This is the story of my third birth. This story is much different than my first birth which was at a freestanding birth center and my second which was a homebirth/waterbirth. This is the story of my homebirth transfer to our local hospital where I then had a beautiful homebirth in the hospital. Where to begin?
(This story may be triggering for some as I transferred from home to hospital so please, read with your best judgment.)
My Homebirth in the Hospital Birth Story
This pregnancy was much more difficult for me physically than previous pregnancies. I was quite uncomfortable very early on. The physical act of standing was exhausting. However, despite the discomforts, this surprise baby #3 was happily anticipated by everybody.
Braxton Hicks Contractions
Early in my third trimester, just as in previous pregnancies, I began having timeable Braxton Hicks contractions. When I was around 35 ish weeks pregnant we went on a family vacation to the beach and had to limit my movement (i.e. I barely went to the beach) because I would start contracting so much.
These contractions and discomfort continued until the end. And I tell you this because it’s so ironic. Because after all these contractions I just assumed that when labor came this baby would just fall out. Not literally, but it seemed logical to me that because my uterus was so excited about being pregnant that it would be just as enthusiastic about birth. Well… birth, pregnancy and babies just aren’t logical.
As the final weeks of pregnancy came to a close, I started having more intense Braxton Hicks contractions but this time they would happen at night. I was excited! I knew I wouldn’t be pregnant forever.
I wrapped things up with work and focused on maintaining a clean home (a homebirth necessitates this, right?) and semi-sane born children. My husband recently had had double hernia surgery so it wasn’t the end of the world when she wasn’t born before 40 weeks like I had hoped. And so we waited.
On June 20th (39 weeks + 2 days) while visiting my in-laws I noticed I had some pink spotting and started contracting a lot while we were at their house. It was enough for me to bust out my handy contraction timer app. They got to about 4-5 minute apart. I even gave my husband and other birth attendants a heads up. The contractions weren’t anything new, but coupled with the spotting I thought something might be happening! And since Father’s Day was tomorrow, I agreed with what my body seemed to be doing. Father’s Day would be such a fun day to be born! Well… that fizzled out and led to nothing. Pay attention here folks, this is a common theme in this story.
Two days later at 2 am I texted my midwife this, “Heads up. I’m contracting 4-5 minutes apart and very crampy. I’m not quite ready to pull the trigger and call it labor. I’m afraid it’ll go away. Keep you posted.” The contractions I was having were definitely different than say, a few days ago. They were strong, crampy, timeable… but not quite what I would call labor. I could easily see this turning into labor. Alas, I woke up the next morning (well… I was actually awake a good portion of the night because contractions kept waking me up) and knew all those contractions weren’t labor. However, with all this non-labor commotion I knew that we were getting close.
Three more days went by with no further progress. Sure, I was contracting all the time, but nothing put me into actual labor.
On Saturday morning (40 weeks + 2 days) I texted my midwife at 9 am, “Bloody show and diarrhea. Keep you posted.”
At 10 am I texted her, “I’m contracting about 4 minutes apart but they are wimpy, short contractions.”
I was so excited! This were definitely heading in the direction of labor. I was having all the signs of impending labor and I figured my body would “pull the trigger” at any time. My contractions were pretty mild, lasting only about 30 seconds. I had bloody show all day long. I did chores, ate and napped. I was doing everything I knew to do
In the evening my contractions were about 6 minutes apart and I thought that maybe things would pick up later that night. I’ve seen this phenomena happen personally and as a doula. Lots of ladies have their babies at night. Maybe my body was just waiting for the dark? A little while later my contractions got a bit stronger, and a little bit closer together. However, they still seemed unorganized and definitely not like labor. I was pretty confused, and not sure what to tell my midwife. I was GBS+ so at some point we needed to get a dose of antibiotics in me if in fact, I was in labor. Around 10 pm we decided that she would come out to my house and check me to see where we were and what (if anything) we should do.
