Similar to our first child, I had a bout of prodromal labor at 37 ½ weeks. We were all pretty excited that this might be the real thing, but after a day and night of light contractions and some mild bloody show, things slowed down and the wait resumed. Nightly bouts of Braxton hicks contractions continued until the day after 40 weeks. That night, the contractions were picking up in regularity, every 10 minutes, and getting mildly painful. We put a call into the midwife to give her a heads up that things were looking good that we might have a baby soon. After a night of mild contractions, I was finally awake at 5am too uncomfortable to sleep through them. At this point, the contractions were still coming about 10 minutes apart. At 6am I called my brother to ask him to plan to babysit Elijah (our 19 month old) during the day. I also called my parents in Virginia to let them know it was probably going to be the day their grandbaby was born.
My husband decided to call in to work to stay home with me and we sent Elijah off at about 8am. At 9am I lost my mucus plug and had some bloody show and we decided to go ahead and make up the bed and get ready for the day. We decided to take a walk to try and speed things along. The contractions increased in duration and intensity during the walk and were coming 4-6 minutes apart and lasting 30 seconds to a minute. As soon as we returned home however, the contractions spaced out again and were coming about 15 minutes apart. They were still pretty mild and I was able to talk and walk through all of them. At about 11:30 I decided to try and take a nap in case the labor continued throughout the night. I was able to sleep almost 2 hours, incorporating the contractions into my dreams.
After waking up from my nap and having a light snack, we decided to take another nice long walk and see if that helped. The contractions were getting more and more painful and I wasn’t able to talk or walk through most of them. We walked another 3 miles and the contractions got down to about 4-5 minutes apart. I was really excited that the baby might be born overnight. We called the midwife to give her an update when we got home. She was already out doing a postpartum visit and suggested that she stop by and check me and make sure things were actually moving along like we were hoping.
The midwife showed up at 6pm and checked me. I was only 4 cm dialated. I was pretty discouraged, but she told me that everything looked great, the baby sounded great and that I should try and rest. She also suggested that if things were still going like this in the morning we might try some herbs like blue and black cohash to get things moving. After she left we called and made arrangements for Elijah to spend the night at his uncle’s house and go to his Nana’s in the morning.
After trying to sleep for several hours I gave up. The contractions were really strong and really painful. I tried to distract myself with TV and let my hubby sleep. By 3am they hurt so bad I decided to try a warm bath. The bath didn’t help much so I woke up hubby and asked him to help me. He was awesome! He helped me try several different positions and distracted me in-between contractions. At this point they were coming about 7 minutes apart. At 4 am I called the midwife and told her I really needed her to come. I was concerned because the contractions were all in the front and I had back labor with my first. I didn’t know if they were stronger or what. My biggest fear was waiting too long to call her and having the baby at home without her there.
The midwife and her assistant got to the house at about 5:30am. The midwife checked me and I was still 4cm. I almost cried!! A whole night of agony for nothing!! She assured me that I was progressing and that I was more effaced and thinned out than I had been the night before.
As soon as daylight hit, we decided to go for a walk. Since the baby was so low we could only go about a mile at a time before I had to come in and go to the bathroom. The poor neighbors must have been totally freaked out!! Here I was, full term, stopping every two houses or so and having contractions while leaning on my husband and moaning. I know they were thinking—“Why doesn’t that crazy girl just go to the hospital!!??” We made about 7 trips around the neighborhood over the course of the morning. Every time we went for a walk the contractions would get 3-5 minutes apart. When I got back to the house I would slow back down to about 5 minutes apart. If I even tried to sit down or get on my hands and knees or side, the contractions would space back out to 10 minutes apart. It was so frustrating!!
At 9am or so the midwife checked me and I had progressed to 6cm and had a bulging bag of waters. I was hoping for more progress but at this point was just trying to get through the next contraction. My hubby was great—he kept assuring me that this is a great labor and that I did have the energy to do it. I was seriously doubting my ability to keep on going. At 11am the midwife checked me and I was only a 7. I asked about possibly bursting my waters and if that would help. She was hesitant and assured me I was making good progress. We decided that we would check again at 1pm and discuss it again then.
At 12:30 I decided to try standing in a warm shower and hoped that relaxing might move things along. It was also the one thing I did to get from 8 to 10 cm with my first baby after stalling out for hours. I half joked that the midwives better be ready because with my last baby I came out of the shower and the baby was crowning. At 1pm I turned off the shower, dried off and went in the bedroom. The contractions had been coming fast and furious and several had hit back to back as I ended the shower and dried off. I was getting pretty pitiful at this point. The midwife checked me and I was fully dialated and she told me I could push if I felt like it. The next contraction hit and I was on my hands and knees. I tried pushing and it really felt a bit better. The baby turned and the labor went from back labor to front labor again. I was able to get 4-5 good pushed with each contraction.
After about an hour of pushing I wasn’t making any progress and I was getting tired. We had tried pushing on my hands and knees, squatting, on my back and on my side. I was ready to give up!! Finally at 2pm I asked my midwife to burst my bag of waters so that we could try and get the baby out. She agreed that this was the best course of action since I was getting so tired and we hadn’t made any progress in the past hour. With the next contraction, she broke my waters—the time was 2:10pm. The amount of water that came out of me was truly amazing. It soaked everything. We were all shocked and surprised. I looked down at my stomach and there was hardly anything there!! I couldn’t believe there was still a baby inside. The next contraction hit and I was overwhelmed by the need to push. This is what I remembered with Elijah—I couldn’t have stopped if I had tried. I started screaming and pushing and really giving it my all. Water was just streaming out of me with every push and I could really feel the baby coming down. The second contraction hit and I was able to get the baby’s head out. I was screaming and begging the midwives to “Help me and Get it out!!” I didn’t remember it hurting that bad with Elijah. My husband was so great. He was just saying “You can do it. This is great. You’re almost there.” He was also breathing with me and made sure I was breathing in and out deeply between contractions. With the third and final contraction, the baby came out. The midwife passed her to me between my legs and I immediately checked to see what we had. A little girl!! We were so surprised—we were both expecting another boy. She was born at 2:20pm.
I turned and sat on the bed and got up against the headboard. There was a lot of bleeding so my husband and I were focusing on getting the baby latched. The midwife gave me a shot of pitocin to try and help my uterus clamp down. Her assistant was giving me herbs to help with the bleeding as well. After a minute or so they gave me another shot of pitocin. After a few minutes I was able to deliver the placenta and we cut the cord. Lydia had latched and the bleeding had slowed down considerably. We had a great time to bond with our little girl and decided after about 30 minutes to go ahead and call our families to come and meet Lydia.
This homebirth was a really positive experience. I was absolutely surprised by the length of the labor and the slowness with which it progressed. I feel so blessed that we had a homebirth because I feel certain that if we were in a hospital I would not have been “allowed” to labor free from intervention. I am also sure that I would not have had the willpower to resist the drugs to speed up labor or to help with the pain. When I look at my darling daughter—born at her own pace, free of drugs in her system, happy, healthy and HUNGRY—I know that we made the right decision.
Lydia Grace Denton
Born after 33.5 hours of labor!!
19 inches long
7lbs 6 oz
13.25 inch head
12.75 inch chest