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“The Baby Comes Out the Back” – Birth Story

by Krista Haggerty, BWI Trainee

I was 40 weeks and 6 days pregnant when I woke at 6am to my waters breaking.  It was a small trickle, but I knew today would be the day we would meet our third child.  I woke my husband, text my doula, and called my midwife.  Since this would be a VBAC, I had to deliver at a different hospital than where most women delivered at my practice, and it was almost a 40 minute drive.  My last labor was under 4 hours, so we wanted to be ready to go as soon as the contractions picked up.

I started having irregular contractions, but since they weren’t painful I figured we had some time.  We called my mother-in-law to come stay with our other two children.  Around 7am, I felt like contractions were becoming regular.  I called out when they began and ended and my husband timed them as I showered and got dressed, then helped my mother-in-law get settled with the kids.  When I asked him what the interval was, he said close to 3 minutes apart!  I called the midwife to let her know, and we left the house just after 8.

I played my birth playlist in the car to help me relax, and my husband and I smiled and chatted during the drive.  It was a beautiful morning, and we were happy to finally have our baby!  The contractions were getting more intense to the point that I was vocalizing through them.  They were coming closer together, but since they still were not too painful I thought we had plenty of time before things would “get serious”.

When we were about ten minutes from the hospital, I had a contraction that ended with me feeling the first twinges of pushing.  I text my doula quickly before another contraction hit me, telling her to leave ASAP.  I also told my husband, “it’s not an emergency yet, but maybe you should probably drive a little faster.”  He was very calm as he started passing cars, reminding me to breathe and telling me we were almost there.

We reached the hospital around 8:40.  By this time I was having contractions right on top of each other, and could barely move to get out of the car and into a wheelchair.  The urge to push was becoming much more intense.  My husband left the car right in front of the main entrance and jogged me through the front doors.  We flew through the hallways (with me yelling quite loudly most of the way!) until we reached the maternity door, and waited to be buzzed in.  I may have yelled “let me in!” in between contractions.  Once the doors opened, my midwife and nurses were rushing towards us, directing my husband to our delivery room.  As the birth team helped me get up from the chair, my husband jokingly said “she’s your problem now!”

I got on the bed and lay on my side, still vocalizing loudly and pushing with the contractions.  I asked for the lights to be turned off and welcomed the soothing dusk of the darkened room after our ride through the bright hallways.  My midwife checked me and told me I was only at 8 cm, so I needed to stop pushing.  I was annoyed, this made me 3 for 3 births where I was pushing too soon and risking a swollen cervix.  My doula wasn’t there yet, so the midwife and nurse talked me through the contractions, reminding me to slow my breathing and cheering me on.  My husband caught on and joined in, letting me know he was nearby.

After what felt like a long time (is there any time longer than trying not to push when everything inside you is screaming to push?), I suddenly felt the baby’s head drop down and I said “is that the head?  My midwife helped me get to a hands and knees position, and raised the top of the bed so I could be upright and lean against the bed.  My husband stood near me at the top of the bed and let me grip his hands, and I stabilized myself against him as I followed my body’s cues to push.  I wasn’t really hearing anyone in the room, but in my head I heard something I had learned last year:  “the baby comes out the back”.

Last August, I attended a BirthWorks Childbirth Educator Workshop.  The phrase “the baby comes out the back” was new to me, and was used several times over the weekend.  I had a difficult time understanding exactly what it meant.  It wasn’t until I saw a visual of a 9 month pregnant woman with a view into her womb; the baby was angled not straight down or slightly towards the front as I’d always imagined, but towards the back of her body.  It suddenly clicked!  The baby comes out the BACK!

Fast forward to a little more than a year later, and that was the mantra running through my head as I worked with my baby.  I rested in between contractions, knowing I was close to the end.  I pushed and breathed towards the back, and then felt baby’s head:  the ring of fire!  I slowed down and took a moment to breathe.  When I pushed in the next contraction, my baby was born!  It was only 30 minutes since we had arrived at the hospital, and I pushed for less than ten minutes.  It was my fastest birth, and my first that was intervention free.  I waited impatiently as they got ready to move me so I could hold my baby, and for my husband to tell me the gender since I was facing away.

It took a moment for my husband to announce in shock, “It’s a GIRL!”  There was a wonderful feeling of joy in the room, everyone was smiling and laughing.  It was a beautiful way to welcome our daughter to the world.