Around 11 pm I was standing by my bed talking to my husband when all of the sudden I felt this warm water balloon plop/gushing sensation. I gasped! My husband’s heart probably skipped a beat. I laughed and said, “I think my water just broke?” I looked on the floor because surely there would be a puddle, but there wasn’t. That’s when I remembered that I had a pad on. I went to the bathroom and took off my pad (it was soaked with clear fluid) and put on an adult diaper. I texted my midwife to let her now.
I put my husband on birth tub duty. I didn’t want to wait too long and not have time to use the tub. I had been to a handful of births that happened just like that.
Diana, my midwife, got to me around midnight or so and by the time she got there it seemed like anything that did resemble labor fizzled out. Maybe it was the adrenaline after having my water break? Who knows. She tested my adult diaper and it was indeed amniotic fluid. My water definitely did break. I was only 3 cm which didn’t surprise me because I did not feel like I was in labor. “Labor things” were happening, but the intense, powerful contractions that cause babies to come out was not happening. We all decided to go to sleep. My kids were already asleep, the midwife, her student, her assistant (who eventually went home at some point when she figured out a whole lotta nothin’ was happening), my husband and I all turned the lights off and tried to get some sleep.
Waiting on a labor that seemed imminent or even worse, one that needed to start happening, caused me a little bit of anxiety. I was slightly anxious throughout the day on through the night. And when everybody went to sleep my anxiety didn’t go away. It made it so hard to sleep, which was hard already because I was having contractions about 5 minutes apart (they were definitely stronger now which made me need to breathe through them). At some point the interrupted sleep and the mild anxiety was so annoying I decided to go to my bathroom and do some side lunges and other position changes to see if I could make things pick up. I think I even did some manual nipple stimulation.
Around 3 am Diana checked me again and I was 5 cm. She felt the amniotic sac and I told her to break it. Warm fluid gushed everywhere. There was light meconium in the fluid. The sensation of the vaginal exam, while having contractions and AROM was too much for me and I became nauseated. I threw up. Ugh. Such a gross feeling.
After that we decided that my husband and I should take a walk outside to see if that would make things pick up. We walked back and forth for about 30-60 minutes. The walking definitely made my contractions get closer together, but not close enough or intense enough to call it labor. For the most part I could continue walking and talking through contractions. My husband was exhausted, but I was wide awake. I was SO wanting to get this party started if you know what I mean. I guess at some point we went in to get a drink, but then came back outside and kept doing more of the same. Eventually we decided that it was doing nothing and went back to bed.
The next morning around 7 am we decided to try an herbal tincture (black and blue cohosh) and nipple stimulation with a breast pump. Those did nothing.
Later on we ate breakfast, my kids went over to my neighbor’s and then we chatted with my midwife about what our plan of action should be. Nothing had changed for the better, if anything it seemed like my contractions were even wimpier and further apart. We decided that I would do castor oil and castor oil is what I did. Matt went to a drugstore and came back with a 4 ounce bottle of that nasty stuff. I drank about 3 ounces of it. I wasn’t messing around anymore. This was at 10 am and we immediately took naps knowing that I would soon be crapping my brains out, trying to have a baby.
Around noon I woke up and puked. Then pooped. A lot. And pooped some more and then puked again. And then pooped some more. And then again. It was a certain kind of hell… that I was sure about.
At this point I was having contractions about 2-3 minutes apart. I decided to check myself (used a sterile glove to minimize any potential infection) and noticed the baby was lower than previous days, but I couldn’t really tell if there was any progress with the cervix. The glove made things feel even weirder than usual.
I spent that afternoon on the toilet and napping. I ate something at some point, but I can’t remember what. And of course, I stayed very well hydrated. Here’s a text I sent to my midwife (I was starting to get in a bad mood from all the pooping), “I had a moment on the toilet where my bowels were going nuts and I had to pull back because I wasn’t sure if I was feeling a teensy bit pushy or if my ass was exploding.” Yeah… that’s castor oil. Use only as a last resort, people!
Later my contractions were coming every 2-5 minutes apart and were definitely stronger than before. Around 2 pm I told my midwife maybe she should come over but not to sue me if everything fizzled out. She, as usual, didn’t care about false alarms and wanted to help me and do her job. I love her.
