The Birth Story of J.J.
On Thursday night Mom and I went to some friends house and had a lovely steak dinner, after which the hostess rubbed some essential oils (Young Living Raindrop Technique, slowly over an hour) into my feet and ankles. These helped relax my body and strengthen me for the events that would soon follow. We went home and were in bed by 10 PM.
From 3:00 AM until after 5:00 AM Friday morning I was awake, crying. J and I knew when he enlisted for military service that there was a strong possibility he would miss the birth of our firstborn. We understood that and accepted it, but still held out hope that JJ would come just a few days early so Daddy could be there. The week before J left, I cried a gazillion tears as I came to understand that he would not be here when his son was born. I was once again grieving this reality, but now in an even deeper, more surrendering way.
When I woke up at 8:20 Friday morning, I immediately noticed “Braxton Hicks” (later we decided these were probably contractions…I was in denial) which were fairly consistent. They were not painful in the least, but were present enough that I could not miss them. They were anywhere from 3-6 minutes apart, with an average of 5 minutes between each. They lasted 40-70 seconds. This continued until around 1 PM when they streched out to about once every 6-8 minutes, but intensified to the point that I had to focus on breathing through them. My thoughts at this point were, “Hmmm…these are pretty regular. I think we just might have a baby in the house by Sunday afternoon.” Not ONCE did I think he would come before late Saturday afternoon at the earliest.
Around 11 AM I called K, our doula, to fill her in on the previous day’s appointment with D, our midwife, and to let her know about the ever-present Braxton Hicks. Both K and my mom advised me to call D right away. Instead, I opted to take a shower and have another good, long cry…….a very long cry – again, lasting around 2 hours. I never did call D (I couldn’t without breaking down again!) so I texted her. She was grateful for the text, but told me to ignore the Braxton Hicks as long as I could. By 4:30 PM the Braxton Hicks picked up in intensity, requiring me to focus through each one. I was working at the time (medical transcription) and had to keep pausing the dictations when I could feel one approaching. Still I brushed these aside, thinking that nothing was happening.
Mom and I watched a Hallmark movie that evening, and when it was finished at 9 PM I went to get ready for bed. Because I thought that in the next day or two labor might start up, I wanted to change the sheets and put the mattress pad on the bed. During the next 5 minutes, as I was changing the bed, I had three “rushes” (contractions). They were strong enough that I was on my hands and knees on the floor during them, moaning. Mom immediately came in and helped me finish the bed, telling me I should call the midwife and doula. I still refused to believe I needed them and then climbed into bed in hopes of calling D and K in the morning to ask them to come deliver the baby. After I laid down, the rushes slowed again to every 6-8 minutes – much better than every 2! At 11 PM I got up to go to the bathroom, had a rush, went to the bathroom, had a rush, washed my hands, and had a rush…again, 3 within 5 minutes or so. That’s when it struck me that, yes, I should text D and ask her what she thought.
D immediately responded that it sounded like things were picking up, and asked if I thought she should come check me out. I didn’t know if I was ready for her to come or if this was just some pre-labor hype…I didn’t want her to make the 45-minute trip out here just to go home. I told Mom, “I’ve never had a baby before, I don’t know what to expect…when do things get serious?” The “Braxton Hicks” still didn’t hurt, although they were becoming intense. She said that she would have gone to the hospital a bit earlier and that I should definitely ask D to come. I texted D back and said, “How about if we chat on the phone during my next rush, and then you can see my response to it and make a decision?” She agreed and that’s what we did. I had to wait for the current one to calm down, and then I called her. It took about 3 minutes before one started, and I warned her, “I’m going to have to put the phone down so I can support myself on my hands and knees.” After it passed, I picked the phone up again and asked what she thought. She said it sounded like I was definitely “going somewhere” with this and that she would be on her way to check me out shortly. Forty-five minutes later she was at the door and soon thereafter she checked my cervix (first check of the entire pregnancy!). The first thing she said was, “Well, I feel a bulging bag of waters with a head behind it” [complete surprise to me!] and then, “You’re dilated to a 4, you’re 75-80% effaced, and the head is at 0-station.” I was shocked! I had definitely been in denial that anything serious was going on – I thought that she wouldn’t be able to feel anything!
