Arthur Noble’s Birth Story: a VBAC homebirth

May 1

To write the story of Arthur’s birth, I think it’s important to talk about my pregnancy with him.

As some of you might know, my previous birthing experience went a bit unexpected. I went into preterm labor at 33 weeks. Since I was only 33 weeks along, I assumed my contractions were just Braxton Hicks. By the time I took it seriously, I was too far along for labor to be stopped. My son Ransom was breech, born quickly via C-section and was in the NICU for 27 days. The NICU stay was devastating for me.

When I found out I was pregnant again, I was in a pretty good place with my past trauma. I had dealt with it. But then, my friend had a baby in a very similar way. Preterm labor at 33 weeks, not able to be stopped, and baby was in the NICU. It brought all these sad, ugly feelings back up!  So I tried to work through them again.

Because of my history of preterm labor, my midwife kept a close eye on me. I was monitored more. And everything was fine! Somewhere around 30 weeks we decided to get a cervical check, and they felt that my cervix was short and soft (which is something that happens as you get closer to labor, but not as early as 30 weeks). They sent me in for an ultrasound to measure the length of my cervix.

In the days leading up to my ultrasound appointment, I struggled with my fears. Like, a lot. It came down to me surrendering my heart to God. I told God I would trust him, even though I had no idea how to go about that. Like, seriously…is there a list of steps that you do to “trust God”? What does trusting God even mean or look like? I had no idea! So for me it looked like me just CHOOSING it. Every time that wave of fear would wash over me (which was every few minutes), I said. “No. I trust You.” I repeated this OFTEN. It was my prayer and heart’s desire that I will have a full-term, healthy homebirth with no hospital transfers for me or the baby.

At the ultrasound appointment, the tech told me my cervix was 3cm, which is on the short side of normal, but still within the acceptable range. I called my midwife and relayed the information, and my midwife put me on modified bedrest.

The morning after my ultrasound appointment, I come downstairs to a bunch of missed calls from my midwife and a text asking me to call her immediately. (Insert my stomach lurching).
I called the midwife and they told me the ultrasound tech had misspoken when she told me 3cm, and that they had just received the report from the doctor and it said 2cm. They told me to sit as much as possible so the babies head wasn’t on my cervix. They told me to schedule a consult with a doctor a few hours away for a second opinion and to possibly be prescribed progesterone. I hung up the phone and burst into tears. Big, old ugly tears FULL of fear.

I tried to pull myself together and called my mom (who is probably my best friend). I was panicked! How can I sit down with a 2 year old and a 3 three year old?! I swear I could FEEL my cervix dilating. I was FREAKING. My mom told me to sit down and my dad would be right over to pick up the kids. My midwife didn’t even want me DRIVING!!!

After I hung up I leveled out a little bit and declared, in the middle of my kitchen, “No. No! I am still choosing to trust You with this pregnancy.”

A few hours later and Adam and I were headed to Cookeville to see a doctor who supported homebirths. It was a quiet, solemn ride with each of us reliving the trauma of preterm labor and birthing a baby that we weren’t able to hold because they were hooked up to machines with wires and needles and breathing masks.
We had stopped at the hospital along the way to do bloodwork. En route from the hospital to the doctors office, my midwife called. Y’all aren’t gonna believe this. She had called the imaging center where I had the ultrasound, just to verify the report. And guess what?! They made a TYPO!!!! My cervix was 3 cm tall, not 2cm. So I didn’t need to be (as) worried! I felt like God was like “What up girl!? Told you that you could trust me.”
Long story short, we had an excellent experience at the doctors. We were there a long time because he was waiting for the blood results. When they came in…guess what?! Another medical mistake!! He looked at the report and said “Mmmm….yeah. I would be very surprised if these numbers are correct.” So he took my blood again and, yep, he was right, the hospital had made a mistake. (This is where you find out that medical errors are the THIRD LEADING CAUSE OF DEATH IN AMERICA). Unless there’s an emergency situation (like Ransom’s birth), you can find me NOT at a hospital. 

He did a cervical exam and said “Well, your cervix IS short and soft, but I’ve felt softer. I think you have a good chance of making it full-term.”  Hearing those words of encouragement, even though there’s no guarantee of any kind, was SO GOOD for our hearts!

So until I was 37 weeks, I was on bedrest. I basically didn’t do anything (except pray, think, and gain weight). I was on progesterone and a bunch of other natural supplements to support my immune system. And every day I choose to trust God. And I also wrestled with the fact that God could choose to not answer my prayer. And He would still be good. He would still be loving. Merciful. Benevolent. But man, if I birthed a baby that wasn’t laid on my chest immediately…I was going to be devastated. 

Fast-forward to 37 weeks. I was off bedrest. I was out of shape. I was STILL PREGNANT! We went on walks! We went to festivals! Life was so sweet! 

