Sylar’s story – home birth after caesarean

This is Sylar’s birth story. I feel like I should include the lead-up and the massive learning curve and self relisations that led to his birth, but I’ll leave that for another day. I’ll also add Trystan’s birth when I’m feeling a little stronger.. for now, here is how we met our precious Koala babe – Sylar.

It all started on the Sunday night (4th October)… the night of the full moon as predicted. I’d been having increasingly painful BH (pre-labour pains?) for 2 weeks. Ever since my blessingway… I think that was the point that I became mentally ready for the journey ahead and was just waiting for our babe to be ready to meet us.

On the Sunday night, the day before my “estimated due date”, I knew it wasn’t just BH anymore. I tried to ignore the increasing regularity of the surges and headed to bed.

Around 1am I was woken up by strong contractions about 8min apart but irregular. I got Rob to put my TENS on and tried to rest in bed as long as I could… I knew Melissa (my doula) needed to be called before her hubby headed to work at 4.45am so I sent her a text at about 3am to let her know things may be happening and I’d keep her posted… My contractions were about 5-6mins apart by 4.30am but still irregular so I let her know. Established labour still felt quite a way off. I got up around this time and alternated net surfing with reading trying to distract myself… it wasn’t working, but thankfully the TENS was.

Around 6-7am the contractions started to taper off… about the same time the sun was rising. Rob got up about 7am hoping he could stay home to help but I knew this birth wasn’t going to happen during the day so I sent him off with the promise of calling if I needed him. Mum was staying with us so I knew I had her to help me with Trystan if I needed.

All day on the Monday I was having irregular contractions. 5mins, 10mins, 2mins, etc.  Mum and I went for a walk just after lunch and I had to stop and wait for each rush to pass on the walk home… Funnily the woman at Donut King (I might have developed a slight addiction!) noticed I’d dropped too and thought I’d have the baby soon. I had dropped more on the Saturday night and now felt fully engaged (aka there’s a baby about to fall out).  In the afternoon I started to lose my mucous plug… first time I’ve ever seen that and it really does look like bloodied snot! I was SO excited and I knew I really was going to have a baby soon. I’d been updating Melissa and Jenn via SMS all day but decided to call Helen (my midwife) that evening to give her a heads up and ensure she got an early night. She told me to expect either a repeat of the night before (we all agreed he was just waiting for the sun to set again) or that I would go into established labour.

The contractions were already starting to increase in intensity, but I tried to soaked a hot bath for an hour or so and then headed to bed with my trusty TENS on again (on Helens advice in an attempt to get some rest). I never got to sleep.. I never timed my contractions from this point on… I was just focusing on trying to sleep and clicking that little boost button. Lying on my side was impossible so I had about 6 pillows stacked into a little nest and was trying to lie on my belly (I’d done this quite a bit for OFP – Optimal Foetal Positioning – anyway). It was good to be resting even if I couldn’t sleep.

At around midnight I sent a text in reply to a friend asking how I was doing (ESP?). It read something along the lines of “Fucking hurts, will call you when he’s here. Ow ow ow” (classy, yes?). It should’ve clicked for me then but I think I was still thinking I was in for the long haul again. I couldn’t lie down anymore (and I was mindful of Rob needing to sleep, how considerate of me), so I decided to get up and listen to some music in the lounge.  I’d set up my birthing kit that night (another sign that I ‘knew’?) so double checked everything was there and then put on one of the lovely relaxation CDs Loz had lent me for the birth.

I lit some of my blessingway candles, put on my necklace, and tied my affirmations cloth over the TV. I needed to draw on all of the strength of the women who had birthed before me. I walked, I danced, and I clicked that little button. I felt in control and powerful. I knew I’d meet my babe soon, perhaps even that day, but decided to let my support people sleep as long as possible. I was doing fine on my own, and that surprised me. I was loving it, and I don’t think I’ll even forget those special moments dancing alone with my bellybabe… I’m not sure what time it was now (maybe 1am?).

Soon, I felt I needed something more. The TENS wasn’t helping as much anymore. I was scared to get in the bath in case it either slowed labour down or I got stuck in there, so I decided to jump in the shower first for a little while. I could always try the bath next, or just put the TENS back on and try to sleep again… I briefly woke Rob to take the TENS off for me and told him I was having a shower. I closed the ensuite door behind me… probably not the smartest move! I’m not sure how long I was in the shower or how far apart my contractions were by this point (no-one to time them and I certainly didn’t care to!) but they started to ramp up considerably once I was under the water.

