For Timothy’s birth, we decided to go back to the hospital. That’s a whole story in itself, but suffice it to say that I surprised myself and decided that I didn’t want another birth center birth, and I also didn’t want the home birth I had long thought of. I was happiest in the hospital. We found a good midwife practice and decided to have him at the small community hospital just up the street from our house.
The birth – now, Timothy has always been a little unpredictable, and very spunky. He showed these qualities early – before he was even born.
The day before he was due, nothing exciting was happening as far as labor. As a grand multipara (I like that term better than “that lady with a boatload of kids”), I get a lot of pre-labor, which usually progresses very gradually into a couple weeks of prodromal labor, and then finally, mercifully, into the real thing. That night, I was still slogging through the prodromal phase.
Timothy, though – this kid wasn’t having it. The usual puttery, going-nowhere-much contractions had been going on for a while now, and I guess he was done. So, that night before the due date, right as I was getting ready for bed, he suddenly squirmed and gave one strong kick. I yelped in pain and surprise – even before I realized that he had gone and broken my water. I was startled, and a little panicked to get to the hospital – the only other time my water broke outside the hospital, the baby came so fast we didn’t make it. I also couldn’t help being a little sad that he’d chosen bedtime to get the party started. My last full night of sleep whisked away, just like that.
Well, we didn’t hang around. Our teenagers were already home to babysit, so we just grabbed our stuff and left. I remember noticing the perfectly full moon in a clear spring sky as we pulled away from the house.
We were at the hospital about half an hour after The Kick, and grateful to be there before anything much was happening. Some vague contractions were starting up, but nothing strong. We got checked in, and with some difficulty convinced the nurses that I really was sure my membranes really had ruptured. Their skepticism confused me – this was not a slow leak, folks. This was not an easy event to misinterpret, even were this my first rodeo. On my eighth…haven’t I maybe earned the right to just be believed when I say I’m sure my water broke?
Anyway, the midwife soon arrived, and contractions picked up. And as they did, I developed a deep ache in my back which filled me with a sense of dread. I knew immediately what it meant – the baby was posterior. I had been through posterior birth once before, and it was by far the hardest, longest, and most painful birth I have experienced. He had not been in a posterior position earlier that week when the midwife had checked him, but he sure was now. I had to immediately adjust my expectations for this birth – as soon as the water broke, I had assumed he was coming fast. With his poor positioning, it wasn’t going to be that way.
But, thankfully, neither was it to be a repeat of Alex’s 24-hour labor. The next couple of hours were hard, trying any and every position and comfort measure in the book to encourage him to come down. I spent a lot of time on hands and knees. I do wish I had had a labor tub like I had at the birth center with Emily – I am sure it would have helped immensely. He finally arrived, strong and healthy, only 5 minutes before his due date and about 3 hours after he “kickstarted” his own labor. This was pretty short, for a posterior labor.
So, I learned that not every posterior birth has to be as long and difficult as mine had been; there are so many variables, you just never know. I am sure it helped that we discovered his position early on, and it also helped that I had told the midwife beforehand that I was really afraid of posterior birth because of a previous birth. She did a great job of taking a proactive role in positioning and encouragement, which makes all the difference.
That’s one reason I love midwives; she was there the whole time, using positioning, counterpressure, and doubtless things I never noticed, or have forgotten. Some births I have needed that, and some I haven’t – but you never know until you are in the middle of it.
Finally, if you find yourself facing a posterior birth, don’t despair! My midwife pointed me to Spinning Babies, which is a fabulous resource on fetal positioning. The best way to cope with posterior labor is to be prepared, and be sure your caregiver is prepared as well. Also, for this as well as any birth, if you don’t have a midwife, you should consider finding a good doula. A professional level of labor support really can make such a huge difference, especially if you are faced with difficulties. You can do it!
This post has been shared at Thank Goodness It’s Monday at Nourishing Joy.