I've been putting off writing this story for fear that the actual writing and recording of the event closes the chapter of it. We move on, it's gone, life continues as usual. The awesome power of the experience dissipates and finally dissolves into what is reality and normal life. It has taken me many deep breaths, meditative moments, and sniff's of my baby's neck to reassure me that I will keep the glow, the memory, the sweetness of this experience well after the chapter is closed and we have moved on.
I could go into the weeks before my due date when I was wishing and hoping that any second I would go into labor and therefore I wouldn't have to make dinner, AND I could go on about my due date, July 24th, a state-wide holiday, that kept me on my feet but produced no baby. I could also expand upon each of the 12 emotionally taxing days I went beyond my due date, but none of that is as interesting, or as fun as the actual event. I will spare you.
Monday morning at 3 am I woke to some painful contractions that lasted about 40 seconds and varied between 2-4 minutes apart. I waited until I had a few in a row and then I texted Jesse to see how close he was (yes, he was already up and about at work at 3 am!). He happened to be in the backyard working and was able to come right in and shower. We knew it would be a while so we settled in on the couch to watch an episode of Monk. Jesse was magnificent during contractions helping me remember to breath deeply and rubbing my back, but I felt bad for him during the 5 minutes between contractions as he dozed off.
We took a walk in the dark morning hours around the block in our neighborhood and I could feel the contractions getting stronger and closer together. The hard part about labor is that you have no idea how long it will last. I mean I HOPED it would be like Lillian's labor that was a quick 5 hours but with Lillian my water had broken and that had helped to speed things up. I was mentally preparing for up to 8 hours or longer, just in case. So when things started getting more serious with that walk I went into "conserve energy" mode and got into a warm bath. The water felt amazing and after a few minutes the intensity of the contractions had decreased and I was easily dozing in between them. I relaxed so much that I figured if I was going to sleep I might as well sleep in my bed.
I can't explain why this happens but my bed was just not as comfortable as I remembered. I could not lay still and relax. I had to get back up and I needed another walk. This was around 6 am and I started feeling like I needed some more emotional reinforcement and told Jesse he better text my sister and my Mom. We were stepping outside for our walk when my sister showed up. This walk was definitely harder than the first one. Well for one, now that it was light I was terrified my neighbors would see me, but for two, labor was getting very serious and I needed way more focus and concentration to stay on top of each contraction.
And I think I peed a little at one point. Don't tell my neighbors. Janae arrived around 7 and I was sure glad to see her. I was feeling like things were getting pretty intense and I was ready to see if anything was happening and if I was close or if I still had awhile to go. I was trying to keep in mind that I had really only been in labor for 4 hours, and I really could be just beginning. Also, for every one of my births I have gotten to the hospital at either 1 or 3 cm and have been in equally as much pain as I was at this point. Upon doing a cervical check I was prepared to hear either 3 or 4 cm, even though I was hoping for more. So when Janae said 6 cm, I was like,
HIGH FIVE JESSE!!For the most part, even though the contractions were pretty serious, the in between parts were pretty chill. By this time the kids had woken up and had come in to check on me one by one. It didn't feel weird or bothersome to have them there. They could tell I was in pain and became very quiet and even comforting at this time. Made some comment about being excited to see the new baby. Even my big boy Cooper became very sweet and leaned down head to head with me to talk to me and make sure I was ok. I told him my belly was hurting a little but I was happy that the new baby would be here soon. Leila was mostly excited to have all the people in her house when she woke up. Even though I was at a 6 cm I still assumed that labor could last for hours longer. No one could have told me at 7 am that I would be holding my baby a little over an hour later.
The contractions were about 2 minutes apart at that point and about a minute long. They hurt, that's for sure, but it wasn't the pain that was amazing to me, it was just the shear pressure of them. The intensity of the squeezing was surprising to me.
I mentioned to Janae when she arrived that it felt better to bear down during contractions and I had actually been doing that since our little walk earlier. Not full-on pushing but just grunting a little and letting the pressure push downward as it seemed to want to. I was afraid (from my hospital trained mind) that she would tell me to avoid doing that until I had reached 10 cm and to just try and breath through them and completely relax. Home birth, it turns out, is nothing like hospital birth (duh). She told me to go ahead and do what my body was telling me. So I did. At Lillian's birth I had found one position that relieved most of the pain and I didn't want to deviate from that position at all. Getting up and moving around took great mental preparation and even then I wanted to go immediately back to that one position as soon as possible. I kept waiting to find that one position during this labor, and it never came. Since I never found one position more comfortable than the next I did almost every contraction differently, and I kept assuming that I must not be that close to the end because I hadn't found that one spot to get my groove on and just stay in my "labor land" bubble. In fact, I thought I still had hours to go because even though the contractions were intense and painful, I had moments in between to be normal and laugh and talk with everyone there.
