I still haven't finished writing my second son's birth story, but his was my first birth with no pain relief...I can't say it was natural because my midwife forced pit augmentation on me after 2 hours of arguing...which is what led me to seek a home birth this time! I knew my body could do this, and I wanted to deliver in the water, which I can't do at any hospitals within an hour and a half radius. Little did I know my faith in my body and the serenity of being at home would result in an amazing, quick, easy and comfortable birth! :) My dream birth. :)
I had my first round of really good contractions on Sunday, March 27th. They started at night, and were about 5 min. apart, and pretty strong. I had a lot of pressure and could feel the baby moving down, but I decided to go to sleep, and they stopped. I had contractions that were somewhat consistent throughout the day on Monday, but they weren't getting any stronger. I was supposed to be going to my cousins baby shower on Saturday though, so I called my midwife to see if she would come and check me. I could tell some stuff was happening, and being my fourth, I didn't want to drive an hour away if I was dilated to a 3 or a 4 already!
My midwife stopped by after her last appointment, and checked me. I was dilated to 1, 40% effaced, and baby was at a 0 station. No wonder I was having so much pubic bone pain! None of my other babies were ever engaged beyond -3 before I was fully dilated! I continued to have contractions on and off for the next couple days, they were about 10 minutes apart, but not getting any stronger, and I just felt achy and tired in between. I think I told my husband on Tuesday and Wednesday that "I might be calling you home, this could be it." Of course then the end of the day would come, I was tired, so I went to sleep, and the contractions would stop. Thursday morning, I had contractions that were somewhat strong, and 10 min. apart, that woke me up just before my alarm. I again told hubby "I think this is it." Throughout the day the contractions got stronger, and slowly got closer together, but the difference was that I felt GREAT in between, so I really thought this was it. I was trying not to call my midwife too early though, knowing that I typically had longer labors. I worked around the house in between contractions, sweeping, vacuuming, doing dishes, doing school with the kids. I never called my husband because although my contractions were about 7 min. apart at 3:00pm, and they were strong, they were not painful, and they were still completely manageable.
My husband got home around 5:30, and by this time the contractions were just starting to get a little more intense. I still was unsure if I was really in labor, I didn't want to be disappointed again if I wasn't! I had started packing the kids bags just before my husband got home though, and when he arrived I told him I thought we should take the kids to his parents "just in case" and that we would pick them up later if it were not "the big event." I figured, if nothing else, I would be able to relax and get some rest if I weren't actually in labor. I was going to go with my husband since we live on a dirt road and I still felt like my contractions could be stronger, and I thought maybe all the bumping would move things along! I had two pretty intense contractions just before he was about to leave though, so I decided I would stay home and take a shower to relax. My labors were 19 hours, 12 hours, and 23 hours respectively with my last three children, and I figured since the contractions were slightly starting to feel like they could be real, I probably had a good amount of time still ahead of me before our baby would arrive if this even was real labor...I STILL wasn't sure!
I kissed my babies good bye and told them to behave for Grandma and Grandpa, and that Lily might be out of my belly when they got home, which they were very excited about! I kissed my hubby, and felt another contraction coming on so I went in the bedroom and bent over the bed. This helped relieve the pain on my pubic bone tremendously, and I couldn't even feel the contraction AT ALL (which was why I was still not sure if it was labor!) It was now 6:15pm. I decided I should call my midwife, Goldie, to put her on alert "just in case." She turned out to be over an hour away visiting with her daughter who was in town, and she had made plans to have dinner with her daughter as well. Goldie asked if I wanted her to send her back up midwife, Kathy, over so that I would have someone there with me, but because I normally have slow labors I told her not to worry about it yet, and that I would call her if anything changed. I was a little bummed, mainly because I wanted to be evaluated to see if I was really in labor, but also because it felt like my first two births where I didn't have my OB and I had to have one I had never met. I was supposed to meet Kathy at my next appointment, but obviously we didn't make it that far! I didn't let myself get stressed out about it though, I told myself it would be fine and to just roll with it, and stay relaxed. I also called my sister in law to let her know I thought this was it, and she teased me that I would end up having the baby on April Fools, which I didn't really want. I replied that I still had 6 hours left. She said "yeah, but we know how your labors go," to which we both had a good laugh. I wasn't worried about it though, I was just focused on trusting my body to do it's job and stay focused through the contractions. I had one rather intense contraction while I was on the phone with her, so I let her go so I could get in the shower.