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Birth Story – Hospital VBAC

by Krista Haggerty

My first birth was a cesarean after a long labor.  It was hugely disappointing, and I struggled with feelings of failure.  When I became pregnant again, I knew I wanted to have a vaginal birth with no interventions.  I switched providers two times and met the OB who delivered my son at my 37 week appointment.  I went into labor 5 days later.

My water broke early in the morning with a slow leak without contractions.  At my morning appointment my OB told me to go right away to the hospital even though I wasn’t ready to go.  He also told me he didn’t think I could have a VBAC because I was so small (I am 4’11”) but he would let me try anyway.  I was furious!  I spent so much time researching VBACs this pregnancy, and knew that his reasons were not evidence based.

I didn’t want to be put on a clock, so we went home from the appointment.  My husband and I packed a bag and tidied up the house.  We went to a late lunch and voted in the presidential election.  Finally, around 5pm, the OB called my husband and told him to bring me in.  By this time my contractions had started in earnest so even though I still felt hesitant because of the OB’s attitude, I knew it was time.

We arrived at triage where a midwife from the hospital met us.  She told me she would have to take a sample of the fluids to make sure it was my waters and that she would check me.  I told her I didn’t want to be checked until I was ready to push, but she insisted it was hospital policy.  A moment later I had a contraction, and she checked me.  I told her “No, get out!” but she ignored me, and just said “You’re 7 cm”.  She left and about 15 minutes later I told my husband I felt like pushing.  He ran out to find someone and there was a whirl of activity as nurses came in, put me onto a bed, and wheeled me upstairs to the maternity floor.  My headphones were removed from my ears without anyone asking, and during the trip up I was checked another two or three while I yelled “No!  Stop, Get out!”  Not once was I asked or even warned that someone was checking.  I felt violated, like all they saw of me was my uterus, and not me as a person.

Once we were in the room, the OB checked me (without asking or acknowledging me at all), declared I was at 10 cm but had a lip, and left the room.  The nurses told me to stop pushing, which was what happened with my first baby.  I couldn’t stop, it felt impossible to fight the urge.  I began to panic; my doula wasn’t there yet (we had just called her) and no one would tell me what a lip meant or what I could expect.  I told the nurse that if they wanted me to stop pushing they would have to give me an epidural.  My husband asked—mid contraction—if I wanted to just have a C-section.  I managed not to punch him.

While I was waiting, a tech came in and told me she was going to draw blood for my STD test.  I had already been tested early on in pregnancy and it was negative, so I declined.  She left for a moment, and when she came back she said if I didn’t allow her to take blood now, my baby would be taken and tested as soon as he came out.  I was shocked; I felt threatened and angry, but I also didn’t want to be separated from my newborn for an unnecessary blood test, so I reluctantly agreed.

Soon the anesthesiologist came in and prepped me for the epidural.  He had me sit up, and as I sat I felt the baby move down into my pelvis.  I almost said something to the nurse, but at that point I felt so out of control of the situation I just rode it out.  After the epidural was in, they had me lie on my back, which was extremely uncomfortable.  I started to shake badly and was freezing.  As the anesthesiologist walked out, my doula walked in.  She saw what was going on and asked if anyone had checked me for the lip before the epidural was put in.  I almost started to cry when I realized they hadn’t. She went to work soothing me and making me comfortable.  She sat with my husband and helped calm him a bit, and things got quiet.

A little while passed, and I was checked again.  I was ready to push!  They sat me up in the bed and the nurse had me practice pushing before the OB came in.  I took a moment to talk to my baby, telling him we were going to do this together and that I couldn’t wait to meet him.  I pushed once and was immediately told to stop; he was right there and ready to come out!  The OB came in and I pushed twice more, and my son was born.  He was placed on my chest but there were too many other sheets to really hold him, with all the fussing from the nurses.  They took him aside because he wasn’t breathing well, but after I insisted I hold him, he perked up.  He was perfect, and the whole labor lasted about 4 hours.

In many ways I felt like a warrior; it felt like a battle to birth the way I wanted, and though I felt wounded by the care I received, it could not diminish the triumph of what I accomplished once I held my son for the first time.  I felt invincible!  Despite the struggle to have my voice heard and to be treated respectfully, I was able to do what no-one in the room (except my doula) thought I could.  As I held my son for the first time, all I could think was “WE DID IT!”