A Precipitous Labor: A Surprise Homebirth Story of baby Silas in Naples on 2/18/20
Today's birth story is shared by Courtney, mom of 3 in Naples, FL. Please join the Mindful Birth Doulas in welcoming baby Silas Jay, who was in a big hurry, into the world!
"Going into my third pregnancy with a third baby boy, I was unsure and a little freaked out by “how I was going to get this baby out”! I think having already experienced labor twice before, and just knowing that such a big challenge was awaiting me had me struggling with the whole idea of doing it again. With my first pregnancy, I had prepared my mind and body by practicing yoga, hypnobirthing, and meditation and had a great natural, drug-free birth at the hospital. A really incredible experience. With my second pregnancy, I didn’t practice any of that and actually dealt with depression. I had been induced one week before my due date because of excess swelling and high blood pressure. It was a harder labor and I had an epidural put in. Regardless of my labor experience, both babies were born healthy as can be and I’m grateful! So now with this third pregnancy, I think that the unpredictability of it all was a bit unsettling for me and knowing that no matter what I could do to prepare and plan, ultimately anything could happen- every pregnancy, birth and child can be entirely different.
During the beginning of this pregnancy, my good friend Sarah, had entered me in a raffle for a maternity basket from Mindful Birth Services and I ended up winning! I got to meet with the owner Chris and right away felt a connection. I loved the idea of having a doula and wanted her specifically, but she explained that she would pair me up with one from her team. She definitely chose the perfect doula for me- Tara! We got to know each other and grew a great relationship and bond over the months leading to my birth.
With this pregnancy I learned a lot more and became more informed and mindful of things like how I didn’t want to lay on my back throughout labor, and all the useful and effective positions there are that can help the process. Mental imagery to focus on what is really happening to me and my baby during contractions helped me instead of only thinking of the pain which can be intimidating and make it all so much harder.
My doula shared some great podcasts, yoga videos, techniques, and a book called ‘Mind over Labor’ with me. It all really was my source of info and clarity that became my strength during labor.
I had never heard of the term precipitous labor. Basically, an extremely rapid labor and delivery. It is defined as “expulsion of the fetus within less than three hours of commencement.”
Lesson here: don’t always think you have time. I was in my third trimester one week before the official due date.
Like I said already, I struggled with the unpredictability of labor when I would try to figure out how I wanted this all to go down, especially having two older kids to consider when the time came to give birth. My intent was to stay in the comfort of my own home as long as possible knowing how close we lived to a hospital. Initially I thought I wanted to give birth in the hospital because I loved the idea of having a nurse help me and care for me before I would have to come back home and take care of my family, but the more I learned throughout this pregnancy, I began to change my mind and wish I had planned on a home birth or delivering at a birth center with a midwife where I could have the freedom but most of all comfort throughout labor and birth. Turns out, I was able to experience both of these because of this precipitous birth.
At 6:30 pm on a Tuesday night, I drove my boys to their belt ceremony at karate. I was having pain, but I dismissed them as Braxton Hicks. The cramps kept getting stronger and stronger in just the short time we were there. I literally thought right then and there, “what if my water broke here?” I got the boys home around 7:20 to get them ready for baths and bed, but before that I remember eating some leftovers from dinner in the kitchen. Before I knew it, the pain was growing stronger and I had to lean over the counter and brace myself with each contraction. I remember it being so intense that I dropped to all fours when another would come. My two-year-old thought I was playing and hopped on top for a ride! Surprisingly I was super calm and never stopped to think that this could be actual labor. Duh! Little did I know as I played on the floor with my toddler that I was, in fact, in labor. I just breathed through the pain. I bent over my yoga ball and texted my husband to let him know I was in pain and struggling to get the boys ready for bed. I needed him to come home. It wasn’t even a matter of suggesting to take me to the hospital. This was around 8:30.
Then I texted my friend Sarah who lives about a mile away. She said she’d come over to bring me a calming natural drink she had used just a year ago with her own contractions, (her third child has the same birthday now as mine). I texted Tara, my doula, and she said to get into the bath because it would relax me. When Sarah came over around 9pm and saw me in the bath, she saw how serious my pains had become and how quickly it had escalated. Then I got to talk to my doula on the phone and she calmly told me she was at another birth, which had never happened before! She knew I was in serious labor because I couldn’t talk to her through a contraction. She said she’d call and send my back up doula who lives about thirty minutes away. After that call, Sarah turned off the lights, lit a candle, played meditation music, and softly talked me through my now full-blown contractions. My mind was at peace - somehow I had neither panic nor anxiety. Sarah had never been in this position, but she does have the experience of giving birth three times with her doula and midwife.
