Well, my labor was quick but writing up the birth story has taken me over a week... in fact, writing this has definitely taken me longer than my active labor!
On Thursday October 27 I was 3 days past my EDD. I had a busy day, with lots of walking (several miles) and I was still fighting off a cold. By the time the kids’ bedtime rolled around I was exhausted. I was lying in bed while my 2.5yo daughter stalled on going to sleep, crampy, sore and pretty miserable, and bedtime seemed to be taking just forever. But as I lay with her nursing, I was feeling the stirrings of regular contractions, something that felt a lot more frequent than the Braxton Hicks I had been experiencing regularly up until then.
After she was sleeping, I got up and told Andy that things felt different. I called the midwife “emergency” line, and it was Martine on call. This was reassuring- since she lives only 12 blocks from me. We talked about how I was feeling and decided that I would have some tea, take a shower, lie down, and see if things slowed down, stayed the same, or got more intense. Because contractions were uncomfortable but not prolongued or particularly painful, I didn’t feel like I needed her to come over, though she offered to.
After tea, shower, and rest, it just seemed the same. I called Martine back, and we discussed things again. No need for her to come over, I was just going to do my best to rest and relax. I put away the clean laundry, did the dishes, and tidied up until I got really tired. Andy went to sleep around 11, and I stayed in bed reading and thinking.
As I had hoped, things finally slowed down and contractions ended. I finally was able to fall asleep for 3 hours.
5AM early labor starts again
I felt a contraction again strong enough to rouse me from my sleep. I looked at the clock, and it was 5AM. I just stayed put, and listened to my family in the room with me, breathing and sleeping. I had another contraction around 5:15, and then at 5:30 I heard my 2yo daughter’s feet thump to the floor, and she pattered over to bed and climbed in with me. She asked to nurse, so we did, and as she nursed, I felt a strong and painful contraction, and then a little gush of wetness. It was so uncomfortable that eventually I unlatched her, and told Andy that maybe my water had broken, and went to the bathroom. It was just a pink, goopy substance though, and no water, so I wondered what that had been. But I called the midwife and talked to her more, we decided it was probably just the mucus plug and she advised I rest and eat a small nutritious breakfast, and see how things went.
We got the kids up and dressed, and they were really excited. The were holding hands and dancing around, “we’re going to have a baby today!” and ended up getting so hyped up that I asked them to go upstairs and play at my parents house. My mom came down around 8AM to talk to me, she rubbed my feet and legs a little, and stayed with my while Andy took the air conditioner upstairs (I kept telling him for days that I didn’t want to have to look at the disconnected air conditioner when I was in labor). I told her that I was feeling fine except feeling the contractions mostly in my back. She said that was always where she felt it in both her labors.
8:15 active labor starts
Suddenly at 8:15, things changed. The contractions increased dramatically in intensity and frequency- coming every 2 minutes very regularly, and extremely uncomfortable. I asked Andy to apply counter pressure to my back, which felt really good, and he helped me get back into a warm shower. I called to him from the shower and said to call Martine and tell her that things were moving fast, and that she should probably head over. By 8:30 I was afraid of how I would be able to handle the pain without the water, but decided to get out of the shower so we could fill the pool. Andy got the pump set up and working, and then helped me dry off and put on my bathing suit top (I had asked him in advance to make sure I wore a nice bathing suit top for the birth, in case there were any pictures).
I tried a bunch of positions and places around the apartment and hated them all. Finally I got in the pool and kept one of the kids’ stokke seats right there to lean on during contractions, which seemed to be coming faster and harder now, hardly any break between them. I was on my knees in the water, and my mother and my 6yo son came downstairs and were sitting on the couch across from me. The water was feeling cold so I asked Andy to stop the pump. He poured a pot of boiling water into the pool (away from me) to warm it up some and then started some more. I was vocalizing, like “ah-ah-ah” not screaming or anything, just using my voice. My mother kept trying to convince my son to go back upstairs and finally I sort of snapped at her, “let him stay if he wants to, its okay”.
