My birth story...It's a long one, but I needed a whole extra paragraph just to cover my placenta! :LOL Also, I wanted to respond to the question about the Emergency Childbirth book and Plan B stuff. My husband actually never read the book (he intended to, and did read Laura Shanley's book), but I did in my second trimester, and then put it away. I knew exactly where it was if we had needed to consult it, but I thought it was important to spend my whole third trimester really focusing on the positive. I never really had a plan B, except, as someone else said, knowing where the hospital was. Oh, and trusting myself to know in the moment if anything out of the ordinary that happened was something I could handle or not.
Anyway, here's my birth story! Thanks for reading!
T(dh) came home for a late lunch on Friday, November 12th, and after R(dd—2 ½ yrs) fell asleep for her nap, we had sex. As was the case for the past month, I began having contractions after that were stronger than Braxton Hicks, but manageable and not what I’d call labor. They usually lasted a few hours and went away, but this time they continued throughout the afternoon and evening, staying the same in intensity. I was having a blessing way that evening, and chose not to tell my friends that I was experiencing contractions, but I began to think I would give birth by the end of the weekend.
After my blessing way ended, around 9:30 pm, I was standing talking to my mom when I felt a sudden wetness in my underwear. I excused myself, not knowing if it was my water breaking, and when I went to the bathroom, I realized it was my mucus plug. I also had some bloody show. I called to T to bring me new underwear because there were still several people in my house, and when he came he told me he had just thrown up from something he had eaten while out with R. I can’t remember if I said anything to him, except that I was in labor. I remember thinking that he would just have to feel better whether he liked it or not. After he threw up a few more times, he was fine.
I came out of the bathroom as one of my friends was leaving. I was still trying to act normal, but the intensity of the contractions had picked up, and she could tell something was going on. She didn’t realize I was in labor, though, she just thought I was ready for everyone to leave and so she left quickly. I went back into the kitchen. My mom, E, and MC were still there, and I told them I was in labor. After another contraction, I said “I think you guys need to leave soon. No rush, but in the next twenty minutes or so.” They immediately began rushing around cleaning up. I started to need dark and quiet during contractions, which were speeding up in intensity and frequency rather quickly. I would go into the spare bedroom and get on my hands and knees or child’s pose on the bed and breathe through them. Then I got nauseous, so I went to the bathroom and threw up. I had a few contractions on my hand and knees on the bathroom floor. At one point, R came in, asking me what was going on. I had heard people explaining to her that the baby was coming soon, and so I just said “I need you to put your hand on my back and be quiet.” She put her hands gently on my back and just whispered “what” very softly over and over, not really expecting an answer. It was exactly what I needed.
After that I went back to the bedroom. I started humming through my contractions, and wanted people OUT of my house so I could make more noise and take my clothes off. My mom came in to say goodbye, but I was in the middle of a contraction and I think I said “Don’t come in. I love you. Go away.” T came in to check on me and I said, “Why are they still here? I want everyone GONE!” He told me they were working on it, but we had asked them to go get a few things for me for labor, and some saltines for T, who was feeling better but not a hundred percent.
I started opening my mouth and really vocalizing through the contractions. They were getting stronger and stronger and much closer together. I didn’t even care anymore that MC and E could hear me. I kept alternating between hands and knees and side lying positions. I couldn’t stay in one position for very long, which was so different from last time. I wanted to rest in between contractions, but they were so close together, I only had time to change position or rest, not both. Finally, MC and E left, and T and R came in to be with me. The first thing I said was “Get these pants off of me!” I wanted to be naked (another change from my last labor). T and R would bring me water when I asked, but there was nothing I really wanted them to do. At one point, I asked T to put his hands on my lower back. I was feeling the contractions in my lower abdomen, reaching around to the back of my pelvis. But when T climbed on the bed, the movement was unbearable so I told him to get off. A little bit later, T asked me to tell him when I hit transition. I yelled, “There’s not going to be a transition!” Things were pretty intense at this point.
I was starting to feel pushy, but also needed to poop. I reached down to see if I could feel a head, and there was nothing in the birth canal, so I figured I had time to get to the bathroom. I asked T to help me stand up. As soon as I stood I could feel my body bearing down. I started to poop, so I yelled “Get the poop! Get the poop!” T sort of knocked it out of the way, and then I yelled, “The head!” and squatted down. By the time I squatted the head was about a third of the way out and I could feel the “ring of fire.” I also felt like I might have a small tear near the top of my canal. I started saying “Gentle, Chickpea” (our in-utero name for the baby) over and over while stroking the head and waiting for the next contraction. T was next to me, and R was crouched in front of me watching the baby’s head. Pushing didn’t feel as good this time as it had with R, but with the next contraction, the rest of the head came out, and then almost immediately, the body. I caught the baby as it came out, and I saw fluid gush out of the nose and mouth and right away. The baby began to cry right away, and so I offered my breast. The baby latched on pretty quick, and nursed almost constantly for the next three hours.
