Monday, February 28, 2011

double digits! double digits!

A few people have asked recently about whether or not we'll be having the baby here in Colombia or returning home to Canada for the birth. Currently our plan is to not only stay in Bogota... but we're planning a homebirth.

This surprises a lot of people -especially the Colombians!- but there are many reasons behind our choice.

With Liam, labour started spontaneously with contractions every 3 minutes right from the get go. Being my first time, we went to the hospital where it was confirmed that it was, indeed, real labour and left with instructions to return when it got "real bad". We returned to the hospital around 2 or 3am, but being only 3-4 centimetres dilated, were given the choice to stay at the hospital (where the only accommodations they could offer us were in the waiting room) or to return home. 

We went back home of course. Back home again

I was so defeated by the thought of being sent home A THIRD TIME that I determined to labour at home as long as possible and arrived at the hospital already at 9 cms. I begged and pleaded for an epidural -while crying on hands and knees in the triage area!- and when they checked me after the epidural was in place I was at 10ccms. 

The epidural completely stalled my labour. Contractions slowed to 8 mins apart (which was actually a blessed relief since it gave Peter and I both the chance to sleep for a few hours) and pitocin was required to get things going again. Once I started to push though, it only took 15-20 minutes for Liam to be born. 19 hours from beginning to birth.

Liam at 10 days old

Nathaniel's birth was vastly different... 

Because of his Trisomy 18 diagnosis, we chose to induce at 37 weeks. This meant that our families could make arrangements to travel to be with us and it was also deemed the best chance for us to be able to spend time with him alive. So I was induced with the use of cervidel (sp?) and pitocin. Once again labour started right off with contractions every three minutes and continued that way for (another) NINETEEN MORE HOURS. I finally did choose to get an epidural, but more for the sake of having it in place should a c-section be necessary.

Turned out that it was.

Even though we had to fight for the section to be performed (as they only considered ME as a patient and not Nathaniel since his diagnosis was "fatal anyways"), in the end we got our wish and were able to spend a short time with Nathaniel. 

While I don't regret that decision AT ALL, the operation itself was pretty awful. I'd spent absolutely no time reading up on cesareans and had no idea what to expect, how it might feel, WHAT I might feel, how long it would take, etc, etc, etc. And the whole time I didn't know if Nathaniel was still with us or how long he would survive. It was just awful. Scary, uncomfortable, full of unknowns, super-charged with emotion... and I felt totally NOT in control.

But it was worth it.


When we got pregnant with Simon so soon afterwards, our doctor was concerned about the short amount of time between the cesarean and the next birth. It was agreed that we would be able to attempt a "trial" labour, but would need to be in hospital to be monitored the entire time.

When Simon was 5 days overdue, they did an ultrasound that showed he had dangerously low levels of fluid left. Even though we'd been constantly told that an induction was not an option with a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean), went went in the next day and I was started on a minuscule amount of pitocin. When my doctor tried to break my water, she tried and tried and kept saying that it must be a really thick membrane. Turns out she was actually scraping against his little head... there was just no fluid left to come out.

Because of the low levels of fluid and the intensity of a pitocin induction -oh and him being posterior or "sunny side up"- his heart rate was dropping with each contractions, I was given an epidural and the OR was prepped. This was the last thing I'd wanted. However once the epidural was in place and I could relax a bit, I went from 5cm to 10cm in less than 15 minutes. No one believed me when I said I had to push, but they checked and found me fully dilated.

The obstetrician who was now in the room made it very clear that things were very close to an emergency situation and we had to get him out NOW. After three pushes, Simon was born with the help of a vacuum (and the OB reaching in and manually turning him to help him through the pelvis... thank goodness for female OBs with small hands!). He had meconium staining, scratches on his head, and was pretty blue from the cord being wrapped two or three times around his neck.

