An Unassisted Birth

The Unassisted Birth of Virgil Flanagan

Wednesday August 10 (My Father-In-Laws Birthday).
Brian and I stayed up an hour past bedtime hanging out in the hot tub and spending time together. Wednesday is our long day and usually I just crash as soon as he gets home.

At 11:30 we were getting ready for bed. I was sitting on the toilet and had a squirt of something come out of me. I thought it could be pee. I stood up, more liquid. Sat down and put my hands in the few drops that dribbled out, warm, clear and slightly sticky.

We called our doula (we wanted an extra pair of hands to grab towels, food, deal with children, etc… I am so glad we had her because it meant that Brian could stay with me while she did all of the above. At one point Brian tried to get something I asked and I screamed, “Stay!” at him.) and went to bed. Contractions started 10 minutes apart but 90seconds long and intense to need moaning through.

At 12:30 we called our doula to come over because we suspected things could go fast. I went downstairs. I blogged, put a load of towels in the dryer and baked bread. I drank a pot of red raspberry tea and brewed a new one. My doula laughed at me and helped me fold the laundry. I think she had to carry the laundry bucket because I couldn’t do it w/ the contractions. Around 3:30 we turned out the lights and she and I slept on the couch. Contractions were still about every 10 min and 90 seconds and needed moaning when lying down. I finally fell asleep anyway and woke around 5:30. Contractions, were still about the same put with a need to push in the middle of them. I thought maybe I would have my son lying on my left side on the couch similar to my last child.

At 6:30 I sent the doula up to wake Brian. Eventually, I moved to the bathroom. In the bathroom I went through every opening position my body asked of me. It was never conscious and no one suggested anything. I squatted on the toilet. I stood over the toilet with my hands on a bar stool similar to hands and knees but standing. I got down on a yoga mat and towels on the floor and did one legged squats. I tried hands and knees w/ towels and a birth ball. I bit down on a towel. And I screamed the primal scream of birthing with every darn contraction. And still my son didn’t move. He had been so low for so long and already LOA. He had moved down a few centimeter earlier on the couch, but no matter what my body asked me to do I could not get him to move. During the screaming time my older boys (7 and 8 years) woke up. My doula reported to me that they were playing a game where every time I screamed they raced to see who could get under a blanket first and were laughing. I think my middle finger may have been raised by that info.

Finally, I stopped being productive and saying I couldn’t do it anymore. I had been pushing so long and his head was still just in the same place. I knew if I could just get his head to move past the tissue in front of it that I’d be fine but he just would NOT move. My doula suggested I get in the tub. The thought of climbing the stairs didn’t appeal. But after a few more contractions I agreed.

I got in the tub and I don’t know that it really helped much. It was relaxing between contractions but they were still intense and frustrating because I just kept feeling his head hit that thin piece of tissue. I was so discouraged, in between contractions that had me flopping all around in our hugh soaking tub that I started saying things like, “I’m done. I can deal with a brain damaged baby and surgery.” My husband and doula just kept saying, “You are doing it. You’re right you’re almost done.”

Finally, I demanded they call Tammi and see if there was any way she could come out. They were reluctant at first and I got adamant about it pointing out I’d been pushing for over an hour w/ NO progress. (In hindsight it was almost 2 hours!) It was so bright in our white tiled bathroom with the tub right under the window that it never occurred to me it was early morning. Tammi couldn’t come out but she did suggest I try blowing through a few contractions in case I had a lip.
I ignored that advice for one more contraction, then thought anything’s gotta be better. I managed to blow through the middle third of the next contraction. The next contraction I started blowing and suddenly I was scrambling off my back onto my knees grabbing the wall of the tub trying to get out. I felt myself opening wide in two different places. (My husband says I screamed, “Crowning! Crowning! Crowning!) I felt Virgil’s head pop out and knew it was too late to get out of the tub. Then I was leaning back against the side of the tub, holding a purple screaming baby. The moments in between are lost to me. I know that his body followed his head immediately and I must have reached down and lifted him out of the water but it happened so fast that my husband and doula barely saw it and my counscious mind blanked out.
Virgil’s cord was fairly short so I stayed in the empty tub with us wrapped in a dry towel for about 30 minutes when I finally decided to cut the cord. It was white and you could see clots in it. I had wanted to wait until the placena was out but the tub was too deep for me to get out safely while holding Virgil and the cord was too short to hand him to anyone else.

After getting into bed the placenta contractions started. Yuck. At least it only took a few of those up on my knees to get the placenta out.

My thoughts on UP/UC. UP – I missed having a great midwife and the prenatal care they give. By prenatal care, I mean having someone to call and talk to. There were never any physical concerns and my friends were great at providing much of the mental pep talks/confidence builders etc… but I still had times where I would have loved to call a midwife and have her undivided attention. I am very grateful to Tammi for answering my e-mails during the pregnancy when I did have a question about what was and wasn’t normal. And for recommending a wonderful doula who would be comfortable with UC.

UC – For me it was a path that called to me over two years ago. As the pregnancy progressed it became more and more about trust. I suppose you could say that by calling Tammi at the very end I gave up trust that my body knew what to do. But I would say that it was still trust. Trust that when I needed help someone would be available. Had it been 2AM I wouldn’t have felt comfortable calling Tammi. Tammi could have not answered her phone. Tammi could have refused to talk to us. But none of that happened. It did all work out. What would have happened if we hadn’t called Tammi? Probably, I would have pushed until I was exhausted and finally been too tired to push and my uterus would have done what it did when I blew through a contraction. Neither I nor Virgil were ever in trouble. By calling for help I simply saved myself a lot of unnecessary exhaustion.

In rehashing the birth with my doula she stated she was very glad I’d gone UC because she doesn’t believe that any of our local midwives wouldn’t have wanted to do a vaginal exam to at least examine my cervical lip.

Erika and Angus

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