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The Story of my VBAC at The Farm

This is the birthing cabin where baby M was born.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

5:30am eastern time - I lost my mucous plug. There was no blood in it, just a fist sized glob of clear goop. Mild, irregular, braxton-hicks type rushes were coming about every 15 minutes or so, same as I had been having off and on for the past few weeks. Cool! Something was starting to happen, but didn’t seem like it would happen any time real soon. When I saw Paul getting ready for work that morning, I started to panic. That’s when I decided that it was time to finish packing the car and head out to the birthing cabin at The Farm.

We took our time getting ready and leaving. I called Deborah to let her know we were coming and then cancelled my chiropractic adjustment. The drive was fun. Everything seemed a little more real than usual, and now my memories of that day seem extremely clear and crisp. I enjoyed eating lunch with Paul and J and remember thinking that this might be the last time we sit down to eat just the three of us for who knows how long? I savored being pregnant and took full advantage of the special way people were treating me because I knew that I probably won’t ever be big and pregnant again. Paul asked me what music I wanted to listen to as the baby is being born, and I tell him that I’d like it to be the Bela Fleck cd that we brought with us. We stopped at a grocery store in the nearest town on the way to The Farm, and arrived at the cabin around 1pm, Central time.

Deborah was already there, cleaning like a madwoman. She checked my cervix, and I was just a fingertip dilated and my cervix was soft, like it had been at my last prenatal.

It was then that I started seeing blood in the mucous that had been coming out in small, clear globs all moring long.

The plan was to get me settled in, and Paul would return home to get as many days of work in as possible, then I would call him when it was time for the baby to come. After Deborah left, I kept trying to get him to stay just a little longer, and a little longer, and finally broke down crying and begged him not to go home. I had a very strong feeling that if he left, I would just call him as soon as he got home and he’d have to turn right around and come back.

Deborah showed back up as I was calming down and drying my eyes, and we told her that Paul was going to stay there instead of going back home.

7:00 pm - I nursed J to sleep a little earlier than usual that night. Before falling asleep, she looked at me and told me that the milkies had come back. For the first time in my entire pregnancy, nursing really intensified the rushes I was having. It was impossible to ignore them, but they weren’t coming with any regularity, and no two rushes felt the same.

I did manage to get a little sleep, off and on, but it was a rough night for me. Even though Paul was asleep with Jenny up in the loft the whole night, I sure was glad he was there.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

5:00am - I started feeling an intense urge to poop. As I sat on toilet through several belly squeezes, a huge amount of bloody show came out.

My lower back was killing me. Maybe I really should have tried to see my chiropractor before heading out. As I was trying to climb back into bed while holding my rice pillow, I decided to hold it in place with a baby sling around my waist. It worked beautifully.

I had irregular rushes all morning. Some of them were very intense, some were nothing I couldn’t ignore. I was getting really tired of this and wished things would start happening soon. At this rate, I felt like it would be at least another day or so before baby was born.

3:30pm - I started to get a bit grouchy and touchy. I was very tired of hearing Paul and Deborah call it "putsy-putsy" like Dr. Bradley in that video we watched in our Bradley classes. Rushes were now 10 minutes apart, give or take. Each one still felt different than the one before it. Deborah said my cervix was "paper thin" and 1cm dilated. She applied borage oil to my cervix and baby-sat J while my husband and I had some alone time in an attempt to speed things up a bit. This did indeed seem to make things a little more intense. Paul went to get J and brought back some homeopathic blue cohosh to go with the black cohosh Carol had given me at my last prenatal visit. I was leery of trying it previously, but at this point I was ready to try anything to speed things up.

5:00pm - I took half of the recommended dose of the homeopathic cohoshes, to see how my body would react to it.

6:12pm - My water sprang a small leak, and I made a few phone calls to clue everyone in as to what was going on.

6:45pm - Rushes started back up, at about 6 minutes apart. Still not consistent or regular, though. I was really grouchy at this point and just wanted to be left alone.

7:00pm - I took another half-dose of the blue and black cohoshes.

8:00pm - Rushes started being more consistently 5 to 6 minutes apart, were lasting about a minute, and getting very intense. I asked Paul to call Deborah for me. I was afraid it might be too early, but I just couldn’t handle this without her help at that point.

9:00pm - Deborah arrived and checked my progress. My cervix was dilated 4 cm and baby was at zero station. Paul and Deborah said something about the rushes being five minutes apart, but they still didn’t feel regular to me. Each one was totally different.

