Birth Story: Labor with Auggie Dale by Heather Wade
A note from Mary Duke, LCCE:
"My blog is always open to anyone to be a place to share birth stories especially to my Doula clients and Lamaze Students. This particular story means a lot to our community, we’ve all hoped for this Mom, Heather, to be able to rock a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean) one day. The whole Network joins me in saying congratulations to Heather, Jon, Charlee and Auggie Dale. It was truly a joy to get to spend time with their family during their In-Home Lamaze Childbirth Classes (group class also available) and it was (while not surprising) a thrill to hear of their successful home birth after a cesarean."
Thursday, August 23rd
I woke up at 2am with minor contractions that weren’t consistent or very strong. They were considerably different from the Braxton Hicks I had been having for two weeks. They felt slightly stronger and lower, they also went around to my back. I went about my day as usual though, bouncing on my ball when I had the chance or taking a moment to breathe. I babysit a little boy named Mason, so I made sure to tell Mason's mom that I was having good contractions and to stay by her phone. I knew we were close, so I went ahead and drove to the grocery and to Walmart, just to get a few last minute supplies that I knew I needed. I had lunch with a friend at the house while our kids played and my husband came home to check on me during his lunch break. Mason's mom and I decided that I would take the day off Friday, just to be safe, since she had to go out of town a little further than usual. When Jon got home from work, we ate dinner and I headed upstairs early for an epsom bath and an early bedtime.
Friday, August 24th
I woke Friday morning, around 2:30am, with stronger contractions. I tried to rest, but couldn’t quite get comfortable again. I got up and headed downstairs around 4:00am. I watched some of my favorite shows and enjoyed this early quiet time. I knew we would have a little baby soon, so I was enjoying taking some time to myself. I made coffee and breakfast before Jon headed to work. He hadn’t been feeling well so I ate his bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich and settled back in for some rest before Charlee woke for the day.
I stayed close to the restroom all day, as I had heard to keep my bladder empty. When your bladder is full it can push baby up and off the cervix making for a longer labor, plus it wasn’t all that comfortable to have a full bladder at that point. The contractions moved a little closer together and the midwife came to check on me that afternoon. Jon came home while she was here and we got good news, 50% effaced and 2cm dilated, Momma was making progress. My doula had been out of town since the Sunday before and was due back late Saturday night. With my cervix at 2cm, I was pretty confident that she would make it to my birth.
Jon went back to work and I went back to my day. I got a little grouchy around nap-time but luckily my mom was coming to town and so she decided to take Charlee out with her while I took a little nap. I got up and fixed dinner when Jon got home. Then went back upstairs for an early bedtime.
Saturday, August 25th
Saturday is when I knew something was different. I woke around 2:30am with strong contractions that I was having to moan through. I got all my yoga balls out and got to work. Every time a contraction hit I would use my Coregeous ball to massage my back against a wall. I stayed in the restroom most of the day to insure that my bladder was empty. As soon as my bladder would empty, I would have a contraction so I would usually just rock back and forth on the toilet until it stopped. My mother in law was coming back into town from Mississippi, so we made plans for her to come and get Charlee, since I was started to moan a little louder. (Charlee found it funny when Momma would moan and she mimicked me a couple of times).
I took a small nap around 11:00am on the couch and, even in my sleep, I would moan through the contractions. When I woke up, I continued my work with the Coregeous ball and the restroom. Around 2:00pm, my mom came in from her certification test, and we all mutually decided that she would go get Charlee and that my mother in law would come and witness the birth whenever it happened. This would prove to be quite the beneficial decision.
Around 3:30pm, my midwife came to check me again, and again we got great news. 90% effaced and 4cm dilated. I was moving along nicely. When she left, I decided to take a hot bath and relax a little. We knew it would be really late Saturday or Sunday when he decided to come so I asked Jon to cook me a steak for dinner. I knew I needed the fuel to keep me going since my sleep had been less than restful.
I soaked in the tub for about 40 minutes and decided to get out. This was where things got interesting. As the water drained from the tub, I had a contraction. Every little bit of water that left the tub made my contraction just a little harder. I had to really call out during the contraction and I yelled for Jon. When he got upstairs I said “I can’t dry myself off, this really hurts.” I began to cry. And just as quickly as it came, it left, and I felt so silly. I grabbed the towel, “I’m so sorry honey, I’m ok. I can dry off.” He laughed a little and went to fix my plate. I got out and went straight to my bed.
I had texted my 'substitute doula' when I first got out of the tub and said “Ok I think I’m ready.”
“You want me to come to you now?” She responded.
“I just lost my s**t getting out of the tub. I think I’m ok now. That transition from hot water to cold air was too much.” I really felt silly for losing it during that bath-time contraction.
“Are you sure bc I’m getting ready and can come straight there” I think she knew I needed her.
“Yes please come.” I took my opportunity. I had tried to keep everyone away for as long as I could, I just didn’t know what to expect anymore.
