Our 4th son, 5th child arrived via unmedicated hospital water birth on Sunday, January 29, 2012, at 38 weeks 1 day. On Saturday night, I was feeling mild contractions at bedtime and had a sneaking suspicion that birth was close. I was 3-4 cm dilated and had been for several weeks. Matt and I occupied ourselves with a few movies in bed...or rather, HE was in bed. I was too uncomfortable for bed, so I sat on my birth ball next to the bed and propped my self up on a stack of pillows so I could relax a little. Around 10 I decided I was very sleepy, and thought I should try to get some sleep if things really were going to get going. So I made myself as comfortable as possible in bed with my eleventy million pillow boyfriends and managed to fall asleep.
Around 2, 2:30 am, I woke up. I'm not sure what woke me, but when I got up and went to go to the bathroom, I realized my contractions were much stronger. When I wiped after going pee, I noticed quite a bit of bloody show on the toilet paper...it really was time, after all! I pushed the bathroom door open and called Matt, told him it was time and that he needed to get the kids up and ready to go. We had a sitter lined up to watch the kids, so I figured I would call her and have her meet us at the hospital and she could take the kids from there. As I moved around gathering things and getting ready, my contractions got immediately stronger. My last labor was only 2 hours from first contraction to delivery, and I was PETRIFIED of not making it to the hospital in time! So it wasn't without a sense of urgency as we woke sleepy kids and pulled shoes on, packed bags (I didn't even have a bag packed!) and strapped them into their carseats to head towards the hospital. Unfortunately, my sitter wasn't answering her cell, and I was worried that she wasn't going to make it to the hospital. After I called several dozen times, I decided that whatever will be will be, and if my kids had to be present for the delivery, then so be it. Worse things have happened.
Matt, even though I had done a dry run to the hospital with him a couple of days earlier, really had no idea how to get to the hospital at all, so I had to direct him while breathing through increasingly painful contractions...it was a chore! When we pulled up to the emergency room, I hopped out (lol) at the entrance while he parked and got the stroller and kids...he met me inside after I had already checked in at the desk. I was delivering at St. Joseph's Hospital in Tacoma, and the ER was where I had to check in after a certain time of night. They called up to L&D and told me that someone would be bringing a wheelchair down to get me. I sat in a chair and waited uncomfortably for them...I was getting more and more nervous as time went on, though, and eventually, when nobody was coming from L&D, one of the ER nurses took me up herself.
We left Matt and the kids in the L&D waiting room while the nurses took me back to triage to check me. They discovered that I was 100% effaced and 6-7 cm dilated, with quite a bit of bloody show (as I had already discovered). They had to get a monitor strip on my contractions and the baby's heartbeat for 20 minutes, so I had to stay in bed. That was pretty much the most difficult part of the labor...I can't STAND laboring in bed. Laboring in bed when you're unmedicated has to be THE most painful thing ever. But, thank goodness, as soon as the 20 minutes were up, they unstrapped me and told me I could get in the birth pool! The birth pool...oh, goodness....it was a luxurious thing. Deep and long and wide, it was practically a swimming pool. As soon as it was full and I slipped into the water, I immediately felt better. My contractions didn't hurt as much, and my entire body relaxed. It was heaven. Unfortunately, it spaced my contractions out as well...so I found myself changing positions a lot to keep them going. One position that worked well was leaning over the side, on my knees. My water hadn't broken yet, and that played a big part in how strong my contractions were and why this labor took longer than my previous one.
3 hours went by. I relaxed in the dark, surrounded by my sleeping children and my husband, who sat in a chair next to the pool and kept me company. I wasn't strapped to any machines, I didn't have an IV, I was completely unfettered and left to my own devices as I labored. It was so intimate and loving, to have my family with me and my husband gazing at me from his chair. My contractions did not hurt at all, really...they were intense, and I had to breathe through them actively, but hurt? No, the water took care of that. Every now and then a nurse would come in with a waterproof doppler and check on Colin, and he was in there, happily beating away, working his way down gradually. It was awesome.
