Oh Baby It's a Wild World! The story of our accidental unassisted HBAC, Emery Everdeen, born 12/4/20
We love when our doula clients share their birth stories, and today's was written by Sarah, mom of two beautiful girls. Join us as she takes us on her journey to her well-planned VBAC, but not only her VBAC but an HBAC (home birth after cesarean) which ended up being unassisted as well. Special thanks to Mindful Birth Doula Tara, who also unexpectedly served as Birth Assistant to the midwife on speaker phone! Let's begin this wild ride of a birth story. Enjoy.
Emery Everdeen, our accidental unassisted HBAC
"Early on, I knew that I wanted a different kind of birth experience than I’d had with my first – she was a birth center transfer that turned into an unexpected cesarean. I started researching my options for birth support, and found a home birth VBAC supportive midwife, found a wonderful doula (Yay TARA!!), and checked in with my mental health counselor to prep for any feelings that could pop up related to prior birth trauma. I started chiropractic care, signed up for the Birthing from Within class, and listened to any vbac podcasts I could get my hands on. I’m so grateful for each of these resources, as they ended up being exactly what I needed.
During pregnancy, we dealt with several issues that seemed to be a rollercoaster of emotion. Would I be able to continue with a home birth? Would my baby be ok? Would this new situation require me to transfer to hospital care? Thanks to the support of both my doula and counselor, I was able to work through these issues as they came up. We talked through the things that scared me most, and Tara helped me create a realistic plan (like packing a “just in case” bag) in the event of a hospital transfer.
I started having contractions on November 30th, and thanks to all the hard work I’d done to get ready, I felt as prepared as I could possibly be. I spent the evening doing some deep breathing and bouncing on my yoga ball. Contractions remained pretty steady through the evening, but by morning things had fizzled out almost completely. My midwife had suggested acupuncture, so I set up another appointment for later that day.
Despite my best efforts to keep contractions going, baby was just not ready. From Tuesday until Thursday, nothing happened. Thursday night I thought I’d felt my water leak, but I wasn’t sure. Tara gave some encouragement and a reminder to get some rest, and I decided to just follow up with the midwife at my appointment the next morning. At my appointment, I was given some instructions on how to check for amniotic fluid in case of a further leak, and we did one last check for positioning; baby had been sitting sunny side up for weeks. We talked about doing a lift and tuck as much as possible, especially during contractions.
That night around 7 I felt another small gush of fluid and when I checked, it WAS amniotic fluid! I tried to stay calm as I called my midwife for further instructions and gave my husband an update. To keep my chances of a VBAC as high as possible, we wanted to see labor get started within the next 12-14 hours. My midwife suggested a ‘midwife brew’ to help things along since my waters had already broken, so I took some and headed to bed. I was bracing myself for another 30-hour labor like I’d had with my first, and wanted to be as rested as possible.
Around midnight, I woke up to a contraction. It was definitely stronger than what I’d felt earlier in the week, so I was excited. I decided to try to empty my bladder and get back to sleep. I adjusted my pillows to give a bit of counter pressure on my back, turned on my heating pad, and drifted off.
I woke up again around 2am to another strong contraction. This time, I felt a strong pop like I’d been kicked in the cervix, and an immediate gush – my water had DEFINITELY broken this time. As I made my way to the bathroom, I remembered the lift and tuck I’d discussed with my midwife. As painful as it was, I knew that this would be crucial for getting baby into the right position. It took about 5-6 contractions, but I felt the moment baby shifted over my pelvis and into place. After that, things picked up significantly.
Within the next few contractions (maybe around 3:30 am) I was on my knees vocalizing through each surge. I woke up my husband, Matt, and asked him to call Tara. Smart man that he is, he called the midwife as well. While waiting for our team to arrive, he tried to get things set up while assisting me with counter pressure as I knelt on all fours in our very narrow bathroom. I remember him telling me I needed to come into the bedroom – my rational mind knew that that would be the best place for me to go, but it was SO difficult to want to move in that moment. Somehow, with his coaching, I was able to crawl out and onto the waiting towels by the foot of our bed.
"I woke up again around 2am to another strong contraction. This time, I felt a strong pop like I’d been kicked in the cervix, and an immediate gush – my water had DEFINITELY broken this time."
Tara arrived shortly after, and started to help get the birth pool set up. She and Matt alternated doing counter pressure to help with the contractions while the pool filled. Before it was even halfway full, I was feeling some intense low pressure – I remember trying to talk during the contraction to tell them, but it was so hard to form words. In between contractions it felt like I was falling asleep. I was definitely in labor land at that point. I was vaguely aware of Tara asking when the midwife would arrive since it seemed like things were really progressing very quickly. I kept thinking to myself that I couldn’t push yet – surely it wasn’t time for that – not until the midwife got there. But of course, this labor was on a completely different course from the one I’d experienced before.
Matt got our midwife on the line, and she stayed connected as she was driving our way. I felt my body continue to take over during contractions, and as hard as I tried NOT to push, I was pushing anyway. In between contractions, I called out “I think I feel something between my legs” and I heard Tara telling the midwife, “yep, there’s baby’s head”. With little time to prepare any further, Matt and Tara (with the midwife on the phone) got ready. Once I heard that was ok to push, I gave it everything I had. I didn’t hold back, and ROARED my baby out in just a few pushes into Tara’s waiting hands. 9lb 1oz and a nuchal hand! I was in complete disbelief – as much as I’d imagined this moment, it was here and I DID IT! I birthed my baby AT HOME!
My team helped me to get settled and I realized that no one had said ‘boy’ or ‘girl’ yet, so I turned around and announced proudly – “It’s a girl”! I’m so glad that we left this surprise for her arrival – it was the absolute best surprise of 2020.
“It’s a girl”! I’m so glad that we left this surprise for her arrival – it was the absolute best surprise of 2020."
I made my way up onto the bed and held my beautiful baby for a few moments. My midwife continued to support me via phone, and we all turned our focus to my placenta that had still not arrived. Despite our efforts, it still had not come out by the time the midwife arrived, and she and her team quickly jumped in to assess the situation. By that time, I’d lost quite a bit of blood, and it was soon evident that I’d need more medicalized care. We decided to call for an ambulance – something that I’d once been terrified of. Thanks to the hard work I’d put in (and the bag that I’d already packed), I was prepared and able to remain calm during the transfer.
At the hospital, I was able to continue to advocate for myself by asking one of the nurses to walk me through what was happening. I’m so grateful that she was able to do that; it helped me to continue to stay calm and focused. As she described what everyone was doing, I felt my nervousness fade, and I was able to turn my attention to getting my placenta out.
Before the team was done getting me fixed up, my husband arrived with our new baby. Eventually, a nurse came in and asked if we were ok letting Tara come in – “YES!” I almost shouted. Just having her there helped me to re-center a bit. It would have been so easy to be in a place of fear or anxiety since one of my biggest goals was to stay out of a hospital, but knowing that my husband and doula were both there to help me advocate for what I wanted was such a huge weight off of my shoulders. I was able to focus on my precious new girl.
Even though things went much faster than expected, and not quite according to plan, I am so incredibly grateful that I was able to find the support I needed to birth my baby at home. This was such a healing experience, and I am still in awe of just how everything played out. What a whirlwind!
BIG thank you to Tara and the Mindful Birth team for helping us prepare so well!"
Awww, we are humbled and happy to serve! Join us in congratulating this sweet family of four!
Our doula best,
The Mindful Birth Doulas
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