Jon brought up my dinner right about the time I had gone to sleep. He woke me up which sent me into another hard contraction, I called out, and I knew he felt terrible but I’m thankful he did. I needed to fuel up for what was coming, even if it was just a few bites. I laid back down for another contraction.
About 20 minutes after texting my substitute doula, Amanda Woolen walked in the back door. She said her hello to Jonathan and headed upstairs. She asked how I was doing and saw my plate, “Are you able to eat? Would you like a drink?” I told her that I had taken a couple of bites and then I took a couple more. Those bites were interrupted with strong contractions. This was around 7:00pm. I began to yell. I got off the bed and collapsed into Amanda.
“I’m not coping well. This is really hard.” I yelled and began to cry.
“You’re doing wonderfully, it is hard but you’re doing it.”
“I’m not!” I sobbed.
Another contraction. I asked Jon to go get my Coregeous ball. I backed up against a wall and began to grind my back into the ball. I braced against the door frame.
“Has anyone mentioned posterior to you?” Amanda asked.
“No, Tracey said he’s in perfect position, directly in the middle of my belly.” I said short of breath.
I hugged Amanda again and she felt of my tail bone. Of course, his head was bulging out of my back. She turned to Jon, “Do you want to feel your boy?” She placed his hand where she felt Auggie’s head. I can’t confirm, but I’m pretty sure that means he was posterior, or “sunny side up.”
“Should I fill the pool up?” Jon asked Amanda.
“I think we have plenty of time.” She said.
I don’t remember at what point my mother in law, Cinda Arnold, came but she got to the house while I was yelling out. I believe I may have been on the toilet. This exchange is probably the funniest to me. Mainly because I had no idea that I was progressing so quickly.
“I really need to use the restroom, can you give me a minute?” I asked Amanda.
“I’m not leaving you on this toilet.” She said.
“No, really. I just need to poop, like really.”
“Are you feeling pushy?” She asked me.
“Idk what I’m feeling.”
“Why don’t we get off the toilet?” She went to touch my hands.
“I’m not getting off this toilet.” I said.
“Come on, lets get off the toilet.”
“I’m not getting off this toilet.”
It was then that she did not pull me, but gently took my hands and guided me off the toilet. I think she knew then, that I was farther than we thought, and I was going to have this baby on the toilet. This was around 8:15pm. She told Jon to go ahead and start filling the tub, so Cinda and Jon got to work.
My midwife was at a wedding in Columbia Kentucky. I had been the one to tell her that I was totally fine earlier in the day and that she should definitely go enjoy herself. Midwives, especially one as busy as mine, rarely get to attend the events that matter in their lives. I was insistent that she go to this wedding and enjoy her time before she was called to help me. Also, I really did not expect to have a baby Saturday night. I expected a baby sometime on Sunday. Amanda had been conversing via text and phone call with the midwife periodically. I’m not sure at what point Amanda told her to head our way but it was at this time that I was told that she was coming.
We made our way into the kid's room. That’s where I had decided to birth my baby, amidst all his things and his crib hung with lights. I had pictures of our family out and my favorite scent in the Scentsy, Satin Sheets. A dear friend had bought me some candles but unfortunately we never got to light them. I got in the floor on my hands and knees.
It wasn’t long after that that Auggie’s head shifted in my pelvis, I called out:
“Oh that wasn’t good! He shifted! I felt a pop and it wasn’t water!” Amanda countered with, “He’s moving into position. You’re doing great.”
I had to move, I had to get up or lay down or something. I said “I want the bunk bed.”
Jon was a little confused, “Charlee’s bunk bed?”
“Yes.” I was moving that direction, I had to lay down.
I braced myself with one hand and one foot gripping the slats. I felt the need to push. Almost instantly, I couldn’t stop it. The midwife was at least 30 minutes away. Amanda said “Please don’t push, can you pant with me?” I tried. And tried. Don’t push, just pant. Like a dog on a hot day. I could empathize, it was so hot. Just pant. Push. No, don’t push. Just pant. Much harder said than done. My body was pushing. I would pant for about 7 breaths and PUSH. I couldn’t stop. I told them, “I can’t! You don’t understand!” Pant. PUSH. Brace against the bunk bed. Tense. Pant. PUSH. Amanda kept reassuring me, I could tell she was a little worried. “Tracey is worried about a cervical lip, we don’t want you to hurt yourself. Please don’t push. Just pant with me. Like a dog. Pant.” I tried. I promise I tried. My body was pushing and there wasn’t any stopping it.
“I want to get in the tub.” I said.
“Wait for Tracey and then we can get in.” Amanda said.
“Please let me in the tub!” PUSH. No. Pant. I couldn’t stop it.
Amanda got on the phone.
“Where physically is she at?” Jon was getting worried and a little peeved. We all knew this baby was coming with or without Tracey.
Amanda said “20 minutes.” Then she said softly to Jon, “If she gets in that tub, we will have a baby.”
