When I found out I was pregnant with my third child, I was so excited! My daughter had been a planned birth center birth, turned C-Section. I was so elated when I was able to have my homebirth VBAC with my first son less than 2 years after that. I planned on having another easy peasy homebirth with my newest little one, too!
I’m sure others who have been through traumatic experiences will understand when I say that on the outside, I probably looked like everything was fine and that I was okay with the way things unfolded. The story I told on social media and to friends at the time was a stretch of the truth. From the photos I shared, everyone knew that I had begun at home and ended up in the hospital, but didn’t know the details. It has taken me years to process what really happened, but I’m finally ready to share the birth story of my amazing son, Heath.
As you can see by the little smile on my face, I still had a little hope that I wouldn’t go overdue with him!
Here I am the day before I had Heath. I was so uncomfortable. I could tell my pelvic bones were out of place and his positioning was really, really hurting me, but I was determined to power through! I had the WORST back and pelvic pain with Heath’s pregnancy, starting about midway through and all the way to the end. None of my others were anywhere near this painful. He was also very rough in utero. I remember several nights lying down to sleep, and the second I would get comfortable on my side, he would start RUNNING (it felt like it anyway!) with his feet up against the bed. OUCH. His kicks were SO strong and I always felt bruised on the inside from it.
The next morning, I woke up a little before 7AM and felt a little off. I used the restroom and felt like maybe my water had broken, but it wasn’t a lot, so I decided to cautiously go about a normal morning routine. I made my way downstairs, poured myself a bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats, and called my midwives. They didn’t answer. I panicked, because I didn’t think I would have a hard time reaching them, but I left a message.
I tried watching a little TV while I ate the cereal, but immediately realized I was not able to focus on it at all. I went back upstairs and woke my husband up. I let him know that I couldn’t get ahold of the midwives but I really thought today was the day. We called my mom to come get my older kids so she could watch them at her house while I was giving birth.
I don’t remember a lot of the next 2 hours. Looking back now, I realize that I was actually in transition from about that time I woke up until when my midwives finally called me back. Apparently they had been attending another birth and had their phone on silent. My husband answered when they called, and told me they were on their way. My mom came and picked up my kids, which I don’t remember at all, but she told me she heard me wailing upstairs. 🙂
My midwives came over, and within less than an hour, I had him. When it was time to push, I felt like leaning forward on my birth ball on my hands and knees, on my bed. I pushed like this for a while, and suddenly the midwife helping me went from steady encouragement to stern, almost harsh, commands to change positions. As my son was coming out, she explained, his second shoulder was getting caught and we needed to get him out NOW.
I was told to lie on my back, and my legs were positioned at an uncomfortable angle to help get that “sticky” shoulder out. Finally, he was born around 10AM the morning of September 27th. He weighed in at 9lb11oz (my smallest VBAC baby!) and was 21 1/2″ long.
He came out blue. I was terrified. I immediately laid hands on him and began praying to God to please help him to live and to be healthy and strong. Within minutes, he pinked up and was looking great.
We weighed him and I started nursing him, when my midwife noticed how blue *I* was looking. Even my nail beds were turning blue. They had used a little oxygen on my son and now turned it to me.
They checked my bleeding, and I was hemorrhaging, but not regular blood. No, it was HUGE clots. They gave me a shot of Pitocin to try and get it to stop. They stuck several tablets of Cytotec rectally to try to stop my bleeding. It was a really anxious and scary scene. Unfortunately, they didn’t bring a lot of oxygen for my homebirth. They had the standard amount, but both my baby and I had complications, so they were running low.
My midwives started bickering back and forth about whether or not we should call 911 or if they should transport me to the hospital themselves. They were talking about how the paramedics wouldn’t be able to get a gurney up my stairs and they’d be mad that I was upstairs in such a difficult place to access. Then they talked about whose vehicle they would transport me in if they took me. Finally, I spoke up and said, “JUST CALL 911!!!!” They did, and my husband wrapped me up in my comforter and carried me downstairs and placed me on a recliner in my living room to make it easier for the paramedics to get to me.
