I prepared for the birth of my third baby by studying birth on a whole new level. I studied the safety of birth. The unexpected of birth. I sought out advice from other women who had birthed instinctively and solo. I sought out support for my very real fear of the pain of birth. By the time our son's possible due dates rolled around, I had no real anxiety over giving birth again, an anxiety I had been harboring in a very real way since I saw the very unexpected two pink lines so many months before. Just a week before the guess date, I sat on my couch sobbing to my partner. I was terrified. Birth hurts me. I have an autoimmune disorder which causes arthritis, a type of arthritis which causes fusion. My left sacroiliac joint and a few of my lumbar vertebrae have some fusion. It's mild, but it's there. And pushing a large baby through those joints puts a lot of expectations on them to open, which hurts like hell. At least it did the first two times I did it.
But, after a week of start and stop contractions, I was no longer focusing on the pain or fear, I was focusing on impatience and getting SO ready to meet my new son. I was a beast. My poor partner and kids. My hormones got the best of me, admittedly. I was a sobbing, impatient, cranky mess of a human being. I strode a week past the first possible due date and had already been hearing from so many people, asking when baby would come and why wasn't I walking or bouncing on a ball or any other number of things people think start labor. I finally told my mom (who was idling away her vacation waiting to help us with the older two kids after baby came) that I knew people meant well, but I hated being made to feel like I wasn't doing enough to get labor started. I had to trust that he needed some extra time for whatever reason and he would come when he was ready. I was not "overdue", I was simply passed the mid-range of a four week span of normal. Sigh.
Finally, the night of the 17th, I took note of some contractions. They were mild, but there and radiated down into my thighs. A new development in the contraction department. They were coming every 10-15 minutes but so mild it was hardly worth noting. I cleaned my kitchen and went to bed around midnight. I woke a few times to a contraction clamping down over a full bladder but they were still so mild I hardly gave it a second thought. I'd really gotten to a point where all I could think was, "Whatever uterus. We've been here before."
Around 5:30 in the morning on the 18th, my 12 month old woke me up and as I shifted to get her bottle of water, I felt something... in my pants. I wondered if it was my mucus plug and got up to use the bathroom. My pants were just wet and smelled like the ocean. I realized my water was leaking. It was so slight though that once I was in an upright position, the leaking was completely tamped off. I went and laid back in bed but was so wide awake that I decided to get up. I was annoyed. My last labor started with my water breaking but no labor starting. I didn't want to do that again.
I sat on the couch in the living room and cruised around Facebook and Pinterest and just sort of ignored the mild contractions coming closer together and stronger as the morning wore on. Around 6, I called my mom's cell phone and left a message that I was having some mild contractions but that she should be able to finish up her clinicals at work and to just call when she was done. I really thought I wouldn't need her until later in the day. I woke Shane up around 6:40 and told him he might want to get the pool started. The plan was to tap out the hot water heater and cap it with a styrofoam cover my friend's husband had made for her birth pool to keep it warm, then add more water later when I was getting ready to get in. Around 7:40, I called my mom's cell again and left another message to call me as soon as she was done. I was sure she would need to just come get the kids. The contractions were coming much stronger at that point. I was shocked at how things were picking up, but I still had it in my mind that we wouldn't meet our son until much later in the day. I ate some peanut butter toast and a smoothie of strawberries, greek yogurt, spinach and chia seeds.
My mom called back at about 8:20 and said she was on her way. Turkey Girl was up and dressed and being totally hilarious on her little wooden rocking snail (I loved her for that distraction) and we had to wake Shrimpie up and get him dressed in the meanwhile. I really did want my babies around, but at the same time, I'm an irritable laborer and I can truly hardly poop with my kids in the bathroom without getting annoyed and I just knew I couldn't handle the distractions. Shane was already doing the work of four people, I didn't want him to also have to be dad.
I was timing the contractions on Contraction Master and was shocked to see them getting closer together and longer. Occasionally I would go 10 or 15 minutes with nothing, then have a few maybe 4 minutes apart. I had one as my mom walked in the door around 9 and they stalled until the kids were outside getting strapped into her car. After they were gone, the party really got rolling. I couldn't find a position that didn't hurt when the contractions hit, so I ended up sitting on the floor on a chux pad (since my water would leak every time I had a contraction). I got myself into a deep tailor or lotus position which really opened up my hips. I really think this allowed the baby to get low fast. I breathed through the contractions, lifting myself up off the floor just a bit to take the pressure off of my bottom. Between contractions, I sat on Facebook having a conversation with a doula friend of mine who just had her own baby a few weeks ago (in the same pool I was using, no less). I also chatted with some ladies in a birth group on Facebook. Between the them and my doula friend, I was getting so much wonderful encouragement. I felt cheerful and positive and oh-so-ready for this birth.
Suddenly (no seriously, very suddenly) the contractions were coming about every 3-4 minutes and gaining in intensity. I was moaning through them but still feeling totally lucid and almost bored between them (go figure). I was after Shane to get the pool ready because I had a feeling I would want it soon. I hesitated to jump in just yet and risk stopping or stalling my contractions. I didn't quite believe that I was as far along in labor as I was feeling. I was starting to get a little worried that if it was hurting me so much NOW, how on earth would I deal when it got really bad??
Between contractions, I would stretch my legs out in front of me and my dog put his paw on my foot. There was something so real in his need to comfort me in some way. I looked at him after a contraction and said, "I can do this for two... no.. three more hours. I don't know what I'll do after that."
