Baby Oliver Stanley • 8 lbs. 14 oz • 20 1/2 inches • 7:21 a.m. August 5, 2011
I got in the pool at about 7:10 this morning (I think) and was holding him by 7:21. It was so not the experience I thought I would have! Everyone is doing well and my older two are just thrilled to be big brothers.
Here is the story:
So like many of you, I had been having prodromal labor for days and days. Maybe weeks; I've sort of intentionally forgotten how long it had been going on. Every night the contractions would start, and they would be timeable and regular with a distinct beginning, middle, and end. And then they would quit and I would wake up pregnant (grrrr!). Some nights they would be five minutes apart, sometimes ten, sometimes longer, but they always followed a pattern and then eventually quit. I had no other prelabor signs as of yesterday---no mucus, no cramping, no engaging of the head, nothing. In fact, I had been checking for my cervix every morning in the shower and was usually unable to even reach the baby's head unless I *really* poked. This baby was high. And posterior! Definitely OP, sometimes ROP, but always hands in front despite my efforts to encourage turning.
So, yesterday came and went with nothing going on labor-wise. I went to bed, and as usual, the contractions started. They felt a little different; maybe lower and sharper, but I wasn't going to get my hopes up because I had no other labor signs. I timed a few just to see what the pattern for the night was going to be and they were kind of all over the place: 7 minutes, 11 minutes, 14 minutes, 10 minutes. Obnoxiously sporadic.
Maybe It's Real
The contractions started to feel like the "real thing": low, sharp, and achy----and I didn't want to be in bed for them. I started to get up and stand at the bathroom sink to breathe through them. And then moan through them. I still figured it was prodromal labor, though, and kept expecting them to quit. And they were very weird contractions: SUPER long (always at least 90 seconds, often two minutes and sometimes more), double-peaking, with little extra contractions at the end sometimes. But they continued to be very far apart (15 minutes, 12 minutes, 17 minutes, 20 minutes) so I kept expecting them to stop.
My last labor was textbook, I guess, with all the classic prelabor signs (crampiness, pink mucus, noticeable contractions that were about 30-45 seconds long that gradually got longer, stronger, and closer together, and then classic transition complete with nausea, "giving up," shaking, and sleeping between contractions). I assumed that this labor was going to have at least some similarities. And as a doula, if a client called me and said she was having really sporadic contractions that were about 15 minutes apart, I would think that it was *maybe* early labor, probably prodromal, and she should try to eat, drink, rest, and shower to see if they would quit.
So I did those things. I even took some passionflower extract which is supposed to help calm prodromal labor. I climbed back into bed and expected things to quit. In fact, I kind of wanted them to quit, because the house was a mess and I wanted another day to get ready. Let this be a lesson: apparently, if you want to have a baby, just let your house go to hell and soon you will be in labor.
I watched horrible TV and tried to doze, and watched the clock creep slowly toward morning. They weren't going away, but they weren't getting closer together and there was no pattern at all. When DH heard me get back into bed, he asked how things were going. I said they hurt a lot (I think the exact word I used was "horrible") but that there was no pattern. He mumbled that maybe I was in transition.
By about 5:45 in the morning, I was getting really annoyed. I was watching the sky getting lighter and realizing that I was going to get no sleep that night, that the contractions just weren't quitting (still no pattern), and that I was sick of standing in the bathroom and leaning on the sink. I decided to go downstairs to take a shower and see if that would work. I climbed in the shower, and in a matter of about eight minutes I had four hard contractions. I had to admit to myself that THIS was real.
I got out of the shower and had a few more contractions leaning on the windowsill and looking out at our yard. I was vocalizing pretty loudly now, and the window was open, but I think I beyond the point of caring if anyone heard me. I knew I had to wake up DH to get him working on setting up the pool. I had gone from being in denial about this being real to being pretty sure I was in transition in a matter of a few minutes.
I woke up DH and he got to work setting up the pool, and I called our midwife (who thankfully lives only a few blocks away). She was so calm and sweet, and asked how I was doing. I told her labor was a lot less fun than I remembered, and then I had a really hard contraction on the phone with her when I had to set it down and vocalize. When I picked the phone up again, she told me she was on her way.
DH got the pool up in record time and set about filling it. I think it was about 6:30 in the morning at this point. My midwife walked in at about 6:45 (?) and immediately started setting up. I was still in the bathroom, hanging on the windowsill and sort of yelling through contractions. I went out to the kitchen when I heard our midwife arrive and said in a really whiny voice, "WHY are they so LONG?" She just smiled and said "Because I think you are in really, really hard labor." Then I turned around, went back in the bathroom, and yelled through another contraction.
