So much to process... and this took forever to type! It's very long, so TIA if you make it to the end... (there's a photo for your efforts)
DH and I had just been at the midwives that day to see Z, the older midwife. She kept looking at me and saying, “This baby really looks ready to be born!” She sent us home with some suggestions for helping things get going, as baby was due the next day. We talked briefly about induction–I was really hoping it wouldn’t come to that.
We arrived home and baby got REALLY active around dinner time. I kept saying to DH, “It’s like the baby is ttrying to esacape!” After a huge chicken dinner I decided to have a bath to see if I could get the baby to calm down. It was about 1030 when I got out. It seemed like it did the trick a little too well: when I stood up to get out of the tub, I heard and felt a little ‘pop’, and out came a gush of fluid. I was instantly worried - the color wasn’t “clear” certainly, although there wasn’t meconium in the fluid I thought something was wrong. It was kind of a yellow-green-brown color, but definitely transparent.
DH came in the house and saw me standing in the bathtub. He asked, “Are you having the baby?” (Something that had been a running joke between us–any time I looked sad or worried he’d ask!) This time I nodded, extremely worried.
I told DH it was possible we’d have to go to the hospital, and paged the midwives. C, the younger midwife, was on call that day and got back to me within about five minutes. I described the fluid elaborately (while it was still leaking) and she didn’t sound too concerned. She said it wasn’t, from the sounds of it, something she was needing to come over and look at. She then said to call when contractions were 3-4 minutes apart, and that if nothing had started by the next day then she’d look into what our options were.
I was so relieved, and decided it was about time I got excited! I called my mom, my best friend, and started to type an email to a few other close women friends when contractions started. They were mild at first, for about 20 minutes, but quickly turned. I spent about an hour having contractions lasting about 45 seconds about 2 minutes apart, then we called C back. I was starting to have a hard time coping with the contractions - this was nothing like what I thought labour would be like. They kept coming and coming and I thought maybe I was having some weird “positioning” contractions to help get the baby into my pelvis a little better. Z (the older midwife) had told me about them about a week ago so I thought for sure that’s what it was. I decided to get into the bath to see if I could calm them down a little bit. DH was right there with me the whole time as things got really, really heavy. It helped just to stare at him while I breathed through each contraction. I couldn't break my gaze with him and he was SO on it. I am still really proud of him for being so awesome. If he wasn't there, I moaned and hollered, scaring all the pets I'm quite sure.
I don’t remember much of that time, except one break in between contractions when I said (to no one in particular) “I just need them to stop for a second so I can catch up!” I also kept apologizing to DH (when I wasn’t contracting) for being such a wuss. Somewhere in there we called C, who listened to me have a contraction over the phone. She decided she would come up and check in on me, although I don’t think she, nor DH or I expected much had happened. I had checked my cervix the night before and it was tightly closed and posterior, so I didn’t really think much of what was happening, other than it was hard to integrate because I didn’t have time in between contractions to do anything other than recover from the previous one. They started getting closer together and longer as well, lasting more than a minute and about 90 seconds apart. I couldn’t believe how fast things were happening! C walked through the door to find me in the tub. She listening to a contraction and part way through I started grunting a little. “Are you feeling like pushing?” she asked. I told her I did, and I was quite dazed at the time because at this point I think only two hours had gone by.
I somehow got out of the tub and onto the bed. I had a contraction on my hands and knees while C checked me. “You’re nine centimeters,” she said. I had a bit of an anterior cervical lip so while I had the next couple of contractions, C pushed the lip over the baby’s head and that was it! Labour, transition, all done. It was time to push the baby out! I remember thinking that it wasn't really that bad, considering I'd been in heavy, active labour all this time after all. There was no time for antibiotics for group B strep, which was fine by me, as I wasn't exactly excited about them.
I started pushing a little while C got her midwifery stuff set up. I think about half an hour went by and I wasn’t really making any progress, which was discouraging. The baby’s head was kind of stuck under my pubic bone, and pushing was hard! I was drenched in sweat and feeling discouraged. Somewhere in there the second midwife, Z, came to the house. C was coaching me through pushing, and I was getting really exhausted. I also was having really intense pain on either side of my hips, but low down which we figured later was the baby’s shoulders. At about hour two, C said that I either had to get the baby out myself, or they would recommend transferring to the hospital where I would be offered a forceps delivery. I remember being very accepting of this. I was so exhausted: it was 4am, and I had been pushing and pushing and nothing was happening. It was really discouraging and I kept asking if I was “doing it right”. When a push worked, it felt pretty satisfying. When it didn’t, I just wanted to give up! I felt the baby’s head move under my pubic bone, and BACK again, and under, and back, over and over. We tried all sorts of positions and the only one I could push effectively in was on my back. I was really surprised at that! Finally I think my body decided it wanted this baby born at home, and I pushed her head almost all the way out. I think it took about four contractions and four pushes within each contraction. As her head came out, Christine got me to slow down pushing. I felt about half the “ring of fire” people go on about, most just at the “top half”--it really wasn’t that bad. I didn't tear, except for a little tiny unstitchable thing that healed in a couple of days.
