Avery's Birth Story

Avery Truitt Dayanand born at 39wks and 5 days at 7:43pm on November 27. He was a grand total of 6lbs 7oz, 19.5” after an incredible 42 hours of labor- all natural homebirth! It certainly was not without struggles, mostly due to the fact that I had a deep muscle spasm/pain in my left side of my back that was even worse than the contractions, started very early on in early labor and was not relieved by hardly anything. Turns out the baby had his elbow malpositioned, so I literally had no break from pain. I’m pretty sure had I not been at home, there is a chance I could have been talked into medication…which is not what I wanted, BUT, I stuck it out and made it through with deep breathing, low pitched sounds and lots of support and affirmations from my birthing team! Definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever done and I would not change one thing!

The day before on Saturday, I went on a hike to Sibley Volcanic preserve with my husband and my mom. Seemed like that may have been a great move! Labor started Sunday morning around 2am while I was sleeping. It felt like menstrual cramps and were stronger than I had experienced but not painful. I tried to sleep, but got hungry so I got up for food. Around 4pm I had a little bloody show and felt very excited to see that sign! I took the advice of my wonderful midwife and had a small glass of wine to relax and put me back to sleep. I texted her and the doulas around 7am the next morning to let them know what was happening. They told me to “eat a little, drink a little, pee a little, rest a little, move a little.” So that’s what I did! I woke up my husband to let him know, too. He was very excited, as was my mom who was staying with us and attended the birth. I labored all day in early labor. My mom and husband cleaned up the house and got it all ready to go. We watched movies and played King of Tokyo. It was an unusually rainy and stormy day for the Bay Area. My husband and I went for a little walk with the dogs around the neighborhood in the evening. I went to bed that night with the same intention of just watching and waiting to see what happens.

Monday morning around 11pm I started to feel the contractions get more intense. It was hard to sleep, so I went to take a warm bath and listen to my hypnobirthing recordings. I felt relaxed, but the contractions seemed to be happening more frequently, so I begin to time them. I did this for about an hour. They were coming on anywhere from 1 min and 30 seconds to 7 minutes apart, lasting about 30 second to 1 minute. When they began to come 3-4 minutes apart, I didn’t want to be too late to let my midwife know, so I called her around 12:30am. She told me that she would go ahead and come over to check things out, and that I should let my doulas know. I woke my husband up and he started getting the bags out of the baby’s room where my mom was sleeping and woke her up by doing so. Michelle came over and started checking my vitals and timing my contractions. They had slowed down a bit to about 9 minutes apart. I got back in the bath tub, with my husband, and this is where my left side deep muscle spasm/pain started. He was working on massaging it out for me, but was having trouble. Knowing my doula was a massage therapist, I was really getting upset that she was not there. So I told him to call the doula. It was getting so painful that I started to throw up and that’s the moment my doula arrived. She then proceeded to massage out my muscle spasm in the warm bath which allowed me to actually get a few moments of rest. I learned later that when I called her, she had just returned an hour before that from a birth and had 2 others back to back before that… so she was pretty tired to start! I noticed in the bathroom that she was lying down and maybe sleeping at some point. It seemed like things were not progressing and Michelle made the determination that I was still in early labor but suggested an internal exam, which we had not done ever yet, just to assess the situation and see if there were any issues impeding the process. I agreed, so she checked me and said the baby was still pretty high, but that I was 3 cm dilated and 90% effaced. She said there was still a little bit of cervix, like an anterior lip, in the way and that if I could get rid of that then the baby’s head would be engaged and things would really take off since my cervix was paper thin.

