Here is her (very long!) birth story.
Contractions first began the morning of the 13th, my due date. They were mild but pretty regular from 1:30-3:30 am, and then they went away. I went to bed and when I woke up I had some contractions of varying lengths and intensity, and I started losing my mucus plug. On Wednesday, the 14th, I had contractions, pressure, and tightness throughout the day. I felt very tired both of those days, like my body was doing a lot of work and was getting fatigued.
Early Thursday morning (the middle of the night) I woke up to pee and noticed I was having bloody show. I went back to sleep, woke up around 9:30, was walking to the bathroom, and had a big gush of fluid down both of my legs to my feet. I woke Jonathan to tell him I thought my water had broke, and we headed to the birthing center to confirm.
My water had not broken. I didn't realize how discouraged
I would be to learn that, but it was such a disappointment! I was pretty excited thinking a baby would be coming soon and I went home all bummed out. Emotionally, I was ready for my baby. I was ready for people to stop asking about her, to stop checking in on me...I wanted to go into hibernation until she came and not speak to anyone.
That night, my doulas came over and we did some pressure relief with the rebozo and they did some massage. Just talking to them and having them there was comforting and I felt a lot better afterwards. When they left Jonathan and I took a walk into town, ate some spicy Thai food, and I curb stepped the whole way home.
I woke up Friday determined to have a baby. I'd been having prodromal labor for a few days and was just really for it to GO somewhere. I wouldn't have minded just being "overdue", it was the being overdue with so many signs that labor was very imminent that was frustrating. I decided there must be something going on that wasn't allowing her head to fully engage, like maybe her chin was flexed just a bit, so I did positioning work all day long. I marched, walked, and galloped around my house (it was raining outside). I danced, and belly danced. I bounced and did hula hoops on my ball. I crawled around on hands and knees. I cleaned up my house in between these things. Finally at 5 p.m. I did one of the steps of the Miles Circuit, laying on my side with my bottom leg straight out and my top leg up as high as it could go, leaning over onto pillows so my belly was kind of hanging down. I slept like that for two hours and woke up to contractions! They were more intense than they had been at any point before. I could talk a bit but didn't want to walk through them. They were coming about 5-10 minutes apart, so I suggested we get dinner. We picked up a pizza, came back and ate it, and then I wanted a blizzard so we went to dairy queen. When we got back I started doing stuff in between contractions- picking up trash, vacuuming, just making sure stuff was tidied up.
Between 10 and 11 pm they were coming on average at 5.5 minutes. They went on like that for a while- totally manageable, but gave me pause, and coming pretty steady and frequently. Late in the evening I was feeling pretty sleepy. I took my doula's advice and drank a small glass of wine. What she said is that it would either slow things a bit and let me rest, or relax me enough that things picked up. I drank that and laid on the couch. They pretty much stopped- I laid on the couch for 20 minutes and had maybe 3 contractions, so I headed to bed. That was at 2:30.
I got in bed, laid down, and a strong contraction hit. Then another...then another. Quickly! I walked out to Jonathan and told him I didn't think I was going to be getting rest, and I started timing. They were coming about every 2.5 minutes. We started packing things up, grabbing last minute things we could think of.
I didn't want to call the doulas until they started getting pretty intense, so I just kept sitting around, sitting on my ball, and I took a shower. The contractions continued to come every 2-3 minutes. I was having diarrhea all through the evening and kept having to run to the bathroom.
Finally around 4:30 I told Jonathan it was time to call Tina (one of our doulas). I believe it was a little after 5 that she arrived at the house. Our other doula was on her way. Tina suggested I get some rest, and got me set up in the recliner with blankets. I think she mostly wanted to watch me for a bit and get an idea of how progressed I was. I stayed there a bit, through several contractions, and then had to use the restroom. When I got back I was standing in the dining room deciding what I wanted to do next (lay in the recliner or sit on my ball or just walk around), when suddenly there was a gigantic gush of fluids...I told Tina I thought my water must have broken and that I'd be right back. I went and changed and came back and said, "I have to assume that WAS my water breaking because it soaked my pad, and then my underwear and then my pants". My pants were SOAKED. She agreed it probably was. I sat in the rocking chair for a while and Jonathan laid in the recliner and took a ten minute nap. My other doula arrived with coffee and I told them that I thought we should go, because I didn't think I was going to want to be in the car much longer. They got me settled in the car and grabbed all of the last minute things and Jonathan fed the dogs, and we were off.
We got to the birthing center at about 7 am. They took me into a room and got me set up on the monitors (they don't do routine monitoring, but they do 20 minutes when you first get there to check on how things are doing).