I got undressed, and was about to start the shower to let it heat up, when I felt another, stronger contraction coming on. I bent over the bed, and blew softly out my mouth through it, remembering Ina May saying in Spiritual Midwifery that "a soft mouth equals a soft bottom." My main goal was just to stay calm, trust my body, and stay as relaxed as possible through the contractions so that they could do their job, quickly and efficiently. After that contraction, I knew I would need to bend over through the contractions, which I could not do in my stand up shower. This contraction was the first one that convinced me this was the real thing. I posted a quick update about my contractions being 4 min. apart,and not to call or text me unless I contacted them first so I could stay focused and not be overwhelmed by anxious friends and family and I texted my friend Nicole that I thought I was in labor if she wanted to head over, since she was the third part of my support team along with Goldie, and my husband Jason. Then I grabbed my phone, set it on the toilet, and decided to fill the tub and get in. I knew that if I got in the tub too early it could slow my labor down, but at this point, I was still alone, the contractions were getting more intense, and I was just focused on managing my contractions and staying calm, and comfortable while I was waiting for my support team to get there.
I started to fill the bathtub, then another contraction took me to my hands and knees on the bathmat. I was sure this was it now, and was happy I had the tub filling already! When the contraction was over, I climbed in the tub. The relief was immediate! I felt so much better and more relaxed! I could tell things were progressing, so I called Jason to see where he was at, and he had not left his parents yet. It felt like he had been gone forever, when in reality, it had not been that long. I told him things were progressing, and that if he was still going to go get food, he needed to get a move on. I decided to call my midwife and tell her to send Kathy so that I had someone there "just in case," because I could tell things were progressing, and even though I had no clue how dilated I was, I could feel the baby's head pretty low. Goldie said she would send Kathy over, I got off the phone with her as another contraction came on. I was still sitting up at this point, and this contraction was more intense, but still manageable. I decided to call my sister in law and tell her that I could feel the head, and that I didn't think it would be much longer. I got off the phone with her quickly as I started to have another contraction so she didn't have to hear me deal with it. My concentration broke because I had been on the phone with her, and I fought the contraction a little at first, so I ended up moaning in a low tone through that contraction. I was no longer comfortable sitting up in the reclined position I was in, so I tried going to my hands and knees which was very uncomfortable surprisingly, so then i tried laying on my right side so that I could hold on to the side of the tub and let my lower body just hang. This was very comfortable, and the position I ended up delivering in. I was starting to worry a little now, since I was still alone, and I could feel the babies head low in my pelvis. I called Jason to find out where he was, and was relieved to hear that he was less than 5 min. away.
Jason arrived home, and came in to check on me. I had him get me my bathing suit top so that I wasn't completely indecent when the midwife arrived, and apologized because there were quite a few things I needed him to do because I had not got to them. Jason got right to work on the things I asked him to do; getting the birth towels and wash cloths out of the dryer, washing the sheets for the bed, and putting the sheets and shower curtains on our bed in case I needed to get out of the bath. As Jason bustled around, I was relaxed and calm, breathing through my contractions, which were starting to get more intense, and focusing on staying centered so they could do their work. I was still completely relaxed and comfortable between them though and able to rest. Jason had brought me the smoothie I requested, because I didn't feel like eating, but I knew I should have something to keep my strength up. I wasn't even very interested in drinking that, but took a couple sips because it looked really good. It was really good, and helped me to relax even more! I text Nicole to see where she was at, because I didn't know how much longer it would be, and contractions were getting more intense and I was a little lonely since Jason was running around, so I was wanting someone to keep me company. She replied that she wasn't far, and not to worry, because she brought chips, which I had a good laugh from because that was what I told her I wanted when she asked if I needed anything. :) Contractions were 2-3 minutes apart now.
