I had always been interested in home birth, having been exposed to the concept in my early teens. The home birth stories that I heard were the only positive birth stories I had ever heard! Every other birth story I had heard sounded like a nightmare or was a horrible, traumatic experience. But, the home birth stories I had heard were wonderful – the experience wasn’t stressful or horribly painful. The experience was sweet and peaceful. Given a choice, I wanted sweet and peaceful! But, I didn’t think I would be able to have that with this delivery because of my back.
In February, 2010, we started taking Bradley Method Childbirth classes. I had learned about the Bradley method when I was pregnant with Dietrick, but we ended up taking the hospital classes instead. This time, it was important to me to take the Bradley classes because they better prepare women for a natural birth. It was a big commitment to take the Bradley classes: 10 weekly classes, on a Saturday morning, an hour away! I am NOT a morning person, so it just about killed me to have to be up by 7 am on Saturdays! But, we did it anyway and it turned out to be just what we needed.
Our Bradley instructor, we found out, had birthed both of her children at home. Fortunately, my Bradley instructor offered to give me her home birth midwife’s contact information just to see what she thought about my chances for a home birth with my back issues.
So, one Sunday in late February or early March, I called Kathy, the home birth midwife. She was very friendly and asked a lot of questions about my condition. It turned out that she was very familiar with my condition because her husband had problems and surgery on the same disk. She explained that, if the herniation had been higher in my back, that she would be concerned about my ability to push. But, because of where the actual injury is located, she felt that I was an excellent candidate for home delivery! So, we set up an appointment and met with her when I was 28 weeks along.
After our first appointment with Kathy, my husband and I knew that this had to be the hand of God. If we had met with Kathy earlier in our pregnancy, she would not have been able to take us on as a client because of her childbirth schedule. But, she had just recently had an expected early June birth move to May and that left a spot for us!
We felt completely comfortable with planning a home birth over a hospital birth, especially since we had recently found out that the hospital where we had planned to deliver would not allow me to deliver in the birth tub. Because of my back issues, the water is one of the best places for me to be for labor and delivery.
We kept seeing the CNMs at the OB’s office, since we had an ultrasound scheduled at 30 weeks to make sure my placenta had moved up and out of the way (my 20 week ultrasound had showed a low-lying placenta). The good news was that the placenta had moved up. The bad news was that baby was breech!
We talked with our midwife and I did a lot of research on breech birth. I discovered, much to my surprise, that women CAN safely deliver a breech baby vaginally. In fact, a c-section for a breech baby is technically still an elective surgery – not a medical necessity. Most doctors, unfortunately, are simply not taught how to safely deliver a breech birth vaginally. However, my midwife was both trained and experienced with vaginal breech birth. That was comforting!
My OB referred me to a chiropractor for a therapy called the Webster’s technique, which had a high success rate for turning breech babies. Fortunately, after just one appointment, baby seemed to have switched to the ideal head-down position. After confirming that baby had turned head down, I stopped visiting the OB’s office and exclusively met with Kathy for prenatal care.
At 35 weeks, I started having contractions. For over three hours I had 15-30 second contractions every five minutes. Kathy had me come in and get checked. I was 1cm dilated and contractions weren’t stopping. So, she gave me an herbal supplement to stop the contractions to prevent pre-term labor. I had to take the supplement several times over the following few days when the contractions would start up again.
As 38 weeks approached, I joked with my husband that the baby was probably going to come late. Though I really hoped she would come early instead. I started having more Braxton Hicks contractions and menstrual-like cramping almost every day. It would come and go a few times a day, sometimes for an hour, sometimes for three hours. I hoped that was a good sign and that labor would kick into gear soon!
But, it didn’t. Over the next three weeks, I continued to have what has been termed Prodromal Labor. In other words, my body was slowly working up to full labor instead of jumping in and getting it over with. I stopped getting excited when I would feel contractions. I tried to catch up on some much needed sleep. I did spring cleaning around the house, got all the baby things ready, organized, rearranged our master bedroom, and planted the garden (well, with the generous support of the hubby). In short, I did anything to keep myself occupied and not focusing on the fact that this baby just wasn’t coming!
It was hard to wait. I finally understood why women choose to induce! I was hot, achy, ankles swelling, difficulty sleeping, felt huge – all the “fun” parts of pregnancy at the end. 😛 But, since I am such a planner and organizer, it actually felt rather good to force myself to wait; to just let this process work itself out. I treasured the last few days of having an only child and tried to make the most of them. I trusted my body. I trusted my baby. I knew it was just a matter of time before our little miracle would finally arrive.