I thought something must be up when I'd gone through SEVERAL contractions while on the monitors and knew it was way longer than 20 minutes. The nurse said the midwife would be in very shortly (they do shift change at 7 and there was one or two people she had to see first), and then she told me we were going to try on my left side. A bit later she said that "wasn't working" and we were going to switch to my right side. I wasn't sure what exactly wasn't working. I just knew that something was up, and contractions sucked on the bed.
The midwife came in and explained to me that they were continuing to monitor because baby's heart rate was dropping a lot with each contraction. They weren't sure if it had to with her cord or what. At about 9:00 they checked my dilation. They don't like to check with their fingers if your water has broken so they used a speculum. I heard the midwife talking to the nurse, and heard them mention mec, and felt very discouraged. I don't think meconium is always a terrible thing, but many care providers do. I felt my options and my birth were about to be slipping away.
The midwife explained to me that I was about 3 cm dilated, and normally they would be sending me home, but because of the meconium that wasn't going to be happening. She said that things were going to need to progress fairly quickly. I had seen this midwife a few times during my pregnancy and she knew every aspect of my birth plan, and I could tell she was upset to have to be having this conversation with me.
She told me we had 3 options- we could start me on pitocin and get things speeding up, we could do nipple stimulation for a while and see if that would get things speeded up, or she would just let me labor for a while and see how things were going. She left the room for a few minutes for me to decide. My contractions had slowed to every 6 minutes since laying on the bed.
I thought about it for a couple of minutes. Talked to my doula and Jonathan. We discussed how I was afraid to do pitocin and get unnatural contractions going that were going to hurt a lot more and possibly be unmanageable for me.
The midwife came back in and in between contractions we discussed it. Jonathan took the opportunity to lay on the sleeper sofa for a few minutes- he had been up for almost 24 hours at that point and was feeling it.
I asked the midwife if every option was going to require me staying on the table with monitoring. She said definitely not, no matter what I decided I could do portable monitoring and go do whatever I wanted. I told her with that in mind, I wanted to get up and walk. I knew that getting out of bed would speed things up. She said to go for it and in one hour, we would see what things were looking like.
We got the portable monitoring going and I got out of bed. The doulas and I started walking the hallways. Just as I expected, the contractions started coming hard and fast. I don't know how long it could possibly take to walk the halls of the birthing center, but I'd guess it to be about 4 minutes if you're a woman in labor, and I was having two contractions per loop. The nurse came to talk to me at one point and had to wait through two back to back contractions to finish what she was saying and she commented that that was a really good sign.
It was freezing in the hallways so I asked for some socks and they were brought to me by my most favorite midwife, Christie. I was so happy to see her.
We hadn't been in the hallway for long when the contractions got much more intense. Where before I had been quietly breathing through them, I was now moaning and humming. My doulas were rubbing my back and at one point Tina started to squeeze my hips during a contraction. As soon as it was over I said, "Yes, that, always do that!". Hips squeezes became my favorite thing. They had to happen as soon as my contractions started coming or i would yell out "Squeeze!!". Fortunately that's about as upset as I ever got throughout my labor.
After walking for a while (as funny as it sounds, I really loved the pole on wheels that I had to wheel around with the fetal monitor attached- it was the perfect thing to cling to during contractions) I said that I wanted to go back to the room and pee. We did that, I had two miserable contractions on the toilet, and we headed out with grapes and trail mix. Between contractions the doulas would pop them in my mouth and I'd try to chew and swallow before the next one because I really did not like having food in my mouth during contractions. We went on like that for a while, around and around the loop of the birth center...walking, contracting, snacking. Finally walking got too hard to do and I said I wanted to go back to the room. If I had to guess I'd say it was about 11 am at that point? Maybe 11:30.
This part is a little bit fuzzy, but I believe once I got back to the room the nurse had me lay back down for something- I think to readjust the monitors and maybe check my BP. All I know is that Jonathan woke up from his nap then and was back with me and as amazing as my doulas were being, his arms and body were so comforting. He took over hip squeezes and Tina started just doing massages and hand holding.
I wasn't in the bed too long. The midwife came back in and said that I was doing amazingly well and we were just going to let things happen. They said they were going to do a tiny bit more monitoring and then they'd free me from the monitors because baby seemed to be doing just fine despite the decels. It took a while to have that conversation because contractions would hit and they were starting to come strong at that point. I remember Jonathan went to the bathroom and I went through several contractions thinking I was squeezing his hand while Tina squeezed my hips but when I "came to", I realized I had been squeezing the hell out of the midwife's hand.
