My midwife tried to insert the catheter, but was unable to due to bub's head pressing on my bladder. No wonder i couldn't empty it myself! So we decided to focus on getting bub out and then the catheter in.
This is where my easy birth turned into hard work. I pushed on my side. I pushed on my back. I tried a few contractions on my knees but very quickly realised my back was the most comfortable and effective. I pushed with each contraction until bub's head was about 5cm visible across, but at this point i wasn't stretching any further. My midwife tried perineal massage, but there was a tight band of skin/muscle that just wasn't thinning and stretching any further. Bub was doing well, heart rate dipping as i pushed and recovering to baseline as the contraction finished.
After around 3 hours pushing out of the pool, my team were getting very concerned about possible bladder damage and a fourth degree tear - my perineum was getting shorter and thinner but the rest of the area was not stretching. There was a lot of discussion going on according to hubby - i was unaware of most of it other than i was starting to tire - from 5 or so surges per contraction i was now only getting about 2 and the rest of the time i was just pushing myself rather than with contractions. My midwife told me i could do this - but that if it didn't happen within the next 20 minutes she'd like me to consider an episiotomy.
Our toddler had woken up by this point (5am) and was downstairs with us. He wasn't the least bit scared, just gave me a kiss and sat down to his breakfast.
I pushed as hard as i could for the next few contractions. There was no change at all, so i told her to go right ahead and cut me. This was apparently only the second one she'd had to do during a homebirth, and it was clear to me that she didn't want to do it but rather thought it safer than a fourth degree tear. So she numbed the area (small sting) and then cut, and waited for me to push, and then cut a little more and my team all told me to push as hard as i could. Hubby distracted our toddler while this was done. One push and i could feel the difference - baby was crowning! Another push and his head was out!! Our toddler was leaning over my shoulder, fascinated that he could see 'his baby'.
At this point my birth team were all excited and told me to push again, then suddenly the atmosphere changed to one of urgency and i was told to push as hard as i could and to keep pushing. I was calm and pushed as hard as i could - i had an idea what was wrong. Baby's shoulder was stuck under my pubic bone. My midwife held his head (i think) and tried to hook a finger under his armpit to rotate the shoulder, my backup midwife helped by pushing on my stomach. It didn't take long and all of a sudden his shoulder popped free and i pushed again and out he shot in a rush of body and the rest of the amniotic fluid!
Hubby had him round the chest and as my midwife unwrapped the cord from his neck he lifted him up and onto my belly for me to see. "My baby!", said our toddler.
I did it!
It seemed the most normal thing in the world, to finish off a pregnancy by pushing out a baby. It was as though i'd always known i could and would do it. There was no huge sense of achievement with my HBAC - just a kind of 'of course you did' feeling :) Still pretty awesome though and i feel great about it even now, three weeks later.
I feel i chose my birth place and team well - there is no way i'd have been 'allowed' to push that long in a hospital without a fight, or several interventions along the way, possibly too early and resulting in foetal distress and then a c section. My team never faltered, always encouraging me, and kept all discussion of complications in whispers away from my earshot. The one time i said, "I can't," (in regards to i couldn't keep pushing as my contractions were running out of steam) the entire team chimed in, "Yes you can!" which almost made me giggle had i not been so tired at that point.
Continued in Part 3...