*** Before I begin I would like to preface this post with a few things. First off, I have not shared the details of this birth publicly since he was born. This was largely due to the most insensitive and hurtful comments that I have ever seen a person make online regarding my loss without them even knowing the details. Please bear in mind that I lost my son and no one carries that burden of loss more than I do. If you comment with anything that is offensive, mean, or otherwise insensitive it will get deleted. Secondly I am writing this birth story in 3 separate blogs, the pregnancy and labor, the birth, and the hospital trasnfer. I am doing this because 1- there is just too much information to put it all in one post and 2-I want to separate my emotions from those three cycles of this process. The labor was amazingly beautiful, the birth was somewhat scary, and the hospital transfer was nothing short of infuriating.****
From the moment I got a positive pregnancy test I knew this was going to be a different experience. I cannot explain it in a way to make anyone understand but I never felt like this baby was meant to stay with me. I made my first appointment with the OB office to confirm pregnancy and get dates ( my period had just returned and was irregular). From the minute I saw him on the ultrasound I had this sinking feeling I would never hear him cry, never see him smile, never hear him laugh. With this heavy on my mind hearing the doctor tell me she wanted to tie my tubes really bothered me. All I could think about is if this baby dies I would never be able to have another one and I would be devastated. She clearly wasn't supportive of my desire to VBA2C either, so when I got home I posted a message on the ICAN-online (http://ican-online.org/) email list asking for help. I needed more options.
The ladies there were very helpful and threw out the idea of a birth center as well as homebirth. I contacted the birth center a few hours from me but was pretty sure they would not take me as a client. I was also given the name of a traveling midwife that was living in my state and told to contact her. After researching more on homebirth and the statistics of homebirth I decided to contact her and just see what happened. I told her my history and my desire to VBA2C and asked her would she be willing to attend my birth. She responded enthusiastically that even though she had retired she felt that fate had brought her and I together. The feeling was mutual especially when I realized the house she purchased to retire in was 2 streets away from me. Dr. Wayne Dyer says "In mathematics, two angles that are said to coincide fit together perfectly. The word coincidence does not describe luck or mistakes. It describes that which fits together perfectly." She was perfect for the journey in every way.
What I needed this time was to be able to gestate in peace without all the scary "OMG this is wrong with you!" ideas. I did not want any tests done, no ultrasounds, no nothing. It was important for me to embrace the fact that pregnancy and birth and a humans ability to do this was natural and normal. The only thing that was checked was blood pressure, urine for sugar, heartbeat and fetal growth. My entire journey was nothing but submitting myself to the will of Allah and believing in my ability to birth my baby which for me started with belief that my body could appropriately take care of the growing baby inside of me without unnecessary tests.
This baby was so unlike my older two. There was something about him that was so peaceful and so calm. I worried much of my pregnancy that when my midwife came for check ups that the heartbeat would not be found. The intuition that he wasn't going to stay was just that strong. I remember thinking many times that if he doesn't stay with me I want to at least give birth to him if nothing else. I wanted to have that at least. But every prenatal he had the most beautiful heartbeat ever. He sounded perfect. He was perfect. I never shared my feelings with anyone until the aftermath. Sometimes I feel like it was a Mercy from Allah to prepare me for the loss. I want to make it clear that this feeling I had was there long before I chose to homebirth.
The entire pregnancy my baby measured behind by a couple of weeks. When my "due date" came we had a prenatal and he measured at 38 weeks. I went 2 weeks past my due date and at my 42 week prenatal she measured him and he measured 2 weeks ahead. At this point she stated that I may want to think about doing some natural inductions as the baby was getting big and she wanted me to have the chance to birth.
In many ways I felt a little defeated by that idea. It was extremely important to me to not have any intervention especially an induction. I needed to know that I wasn't broken that my body did know how to labor on it's own. In some ways I think mentally I held on to him. I knew where he was he was alive and I was afraid to let that go. I spent that night thinking and asking Allah to make it possible to avoid any type of interventions. I agreed to allow her to check my cervix in the morning (which was something else I wanted to avoid)and then we would discuss where to go from there. As fate would have it after an excellent nights sleep I woke up on Jummah Friday at Fajr( morning prayer for the non-Muslims reading) October 21st 2005. It was also the last ten days of Ramadan which is a very significant spiritual time for Muslims.