Jason came in to check on me again, and let me know that all he had left to do was go rinse out the sink in the kids bathroom (a 3 and 5 year old make a pretty big mess when they brush their teeth! lol!) He also needed to use the bathroom, but was going to use the kids so that he wasn't urinating right by my head (the tub is close to the toliet in our master bath.) I said ok, but not to take too long because I could tell things were starting to get serious now. He started to walk out, and I called him back from the doorway so I could hold his hand through the contraction that was building. It was a pretty intense one, but I managed it pretty well, only making a few low moaning noises. When the wave was over, Jason asked how I was feeling, and I told him that the hospital and an epidural were not looking so bad right now (I had a hospital birth with epidural and pitocin for both of my first two births!) We both laughed and I told him, it was not that bad, but it was getting intense (this was the first contraction that I would say had a little pain) but that I did not regret it, and I could do it, unless I was going to have to deal with contractions like this for the next 12 hours or more! We both had another laugh again, and I told him to hurry because I could feel another contraction building, and I felt like I really wanted him there for support now...little did I know, I was in transition, maybe even complete already!
Jason left the room to go take care of the kids bathroom, and I felt the next contraction starting to build. Kathy and her daughter Hannah, who is an EMT and training to be a Midwife, and Nicole were still not there yet, but I was not worried, because I knew they would be any minute. This contraction was rather strong, and a little painful, but I was able to breath through it without making noise, just blowing air through my lips rather forcefully and at the peak, I felt my bag of waters break, and then my body started to push on it's own slightly. I tensed up slightly when I felt the sensation, and it stopped immediately, and the contraction ended. OK, I thought to myself, I know that I don't want to tense up, because that will make it more painful if I fight against my body. I knew my contractions were about 2 minutes apart now, so I figured the midwife had about 2 minutes to arrive and that the baby was going to start coming either way with the next contraction. I was a little bummed (silly I know!) because I had envisioned playing card, and laughing in between my contractions. Relaxing, hanging out, and being supported and encouraged by my midwife through out my labor. I knew that none of this would happen now, because the baby would be here very soon! I was very happy though that my labor had been so quick and easy, and really the perfect labor that I had hoped for! I called "Honey" loudly because Jason was still in the other room (only about 2 minutes had passed since he left!) [The next 5 minutes or so are a little hazy, so if I botch the details slightly, my apologies.] I felt, what would be a 4 minute long, contraction starting to build, and called him again, then closed my eyes, and retreated inside so that I could focus on what my body was doing. The contraction was intense, I felt pain from my pubic bone and tailbone spreading as the babies head was descending and my body was pushing all on it's own. I was able to manage the sensations by moaning lowly, loudly and deeply, and I only stopped to take a breath. I mentally prepared to feel the ring of fire, but it was not very noticeable in the soothing water. Jason called out that he had unlocked the door because my friend had arrived, and I was vaguely aware of her entering the room. Jason came in as well, took one look at me and said in a surprised tone, "Are you pushing?!?" I replied "not by choice, my body is," and then re-focused on the task at hand. My body continued to push and I let it do it's thing, as I instinctually reached down to feel my baby's head. Jason stepped over to the edge of the tub, and reached down to cradle the babies head as well, and prepare to help catch her. I was so proud of him for jumping right in, and I was not nervous at all. I knew my body would do what it was made to do, I'd done it before, and I had my handsome protector there to help me if I needed it. I was excited to know that my baby would be born into her parents loving arms! Jason asked me to move my hand, and I told him "don't ask me to move my hand." I didn't know why at the time, but I needed it there. It helped me feel connected, to know what was going on, and when later discussing it, Nicole, that has had a water birth as well, thought it might have been because my instincts could tell that I needed to do that to keep the baby from floating up, which would cause me to tear. All of this happened very quickly of course, in about 3 min. time, and now we were getting down to business. I felt a strong urge to push, so I did, and after one big push, only letting up to take another breath, our babies head emerged. The contraction subsided, as it had with my previous births, so I knew I had a second to breath before birthing the baby's shoulders. I took a few cleansing breaths, told Jason I was waiting for the next contraction, and I think I said hi, to my friend who had arrived, and told her the midwife was on her way. I felt the contraction building, and bore down to birth her shoulders. After one long push, the baby's shoulders were free, and the rest of her body emerged into the water. Her daddy caught her, and I reached down and lifted her under her arms, up onto my chest. Nicole and Jason grabbed a few towels, and her hat. We put her hat on her and draped the towel over her to keep her warm. Her eyes were open, and she was looking around and breathing well, but since she wasn't crying, I gently rubbed her with the towel, but I knew she was fine.