I had two doozies on the floor and realized suddenly that "shit was getting real". Shane helped me up off the floor and I ran to the bathroom to try to eliminate. I was feeling so much pressure on my bladder and bowels I just *knew* I had to be full of.. stuff. I sat down and had another contraction and nothing came out of me. So I jumped up and got the shower going just in time to have another contraction with the sweet relief of the shower head on my back. I peed in the shower. Ahhh. :)
I had a few contractions in the shower while shouting to Shane to get that pool ready. I was feeling frantic and heady. I seriously taken aback at how fast things were moving but I still wasn't quite believing that things were moving anywhere near as fast as they were. I had another contraction in the shower and basically screamed through it, "YOU ARE GETTING A VASECTOMY!" Shane appeared in the door and said, "No I'm not."
"Oh yes you are!!"
He helped me out of the tub and I ran to the pool, checked the temp and yelled at him for it being too hot then ran back to the shower. I told him to hurry up and "cold the water!".
He came and got me a second time and helped me from the shower to the pool between contractions. I sunk down into the warm water just in time for another contraction. I told him I needed more water. The contractions were slamming at this point. I had a fleeting realization that I was in transition, but it still seemed too soon. I couldn't wrap my head around it. I asked Shane to drop some frankincense essential oil into the water (amazing how that seemed to ground me a bit) and to give me my transition tincture (motherwort, skullcap and oatstraw). Listen. If you feel crazy during transition like I do, I recommend this stuff. I took it probably four times over the course of the rest of my labor and it really, really helped me stay focused. I get so panicky at the pain. (For the record, it's called Smooth Transitions and can be found through In His Hands Birth Supply).
I realized that I was falling asleep between contractions and was feeling a ton of pressure on my 'sit bones'. I couldn't wrap my brain around it. I thought for sure that I still had a ways to go. This all seemed too quick. I was too tired. I really had to shake the feeling that something was WRONG and trust that everything was RIGHT.
Things get pretty jumbled in my memory here. I remember an ache in my lower back, but not wanting to be touched. I really wished I could have the shower head in the pool with me. I really thought about going back to the shower but I didn't think I could stand anymore so I just moved my hips back and forth and side to side and that seemed to take a lot of pressure off my back. Shane was sitting on a stool in front of me, holding my hands. I held on for dear life. He encouraged me to breathe, to use low tones and to continue moving my hips. Any time he got up and walked away from me, my pain level would shoot through the roof. At one point, he went to use the bathroom and I pretty much had a complete meltdown and told him he HAD to stay with me.
The contractions were getting so intense. I again had a moment of complete terror that I wasn't handling this well. I kept thinking, "This is going to get worse! This cannot possibly be anywhere near the end." I finally stepped back from myself and took a deep breath. I pulled out all my doula cards and laid them on the table. I told myself, "What is coming doesn't matter, handle THIS contraction in front of you, then let it go. We'll deal with the rest later." I harkened back to my mantra when I was working through transition with Turkey Girl and chanted in my head, "Today will be yesterday." I stopped vocalizing through contractions and was shocked to find them less painful. I really went into myself and breathed deeply. As a contraction would wear off, I would talk to my body and baby. "Okay baby... come on baby... Let go... open... let go..."
And then I would nearly kill Shane for actually letting go of my hands. "NOT YOU! THE CONTRACTION!"
Suddenly the waves were coming relentlessly. I looked at Shane, wild-eyed and said, "I know I'm the only one who can do this, but I can.not do this!" I took some more tincture. I tried to draw strong, deep breaths as I found myself panting. "I'm so tired, Shane. I don't think I can go on much longer."
I remembered my friend's words in our conversation we'd just had (I had NO idea how long ago that was). "When you think you can't anymore, you're almost done." I knew this. I tell moms this. But how could I be anywhere near done!?
I thought about the hospital. The epidural. Heck.. the cesarean. I shook it all off and went back to the present. I could do this. I was almost to the finish line.
Pandora starting being a real jerk at this point. I had set it up to play a great mix of indie rock, indie hip hop and some reggae. It was doing such a great job right up until I was hitting the point above and then decided to play a bunch of angry hip hop songs. It was really disrupting my peaceful vibes. I asked Shane to unclick the hip hop channel. Pandora then made a real cluster-you-know-what of things. Instead of turning OFF that channel, it started playing that channel at the SAME TIME as the indie rock channel. OH jeez.. my head was so cluttered.. this was not helping.
"Close the computer! Just close the f*cking computer!"
Wouldn't you know my computer kept playing the music for a while? Sigh.. it gave up eventually though.
Anyway... I couldn't believe the pressure in my pelvis. I wasn't feeling the ripping-in-half pain I'd had with my other two though. I thought for sure there was no way baby was low enough that I should feel like pushing, but I suddenly found myself grunting at the end of contractions. I was bearing down. And it felt GOOD.
At first I was nervous. I didn't trust myself. What if I was just pushing because I *wanted* to be done, not because it was actually time to be done? I tried not to push. It hurt so much more. I realized very quickly that when I tensed and fought upwards (for lack of a better way to describe what I was doing), it lowered the sharpness of the contraction, BUT, a voice in the back of my head said, "Keep it up. You'll just have more contractions to work through." I didn't want more contractions. I decided to take more painful contractions, but less of them. So I went back to bearing down during the contractions. Not really pushing hard, just opening and letting the pressure work downwards.
I remember, at one point, feeling like I wanted to vomit. I mean, I *wanted* to. I felt the mild urge there every time a contraction would hit and I wanted to just throw up. I felt like if I could do that, that then it would feel like my body was at least expelling *something*. But I never did throw up.
I was working through wave after wave of these crazy endless contractions. I wanted to run away from them. I tried different positions but nothing seemed to take the pain away (go figure). I found myself stretched forward with my legs sort of frogged and floating behind me. I got a break here and there where I would fall asleep then get slammed with a cluster of contractions again. I have no idea how many times this happened or how long was between them. I just know that suddenly, it was go time. I didn't think about it much other than a fleeting, "What. The. Crap. This is just SO fast."