When they got there, we were in the ambulance in front of my house for what seemed like forever. They asked me a million questions, most of them twice or more. My midwife told them to massage my uterus since I had just given birth and its tone wasn’t really great yet. I remember the paramedic “massaging” my bones in my pelvis. Apparently, he didn’t know where a uterus was located.
When we arrived at the hospital, they got me right into a room and set up an IV. I was very stable at the time, and the on call OB looked at me like I was stupid for causing a scene and transporting there. RIGHT as she left the room, I looked at the blood pressure monitor and saw how low it was and I said, “I’m not feeling so well…..” and passed out. They called the OB back in and she noticed that I had passed a TON of huge clots. I think that the paramedics not actually massaging my uterus probably helped keep me stable enough because the clots probably got blocked up for a bit so I didn’t bleed out on the way to the hospital!
The next few minutes were really scary and happened very fast. They had me sign paperwork agreeing to a D&C and agreeing to a hysterectomy if they determined I couldn’t keep my uterus. They had me take some liquid medication, and they put me under anesthesia to totally knock me out for the procedure. I remember being wheeled into surgery, the room feeling cold, and seeing the bright lights before the procedure. The next thing I remember, I was in Recovery.
Fortunately, I didn’t lose my uterus. I did receive a blood transfusion (2 units) and stayed at the hospital for a few days and nights. To be honest, getting that blood made me feel so much better. I instantly had more energy and began to heal.
The OB told me that I had retained part of the amniotic sac, which is why I was bleeding out so much. It wasn’t retained placenta or any kind of tearing or uterine rupture or anything like that. It was that dang bag of waters. She said she had never seen anything quite like it, with it causing such a problem. She immediately decided that my midwives were negligent for letting me homebirth and turned them in to the state board for letting me VBAC with a history of large babies and that I was overdue.
This began a whole nightmare of its own, because my midwives were insisting over the next couple of days and weeks that I provide them with any kind of evidence that would help them build their own case to say that they weren’t being negligent. I was asked to help them by sharing my birth videos (I didn’t have many), pictures, and to go get a copy of my medical records from the hospital stay. It really added to the birth trauma I was already experiencing and trying to process.
Apparently the midwives hadn’t taken very good notes during my birth and had many things unaccounted for as far as a timeline and they were trying to build a more complete picture of that. As a woman who felt like her child and herself just almost died from childbirth, I found the whole thing VERY scary and intrusive. It’s taken me years to come to terms with it and to try and make peace with it.
While I’m incredibly thankful for their expertise in moving my body around to get my child out when we clearly had a shoulder dystocia issue, I felt completely dumped as a patient/client right after the birth. My midwife who had delivered my son actually came in while I was in Recovery and said, “Well, it looks like that’s about the biggest baby you can birth. If you have any more kids, it looks like you’ll need a C-Section.” Crushing. Terrifying.
The whole experience left a terrible taste in my mouth, and I am still a little bitter about it all. Because of how this birth went down and how the caregivers all played into it all, I was absolutely petrified to ever give birth again and tried for over a year to convince myself that 3 kids was the perfect family size for me. If you’ve read my other birth stories, you’ll see that I did find myself pregnant again a few years later, and I chose to VBAC in the hospital with an OB the next time. That birth, and the natural birth of my 11 pound VBAC baby with CNMs in the hospital, were so healing for me after this crazy birth of my second son.
Due to the traumatic experience of feeling like I might lose my baby and then feeling like I might not live to raise him, I feel like my bond with my middle child is strong in a unique way. He was the most calm, serene, precious baby. I wore him a lot in baby carriers and he was so quiet and good all the time. He ended up being my earliest walker, at 9 months, and became what I referred to as Hurricane Heath because he destroyed everything in his path. 🙂
While his birth did not go as planned, it is part of what makes me who I am and our relationship what it is. I love him more than anything, and I can tell the feeling is mutual.