She got there around 3 pm and things… FIZZLED OUT! I was not crapping myself 24-7 (only periodically at this point) and when that went away, my contractions went back to their previous wimpy pattern. How frustrating! How bizarre!
Over the past two days I had periodically done positions like the forward leaning inversions, side lying release, side lunge, open knee chest, abdominal life and tuck, etc. I was doing “all the things”. However, at that point we decided to have my doula come over to see if there was anything she could offer to the situation. Baby wasn’t in the most perfect awesome position so maybe we could do more position changes? From my best guess she was in the LOP position (left occiput posterior), which was not that far off from the ideal, but doing more “doula torture moves” as I call them, would do no harm.
While we were waiting for Brooke to come things slowed down even more which prompted a good discussion about a future potential transfer to the hospital. Diana suggested an OBGYN named Dr. Okoroji which I wasn’t too excited about at first. I had worked with him one time as a doula, but I didn’t really know him.
When not with my homebirth midwife I use an OBGYN practice that I really like. I felt I would be more comfortable transferring to them in labor mainly because I already knew them. I had been to a handful of labors with this practice as a doula, but the main draw was that they knew me as a patient. Before I transferred out of their practice in the second trimester I asked them if they would take me as a transfer in labor if for whatever reason I needed it and they said yes.
A friend gave me the midwife’s personal cell number (so sorry for invading your privacy Carol!) and I texted her the situation. She called me back and I chatted with her for a bit. She wasn’t currently on call but a brand new midwife was (who I never met) and was working with an OB (that I never met). Carol hung up in order to call the on call care providers to see what they thought. She called back and said they’d take me but they wanted me to come in ASAP. I didn’t feel all warm and fuzzy about this scenario so I told Carol I’d call her back and let her know my decision. Meanwhile I discovered, by God’s grace, that my friend Tanashia was on call (she’s an L&D nurse, midwifery student and doula in my Tallahassee Doula Co-Op) starting at 7 pm for 12 whole hours. She would be working at the same hospital as Diana’s Dr. Okoroji. I felt relieved and knew immediately where I would transfer to.
Meanwhile, Brooke the doula arrived at my home all full of energy, hope and good doula vibes. She was ready to have a homebirth! I quickly burst her doula bubble and told her we were thinking of transferring and were figuring out our options. Technically, by 11 pm (24 hours after SROM) if nothing were happening we would need to be transferred by then. We could probably push it to 3 am because Diana broke my water at that time but only if labor was really good, strong and looked like baby was imminent.
I thought about all my options and I decided to transfer to “Dr. O”, as he is affectionately called, at the smaller hospital (only because Tanashia was there) but to not wait until 11 pm or 3 am but to just go now. I did not want to wait until I got really tired and THEN transferred, I wanted to “get this thing done” and have a baby. I was ready to move on. I had tried EVERYTHING and felt in my gut that things just weren’t going to progress. I told Brooke, “I just need a little pit.” I was ready.
So while Diana worked on transferring my records and making arrangements with Dr. O I ate a little dinner and packed a hospital bag. A friend came and picked up my kids. And that’s when I started to cry a little bit. It was so hard to see them get shipped off again. I just wanted to have my baby, at home and call it a day. But that was not the plan God had for me.
At this point, having Brooke there was a complete life saver. I was tired, and my brain wasn’t sharp. For the life of me I couldn’t think of what to pack in a hospital bag (despite having written a blog post about it). Brooke saved the day and told me what to pack, got me ready and out the door. By 6/6:30 we were on our way.
The ride to the hospital was nice. Everything was quiet. There were no kids in the van. It felt like my husband and I were on a date. I had a few contractions on the way over there but things had really fizzled out by then.
Here’s the first picture I took the whole weekend. I call it “Birth Entourage”. This is my midwife, her student, my husband and doula (she’s hiding behind my husband) all helping me transfer and get checked into the hospital.
We went in through the ER entrance, which apparently is what you’re supposed to do at this hospital, and told the receptionist why we were here. She called L&D and we waited to be fetched. I had a brief moment of, “Oh shit, what have I got myself into?!” but that vanished as we were whisked away to my room.
