Jim and I discovered I was pregnant in early November. Though to be honest, due to certain signs we had guessed it even on the day that we conceived that perhaps I was fertile, and we hadn’t used prevention of any kind. So for the next two weeks I was anxious for my period to start, and yet “knew” that it would not. So when I was late, I immediately bought a pregnancy test and took it a couple days later, when it declared that indeed, our family was about to grow.
By week 6 I was feeling the familiar heartburn, and soon to follow, the nausea. It hit me pretty hard this time, and since I didn’t have the luxury of lying down all day like I felt like doing, I had to eat to stave off the sickness. I actually gained around 5 lbs. the first trimester because of this. I also felt SO tired this time. I would have napped except for the two busy kids I already had, and I wanted to work on my pottery while I still could since I’d just gotten the kiln hooked up. I also had horrible headaches that lasted all day long and were worse at night. Thankfully these disappeared by 14 weeks.
Right before we discovered the pregnancy, I had had strep throat, and after that was over I had a really long cold or colds that lasted for a month and ended in a painful ear infection when I was 8 weeks along.
By 12 weeks along I could feel movement already, especially when bending over to fill up the wood stove in the basement, or when I was sitting on the couch working on my clay. At 13 weeks we heard a good strong heartbeat.
By now I was starting to show, and it was odd to me because I had never shown this early with my other two. I started to wonder if twins were a possibility because it would explain the extreme nausea (which even caused me to throw up for the first time in my pregnancies), headaches, fatigue, and now my popping tummy. So I asked the midwife how one would know if I was carrying twins, since I knew there was another twin birth she had witnessed where they hadn’t known it was twins. She said that they knew the signs to look for.
At 16 weeks I again asked the midwife if the fact that my uterus was already up to my belly button (usually this occurs at 20 weeks) might mean that I have twins. Julie, our doula, said, “Oh, twins, how exciting that’d be!” But Jill just said that sometimes the fundal height was inaccurate before 20 weeks, and we’d see then.
Well, from then on I measured normal. In fact, by week 30, I was still somewhat hoping for twins so we could have our family of four without another pregnancy, and also just hoping for some explanation of all my odd symptoms (which I’ll get to in a second) that I even tried measuring again and again to see if I could get a higher measurement, and I couldn’t. This is when I said to everyone who asked me, “No, there’s only one heartbeat, and besides, I’m measuring right on.”
Around month 4 I got really discouraged. My hips started hurting like they do during pregnancy, and nighttime became a depressing time as I struggled to hobble to the restroom several times a night. It was also at this point that a pain began in my diaphragm that was being bruised by my ribs. And when I would count back, this is also around the time that I noticed the baby was posterior since I felt no butt, the midwife confirmed the head was down, and there was no back. Just lots and lots of limbs.
Also in that month our family had two stomach bugs, one of which was the most pain I think I’ve ever felt before. I also gained 8 lbs. that month. This did nothing to improve my depressed feelings during this pregnancy. I don’t like to complain openly to people, but so far that’s all I had done this time around. The only explanation I had and counted on was that it was my third baby.
Finally around 7 and 8 months I began to feel a little better. I still had hip pain and other discomforts, but I felt that I had kept in good shape by walking everyday (with the two kids in the stroller and the dog walking beside). I stopped gaining tons of weight and I wore some cute clothes that showed off my growing belly, and I was nearing the end.
At 36 1/2 weeks, Jill measured me at 38 weeks, and had Jen measured me it would have been 37 since Jill measures larger by the way she marks the pubic bone. She had to move an arm to hear the heartbeat, and she agreed baby was posterior. I had given up on trying to turn the baby by this point because it had been posterior since month 4 and I didn’t want to waste energy on turning a baby when I could just try to enjoy the last month.
I went to my Mom’s house at 37 weeks and for the weekend to Indiana for a family reunion. I was 38 weeks on that Saturday. On Sunday we traveled home and Monday I spent the day cleaning and unpacking, and was so sore that day that I was sure the baby had dropped.
Tuesday Jen came and confirmed the baby had dropped, and measured me at 35 cm. She hinted that the baby would probably come earlier than my due date a week and a half away. We were thrilled. I went to the chiropractor and had what I figured would be a last adjustment, and went home to wait.