Finally her head was out! I was so excited to get the rest of her out, and was pushing, pushing pushing... and... nothing. Her shoulders were stuck too. The midwives tried a couple of things and I could hear the panic rising in their voices as they realized that she was REALLY stuck. “We need to get this baby out NOW,” Z said, and I could hear that she was a bit afraid. They hauled me over onto my hands and knees, which hurt like you would not believe as I think at this point my pubic bone had torn or dislocated somewhat. BOTH midwives reached a hand in and were pulling, pulling pulling at her body, with such force that I was almost hanging on to the bed as I was pushing and she wasn’t budging, wasn’t moving. I knew we were kind of in trouble, but luckily my panic was brief. I remember this from a perspective actually behind the midwives. It was like I left my body temporarily, because I swear I saw her being born and there was no way I had that perspective from my hands and knees facing away from them...
She was born, finally. Of course she was. I think Z had her foot up on the bed bracing herself to pull the baby out!
I rolled onto my side and they placed her on the bed. She was blue, and they had oxygen on her right away. I could see she was moving her arms and legs a little so I wasn’t afraid. DH said that he was at the time, but I was just ecstatic that she was out and I felt like she was going to be okay. I thought that I saw her breathing but I realize now it was the oxygen moving her chest up and down. When I think about it now, it's scary, but at the time as I said for some reason I wasn't worried. Finally (I don't know how long it took) she pinked up a little and started wailing. Somewhere in there I noticed she was a girl!
I don’t remember how, but she got placed on my belly somehow and started nursing almost right away, a great latch and everything. She was 8lbs, 8oz, 21.5 inches and except for a little bruising and a bit of a cone head, was just fine. Next I had to birth the placenta. Easy, right? I stood over a bowl and out slopped what I thought was the placenta, but it was actually just blood! The midwives were a bit shocked at this (it was a LOT at once) but even more shocked when the umbilical cord literally just FELL out of me, WITHOUT the placenta. Then I started bleeding more, so they got me to lie down, gave me a shot of oxytocin, and went after the placenta with what looked like little forceps. Thanks to C’s dexterity, she got the whole thing in one go. I think I remember that hurting a fair bit! I was still bleeding quite a bit, (in big weird gushes) so I got another shot of oxytocin and some vigorous uterine massage (ow, again). Apparently one more gush like that and I was going to be off to the hospital to get some blood administered, but thankfully the bleeding calmed down.
Both midwives looked pretty frazzled by the end. "Thanks for the adrenaline rush," Z said as she left (mere months away from retiring!)
C stayed for a few hours after that, and we realized that something was horribly wrong with my pubic bone when I couldn’t roll over, let alone stand up without crying. After the adrenaline wore off and pain set in, I was in agony. I had to pee so I just went on a towel on the bed. C helped me to get somewhat settled. I had blood all over me, but there was no way I was making it to the shower. She mopped me up as best she could, and we got clean sheets on the bed. It was two days before I could stand, and three before I left the bedroom. DH and I reached a new level of intimacy with him holding a pot for me to pee in and washing blood off my feet while I basically just cried from pain and frustration. It was a week before I could walk unassisted, and another before I felt safe carrying my daughter across the floor. It was a pretty great day when I could! After I finally got in the shower (after about four days, had a sitting-down wash with some help) the pets finally came near me again too.
Now we are all doing really well. Rowan will be three weeks on Tuesday! I get sore if I walk too much (and she LOVES to be carried in the sling while I walk around!) She nurses like a pro (and has always been better at it than Mama from day one!) She can get a good latch in all sorts of positions so co-sleeping is really a breeze. In fact, side-lying was the first one we mastered since Mama couldn’t get up ;) I’ll be starting physio at some point for my click-ey pelvis, but since the inflammation has gone down and the torn muscles or ligaments or whatever can be managed with over-the-counter stuff, I feel much more independent.
I feel like I'm still processing the intensity and pace of her birth. While I was pushing I was able to see the hanging pendant I'd made from beads from MDC women, and I can't tell you what a comfort it was to see it! And here's my beautiful girl...