It was intense and a bit scary and panicked at the end, but again totally worth it... and I avoided the operating room.
because of the low fluid, him rubbing his face in utero and the birth process itself, his face was SO RED

We moved to Gatineau in 2008 when I was three months pregnant and we were unsure what our birthing options would be. After doing some reading, talking to other moms and making some calls, we settled on the Maison de Naissance, a midwives practice in the city. We'd been told that you pretty much had to call the moment of conception to get in with them... unfortunate since we'd waited until around 20 weeks to call. After an initial meeting, however, they agreed to accept us seeing as this was not my first birth and that -other than Nathaniel's T18 diagnosis- we'd had not other complications.

The labour and birth were fast and intense and I honestly thought I would die before Andrew was born, but the whole midwife/birth centre experience was WONDERFUL. The prenatal care we received was amazing and I loved being able to pack up and leave the birth centre when I felt ready... in this case only about four hours after Andrew's birth.

Andrew at 5 days old

If you bothered to read the link above (I did... not really sure I should have!), you'll know that the natural, drug-free birth at the birth centre was not exactly all roses. It was HARD. After having epidurals with the first three boys, I was seriously questioning my sanity for attempting a birth without one... I was also questioning the likelihood of survival! So why would we choose to have another unmedicated birth, and a home birth at that?

Well the options in Bogota are few. While I'm sure many women have wonderful experiences at hospitals, the hospitals here are not like those in Canada and the US. Don't get me wrong, the medical facilities here are excellent, but there aren't really Labour and Delivery or birthing rooms. From what I've heard, there's ONE -only one!- at the nearest hospital. Most babies are born in operating rooms... completely sterile, bright lights, lots of staff in masks and gowns... and all of the traumatic memories and fears that, for me, go along. So when a friend down here gave us the name of the doctor she's used for her last two births here in Bogota, and he determined we are great candidates for a home birth, it seemed an easy choice to make. 

Not only is he an actual obstetrician with twenty years experience (and the only doctor currently doing home births in Bogota), should something go wrong the hospital is about five minutes away. We can see it from our livingroom window!

I also love the idea of being able to have this baby girl and then crawl right into MY OWN BED. No stay in hospital, no hospital food (although maybe it's better here??), no strange environment and people (to whom I can't communicate because I can't speak spanish), no painful drive home through the bumpy streets and crazy traffic of Bogota. I would also love for the boys to be able to be present and maybe involved a bit, or at the very least be able to come in right away and meet their baby sister. 

Baby sister.

That's still feels so weird to say.

And speaking of our family's newest estrogen-infused family member, today marks 99 DAYS UNTIL MY DUE DATE! While I'm likely to be overdue (as I was for all the boys except Nathaniel), it''s still fun to see that countdown app on our iPod go to double digits.

If any of you have home birth stories you care to share, I'd love to hear them! Either here in the comments of even a link to a blog post you may've written.


  1. well, you know my birth stories ;) And hooray for upcoming homebirth! Sounds like a perfect setup for you :)

  2. Yay for double digits! Your birth experience will be amazing. I can't wait to read all about it!

  3. I think it's the most perfect decision!! Hurray for double digits!! Are you keeping her name a secret too?

  4. holy crow does andrew still looks like he did the day he was born!

    anyhoo, karen from virtually there had a wonderful home birth with her second. you should contact her. i'm sure she would be happy to tell you about (her birth story is on her blog as well).

    we had a midwife with the jellybean. unfortunately he was breech and i had to have a c-section. but the midwife was there for the whole time and we got the after care too, which was wonderful. how better to end every appointment then with a hug!

    double digits! woohoo!

  5. Thanks, Jules! I was planning on leaving the link for my homebirth story here anyway... My second baby, Hope, was a home VBAC. What worked best for me for pain management at home was a birthing pool. I would not homebirth without it now. It was a life-saver. It actually kept me comfortable and in the zone; even relaxed between contractions. If you can rig something up... do it! Here's the link to Hope's birth story:

  6. Amy, you're a warrior. Truly. Reading your birth stories makes me swell with pride as a sister in this whole birthing business. I wish you nothing but luck with your next wee one.


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