I moved from the bed to the rocking chair, which we positioned where I could watch the rain outside. Something about it was so calming to me. We put a heating pad on my back and I sat there, squeezing Jonathan's hands and arms during contractions while Tina put cold rags on my face and neck. I tried to eat a Graham cracker and remember Jonathan laughing because it took 3 contractions to eat 1/4 of a Graham cracker square, most of which I finally handed back to him and said "I don't want this".
Soon after that, they came and said they were going to move me to a non-tub room for a while. A 2nd time mom who had had a fast first labor was coming and wanted the tub room, and they knew she wouldn't need it long. On the other hand, they were expecting me to deliver sometime well into the evening if not later.
We moved down the hall and I was freed from the monitors! I sat on the rocking chair for a while there, too, and then I believed I walked around the room, leaning against the bed and couch for a few minutes. I did hands and knees on the ball for a while but wasn't loving it. Then the nurse was like, "You know, water is water...we don't have a tub in here but we could set you up in the shower". I wanted to kiss her.
I got changed into a sports bra (which I don't remember at all, looking at the pictures later I was like, "When did I put that on?"), and the nurse reminded me I should pee. I knew that was a good idea, but I looked at the toilet and went "Oh hell no". I couldn't stand the idea of sitting down and getting back up. So I waited until she left the room so Jonathan could get his swim trunks on and I went and stood in the shower and peed there.
The shower was heaven. It was just me and Jonathan, and during contractions he could spray water on my back while he squeezed me. I remember thinking how much easier it was, it felt way easier than the last couple of hours had.
And THEN transition hit. Obviously I didn't know that at the time, but from one contraction to the next, everything changed. I went from being comforted by hip squeezing and the water to hating everything. Poor Jonathan was trying everything, and everything wasn't working. The water hurt during contractions. Being touched hurt. Standing hurt, sitting hurt, kneeling hurt, laying down hurt. Every contraction started to feel basically like I needed to poop the most painful poop of all time- the pain was all in my tailbone and rectum. Each contraction took my entire body and mind over. In between contractions I was preparing for the next one. I had been doing the perfect low moaning and suddenly all I wanted to do was scream and cry. Jonathan was having to remind me to keep it low, and I was so incredibly pissed off by him telling me it, but I did it anyway. I was moaning "oh man oh mannnnn" and "fuuuuuuck". I should have got the hint I was going through transition when I started thinking there was absolutely no way I could do this, it was going to kill me, they were going to have to just section me to get her out. I was trying to remember why in the world I would have not wanted an epidural and was spending time between contractions reminding myself- risk of injury and paralysis, not being able to move, the catheter, the effects it would have on the baby, the possibility of spinal headaches... I was literally going through all of the reasons one by one as I geared up for contractions (would have been way too late for an epi anyway!). I wanted to be checked (I'm guessing it was about 1:00 at this point, and I hadn't been checked since the initial one at 9 am) but I was so afraid of finding out I was at like 6 cm.
Finally I told Jonathan to help me get out of there but told him I could not dry off. I said to just get me a blanket, so he did. I went out and laid on the couch and had Tina put the heating pad on my lower back. During contractions I was laying there basically crawling up and clawing the back of the couch. I finally started talking and telling them that it hurt in my butt so bad like I had to poop. As I was talking I realized exactly what was happening- my body was bearing down and I was fighting it. I told them they needed to get someone to check me asap because I needed to know if I could push because I couldn't hold off much longer. I felt like nobody really believed me- I'm not sure if that's true, but since it was my first baby and I had only been dilated to 3 cm about 4 hours earlier it may be. But they found the nurse and they told her. She got the speculum, started to put it in (I was SCREAMING clinging to Jonathan and Tina's hands), and was kind of like "Hmm...". Then she was basically like "I'll be right back" and left the room. When she came back she said she'd had to go find the midwife to get permission to do the exam with her fingers because she couldn't get the speculum in because there was too much baby head in the way! She did the exam and it was incredibly painful, and told me, "You're basically there. You just have this tiny lip of cervix over her head. That's why it hurt so bad, I was trying to see if I could slip it over but I can't. Give it just a few contractions, i'm sure it will be gone". I said, "So I can't push?". She said she recommended I didn't because the baby's head pushing against the cervix might cause it to swell.
