Birth Center Birth Turned Into A Home Birth!
My pregnancy with Christopher was far from ideal. The heavy nausea of the first trimester occurred when my oldest child was undergoing a long recovery from surgery. At the end of that trimester, child by child, each of my older 4 kids contracted Fifth disease. I was dismayed to discover through blood work that I had it too. The risk to the baby was small, but serious and I had frequent checkups.
By 27 weeks, the danger to the baby was past, but my frequent Braxton-Hicks contractions gave way to rhythmic back pain and cervical twinges. In pre-term labor, I was put on bed rest for the duration of the pregnancy. I was thrilled to make it to 37 weeks, as that meant I could use the birthing center instead of the hospital.
The baby also finally turned to vertex from breech that week. A few days after that landmark, on Friday, my contractions seemed stronger than usual. I called my doula around 10 pm, and she met us at the birthing center. The midwife checked me (still 3 cm, as I had been for awhile), let me labor awhile, monitored the baby and checked again before sympathetically saying she didn't think I was in labor. She offered a shot of vistaril (ouch!) to help me sleep and sent us home.
The night was restless. I did sleep, but was up from time to time with diarrhea and intermittent contractions. Saturday morning brought little change -- regular contractions, but not convincing. I was not hungry, and just sat in a warm tub of water for a couple of hours, very relaxed, while my husband fed and entertained the other children. I focused on total relaxation during contractions, and almost found myself nodding off between them.
I began to feel nauseated, and finally vomited the previous night's dinner. This seemed like a good time to call the doula again. I also had a little bloody show. The doula arrived and helped me dress to head back to the birthing center, but away from the nice, warm water, the contractions were distressingly strong and frequent. I made it downstairs and to the garage, but then felt so miserable that I didn't think I could possibly ride in the van 20 or 30 minutes to the birthing center. It felt like transition, and I wasn't even sure I would make it there before the baby was born.
I halfheartedly considered going to the hospital 3 miles away, but ultimately decided to stay home and give birth with the assistance of my doula and my physician husband. Our neighbors took our 3 oldest children to their home, and my husband borrowed a tarp for our living room floor (white carpet!) where I elected to labor, leaning against the sofa. We had lots of towels and chux pads on hand. My two year old boy slept in his room, even through all my screaming. I thought I vocalized a lot, but my husband and doula said I didn't.
The delivery took longer to accomplish than I expected. I had a very long "rest and be thankful" stage after full dilation, with contractions only every 15 minutes or so. I tried to push, but it caused great pain in my hip. My husband and my doula took turns checking, encouraging, monitoring, and helping me be as comfortable as possible.
Finally the urge to push kicked in, and Christopher was delivered very quickly after that. My husband had called 911, and the paramedics arrived with oxygen for the baby less than a minute after the birth. I thought things would go smoothly from there, but my contractions stopped and the placenta wouldn't come. Due to the risk of hemorrhage, the baby and I were loaded onto the fire truck to be taken to the birthing center. There the midwife gave me IV pitocin and massaged the placenta out, and also did some stitching.
After some rest, a meal, and a bath for me and the baby, we all went back home together. Christopher was 17.5 inches, and 5 pounds 9 ounces -- on the small side, but healthy.