I had called my midwife at 6:15 to say that I thought it might be the real thing, but I still wasn't certain...by about 6:45 I was taken to my knees by the tub, and KNEW it was real, and our baby girl was born just an hour and 18 minutes later at 8:03! About 3 minutes after I delivered our precious baby girl, LilyAnn Marie, Kathy and Hannah came through the door, only to find out they were a little too late! They came in the bathroom door, saw me holding the baby in the bath tub and my husband said "you're a little late," with a chuckle. Kathy replied "that's ok, it looks like you did just fine, and that just means half my work is done!" Kathy came over and felt the cord, but it was still pulsing, so we chatted for a few minutes, and Kathy tried to call my midwife, Goldie, to tell her that, not only did she miss the birth, but Kathy hadn't even made it in time! I sipped on my smoothie and relaxed, and was really very comfortable still in the nice, warm water. Kathy asked me if I thought i had torn, and I told her, I was pretty positive I had not, I didn't feel any burning, stinging, or pain around my perineum, or at all down there. I caught up with Nicole a little and we were all just amazed at how quickly everything had happened! Kathy checked the cord again, and it had stopped pulsing, so she clamped it, and Jason cut it. I was starting to have after pains, that were more painful than any of the contractions I had, and I was asked if Kathy could take the baby to do her assessment, and get her wrapped up in a dry towel. I said that was fine, and she returned a few minutes later to check on me. I was pretty uncomfortable now, and I said so, so Kathy suggested I give a few pushes, if I wanted, to try to deliver the placenta. I did, and it only took a couple light pushes, and it was out, and OH the RELIEF! Nicole even said "That's nine months of relief right there" and man was she right! Kathy asked how I was feeling, and if I wanted to stay right in the tub and do my herbal bath now. I felt great, and agreed. I love a relaxing bath, so I was excited to relax, and cuddle with my new bundle in the tub! Kathy asked Jason to start boiling the herbal bath in the kitchen, which he did, and began to drain the tub. Nicole stood by, just a few feet from the tub, with the baby, and I finished up my smoothie, and we chatted and laughed, and had a nice time while the tub refilled. Jason came in with the herbal bath, which was added to the tub, and then Lily was handed back to me to enjoy her first bath. She stretched, and looked around, and just seemed to really enjoy it. After a little while, I nursed her for the first time, and then I handed her off to get dried off, dressed, and swaddled. Kathy helped me to wash and rinse my hair, because I was worried it might have "birth stuff" in it (turns out, only a little vernix) and then she helped me out of the tub...ugh, getting out kinda stunk! I felt decent, but I had sea legs from having been in the tub for about 3 hours now! I'll spare you the rest of the boring, after care details, and will just mention the last few highlights. My wonderful husband cooked me an amazing meal of scrambled eggs, bacon, and biscuits. My wonderful friend Nicole bagged up my placenta and put it in the freezer for me so that my wonderful hubby wouldn't have to! Then Kathy's scale almost didn't work, but Hannah was able to fix it, and we finally found out around 9:30 or 10:00, that our daughter weighed 8 lbs. 1 oz. and was 20.5 inches long, with a 14 inch head! My second largest baby! By this time baby and I had long been snuggled into my bed, where I also ate, I had taken some motrin, and was starting to feel sleepy. Nicole was a wonderful, amazing, friend and tidied up around our house, and I found myself feeling a little bad that we didn't get to have the "hanging out" phase of my labor that I had thought we would. Everyone excused themselves, and quietly let themselves out, and we retreated to bed, sent out a few more announcement texts, updated a few threads online, and laid down to go to sleep. I thought a little more, and was a little sad to realize that I didn't have any of the picture worthy support moments with my husband, during my labor, that I thought I would, and I didn't have my midwife or friend there encouraging me and keeping me company like I had expected. In the end though, it was fast, and easy and wonderful! It was somewhat surprising,and very memorable, and I wouldn't change it for the world! I hope that more and more women are able to experience an amazing, empowering, peaceful birth like I had, in the future! If they can do it at home, I think that is wonderful too...I was so relaxed and comfortable, and I felt great the next day because I was able to sleep soundly all night. I don't regret any of my births, and I am glad I had as many different experiences as I did, so that I can relate to other women, but if I had a choice to do them again, I think I would choose to have them all at home, in the water. There is nothing like it. :)