left anywhere, and a happy clean baby.

i can’t tell you how blessed we are.
how lucky i am to have such a support system.
to have such a fighter little girl.

my dad told me my kids are special, they like to make a dramatic entrance.
and though the literal opposite of boston’s birth,
i am so glad to have her here, whatever it took.