I knelt down on the base with the water aimed at my back and noticed that my noises changed from the deep breathing I’d been doing to quite a primal sexual sound. I sounded like I was having an orgasm, and wondered what my mother (on the other side of the wall) would think, but it just felt so good! I roared and grunted and loved the feelings rushing through my body. And then my waters broke! Oh shit. It was on. I called out to Rob. Several times. He was asleep. Oh crap, what do I do if he doesn’t come? I can’t move! I opened the shower door hoping he’d hear me better… I even crawled halfway out… knees in the shower and hands on the bathmat. I called again. Thankfully this time he heard me! I told him my waters had ruptured and that he needed to call Melissa. He didn’t believe me and asked if I was sure. Um, yes!

By the time he got back to say she was on her way I could feel my body pushing… not just an urge to push but like my body was doing it whether I wanted to or not! I told him he’d better ring Helen too. He asked Helen or Luisa or Jenn and I said I didn’t care and to just call everybody because I was having this baby!! I don’t think I told him I was pushing at this point… probably a good idea that. Mum later informed me my contractions were 1min apart so this must have been transition… It was now approximately 2am. Rob called Helen (who called Jenn and Luisa) and then disappeared again after ‘trying’ to rub my back but just pissing me off… not sure exactly what he was doing but I didn’t like it at all!

Mum appeared and took over, in a much gentler way. The only thing I didn’t like was the fear I immediately felt enter the room… oh God I needed someone else to arrive soon! She got me a drink of water… in a popper top bottle! Not sure what she thought I was going to do with that. I asked for a straw, and then the water in the shower went stone cold! Rob was obviously filling the birth pool… something I’d overlooked otherwise I would’ve transferred to the bath. A cold shower is not pleasant at the best of times!  Mum turned the shower off and draped some towels over me. I remained on the shower floor… I just couldn’t move! And then Melissa arrived!

Mum retreated back to the guest bedroom and Melissa told me everything I needed to hear… I was having a baby. I was doing a great job. I was strong.  I was pushing… oh crap, must stop pushing! Melissa tried to help me breathe through each contraction. I couldn’t stop but I did try. I had pins and needles in my hands… probably from the shallow breathing; I NEEDED to push before I started losing control…Sometime close to 3am Helen and Jenn arrived. Helen sent Jenn in while she unpacked the car… when Jenn told me Helen was here I was so relieved. Thank God I could finally get in that pool and push this baby out! Jenny told me to try to not push if I could… not a hope in hell! My body was a runaway train and I was a mere passenger… it was hold on tight or get run over!

I think it was only another 20mins or so before the pool was ready and everything was set up. Helen quickly palped my tummy to see how far down he was… she could only barely feel his head at the pelvic brim so he was definitely right down in my pelvis and on his way out. I consented to a quick VE (the one and only) to make sure I was fully dilated. I’d heard enough stories of women pushing against the smallest lip of cervix and then going backwards… not something I wanted to experience! It hurt like hell but I think we were all pleased to confirm that I was fully dilated and ready to push. Thank Goddess for that!!

A brief moment of concern as Sylar’s heart rate decelerated… it must have been because I was lying down for the VE though (head squish as Jenn calls it), as he quickly recovered. My two biggest fears that could lead to a transfer to hospital were no dilating (or retaining a lip), and Sylar’s heart not coping, the first was already ruled out so I just needed Sylar to hang in there with me. We were a team!

Helen and Melissa (I think!) helped me walk the long trek to the birth pool… the longest walk of my life… I’m not sure how many contractions on had on the way but it was intense.  Someone helped me get into the pool and then… BLISS!

Hitting the perfectly warm water was SO wonderful. I relaxed instantly. My contractions seemed to be further apart and I was getting a nice relaxing break in between. I could just sit back, rub my tummy, and wait for the rushes to come. I was able to enjoy it again. And the pushing felt FABULOUS! I asked Jenn what the time was. I’m not sure why…perhaps I was worried about the sun coming up again? I hadn’t looked at the time since midnight and that felt like a lifetime ago. It was about 3.30am.

Probably about 30mins later Helen told me to see if I could feel his head… I could! He was right there, barely a knuckle away! I kept roaring and pushing. My support team was keeping me cool with wet washers and hydrated with sips of water.  I told Helen I was tired and someone promptly found me an energising banana and started feeding it to me between contractions. I was supporting myself in the corner of the birth pool with my head down between pushing… I could feel the steam on my face as I breathed into the water.

A short time later Helen suggested that Sylar needed some help to move through my pelvis and that I needed to stand up and open it up for him. I didn’t want to. She asked me to put one leg up on the side of the pool… which considering I’m so short was up to my waist! Not going to happen! Jenn suggested a bucket and found one for me to use. This was a much better idea!