After a while of the same I started to feel lots of pressure (things get a little hazy here). I had a really long contraction where I think I must have sounded like I was pushing, because I heard my midwife tap on the bathroom door and say that the pool was probably deep enough for me to climb in. As soon as I could move, I walked straight to the pool, dropped my pajama pants, and climbed in. I immediately had a contraction and snapped, "This (meaning the pool) is NOT HELPING." I had been hoping for the immediate aquadural effect, I guess, which I felt so profoundly with my last birth. This time I was just so close to being done that I didn't care where I was.
I knelt in the pool and reached inside to see if I could feel anything. I felt the bag of waters bulging just an inch or two inside my vagina. This is a WEIRD feeling, people. It was so smooth and tough; I guess I didn't know what a bag of waters feels like, but I would describe it like a vinyl water balloon that is being squeezed really hard. I announced that I could feel the bag of waters and then said "I think if this breaks the baby is going to come right out." Out of the corner of my eye I saw my midwife put on gloves.
With the next contraction, I pushed from the start, figuring that I had nothing to lose. I kept one hand inside to feel if I was making progress. I think I pushed two, maybe three times, and felt the waters break---a gush of hot fluid. I announced that and heard my midwife say "Good, good." I immediately felt the baby's head move lower and I announced that I could feel it. I think I was having one long contraction at this point because I kept pushing and felt it move down.
I had torn with my last birth and really wanted to avoid a bad tear this time, so I made a conscious effort to go more slowly this time. My midwife reminded me to "let it burn." I could feel the head filling up my vagina and it's such a combination of emotions: dread and awe mixed with relief that the end is so near. The dread is real, though, because the pressure is so intense and the only way out is through. I pushed again and felt the burning get strong and tried to blow, but the contraction wanted me to keep going so I pushed more. I felt a little 'pop' and announced that I could feel that I tore. Then I gave one more push and felt the whole head come out, which I also announced. (I think my midwife was getting a kick out of my play-by-play since my hand was pretty well covering the action.) She told me to reach down and get my baby. I kept one hand on the head, and felt it rotate swiftly and smoothly around----baby came out OA! At some point during the night, with all those weird, random, sporadic contractions, this OP baby had figured out a smoother exit. I announced "There's the restitution" and then almost immediately felt both shoulders pop out at the same time, followed by the body. Such extreme relief!
I brought the little warm body up to me and saw immediately that it was a boy, which I announced. My husband had been kneeling by the side of the tub and he laughed with delight. He'd been expecting a much, much longer labor too and was shocked that the baby was here so quickly. Baby let out a squawk and then just looked around, wide-eyed and quiet. Oh, things were good again!
I held him for a few minutes and wanted to get out of the tub because I thought it might be better to do the placenta not in the water, since I'd hemorrhaged last time. However, his cord was short and kept right on pulsing. I just sat in the warm water holding him and marveling at how small he seemed. After a few minutes, we found that the cord had stopped pulsing. As soon as we cut and clamped it, I passed him off to DH and focused on the placenta. I wanted to keep the energy in the room peaceful and focused to avoid excess bleeding: I felt the separation gush, gave a little push, and did my own gentle cord traction to pull it out. Even bigger relief!
We spent the morning in bed cuddling and nursing. The big brothers came downstairs to meet their new little brother and were thrilled. They think he's pretty awesome and had fun just watching him do his newborn things---little grunts, squeaks, and tongue thrusts.
My midwife's assistant showed up just after the placenta was out, but she was so helpful. She made me a delicious placenta smoothie and gave me a fabulous foot rub while I nursed the baby. The smoothie tasted so good and I feel wonderful tonight. I have enough placenta left for at least one or two more smoothies, which I'll save for the next few days.
Whew! Long birth story. I feel like I only "really" labored for about an hour and half because I was so sure that it was prodromal until early in the morning. What a rush.
ETA: I did have a tear (which I felt happen when I was pushing) but it is so small that my MW said she didn't need to do any stitches. I'm just going to hang out and keep my legs together until it heals. Yay! *So* much better than my first two births---one with an episiotomy-to-almost-fourth-degree tear and one with a second degree tear and stitches. The Earth Mama Angel Baby balm is all I need this time.
Edited by jennyfah - 8/6/11 at 1:32pm