It's not a conventional, earthy-birthy UC story, so if you're looking for super positive, affirming birth stories, maybe you should skip mine.
I apparently have really rough births. My first baby was posterior, 21 hours of labor and I was stuck in transition for five hours. Nothing helped take the edge off at all. I found my power during that birth, but it wasn't the beautiful births you hear about from almost every other UCer and home-birther. My power came from anger and defiance at those who doubted my ability to handle pain. I wanted to get an epidural, but my fury at those who would say "I told you so" after telling me I couldn't do it, gave me the superwoman strength I needed to push through to the end.
Needless to say, I came to my second UC with a different mindset. I didn't do preparation for pain relief. I didn't visualize an easy birth. I didn't meditate or do kegels or shop around for birth pools. My mindset was "birth freakin' HURTS, but that's OKAY." I embraced the idea of pain. I wasn't an earthy mama about to blissfully birth her baby gently into the world. I was coming at this birth as a warrior and I was going to do battle and birth was going to kick my butt, but I knew I would come out on the other side. I was ready to fight.
It was a good thing, too.
I knew that this baby was going to come early. I don't know how I knew, but I did for the entire second half of my pregnancy. Almost three weeks before my due date was a full moon and I was miserable and ready to not be pregnant anymore and noticed that my mucous plug was coming out. I wistfully wondered if I would go into labor if I had sex, so I cajoled DH into trying "just for fun." A few hours later at 2 am, I woke with a funny "slimy" feeling just seconds before my water exploded out of me like a burst water balloon. Thankfully, I had put towels down on the bed just in case.
Contractions started coming 5 minutes apart, but they weren't painful at all, just close together. At 4am, I called my friend to come over and watch my 4yo daughter in case DH had to transfer me in an emergency. Labor slowed down to contractions every ten minutes, then every twenty and then it just petered out to nothing. My friend stayed until late afternoon and then went home to rest. I tried everything to get my labor going again, but nothing worked. I decided to just take a nap so I would be rested up.
I woke up at around 4 pm when the first contraction hit. It was HUGE and it slammed me hard. Each one after that came faster and they were incredibly painful, but still on the edge of bearable. I called another friend to come watch my daughter. The intensity quickly became unbearable and I didn't know what to do. The pain was as bad as my last birth and I had only had contractions for around an hour. I tried a hot shower on my back, but that only worked for about five contractions. I had to get out.
The pain ramped up until I was going insane from it. I began screaming. I wanted to go to the hospital. I wanted an epidural. I'm pretty sure I screamed these things along with tons of obscenities. I crawled frantically around on the floor like an animal. I shook my head hard from side to side. Lots more screaming and begging for it to stop. I wanted to die. I felt hot and ripped off my dress trying to escape my body. I literally had rivers of sweat running down me. I could feel droplets running off the end of my nose and belly. I soaked the edge of the bed where I leaned on hands-and-knees, tearing at the fitted sheet.
Two hours after the contractions started, the fetal ejection reflex kicked in and my body began violently heaving the baby out. This happened with my first baby as well. Contraction on top of contraction were steamrolling that baby out of me. Like my daughter before, I couldn't hold it back. It was incredible. UNlike my daughter before, the pushing HURT. The pushing felt good with my first birth. No pain once pushing started and it was very pleasurable. With this birth, I felt the way other women say they feel - like I was going to rip in half. I screamed the whole time. I sat on a hot water bottle DH brought me, but the seal busted and it went all over the floor, so I lost my heat. I was pooping everywhere which was absolutely mortifying because it smelled awful. Sometimes there is just no dignity in childbirth.
As the baby was crowning, I tried to distract myself from the ring of fire by reaching down to feel the head. I felt something huge and soft hanging out of me. I thought "that can't possibly be a HEAD! Oh, God, the baby turned breech while I was napping and he's coming out bottom first and he has HUGE testicles!" (I actually laughed at this part later.) I braced myself to push out a frank breech. I tried so hard to support my perineum and prevent another tear (first baby caused a 2nd degree) and even tried to hold baby in with my hands, but it was impossible.
Then I felt a pop. It WAS a head. I felt around the face and tried to figure out what was up, but had only two or three seconds before my body heaved again and the rest of the baby slipped out. It was so fast that I didn't have time to catch him. He fell two or three inches onto a folded towel under me.
I scooped my baby up into my arms, SO HAPPY to finally have him out of me and that was the first thing I said. My 4yo, who had watched along with my friend and DH yelled excitedly that it was a boy. I was elated. So happy! I didn't have to have another contraction!
I looked at my son's head, wondering what I had felt earlier that made me think he was breech. He had an enormous caput the size of a small hen's egg on the back left side of his head with a 4cm white ring around it. THAT'S why my labor wouldn't start. He had been malpositioned and the side of his head had sat on my 4cm dilated cervix for the last 14 hours. Laying down for my nap must have eased the pressure enough for him to get into a better position. The caput went away after about five minutes, along with the white ring. I had gone from 4 cm to 10 in just 2 hours, the reason for my ride through hell. He latched on just fine right away and began nursing like a pro.
Then I got up and everyone saw the blood. There were about three cups under me, all over the floor and everyone sounded worried. I felt fine, so I sat on another towel to see how fast it was really coming out. The flow was light, but steady, so I asked for some shepherd's purse under the tongue which slowed but didn't seem to stop it. I bled a lot more. My friend kept asking me questions, panicked, and I assured her that I really did feel fine. I felt great. I had lost a lot of blood with my first baby as well.
The placenta wouldn't come, so after an hour and a half, I took some angelica under the tongue and moved to the toilet to try there. I cut the limp, white cord and ate a piece and nothing happened. Blowing into a closed fist worked and a big contraction pushed the placenta painfully out into my hand. I washed it in the shower and checked it and it looked fantastic - so healthy and all membranes were intact. I sat back on the toilet and ate several bites, hoping to stop the blood flow. It did slow down to just drips, but they were steady drips. I checked and saw that I had a 2nd degree tear. I figured that was where the blood was coming from - I had torn a vein in half. Since I felt fantastic, I decided to just watch it and call an ambulance if I felt at all lightheaded or unwell. I never did. I lost about 5 cups of blood total and then another two cups or so by the next day with heavy lochia. I still felt really strong and great, so didn't transfer, though I saw myself in the mirror the next day and it was HORRIBLE. I had dark gray-green circles around my eyes and mouth and looked like a skeleton. Two big meals and a rest and I looked like my normal self again. No weakness. I didn't even feel exhausted.
I decided to let the tear heal naturally on its own, but two days later that idea turned to reality when I had to face the fact that I now had two children to care for as well as myself and my husband had to go back to work. I went to the ER to get stitched so I would be able to move around some, but they told me it looked fantastic and that it didn't need suturing and I should just keep doing what I'm doing, so it's back to resting for me!
While I would definitely describe the labor itself as traumatic, I'm super happy with this birth and my choice to UC again. Sure, it was awful, but my experience would have been way worse in a hospital. I never would have been able to see how strong I really am. I was begging for an epidural. This birth was, in its own way, fantastic and has made me so much stronger than I was before.
Still, DH and I both agree - no more children! I am never doing a precipitous labor again!
Little Shade was 6 lbs 11 oz and 19 inches long, almost a full pound lighter than my daughter had been and he is a complete dream. I'm head-over-heels in love with this little boy!