A contraction hit like a freight train. Seriously. I didn't think or process or plan, I just reacted. I took a deep breath and just pushed. I gulped air and pushed some more. The contraction didn't let up so I did it again and again. I heard a sound come out of me that I've only ever made during childbirth. That guttural, primal, ancient growling sound. I couldn't believe it, but there was a head barreling down the birth canal. I felt him moving through my bones (still none of that excruciating pain I'd come to know with my last two). I felt my perineum starting to stretch. I braced myself for the burn, but never felt it (I. Am. So. Lucky. I didn't feel it with Turkey Girl either.). I pushed until I felt a satisfying POP and his head was through. Shane had no idea what had just happened. This entire moment took seconds, in real time, I'm sure, but I was conscious of every single movement and sensation as if they were separate events.
I tried communicating that he was out. Shane didn't seem to believe me. I said something about his head being right there. I reached down and felt it. I hadn't done that with my other two. It was HUGE. I was shocked at the size of the melon hanging out of me. It felt so smooth, I thought for a second that he was butt first until I realized he was still wrapped in the caul. I felt his face and reached my fingers under his chin where I felt the cord wrapped very loosely around his neck. It was such a surreal feeling, like all time slowed down in that moment. I wasn't really feeling pain, just this appreciable pause in time to take note of my son's presence half in this world and half in another. I decided not to mess with the cord (which meant messing with the sac) and got back to pushing him the rest of the way.
His shoulders were wedged tightly inside of me, I could feel them butted against my bones. I know if I had had him in a typical hospital birth, this baby would have caused some issues. He very likely would've had to have been pulled out of me in some way. His shoulders didn't want to budge. I wasn't feeling good about not actively trying to get him out the rest of the way so I lurched backwards and twisted my hips in different directions. I pushed with all my might, wrestling a shred of strength from somewhere deep inside, I heard that growl come from again, I demanded he come out, that my body let him go. It felt like I was making no headway (er.. shoulder way?). It felt like an eternity. (I'm sure it was seconds). I took a deep breath and went at it again. I really have no idea if there was a contraction involved. Suddenly, he twisted (I hadn't felt that with the other two). And as soon as he twisted, he shot out and into the water, through my hands and into Shane's (who had to dive up to his shoulders in the water to catch him)
His cord was around his neck and a bit short. I was frantically trying to get it unwrapped from his neck to lift him out of the water. We finally wrested it from around him and I lifted him up. I was in such shock and awe. Here he was. He seemed so small (at first). I laughed and cried at the same time. "I did it!" I said, as if Shane hadn't noticed. I asked him to check the time and grab the camera. I looked him over, knowing his face immediately, as if I'd always known him. I kissed him and rubbed him over. He had basically no vernix, a real shift from his super cheesy sister and brother. Declan was born at 11:22 a.m. When I went back and looked at timestamps on Facebook, I last sent a message to my friend at 9:46, I think I got in the shower at just after 10. We think I was in the pool for about 40 minutes before he was born. All told, hard labor was a little under 2 1/2 hours. Amazing!
Weighed in at 1 pound 8 ozI felt something under my bottom and realized I was sitting on amniotic sack. I imagined he had left it behind on his way to the surface. My tailbone was aching so bad and the water was so deep I abandoned my plans to wait for the afterbirth in the pool. I got out and made my way to the bedroom. The contractions that followed were almost as bad as the ones leading up to the baby coming out. I'd heard they got worse with each baby, but I was still caught off guard. Shane set up a chux pad on the floor next to the bed and a bucket. I scooted over to the edge of the bed and squatted over the bucket on shaky knees. One grunt at the placenta was out (probably less than 20 minutes after birth). And it was huge. Wow. We left the cord intact for two hours before cutting it. We weighed him in at 11 pounds 3 ounces. We measured him at 22 1/2 inches, but when he was measured at the doctor a few days later he was 21, so we apparently messed that up just a bit.
Declan's face was pretty swollen and bruised from the fast birth and it took several days to go down completely when we were finally able to see what he looked like.
He bruised the heck out of my tailbone and I seriously pulled some muscles along the sides of my back when I did my little hula maneuver so I was bed bound and sitting on an ice pack for a few days. Strangely, my perineum was in tip top shape. It really didn't hurt or sting.. no tearing to speak of. I don't know how I managed it.
I'm in love with this birth. My third birth and the one I've longed for. I feel empowered. I feel trusting of birth and my body. I'm in awe of how I was able to mentally sit back and very lucidly approach the situation and doula myself through the toughest parts of my labor.
We are feeling like Declan finalizes our family. We feel complete. I'm so grateful to have been able to have such a wonderful birth experience to wrap up my birthing 'career'. I'm in love with this guy.
This is the story of my daughter's birth. My second baby, my first homebirth. I learned a lot about trusting my body and the birth process in the final days of her pregnancy. I wrote this story to be raw and truthful. I didn't censor a single thing. Fair warning, I'm going to talk about poop.
I've spent a lot of time envisioning how this birth would go. Not down to exact details, but basic things like "at home", "onmy terms", "in water". I left a lot of the decision making up to my primal brain at the last minute, like who would be there and which comfort measures I would ultimately use. My planning began only months after my son was born and I began to see why my hospital birth experience with him was so dissatisfying. Mostly it was research. It was understanding what went wrong, how things could have been different, how birth *should* be. When we found out I was pregnant on March 9 of 2011, the real planning began. But outside of having this baby at home, *nothing* truly went as planned.
My guess date was November 16. I had a feeling that I would go over from the beginning. I took note of how close the guess date was to Thanksgiving and joked fairly early on that this baby was going to "ruin" Thanksgiving for me. I read an article on Midwifery Today (scroll down, under the heading "due date") which put my 'due date' ON Thanksgiving day. I told my midwife sometime around 33 weeks that I had a feeling she was coming then. I was glad not to have anyone pressuring me to induce before the holiday weekend.
