My Natural Birth Center Birth Story – Part 1
The gush woke me up.
My eyes shot open, and adrenaline quickly traveled to each corner of my body. When it reached my chest, my heart squeezed and went into rapid rhythm. I turned to nudge Stuart.
“Babe,” I said as I kept nudging. “Babe…I just felt a huge gush.”
His eyes opened slowly as he turned to face me.
“I think I’m leaking,” I said while he rolled over to touch on the bedside tap light.
I slowly hoisted my almost 40-week belly to the edge of the bed and carefully swung my legs around to put my feet on the floor. As soon as I stood up…
My eyes went wide, and I immediately cupped my hand between my legs and waddled to the bathroom.
There was more bloody show. Water trickled off my panty liner onto my underwear, and I noticed a small wet spot on my pants.
It looked like my water, but I couldn’t be too sure. Being induced at 42 weeks with my first, I hadn’t experienced my water breaking before, and I couldn’t take my mind off the fact that: I’m not even 40 weeks yet.
“Babe, I need a new pair of underwear,” I called out. “And a new pair of pants.”
I took a deep breath as I sat, looking down at a ball of toilet paper with a smear of my mucus plug on it. I had been losing it in pieces all week.
“So what’s going on?” Stuart said, handing me my oversized cotton underwear and blinking heavily, trying to wake up.
“I’m not sure, but I think my water is leaking,” I said, fastening a pad into my underwear. I stood up to flush…
“Ohhhhhhhhh boy…” I said and plopped back down onto the toilet, stripping off my pants. A steady stream of fluid trickled into the toilet for a couple seconds, and my heart skipped a few beats before it pounded hard against my sternum.
It was happening. Something was. It was all new to me, but deep in my gut, I knew our baby boy was coming sooner than later, despite the fact that it was 4 in the morning on Thursday, and my due date wasn’t until Sunday.
I called the midwife on call; it was Marcia, one of the midwives at the birth center where we hoped and prayed for 9 months to birth at, entirely natural this time, entirely the way I believe God designed mothers to birth.
Marcia said we could do a “watch and wait” approach over the next hour since I was unsure if it was regular pregnancy discharge or amniotic fluid and I wasn’t contracting.
“If you soak through a pad or anything over the next hour, I’d suggest coming in to the office so we can test for sure to see if your membranes have ruptured or if it’s just thin discharge,” she explained, as I took a deep breath on the other end. “Don’t hesitate to call if you’re concerned, but for now, go get some rest. If it’s your water, it will continue to wake you up.”
I agreed with her, and we hung up. I text my doula, Stacey, to get her up to speed, and she reminded me to rest, drink fluids, and try to keep the adrenaline in check; I think we both felt that this was the start of my baby’s journey earthside, but we also knew that journey could still stretch over several days; there’s no predicting.
Either way, I was excited.
I slept through the rest of the night just fine. No gushes of water woke me. I spent all of Friday leaking just a little here and there, but other than that I felt mostly myself. My parents watched Bennett while Stuart went to work, and I made my way to the chiropractor for another adjustment. I figured, if this was it, if this was the start of labor, one more adjustment could be crucial to a smooth delivery.
I started to feel crampy on my way back home from the adjustment, and I couldn’t stop wondering about the slow leak. I kept in touch with the midwives throughout the day, trying to decide whether to continue to wait or go in to the office. If it was my water leaking, I wondered: how would it affect the birth I longed for? Would my water eventually break soon, completely? The thought of infection crossed my mind, too, if I did in fact have a slow leak, because I was Group B Strep positive. I had spent a good chunk of my pregnancy researching GBS, as well as taking all the steps to try and prevent a positive result–garlic, probiotics, apple cider vinegar, you name it–but I was still positive, and I still wasn’t sold on receiving antibiotics during labor. But I couldn’t help but wonder, in this unique situation, with a possible slow leak of my water, if I needed to worry.
And as the day went on, I began to worry.
So I went in.
