I am beyond excited and honoured to share this INCREDIBLE birth story with you. The day before Valentines Day 2017, my doula client called me to head her way, and I supported her through a very challenging, and inspiring birth. The sweet babe above was 11 lbs, 14 oz at birth, and the 11th child to the amazing mama who birthed him with enduring strength, and determination.
(Yes, you read that correctly: 11 lbs, 14 oz!!) Birthed vaginally. And, VBA2C!
Women are gifted with incredible strength, and magnificent design.
“The Birth of 11 lb 14 oz Levi Andrew
Levi was born into our family that includes his ten siblings, on Valentine’s Day, 2017. This is his birth story.
Levi’s position the entire pregnancy had been some form of transverse or oblique presentation. Never once did he attempt a vertex or breech position. My babies had hung out in crazy positions before, but as we approached 36 weeks, I became more concerned about his presentation. As a childbirth educator, and mama of ten other children, I know how important fetal positioning is for a smooth birth. Add to this that I personally felt he was my largest baby, and I knew we could be getting into a pickle that would be problematic for my natural birth plan. I began getting Webster chiropractic adjustments, doing Spinning babies, using homeopathics, and practicing good positioning for myself.
My OB is incredibly supportive and non-alarmist. At 38.5 weeks we decided to attempt an external cephalic version (ECV) to turn him vertex. My OB was successful in turning him, and he and the nurse swiftly put on a belly binder to hold him in position. As he was being monitored for any signs he didn’t tolerate the version well, I walked in circles, did gentle lunges, swayed my hips, and did everything I could to get gravity to hold him in place. When we arrived home, about an hour from the hospital, I could tell he had again moved transverse. I just prayed and asked God to please work out his birth story.
At my next prenatal appointment a few days later, we discussed what, if anything we can do. Since I’m a VBA2C, most of the other physicians in the hospital aren’t willing to attend my birth, unless it’s a c-section. If I were to come into the hospital in labor with a transverse baby, there would be no effort made to turn him, and I’d be headed for the operating room. We decided to do a pelvic exam to see if anything was going on. I was softened, slightly effaced, and beginning to dilate after all the stop/start contractions I had been having. We tossed ideas around, and decided that since I was in the 40th week, and he could be present with me in the hospital, it was wise in the big picture to try another version, and then an amniotomy (break my water) to help him engage, once he was in a low enough station to do so safely.
That night I went into the hospital, and let our doula, Esther, know what was going on. When I got hooked up to the monitor to prepare for the version, we confirmed I was having regular contractions. They began to grow stronger. Once the OB was ready to do the version, I was contracting too tightly to complete it. I got a shot of terbutaline to stop the contractions, and relax the uterus, and then Levi moved head down. Once the shot wore off, the contractions began back in a regular pattern, and were increasing in intensity. I sat on the birth ball, and called the doula to come be with me. My husband had to leave to take our daughter home, who wanted to be present for the birth, but wasn’t allowed because she was a minor. He didn’t want me to be alone while he was gone, and the contractions were clearly well on their way. It was nearing midnight, and I was so happy the contractions were rolling, and that I had to stop through them to concentrate. About an hour later they began slowing, and I discovered why. Levi had moved, and was no longer putting any pressure on my cervix. We called the doctor to come and confirm. He decided to check me to see, and although I had made some change from all the contractions, he feared his exam revealed transverse lie-in truth, partial baby bottom/side. He confirmed once again with the portable ultrasound machine. We had to develop a new strategy.
Since my cervix is extremely posterior, it makes cervical exams terribly difficult until I’m in advanced labor. To break my water would mean a lot of pushing of the baby downward to reach the bag of water. We decided we’d try the version again, and then hold Levi in place and break the water. At a little after 3 am, my OB turned the baby again, held him deep in the pelvis, with help from the nurse and my own hands, and broke my water. Now baby could engage. Levi looked fantastic the entire time.
Nearly immediately, the contractions began. For hours, the contractions kept coming, but baby remained high. I was tired.
Around 5 pm the contractions became more than I could handle, and I began asking to be done. A nurse examined me, and this is when everything went south with my mental state. She found me to only be about 6 cm dilated. I was so confused, because I know my body, and I was feeling tremendous pressure. For nearly an hour I fought the need to push. Looking back, this had happened before in another of my labors, until a skilled midwife checked me and confirmed I was complete-while the nurse had mistakenly felt a lip that she thought was the dilation of the cervix and announced I had only been a 6.
I was unable to communicate all this information to anyone, as the contractions were coming too quickly and the pressure was increasing. I knew the best thing to do was allow my body to do it’s work, but the pain had grown so strong and I was so weakened from such a long ordeal. Esther prayed with me and stroked my hair. She gave me affirmations and put a cool washcloth on my head. Every time I thought I could handle the next wave, another would crash and I’d be sure I was done…that I couldn’t do another one. My husband looked me deeply in the eyes and was firm with me..that I could do it..that this is exactly how the end of labor looks for me, and it was almost time.
The nurses convinced me to try another position, and immediately the pressure changed and I knew for sure I was complete and I could feel his head. I demanded to have the OB check me, which knows my cervical anatomy and my usual birth pattern. He did and said that I felt this way because it was time to have a baby. I was complete. I flipped over to my back and into a semi-squatting position, and began to work with the contractions to birth Levi. Two pushes for his head, and two for the shoulder, and he was out! Immediate relief! Everyone was exclaiming for me to open my eyes and see the baby, alternating with “he is huge!” and “look at all the hair!”
Levi Andrew, 11 lbs 14 oz was here! He was beautiful, and pink, and ready to nurse. I had only a very minor abrasion that didn’t require stitching, and I was barely even sore!
What a long and difficult labor that ended so beautifully! All that work, and the reward is this treasure that God knitted together and entrusted his father and me to raise! I was so well supported and felt so loved. God is so amazing, and His plan so perfect! Praise Him!”
– Andrea, Mama of 11 beautiful children
Welcome to this side of life, little (big!) Levi.