Michelle told me she’d go home and come back when things were more progressed since it seemed like we still had a ways to go. My doula stayed with me and kept her updated. I don’t know how much longer it took, but the doula mentioned that the contractions were starting to get closer together after we had a “dance party” to my music on iTunes... and then I remember right when my water broke me and my husband's song was playing! (Later he told me that our song was playing again the moment our son was born!!! Of course I didn’t notice it that time.) Michelle arrived about an hour after that. The back pain had gotten so intense in the meantime… we tried ALL the tricks in our toolbox: massage, physical therapy from my physical therapist who came over, hot water, arnica oil, electrical stimulation, CBD severe pain level cream, and cupping. We had called a couple acupuncturists also, but they never actually made it over. I still wonder if needles would have been helpful earlier on. I labored in many different positions- standing, squatting, hands and knees, in and out of the tub, in and out of the shower, etc. The only was I was able to rest was in a supported child’s pose. The back pain was the worst because it was continuous and much worse after a surge. The surges, of course, were also getting more intense - and I just wasn’t getting any break whatsoever from pain. The only thing that mildly helped was when I got someone to compress my ribs during a surge, which was a suggestion from my PT. Soon after though, the pain got really intense in my hips so I needed them to squeeze me hard there. My husband was also squeezing insanely hard on my hands (the acupoint Li4) during each surge. I kept up with the breathing and listened to my doula and midwife tell me affirmations which helped immensely… I don’t think I could have done it without them.

It really became a mind game once it was going on for so long… and it was hard to stay focused and positive. People kept feeding me melon, frozen grapes, and other food like the Thai tom ka gai I had ordered specifically for labor. Still, towards the end, my energy felt depleted and I wondered if I could do it. It was encouraging to hear my midwife call over her assistant midwife because I knew I was getting closer. I began to feel the sensations and need to push. This feeling was also very intense and overwhelming. I was in the birthing tub for the beginning of it, but then I moved to the floor at some point. I laid on my side for some of it, but that position was way too intense for me, so then I alternated between standing, squatting, and hands and knees, always resting in a supported child’s pose. I wanted to be mostly upright because I knew that would help him come sooner and I was so over laboring at that point. Everyone was encouraging me and trying to motivate me by telling me about the baby that was coming, but in the moment I felt like I really didn’t care about that baby... I just wanted this to be OVER already!! My contractions during the pushing stage weren’t always strong enough to elicit that pushing urge, which was concerning to me. My legs felt weak- I was just so tired, and was getting frustrated that every strong surge wasn’t the last. Still, I continued on pushing with literally ALL my might and more… listening to Michelle tell me to rest in between if I could. I ended up in hands and knees and it wasn’t too much longer that my baby’s head was starting to crown. Still, that part took longer than I wanted and I just was feeling everything. He’d come out and go back in, more times than I was happy about, but eventually his head started to emerge and I definitely felt that “ring of fire” I had heard about and I thought about how aptly named it was. I got back up to stand and did an unassisted squat out of sheer determination for this to be over, but my legs were too weak and I returned to hands and knees, using the breaks in between to rock back to my feet and try to rest. I knew I was so close, so I just continued to gather up all the energy I could muster and continued to push, even when the surge had fizzled away… I kept pushing… His head came all the way out, and then maybe a few more pushes and he was out!! My husband caught him from behind and passed him through my legs on the floor. I just looked at him in disbelief. I was in such shock that A) it was REALLY over - besides the placenta- and B) that I had really just given birth to this little human. It was amazing… I was exhausted and just in shock for awhile. He wouldn’t stop crying, either! I knew he had also had a long day or two.

My birth team gave me some support to lie back so I could hold him and feed him. He was ready to nurse right away! He was so cute. I couldn’t believe he was mine. Michelle then stimulated my abdomen, trying to get my placenta out and had me then squat over a bowl to let it out. It didn’t take long for it to slip right out. THEN I was really done! Everyone let my husband and I rest and bask in the newborn glory while they made us some food to eat in our kitchen. I was so tired. Eventually they returned and Michelle clamped the cord and my husband got to cut it. I was repositioned to our bed where then Michelle made some very minor and superficial stitches to my labia. She did a newborn check on the baby and everything looked great minus a pretty severe tongue and lip tie. It didn’t matter to me because he was perfect in my eyes. I feel so grateful to have had such a wonderful birth team and the best midwife anyone could find!! I would not have wanted Avery's birth to go any differently, even though it was not easy. I knew with a home birth that I wasn’t taking the “easy” way out (not that it really exists), but I got to be in my own, safe environment where I felt as comfortable and supported as possible. I did the hardest thing I’ll ever have to do and survived, so now I know how strong and capable I truly am!!