I’m writing this a year later. I still have some anger and disappointment over losing my homebirth. But I think that’s more because I know what I missed out on, having already had 2 homebirths, how easy it was, how much nicer it was. In the end, the hospital was as good as it could have been, everything we needed and could have hoped for. But it’ll never be home.
I was contracting when I woke up. I had been most the night. Almost every night, for who knows how many nights. Prodromal labor is a bitch. They weren’t uncomfortable. Occasionally crampy. Registering as a moment of ‘hmm? Oh…’ on my personal pain scale. But now there was blood. Just a hint of rust & mucus on the toilet paper. Oh. Okay then. Saturday’s a good day to have a baby.
I made the calls. Tweeted the tweets. Got the initial burst of impending arrival anxiety & energy out of my system. My people arrived. I can’t remember if my husband was on-call or not. It didn’t matter. The other directors knew the drill.
The supplies were gathered & kept close by. I still hadn’t decided where in the house this kid would land. Grandma was on older-kid duty, so that was taken care of. I did my thing. Wandered the house, puttered with this & that. Took a bath. Watched TV. Nothing exciting until about 3:30. I was beginning to think I might send people home.
Then a pop. Just a little one. A small trickle of water. Grab the chux, sit down on them, wait. Calm. Carry on. A few minutes later, a minor explosion rocked my belly, sent a river of amniotic fluid rushing out. It finally slowed, so I shuffled into the bathroom to do a quick check for cord.
Glance at the chux. Greenish. Drop trou. So. Much. Meconium. It was thick. Everywhere. And it kept coming. I sat there, weighing my options. I knew, even if the baby sounded good on doppler, I’d never be able to relax at home. Not with that much meconium. My heart sank. Last baby. Last birth. Fuck you, universe. Let’s grab our stuff & transfer.
So we drove off. Nothing dramatic, mind you. Just, off we go! Arrived at 4 pm. The nurses at the desk seemed a bit flustered, but the nurses on L&D were amazing. They swooped into the ER, picked us up, and delivered us into a nice room. We gave them the rundown of events. Not once did I encounter a bit of negativity from any of them. They set about their jobs & treated us respectfully every step of the way. Complete 180 from my first birthing experience.
They listened to baby for 20 minutes. During this time my contractions were hitting ‘yep, this is labor. That fucking hurts,’ on my scale. They ran through questions as fast as possible (fortunately my husband and doula were able to answer most for me), called the doc, and prepped the supplies. Baby had a perfect monitor strip, so they took us off the machine & let us be. Quick dilation check showed 6cm.
I was up and down, from the toilet to the bed. Spacy, couldn’t settle. I knew we had hit transition. I let everything happen around me while I rode out the contractions. It was building, fast. I was beginning to wonder if I’d beat my record of 1-1/2 hours. The nurses were wondering the same.
The doc came in. She was so easygoing. We went over the particulars of what would happen, how things would go given the meconium. I was introduced to the neonatal doc. We were all in agreement. Another quick check showed 9cm. She was unphased. ‘Doing good! Not much longer. Let us know if you start feeling pushy…’ and they left. In my head I was laughing. Because I knew what was coming.
I got off the bed, deposited my pants & underwear off to the side, and managed to grunt ‘it’s time’ as I climbed back on the bed, got on my knees, leaned over the back of the bed, and gave a half-hearted push. I could feel the freight train building steam, so I didn’t want to use up too much energy yet.
My husband ran for the door and yelled for everyone to come back, it was time. He caught his third child by himself, on our living room floor, but now he gets panicked. Again, I found myself laughing in my head. I saw the door out of the corner of my eye, and as my husband stepped back into the room, the team of nurses & docs exploded through the door. Gowns & gloves were being thrown on, tools & supplies set up, a massive rush of activity. The doc checked. ‘10cm, 0 station.’ Contraction. FREIGHT TRAIN. I felt the head slam into my hip bone as it moved down. That one push brought the head to crowning. My hand flew down to slow the burn. Contraction. FREIGHT TRAIN. Head slides through, almost out. It was a double peak, so I took a big breath and gave it everything. Out comes the head, and barely a pause before the body spins & slides out. ‘It’s a girl!’ One little cry. Quiet.
And I’m paralyzed. I want so desperately to turn around & grab her, but communication between my brain and body has ceased. I hear them waiting, for me to turn, for her to cry again. Someone speaks up. ‘We need to-‘
‘Take her!’ I manage. Clamp, cut. Dammit. Didn’t want that. Can’t fucking move. Why can’t I move?!
A big, lusty cry. I breathe. Had I been holding my breath? I can feel life returning to my arms & legs. I slowly turn myself around. Everyone is smiling, chatting. ‘She’s a big girl!’ I sit, wait for it.
‘9 pounds 15 ounces!’
They bring her to me, still a bit messy. Head full of dark hair. Face a little bruised and swollen. ‘No need for suctioning, she didn’t aspirate any of it.’ Hallefuckinglujah. Smart girl. And so beautiful.
1 hour, 10 minutes. 3 minutes of pushing, 3 pushes. 9lbs 15oz, 22” long, 14.5” head. My last baby. Happy birthday, little girl.