As soon as we got to my room my dear friend Tanashia was there and greeted us (she knew all of us) with laughs and a smile. I’m so grateful she was there and made a potential scary situation actually fun. Thank you for being there, my dear. I’m tearing up right now thinking about how you made me feel. I wish everybody who transferred to a hospital for birth felt the way I did. I never felt alone, never felt abandoned and to me (and all women, really) that is HUGE.
Thank you Diana and Rachael for not sending me off to the hospital by myself. Thank you for staying with me and getting me settled in even when I told you that you didn’t have to. I was in a vulnerable situation and never at one point did I feel that way. I felt safe, taken care of and that we were making good decisions. I’m so grateful.
Once we got in our room I took my last castor oil poop of the whole experience (that stuff is intense), got my IV place and monitors on. The monitor bands felt scratchy on my tightly stretched skin and the bed was NOT like my bed at home. Dr. O came in at one point and asked me how I felt about getting Pitocin. I told him that was why I was at the hospital – to get Pitocin. Since we all agreed on the plan (Pitocin/have a baby) he said he would be heading out until we needed him. He turned to Tanashia and said, “You got this?”. We laughed, she said yes, and he was on his way.
Oh, by the way he did give me a vaginal exam and I was still 5/6 cm. No change from earlier.
Around 9:30 the Pitocin was started (haha right, T?) but before that I noticed my contractions were coming back. Good, I thought. I won’t need much of this pesky Pitocin to get the show on the road.
This is where things get fuzzy and I’m not sure the order of events, which is good, because it meant that I went into labor.
I remember starting to have regular contractions and that I had to stop and do SOMETHING to cope through them. They were strong, long and close together.
I leaned on my husband. I sat on the ball. I leaned on the back of the bed. I stood. I leaned. I moaned. I sang. I got loud. I went to the bathroom and dragged that dang IV pole with me. Sometimes the contractions didn’t seem as wild if I bent over at the waist.
My doula was great. She massaged my back, which was so sore after days of not being in real labor but kinda being in labor. She had lavender essential oils. She put music on. The lights were dimmed. She was so helpful.
And then the contractions got really bad. They were so strong. So long. And so close together. This was like nothing I had ever experienced before. Sure, maybe I had brief periods of this intense (that’s not really a strong enough word… hellish is more like it) labor, but it was typically brief and pushing came quickly after that.
The vocalizing I was doing was NOT working anymore. Nothing really, was working anymore. I became “that lady” in labor. I’m cold… so they put a blanket on me. I’m hot get it off! Push on my back! No stop! No position felt any better. It was awful. It felt like fire. Fire on my belly and fire on my back. Hot, burning fire.
At one point I decided that I needed a different approach and that I was not coping well. So, I decided to sit on the hospital bed and not vocalize at all. Now, to the observer it probably looked like I was feeling pretty good but it was still terrible. It didn’t get better, the contractions were still hell. However, after doing a few contractions like this I felt a little bit less out of control. My contractions spaced out the tiniest bit (which is probably when Tanashia turned the pit up haha) and I got to doze between contractions. This was my big aha moment during my Pitocin experience. I had the courage to change things up when nothing was working anymore.
After that things got bad again (as they typically do right before you have a baby). I kept thinking to myself that I literally could not keep doing this. I had Tanashia check me and I was maybe 7/8 cm. I was so not happy with that. I felt like crawling out of my skin! I took off my clothes because they were so awful. I took off those monitors because they hurt the crap out of my skin and I couldn’t deal. I told Tanashia she’s going to have to hold the monitor there because I couldn’t handle having the strap on me. I felt bad for her for a few seconds (I would have felt bad for her longer but you know… Pitocin) because she was her awesome self and held the monitor there (continuous monitoring because Pitocin) and at one point I could feel her hand shaking trying to keep it on there. Sorry!
I decided that just like last time with Eden, I needed to take matters in my own hands and get this baby out of my body. I started squatting. I tried pushing a little bit during a contraction to see if it would do something, change something (it didn’t). I checked myself… and compared to earlier that day I felt the baby’s head A LOT but I could tell that I was still around 7/8 cm dilated. UGH! I started telling myself positive affirmations like, “I get to meet my baby.” I probably said that like 50 times. That was one of the few things that kept me going.