~8:50 second stage labor
Martine was arriving with her bags, and I could feel a lot of pressure in my pelvis. Andy, who was sitting across from me and applying counter-pressure to my back, said later he could feel my pelvic bones separating, but he didn’t say anything at the time. Martine just looked me in the eyes and said, “you feel a lot of pressure don’t you” and I nodded. She said, “you’re doing great, just let that baby out nice and slow like you are doing”. As Martine was calmly unpacking on our table, I told her I thought the head was already there, about to come out. She said I could feel it if I wanted, and use my middle finger, because it’s the longest. I started to and then realized that I didn’t want anything touching me there, not even my own hand. I just put my open palm over myself, and could feel the bulging.
Meanwhile, Martine was giving my mom a little watch and saying, “you’ll be the time keeper” and my mom was saying, what am I keeping time? And Martine said, “the time of birth, I’ll tell you when”. Martine was putting on a rubber glove and she got behind me, reaching over the edge of the pool. I felt the urge to really push and the awful burning and said so, she said, “that’s fine, you’re doing fine” and gripped Andy’s shoulders and felt the head begin to come out. Andy told my mom and our son to get to where they could see and they scooted around behind me and I couldn’t see them any more. Another push and I could feel that the head was out. Martine said, “can you push the rest or do you want to wait for the next wave” and I said, “I need to wait”. I put my hand down and could feel the head there between my legs, the hair kind of waving in the water.
Suddenly the urge to bear down came on me and I grabbed Martine’s wrist with the one hand and Andy’s shoulder with the other. And then, with a gush and huge relief, I felt the body slip out. Martine guided the baby back through my legs and I sat back and pulled the purplish/blue little baby up onto my chest- a girl! Martine said, “time of birth, 9:07”. She put a hat and a towel on her, and as she began to cry, my sister hustled in with my two-year-old daughter. I was so surprised, the baby looked so small and thin! And then, there I was, with my family all around me, and the baby on my chest, and I was so happy and relieved. She was crying and breathing and changing color from purple to pink, and my husband and older children were smiling and touching me and the baby with so much love and pride.
The cord seemed very short and I couldn’t maneuver myself into a squatting position to get the placenta out. The water was cooling off fast and so we decided to cut the cord, which was no longer pulsing, so that I could get out of the water and deliver the placenta. Martine clamped the cord and my son cut it- it took him two tries. She pulled a band over the cord and then we wrapped the baby in a blanket and handed her to someone (my mom?) and Andy and Martine helped me out. I squatted over a metal bowl and delivered the placenta, and then Andy wrapped me in a dry towel and helped me walk back to the bedroom. I started shaking uncontrollably and they got me settled in bed and wrapped up, and then handed me our little girl, so that the midwife could do our exams. At this point the midwife’s assistant finally arrived- a bit after the fact.
The birth was really perfect- exactly what we hoped for. Our baby was healthy, and my experience was intense but, all things considered, relatively easy. Our third (and last!) baby, and I finally had a water birth! (the other two, for different reasons, I didn't get to birth in the tub). Our son was able to witness the birth, as he wanted to, and cut the cord. Our older daughter was able to be there within moments but spent the most intense part of labor playing with her aunt upstairs. And, being home, we were able to welcome our third child into our family in a way that was so calm and relaxed, and just right for us.
It turns out that our daughter really was a lot lighter than her older siblings- 21 inches long but only 7lbs14oz (the olders were 8lbs6oz and 9lbs even, but about the same length). She has been an avid nurser and though mildly jaundiced, she is very alert and calm. When she was 6 days old, we named her Vera. We haven’t been to the doctor yet but plan to go when she is 12 days old (Nov 9).
I have been sick with a nasty cold this whole time, which I think is really making my post-partum healing slower than I remember it being with the others. Thankfully Vera has been fine. The olders like her, though sometimes they ask, "when will she do something?"
Edited by emmaegbert - 11/7/11 at 7:46am