I went to bed the night before hoping something would happen that night. I had lost my mucus plug the day before so was sure it was happening soon. I slept fitfully and woke in the morning to bloody show, and mild cramps every 10 minutes or so. Today was baby day! I excitedly told Pete he wouldn’t be going to work that day.
I already had an appointment with my midwife Kate that day, but I texted her in the morning to let her know stuff was happening. My contractions slowly got stronger throughout the day. By the time Kate came round it was about 2pm and I wanted her to check me to see how much I had dilated. She told me I was a stretchy 4cm, and I was very pleased with this. She hung around for a bit longer and showed Pete how to squeeze the top of my hips during a contraction which helped with the pain heaps.
After Kate had left (promising not to go too far away), we made plans for Pete’s mum to pick up Charlotte around 4pm. Once Charlotte had been picked up, Pete went to work filling the birth pool, and my contractions really ramped up in intensity. I couldn’t wait to get in the pool! Pete continued to be such a help with squeezing my hips.
Finally the pool was full enough for me to get in, and I sunk into the water. The relief was instant! I found the easiest way to cope was to lean forward on my knees and have Pete apply the hip squeeze. I also moaned a lot! And said “ow” a lot too! Turns out I’m quite the whinger. At some point (no sense of time) I felt a weird kind of pressure at the end of each contraction and would grunt with it. Kate asked “Was that a push?” and I replied “I don’t know!” The next contraction (or was it several later?...not sure) I felt heaps of pressure with a contraction and my waters exploded. Pete felt my waters break through my hips. I yelled out “Something’s broken!” I looked into the water and could see little flecks of vernix which was pretty cool.
At one point I floated on my back during the contractions and sang a humming noise in different pitches. It was a noise I doubt I could replicate and I have no idea where it came from. Kate said I was very musical and it was beautiful. Something about those contractions was different. They weren’t as pressure/pain filled, but they weren’t pushing ones either. I think it was shortly after this time that I complained to Kate that I couldn’t get comfortable no matter what position I tried, and she told me that I was just in that stage of labour where not much is comfortable. I find it truly incredible how she knew what stages I was in and how I was feeling just from observing me. She really does trust birth and women’s bodies.
After my waters broke I felt the urge to push with every contraction which I found very overwhelming. I’d yell out “I’m puuuusssshhhhhing” with the contraction, almost like alerting Kate that’s what I was doing and if it was OK to do it. She told me to just go with it and let it happen. I was squeezing the heck out of Pete’s fingers, and at some point got quite screechy with pushing. Kate warned me not to make this high pitched noise as I’d hurt my throat – she was right!
I started to complain that it was taking too long and surely he must be stuck. Kate asked if I could feel the baby’s head yet, so I had a feel, but what I felt did not feel like a baby head! It was about an inch in and felt all crumpled. I asked her to check what it was. She did and of course it was a baby head! She also held back a lip of cervix during a contraction which was probably one of the most uncomfortable things during the entire labour. I screamed at her “That huuurrrtttsss!” This and the one earlier in the day are the only vaginal examinations I had the whole pregnancy and labour. This was quite important to me, as I had so many different people examine me when laboring with Charlotte.
After a few more pushes I was getting discouraged that it was taking so long. I had only been pushing for 25 minutes! Impatient I am. Kate told me that I had two options. Either get on with it and do it myself, or go to the hospital and get the doctors to help. That pissed me off and I told her so “Shut up! Don’t say that!” It worked though, and I really put my all into getting the baby out. She also gave me the option of trying the birth stool, and she went and got it from the car. The thought of getting out of the water did not appeal to me at all, but Kate thought gravity would help. After the next contraction I felt the baby move down heaps more so decided to stay in the pool. Only trouble was, he kept going back in after every push! So frustrating. Of course Kate was right when she said that the next push he would come right back to where he was last time easily. When he would go back in, he would wiggle and kick and this felt strange too. I started to talk to him after every push, and tell him it was all OK and to come out now.
More time and contractions pass and I start to feel his head emerge slowly. What an incredible feeling! It didn’t burn as much as I expected. But I definitely felt myself slowly stretching. I told Kate I didn’t want to tear, and she told me she was trying to not let that happen, and to give little grunty pushes with the next one. I did that, and suddenly his head was out! Kate told me to feel his head and I said “That don’t feel like a baby head”. It felt great to have his head out, but man it felt weird still having the rest of him in!
With the next contraction I pushed his shoulders out and Kate guided him round to the front of me (I was kneeling in the pool). I saw him underwater with his arms outstretched and a grimace on his face. I lifted him out of the water and he yelled and yelled. I did it! I had my baby at home! He was perfect and warm and squishy. All the previous pain was forgotten in an instant. I was over the moon that he was here and I had done it! I kept saying so too. I offered him the breast but he wasn’t ready yet. After about 20 minutes, I started to feel slight cramps and gave a push and the placenta came out. That was incredibly relieving to have that out too.
Pete cut the cord when it had finished pulsating, and Kate handed him the baby skin-to-skin so I could get out of the pool. I moved to the couch and Kate weighed Ben. 10 pounds 1 ounce!! She also checked me out, and I had no tears, just some small grazes. I then breastfed him for the first time and he latched on perfectly. On my couch, in my living room, in my home!