Eventually my midwife came in. She asked me if I wanted to get this show on the road by having my water broken...to which I said, of course! Unfortunately, my 9 year old son Noah and 3 year old daughter Shelby were sleeping in the hospital bed, so we had nowhere to do the amniotomy. I told the midwife she could do it as I perched on the side of the tub, so I climbed up, sat on the top step, and braced my feet on either side of me. She broke the bag, and water just gushed and gushed out. It went all over! The puddle spread almost to the door! I climbed up off the step and turned around to get back in the water...and the next contraction came. I felt his head SLAM into my cervix. He hit it so damn hard, I almost heard it! That contraction was one of my last! Immediately, it was go time. I had warned my midwife that as soon as my water is broken, she better be ready to deliver, and boy, was I right! I was soon clutching the grab bar inside the tub as the transition contractions (I was still 7 cm when she broke my water) rolled over me like tidal waves.
By this time Matt had fallen asleep on a mat on the floor...it was just me and the midwife and nurses. He told me later that he woke to me getting back into the tub and talking pleasantly with the nurses...he thought nothing of it and started to go back to sleep. That was when that slamming contraction hit, and he heard me start to moan...up until this point, I had been laboring silently. When he heard that moaning, he knew it was time. I think I had 2 or 3 more contractions before the pushing contractions started. I could feel his head moving down, and all of a sudden my body took over. I pushed a little while floating in the water, which was immensely unsatisfying. I turned sideways in the tub suddenly, braced my back against one side and planted both feet on the other side, wide apart. This was when I got SERIOUS about pushing...I vocalized intensely as I bore down...the boys both woke at this point...I didn't realize it but they were standing behind me at the tub, witnessing their youngest brother's entrance into the world. Shelby woke too, and joined her dad and Aiden on the other side of the tub. I felt his head crowning with my own two hands! My midwife knelt next to the tub and simply watched, keeping her hands to herself and asking me if I could feel him coming.
The burning was pretty freaking intense, I could feel it all the way around, the top and the bottom. It was so intense, I found myself pushing as hard as I possibly could to just GET IT TO GO AWAY...as his head emerged, I felt the tops of his ears, and this was when my midwife gently instructed me to slow it down...amazingly, I was able to follow her instructions...with all of my other children, I simply forced their heads out, and I have always had pretty significant tearing. It's amazing how suggestible you really are at this point of delivery...I was listening to her instructions intently, and I was following them, and she didn't lead me wrong! At last, his head was out, and oh, the relief....the sweet relief of that! I took a breather and as I caught my breath, I felt his shoulders approaching...my midwife told me to push again, and as I did, I felt one shoulder pop out, then the other, and then the rest of his sweet little body came slipping out like a fish into the water! She lifted him out and placed him on my chest. I wrapped my arms around him and we gazed at each other for a minute...I think we were both surprised as hell! He blinked up at me...covered with vernix...his eyes were caked in it, lol. He didn't cry, he just looked at me. Matt was nervous, he didn't know why Colin wasn't screaming with indignation...but the honest truth is, he had no reason to cry. Coming from a warm watery world, into a warm watery dim world, in the arms of his mother...he experienced an amazing transition to the outside that I wish all of my children were able to experience.
We allowed his cord to stop pulsing before we cut it. I sat with him in the tub for a few more minutes as we waited for the placenta to come, and when it did, I handed him to his daddy and climbed out of the pool. The nurses helped me dry off and clean up, and then they tucked me into the bed, handed me my gorgeous baby, wrapped us both in a heated blanket, and left us alone. My midwife checked me for tears, and I had NONE!! Amazing!
When they finally came to do his measurements, they told me he was 8 pounds, 7 ounces, 20 inches long, and had a 15.25" head! That's a full 1.25" bigger than my biggest kid!! No tears! I'm still in awe of that, lol. Anyway, if you made it through all of that, thank you for reading I consider Colin's birth to be the capstone to my childbearing years...my births have all improved one by one, and his birth is exactly what I wanted...it turned out perfectly! I would do it 15 times if I could...and I can't believe how amazing waterbirth is. We're still working on breastfeeding, but he's getting the hang of it gradually, and life is amazing. I love my family, I can't believe I have 5 kids, lol...it still hasn't sunken in all the way. Thank you again for reading