Sometime around this point, my Grateful Dead cd ended (what would be better to listen to during early stages of labor at the hippie farm, anyway?). Paul asked J what kind of music she wanted to listen to, and she said, "banjo music!" So he put on Bela Fleck and The Flecktones "Live Art" (disc two, at my request).

10:00pm - I started wanting to push. I felt like I needed to poop and just couldn’t, so I requested an enema. That didn’t help at all. Deborah checked me and said that I was 6cm and had a swollen anterior cervical lip. I was fighting the urge to push, but it was becoming more difficult.

J started getting really upset. It was past her bedtime and Mommy was making funny sounds. While I was in the shower, Paul laid down with Jenny in the bed in the loft. It was the first time ever that she skipped nursing for an entire day, but Paul did somehow manage to get her to fall asleep. Once J quit crying, Deborah seemed much more relaxed and in turn I calmed down as well.

10:15pm - Sharon made her grand entrance. She walked in with the door handle still in her hand! Paul later told me that when she arrived, he felt the cabin fill with a sense of calm and that she emanated a feeling of experience that made him think for the first time that everything was going to be alright, that things were actually going to happen the way I had planned, that all my preparations were going to pay off in a big way.

Deborah applied arnica oil to my swollen cervical lip, which totally hurt. According to her notes, I was now 8cm dilated and baby was at +1 station. I was fighting the urge to push with all I had in me, and was losing the fight. It was as though my body had taken over, and I was trapped inside my head. At that point, I didn’t want anyone to talk or touch me. It felt like they were intruding on this weird meditative state I was in. And I was less than polite in asking for quiet.

The rest is a blur. I changed positions quite a few times, but semi-seated actually worked best. That was not what I had expected. I had always pictured myself pushing on my hands and knees, but that position didn’t work at all for me. Sitting on the ball was definitely the most effective, but when I felt baby’s head move down past my cervix I got back on the bed. Mostly I stayed propped up by pillows, hanging from Paul’s arm as if he were a tree. Pushing created the most intense pain I’ve ever felt in my life, as though a freight-train were ripping through my pelvis, but I was long past being able to fight it anymore and pushed with the urges with all my might. Somebody (maybe Sharon) said something about how pushing feels good, and I replied that it was the pushing that hurt so much. I thought to myself that if I ever heard another woman talk about orgasmic childbirth, I would just have to kick her in the teeth.

I told Deborah, "It wasn’t supposed to hurt this much. It wasn’t supposed to hurt this much and it hasn’t even started hurting yet!" I really thought the pain would just keep getting worse and worse until baby came out. But in reality, once her head was past my cervix, the pain wasn’t nearly as bad and I wasn’t quite as afraid of pushing.

I yelled, "shut up!" to Paul on several occasions. I had to make a conscious effort to keep my mouth and jaw muscles relaxed like Ina May says to do in her books. At one point instead of clenching my jaw, I actually tried to bite Paul’s hand, and he quickly pulled it out of my reach.

Sharon brought me warm compresses for my perineum, but I asked her for cold ones instead. She looked at Deborah, who shrugged and said, "if that’s what she wants..." Later, Sharon told me that was the first time she’s ever had a laboring woman ask for *cold* compresses.

Sharon told me to put my hand down there and feel the baby’s head. That’s when I knew it would be over soon. Before that, I really thought I had a couple more hours to go. I put both hands on baby’s head and held back my labia as baby’s head slowly came out. I was amazed at how soft her head felt and how I could feel it changing shape as I squeezed it out of me. As soon as her head came all the way out I knew I was supposed to stop pushing but the rest of her body came out all at once very quickly in a huge gush of amniotic fluid. It felt as if someone had grabbed her and yanked her out of me, but since my hands were on her head I knew that wasn’t what happened. After the baby came out, like magic the pain was completely gone.

M was born at 11:00 pm, Wednesday, November 19, just one hour shy of her due date. She was born mildly tongue-tied, but unlike her big sister she latched right on to my breast with a good, strong suck. I wasn’t feeling very hungry, but at Deborah’s and Sharon’s insistence, I agreed to eat a can of soup.

I delivered the placenta about fifteen minutes after the baby was born. I told them I had been considering eating it. Sharon cut off a chunk of it and gave it to me. It was a little large to swallow whole so I chewed it up and was quite suprised that it wasn’t unpleasant at all.

I did have a very minor tear, which Deborah stitched up for me. I was suprised that she had to since I felt absolutely no pain at all down there. When I asked her what would be the difference if she didn’t stitch it up, she told me that it would just take a little longer to heal.

J woke up a few hours later, after Deborah and Sharon had left. Paul carried her down the stairs to meet her new baby sister.