(Oh, also- baby was breech, but I did ALL SORT OF THINGS and I actually FELT him flip head down. Super cool feeling.)

Fast-forward three weeks and I WAS STILL PREGNANT. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be pregnant on my due date…

So here we are at 40 weeks and 3 days….birth story time!I had stronger Braxton Hicks all night. Nothing crazy, just more pressure. I slept great. Woke up, got Finley to school, sent Ransom out to play with my dad, and texted my doula and photographer that nothing was technically happening, but there was more pressure. I went to Trees N Trends to walk around and shop, and figured I’d time the “contractions”. Still zero pain, just pressure. After a very quick lap through the store, I thought I should probably go home. Well, Adam thought I should go home. But I really wanted a milkshake, so I waited until Baskin Robbins opened at 11am, and treated myself (half chocolate and half cookie dough, in case you’re wondering). My thought process was…if I’m going to hit transition and throw everything up, it might as well be a smooth milky milkshake (definitely regretted that a couple hours later).

My midwife called and checked in while I was filling the car up with gas and recommended that I go home. For the record, I didn’t think I was in labor. Nothing hurt! Everything was chill. She told me to update her if there were ANY changes. A change in duration of contractions, the time between contractions, pain, pressure, etc.

When I got home Adam was there! It was so funny. He comes home for lunch a lot, but he had changed out of his work clothes. When I asked him what was up, he said “Oh no, I know you’re in labor. I’m not going anywhere.” I just shook my head, again…thinking I wasn’t in labor.

We went up and folded laundry. My midwife called and told me that she was just going to come over because of my history with fast labors and that I should tell my doula and photographer to head over as well. It was just then that things started to get more intense.

But again, the contractions were totally painless! But the pressure was super intense and I couldn’t talk through them. I told my mom this *might* be it, and that she should come pick up an overnight bag for the kids. So I was able to see Finley for a few minutes before baby was born, which was super sweet!

My midwife arrived and checked me. I was 8cm. I was like “OH DANG. That means transition is gonna happen any minute!!!!!”. And boom, it did.
I started throwing up, so gross. The milkshake was a bad idea. And then it was just brutal. Brutal!!!!! I was on my knees hugging a birth ball. I got so sad every time a contraction started to build up. It seemed more painful than my other births. My body started to push, but it was pushing DURING the contractions. They never stopped! 

My water broke during a contraction and the liquid was pink, which alerted my midwives to a possible placenta abruption. They noticed it starting to get darker and darker red and got super serious about getting the baby in the right position for birth. They had me do all sorts of positions and jiggled my belly with a sheet to line everything up. I threw up a few more times. THE PAIN WAS NUTS.

They moved me to the bed and I kept pushing. It felt like I pushed forEVER. At one point I yelled for someone to “put your hand in my vagina and pull this baby out!!!!!”. No one did.

Eventually, after what seemed like hours, baby was out!!! Adam caught the baby and laid HIM on my chest. It was everything I wanted. The cord was white and barely pulsing, and he was totally fine! Labor was 2.5 hours.

We didn’t find out the sex of the baby, but at some point in the third trimester, I just knew it was Arthur.
Then things got a little crazy. Apparently I wouldn’t stop bleeding. My midwife scraped my uterus out OVER AND OVER AND OVER and it was somehow way more painful than birthing a baby. This went on for hours and the pitocin shots didn’t stop it. They gave me a shot of something else too. Finally, my midwife looked at me and said “If you don’t stop bleeding in 5 minutes we have to call an ambulance.”

But I trusted God that he would give me my heart’s desire. And a part of that was no hospital transfers. And Viola! I stopped bleeding. (I did lose an insane amount of blood and had to stay in bed for 2 weeks drinking iron and chlorophyll and all sorts of iron-rich foods).
Postpartum is a really hard time for me. Not emotionally, but physically it feels exactly like:
I push a mac truck out of my butthole. That mac truck then put itself in reverse and runs me over. Oh, and then my milk came in 30 hours after birth and I was like a concrete statue. Physical misery.

But also, SUCH BLISS. Like, I am now obsessed with babies. They’re lovely and so kissable delicious. I kiss Arthur all day. ALL DAY.

I think I’m still a bit in shock about birth. I actually feel that way about all three births. Finley’s 4.5 and I still can’t believe I birthed her!
It’s all such a wild ride!

Couldn’t have done it without my husband and baby-catcher, my Doula Kate, my midwives at Birth Wellness, and my photographer Lanie. They were the Dream Birth Team!

All photos by Lanie Kay

Arthur is SIX months old now and such a joy! He just wants to be perched up in my arms (seriously, it’s like I’m a pirate and he’s my parrot) where he can watch his big brother and sister. He LOVES to connect with people with eye contact, big gummy smiles, and lots of coos and squeaks.

I ADORE him!

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