DD2 was born 9/29/11 after a three hour labor. She was ten pounds, two ounces, and was born in the water one day after her due date. I've loved reading the birth stories here, so I thought I would share my second one. I can't help but compare it a bit to my first, which was ten days early, after seven and a half hours of labor. It was a home birth with a hospital transfer afterwards for a retained placenta.
I had been having cramping and occasional contraction-like feelings for weeks, along with tons of Braxton-hicks. I had some bleeding on DH's 40th birthday, the baby’s due date. I got very excited and started preparing for birth only to realize that it could be some time before anything happened.
The next day I woke up to strong cramping around 9:30 and went downstairs to go to the bathroom. Sitting on the toilet I felt a pop and a gush and immediate relief from the cramping. My first labor also started with my water breaking, with contractions following a few hours later. Now that it was really time, or almost time, I was not quite as excited or sure I was ready for it. But I was definitely ready to be done being pregnant, and there’s only one way that happens. Today would be a birth day.
I sat on some towels and we called the midwife and then a friend who would watch our older daughter. The friend was headed to the fair with her little one and offered to stop by in an hour to pick up DD1. Water continued leaking out in little gushes as I realized that I was feeling mild contractions. DH started cleaning up and preparing the pool and after about 45 minutes I had him time a few contractions. They were four or five minutes apart and I could breathe through them easily. We called the midwife back to let her know and she said she would head up to our house soon. My first birth was seven and a half hours (including three hours of pushing) so we thought this one might go fast.
I stayed sitting on the couch with the heating pad and blanket over my belly for at least an hour because it felt good - controlled and safe. I could rest my chin on my chest and breathe deeply with the contractions and they were completely manageable. When the midwife arrived she suggested I have something to eat to fortify my strength and DH made me a couple eggs, which I did manage to have a few bites of. He kept urging water on me, as well, which I was able to drink in sips.
A little bit later, though, my back started hurting and I decided I should get up and maybe get things going more. I went to the bathroom to be by myself and sat on the toilet for a few minutes before turning on the shower. It worked last time to make the contractions regular and stronger, and it worked this time, too. I held on to the grab bars and rotated my hips, moaning through each one. I pictured what each one was doing and could better understand this time how they felt more like pressure waves than pain. I could even relate the physical feeling to a very strong orgasm, although I certainly wasn’t experiencing the pleasure that goes with an orgasm.
My pulse was a little high, I think because I was getting quite warm in the shower, so I got out and labored on the toilet again for a minute. The midwife said I was sounding pushy. I was confused. I told her after the next contraction that it did feel better to push a little bit, but that it was way too soon to be really pushing! I had only been in labor for an hour or two. She checked me and said I had “a bit” of cervix left. I thought she probably wasn’t telling me a number so I wouldn’t get discouraged. Later she said I was 4 cm at this point.
The pool had water in it but I was leery of getting in too soon. The midwife suggested it, though, and so I went ahead and got in. The blowup pool was not as deep as the rental pool I had last time, but I still really liked that it let me move my legs and body easily during contractions. I started blowing out against the plastic side of the pool, letting my belly hang in the water. I was being pretty loud at this point and I must have sounded pushy again because the midwife asked me to turn over so she could check me, and she said I still had some cervix left, so I should breathe through contractions. (It had been twelve minutes since my last check and I had gone from 4 to 7 cm) I was laying on my back in the water and started blowing raspberries to avoid any pushing. I must have looked pretty ridiculous blowing as hard as I could, spittle flying. DH said he couldn't see my lips, they were moving too fast. My husband did laugh once and I told him to “stop laughing at me!” so I wouldn’t burst out laughing, too, and break my concentration.
The contractions were very distinct this time, with a break between each one, and they were strong! There were at least three or four that bowled me over and made me really scream. I started getting shaky and tingly and in between contractions I would do the hokey pokey with my arms and legs. I also started shaking my head back and forth as fast as I could during contractions. It just seemed to help. I felt like I was not as much in "labor land" this time, although looking back I realized that I never knew that DH and the midwife were boiling water and adding it to the pool, so I was probably more far gone than I thought.
I turned back over onto my knees and the whiny feelings I’d been having turned in to full-fledged Get Me the Hell Out of Here feelings. I said I was done and I meant it. I really and truly wanted to stop right there. Of course this was transition, but it was more intense than last time, when I got tired and cranky and “done for” for but fully believed that I could keep going and do fine. I’m not sure what I would have done without my husband and midwife’s support. It would have been pretty scary. It was so nice to hear them tell me I was strong and to trust my body. It took about half an hour to get from 7 cm to complete.
Pushing was different from my first birth as well. I had one more contraction that was “pushy” and then I was involuntarily pushing with all my might. With DD1 I had had a sharp pain at crowning, but otherwise pushing was actually a relief. This time it hurt from the start until baby was out. It was like pushing a big bowel movement with hemorrhoids. And the very end was worse. It was only fifteen minutes of pushing this time, though, so I swore a couple times and got through it.
I could tell the head was getting very close and I reached down and felt it. It felt so squishy and soft! The midwife warned me to keep my butt in the water so that baby would not be born into the air. DH was by my head and didn’t get to see this birth directly because he was so surprised it was happening so fast! Finally the head was out and then in the next push the body slid out with that incredible feeling of release. I felt a slippery baby on my back and started laughing and crying out with relief and happiness that my baby was really here! I flipped over and was so glad to see that head laying on my chest.
I didn’t have the feelings of cloudiness and elation immediately after the birth like I did last time. I also didn’t feel as strong and empowered - I think because it felt like I freaked out a little because of the intensity. But I was very happy to have my baby and have labor be over. Well, almost over. The placenta was delivered after getting out of the tub and moving to the couch. The midwife had to keep reminding me to keep my eyes open as I walked. I was definitely feeling some effects from all those hormones. The placenta was a unique feeling, as well, and a big relief since I had had a retained placenta after my last birth, and getting it out was a major ordeal, as well as incredibly painful. DH cut the cord.
We didn’t name her for a day (we were thinking this one was a boy) because it took us some time to come up with the right middle name. She had some intense periods of crying over the first few nights, but settled down after that. I had a few days of bed rest, but overall we are doing great, and breastfeeding is going well, too. I feel in awe of the way my body was able to channel all the power of birth, and I feel extremely lucky to have had my second home birth.
Jess, mama to DD1 (6-26-09) and DD2 (9-29-11)
Beautiful.<3 Happy babymoon. Thank you for sharing your birth story.
Erin, wife to the love of my life and mama to Ocean Acacia (19) , Ivory Sierra (14), Meadow Autumn (12), Archer Orion (6) , and one more sweet love joining us earthside in late Winter 2012 .
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