Willow's Birth Story
I didn’t have a homebirth because my blood pressure was too high. I was in labor a total of 8.5 hours and actively pushing for 45 minutes. I did not have an epidural and Willow was born at 7:27 AM weighing 8 lbs and 11 oz.
For those who want the details:
The back story
A week before Willow’s birthday my midwife noticed an upward trend in my blood pressure. I didn’t have any other signs of Preeclampsia but the fear was that I was headed that way. She suggested that I increase my protein intake and some other protocol to try to keep my blood pressure down until Willow was born. The following week, I was still having some really high readings so she suggested that I call my co-care OB and request some blood work. I had the labs drawn that day and the day before her birthday they revealed that I was indeed trending towards Preeclampsia. My co-care OB requested that I come in to see them at 1:00 on Wednesday. This moment, I decided I would be going into labor that night.
My “Natural Induction”
I knew that my OB would be requesting an induction which would mean a hospital birth. I wanted to avoid that at all cost so I did everything I knew to get labor started. My midwife recommended garlic tablets and calcium. I googled ways to induce labor; ate a ton of pineapple (that’s a tall tale btw) and took two tablespoons of Castor Oil. I don’t know what exactly was the winning method or if it was all of it combined but active labor started around 11:00 Tuesday night!
Where things got scary
I labored with my mom a bit in the living room while Chris slept, then alone in Willow’s nursery while they both tried to rest. We had no idea how long labor was going to last so I wanted to give them both an opportunity to sleep while I was able to manage the intensity of contractions alone. At 2:00 AM, my water popped. I say popped because I heard it! Willow was stretching her feet into my rib cage which was very unlike her so I arched my back to give her more room and POP! I heard the bag break and then felt a good gush of water. I woke Chris and my mom. When I text Katie that my water had broke she said she was on her way.
Katie had agreed to allow me to birth at home as long as my blood pressure stayed in a reasonable range and that I was in active labor before my 1:00 appointment on Wednesday. I had made the labor happen but I unfortunately couldn’t control the blood pressure. My first reading once in labor was 170/113. As soon as I saw the high numbers, I knew Katie would be recommending a transfer to a hospital. Laboring with my blood pressure that high put me at risk of having a seizure, something we obviously couldn’t handle alone at home. When she arrived we started discussing my options. Chris and I agreed that we needed to make a hospital transfer and ultimately decided to make the drive to Mercy Anderson where my co-care OB delivered.
The car ride
Mercy Anderson is 50 minutes away from our home and at this point I was already 5 cm dilated and in very active labor. I told Chris to drive like a mad man and I tried to focus on my breathing. It was very hard to labor in such a restrictive area so I kept rolling the window down to distract myself.
At the hospital
When we got into our room, nurses descended on us like vultures. They began hooking me up to all kinds of monitors and inserted an IV (twice :( ) I needed to sign a million consents as well which I did to the best of my ability between each contraction. My blood pressure was all over the place ultimately reaching 195/136 while on a Magnesium drip and receiving oral medications to bring it down. Willow made her arrival into the world at 7:27 AM after a few really powerful pushes. She weighed 8 lbs and 11 oz.
I have been able to share this story many times orally and what I want people to know is that labor was not painful! It was intense and hard at times but it never hurt. I imagine it to be like running a marathon with little training; you know how to run but not for that long. Unfortunately, there is no way to lift weights with your uterus but lucky for us, our bodies know exactly how to get a baby out.
After receiving our birth photos last night, I am realizing how heartbroken I am about parts of our birth. Our plan was a peaceful, natural homebirth. And while I did push her out without pain intervention (more on that later), it wasn’t the peaceful birth I had hoped for my daughter. More importantly, I don’t remember critical parts. I don’t know if it was the Magnesium drip or my crazy high blood pressure but I felt out of it once Willow arrived; to the point of not remembering the moments after Chris placed her on my chest. My husband, midwife, and mom tell me that I cried but I can’t remember. I can’t share that I had the moment of euphoria when they placed her on my chest and that breaks my heart.
Willows birth was safe, which is ultimately what we needed given our circumstance and I don’t regret our decision to transfer to a hospital even a little bit. But as hard as we tried to make our tiny room more like home, it wasn’t. As I am processing through my emotions, my sadness is less about not getting what I wanted or planned and more about what I did get being the exact opposite.
I hope I am not alone in my “It wasn’t what I had hoped for” birth summary. And maybe I had romanticized what it was going to be like. Regardless, my daughter is here, I wouldn’t change a thing and I have found more love for her than I thought I was capable of possessing. I am learning that’s kind of what motherhood is though, finding that there is more of you to give than you even knew you had in the first place.