Despite having had contractions since the 13th, November 16 came and went. On the 19th, we went out for spicy green curry purported to 'induce' labor in overdue women. We took a walk in the cold rain and ate a mass amount of ice cream from the shop down the block from the Thai place.
On the 20th, I was feeling 'icky'. Not sick. Just tired. I spent the day on the couch watching Psych on Netflix and hanging out with my son. I repeated this on Monday (the 21st). On the 22nd, I was feeling a bit better and found myself moving around the house, cleaning and organizing for the birth. I posted on The Crunchy Convert that if I was a cat, I would be dragging tee shirts and towels to a closet right now.
That night, we made our final decision on baby's name. I went to bed with that "ugh, I'm just going to wake up still pregnant again" feeling.
Wednesday, November 23, one week past the guess date, I woke up around 12:20 am to a sensation that made me think I was peeing my pants. I was annoyed, but really thought maybe I had slept through the really-full-bladder sensations and a quick knock to the bladder from a big baby head might have made me leak. Sitting up caused a slight gush and I realized I was not peeing. Somehow, making a mad dash to the bathroom still seemed like the most appropriate course of action. I made it to the bathroom without so much as a trickle (which I assumed was thanks to the baby's head dropping over the cervix and plugging it off), but as soon as I went to pull my pants down, it poured out of me again.
When I sat down, my mucus plug dropped into the toilet. I continued to pass it for most of the day. I examined the fluid on the floor, then grabbed a towel off the hook and waddled back to my bedroom with the towel squeezed between my thighs. I put a Chux pad under the sheet and laid the towel over the sheet and sat down on it. I took a Benedryl and texted my midwife, Mikayla, and her student to let her know that my water had broke, but there were no apparent contractions. I made sure to add that the fluid was clear and saline-smelling and that I was going back to sleep.
I woke up around 4 to a rush of fluid. The towel was soaked. I was totally disgusted. I assumed, at this point, that my bag of waters had only sprung a leak earlier, not actually completely broken and now it had totally let go. I adjusted the towel to a drier portion and fell back to sleep. I woke again around 6 or 7 and decided to take a shower. Still no contractions and I was a little frustrated. I thought for sure something would have started by now. I was in contact with my midwife, who offered to come by with herbs to jump start labor but I decided to hold off for the time being. Shane and I got dressed and took a walk up and down our street.
Eventually, I asked my midwife to come over. She came sometime after 10 and I started taking black and blue cohosh tinctures. After a few doses, a few minor contractions started coming through in waves, but nothing I couldn't keep functioning through. I had originally planned on Flynn staying for the birth, but we decided to have my mom come and take him instead, especially as we saw how long things were starting to take.
We took another walk, more to stave off my anxiousness than anything else. Shane went and picked us up some burgers, which I devoured gratefully. Contractions were coming slightly more regularly by around 2, but still nothing to write home about.
I decided to sit with the breast pump and see if I couldn't get things going that way. I read Spiritual Midwifery while the pump worked for 15 minutes at a time, between which I took 15-20 minute breaks. After a few sessions, I definitely started seeing an increase in both intensity and frequency of the contractions, but still nothing fantastic.
I was happy for the company Mikayla offered as the hours whizzed by. I was amazed to realize it was already getting late. I was hungry again and coming to grips with the fact that we would not be having our baby that day. We ordered pizza, of which I ate very little, I took another Benedryl and went to bed around 10 pm.
I woke about twice an hour with a contraction, but was generally able to sleep well between them. They were gaining in intensity, but not so much frequency. I did stumble out of bed some time after 1 am and get in a hot shower for about a half an hour. The contractions slowed and weakened a bit, which I was glad for, and I headed back to bed. I realized in this time that the baby had dropped and was engaged. It was a strange feeling to have her no longer free floating.
The contractions that came after about 3 am were harder to deal with. I was waking as they peaked and found myself very uncomfortable on my side, which seemed to be increasing the pain of the contraction, but it was too late for me to really sit up to relieve the pressure. I was starting to groan a bit and I realized things were really starting, but continued to sleep between contractions until about 4 am. I slid out of bed onto my knees on the floor and leaned over the edge of the bed onto a pillow. I dosed between contractions until they were too close together, then started reading a book between contractions just to pass the time. I finally woke Shane up around 4:30 (maybe?) and asked him to time the contractions and hold my hand.
Time really begins to blur a bit at this point. I would consider this the start of active labor. I labored in my bedroom for a while. I tried leaning over the birth ball, then declared it 'stupid' and kicked it out of my way. I found that gravity was taking a real toll on me and made the contractions hurt a heck of a lot more when I was leaning over something (or on hands and knees). I leaned against Shane and moved my hips back and forth quite instinctively. I found myself thinking randomly throughout the labor how amazing it was that my body just kept doing that. I don't remember ever consciously deciding I needed to move my hips, I just did.
I ate half a bowl of cereal and passed the rest off to Shane. Eventually I made my way out to the living room. Mikayla woke up at some point and sat off to the side with her 11 week old, working on a sweater. I loved that. I suppose I always imagined a midwife just knitting as I labored. It was perfectly unobtrusive.
I spent some time sitting in front of the computer, chatting with Mikayla, having some contractions. I was so perfectly distracted that it caught me off guard when the contractions were suddenly too strong for me to keep sitting in the desk chair.
I remarked to Mikayla how different they felt from the ones I had with Flynn. I wonder if it was the pitocin that caused my whole abdomen to wrench and clamp down. I had also had a lot of back labor with him, but he came OP.
These contractions were focused in my pelvis. They felt as though my pelvis was being pulled apart. My pubic bone felt like it was being pulled forward. Sitting killed. I stood and swayed and said in the nicest way possible, "I'd like to get in the pool now."