I wasn't actually sure I was really in labor until after a couple of hours of contractions. I cannot express to you the amount of relief I felt that labor started on it's own and that intervention wasn't needed. I called the midwife and let her know and a few hours later she was there. We started to fill the birth tub and I just followed my body's cues. I stood up during contractions and moved my hips back and forth. The contractions were pretty regular at 5 minutes apart. I was surrounded by peace and love. I was able to move the way I wanted. No machines tying me to a bed, no one there that I didn't know or didn't care about me as a person. My midwife was like my family. I loved her, enjoyed her company, and trusted her.
After 12 hours of labor or so the contractions were getting a bit more intense. I decided to take a hot shower because I wanted to be in the water but I did not want to get in the birth tub to early and delay labor progress. The shower was comforting and helped me relax a little. At this point I was sitting on the birthing ball for contractions. Shortly after my midwife wanted to get some rest so she asked if it was alright to check me so that she at least knew where I was. I hesitated a lot about that cervical check because I was labelled a failure to progress in my previous labors. I agreed to the check and knew that it would likely be the only one I got. I was about 5-6 cm baby was really low and my cervix was pretty thin. In a lot of ways I felt triumphant. My body DID work. I went into labor on my own and now I have dilated halfway there all on my own. Trusting in nothing but Allah and the perfection of His creation.
The midwife left and I spent a few hours with my then sister-in-law and my doula. I would kind of hang onto one of them while the other applied pressure to my back. Something about my relationship with my midwife is just indescribable. It wasn't long before I just needed her presence there with me. It wasn't that I felt like birth was soon coming. It was that her presence in my labor was overwhelmingly comforting. I refer to her often as my "birth" mother. The type of love and comfort she gave me was unlike anything I had ever experience during a pregnancy. She wasn't just my midwife, my care provider but she was my friend.
It wasn't too much longer after she arrived that I decided to get into the birthing tub. The warm water was exactly what I needed to make labor more manageable. It was probably early in the morning on October 22nd 2005. I honestly had no idea what time it was because the clock was not in my view. And honestly I think it was better that way. I didn't need to be on a time constraint or feel pressured to hurry up and have a baby.
As I entered the transitional stage of labor I began to feel really emotional. I still had that nagging feeling about the heartbeat not being found and got nervous every time she wanted to check his heart-rate, yet every time it was a beautiful healthy sound. I remember sitting on the side of the tub being overcome with silent tears. I don't even know why I was crying other than transition releases a certain type of hormone that may have caused me to be overcome with emotion. Or maybe it was that I was really doing it. I was laboring on my own. I had started to feel a lot of pelvic pressure. I could tell baby was moving lower. I wasn't broken after all. At that moment with tears streaming down my face my midwife came to me and got eye to eye with tears in her eyes and told me that she knew exactly where I was at and that she was with me 100%.
At some point I began to feel really pushy and I am not sure if it was suggested that I get a cervical check or if I asked for one. Either way I got out of the tub in order for her to listen to the baby and check my cervix. The baby sounded great and I was dilated 9.5 cm. I had a small cervical lip so she suggested I wait before trying to push. I got back in the tub and she came to me and said that she didn't want me to be mad at her and she knew that I did not want any interventions but she thought breaking my bag of waters may help get rid of my cervix faster. I was very hesitant to agree and argued even. In the end she made a valid point that breaking my water at 9.5 cm was not the same thing as my water being broken at 1 cm. I was close to giving birth. This was not going to make me a failure to progress. I finally agreed since by this point I was ready to give birth and knew the cervix needed to be moved away.
So I got back out of the tub, water bag was broken, and heart rate was checked again. Again everything was perfect. Everything was going smoothly. My labor had been smooth sailing consistent and progressive. The baby had been perfect the entire time. I still felt like I couldn't wait to birth him so that the feeling I had carried for 10 months would be laid to rest as an unfounded fear. Eventually I got to the point of "ok I have to push I can't fight this feeling any longer." At that point I got out of the tub in order to give birth. I did not want to be in the water for the birth. I needed to be out of the water instinctually.
The rest of this birth story will be continued in the next blog so stay tuned.....
Part Two: The Birth , and Part Three: The Aftermath