Natural Birth Story

Birth Story of William Farrell Schellingerhoudt

I woke up on Friday, February 19, 2010 with mild contractions that were beginning to move around into my back. I’d been having strong Braxton-Hicks quite frequently for a week and was wondering if, since I was feeling these in my back, this was finally it. I timed them for an hour (7AM – 8AM) laying in bed (Brad was getting ready for work and had Gwen with him), and they were around 4 – 5 minutes apart.

I got up to chat with Brad and suggested that it might be baby day. Once I was standing up, they increased in frequency to every 2 – 3 minutes, although they were not very painful and were quite short – around 30 seconds each. I was needing to either walk, bounce, or circle my hips through them. Since they were so close together, we decided to call my mom to come take care of Gwen and page my midwife.

B, my secondary midwife, arrived at around 8:30, took my blood pressure, listened to Love Bug, and did a urine dip. Everything was going well – except that she had another mom in labour! My primary, A, was scheduled to be off that day but with two moms in labour, decided to cone be with me with her student, O. They arrived shortly after my mom at around 9:30AM.

At this point, the contractions were still short and close together and I was still able to talk through most of them. Spirits were high and we were having a baby! A suggested checking me, just so we could get a baseline for where I was and I reluctantly agreed. Sadly, my cervix was only 3 cm dilated and still 1 cm thick and it was VERY posterior. In fact, Love Bug’s head was significantly below my cervix, which was tucked way up in rear of the head! A was concerned that since the head was not applying good pressure, it might take a while for me to progress, but that once my cervix was forward, things were going to go FAST. We discussed options – breaking my water, a stretch-and-sweep and doing nothing. I agreed to a stretch-and-sweep and to another vaginal exam after an hour to see if there was any change.

I began to get more crampy and the contractions picked up a little bit and became stronger for a while, and then began to space out again. They went to every 5 minutes, then 7, then O timed some at 10 minutes apart. I walked the stairs (17 steps!) and my mom took Gwen out for a walk and then to the mall. We gave it 2 hours before re-checking my cervix and there was no change – other than that my cervix was now only 0.5 cm thick. Baby’s heartrate was great., so we decided to not label it as labour, since that definition would require cervical change. A decided to stay close by at thhe clinic – which is just a ten minute walk from my house – and to check in on us at 4PM. It was noon.

After they left, I felt so defeated! I cried and told Brad that were never going to have this baby and that I didn’t want to deal with these contractions forever! I consulted a doula friend who happened to be online about what I could do to get baby’s head well applied to the cervix. She suggested that ineffective contractions likely meant malpositioning and that I should have a bath and a rest – alternating which side I was laying on every so often. She also suggested nursing lots (but Gwen was gone) and having an orgasm (um, no).

I headed up to have a bath, purposefully ignoring the clock and not timing contractions. I had several while in the bath and they were getting increasingly more difficult to deal with while laying down mostly on my back. Brad got me a snack – cheese and crackers and an apple – and I got out of the bath around 1PM. We decided to try for a nap, but I definitely couldn’t sleep through the contractions, which Brad was beginning to help me through by applying counterpressure. I was breathing heavily through them, rocking my hips and was definitely not able to talk anymore! We got up around 2PM to time the contractions and call people. It took a while to get downstairs because when I stood up the contractions were so close together! Once downstairs, Brad opened the laptop and began timing the contractions with an online tool, then paged A and called my mom – putting her on stand-by to come home. A called back and spoke to Brad, heard us work through a contraction (I was moaning through them at this point), then talked to me. I was afraid to have them come in case my contractions spaced out again, but she said she thought I was working hard and that she’d finish up and be at our place by 3PM.

Brad wanted to get the pool ready, but with hard contractions lasting at least a minute each, 2-3 minutes apart, I needed his help more than I needed the pool! With each contraction, I woulud moan for Brad, he would apply counterpressure and I would rock my hips and, breathing in and moaning out in low, guttural tones. Brad called my mom again and told her to come home and take Gwen upstairs, that we were definitely having this baby soon.

A arrived at 3PM, readied a few things, listened to baby’s heartrate – still wonderful! – and did a vaginal exam. “Good news!” She said, “You’re at a seven, my friend! With lots of bloody show!” Just then, I felt another wave about to hit and I cried that I couldn’t do it on my back. I rolled to the side and cried my way through the contraction, rocking my hips as best I could, moaning in a high frequency, with Brad pressing on my back as best he could. I laid on the floor recovering for a moment before draping myself over the couch again. It was 3:05PM.