I saw my opportunity, I was so close. “I’m getting in that M*****F*****.” After the next contraction, I was up and trying to climb in.
“Do you want your dress on?” Amanda asked.
“Off!” She helped me take it off.
The water was so hot. We thought we had time for the water to cool, so Jon and Cinda had turned the water up. Cinda jumped into action, ran downstairs, got a pot, and filled it with cool water. This was around 9:00pm. So close. I pushed. Jon was beside my head, holding my arm. I pushed. Then a break, what felt like a long break. I took some breaths and relaxed with my arms over the side of the tub. Relief. Even for a minute or five. I lost track of what happened in those minutes. I had a fan on my face, my husband beside me, my doula making sure all was well, and my mother in law keeping the pool cool. It takes a village to birth a baby. I heard my midwife’s car door shut. Heard her open the door.
“HES COMING!” I roared.
”PUSH”, I told myself. She ran up the stairs as best she could with two huge supply bags, threw on gloves and got her hands in the pool. PUSH. Words of encouragement. I was growling like a woman possessed. PUSH. Words of encouragement. “GET HIM.” Words of encouragement. PUSH. Burn. Baby. It was all over. I did it. I. DID. IT.
He was awake and so aware and then he cried. We all laughed, and smiled, and joked. All I thought was “This is what birth is. This is what birth is meant to be.”
Hearing my husband and my mother in law and the birth professionals around me laughing. Having just pushed out a baby and I was smiling despite the small amount of pain I still had in my nether regions. I was smiling. Looking at my husband and smiling. Telling my mother in law to let everyone know he was here. We had done it. The placenta was delivered shortly after birth with a little push. Shortly after that I handed our tiny boy to his daddy and I made my way to our bed. Jon crawled in beside me and we looked our boy over. His eyes were wide open and he was looking around. It surprised me how awake he was. And perfect. Just like his sister.
I had two first degree tears near the front, one of which required a suture clip and the other would heal on its own. I was told how to care for myself afterward and assured that I would heal quickly. This part was by far the worst of the birth. It burned to pee so I took to taking very short showers on my hands and knees to empty my bladder. I did have a peribottle but it was much less painful in the shower.
All his newborn tests and measurements were conducted right on our bed where we could watch and witness how perfect he was. My mother came in shortly after and brought Charlee. She was so excited. She jumped in bed with us and marveled at her baby. After a few minutes she ran to his room and got his cloth book that was gifted to us at his baby shower. “Daddy read this to brother!” She said. Charlee was well acquainted with all of brothers toys, she had played with them all in the months leading up to that day and was excited to show him how they worked. In the couple of hours that followed, we reveled in the afterglow of birth. Of a mission accomplished. Of a dream achieved. And of course, of this little tiny boy who was finally here. My heart was so full.
The team left around 1:30am and Jon and I settled into bed. We laughed and posted our announcement on Facebook. Then we fell asleep. I woke up at 5:30am ready for the day. I got up, took a shower, made some coffee, and nursed my tiny boy. I felt like I could run a marathon. The recovery with my Homebirth was one million times easier than that of my cesarean. With Charlee’s birth, I couldn’t even get out of the bed, let alone climb stairs. Here I was, this time, making coffee and laughing with my mother just hours after pushing my son into the world. I felt phenomenal.
I want to send a very special thanks to everyone who helped and those that prepared me for our special day.
Amanda Woolen was my substitute doula and did an outstanding job of comforting and encouraging me through the process of birth.
Jonathan, of course, who is always my sure thing and my strength. He allowed the space I needed to birth our son and never complained of the requests I made.
Cinda Arnold was someone we could not have birthed without. She made sure our pool was full and she took all the pictures that I have today. Most of which are not publicly appropriate but I have found myself looking at them everyday since and I’m so grateful she was here to take them.
Tracey Moore who made it just in the knick of time and gave me the sweet encouraging words to continue pushing and the confidence boost of “You birth beautifully.” That sentence meant a lot to me and thankfully I have it on video.
Terry Pounders came in minutes after I got in bed and gave me a sweet kiss on my forehead and told me how proud he was. I’ve never told him this but it was like having a father there, a father that has passed for me, but it meant so much.
Caron White brought our beautiful girl Charlee home to see her brother. My mother also cut the cord to our sweet boy and it was so wonderful to have everyone take a little role in his arrival.
Jennifer West was my doula all through pregnancy and now postpartum, she has answered so many questions for me, without hesitation and she prepared me so well for the day he would come. I was sad that she was not here to witness his arrival but I was thankful to have Amanda beside me (or behind me would be a better way to say it.)
That night could not have gone better and everyone did such a great job at keeping the space calm, even when they wanted to panic. I’m now an even bigger advocate for Homebirth and hope, one day, to become some sort of birth professional. Wherever that road leads. I intend to share my experience with those that are interested and foster a love instead of fear in the birth process. Thank you for reading my story.