I got up on the bed and was leaning over the back of it. I had Jonathan take over what I had been doing in the shower, which is the only thing that provided any relief at all- using his thumb to push the area right at the top of my butt crack, basically my tail bone, pressing as hard as he could. Somehow that relieved so much pressure. I spent the next couple of contractions screaming about how hard it was. My doula finally realized what I meant-the contractions weren't hard, it was hard fighting my body when everything in me was trying to push. She looked at me and said "honey...listen to your body". I decided I wouldn't actively push, but I was done fighting it. I just let my body bear down and relaxed the pressure I had been giving not to push. It felt amazing. Obviously still hurt but felt amazing. I felt my body relaxing and it was just great. My doulas were so excited, about how soon this baby was coming, and Jonathan was beside himself telling me about how we were going to have our baby girl so soon. It was at that point that I really realized what they were saying. I looked outside and the stormy weather had turned to a gorgeous cloudy blue sky. It was still early in the day, it was gorgeous, and I was going to have a baby. I was comforting myself by telling me she would be here before the sun went down.
The nurse came back to check me again. I told her she'd have to do it with me leaning over the back of the bed like that and she did. She told me to go ahead and push if I wanted.
Pushing was...the most work I've ever done in my life. I could not (and still cannot) believe how bad it hurt! I was over the back of the bed for most of it, and every time a contraction came I would yell "Ok!", Jonathan would do the tail bone pressure, and Tina would drip wet cold cloths on my face and neck and back. I would kind of curl down the back of the bed with my neck and head down as I pushed. I was very vocal and everyone kept reminding me to put all of that energy into pushing that baby out so I'd try to internalize it and just focus on the pushing.
Between contractions I would want water. Everyone would remind me to completely relax everything and take deep breaths and let it all go.
I think this is the point where the midwife came and gave me good and bad news- my baby was almost here but they were not going to be able to get me to the tub. I was like "I'm not going ANYwhere".
I spent some time leaning over the side of the bed, feet on the floor, Jonathan encouraging me and Tina telling me how close I was. For some reason right then I really started to believe her and I was staring in her eyes, clinging to every word she was saying. I remember saying "Really?" a few times...she would tell me "Your baby girl is coming" and I would go "baby..." as my contraction started, realizing she was right. I went back and forth from staring at her to staring past her at the beautiful sky.
At one point I just couldn't take it anymore and between contractions I slid down from where I was leaning against the bed and was leaning against my birth ball on the floor. That lasted for maybe one contraction and the next thing I knew I was crawling along the floor, pushing and screaming as contractions would come. Everyone had been telling me for a bit how baby's head would show, then go back. The nurse kept showing me with her fingers how much of her head was showing. It really didn't mean much to me at the time. Jonathan was so excited and crying and telling me he could see our baby. I reached down a few times and felt her head, one to reassure me, and also to apply pressure to my perineum and help it stretch easier.
I look back now and giggle thinking of how an OB might have reacted to me crawling around on the floor, baby head coming out of me. My midwife and nurses were all for it and were just kind of following me around with a chux pad to catch some of the mess, encouraging me as we went.
I made it to the couch and knelt over it, legs on the floor, Jonathan in front of me on the couch so I could lean into his legs. I don't remember biting his thigh. I don't remember him having to detach my teeth because the midwife was telling him to come catch his baby. I just remember deciding that I was ready for that baby and it might be work, it might be more work than I had ever done, it might break me or kill me but I wanted to meet my baby and throwing everything I had into a push and screaming my head off.
Her head came out, I felt the slippery fish sensation of her body coming out. I heard people telling me to look at my baby, but I spent the next several seconds with my head in the couch cushions screaming (I was hoarse later).
Finally I looked between my legs, and saw her laying on the floor where they were clamping and cutting the cord. It was so surreal. I saw the cord coming out from between my legs and connecting to her.
They got her cut, and took her to the warming table to check out the meconium situation. Someone helped me up and into bed. I looked over at her, and noticed my doula Stephanie was looking at her sobbing and smiling and she was mouthing "You are amazing" to me. That, combined with my baby on the table, and Jonathan's face as he looked at her, and I started letting out choked sobs, half so happy, half in shock...it was all so much!
They had her on the table for maybe 2-3 minutes and she let out a little cry and they brought her to me. Normally skin to skin would happen the second she was out, and cord clamping wouldn't happen for quite a while, but the meconium changed the situation. Fortunately she hadn't aspirated. There was a bit in her throat and a tiny bit further but none as far as her lungs.
Holding her was so...bizarre. She was beautiful. She grabbed onto a chunk of my hair. She was SO alert, looking around taking everything in. Jonathan was next to me crying and talking about how beautiful she was and how amazing I had done. My doulas were telling me how amazing I was. I was just in shock.