During the next few contractions, I remember clearly joking – “I can’t believe this morning I wanted this to happen!” before another wave gripped me.

Another few contractions later, I moaned that the pressure was constant and almost overwhelming. With the next contraction, I felt my body bearing down and I yelled, “I’m pushing!” A calmly asked if I felt that I could pant through them for a bit until the secondary, E, arrived and I said no. She then moved in to support me while I pushed – saying that baby had moved right down and we would have a baby within five minutes. With the next contraction, my water broke as I pushed, E arrived and dove right in. Brad stood over me and next to me until he had to get the hot water bottle to warm the baby’s pack.

I don’t remember much of pushing, but it was literally only a few minutes and a few contractions – and what felt like a LOT of screaming! Brad at one point directed me to use deep sounds and I remember snapping “I don’t want to use deep sounds!” I remember many of the sensations of him coming out of me in rather vivid detail, although I can’t quite put those sensations into words.

I was dreading the sensation of the ring of fire, but my body was pushing without much help from me. Love Bug’s head was soon out and A told me I could reach down and feel the head. It was amazing to feel it outside my body – all warm and wet and alive. “There’s a head!” I cried, “My baby’s head!” Just afterward, A and E both began coaching me to get the body out quickly – they hadn’t said, but the cord was wrapped tightly around the neck and they’d had to clamp and cut it right away. Love Bug’s body slid out after a few big pushes and E whisked him/her away to suction out its mouth – my water had broken a second time while baby descended quickly and they were concerned about all the amniotic fluid in its mouth. “I got a glimpse! It’s definitely a boy!” Brad announced. “A boy!” I rejoiced, after which I just kept repeating, “I want my baby. Give me my baby.” A called out the time of birth – 3:23PM.

E brought him over to me and placed him on my chest, covering us with a blanket. Just then, my mom came in the house with Gwen – they’d literally missed the birth by a minute! I gazed down at my newborn son and kissed him, welcoming him to the world.

He was taken again, quickly, to give him a bit of oxygen while I pushed out the placenta and A examined it, Gwen sitting on Brad’s lap beside me. A good, healthy placenta, which actually had some calcifications – he was maybe a bit overdue! I had a few internal ’skid marks’ and one external cut, but no lacerations and no need for stittches – an intact perineum afer such a quick birth! I nursed him about 20 minutes after the birth when he was awake and alert, and he latched on like a champ (drat those little fists and arms!) and nursed beautifully.

A stayed until around 6PM to monitor Gil and I and then said her farewells – she would be back around 9AM the next morning.

My dad arrived about an hour after the birth and a few hours later, we were all eating Swiss Chalet for dinner! Homebirth is such fun :)

What an experience! While we were expecting a quick labour after my first had gone relatively quickly and by the book, we were NOT anticipating the ‘pause’ in labour that I experienced, nor were we anticipating me progressing from 3cm to baby in less than 3 hours – or 7cm to baby in 17 minutes! I felt like with my labour with Gwen, I was able to get into a rhythm and change my strategy as the contractions got longer, stronger, and closer together. With this labour, I felt very out of control. I suppose that’s because it was very fast and I still needed to move through each stage – but each change in contractions, each emotional signpost was that much more heightened because of how quickly it happened – I never had a chance to get into a rhythm. Brad says I was amazing and that I didn’t act significantly differently than I did with Gwen – he said some of my vocalizations were louder and higher pitched, but that with the intensity, it didn’t seem inappropriate!

I really felt mostly shell-shocked after the birth. After the disappointment of the morning, I’d honestly expected to not have a baby until that evening or even overnight, so having him come so quickly was … I don’t even have a word for it. I didn’t feel ready for it – even though I’d felt ready that morning. Obviously, when it comes down to it, I’d rather not deal with labour for longer than absolutely necessary, but 2.5 hours was just CRAZY!

Although I’m glad that my mom and Gwen weren’t in the room for the birth – I really think the intensity would have scared BOTH of them! – I’m sad that they missed it.

Voila! Welcome to the world, William Farrell Schellingerhoudt – all 6lbs 12oz and 20 inches of you!

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