She sat next to me timing my contractions which were 60 seconds long and 3 minutes apart. She predicted I may have been anywhere between 4-8 centimeters. Sarah told me later on that she didn’t really realize it was already so serious because I was so calm, but I was really just in the zone. She had thought it would be a long night of labor ahead. I imagined every contraction was getting my baby closer and closer to where I could finally meet him. Every single surge and squeeze of pain was purposeful and necessary to massage the baby and to energize his circulatory system and nervous system for the outside world. I knew that all I had to do is submit to labor and let it happen. After a few minutes I calmly and softly whispered to Sarah: “I think I need medication.” (Which we found to be humorous when we talked about everything later on.)
Afterwards, she said that was the point she knew we had to get going to the hospital, so she suggested getting out of the bathtub to go. Just as I was stepping out of the tub, the backup doula arrived around 9:45pm. It was at the moment she realized how far I was. My body completely took over and I immediately needed to bear down, so right from the tub I squatted down to the floor and held on to the sink. This was the moment of transition. My doula knew right away and asked Sarah to call 911. This was the most pain I have ever felt in my entire life. I was belting out in pain - screaming at every urge to push. Every time it surfaced, I could do nothing but bare down and push as I was squatting there in my bathroom. This only happened maybe 5 times. I needed to sit so I moved to the toilet and then I immediately had another urge to push, so as I pushed, I stood up, and in shock, the whole baby came out! It was 9:58pm. Sarah was able to catch him in time, but he was so slippery from still being inside the thin amniotic sac. There was no “Okay, here comes the head!” or “Here come the shoulders - one last push!” It was one speedy delivery that had the baby come out all at once. She had a hard time keeping hold of him. I remember just being froze there in shock and everyone and all sounds just faded out for a few seconds. He didn’t cry right away which concerned her, but she gave him a little squeeze and he cried out! Praise God!
There was an immediate sense of relief, one I would later find out permeated throughout the entire house, where my husband and kids were nearby waiting. The doula wrapped the baby in a towel and placed him in my arms as I sat back down on the lid of the toilet. With sweat dripping off my face I looked at my baby boy in awe trying to grasp what had just happened. His eyes open wide, he was looking up at me, he was so perfect. By this time the paramedics arrived, and Sarah’s husband had come to take the boys for the night. I remember seeing the reflection of bright red flashing lights through the windows with the dark of the night in the background. Everything was almost dream-like. Of course, my boys liked all the excitement, the ambulance, fire truck, and police car!
I was still in shock when they placed me in the ambulance. My husband got to cut the umbilical cord and when we got to the hospital, I was still laboring with the afterbirth. I thought I had already experienced the worst part of the pain, but it wasn’t over yet. Due to the precipitous birth, there was some serious and substantial trauma to my body and perineal tearing. Since the baby came all at once instead of gradually in stages, there was a hematoma. The doc had to stitch me back together and honestly it took so long and was the worst part. I stayed in the hospital for two days and had the best nurses and care. I really am so glad I was there to begin my recovery.
The next week was painful and hard for me. It hurt to sit and to walk. And if that wasn’t enough, beginning to breastfeed again came with a whole other set of pain! Sore nips, neck and shoulder pain, and awful cramping as my uterus would contract during every feeding. Not to mention sleepless nights to come and no chance to shower because when it comes to choosing to scarf down some food or jump in the shower, I always choose to eat! It’s certainly been rough, but I had a lot of support and help with the bigger kids. I often wonder how we do it. How?! How can we still function after all this? Mothers everywhere are AMAZING! Moms deal with such obstacles and challenges. It must be some super mommy power that we just have.
As I reflect and think back on all of this, it’s so wild but so purposeful! How everything played out, the mere fluke that Sarah happened to come at the right time, at the same time my original doula, who worked on everything with me, would not be available, and the backup doula ended up being Chris who met Sarah months before and was the whole reason I was using the doula service in the first place!
I know that God placed these few special people in the middle of this birth experience very purposefully. He granted me the blessing of this third child because he knew that I was equipped and could handle the uncertainty."
Birth story by Courtney, mom of 3 including beautiful baby Silas Jay, born 2/18/20
Doula: Tara Hoverson
Attending backup doula: Christine Ghali
From Christine: We love helping parents share their birth stories! It's not only a way to keep those memories preserved, and not only an opportunity to celebrate and announce your baby's unique arrival, but it's also your chance to tell your story and to be heard. You've spent all 9 months of pregnancy gathering information and birth stories from others, and once your baby is born IT'S YOUR TURN! There is no pressure for parents to share their story, and it's an honor for the doulas at Mindful Birth to be given this privilege when they do. Welcome to all of our new babies and deep gratitude to all of our new parents. For more birth stories, visit our blog.
-Christine Ghali, owner, certified doula, certified childbirth educator, certified birth mentor