Well, as most of you know I am currently almost 18 weeks pregnant with my third precious baby, and have had lots of interest shown in reading my first two birth stories. So, I am here to deliver! (Pun totally intended!)
Julianna’s Home Water Birth-Turned Hospital Transport
Beginning around 2 a.m. on Monday, April 5th, 2010 (my due date!) I began having regular contractions ranging from 10-15 minutes apart. As the day wore on, and my contractions stayed regular and consistent, it became apparent that baby was on her way! By 6 p.m. the contractions were coming every 5 minutes and we called our midwife, who lived 2 hours away. She and her assistant arrived at our house at 9:30 p.m., at which point my contractions were 3-4 minutes apart. With everything set up and ready, it was just a matter of waiting for labor to progress. Around 1 a.m. the intensity of the contractions had significantly increased and I was about 7cm dilated, so I decided to enter the pool of warm water for relief….and aaaahhhh, was it a relief!!! Andrew and I were both getting excited at this point (albeit tired!) because we thought that she would be arriving soon.
Unfortunately, I kept progressing pretty slowly. Around 6 a.m. we determined that I was fully dilated and able to push if I felt it was time. So, with each contraction, I began the unexplainably painful task of pushing my little girl down and out. My contractions continued to get more and more painful, as I continued to get more and more tired, and I began to feel like it would never end. As Andrew sat next to me, gripping my hands while I braced against my contractions, I repeatedly began to tell him I thought I was going to die, to please, PLEASE take me to the hospital. He showed so much strength, courage, and love to me throughout the duration of my labor and delivery – especially given the lack of sleep! After over 4 hours of pushing, I finally felt a bulge begin to emerge and thought initially that it was the head. It turned out, however, to be my bag of waters, which was very healthy and strong, and had not broken yet. I continued with renewed vigor to work on pushing it out in the hopes of soon seeing my little girl. With my midwife monitoring our baby regularly, we knew she was doing great, sustaining a heart rate of 136-142 beats per minute.
Continuing as I had for the last several hours, I breathed through my contractions and pushed. Once again, it felt like I was getting nowhere. I was simply not progressing. Finally, at around 11:30 a.m., I gave a big push and my midwife got a funny expression on her face, and looked to her assistant with a probing glance. Calmly she told us, “I think I just saw something in the bag…I think it was a hand. Now I don’t want to freak you out, but if it is her hand, that means we have a shoulder presentation and we need to transport to the hospital immediately.” Neither Andrew nor I knew what to think, we were both so deliriously tired. With the next contraction I pushed the bulging bag out just enough for the midwife, her assistant, and Andrew to all see that it was indeed our small baby’s hand emerging. Immediately we set into action.
Slowly I stood from the pool, dried off, and was wrapped in a blanket and slowly we began walking to the car. At this point, the bag of waters still had not broken, which turned out to be a miraculously amazing thing, given the circumstance. I was instructed not to push with my contractions so I wouldn’t risk breaking the bag and getting the baby’s arm stuck. After 4 hours of pushing, walking through a second-story apartment and down the stairs with contractions rippling through you every minute, keeping it all together is no small thing. I had to stop and breath through contractions every few steps. Once in the car we were minutes from the hospital when the bag broke on its own. Andrew and I were both beginning to worry now. I felt so disappointed in myself for “letting my water break”, which is funny to me now, because of how completely irrational that is!!
When we arrived at the hospital moments later I was placed on a gurney and rolled into the emergency room, which was being prepped for an emergency C-section.With Andrew by my side the entire time I felt a God-given peace that everything was going to be OK, despite the less than ideal circumstances. Once the doctor and nurses had explained to me what was going to happen, the doctor said he needed to check out what our situation was. After examining me, he turned to Andrew and said “Daddy, that’s a full head of hair right there – you ready to see your baby?!” It was a miracle! At some point during the transport and/or water breaking Jules had pulled her arm back up and repositioned herself correctly – we would be able to have her vaginally after all!!! As we shifted gears, I began to push my little girl out. After arriving a mere 15 minutes before, Julianna emerged at 12:27, perfect as a princess, and we were all done. Julianna Claire Van Kirk was born on Tuesday, April 6th, 2010 at 12:27pm at Northwest Medical Center. She weighed in at 7 lbs 12 oz and measured 19 inches.
The outcome of our birthing experience was truly nothing short of a miraculous gift from God. He was watching over us all, including Julianna, the entire time, and saw to her safe entrance into the world. After being cleaned up we were all taken up to a postpartum recovery room and finally, we were able to relax and bask in the joy of our amazing accomplishment.
Sophia’s Home Water Birth
On Wednesday, June 8th, 2011 I woke up around 5am with mild cramp-like contractions that came every 10 minutes or so. I got up to use the bathroom and then crawled back in bed to try and get a bit more sleep. A few hours later, at 7am, I got up with my 14-month old daughter, Julianna, and the contractions had all but petered out. As I was still breastfed her at that age, we sat down on the couch for our morning nursing. Immediately I was hit with intense uterine contractions, one on top of the other – and I panicked! I knew nursing might trigger some mild contracting, but this? I was NOT prepared for baby to come so quickly – the house wasn’t anywhere near ready and I had things to do!