At this point, I hadn't had any cervical checks. I had continued the Hibiclens protocol every six hours to help prevent infection however. At this point, we decided my labor was well established and Mikayla asked if she could check me before I got in the pool. For whatever reason, it was encouraging to hear that I was coming up on seven centimeters and baby's head was low. Shane filled the pool until the hot water heater ran out of hot water. I started to get impatient and might have shouted at him a few times. Maybe.
I decided that the amount of water would have to do and I climbed in. I was still feeling a bit modest at this point and left my shirt on. The hot water felt awesome. I moved around and tried sitting a few different ways, trying to feel out how I would be most comfortable. It was quickly apparent that sitting was not an option. The pressure was unbearable on my bottom. My contractions slowed slightly for a few minutes and, although I was thankful for the brief break, I was worried it would slow my labor more and I would need to get out. But, they soon resumed in frequency with some jacked up intensity.
Sweat poured down my face, although I didn't feel hot. I drank water like a camel and blotted my forehead with a cold rag. Shane brought a big bowl of ice out to toss the wet cloth on to cool it down between blottings. Genius!
The last semi-clear memory I have is Mikayla asking if I was feeling like I was in transition. I remember saying, "I think it's coming.. I'm scared." I laughed. But I was scared. I was in pain now.. And I knew it was going to get worse.
Transition hit like a brick wall. I stripped off my shirt and Shane joined me. I really didn't want to be touched, but having a hand to hold was excellent. It was nice to have Shane directly behind me, even if I did eventually ban him completely from touching me. I was the same with with Flynn. For a while, the counter pressure and/or light touch feels great, but then I go into some kind of a super-sensitive mode and being touch makes me crazy mad.
My feet began to tingle with pins and needles. I was irritated they were falling asleep because I knew the baby wasn't close to coming yet. I couldn't sit to give my feet a break, so I ignored them for quite some time. (I was really surprised that my brain was letting me notice my tingling feet, I sure as heck wasn't noticing much else!) The water was *fantastic* for taking gravity out of the equation. It took a lot of the pressure off my hips as I contracted, but ultimately, the pool was not where I wanted to be. I was trying to remember Ina May Gaskin's quip "a loose mouth equals a loose bottom" and focused on low tones through loose lips. I hit a few high notes and heard Mikayla occasionally, and quietly, remind me with simply "low tones". It was definitely helpful.
I was feeling pushy, and gave it a go a few times. It was a strange feeling. I really thought it would be this undeniable physical feeling of needing to push, but it was more of a mental thing. Just suddenly, I needed to bear down a little, so I did. I loved this freedom. No one telling me to push or not to push.
Suddenly, I wanted to stand. I wasn't quite ready to abandon the pool, I still wanted my water birth, but when I tried to stand and lean on Shane, we were having a hard time balancing thanks to the squishy inflated pool bottom. I got frustrated and jumped out of the pool. I was in tears and stood in the middle of my living room declaring, "I am NOT awesome!" and "I don't think I can do this!". I apologized profusely for not being awesome.
In my mind, all I could think was, "Who am I impressing?" and "What am I trying to prove?" also "What the HECK was I thinking having a homebirth? ...This is just stupid."
At one point, I had a very rational thought process that went along the lines of this, "Hospital births are normal. Why do I have to be different? Maybe it's not too late to go to the hospital. THEY have drugs. I don't HAVE to do this. In fact, I know this baby can come out a way other than my vagina. ... But I suppose that even IF we went to the hospital right now, they wouldn't give me drugs anyway because I'm too far along and they will probably laugh at me for being a hippie and thinking I could have my baby at home but I'm really a wuss and couldn't and they'll be all 'told ya so'"
It was in that random string of thoughts that it occurred to me, *I* am the only person that can get this baby out. It's on me and I need to just (wo)man up and get this baby out. So, that's what I did.
I needed to be somewhere small. I headed to my hallway and paced around there for a while. This is where much of the above thoughts happened. Or maybe just happened again. It seems like I had to remind myself of all of these things a few times.
Eventually, I headed to the bathroom thinking I needed to pee or something. Just.. OR something. I needed to do something normal besides pace around my hallway like an angry caged bear.
I *hated* the toilet when I was in labor with Flynn. It absolutely KILLED to have a contraction on the toilet with him. I was convinced the toilet would be the last place I would go. In fact, I had announced that I would likely just pee in the pool because, heck, it's MY party, right? And really, a whole lot of worse stuff was going to end up in there anyway.
I was really feeling pushy on the toilet though, which ended up being far more comfortable than with Flynn and took a lot of pressure off my hips. Shane knelt in front of me.. although I don't remember exactly what his function was. I think I was holding his hand.. maybe leaning on him.. it's strange how my memory is so fuzzy on the details. I know Mikayla came and went. I liked that she didn't hover but was very available.
I was less than gracious at this point. I was definitely having a hard time processing the pain. I may have banged on the walls out of frustration. I also may have said a few choice swear words. I pushed on and off and suddenly felt like I needed to poop.
I thought, "This is it! When you feel like you have to poop in labor, it's a baby!"
So I pooped.
And it was poop.
I shouted, "WHAT? It was JUST POOP!?"
I must have hung around the toilet for a little while longer because I remember Shane asking if he could get a "courtesy flush" and I told him to do it himself. But, soon I jumped off the toilet and ran to my bedroom. I saw my bed there, so comfy and all messy from the night before... which made me think of the night before and sleeping and being cozy and not in labor. I literally dove onto my bed and tried to not be in labor anymore.
Yep. I got pretty darned dramatic, eh?
I labored there for a while, trying out a few different positions. I got on my side and propped my leg up on Shane's shoulder. I pushed. It hurt. I tried rolling on my back and regretted it immediately. I got up and scooted to the edge of the bed and sat there, balancing on my tailbone. I refused to move. This worked.