So about 8:00 AM I was starting to get a little agitated (so they tell me, I felt fine). Like when the kids were watching their movie in the living room I could hear it and called out to them to turn it down. I remember Trisha looking at Janae and Jesse and saying something about me going through transition.
I remember thinking they were nuts because these contractions were nowhere near what I thought they should be for me to be nearing the end.
Janae had already begun setting up a birthing area on one side of my room and with these changes in my attitude she quickly set about finishing that up.
I do remember feeling like I needed to do something else to cope with the intensity I was feeling. I asked if it would be ok if I got in the tub. Janae said go ahead. So we did a few like this while the tub was filling up: Can I just say that the warm water felt even better than an epidural?! I could literally feel every muscle in my body relaxing and the contractions just kind of went through my body and melted away. After a few contractions in the tub the urge to push was especially strong so Janae suggested we check the cervix to see what it was doing, to see if pushing was a great option right then.
8 centimeters!! I was so happy! Little Cooper came in to encourage me and to see how things were going. If I could have seen the future I would have told Cooper to wait about 10 minutes and he would be meeting his brother.
Janae also warned me that the baby's head was pressing hard on that last lip of cervix so it might just feel like one long contraction from there on out. I believed her, but in my mind I was thinking, yeah, one long contraction until the real contractions hit. But no, she was right. I was silly. It was just one long contraction, I felt like it was an out of body experience at that point. I felt like a caged animal. I wanted to get up, out of the tub and leave everyone and just walk out. I wanted to leave my belly and all it's contractions behind.
I could vaguely hear Janae and Jesse talking me through the contractions and using warm water to relax my muscles. It felt like everything was in the way, the tub, the water, my belly, my legs. I couldn't find a position that alleviated anything.
I remember Janae stepping out to find her gloves and Trisha came in to add some words of encouragement. That lady is incredible. I was so comforted by having her there. Janae came back with gloves and a hot towel to place on my perineum, which I appreciated, but I was confused. I didn't think I needed it yet, I was thinking you don't really need your perineum stretched until the baby was close to crowning, and to my knowledge I was still at 8 cm (even though I was pushing somewhat through every contraction.). So she really knows her stuff. Because it was almost like BAM! I felt a twist and kind of a "thunk" in my pelvic region (I think it was the baby making a turn into the birth canal) and then I just had to push. People were talking and rushing around but all my body could do was just sit there and push. Janae spoke very clearly and told me that I could stay in the tub if I wanted, but if I did the baby would be born in the tub. She told me I could get up and step out any time I wanted if I wanted the baby to be born outside the tub. I remember considering very seriously trying to make my legs work to lift my body out of the tub and it seemed way too overwhelming. There was just no way I was going anywhere. I stayed. I clung to the side of the tub and just pushed. I remember feeling the burning, the "ring of fire" and thinking how odd it was that I felt like the baby was crowning. The baby could not possibly be crowning because I was only at 8 cm! I kept pushing. Janae said that the head was almost out. I kept pushing. Jesse said "The head is out!"
I thought it was odd that I had to keep pushing at this point. With Lillian, I pushed out her head and the rest of her sort of slipped out after. I was expecting immediate relief after the head came, but there was none, only burning, so I just kept pushing. I pushed out that little body inch by inch until with a gush I finally felt relief! I quickly flipped around to see my new baby and the first glimpse I got was of Jesse laughing, holding our BOY who was crying and sending a stream of pee out into the air for all the world to see.
I cannot think of the right words to convey what I felt in that moment, shock because I was finished, relief that it was over, disbelief that I had just had a boy, in the tub, at home, that Jesse just caught our son, A SON! A BOY! A BABY BOY! OVER! DONE! I DID IT!!!! I grabbed that warm wiggly body and just held him and listened to his delicious cries. The love, the joy, the disbelief I felt is completely indescribable. Even though my body new what it was doing the whole time, the experience would have been kind of scary if I had not been surrounded by amazing and calm women like Janae to let me know that everything that was happening was completely normal. It was interesting to me that I had already given birth 4 times but still didn't know what was "normal". After having my baby at home with a midwife, I understand my body and my role as a mother so much differently. I trust myself and my instincts so much more and I feel like it was my midwife Janae that let me along my path to that understanding.