When I first found out my blood pressure was high I wasn’t worried. I figured it was a fluke. The same thing had happened once in Maddox’s pregnancy as well, but was shown to be an issue with the cuff. So I headed over to the Birthing Inn and settled in for a Non Stress Test. Once laying down, my pressure fine and I was sent on my merry way. Little did I know I would have to continue the NST’s, 24 hr urines and bedrest until I birthed. At this point, my diagnosis was pregnancy induced hypertension. But soon I was officially diagnosed with pre eclampsia. To say the least, I was scared. As a doula I knew enough about pre eclampsia to know that I had to take things seriously. When the midwife asked me to go on bedrest, I obliged, knowing that laying down dropped my blood pressure dramatically, therefore dropped my risk of stroking or having a seizure. I thought that I’d be induced right away, but the midwives were gentle and caring. They encouraged me and set up a plan that would include inducing at 39 weeks. This was prior to the tests showing I was spilling protein. I received a call on Wednesday, Oct 23rd. I was to be induced, again, for the fourth time, on Thursday. I wasn’t happy. I was overwhelmed. Scared that my blood pressure would spike during labor. Afraid I’d be tethered to a bed. Afraid of letting down my clients and friends. Afraid of side effects. Of the pain of pitocin. I wanted to be excited. It was there that I realized I had made my birth an idol. I was so obsessed with having a 100 percent natural birth that I wasn’t letting myself get excited about the baby! I knew I had to change that, and quickly. I prayed. I drew. I painted. I worked through letting to of my obsession with natural birth.
I showed up at the Birthing Inn at around 8 o’clock on the 24th. They settled me in, read my birth plan, and the midwife, Courtney came in. We chatted about how I wanted to proceed. At that point I was around two centimeters dilated. I knew that I didn’t want Cervadil, a hormonal cervical dilator. We talked about my options. I decided, for me, a Cook’s catheter (a catheter that is filled with water, with two balls on each side. One ball goes in the cervix then is filled, the other sits inside the vagina. This physically dilated the cervix without chance of hyper stimulation) was the first step. Courtney suggested I also have a low dose of pitocin. At first this was not what I wanted. I had wanted to avoid Pitocin at all costs. However, the more I thought about it, the more I was scared that without it I may be in labor much longer, giving my body more of a chance of developing dangerously high blood pressure, which could then lead to even more interventions. We decided very low Pitocin would be the best bet. We started everything around 9 am
At first all I felt was awkward. Having fluid filled balls in your vagina isn’t exactly the most amazing feeling. There was a lot of pressure. It was hard to walk. I found a nice spot on the birth ball, though. I rolled my hips and kept entertained by constantly updating my Facebook status. Yep, I totally live Facebooked my early labor.
Contractions started and I started to breathe through them. Any woman who has experienced labor can tell you there’s a point where you breathe through, but it’s a choice. Then later, you hit a point where you no longer have a choice. You simply have to breathe through them to get through. I was definitely in the choosing to breath phase.
After about 3 hours Courtney said she was happy with my contractions and held the Pitocin at the level it was at. I continued to roll on my ball. I was so glad that my blood pressure was behaving. I was starting to have hope that maybe, just maybe I could stay out of the bed, not need any medications to lower my BP and have a semi gentle birth.
Around 1pm any time I stood up I used belly dancing techniques. Opening up my hips, doing circles and figure eights. This was a huge help to me.
At 2 pm, the Cook’s catheter fell out. So much relief! There was still a lot of pressure, but it helped. I knew I’d need to get checked to decide on the next course of action. Courtney said I was 3-4 cm. Honestly I’m not a huge fan of breaking water this early, however this is where trusting the provider comes in. I talked through my fears, and Courtney walked me through. When she looked in my eyes and said it was up to me, I felt it. I knew there would be no judgement. No sighs or complaints if I had decided to forgo breaking my water. So I heard her out. And again, went back to my previous births. In each one, as soon as my water was broke within an hour or so I had a baby. I knew that the birth I wanted was within reach so I consented to the AROM.
You know how I said every mom hits a point where she has no choice but to breath, stop what she’s doing, pay attention to the contractions? Yea well, that happened fast. Within minutes I went from smiling and facebooking to wanting to sign a release for an epidural. I looked at Jeremy and told him I couldn’t do it. That if labor was going to be like this for long I couldn’t do it. I got weak. Felt like jello. Thought I was going to throw up. Courtney got behind me on the ball and rubbed my back. Jeremy rubbed my thighs. I quickly hit a point where I knew if something didn’t change I would need some sort of relief.
Although I was nervous it was too soon, I asked to get in the tub. Courtney thought that was a great idea and started filling it. I kept silently talking to the baby. Begging him to just come out.
A few minutes later, in the quiet between the contractions (at this point I was having two to three contractions back to back then a decent down time) I walked to the bathroom. It was about 3 pm. I started taking my clothes off through the web of iv’s. I knew the back to back contractions were coming, and that I needed a break so I sat down on the toilet, before I got in the tub.
During my last birth, that was the last place I wanted to be. It made everything worse. But this time? I could brace myself on the wall bars and ride through the contractions. The nurse and midwife must have sensed I was able to cope, and left Jeremy and me to be alone for a little bit.
In my mind I kept talking to Jeremy about what I was feeling. I was telling him that I thought he was getting close. That I was feeling pushy, but still figured I had time. However, in reality I said nothing until my body was pushing! Everything I thought I was articulating out loud was all just self talk. All of a sudden though, my body started pushing and I was finally able to articulate that it was time. Within seconds, he yelled for the midwife. By the time she got in (which was literally seconds) I had delivered his head into mine and Jeremy’s hands! Courtney then helped me to stand to deliver his body and somersaulted him (his cord was wrapped) onto my chest where we removed the cord that was wrapped loosely around his neck. Quickly after I delivered the placenta, still in the bathroom. I was able to gaze at him, in shock of what had happened.
I had done it! I birthed my baby, I had caught my baby! I had brought life into this world. I never would have imagined I would have birthed on the toilet, and yes, I totally get how hilarious that is.
I had always had this dream of an unassisted hospital birth, where I was able to labor and birth on my own time, but in the hospital setting to calm my anxiety. However, I had went into this birth with that being the furthest thing from my mind. This wasn’t a choice I made, to catch him, but it’s amazing that this birth that I decided I needed to just let go of and let happen ended up being so fulfilling.
Dixon Murphy Erickson Morris was born lovingly fast into the hands of his mama and daddy at 3:22pm.
I couldn’t have done it without my husband by my side. He was such a huge support through the pregnancy as well as the birth. His constant encouragement is amazing.
I also want to thank Courtney at Loudoun Community Midwives. I know she believed in me throughout everything. Her trust in my body made the difference.