I’d been having BH contractions for months but on Saturday morning, the 23rd, I woke up having more menstrual cramp type contractions. They went on throughout the day but weren’t regular or strong and not every one was like that. Sunday morning I woke up and the first thought in my head was, “I don’t want to have a baby anymore.” It wasn’t that I didn’t want my baby but that I was afraid of the pains of labor. I think that was another subconscious sign that baby was coming that day. I was having the menstrual cramp contractions all day and they seemed to be getting stronger and coming more frequently. At 4 pm I decided to start counting how many I was having an hour. I didn’t try to time them but I was counting to see if I was having more than 4 an hour for more than 4 hours, which is what I remember being told to look for by an OB when I was pregnant with my 2nd child. After about 2.5 hours I counted 5-7 contractions an hour and they were getting stronger so I asked my mom what she thought. She said she thought I should call my midwives. (“She later told my midwife that when I asked her that she knew it was time. Mothers always know.)
I called my midwives around 7:00 pm to ask them when I should call them. Haha! My midwife said not to wait 4 hours. They wanted to know if anything was happening sooner rather than later. So, I said, “Well, let me tell you what’s happening,” and I told her about counting my contractions. My midwife told me to eat dinner and try to get some rest and gave me a list of things to call back for right away. Around 8:30 pm she texted to check on me and said they’d stop by because they were be driving past me on their way home from another birth. By then my contractions were about 6-8 minutes apart and 1 minute long. At around 10:30 pm the contractions were definitely getting stronger. That’s when I finally decided that I must really be in labor. Up until that point I still wasn’t sure. I thought I still had another week to go. I emailed my husband to let him know that I thought I’d be having a baby soon in the hopes he could call. He’s a Marine and has been deployed to Afghanistan since the spring. As I was going back up the stairs I got very nauseous. I called to my mom to please bring me a bowl to vomit in just in case. Before I got all the way up the stairs my midwife and her assistants were here.
They came in and checked on me and got to setting things up, brought the tub in and got that set up but not filled yet. Then they all found places to lay down and get some rest since they’d been on a birthing marathon. I was the 3rd laboring woman they’d had in 3 consecutive nights so they were pretty tired.
I lost all track of time at that point. I tried laying in bed on my side and breathing through my contractions. I could get through them but they were getting more and more painful. When I got up to use the bathroom I discovered that the contractions were much easier to get through if I was standing up with my head leaning against the wall. So, I would lay down between contractions and stand up and lean against something as upright as possible during the contractions. That seemed contrary to what would work but it felt the best to me. At one point I went to the bathroom and got very nauseous. I was spitting excess saliva into the trash can but I did not actually vomit. During that time I got extremely hot so I stripped off my nightgown. I was heading into transition then. All the signs were there. I lost all my inhibitions. I was sweating profusely. I was scared and confused.
The tub was finally ready after some problems getting the faucet adapter to work. (Let that be a lesson to everyone. Don’t just eyeball the adapter. Take it out and make sure it fits your faucet. My midwives were lucky enough to just happen to find an extra adapter I had in a drawer, probably from my last homebirth over 4 years ago, when they were searching for a screwdriver.) I was so hot, though, that I did not want to get in the tub after all the work they went through to get it set up for me. My midwife blotted me with a wet washcloth and also fanned me with it. It was cooling but didn’t really feel good. I have no idea how much time passed but I think transition went pretty quickly, maybe only an hour.
I was in a lot of pain and very scared, crying and asking my midwife to help me. I was confused and didn’t know what to do. Eventually, I made my way to the floor on my hands and knees. Someone brought me an ottoman to support my upper body. I draped myself over that. My contractions were coming hard and fast now. I was screaming and crying and saying that I didn’t want to do it anymore, a sure sign that I was really close to the end. I got the urge to push and went with it as much as I could. I went back and forth between wanting to push and not wanting to push because it hurt. I eventually got to a point where I realized that the only way to stop the pain was to push the baby out. I cried the classic line, “Can’t you just pull him out?” several times. I would push a little and it hurt so bad that I’d stop. Then I’d realize it still hurt really bad and all I could do was push some more. At some point my water broke and my mucous plug shot out. I said, “What the hell was that?” Then I think baby started coming fast and furious. My midwife was checking his heart rate between contractions and it was slow. I was told to take slow, deep breaths, which worked. I could hear his heart rate immediately speed up with each breath.
I pushed out his forehead, then his eyes, then his nose and finally his entire head. I felt something really strange and thought my midwife was doing something. When I asked she said it wasn’t her. It was baby turning so his body would come out. It felt really strange. It didn’t really hurt but it didn’t feel good, either. One or two more pushes, I think, and he was out. What a relief!
It turned out his heart rate was dropping during contractions because the cord was around his neck. My midwife got it off and he was breathing but not as alert and moving as much as he could be. They gave him a little oxygen and rubbed him and he started crying and was good. I held him on my chest while I birthed his placenta, which took about a half hour.
After the placenta was out, I moved back to my bed to get more comfortable. I began to shake violently and uncontrollably. This is something that happens to me every time, although I never seem to remember it. It’s a horrible feeling. My muscles in my arms and legs felt like they were seizing and I couldn’t do anything about it. I just tried to breathe slowly and deeply to calm myself. My midwife and her assistants covered me and held me until it stopped. I don’t know how long that took. My mom says it was shock from all the hormones and adrenaline and exhaustion.
My 4 year old son cut his baby brother’s cord. Dylan didn’t nurse right away. I think it probably took about an hour or so after birth but he did eventually. He latched on like a champ and has been nursing well ever since. My placenta went into the refrigerator to be encapsulated.
It was amazing and excruciating and empowering and frightening all at the same time. I didn’t think I’d make it through even though I’d done it before but I did and am glad that I did. There is nothing more incredible than giving birth.