Beginning in Week 28 of pregnancy with Thomas, my husband Sam and I were given the notion that T would be born before his ‘guess’ date, October 2nd, 2016. During that week, I had experienced some contractions and had a positive result on a fetal fibronectin test. Max (our firstborn) was 2 1/2 weeks early so we expected our second to be early too. It was surprising when October 2nd came and went and I was still very pregnant. One of my very good friends gave me some pregnancy/birth/postpartum affirmation cards in the last few weeks of my pregnancy and the one I went back to over and over read, “My baby will come when ready, I am patient and enjoying this moment.”
On October 4th, Sam went to work in the evening as usual. Max and I were playing when I felt the first rush around 6pm. I continued to have rushes every 5-10 minutes. About an hour later they became more regular so I called Sam and let him know, but thought he should stay at work because it was still too early to tell if this was the real deal.
I put Max to bed at 7pm and relaxed on the couch. The rushes kept coming pretty rhythmically so Sam called in his back-up for work and made his way home. We called our neighbors and let them know I was in labor as they were going to take care of Max, should we need to go to the birth center.
Around 10:30pm Sam called the on-call midwife, Sarah, who suggested I try to take a shower/bath or try to get some rest. I did get a little rest, but periodically woke with strong rushes and finally had to get up around 1:30am. We labored at home a while longer and ended up getting to the birth center at 3:30am.
Sarah met us at the front door and we got settled in. Sam rubbed my back through the rushes and in between would hand me the affirmation cards I mentioned earlier. One of my favorites during labor was, “My vagina stretches like a yogi and performs like a rock star.” They were so great and so very helpful.
I remember having to pee quite a bit and labored on the toilet a lot. After the rushes got really intense I got into the tub. I really wanted to have a water birth which you’ll soon find out was not in the cards for us. I had to pee again and got out to go to the bathroom. This time I had an insanely intense rush and for the first time felt the urge to push. I pushed and my water broke (something that never happened with Max, who was born en caul). Everything happened pretty fast after my water broke. Sarah came back in the room and we went to the birth stool. Every rush felt like my uterus was vomiting out my baby. I never felt rushes that intense with Max’s labor. I got to the point a couple times when I thought to myself, “I can’t do this. . .” and then I would think about Max and remind myself, “You can do this. You’ve done it before. Eventually this will end and there will be a baby.” I just had to keep telling myself, “This will not last forever.”
After pushing for about 20 minutes on the stool, Sarah did another check on the baby. She grabbed a flashlight, looked and felt around again and said, “Okay, the baby is breech. Our protocol now is to do a hospital transfer. We’ll call 911 and wait for the ambulance to get here.” She had me walk over to the bed and hang my butt off the end. Meanwhile, I was still having these crazy intense rushes in which I feel I had no choice but to push. I asked if I could still push and Sarah said, “If you have to, yes.” Sam asked what would happen once we got to the hospital and she said, “They’ll do an emergency C-section.”
Time stopped for a moment and somehow I had two thoughts simultaneously, “Thank goodness I don’t have to do this anymore” and “I have to get this baby out before the ambulance gets here.” I went into full-primal-beast mode. I completely let go and my body took over. I kept pushing with contractions and Sarah said something like, “This baby is going to be born, I think this baby is going to be born.”
I kept envisioning an image from Ina May Gaskin’s book of a statue figure holding open a gaping vagina. In my head, that was my vagina. I’m happy to say I didn’t tear at all while pushing T’s body out. I pushed out his body up to his armpits, his arms and head were still inside. I asked if I had to wait for another rush to push out his head and they said I should. It felt like it was taking too long and I started getting nervous, so I pushed and I pushed once more and his head came out.
They put T on my chest but after a few seconds he hadn’t cried or breathed yet so they put him on a resuscitation board next to my head. They gave him a little puff of air. I was holding his little hand and looking at his little blue body. A second later he started to cry and I started bawling. They handed him back to me and Sam said, “Jacque, we have a little boy.” (I should mention we didn’t know the sex of the baby before Thomas was born and through all the commotion that was the first moment we realized he was a boy.)
Seconds or minutes later, paramedics came in, assessed the room and said surprised, “Oh, she had the baby.” Sarah let us know that since Thomas and I were both stable we could stay at the birth center but we had the option to go to the hospital. We opted to stay at the birth center. The paramedics said, “Congratulations,” and headed out.
Overall, Sarah and the nurses in our room stayed very calm and I think handled the breech situation perfectly. It may be naïve but I wasn’t aware of the risks of delivering a breech baby vaginally before I had Thomas. The whole, emergency C-section, trip to the hospital thing should have clued me in but I felt like we were safe and everything was under control the whole time. Thank you, thank you, thank you to our labor/support team. You are the reason Thomas made it out safely. . . even though he did it his own way.
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