Tuesday night I had what felt like real contractions that I had to think through and which woke me up from sleep. But they only came once every 20 minutes. In the morning, I had bloody show, and from the other two pregnancies and labors I figured this was it. It was July 4, and though I really would rather go the next day instead, I was ready for our baby.
I called the midwives and doula and my mom, and then we waited. And waited. All day long I had contractions, but maybe only once an hour. I napped in the morning, and the afternoon. Around 6 pm. they finally starting coming only 10 minutes apart, and I called Julie. She came around 8:15 and I still hadn’t felt them any closer together, so she did some pressure point techniques and then decided to try walking outside. So around 9:30 or so we went outside and walked around the playground and yard twice. While walking, contractions were 3 minutes apart, but not strong. Inside the house they had been 7-8 minutes, with a few being as close as 5-6. But when we came back inside, they petered back out to around 10-15 minutes apart.
By this time we decided to fill the tub because maybe I could rest easier there through the few contractions I had, and they would be more productive. So Jim dumped buckets of water in the pool (the hose never did work out this time) and I felt SO at ease in the water. Well, we ended up staying there the rest of the night. At 2:30 we called Jill to come just for my sake, to feel like this was “real” and hope that her energy would spur me on to birth this baby. But her and Julie just slept on the bed while Jim and I dozed in the pool and a contraction came every now and then. But the few that came were becoming more intense, or at least I was having to moan through them now. I felt like a wimp because usually I only moaned during transition pain.
At 6:30 am Jim and I decided to have Jill check me so we would know what was going on. I was afraid I’d be a 6 or so and Jill would go home and that we weren’t even in real labor yet. But I knew I couldn’t just go about my day with the strength of these contractions, few as they were.
Imagine my surprise when she said to me, “Deb, you’re complete. You’re like a 9 plus, and the lip disappears during a contraction.” I was THRILLED! If that had been labor, and I was complete, that had been nothing! Depressing and frustrating for lack of feeling like we were getting anywhere, yes, but hard and painful, no!
So now we were getting ready to push a baby out. I waited for several contractions and finally started to feel that pushing sensation on my rectum. We called the kids in and were very excited, but in the next couple of contractions (again at 10 minutes apart) I had no more feeling in my rectum, no more pressure or urge to push. As we watched and waited, we could see my stomach just jostling like crazy, and the midwife said she had never seen that during the pushing stage before. I could feel hands in the entire pubic area, as if the baby was going to claw it’s way out.
But after a couple hours of this, we once again began to get down. So we decided to try walking on the stairs, and then tried nipple stimulation, and then we even tried sitting on the birth stool and walking around. Two hours after that and still nothing. Jen was suggesting that I visualize the baby moving down, etc. And I was so frustrated that basically there was just NOTHING there during the contractions. I was really beginning to worry and wonder “why?”
So we decided to accept things as they were and I laid down on the bed to relax and try to get the baby in a better position to move down. After 4 contractions and a half hour later, it seemed to work as I finally felt rectal pressure again. I was glad! We got up and decided to do some squatting to get the baby down and out. I had hated lying down, and I knew I’d hate squatting. But I also knew I wanted this over with. I was finally beginning to wear down and my legs and arms were shaking from being so tired. I had Julie use her Rebozo to help hold me up in the right position, and Jen said the bag of waters was bulging, and behind that the head. So I felt down and POP! the water broke. So now we got back into the water to push the baby out. I didn’t feel the rectal pressure at this point, but figured it was because the head needed to move down a little more. Finally I felt ready to push, and the kids came in to watch. I started out with Jim behind me in the tub, but then switched to the birth stool because I felt too tired to push laying back and knew the stool would help with gravity. Finally I pushed out our baby, who was still in the sac! I pulled it out of the water and it was covered in vernix, very thick and sticky. I looked and it was a GIRL!