Getting the placenta out was hard because I was afraid. They told me I could keep the baby but I was afraid so I told Jonathan to take his shirt off and he took her and did skin-to-skin while my favorite midwife helped me get on the floor where I could squat down and deliver the placenta. She reassured me that it had no bones and was going to slide right out. It was such a relief when it was out.
They got me back in bed and brought me my baby. I held her for a long time. We kicked everyone out to discuss her name, and agreed with basically no discussion that she was Adelaide. We had discussed Skye as a middle name before, and I told Jonathan that the sky was what had kept me going so much, I knew it was the right name. We practiced nursing. She mostly wanted to sniff and root and lick...it was so sweet.
People kept doing fundal pressure to check on how my uterus was doing and I hated it every time. It hurt so bad.
After a while I had to pee. The nurse said she would help me, which I didn't really understand but thought maybe it was just because it was painful to walk. She got me settled on the toilet and said, "I'll be right back. Do you feel ok? Lightheaded? Dizzy?". I told her I felt fine and she left after showing me how to use the peri bottle. Within a few seconds everything was going black and I called "Ok, I'm feeling lightheaded!". That's the last thing I remember, next thing I knew I was in a dream and my nurse and doula's voices were breaking in, "Open your eyes, honey". I did and couldn't figure out why everyone was staring at me, I had just been sleeping. That's when I realized I was not in bed at all, but laying on the floor in a pool of blood NEXT to my bed, which made my head start swimming again. Apparently, I fainted when the nurse had me almost to bed and slid down her leg. Later she commented that that was one of the perks of being a big nurse (she was a very tall woman).
Anytime I attempted to put my head up, I would start to get very lightheaded and dizzy again, so the nurse got another nurse to help her get me into bed, and I told them I needed food very badly, so they went to get me some. My doula fed me dried mangoes. I hate mangoes but they tasted so good. My other doula spoon fed me some jello while I waited for my food.
The excitement pretty much ends there, until a few hours later when the midwife was finally able to come back to do a perineum check- Adelaide's birth had sent off a chain reaction and they had a day's worth of babies born within a couple of hours so the midwife was very busy.
I ended up needing 5 stitches, two on one side and three on the other side of my labia. No tears up or down, thank god. In fact, both midwives commented that my perineum didn't even look like I had just had a baby. They said the tears were pretty minor but they recommended suturing because labial tears on each side tend to heal TOGETHER...no thanks. The stitches were incredibly painful. Jonathan was doing skin to skin with the baby (he had been a lot of the time, while I was fainting and then recovering from that since I couldn't really hold her) so he couldn't really hold my hand, but man...it obviously didn't hurt as bad as pushing the baby out, it just kind of added insult to injury. The stitches themselves didn't really hurt, it was the injections to numb me, one of which wore off way quickly and they had to redo.
So, that was the birth of Adelaide Skye. Obviously some parts are fuzzy to me and some parts felt like an hour that maybe lasted 5 minutes and vice versa. My body was in shock for a while. I spent the next day wondering what I was going to do because I want Adelaide to have siblings but I could not go through that again.
Looking back now, though, it was pretty awesome. I was in labor for a total of 21 hours and in active labor for less than 6 hours. I pushed for maybe 15-25 minutes (I need to ask my doula, Jonathan was too in the moment to remember how long it was either). The nurses, midwives, and my doulas all came up to me on their own at various points and remarked how incredibly zen I was. They said they didn't see that a lot. I never lost it or freaked out, I just stayed very determined. The midwife was especially happy- she had not wanted to tell me the meconium news and have to be the one to break it to me that I may not get my birth, and she was just so happy that in the end, I did. I have cried since about how happy I am that she gave me options. An OB or another midwife may have taken control of that situation and who knows what the outcome may have been, and I am just so, so grateful that she let me stay in control of my birth, and supported me throughout it.
I'm also so grateful for my doulas, who really kept me going and provided so much support I don't even know know how they did it. It felt so right having a support team of women there. That really is what birth is all about and it was amazing. I'm also so grateful for Jonathan, who was an amazing support person. He knew how to hold me just right, was so encouraging, reminded me between contractions to really relax and let go in places where I was holding tension. He would remind me to keep my moans low and productive. He would tell me how good I was doing.
Obviously, I'm forgetting about the pain and I'm sure by the time we do this again, I'll be ready to go. There's no way to explain to someone what childbirth is going to feel like and it's just so amazing to be on the other side of that, and it's just so incredible to me every time I look at her that *I* did that, on my own. She's here because bodies are freaking amazing and MY body is amazing and I did it.