I labored like that for quite a while. I'm not sure how long. I was falling sound asleep between contractions. I was having full-on dreams. I thought at least 20 minutes were going by between each contraction (later, Mikayla told me it was a minute or two). I was really in a primal mode now. There was no higher thought. I was very much in labor land. I wish I could remember the dreams... but I think they were mostly about sleeping and not being in labor.
I pushed a few times with each contraction. Some contractions felt different though and I just breathed through them. Based on the pain at the front of my pelvis (that felt like my pubic bone was being ripped forward), Mikayla thought I might have an anterior cervical lip. She asked if I wanted her to check... Pretty sure I shouted no. But maybe I only shouted in my head.. maybe I just shook my head. I'm not sure.
I'm not sure how long I sat there, but I started to have moments of lucidity where I realized that this was never going to work. The baby couldn't come this way. No doubt my tailbone was blocking the exit. But I didn't want to move.
Mikayla asked if I wanted to go back to the pool. I said no.. or shook my head.. something along those lines.
She asked if I wanted the birth stool. Again.. I said no and/or shook my head.
Every now and then I reached down, convinced there HAD to be a baby's head at the cusp... but there wasn't. And I would get frustrated.
I began fighting the contractions at some point. One would begin and I would shake my head and sob "no no no no". Eventually, I learned to work with them and would push a few times but the contraction would last longer than I wanted and I resorted to begging my uterus to relent. Why couldn't my brain control my own body?? I felt betrayed.
Back to those moments of lucidity... I flashed on all my friends who recently had babies. We were all due so close to one another, but most of them had their babes already. I thought about the pictures they'd posted on Facebook of their newborns, their one day olds, their one week olds.. And a thought rolled through my mind: "Today will be yesterday if I just get this over with." I shortened it to "Today will be yesterday." and used it as a mantra. Looking at it written out, it doesn't make much sense, but in my mind, it was my way to help myself realize that this labor *would* come to an end. A baby *was* going to come out of me. And soon, I would be sharing pictures of my newborn.
So, I repeated "today will be yesterday" over and over in my head. I might have said it out loud too but I think it just confused Shane and Mikayla. I knew what had to be done.
A contraction hit and I flung myself onto the floor and onto my hands and knees.
"Bad idea!" I shouted, "Oh this was stupid!"
Shane got down by me to help me back up but I shooed him off while I worked through a contraction. I had had every intention on getting back up, but the contractions were suddenly coming in waves. I realized then, this was go time.
Pause for a moment for me to explain where I am at at this point. I'm on the floor, on my hands and knees between my bed and my closet. My head was resting (and sometimes pushing against) my closet door. The bed is about 2 feet behind my butt. My nightstand and wall is about 3 feet to the right of me. There is a freestanding shelf with a wide base immediately to my left. I probably would have crawled right in my closet if there would have been room.. or even if it had just been open. Essentially, I had fulfilled my own little "if I were a cat" prophecy (yes, prophecy.. it's that epic), AND left my partner and midwife with about four square feet to work in.
I was not being quiet at this point. I was having a hard time with low tones and keeping it loose. I had lost all control of myself, and I just didn't care.
I leaned my head against my closet door and pushed. I felt the "need to poop" sensation again and pushed like mad.
Again. Just poop.
Maybe I shouldn't say "just". Apparently, there was quite a bit of it. Shane had just laid a number of Chux pads down and was now working furiously to clean them up and replace them with new ones. Mikayla tracked down some paper towels. I have no idea who wiped my butt. I haven't asked. I guess I hope it was Shane.
Both left the room to dispose of the offending materials. I had a thought that I felt like a complete animal. I was grossed out by my own outputs.. but at the same time, I positively reveled in how awesome it was to birth this way. Yep. Awesome.
But I did apologize for my odor. It didn't bother me, but man.. who wants to sit in someone else's stink?
Anyway, so both midwife and partner are out of the room. I'm still feeling like I need to poop so I keep on pushing. Only.. now it felt like a big old constipated-type movement. I thought, "Oh what the crap? Really?" Then I realized.. it wasn't more poop... it was a baby's head and it was coming fast.
It's so strange to me because I remember this point being very painful with Flynn. The epidural did nothing for the pain of him coming through the birth canal. I felt him move through, crown and pop out. He did come sunny side up and I was on my back, so that might have made a difference. But here I was, pushing out this enormous baby head and it felt GOOD. I mean, I was still reeling from the pain of the contraction(s) (it really felt like one long one.. maybe it was), but her actual exit was feeling fantastic. I didn't want to stop pushing. In fact, it hurt more when I stopped for a breath, so I just kept going.
Suddenly, I realize that this baby is on her way out and no one is in the room. I'm not sure what I said, but I'm pretty sure it was basically, "Baby!"
Mikayla and Shane both came running back in. Apparently, this was an unexpectedly quick development. I continued pushing until I felt this incredible release. It. Was. Awesome.
I'm told the baby was trying to open her eyes and breathe. I pushed the rest of her out without a contraction. It was cake compared to her head. Again, so different from Flynn.
Shane and Mikayla both caught her and I continued to sit there on my hands and knees for a moment, catching my breath and feeling my faculties returning. I finally said, "Can someone give me my baby?" Or something along those lines.
I got to my knees, then up on the edge of the bed. Mikayla moved the umbilical cord under my foot and Shane handed me our baby girl, Adelynn Esther.
She was covered in vernix, which just amazed me for being 41 weeks. I held her and said, "You look just like your brother... but look at all that hair!" (Flynn was bald). Chux were placed on the bed and some pillows piled up. I was dying to lean back. Shane helped me back onto the bed so I could relax with my baby girl. Minutes later, the placenta came. The umbilical cord was so long! I had Adelynn on my chest and her cord stretched to the placenta sitting in an ice cream bucket near my feet.
