Violet Eliora Smith's Birth Story
I was forty one weeks and four days pregnant. I always expected to go past my guess date, even past forty two. What I didn't know was that our midwife couldn't support me at home if I went past forty two weeks, legally. I had planned on not using any interventions, so it was a big deal for me to choose to give labor a little boost. My pregnancy had gone perfectly thus far, and I trusted in my body for it to continue to go well. I did find comfort in knowing that the herbal induction wouldn't work unless my body was ready.
On Thursday morning, around 11:30am, I started taking a remedy of castor oil and some herbal tinctures, to get my contractions going. Braxton Hicks had been present for what seems like my entire pregnancy and at my last visit with the midwife I was already 3-4cm dilated. I spent the rest of the afternoon with my mother in law, walking, bouncing on the birth ball, pumping, squatting, and walking some more. Anything to get labor started!
Later in the evening I started having a little bloody show. After all the activities for the day had ended, and things were quiet and calm in our tiny apartment, around 11:30pm, I felt something. My first contraction that actually felt like something! Excited didn't begin to cover it. I decided to go to bed and sleep through as much as I could.
At 1:30am, I woke up to a small gush of fluid. I'm still not sure sure if it was my bag of waters or if it was just more bloody show, but I definitely couldn't sleep after that. I put on some soft acoustic music and swayed through each wave. Matt watched and danced with me for most of the night. He rubbed my back and got me a heating pad. This was definitely my favorite part of the entire day. I loved the way he looked at me and how peaceful and romantic everything felt with the twinkly lights and our one on one connection. Things were picking up so at 3:30am we texted the midwife to update her. I knew she'd be sleeping, so we waited to call until 4:30am. She told me it sounded like things were going well and to just keep doing what we were doing. So, when the sun came up we got up to eat breakfast. Around 7:30am I texted her again, asking about the birth pool and telling her I was ready for help now. She told me her assistant would come soon. I got online with my doula friends and talked about how intense it was getting. They sent me lots of love and all the birthy vibes. It was so comforting to be in contact with such a supportive community of women. I got in the shower for some relief and was amazed at the difference it made in the intensity of the waves! I stayed in the hot water, swaying and moaning, until Danielle arrived and the hot water ran out.
She checked my cervix and I was complete on one side and had swelling on the other. so I was 6-7cm. I had to wait until I was at least 8cm to get in the birth pool. Matt and Brandon (my brother, and the picture taker) started filling it up, while Danielle and I worked on that cervical swelling. We did a few different lunging positions and before I knew it, I was 8cm. (While this was happening, something crazy started happening with the pipes and water was pouring out from behind the walls and pooling on the floors-- I just decided to labor in the bedroom until that was sorted out.)
Transition started coming on before the pool was ready, so I jumped back in the shower to cope. I had a few waves in there before I got into the birth pool. Matt held me through every single wave and comforted me when it felt like I just could not go on anymore. It was beyond intense. Soon enough, that part was finished. The waves lulled back to a manageable intensity and I started to push. I expected to have the urge to push, like I had read so much about, but I don't think I ever did. I had to bear down with every contraction. The midwife guided me on how to push. Using the energy to bear down, instead of letting the energy flow elsewhere. We tried several different positions in the pool, laying back, squatting, all fours. She didn't move much, and after two hours, we were both too hot and had to move to the bedroom. Matt and I cozied up in bed and again we tried every position we could think of. The most exciting part was when we could actually see her head! We looked in the mirror and both smiled so big, knowing that she was coming soon. She had so much hair. It was beautiful. As time went on, I pushed harder and harder. It seemed like she was moving down. My contractions were starting to space out. Eventually ten minutes apart. We decided to take some more of the herbal tinctures, use some essential oils, and climb the stairs outside. We got the contractions going again at 4-6 minutes apart, but it was too late. I had already been pushing for as long as was allowed. Baby Violet was (very happily, according to her heart rate) stuck in the birth canal. What was moving was a caput, not her actual skull. We had to make the heartbreaking call to transfer to the hospital.
A few phone calls were made and away we drove to the hospital. Matt was a calm and under control, while I moaned and cried in the backseat with Violet's head, literally in my vagina. When we got there, there weren't any options given because my pushes weren't moving her. Cesarean was it for us. So, about two hours after our arrival at the hospital, at 9:22pm, Violet Eliora was belly-birthed. We both cried as much as she did and we were so thankful just to have her here with us.
As a birth doula, I know full well that birth doesn't always go as planned. I know that it is out of my control. I also know that if left undisturbed, and allowed to progress naturally 95% of the time birth works. Why I had to be the 5% that didn't work will forever baffle me, but I'm sure I'll find some meaning in it at some point. I trusted my body and I trusted birth and I will just hope that next time, I will be able to accomplish a vaginal birth. For now, I take comfort in knowing that I gave birth the same way that 32% of American women do. I now know what so many women go through, everyday. I know that I did absolutely everything I could to birth my baby the way that I wanted to and I know that she was born the way she was meant to be. And I officially know that birth is totally unpredictable. I wouldn't have changed a single thing about my birth plan and I will have my home birth, one day.