Okay, so Part One was all about the research that went into the decision I made not to go to the hospital even after my water had been broken for over 24 hours. This is my personal story.
It was Wednesday, March 6. Like all wednesdays were at the end of my pregnancy, this one was busy. In the morning, was my son's library story time (a highlight of his week), followed by a rush to make lunch and get dinner in the crockpot, than get my son down for his nap, then head out to a town 45 minutes away for my now weekly midwife appointments (there was only one midwife at that location, the closest to my home, and she is only there one day a week), than another 45 minute drive home when I would rush in to get dinner finished and on the table. This had been my routine for three weeks. As I was placing dinner on the table that night, though, something different happened. I felt a small gush of warm liquid. I'm not going to lie. My first thought was, "Crap. Not again. I don't want my water to break when I am not in labor yet!" My second thought was maybe the baby (always low in my 39th week) had put pressure on my bladder. I went to the bathroom and there was no more "leaking" so I thought maybe I could stop it with my kegels and that it wasn't really my water. However, immediately after leaving the bathroom, I started to feel squirts every time I took a step and there was no stopping them. It was my water breaking before labor. Again. I asked my husband to finish setting the dinner table, went upstairs, changed my clothes grabbed a poise pad (I had convieniently bought two large bags of them just in case) and told my family over dinner that my water had broken. My husband wanted to call everyone immediately, but I held him back knowing that labor could take awhile in coming (little did I know how long!). In the end we made four phone calls that night, one to each of our mothers as a heads up we could need child coverage that night, our doula, and our midwife practice because I wanted to make sure that a tub room would be available for me. We then double checked our labor bags, set them by the door, got out all our "birth day celebration" goodies we had bought for our son and his grandparents to decorate the house with while we were at the hospital birth center and went to bed early to rest up for the big day. Around ten, I started getting moderate contractions lasting about a minute and coming every five minutes and this lasted for about three hours, and I tried to rest through them knowing that active labor would be much harder. Gradually, they petered out and I started the next morning still not in active labor.
Thursday March 7
spinning babies every day since my 31st week, and I continued to do those, but I figured chiropractic help couldn't hurt!). She came in on her day off to do it (because the doctors at Volz Chiropractic are awesome like that). I then decided to gently encourage labor by doing some walking and our family of three went to the mall to walk (or in my case, waddle) and invite our fourth member to join us. We walked for a few hours, with me staying well hydrated and making frequent stops to change my pads and to breathe through some decent contractions. We then came home for lunch and I took an after lunch nap with my son to rest up for the big show. However, by the time we hit the 24 hour mark, my natural contractions had increased in intensity, but were still very sporadic and I was no where near active labor despite bouncing on the exercise ball post nap and doing tons of labor "visioning." At my husband's insistance, I called to check in with our midwives (we'd been touching base with our doula all day) and the midwife on call told me that it was their offical recommendation that I come in for pitocin if I was not in active labor at the 24 hour mark. I spoke with her about the research I had done about pit increasing my risk as a VBAC mama for uterine rupture and the study I had read that found that women who had their babies up to 72 hours after their water had broken showed no increase of infection if they stayed at home until they were ready to deliever and had no cervical checks. She agreed that I was making the best medical decision for me and my baby, reiterated the signs of infection that I should be monitoring myself for and I agreed to check back in at 48 hours if I was not already in the birth center at that point or holding a newborn in my arms. I then went for a long walk and had a good cry because despite the fact that I was sure my research was solid and I was doing the best thing for my baby by doing nothing, I still was starting to feel like my body was letting me down by not going into active labor yet. However, I decided that either I trusted my body and God or I didn't and I would just have to trust a bit longer. That night, my contractions intensified during another three and a half hour session and were five minutes apart lasting one minute or longer, but once again, alas, they faded out.
Friday March 8
The second morning, I was feeling a little bit more panicked. I wasn't sure what the response would be if I checked in with the midwives that night and was still not in active labor. Luckily, my amazing doula came over and calmed me down. She brought with her a list of gentle, natural encouragement methods (from Susan Weed's herbal book) we could try that would be far less dangerous than pit for me. Although I am not in favor of induction at all in normal circumstances (I know there are certain medical circumstances in which it is advisable, but in general I feel it's best to let nature take its course), I figured my water breaking was a sign that my baby was ready to be born and maybe just needed a little encouragement. So, that day, I:
1. Did an intensive hypnotherapy session with my doula creating new birth goals and relaxation while having castor oil applied topically to my belly and benefitting from essential oils.
2. Did some homeopathic induction therapy
3. Walked again. A lot. While staying hydrated and taking breaks.
4. Bounced on the ball again.
5. Went to an acupuncturist for the first time. This did bring on some mild contractions, but nothing like the natural contractions I would have very randomly that were intensifying ever so slowly. It was a very strange, awkward experience and one day I will write that story because it is very funny and worth telling.
6. Did nipple stimulation three times. This brought on the best contractions, but they would always peter out after a few hours.
7. Did more aromatherapy with essential oils my doula had brought for me.
8. My usual positioning exercises only doubled.
Still at 48 hours, we were not in anything close to active labor. I called in as promised and got the midwife I had been seeing for the duration of my pregnancy. I was feeling pretty defeated and would have done anything she asked me to do, and she could hear the defeat in my voice (a first for me in the entire time I had been planning this VBAC). She told me that she did not think I was in the right mental place to face pit (a chemical I had privately labeled my nemesis in my last birth) and that she was not worried in the least that I or the baby was not okay. She knew I was monitoring myself and that my "home" bacteria were the least compromising bacteria I could be around. She told me that it was her "official recommendation as a midwife in the practice and a representative of the hospital that I come in after 24 hours of no labor after my water broke" BUT as MY midwife she thought I needed to rest, do whatever else I thought I needed to to induce labor gently and naturally and to come in the next morning or even the next evening for pit if I felt that was what was right. I agreed to do just that and asked directions to try castor oil (the only thing I had not tried yet); she gave me her recommendation and I hung up. My husband was freaking out at this point. He had been sure that we were going in that night for pit (as had I) and felt panicked at the thought of staying home even longer, but we had a long talk and I told him what I knew to be true. I was fine. The baby was fine and would remain fine and I needed rest and a new outlook if I were to have a successful VBAC in the near future.
That night, the night before my own birthday, I took castor oil shots chased with orange juice which aided in my nipple stimulation induced contractions and thoroughly cleaned me out, but did not put me into active labor although by morning my natural contractions were extremely strong, just still random. The next morning we woke up, walked the dog, I opened two birthday cards from my husband, kissed our son goodbye with many tears shed by all (this was far from the labor at home until the very end, leave only for the birth itself and then come home as soon as possible labor plan I had from the begining of my pregnancy), and headed on the road to the birth center to be put on pitocin once again. It had been about 63 hours since my water had broken. My "birth" story will be told in part 3.
Thanks for reading,