Towards the end I was getting seriously desperate. I was on fire and was not coping well. I had Tanashia turn the pit down and or maybe even off. I think she complied. 😉 I got up on the bed on all fours. I decided that I just HAD to start pushing even though I didn’t have the urge the push. These Pitocin contractions HAD to stop. I just couldn’t deal. And so I pushed with a contraction… and I felt nothing. Tanashia asked me if I was pushing and I said no… because I wasn’t really pushing…right? And another contraction came and I pushed again and this time I felt the urge to push which to me, was like someone starting a horse race by opening the doors. Hurry up and push her out because OMG I can’t take this HELL anymore!
And so I pushed and my lovely friends quickly assembled to wherever they needed to be. I really didn’t care. I didn’t think of who was or wasn’t in the room. All I wanted was the contractions to stop. I remember Brooke at one point asking Tanashia if she wanted her to wheel the table over that had the delivery stuff on it. Yay Brooke for being so helpful!
It didn’t take long for me to push her out. I remember hearing Tanashia clearly speaking to me, telling me exactly how far she was out. She’s out to her forehead… or her head is out, I’m unwrapping the cord around her neck… ok push one more time to get her out. All I heard was her and my only focus was getting the baby out.
I remember after she came out saying (or thinking?) “Oh, thank GOD!” and “You’re not that big!”.
Tanashia quickly handed me baby Mercy (with her fancy midwife moves) and I turned around and sat down with my baby. That was finally out of my body. Thank GOD!
And the minutes that followed were a lot of “Oh she’s so pretty!” and “Thank God that’s over!”. I think a bunch of fluid came out after Mercy came out because my bed was soaked and Tanashia looks kinda slimy in the pics.
A few minutes later Diana showed up (Diana had gone home to see her family for a bit but Rachael had stayed) and got to see us. She tried so hard to make it but I think it was a bit hard to time. 😉
A few minutes after that Dr. O showed up completely chill about the fact he missed the birth. I was thrilled he didn’t make it! With him gone I was able to have a birth more like the kind I was going for in the first place – hands off and with people I know really, really well. A homebirth in the hospital.
During the third stage of labor, Dr. O took a look at my lady bits and we ALL decided (haha) that no stitches were needed. Oh, and my placenta came out too. After that, or at some point, I took an amazing shower that felt so good on my body. I was so sore and worn out from contracting for days and days. After that, we hung out in our hospital bed and my husband fell asleep on the couch. A few hours later she was weighed and measured – Mercy Estelle born at 1:50 am, 7 pounds 13 ounces and 20.5 inches long.
I decided to not go home immediately, mainly because my husband and I were so exhausted. Being away from our home actually sounded restful at that point. In my head I thought maybe we’d stay for 24 hours or so and then go home. If I had a time machine I would stay for a few hours and go then home. The hospital stay actually ended up being a bit stressful and I wish I could have avoided it all. My mama bear claws were continuously out, and I kept having to say the F word in my head. But that’s another story.
Looking back on my birth I feel many different feelings. Sometimes I feel a sense of loss. I’m sad that I didn’t have Mercy at home. I love homebirths and I love how relaxed everything typically is. It was sad to come home and see my birth pool in my bedroom, unused.
Some days I find myself picking through the threads of my birth, trying to find something I missed. Something I could have done differently. Something I did wrong. But then I stop myself and back track to the root of those thoughts and counteract them by speaking things like this to myself:
“Lindsey, you did nothing wrong. There was nothing more you could have done. In all those moments you did your best, and honestly, you rocked doing the next best thing. You ROCKED transferring to the hospital, advocating for yourself and using the resources/people available to you. You did not fail. You are not a failure. You are a bad ass mama! Oh and HELLO you had an unmedicated Pitocin augmentation!”
It is important for me (and YOU!) to stop these negative thoughts in their tracks. They are lies and not to be believed.
So that’s it! That is the story of my third baby’s grand entrance. Those third babies… always trying to be different than their siblings.