When I finally had to stop nursing her, I rested for a moment and the contractions seemed to let up. I took Jules and woke my husband, Andrew, letting him know today was probably the day our little Sophia would arrive. We set about getting the house tidied and prepared the birth pool. Later that morning my mother-in-law and brother-in-law showed up to visit and to extra hands to help with Julianna while my labor progressed during the day. We’d had previously arranged plans to drive to the next town over around 2pm (it was only about a 25 minute drive) to pick up a new infant car seat. I was sure I still had quite awhile to go, and was managing contractions fine at that point, so we all piled into the car to go pick up the car seat. After driving down the road for a few minutes, Andrew insisted that we clear our little trip with our midwife. She wasn’t thrilled about the idea of us going, just in case we got surprised and things progressed faster than we anticipated. Reluctantly, I agreed to head back – but not before an ice cream cone stop on the way!
My midwife and her assistant showed up right around 4pm and my contractions were pretty strong at that point, coming every 3-6 minutes. After getting their things set up, she checked me and I was 5cm dilated and 75% effaced. I was able to laugh and converse pretty easily between contractions, but had to stop and concentrate during them. At 4:45 I headed to my bedroom to try and nap for a bit while Andrew and his little brother played a game of tennis outside our apartment (our unit overlooks the tennis court, so he wasn’t far!) I must interject here that I am SO incredibly thankful to have studied Marie Mongan’s method of Hypnobirthing, because it helped me TREMENDOUSLY during the course of this birth. There is no way I would have felt comfortable laboring by myself and “napping” for so long during my first birth. The breathing, visualization and affirmation techniques were just invaluable to me, and really helped me allow my body to work its magic.
At around 5:30 I decided I wanted a little more comfort, so I got in the pool. After about 10 minutes of being in there by myself, I asked for Andrew to come sit with me. We sat and visited, relaxing and talking in between contractions. At 6:35 I decided to get out for a potty break and another dilation check – we were at 8cm and 95% effaced. I climbed into bed with Andrew to try laboring on my side, breathing deeply and visualizing my uterus opening like a flower, petal by petal with each contraction, to allow my baby to join me. It was intense and somewhat tiring, but also so restful and calm.
At 7:30 I was dilated to 9cm and almost fully effaced. I was pretty uncomfortable, and got back into the tub around 7:50. Twenty minutes later contractions were coming every 1-2 minutes, one right after the other, and I could tell I was transitioning. I began saying over and over, “I don’t think I can do this, it’s not going to work, I can’t do it!” I was feeling ready to push and the pressure was becoming immense. I focused as hard as I could on breathing my baby girl down with each contraction. I had missed the experience of really being present and aware of what was happening during the decent of my baby down the birth canal at my first birth because of the malpresentation and transport. In that light, it was almost like experiencing it for the first time….and boy, did it hurt! I’m fairly sure that descent was more painful than any of the contractions or even crowning. At one point I told my midwife that it felt almost like the baby was scratching me on the way down, because something inside was burning. She didn’t seem to be worried about it, reassuring me that it was probably normal since lots of little baby parts were slowly sliding down inside me. I pressed on.
At 8:24 I heard a pop and felt a gush in the pool as my membranes ruptured. The pressure increased again – this baby was ready to come out! I continued to breath and work, actively visualizing what was happening inside my body, moment by moment. Finally, several contractions later, I reached down to see what was happening and I felt soft flowing hair!! I pressed on with renewed vigor – she was almost here!! Finally, after stretching and retracting many times, her head finally slid out into my hands (I was leaning over the side of the birth pool, resting on my knees and grasping the handles) and I could feel her full head of silky hair – and an ear!! I looked up, in sheer ecstasy, exclaiming, “I feel her ear! Oh my gosh, it’s her ear!!” Everyone laughed and knew we were almost done. I rested in between contractions, just stroking that soft baby head in my palm. After one more good contraction and push the rest of her body slid out easily into my arms. I pulled her onto my chest, cradling her, and we rested. We were done, and we were together, my sweet baby and I.
Sophia Nicole Van Kirk was born after 15 hours of labor at 8:59pm, June 8th, 2011, weighing 8 lbs 3 oz and measuring 20 & 1/2 inches. We just relaxed there together in the tub as our sweet midwife checked us both out, and daddy got his first good look. She had dark, pink skin, with lots of black hair, and big pouty lips. I had originally planned to breastfeed her right away, but I suddenly felt so exhausted and a little shaky that I asked Andrew to take her while I prepared to birth the placenta. It had been several minutes since she was born and we checked to make sure the cord had stopped pulsating before cutting it (Andrew did the honors, as he did at Julianna’s birth). My afterpains were quite painful this time actually. I had to really get back into “labor mode” just to birth the placenta 37 minutes later, at 9:36. My midwife’s sweet assistant took it to the kitchen to prep later for encapsulation. After that, I was ready to clean up, dry off and crawl into bed to snuggle and nurse my new little one next to my sweet husband. It was one of the most beautiful moments of my entire life. The whole experience was so peaceful and serene and natural….so much so, that immediately wanted to be able to do it again (which is crazy!)
So there you have it! Two births in two years, each with their own unique stories and pricelessly perfect outcomes. I literally cannot WAIT to experience the birth of this little one I’m currently carrying. What a sweet day it will be, I’m sure