Her cord was very short, and I couldn’t pull her up to my chest to nurse her since she was crying. I looked over at Jill and said, “She’s REALLY tiny!” since we were expecting a bigger baby. When I felt the urge to push again, to get the placenta out, Jill asked if I was pushing. I said yeah, but I wanted Jim to hold Rebecca so I wouldn’t drop her in the water while trying to push. She asked Jen for the flashlight because it’s hard to see under the water, and then she gave me a look and felt my stomach. “Jen, get the Doppler – ” I felt my stomach, and to my surprise and yet somehow, a confirmation, I felt limbs. There was something more in my tummy…
Jen got the Doppler and you could hear a heartbeat. It was slower than the one I heard all through labor, so I asked, “Is that MY heart rate?” They didn’t answer me. Instead, Jill said, “Debbie you are so strong. You’re a strong woman. We need you to get out of the water and lay down on the bed so we can check you.”
At this I panicked. I thought maybe there was a twin in there, but now I wondered if it was dead, or maybe if it wasn’t a twin but a problem with the placenta since I hadn’t delivered it yet, and there were two sacs. I didn’t know what to think. So I asked, “Is it a non-viable twin?” (They laughed later at this.) Jen replied, “No, Debbie. It’s viable, and you’re going to have to push it out.” Jill added, “We just have to keep a close eye on the heartbeat.”
Jill checked me then, and when she did, she asked Jen to see what she felt. At that point, Jen stopped looking in my direction, and kept closing her eyes (what looked like fear) as she said to Jill very quietly, “The cord is in the way.”
I’ll pause at this point to say that during all of this Jim had been lovingly cradling our daughter and had called his mom with the news. He hadn’t noticed the odd glances or heard the words that had passed between the midwives. When they got me onto the bed, he asked Julie, “Is something wrong with Deb?” And Julie told him there was the possibility of another baby. So he handed Rebecca over to my mom and was now on the scene in time to hear of the prolapsed cord.
“A prolapsed cord?” I asked. I knew what this meant. That the cord was in front of the baby’s head, and that if allowed to descend, the baby would cut off it’s own oxygen supply before it could be born healthily. In the hospital, this would mean emergency c-section and often under general anesthesia. “How far away is Jamestown?” Jen asked. We replied 20 minutes, which we all knew was too long. The only way to transport in this case would be to have a hand in the birth canal holding the head back from descending on the cord the entire ride to the hospital.
Jill had the Doppler out and was listening to the heartbeat, which was slower than it should be, though I guess not critical by that point. I was afraid it would keep dropping and I was about to hear my baby die inside of me. I prayed very hard at that moment. The midwives made the quick decision to have me push as fast as I could. Jill had the cord in her fingers and felt the pulse, and everyone who was on that end of the bed had seen the baby’s hand in the birth canal as well.
So Jill and Julie and Jim grabbed my legs back as far as they could go and far apart, while Jen worked on my perineum, and they kept saying that I was strong and was doing it and I needed to birth my baby. I pushed as hard as I could and was honestly terrified that I wouldn’t have enough energy and my baby would die because of me. It was in MY hands. I screamed and groaned and prayed, and finally I felt the baby come out part way, then I pushed even harder and it was out the rest of the way, with both feet pressed next to it’s cheeks. And it was a BOY!
Although he struggled a bit with the mucus in his lungs, he was breathing fine and had an apgar of 8/10 (Rebecca’s was 9/10) and was doing fine. Miraculously I didn’t even end up tearing after all that, due to the 24 hours of sitting in the warm water, I believe.
The placentas were joined down the middle which was very neat to see. Logan had characteristics similar to Caleb’s and Rebecca was very reminiscent of Amber.
Looking back, the many things I was confused about make sense. A baby was probably up by my ribs which bruised the diaphragm, and when I thought I felt a butt and 3 feet, I probably did. During labor, Jill had felt two different size heads, and it was actually two different heads. When we saw the jostling belly, it was the babies vying for position. Logan’s water broke, but Rebecca beat him out.
The thing is, had we gotten an ultrasound, the midwives wouldn’t have been allowed to perform the birth at home. I would have had surgery one way or another since I can’t labor out of water, and I would have been failure to progress. I also would have been depressed the whole pregnancy knowing I’d have no homebirth. And the only reason I didn’t do an ultrasound was because we didn’t need to know the sex, and I didn’t want to go through the OB-GYN’s office this time. Jen wasn’t yet in her practice or I’d gone through her. In the end, we believe it worked out for the better because we got our homebirth and we had two very healthy babies at term for twins.
It was a strange pregnancy, labor, and birth. But it was all worth it in the end.