Have I mentioned yet that I didn't tear?
We waited until the cord went white, then Shane cut it. It was an emotional moment, and we all cheered simultaneously. Shane said, "You're on your own now, baby."
Adelynn began nursing about ten minutes after birth. I was overjoyed to have a nursling again.
Shane came into the bedroom and asked if he could interest me in some lactation cookies. I cracked up and gratefully gobbled down a few.
It was so awesome to hold my baby after she was born. I rubbed her vernix into her skin and inspected her fingers and toes (strange how that's a natural impulse). Mikayla asked if we had checked to be sure she was a girl (strange how that *wasn't* a natural impulse!) so I did (and yep ;). She measured her length and head, then took her and weighed her (when I was ready to give her up). I called my mom to let her know we had finally had our baby (the entire family was over for Thanksgiving dinner, so it saved us quite a few phone calls). Shane made a few phone calls and announced her arrival on Facebook.
We snapped pictures and took our time getting to know this brand new baby. Finally, I gave her to Mikayla to get dressed and I headed to take a shower. Per my request, the couch was readied with Chux pads and some pizza was reheated while I showered. Mikayla brought me my night gown and robe and I got myself all cleaned up. My heart melted when I got out and found Shane sitting with Adelynn in the bedroom, just staring at her.
I sat down on the couch and enjoyed my pizza and watched an episode of Pscyh on Netflix. It felt so great to be at home. It was worth every excruciating minute for those moments after she came out. To not have anyone take her and to be in a familiar place on comfortable furniture.
It may not have been the blissful, peaceful homebirth I thought I was going to have, but it was still truly healing and very, very worth it.
Date: Thanksgiving Day (Thursday), 11/24/11
Time: 11:55 a.m.
Weight: 10 pounds 2 ounces
Length: 22 inches
Head: 38 centimeters
Tia’s labor started at 5am, July 18th when she could no longer sleep through contractions. At 5:20 she started timing them. She had contractions the night before but figured it was more prodromal labor, which had been going on for three weeks by that time. Contractions were clocking about 7-10mins apart. At 5:40 Jillian asked if Tia was okay and she told her "your daughter's coming today". She shot up and asked "What?! What do you mean?" "... I'm pretty sure we are in labor, but go back to sleep for now" "oh sure, tell me that my daughter is coming earth side and expect me to go back to sleep. Not.happening." By 6:20am, Tia realized that the contractions were just strong enough that she wasn't falling back to sleep, so she went downstairs and texted Chelsie around that time.
Tia watched Big Brother after Dark until 8am when I could call and beg to be transferred to the care of a CNM. The nurse said she would need to call me back. When the phone rang, 5minutes later, she asked if Tia could come in at 830. She called Jillian and told her to throw some clothes on because they needed to be at Mercy Medical in 20mins to meet their new midwife. She jumped out of bed and dressed.
Problem: who is going to watch Zander? Patrick "Unka" was with Ooma (Jillian's mama) caring for the horses. So they called Nana (Tia’s mom) in a panic to rush over. She got here with enough time to give hugs and kisses and be on their way.
Jillian dropped Tia off at the front entrance of Mercy parked the car. As Tia was walking up to the entrance, she had a strong contraction and this business type gentlemen looked at her, terrified, and said "good luck!" while basically running away.
When they were called to the back almost immediately, I was hooked up to a monitor to gauge the status of my contractions. As Tia was monitored, Stephanie came in and said that they may not qualify for nurse-midwife care because of her high risk status. Stephanie walked out to get the okay from the OB she works under. Jillian and Tia waited patiently for the news of who would be catching the baby when Stephanie walked back in and gave them the thumbs up. After the 20 minutes of monitoring ended, Stephanie did a vaginal exam and found Tia at a very soft 3 1/2cm stretchy to a 4 1/2, then said "Today is your day!"
Tia and Jillian went to the chiropractor immediately afterwards. When they walked in, everyone was ecstatic that Zayda was on her way! Dr. Conn did some last minute adjustments to prepare for labor and they headed home.
Tia rested for an hour or so until she had a couple strong contractions and decided to call Chelsie in for labor support, then vacuumed her house so the cats wouldn’t be so bothersome to Chelsie (silly, laboring mama!). Chelsie arrived at approximately 12:15 p.m. At this point, Tia’s pain was manageable. Contractions were lasting around 50 seconds and were spaced around 5-6 minutes. After eating some oatmeal around 1 p.m., Tia tried getting up to walk around the house. Contractions increased in intensity while standing.
Around 2:20 p.m., contractions seemed to be getting more intense. Tia was no longer able to speak through them, though they continued to come widely spaced, they were lengthening. When Tia’s mom came to pick up three year old Zander, her labor seemed to almost completely stop. Contractions spaced significantly and decreased in intensity for about an hour, but began to pick back up around 3:30 p.m., at which time, Tia said it felt like her bag was bulging more.
At 5:35 p.m., Tia requested counter-pressure on her sacrum from Chelsie, who also did some belly massage with sunflower oil spiked with a little fennel oil. Contractions began to pick up and gained in intensity, beginning to come closer together. Tia did some dancing to Michael Jackson to encourage contractions. Her good friend Sarah arrived about this time.
After a couple walked around the block, around 7:30 p.m., contractions were coming faster, many were piggy backing. Tia decided to take a walk down the street, making a goal of reaching a specific stop sign. Her labor began to increase in intensity, causing her to stop often to sway and breathe through contractions. She did not make it to the stop sign, but chose instead to head back home. She began to breathe audibly in low tones during contractions on the way back.
