By September 9, 2011, it had been 10 days since my due date had come and gone, and everyone was anxious for our son to be born. We had been attempting gentle means of encouraging labor, such as frequent intercourse, lots of walking, red raspberry leaf tea, and nipple stimulation. I had been having sporadic contractions off and on for a week, but nothing that developed into a regular pattern. That morning, I took a tip from another mom and used evening primrose oil and black cohosh before going into The Midwife Center for Birth and Women's Health for an attempt at breast pump induction around lunchtime. The sporadic contractions got stronger and more regular after just 30 minutes of pumping, The nurse recommended walking for 30 minutes between pumping sessions, so we did, and by the end of the third pumping session the contractions were strong and 3 minutes apart.
The midwife Theresa checked my progress and I had dilated to 3 cm and had gone from 50% effaced to 90% effaced. We walked one more time but then the contractions started slowing down. They fizzled down to 6 minutes apart and became less strong, so we opted to go home around 4:45PM and see how things progressed on their own. We had dinner and the contractions never really stopped but they were only coming every 10 minutes. We did not know what to expect, so we put my two daughters to bed early at 8:30PM. I took some more black cohosh and then tried to get some sleep.
It turned out that the contractions were uncomfortable enough that I could not really sleep through them, so I was trying to doze between them. They seemed to pick up in intensity and frequency as the night went on, and eventually I found I had to get out of bed to stay on top of them. I ran a bath and dealt with some contractions in the water for a bit, and it was not long before I could tell that things were shaping into real labor. I alternated between the bath and the mattress on the floor during contractions, but by 2:30AM I felt I should wake up Joe and tell him we should head back to the birth center. I worried if I waited much longer, I would be so consumed by labor that I would not have the presence of mind or focus to get him out of bed and have him get the kids ready to go. So Joe called the midwife and got the kids dressed and we were off by 3AM.
The car ride was a nightmare--I had never had to deal with such strong contractions in a vehicle before. For Sarah's birth 9 years prior, I had made the mistake of going into the hospital too early in labor so the contractions in the car had been easy to handle, and Ashley had been born at home 2 years after Sarah was born so I never had a car ride to contend with in my labor with her. This time, I insisted on getting in the back of our compact minivan and staying on all fours. Still the contractions were getting intense and I found myself yelling obscenities. The girls thought it was a joke at first and were laughing at me and I shouted at them to stop.
We finally arrived and went back to the forest room where we had been earlier for the breast pump induction. Thankfully Joe's parents arrived at the same time and took the girls to the waiting area. Meanwhile, Theresa checked me and I was at 4cm and 100% effaced. I labored on all fours while the jacuzzi was being filled. Then I got in the jacuzzi and leaned over the edge for a while. The nurse Vanessa checked the baby's heart rate and said it was on the high side. She hooked me up to the IV antibiotics since I was group B strep positive. After the antibiotics, they put some fluids in the IV since I was not interested in drinking and seemed a bit dehydrated.
When the IV was done, they unhooked it from the lock, and Theresa then suggested putting the jets on in the jacuzzi and turning so they were directed at my back. It was a little awkward at first, but I found if I lifted my bottom a little during a contraction, it felt soothing and I could just breathe my way through the contractions relatively calmly. Vanessa checked the baby's heart rate again and it had come down to a normal level and it remained good for the rest of the labor. I labored for quite a while in the jacuzzi that way and when the contractions became intense I started murmuring to myself, chanting "babybabybaby" during each contraction to help me focus on the end goal.
I did lose it a few times and started screaming, but every time, Vanessa or Theresa would help me calm down and keep focussing. I kept saying I was scared of transition, and they told me that each contraction was bringing me closer to holding my baby. After a while I got out of the jacuzzi, and, at Theresa's suggestion, I labored on all fours on the bed, using a birth ball to lean against. This allowed me to sway and Theresa compressed my hips during contractions, which felt wonderful.
Around 7AM Theresa had to leave and the new midwife Emily was taking over, along with Ann, and the nurse Vanessa was relieved by the nurse Cheryl. At first I hated to see Theresa leave, but Emily turned out to be quite perfect in keeping me calm. After some more time on all fours on the bed, I said I wanted my mommy so Joe went and got her (she had arrived shortly after we did but had been in the waiting area). I held her hand through some contractions but eventually I wanted to go back into the jacuzzi. It wasn't long before I felt like I wanted to push, though it was not a strong urge. Emily checked me and said I was at 5 cm but the head was so low that that was probably why I felt inclined to push. She said an occasional gentle pushing would be ok but that it was too soon to push for real.
I got back on the bed on all fours again for a while then Emily suggested side-lying for a bit to save some energy. It was a little harder to focus in that position so after a while I went back to hands and knees. The contractions were getting really intense without much break between them and I said I could not handle it and I just wanted it to be over. Joe told me I was getting close and Emily encouraged me that I was strong and I could do this. Soon I felt myself pushing during contractions without even thinking about it. Emily checked me and said she thought I was fully dilated and could push. Joe's mom came in with the girls and I was pushing loudly on all fours but it did not seem to be bringing the baby down. Emily checked again and saw that I had a tiny lip of cervix in the way. She tried holding it back while I pushed but did not quite get it, and I was feeling self-conscious because I felt poop that was coming out while I was pushing and everyone was watching.
Emily gently suggested trying to push a little on the toilet, so I left the bed and felt safer pushing the stool out first between contractions. Then during a contraction Emily tried getting the cervical lip back again but it was an awkward position and quite painful. She asked if I wanted the relatives to leave temporarily and try going back to hands and knees on the bed and I said yes, so they cleared the room for me. On the next contraction, Emily said she was going to try one last time to get the cervical lip back, and she reassured me that the baby would come out easily if she could get that lip out of the way. It hurt to have it held back while I pushed, but Emily was right. As soon as she got it out of the way, I could feel that my pushes were suddenly becoming effective.
I pushed hard and said I just wanted him out of me. Joe kissed me and my negative energy dissipated. I pushed again and soon I could feel his head crowning. Joe went behind me to watch his son be born. A doubting voice inside kept trying to hold me back but I fought that voice and tapped into a deeper inner strength. I pushed again and his head was out. Without hesitation I gave a long sustained push and his body came right out. Emily handed him to me and I was so relieved.
I was beaming as I held him close to me and our moms and the girls came in immediately to meet him. It was 9:47AM on Saturday, September 10, 2011. We verified that the ultrasound had made no mistake about his sex as Emily helped me with the afterbirth and then Joe cut the baby's cord after it stopped pulsing. He weighed in at exactly 7 lbs, had lots of dark brown hair and gorgeous deep blue eyes. He latched right on to nurse within his first hour and remained quietly alert for some time after that as he took in the sights and sounds of the outside world. We named him Rigel, the brightest star in the constellation Orion. We all snuggled in the forest room bed, and the girls were so excited to finally meet their brother. After the long anticipation of his birth, we all agreed that he was well worth the wait.