I looked right away to see if it was a boy or a girl, and in the very dim light of the bedroom, I thought it was a boy. But when I checked a second time, I realized we had a baby girl! I was so thrilled. I had always wanted two girls. But we had no idea what we were going to name her! We looked at the time and realized that the baby had been born about ten minutes before 11 pm, less than an hour and a half after I lost my plug. No wonder labor had been so intense! She came out pretty clean, with no vernix on her (just like R) but with quite a bit of blood on her head.
Around this time, my friends got back from their errands. They were shocked to see me with a baby already. I was so glad to see them, especially when they began cleaning up. About half an hour after the baby was born, I birthed the placenta. It came out but stayed attached by the membranes so it was hanging between my legs. I stayed squatting as long as I could, but the thing would not come out, so I got up on the bed to wait. During the next few hours I nursed, and rested as T and my friends cleaned up and called people and took care of R. E washed my feet off, and MC got most of the blood off the floor and started washing our towels. (I have good friends!) My mom came back over to see the baby as well.
I wanted to wait until the placenta was entirely out before cutting the cord, but after three hours I really had to pee. I tried to squat while T held the placenta behind me so I wouldn’t pee on it and MC held a bucket between my legs. (Really really good friends!) But every time I tried to do this, the baby would cry (I was holding her and she was still attached) and I couldn’t concentrate. Finally we decided to just go ahead and cut the cord. R had fallen asleep by this point, but had really wanted to cut the cord, so we tried to wake her up. It didn’t work, so we tied off the cord with some embroidery floss that MC had finger-weaved and cut it. I was still having trouble peeing while squatting over the bucket, and I couldn’t go to the toilet because of the placenta, so I decided to just pee on the chux pad. We had several underneath me, and I had peed when I lost my plug, so I thought it would be fine. Once I started peeing, however, fluid just gushed out of me and didn’t stop. MC was there, and we started laughing, and she asked me if my water had ever broken. I said, “Well, it must have, since she wasn’t born in the caul, but it never really gushed out.” She said, “This must be your waters because I don’t think this much pee is possible.” It filled two or three chux pads and then made a huge puddle on the floor. I think that the membranes must have been holding the waters inside until then. After everything got cleaned up, and E and my mom had left, MC called S (her dh) to come get J (her ds), who had been sleeping in the car the whole time, so that she could sleep on our couch until morning.
We decided to weigh and measure the baby, because she seemed smaller than R had been and I had been expecting this one to be bigger. We couldn’t believe it when she weighed ten pounds, and MC and T went running around finding things to weigh to make sure the scale was accurate. She measured 21 ½ inches long. We still didn’t have a name and none of the ones that we could remember from our list seemed to fit. MC went to go find our list, and we had forgotten that we put the name A on there. As soon as she reminded us, T and I looked at each other and realized that that was her name. We gave her the middle name K after my grandmother.
R woke up around 5:30, and came in to see her baby sister. I fell asleep, but T and R stayed up and cooked breakfast and hung out. My placenta seemed like it was detaching very, very slowly, but still hadn’t come out by midday. I posted a question about it on the unassisted childbirth thread at mothering.com. Everything else was perfect—my uterus was shrinking, I wasn’t bleeding a lot, the baby was nursing a ton—and I felt like I was just missing some little piece of knowledge that would help me out, but I didn’t feel like there was anything “wrong.” A midwife who posts to the thread a lot offered me her cell phone number and I called when it had been 24 hours. She told me I could sort of twirl the placenta around to make the membranes rope up, and then reach up inside and gently wiggle them back and forth until they released. I got off the phone and did this and it was out in about 5 minutes. I took some pictures and put it in the freezer to plant in the spring. I finally got a mirror to look at myself, and it appeared as if the vaginal tissue had sort of “fissured” or split in several places. I had no muscle tears, however, and after the first week of excruciating burning while peeing, things are healing up quite nicely.
This whole pregnancy and birth has been amazing for me. As good an experience as I had with R, I can’t believe it could get this much better. It was an amazing journey and I would never do it another way. The one thing I underestimated was how much I would appreciate help immediately post partum, and so I am incredibly grateful that my friends came back after the baby was born and that they knew exactly what to do to help out. I am so glad that my daughter got to witness the birth of her sister. I am so happy that I caught my own baby. I am filled with so much love for my family, my community, and my life, and I am truly blessed to be where I am in my life.