Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Birth Story, Part I: Prodromal Labor Begins


On June 14, I gave birth at home in water to my son, to be known online as Z.  The short version is that contractions started in a regular pattern between 3:00 and 4:00 that afternoon and he was born at 8:52 that evening.

So, short labor right?  Yes, the active part was short, but I had been experiencing prodromal labor, an irregular contraction pattern more intense than Braxton-Hicks but that yet wasn't quite active labor, for twelve days prior.

So in some ways it was a very loooooooong labor with a fast wrap-up!  Here's the beginning of the long version of the story:

June 2
On June 1, DH and I were watching a movie on Netflix online, when I started having low back/tailbone pain that made it uncomfortable to sit, along with some period-like cramping.

I slept okay that night though my back was still aching. Continued achiness/pressure throughout the morning, and I felt restless and uncomfortable.

But no discernible pattern or contractions to it all.

Still, around noon, I thought it felt somewhat similar to how I felt the day before I went into labor with C and so I called my midwife and doula to give them a heads up.

The doula, Ms A, asked if I wanted her to come over right away, but I felt afraid of having her come out for nothing.  "I'm not sure this is really it," I told her.  We agreed I'd call her back when/if things got going.

The main midwife, Ms D,  informed me that she had to go out of town the next day but that her partner in her practice (Ms H, whom I had never met) and assistant (Ms X, who I had met) will be available/on call for me.

Anyway ... around 4:00 pm I started having discernible contractions. The first three were 5 minutes apart.  They were irregularly spaced for a while after that.  For example, between 5:00 and 5:45 I had only three contractions, but then I had a few more of the every-five-minute variety and then it settled into an every-ten-minute pattern.

I wasn't sure if it was "it" or not, and worried about calling the doula and midwife too early or too late.  I called the doula and she decided based on what I told her to head over in an hour.  Shortly after she arrived around 10:00 pm, contractions got closer together but not necessarily more intense.  I wasn't sure what to expect in terms of intensity though ... my water breaking had kicked off labor with C, which I understood could increase the how strongly contractions were felt.

Still, based on the every 3 minute spacing of some of the contractions, we called the midwifery team.  Ms X lives two hours from my house, so didn't arrive until around midnight.  She performed a vaginal exam and determined I was not quite 4 cm dilated, less than 50% effaced, my cervix was quite posterior and the baby's head was still high in my pelvis.  She told me if I would have been a first time mom, she would have gone home, but knowing that progress of subsequent labors can be unpredictable and that she lived so far away, she would stay the night just in case.

Contractions continued to be erratic. My home birth care team had me try various positions (bouncing on a birth ball, sitting backwards on a toilet, etc., squatting, putting one leg up on a table and lunging, etc.) to encourage baby to descend.  They had me take a labor enhancer tincture of black and blue cohosh, and then encouraged me to lay down to rest if I could.  I slept until about 2:00 when stronger contractions woke me up.  They fizzled back to irregular mild surges within an hour and we all tried to get some sleep.  My care team left at dawn.  Before they left, Ms X did another vaginal exam and determined I was still just about 4cm dilated, no change in effacement or baby position, but that my cervix was more anterior.

They left.  My general feeling at that point was if I could just find the "right" thing to do, I could get labor going again and have my baby.  Surely I wouldn't be pregnant much longer, more than a day or so.  Little did I know...

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