October 24th was Jasper’s due date, but since my first two boys were late, I was not expecting due day to be THE day. After my oldest headed off to kindergarten, my mother and I made a flower delivery together and had breakfast at a local restaurant with my 2 ½ year old. I had a couple of BH contractions with downward pressure while we were out, but they were no different from what I’d been experiencing off and on the previous week. We parted ways after breakfast, and I spent the morning and early afternoon tidying up the house, clearing a few spaces that had gotten cluttered, and taking a nap. I had a bowl of oatmeal with my youngest son and we watched a cartoon with him while we waited for my oldest to arrive home from school.
After Eli arrived home, I took advantage of the boys playing well together and continued to work on tidying the house. Around 3:50pm, my mother called to check in and see how I was doing. I said that there was nothing going on, I felt normal, and that nothing was going to happen that day. She said, “But it COULD happen.” And I said, “Yes, it COULD happen, but it’s not going to.” As I was hanging up the phone, I saw that my friend had sent me a link to Bill Cosby’s “Natural Childbirth” bit on YouTube, something I remembered listening to as a child. I sat down at the kitchen table to take a break and watch it. About 5 minutes into it, I pulled my knee up to my chest and felt a tiny pop as my water broke.
After the initial shock wore off, I called my husband to have him come home early, as he had a 30 minute commute, and my last labor had been just about 2 hours from start to finish. Then I called my mother back and filled her in. "You were right, Mom." She offered to come to the house and watch the boys while I figured things out. I then called Heather, my midwife. I told her that we would wait and see if contractions started (and to make sure it was truly my water breaking) before I had her come, but when the gushes kept coming, my mother called her back and said to come over, just in case.
Heather and my husband arrived at the house just minutes apart, around 4:45pm. At that point I was feeling mildly crampy, but no definitive contractions had started. I was very talkative and a little nervous, thinking that I had called Heather (and her supporting midwife, Morgie) over too early. Water was still leaking.
At 5:20 I was still leaking clear fluid and had begun to feel very mild contractions, about 5 minutes apart, lasting for maybe 30 seconds. I still wasn’t convinced that it was real labor, as I was comfortably sitting and talking through them, rewatching the Cosby clip with the midwives. Morgie suggested that I get up and walk around, so at 6:30 (after scrubbing out both basins of the kitchen sink - how laborish of me) my husband and I headed outside to try to walk me into proper labor.
It was a cold night, right around freezing, and the wind was very brisk, blowing leaves around the yard. My husband and I have an old farmhouse, barn, and “L”, so we decided to walk slowly around the buildings to stay as close to home as possible. My husband showed me the newly rearranged car seats in our minivan (his “labor project” when he’d first arrived home), and we joked about picking up all the outside toys in the yard and packing them away for winter. As we reached the back of the house, I noticed that my contractions had gotten much closer together, 2-3 minutes apart.
Because it was so cold, and because I was in just a sundress and sweater (silly me), we went into the center aisle of the barn to finish our walking. I paced back and forth, stopping periodically to deal with contractions, but my mood was very light. As we still hadn’t decided on a name for the baby, I suggested “Barney”. Haha.
At 7:20 we headed back into the house, where Heather had drawn a warm bath for me. I climbed right in. At 7:55, when she checked me, contractions were about 2 minutes apart, still manageable, but getting intense. I was sighing and grunting. I drank cold cranberry juice (gosh, that tasted good!) and had lollipop to suck on in between contractions. Heather and my husband took turns massaging my back during and between contractions. At 8:14, Heather's notes say “downward grunts”. I remember thinking then that pushing felt close and very far away at the same time. In my peripheral vision, I could see Heather, Morgie, and my husband clearing off the top of our dryer (the designated birth kit space), and I knew that at least my midwife felt we were close.
I had a couple of contractions where I felt like I could push, but I really wanted my body to take over and do the work like it had last time. Morgie suggested that I lay down on my back – not what I was expecting! – to push. So I gave it a try and began pushing at 8:18. At 8:24 his head was born. At this point, both midwives seemed concerned that a minute had passed without his head being born. I heard the word “stuck”, and as they had just removed a nuchal cord, I was on alert. Heather suggested that I stand up, and all these images of shoulder dystocia from childbirth books and the Call the Midwife tv show came into my head. I pretty much leaped up out of the water (I heard Morgie said “wow”) and followed my instinct to get my pelvis as open as possible. I half stood, half squatted, with my foot up on the side of the tub, gave one big push, and he was born at 8:26. In the video it looks like he pretty much fell out, but I assure you, there was more work involved.
Jasper was all blue, but he gave a great cry and pinked up right away. It felt so good to lay back in the water with my baby and rub his little back and be DONE with the labor part. He was born with tons of vernix and lanugo (super hairy back!), and the cutest little nursing blister on his left pointer finger.
It took about 20 minutes for the placenta to follow. I think being in the bathtub didn't agree with my birthing body, and I had to get up to birth that as well. The placenta was heart shaped - so awesome! And the cord was the longest one Morgie had ever seen, at 3 feet long. She actually got out a tape measure to check it.
Jasper weighed in at 8 pounds, 8 ounces and was 20 inches long. Tied with my second-born for weight, but shorter than either of his big brothers by half an inch. He has a great latch and is doing wonderfully with breastfeeding, but I've had a bit of a tough time convincing him that my breasts are in fact tastier than his fists.