It had already been 12 hours since that first gush, and I knew I was putting myself on a time clock now by being seen, but I had to know what was going on. Sitting around wondering was manipulating my mind at a time when I needed to be peaceful. I needed clarity. So I went in.
“It’s definitely your water,” said Nicole, another midwife at the center, as she showed me the amniotic fluid pooled in the speculum. She confirmed it under a microscope, just to be sure, and she was right.
I felt hot.
“So now what?” I said. “I feel fine. I’m not contracting except some braxton hicks here and there, but that’s it.”
Nicole was straight with me.
“I wish you would have come in sooner,” she said gently, “because now it’s already been 12 hours, and we’d like you to have a baby no later than 24 hours since your water has broken and you’re GBS positive.”
The time clock.
I feared it would ruin me. I feared I would end up being transferred to the hospital 2 miles away. For a moment, I feared my body couldn’t do it. For a moment, the trust I had built with my body was lost, and another hospital induction loomed over my head.
But Nicole seemed calm. I sensed optimism in her tone and her demeanor. It allowed me to take a recuperating breath, though my face was still flush.
“I think it would be best to give you your first dose of antibiotics now,” she said. “It will buy us some time.”
Time is what I needed, so I agreed.
“Then, when you get home, I want you to drink this castor oil cocktail,” she said while handing me a sheet of paper outlining natural ways to induce labor.
I had done my research on castor oil, and I wasn’t thrilled about it, to be honest. It wasn’t exactly “natural,” in my opinion, but it was a much more reasonable option than a hospital induction; I’d been there before. The thought of suffering through diarrhea and nausea did not appeal to me at almost 40 weeks pregnant, or any time for that matter, but my doula, too, was on board with this plan. In fact, she told me this was the exact cocktail she would recommend: castor oil, almond butter, apricot nectar, and champagne.
“So will this make me sick?” I asked while Nicole placed my IV for my first dose of antibiotics. I looked away, not because I was nervous, not because of the needle, but because I wanted to keep my mind off it. I wanted to keep my mind from spiraling into the tunnel of doubt, of uncertainty, of questioning: Is this the right decision?
“We find that this particular cocktail is tolerated pretty well among our patients; symptoms should be mild, if any,” she said, handing me a bag of the ingredients.
So I decided that I would be open minded; I had to be. In a way, time was not on my side, and my body needed to catch up. I had an obstacle, and that obstacle was time. I also had prepared 9 months for this baby and this birth. My desire for a natural birth was strong. In a way, this was my redemption birth. I wouldn’t let time take that away from me.
“Go home, eat dinner, and then drink this as soon as possible so we can get you into active labor sooner than later,” Nicole said as she removed the antibiotic, leaving my IV in place. “If you’re not already here in labor, you’ll need to come in at 2 a.m. for your second dose of antibiotics.”
My face grew flush again. At that moment, reality set in: we were having this baby soon.
“Sounds good,” I said. They were the only words that fell out of my mouth in that moment. I looked at Stuart and then back at Nicole.
“This doesn’t feel real,” I added while standing up and pulling my shirt sleeve back down.
Nicole smiled. “Call me, though, if your contractions are at least 8 minutes apart, just to give me a heads up.”
It was hard to believe what she said: that I would hopefully be contracting–on my way to having a baby–over the next 12 hours. I felt fine, just heavy, and my mind didn’t feel ready.
I already have a baby at home.
Am I ready for this?
Am I ready for another?
Is anyone ever really ready?
I couldn’t wrap my mind around another baby sitting in the second car seat behind Stuart as I slid into the passenger seat and fastened my seat belt under my hanging, heavy belly. As we made our way home, I was in a daze; my eyes fixated on the lines in the road. I don’t think Stuart could believe it either: We would soon be a family of four. My mind didn’t feel ready, but I decided that maybe that was a good thing. In a way, my mind had to be set on just one thing: delivering another rainbow baby boy. And hopefully, our baby boy would come naturally, on his own, without interventions, in the comfort of the birth center, just as we had been dreaming he would arrive.
And for that, I prayed the entire drive home.
~ to be continued in Part 2 ~