On Friday December 17th I had an ultrasound and a biophysical exam in the morning because I was overdue according to the ultrasound I had prior to 20 weeks, although my EDD according to LMP was December 17th but my “official” date had been changed to around Dec 7th because of the ultrasound, which actually had me due December 1st so I had been waiting for the baby since the first week of December. On the way there, I was having contractions about 10 minutes apart but they weren’t painful and I didn’t think much of it. DH was the one who even pointed out the regularity of them. The ultrasound and exam went well and we proceeded to the midwife’s office for my weekly exam. On the way there, the contractions continued at the same rate and I thought, ok, maybe we’ll have the baby sometime this weekend.
I asked the midwife to check my cervix and I was a good 3 cms and she asked if I wanted her to sweep my membranes to help the process along. I declined the sweep because I figured things were moving forward so I would rather just continue to progress and see what happened. It was shortly after noon when we left the office. DH and I decided that we should get on with our day as normal, so we went home and got DD and went to Ikea as per DD’s request (she loves the ball room). So needless to say, I went into active labour in Ikea and had to stop walking to breathe through the contractions. I called the midwife and told her I wasn’t sure what to do and she strongly suggested I head straight to the birth centre so we did, without even stopping at home to get our suitcase and other things I had prepared. The contractions had progressed to every 2-3 minutes at that point.
At the birthing centre, the midwife checked me as I had requested and I was 5 cms. I worked through the contractions as we waited for my friend who was my daughter’s support person and my mother to arrive. I walked the stairs, sat on the ball and rubbed the underside of my belly where the pain was concentrated. I also tried to focus and relax as per the hypnobabies CDs I had listened to and that helped.
Because we were there with DD and no other support people, DH spent the first few hours tending to DD in the birth centre lounge while I laboured mostly alone in our room which I actually really enjoyed. DH and the midwife checked on me periodically, but I really got the chance to focus, sway, dance, sing (I found myself singing Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds to the baby) in total peace. Our people arrived, DH went and got dinner for everyone and then I was ready for him to stay with me as contractions picked up and became more intense. The whole time, I repeated “relax, relaaaaaax, relaaaaaax” and rubbed my belly through each contraction. I got into the tub in the dimly-lit room and that helped a lot. DH and the midwife stayed nearby offering encouragement and telling me to relax different body parts where they saw tension (face, shoulders etc.) and DH massaged my legs, which trembled uncontrollably. It was a very peaceful (but painful) first stage and I was very proud that I was able to remain focused on relaxing but could not quite achieve the painless hypnobabies labour, but I didn’t really expect that! My daughter appeared in the room throughout the first stage, offering me sips of water and rubbing my belly.
I stayed in the tub through most of the first stage but when I had to pee, I felt like I had to get out and sit on the toilet and it was there that things got the most intense as I entered transition. When I got off the toilet, there was a lot of mucus and blood and I figured I was probably completely dilated.
In transition, my “relaaaaax” mantra became more pleading with myself to focus on relaxing and I decided against getting back into the water going into the second stage, I felt really unanchored in the large tub. I moved to the bed but was really uncomfortable as second stage kicked in and I knew I could not stay in the bed long but I didn’t know what to do with myself. These new pushy contractions felt really overwhelming and I struggled to maintain the calm I had in the first stage, I really felt overcome with the force of them and I felt panicked. I couldn’t decide how or where to handle them, DH and the midwife suggested various things, but I just wasn’t comfortable anywhere and nothing was helping me handle the contractions better. I was very hot and sweaty and felt frantic as each wave hit me. As I low moaned through a contraction lying on the end of the bed, my water broke very spectacularly in a great gushing torrent down the end of the bed and across the room, the shock of which provided a bit of comedy relief for all of us. The fluid was clear.
Things really picked up then, as did my panic at being unable to manage as the contractions came one on top of another. They would hit and I just tried to get through them any way I could, standing, sitting on the ball, mostly gripping onto DH and moaning, trying hard to give in to the power of the waves crashing over me. I didn’t really push along with them until the end, despite knowing I had to push, I really was more just letting my body push the baby out itself and trying to gather the courage to get into the pushing.
In the last few minutes, I finally found a position that worked for me: DH sat on the side of the bed, I sat on the ball in front of him and stood when the contractions came, bent at the waist and hugged him through them while he whispered encouragement in my ear. At one point I started calling his name and pleading with him, but for what I am not sure, relief he was powerless to provide? He said that was a hard moment for him, looking into my eyes and seeing the desperation and hearing me plead and not being able to help me. So he just held on to me, encouraged me to push and assured me we were almost there.
Once I started to push with contractions, the baby descended quickly and soon the midwife sat behind me between my legs as the baby’s head began to emerge. DH watched in a mirror on the floor. The midwife supported my perineum, applied hot compresses and directed me to pant and push slowly, which at that point was really hard as I could feel his head right there and the ring of fire was burning away. I eased his head out with little pushes that way and he immediately started squawking. I felt his body twisting inside me and it felt very strange and I let out a scream with the force of that final contraction as his body slid out into the midwife’s hands. As he was born, he had a big meconium poop on the floor and I thought, “Good timing!” The midwife passed the baby through my legs and DH and I held his wet, warm wriggling body between us. I crawled onto the bed and held our new baby, so thrilled that I did it!