Alice Jayne Wiscombe
February 21, 2017; 12:13am
7lbs, 7oz; 21.5″
It’s been a week now since baby Alice joined our family and this 8 kids thing is no joke! I think it’ll take a few weeks before I start figuring out how to balance the basics of mothering this brood, getting essential homeschool stuff done, digging my house out from under the mess and blogging.
With each baby comes the necessity of streamlining tasks, rebalancing priorities and relegating the unessential to the sideline. It’s HARD, I already know this. In my perfectly controlled world, I’d give my housework as much attention as my own self care but sometimes you just have to focus on the very essentials: feeding yourself and your kids, giving them love and making sure you stay sane. Everything else can learn to wait.
If you caught my FB Live video about Alice’s birth then you already know the drama behind her big world entry! Birth never ceases to amaze me, and as much as I’ve loved my peaceful, uncomplicated home births, I can very acutely see God’s hand in the others as well, and this birth was no exception.
My technical “due date” was February 9th, but I always go late so I wasn’t terribly surprised when 41 weeks came and went. The whole weekend before she was born, I was in really easy early labor and even went to bed with some strong regular contractions once or twice, but they always went away sometime during the night. By Monday (President’s Day) I was getting really frustrated and was tired of being pregnant. It was also Luke’s last day home before the start of a new week and I just didn’t have the energy to take care of kids by myself the next day.
I decided to take castor oil that morning (despite hating it the last time I took it! Desperate times…) and it started working several hours after that. At about 4pm, Luke and I decided to go for a walk around the neighborhood to get things moving. I only made it about 100 yards from my front door, however, before I felt a gush of fluid. I was hoping it was amniotic fluid but when I looked down, I realized it was bright red blood.
My midwife (we were planning a home birth) suggested we go to OB triage at the hospital to get checked out and after hours of waiting around (and a reassuring peek at a healthy, happy baby), we finally got to see a doctor. I’d never seen this OB before but I immediately liked him. Even after I experienced more bleeding in traige, he said that they still weren’t sure what it was but that he’d work with me on getting the birth I wanted.
At this point I really didn’t feel good about going home (and neither did my midwife who assured me that if the bleeding continued, we’d just end up right back at the hospital) and so I chose to stay and be gently induced in order to keep an eye on the bleeding and the baby.
We used a combination of a foley bulb and breaking my bag of waters to get things going. All this time, we continued to see bleeding and finally surmised that there was probably a placental abruption going on (in other words, the placenta was starting to pull away from the uterine wall). The dangers of this are twofold: excessive bleeding for mom and the potential loss of oxygen to the baby. We talked briefly about a c-section, but given my history of a past cesarean and all those VBACS, we decided to try everything we could to avoid surgery. The OB said that as long as baby’s heartbeat looked good, we’d be OK in continuing with a vaginal delivery.
Once my water broke, however, things started moving fast. The bleeding kept coming and my contractions got really hard. Within about a half hour I was really working through labor, and during one particularly intense contraction, things got really weird. My midwife said the baby’s heartrate dropped really low and they moved me onto my side. Right then there was a HUGE gush of blood, I started to feel weak, and my vision went snowy…I didn’t even really have the mental capacity to work out what was happening, but my blood pressure had plummeted (at one point it was down to 55/25!). I lost consciousness briefly but they gave me some O2 and I came back pretty quickly. I clung to that oxygen like crazy, because it was the only thing that made me feel like I wasn’t going to die!
Another 15 minutes or so of contractions and I started feeling “pushy”. I got on my hands and knees and let myself start pushing her down; then once I felt baby’s head crowning I just went crazy pushing because I knew I didn’t have the energy for more than one push! After just a few moments, out she came, bright red and wailing like crazy.
They started cleaning me up and handed me the baby and she was so beautiful! But I wasn’t out of the woods yet. I was so, SO tired that it was hard to even hold her. The doctor went to town trying to get my placenta out because I was still bleeding heavily and that was almost as painful as labor! Once that was out, they gave me something to stop the bleeding and made sure I was getting plenty of fluids.
At one point, while I was holding the baby, all of a sudden everyone was calling my name. I opened my eyes and everyone was staring at me and the nurse was holding my baby. I was really confused about that since I didn’t remember handing Alice over, but then I realized I’d passed out again and almost dropped her! Other than low BP and exhaustion, the other side effect of the hemorrhaging was cold. I was so, SO cold. As they were cleaning me up, I just started shivering so hard I could barely talk. At that point they decided I needed blood and put in an order for 2 units.
Once I had the first unit in me, I felt like a new person. I had energy to talk and hold the baby and generally be so glad that everything worked out as well as it did! I’m so grateful that we didn’t end up with a cesarean (I’m not sure how anyone recovers from surgery with a whole passel of little ones at home!) but even more grateful that Alice tolerated labor, that it was a quick labor and most of all that I followed my intuition and didn’t go back home to have her.
A lot of people think it’s strange and even dangerous to have a baby at home…but my decision to do so is always accompanied by lots of prayer and listening. The interesting thing about this birth is that even though I originally felt good about a homebirth, as the time got closer and closer, I started to feel some vague misgivings. Every time I’d look over at the birth tub in my living room I’d get anxious. I thought it was because of Marilyn’s birth (the pushing part of her labor was HARD!) and so I did more hypnobirthing and meditation and prayer…and yet the nervousness didn’t go away. I didn’t feel fully at ease until we checked into the hospital. At that point, even though there was a chance my baby could be in danger, I felt totally comfortable with the resources there and knew that the outcome would be a good one.
Birth is usually the first important experience we undergo as mothers and we are completely entitled to receiving revelation (or intuition or whatever you want to call it) for ourselves and our babies. Being a mom is often a scary road, but we’re never completely alone! The moment when a new life comes into the world is truly a special one, and I’m so grateful I’ve been able to experience it over and over again.