I was cold (they had draped a towel over me) and I really really just wanted to sink back into the lovely water, but I trusted that Helen was right and tried to focus on opening up and helping my baby through. It was probably only a few contractions later that I was finally able to kneel down again. Lovely lovely pain relieving water! I kept pushing. Someone moved the mirror on the bottom of the pool for me and Helen told me to look… I could see a wrinkly head!!! I touched my baby. He was almost here! I pushed harder. The pressure was intense.  I may have told him to “get out, get out!” (a tad embarrassing). I didn’t feel the ‘ring of fire’ but I did feel a LOT of pressure. I can’t say it was pleasant, because it felt so weird, but it was also good to feel how close he was. It spurred me on to push harder. I wanted to meet him!

As soon as I felt his head coming I decided that he had to get it out in that contraction. I couldn’t bear to have him sitting there. The pressure was too much! I should have breathed him out at this point… but it was SUCH a relief when after a few quick strong pushes I felt his head was out! I think Jenn sent Rob to get Mum at this point and someone asked him if we wanted to wake Trystan (who surprisingly had slept through it all). There was brief confusion as to whether I wanted Mum there or not and I think I said yes if she wanted… I was glad to see she did want to see her grandson born. I’d left the decision about waking Trystan or not up to Rob. He decided not to.

Sylar had the cord looped around his neck twice which Helen quickly unravelled. Then the most awful feeling… I thought it was Helen moving him, but it was just him rotating in order to get his shoulders out. Everyone was telling me it was okay but I was just telling him to “stop it!” it felt so unnatural and unexpected.  I think it was the next contraction I felt his shoulders coming, so again I pushed with all I had… I felt a little body slip out and the next moment Luisa was passing him through my legs and I lifted him out of the water. My tiny squirmy slimy little Sylar was earth side!! It was 4.34am. I sat back and looked at my new babe. He was perfect. Sylar Emmanuel Colin was here, he was ours, and he was perfect. I was so sore, but I’d just pushed a baby out my vagina! (VBAC)

I wasn’t broken after all! It’s hard to describe the mixture of emotions… love, empowerment, joy, strength, anger, sadness. It was the most amazing experience of my life. Rob and I were enjoying meeting our son as Helen quickly grew concerned… he was having trouble establishing his breathing. Being born into water had resulted in a very relaxed baby who seemed to be forgetting he needed to breathe now… he was taking breaths but they were sporadic and he wasn’t pinking up. Every one was so calm that we didn’t realise what was really going on… we were just soaking him up. About 2-3mins after he was born Helen cut his cord and took him over to the table (only a foot away) for stimulation. I’d wanted to at least wait until the cord stopped pulsing, preferably after I birthed the placenta, but now I just wanted him to be okay. I’d tried blowing in his face and Helen had the mask on him trying to piss him off and make him breath on his own. None of that was working. A vigorous rubdown on the table though and he quickly established his breathing. He was now 5 minutes old. Helen didn’t wrap him up or dress him she just handed my naked baby back to me. Our brief interruption aside we resumed getting to know each other. He was now lovely and pink and perfect. Mum found a blanket and hat and we continued to snuggle in the pool for about half an hour.

I decided to get out of the pool then so the couch was set up for me (lots of plastic!) and I was helped out of the pool. I was waiting for the contractions to return so I could birth his placenta… Everyone helped me get comfortable and then I lay down with Sylar for our first breastfeed. He wouldn’t let me latch him on because he knew what to do. He’s latched himself somewhat defiantly ever since! It took about another 30mins before I was feeling the mildest of contractions and birthed his placenta. Much easier than birthing his body! They checked it was all okay and then Jenn double bagged it for me and put it in the freezer. I plan to plant it in a pot with a miniature fruit tree for Sylar once we’re in the new house 🙂 . (update: we bought a pot and planted his placenta under a lemon tree on  his 1st birthday)

I then moved to our bed for more snuggles and Helen checked out the damage. I’d given myself a 2nd degree perennial tear and 2 labial tears. No wonder I was in pain!  Helen agreed to let me rest and let them know when I was ready to be stitched… I wasn’t ready for that yet. I was more interested in cuddles with my newborn babe.

A couple of hours after Sylar was born Trystan woke up to find me in bed with his new baby brother. He then watched as Sylar was weighed and measured and then helped me dress him. He didn’t seem to be too concerned with the new addition to our family at all! By midday I was finally stitched and showered. Jenn and Melissa had already left and Helen and Luisa were now packed up and ready to leave.

My Dad and little sister arrived from Wodonga for a quick visit and I settled down on MY couch in MY house with MY family for cuddles. I was so pleased to be home where I belonged, with my lovely boys.

Life is perfect!

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