This birth has been a wonderful learning experience for me. Most profoundly, it has been an affirmation to continue to rely only on God’s infinite wisdom to direct my path. I have also realized things about my body and expanded my ability to let down my guard and trust others. Finally, I believe this story is indicative of how conventional medical birth practices have the potential to serve as a hindrance to natural childbirth in some cases.
With my first pregnancy, despite overwhelming criticism from others, I chose to have unassisted prenatal, birth, and aftercare. I was completely satisfied with the experience and outcome of doing things “unassisted” and had no logical reasoning of my own to approach my second pregnancy any differently. However, a small voice inside me, prodded me against my own inclinations to seek assistance, and I listened to that voice. I decided on a midwife who I had met with a few months prior that had detected a blighted ovum and had referred me to a sonographer to confirm. From that brief interaction, she seemed to be professional and honest. So when I became pregnant a few months later, I met with her again. She let me know what her recommendations and requirements were and assured me that aside from the requirements that she could allow me as much independence as I needed during the birthing process. It took me a while of turning it over in my mind and meeting with her regularly for prenatal care, but by the end of the pregnancy, I was fully comfortable with having an assisted birth experience.
During the last few weeks of pregnancy, I noticed that the baby’s position seemed to be favoring my left side in a way that was pressing against my pelvis with a shoulder. I had a few fleeting thoughts that there was some sub-optimal positioning but didn’t entertain them too much and thought when labor began and the baby fully dropped she would take on the best position for delivery. After discussion with my mid-wife, light research, and watching the birth video, I have been convinced of evidence pointing to a case of shoulder dystocia. I also now believe that the shape of my pelvis lends itself to a lunge position for delivery. I have never been subjected to pelviometry but do share a body type with my mother. Through the practice of pelviometry, a doctor determined my mother’s pelvis to be inadequate for vaginal birth and as a result all of her childbirths were by scheduled caesarean. I suspect that had she attempted a vaginal childbirth while supine she would have demonstrated a failure to progress, a seeming confirmation to the efficacy of pelviometry. With my first childbirth, I attempted to push while lying supine on the bed for 2-3 hours with no fetal descent into the vaginal canal. It was not until I stood up and cocked one leg up on the bathroom counter that I was able to make progress with my pushing with final birthing position being a full lunge on the floor. Even so doing, the progress that I made was gradual, and with each inch that I was able to push the baby down, my body would suck the baby back in a half inch. This prolonged emergence happened with both my first and last births and both babies had significant molding.
On Friday morning at 2:30 a.m., as I lie in bed mustering up the physical resolve to leverage myself out of bed and to the bathroom once again, I felt a short jab and pop, and then warm fluid gushed out. Instantly realizing that I would be meeting my baby very soon, I waddled to the toilet trying to contain the liquid and woke my husband by telling him that my water had broken. I then called my midwife, and explained that my water had broken. She said to let her know when contractions started. About 10 minutes later I felt my first wave and began timing them. By 3:45, they were coming around every 4 minutes and lasting 1 minute, I texted this information to my midwife and she was on her way, arriving around 4:30 a.m. along with another midwife. At this point, the contractions were too intense to talk through but bearable. Within 1 hour, that changed and I began having difficulty coping gracefully. One of the midwives suggested I sway my hips as I leaned against the door frame and she pressed on my outer hips. I found that helpful through several contractions. Around 5:30 a.m. I asked the midwife to check my cervix and she said I was around 7 cm. Very soon after that, I began to feel very trembly and vomited several times in a bedside trash can. Around 6:30 a.m., I asked the midwife to check my cervix again and she noted that I was 9-10 cm dilated, very stretchy, with a little posterior lip. I felt no urge to push at this time and actually found it painful to bear down. I was also physically exhausted and wanted to sleep very badly. The contractions were still coming every 2-3 minutes and lasting about 1 minute in duration, but I found them somewhat more bearable and was able to lie on the bed resting between them. I rested this way for nearly 3 hours, having no urge to push or bear down. Around 9:45 a.m. I got up and tried to push with each contraction, but my efforts seemed to be useless and very difficult to make. For the next 20 minutes or so, I went back and forth to the toilet and at last felt myself bearing down, so I pushed along with it as I stood over the toilet. At last I felt the head descending into my vaginal canal and I continued pushing down with all my might with one leg cocked up on the toilet seat. Within a minute or two, I was crowning and the midwife told me to get on my hands and knees on the floor. The body did not deliver immediately and the baby’s face was very blue. The midwife was attempting to help deliver the body as it seemed to be stuck and instructing me to continue pushing, she also advised me to put one of my feet up near my hand, so that I was in a lunge position, I had to use my husband’s foot as leverage because my own socked foot was slipping on the bathroom floor. Finally with some coaxing and traction by the midwife and mighty pushing by me the body slid out! My baby had significant molding and was very blue. The midwife rubbed and massaged the baby as she began to cry and pink up.
Final birth stats and summary: 19.5 inches long, 6 lbs 14 oz, the labor lasted apx. 7-8 hours with 3 of those hours being after transition, apx. 15 minutes of pushing