This all happened around 12:30 AM, Saturday morning. I got up to go to the bathroom again, and had the same thing with 3 rushes in a row. When I came out of the bathroom I could hear mom and D starting to fill the birth pool up. I looked at D and said, “I know you’re supposed to wait until you’re dilated to 5 cm to get into the pool, but can I get in now? I think I need it!” She said she thought I would be fine…and I jumped right in – amazing relief! (I don’t even want to think how much rougher things would have been if we would not have bought the pool.) It took them quite a while to get a decent amount of warm water in it. The 15 gallon hot water heater was nowhere near big enough, so they were boiling it on the stove and adding it slowly throughout the entire labor.
K, the doula, arrived around 1:45 AM (there were several points when I wondered if she would make it before JJ was born!). She and Mom took turns pouring a cup of water over me – this worked as a distracting method. D was amazing. She was the only one who could calm me down during the rushes and help me focus and relax. Mom and K would tell me I was doing a good job, but I NEEDED to hear D say it and to have her calm hands touch my back or my arm or my forehead. The rushes were very, very intense (as soon as D checked me the first time and told me I was in labor, my body essentially went into overdrive and released itself to give birth). The rushes were not the typical 60-90 second ones you hear about…they were double and triple peaked. One would come on, before it would die out another one or two would follow it without a rest in between them. Pretty unusual, but at least it made labor progress quickly! When D and I reviewed the birth two days later we discussed the length of the rushes, and she said that she knew not to tell me, “You can do anything for a minute, this rush will be over soon” because they were NOT over in a minute, they were lasting 3 to 5 minutes each!
Two hours later I knew I needed to go to the bathroom – not that I wanted to, but I knew that it was necessary. After I finished, I asked D to check me again. I was only expecting to be dilated to about a 6, even though I was hoping for more, and was once again shocked when D told me I was complete with a little lip of a cervix. HURRAY!!!! When I got back into the pool I had about a 20 minute break where things were still moving but with a lower level of intensity. Pretty soon my body started pushing – wow – that is EXTREMELY intense! I hope I didn’t bother the apartment neighbors too much! (So far we haven’t heard any complaints from them.) I pushed/my body pushed for about 1.5 hours when I accidently punctured the bag of waters. I had been keeping my finger tips on it (about 2 cm in) during most of the rushes, since I could feel him descending, and it was very encouraging to me. During one of the rushes my finger went through the bag – “oops” (almost an oops, but I had kind of been hoping it would happen). When I told D his water broke she looked into the pool and didn’t see any meconium, so she said I was good to keep going. About 30 minutes later he was born. (I wonder now that if his water would have broken a bit earlier if he would have been born sooner….but I will have to wonder forever, because we will never know.) During the labor my eyes were closed almost the entire time. If they were open, I could not focus as I needed to. Several times in the pool, I felt like a fish out of water. The rushes would come on so strong and powerful and my body would try to adjust to them…O.W.I.E.!
When JJ was being born, I was half standing/half-kneeling in the pool – as his head emerged I guess I started to sit back into the pool. D was “yelling” at me, “GET UP, do NOT SIT DOWN in the pool! GET UP!” It was a good thing she said that! Suddenly she was telling me, “Catch your baby, put your hands down here and catch your baby!” I reached down and together we caught J coming out of me. D turned away to grab something (a towel for JJ?), and I told her, “D, someone, help me untangle him!” His cord was twisted around his leg and partially around his neck/shoulder (very loosely) and I couldn’t bring him up to me, so I was half bending over in the water. D instantly turned around and helped us get positioned. K helped me out of the pool and we went to the bedroom to get checked out. The relief was instantaneous…aaahhhhh….I had a bright pink baby boy in my arms (I checked to see that he was a boy before we even got out of the pool – just to be sure.)
JJ latched within 20 minutes of birth. He would have earlier (he found my breast just fine), but he was too interested in looking around his bright new world. D had to give me four stitches for a tear that I had…owie! (She numbed me up very nicely first, so it really didn’t hurt until after the anesthesia wore off.) While D was cleaning/stitching me, I drank about 4 16-oz glasses of chilled grape juice and had a small bowl of yogurt. Never in my life has grape juice tasted sooooo good! D took a snooze on the couch in the living room for about 1 hour and then came back to check on me. Everything was cleaned and returned to order before she left, about 3.5 hours after JJ was born. Then we began our week of rest and snuggles. God is good! We have a healthy, happy baby delivered through a beautiful, uncomplicated home birth.
Thanks for sharing your story. There aren't many stories of first time moms doing it natural and at home the way you did. It seems like people are often having baby number 2-3 at home and saying it was so much better than their hospital births. I always wonder if subsequent babies are just easier. It was good to read such a positive story from a first-timer. It encourages me since my first baby is due in May :)