Content Warning- Shoulder Dystocia and Neonatal Resuscitation
At 40+6 I was more than ready to be done.
My first came at 39+6 so OF COURSE my second would have arrived earlier. It was under this assumption that I didn’t have anything on the schedule or on my routine after 40 weeks.
Back to 40+6, it was a Saturday morning and my husband started texting the husband of a close friend of mine who I knew my whole life. He is a mechanic so they were discussing putting a rack on top of our vehicle. At that point he invited us for dinner so that we could hang out and do car/rack stuff. The minute Kennedy (my husband) asked me if I wanted to go, I did not hesitate or bat an eye to the fact that they lived 1 hour away. Labor was nowhere in site, I was depressed, annoyed at all the “is baby here yet” texts and I needed to get out of the house and hang out with “non-annoying” loved ones.
We made the hour drive to “the farm” and it was instant peace. I knew this was exactly what I needed. I think I had a slight fear that my labor wouldn’t start on it’s own because with my first, my water broke and my contractions stopped after arriving to the hospital… I eventually needed pitocin to get them rolling again. Read here for Esther’s birth story.
Being with a friend who understood me, understood what it was like going past 40 weeks and who understood out of hospital birth, I was able to relax throughout dinner and the evening and actually enjoy the time I was having. Low and behold, I began to feel the familiar cramping of my uterus warming up through the laughs and tears. I had a half glass of red wine and then our family started to make the drive home as it became clear that these waves were coming more rhymically.
During the car ride home, I was experiencing moderate contractions every 3-5 minutes. These ones seemed much more bearable than the pitocin ones that I remembered with Esther’s birth. I called the birth center hotline and made a plan with the midwife to come in around 1 am to get my first round of antibiotics for being GBS+. My step mother came over to pick up Esther and I did some last minute vacuuming to keep me moving and occupied. My thought was, “better get this done now, I won’t be moving from my bed and planned postpartum babymoon for the next two weeks.” I took seriously the prep into making the time after having Elias sacred and well rested.
Things seemed to slow down a bit so I went and laid on my left side on the bed. My mom laid next time. A little while later, my midwife came in and said it was time for the next round of antibiotics. Because of things seemingly settling down and it was close to morning, there was talk of sending me home so I could get some rest in my own bed. My mom felt strongly that I was closer than everyone thought so she kept bringing up another cervical exam. We decided to do the check. With a look of surprise and a twinkle in her eye, my midwife proclaimed, “you are the most graceful laborer!” She asked if I wanted to know where I was at and I said I did. At this point I was almost 8 cm.
To encourage contractions to pick up again, my midwife’s recommendation was to, “go for a walk, grab some breakfast and then come back and have your baby!” And that’s exactly what we did. We slowly got ready and started the journey outside on that gorgeous and sunny April Sunday morning. Just over 3 blocks away was a favorite breakfast diner that Kennedy and I used to go to a lot our first of marriage. I was feeling ambitious, nostalgic and ready to have this baby so off we went! I laugh because I can only imagine what the people driving by thought. Here’s this trio walking slowly with a pregnant woman stopping every few minutes to sway and moan.
We finally get to the restaurant and of course I had to. Lucky for us, the bathroom is in the basement so I slowly begin to make my way down the stairs after I put in the breakfast order. I must’ve been down there awhile because Kennedy came to check on me. As I started walking up the stairs I felt the lower pressure sensation like the need to poop. Which in the case of being 8 cm, that could only mean that baby had moved down further and I needed to get my booty back to the birth center. We paid and took our food to go and my track/soccer athlete hubby took off running to get our vehicle as my mom and I started walking back.
We arrived to the birth center with a tub already mostly filled with warm water. I jumped in and relaxed although things seemed to get more intense with the back labor. Shortly after, I felt a pop and noticed my bag of waters released. It was then that we noticed a light meconium staining. Meconium can sometimes be an indicator of stress on the baby but it can also be normal, esp being later term at 41 weeks. My midwife wasn’t too worried as heart tones seemed great.
The back labor intensified and at one point my midwife showed Kennedy how to do the double hip squeeze. It wasn’t the same as when she did it, which looking back, it would have been the perfect place for a doula to take over!
This transition time was so incredibly hard. I remember thinking, “how do I make this stop and get out of here?!” I started I feeling the slight urge to push although it was only towards the end of the contraction. My midwife did a check and I had a small lip of cervix left. She asked if I wanted to let it naturally slip away or if I wanted her to hold it back while I pushed baby’s head past it. I needed to be done, so I asked her to hold it. We did about 2 contractions worth of her holding to back while I pushed. Baby’s head got past the lip and I pushed another contraction and his head came out. At that point she unlooped the nuchal cord from around his neck and then noticed his face turtle back. The face turtling back is a major sign that shoulders weren’t releasing and she asked me to get out of the tub. I was helped out while the midwife had her hand placed over Elias’ head so it wouldn’t be accidentally bumped as I moved over the edge of the tub.
My midwife had me standing and leaning way over (Gaskin maneuver) as she tried to maneuver Elias’ shoulders out. I was instructed to keep pushing. My mom started crying and praying and then I started praying too. Finally his shoulders released. The second midwife had already arrived and placed warm blankets on the floor while my first midwife placed Elias on them as she began resuscitation. I now know that it’s normal for shoulder dystocia babies to be stunned and have a little harder time transitioning to take the first breath. He was connected to a still pulsating umbilical cord that was giving him oxygen from a mama standing over him who was connecting him to a lot of prayers. After what seemed forever, he finally took his breath and we all took one then too.
My midwife handed him to me for skin to skin contact then helped me onto the bed for us to rest and deliver the placenta. The placenta was ready to come and I felt nervous by all the pressure when my midwife said, “it’s not as big and there’s no bones!” Again, this confidence in my birthing space helped me push out the placenta. She asked if I wanted to save it and I looked at Kennedy and we both agreed after that experience we would do the encapsulation we had been discussing for awhile. Next she checked for repairs and surprisingly, I needed no stitches!
Things settled down, my body rushed with the most incredible high feeling of the postpartum hormonal cocktail. I was on cloud 9 and I finally got to chill and focus on falling in love with my son. I looked down and he looked up at me in awe with wide alert eyes and an open mouth- like I was the most beautiful creature he had ever seen. I then noticed this striking patch of gray at the front of his head. This little man had a lightning bolt in his dark hair. We later called him Rogue baby.
We had a pretty easy rest of the stay at the birth center. All was well, we went home at the 4 hour mark and took a long amazing nap in our own bed before big sister came to meet little brother.
Looking back, I’m incredibly thankful. Thankful for the sweet little moments in labor. Thankful that I chose the birth location that I did. Thankful for the birth team that surrounded me and affirmed my choices. Thankful that I had an incredibly skilled midwife who handled an emergency quickly, without panic, episiotomy or broken clavicle to baby. Thankful for my safe and healthy 9 pound 11 ounce boy that was perfect.