After arriving back home, Tia laid down for a short time to rest, getting up to lean over the birth ball during contractions. She felt as though her contractions were slowing a bit again, so she decided to walk the stairs. Sarah stood at the bottom of the stairs as a spotter while Tia walked up and down, stopping occasionally to sway and lean on Sarah. Contractions continued to be inconsistent in frequency, coming every 3-11 minutes, but their intensity was obviously increasing. Tia was vocalizing much more and really beginning to show discomfort in her face.
After walking up and down the stairs for a while, she returned to leaning over the birth ball. She was feeling sleeping between contractions and had taken on a bit of a glazed look. Chelsie suggested if she wanted to lay down, to do so. Tia declined and preferred to continue alternating between swaying and leaning on a support person, or leaning over the birth ball.
Around 8:30 p.m., Tia asked Chelsie if it was time to go to the hospital. Chelsie responded by saying it wasn’t her decision. Tia said, “Stop being my doula for a minute and be my friend! Should I go to the hospital?” Chelsie explained that she felt Tia was heading into transition, despite the inconsistent contractions, judging by her behavior and the intensity and length of the contractions. She suggested Tia might be more comfortable being where she intended to birth.
Jillian called the hospital and was told Stephanie would call them back and if she did not call within a half hour, to call them back. Tia suggested Jillian must be in transition too since she seemed a bit dazed and, when realizing the CNM had not returned her call, she said, “Did I give them the right phone number?”
Jillian called again and said they had not heard back from Stephanie (it was later found out Stephanie never got the page) and they were told to go ahead and come in. Between getting in the car around 9:50 p.m. and getting out of the car at the hospital around 10:15, Tia’s labor had obviously increased significantly.
While waiting in the ER triage, Tia seems disconnected. Her contractions are intensifying, but still erratic. She’s admitted and everyone heads up to the L&D. At 10:20, she is in her room and changing into a nightgown. A nurse puts her on the monitor to follow fetal heart tones and contractions. Her dilation is 7 cm, contractions are 7-10 minutes apart, but intense.
Stephanie arrives and talks to her about breaking her water. Tia refuses. She gets into the whirlpool tub at 11:20 and requests lavender oil in the water. She was coping well with contractions and had moved on to labor land, having a difficult time answering basic questions and connecting thought.
Between contractions, Tia said to Chelsie, “I want to do it. I want to feel her be born. I want to feel my stomach empty like you did.” Chelsie said she could do it. That birth is one of the few things that have not changed since humans started having babies. Chelsie reassured her that it would be intense and it would be hard, but it was so worth it and over shortly and then her baby would be born without drugs in her system. Tia seemed encouraged and positive about her decision to continue trying for a totally natural labor.
At 12:30 a.m., Stephanie checks Tia’s cervix and finds her at a 7-8 and suggests she get out of the tub to help move baby down. She explains that the bag of waters is bulging but very soft and says it may not break on its own easily as its preventing baby from moving down. Tia again refuses an amniotomy.
After Stephanie left the room, Chelsie discussed the amniotomy with Tia, including risks and benefits. Tia reported that she was afraid of the increase in pain after losing that cushion. Chelsie explained that the increase in pain will happen eventually, but sooner than later meant she wouldn’t be as tired. Tia said she would consider having her water broke if she could have Stadol on hand.
At the request of Tia, Chelsie went and spoke to Stephanie. Stephanie went to the room and explained that there was a Stadol shortage and all they had on hand was fentanyl. She also explained that Tia was not continuing to dilate and that by breaking her water, her labor would speed up and she would have a baby much sooner than if they waited for baby to fight against the cushioning. Tia consented to an amniotomy at 1 a.m. Meconium was noted in the water.
As Tia’s labor pains increased almost immediately, a team was called in to handle the baby after birth due to the meconium. Tia chose to labor sitting in an upright position on the bed, utilizing a hole in the bed to eliminate pressure on her bottom. She refused positional changes at this point. Her contractions were increasing in length and intensity, causing Tia to vocalize much more, resting soundly between each one. At 1:30, she said, “I don’t think I can do this!”. Chelsie suggested a squat bar to help lift her up and bring baby down. Tia tried once and stated she didn’t like it. At 2:05 a.m., Stephanie checked her cervix and found her still at 8, though she didn’t say anything out loud. She said, “Tia, you need to get up onto your knees to help this baby move down.”
Tia was helped up and onto her knees. She leaned over the back of the bed and found an immediate increase in contraction intensity. She demanded drugs at this point. Jillian was leaned in close and encouraging her, reminding her she did not want drugs. Chelsie encouraged her to work through one more contraction before getting the drugs. Tia continued to ask for drugs so Stephanie sent the nurse for the fentanyl. Tia continued to work through contractions with encouragement from Jillian, Sarah and Chelsie. The nurse drew up a half dose of fentanyl. Tia was demanding to be “cut open”. Chelsie said that would take longer, she was going to meet her baby in just minutes. She worked through another very painful contraction and shouted “Don’t poke me!”. She then went very silent for several minutes.
Suddenly, Tia said, “She’s coming!” and baby Zayda crowned, sliding into the world shortly after at 2:26 a.m. with 2-3 pushes.
Zayda was taken immediately to be suctioned and evaluated. Tia had torn and received stitches in the meanwhile. Jillian was able to hold Zayda after her evaluation while waiting for Tia to be ready for her. She was definitely born hungry and kept rooting at the blankets touching her cheek. The nurse encouraged Jillian to keep Zayda stimulated so she would work up any fluid and meconium that might be left in her lungs.
Mom and baby finally met several minutes after birth. Zayda was frantic to latch and had a hard time for a few minutes but soon got a good hold and nursed happily and well.
Mom did an amazing job with her first natural labor after a medicated induction with her first. She had not been convinced she could do it until she was actually done though!
Baby Zayda Lynn weighed in at 8 pounds 1 ounce and 19 inches long. Born at 2:26 a.m., July 19, 2012.
This birth story was written by Chelsie Towns, Doula.
These are stories from or of births I've attended.