I woke up while Rob was getting ready for work--so about 6:50a.m. to a little quasi contraction. Same as I've been having. 10 minutes later I had another. Then 10 minutes later, another. Rob came to kiss me goodbye and I asked him to please not leave for another 10 minutes. He argued that he had to leave NOW to get to work on time. "Tough, you need to wait!" I had forgotten to tell him why I needed him to wait, but he waited anyway. 10 minutes later, nothing. So I told him I guess he needed to just go on. He assured me that he would pop out of the water every 15 minutes to check his phone (remember he's a diver). I was nervous letting him go, and had another contraction while we were working it out. But eventually I let him go on to work.
I tried to go back to sleep. It was harder because I was just so unsure, and I was terrified of not calling Rob in time. He works an hour away from our new home, and underwater at that. I just tried to relax and decided if the baby came so easily without him, so be it. Contractions got rather regular, I guess. Between 10 minutes apart to about 6 minutes apart. I kept calling Rob. Nothing really hurt at all. It couldn't be time.
Rob's diving group has a "meeting" every morning to discuss what is happening and where everyone will be. It was going to be a busy day for them. Rob called me just before he went into the water on his first dive. It was instant--as soon as I couldn't reach him my contractions got to 3 minutes apart. I called the my friend Nicole who is a midwife, I decided I wanted her to come and just hang out with me (we had planned a UC, and Nicole was herself a UC'er, so with her there or not I felt I was in control of what was going on) and left a message on Rob's phone to finish the boat and come home immediately.
So I played on the computer with the kids, listening to music videos with them. We played Pink's "I'm coming out so you better get this party started" for the baby's birthday. I'd have a contraction and everyone would cheer. Rob called several times on his trek home. He called the children's birth buddy to come on and be with the guys. I got all the birth supplies out. I made up the bed for delivery. I switched on the heating pad....put the baby's clothes and blankets under it to warm. I ate a hamburger for strength. I drank my apple juice. This is the time I thought I was fairly close to delivery. I was wrong.
Rob got home. Showered and tidied up a bit so I could go relax. My contracctions slowly steadied to 10 minutes apart. Constant but completely painless. The kid's birth buddy called in tears. Her work wasn't letting her come, even though they had 2 months notice of this event. Poor girl was hysterical. The boys were fine, though. Nicole arrived around 1p.m. I told her how afraid I was that I was pretending to be in labor and making everyone come be with me for nothing. She thought I was silly. I had checked myself that morning and felt my bag of waters bulging out, so I couldn't tell how dilated I was. SHe said if it was that bulgy, I was prolly at 5cm when I had checked.
We are all having a great time, but I am kinda panicky. I feel great. Nothing hurts. I force Nicole to check me at 2ish. I am at 8cm. Laughing, happy, painless, at 8 cm. It completely unnerved me. Nicole just laughed and told me not to complain. She laid on the floor and rested....I slept on my bed. We'd talk, sleep, contract, laugh. We'd both be slightly alseep, then one of us would say something silly and we'd giggle sleepily. I did this all afternoon. Just quietly laboring.
Around 6:30-7:00 I decied to get in the bathtub. I am still barely laboring. The sun is starting to really go down, and the colors change. My visual clarity becomes so precise. Every shade of color is vibrant. The tub changed my labor almost instantly. Contractions picked up at once. Still, although I am concentrating, they are very manageable. Rob and I make out quite a bit during this time. We talk and kiss and laugh. He pours water over my belly as I contract. The kids come in and out. Gavin(my 6yo) wants to care for me. He wants to watch the baby come out while he stands on his head. He makes me laugh during contractions.
I keep telling Nicole and Rob that birth is not working. It doesn't feel like anything is happening. "The baby is trying to come out of my butt," I assure them. They assure me to relax, remind me that my contractions are spacing back out because I am at 10cm. (remember, we don't check for dilation very often) So I try to relax. The pressure is becoming overwhelming......my waters are still intact. I am crying for them to break.
I get out of the tub and start to pace the room. I am antsy and cannot find where I was to be. My back hurts, and Nicole suggests I do some pelvic rocks to ease my back. So I get over my chux pad, do two rocks, and my waters break with a pop. The relief was instant, but quickly turned to excruciating pain. I thought I was breaking in half. I immediately became delerious. I AM BREAKING I sobbed into Rob's arms. I am pushing and almost flailing from the pain. Something is not right and I now KNOW it. I tell Nicole to check me NOW!! So she checks and while I am certainly fully dilated, I have a cervical lip. The baby isn't even in the birth canal.
This is all too familiar to me. I pushed for 5 hours with Gavin. Half of that time not knowing I had a small bit of cervix still in the way. The pain your body produces to get through that is absolutely unbearable. (The cervix itself doesn't hurt--there are no nerves there, but your body works REALLY HARD to overcome the obstacle.)
I know a lot about birth. Nicole knows this. SHe knows that when I speak or request something, it is with full knowledge of what I'm asking. "MOVE IT" I almost yell at her. I can see she knows what I'm asking for, and she asks me if I'm sure. POSITIVE. The cervix can be damaged (although that is rare if you aren't tugging on it for a prolonged amount of time). And the pain from the force of your body and the force of her hand is almost blinding. Also, Nicole is really working to be as not involved as possible. But Ineed to be done. I demand to be done.
So with my next contraction she uses two fingers to pull my cervical lip back. We hear a loud POP, and Nicole flinches (not that I can see this--but Rob can) she is afraid we've damaged my cervix. But the immediate burn lets me know that my baby is FINALLY in the canal. Nicole yells for the boys to come to the room. Another push and we are crowning. My clarity has not left. I am feeling every shred of my vaginal canal. It is at once amazing and terrifying. I am moving WAY too fast. I know I will tear if I don't slow down....Rob yells PANT because I am seconds away from ripping. I pant but I am still pushing with all my might. The head emerges and Rob and Nicole are desperately trying to get me to slow down for the shoulders. But it is impossible. I have to be done NOW!
And with a gush, the baby is out and Rob and Nicole are drenched in amniotic fluid. Rob puts the baby on my tummy, but I can barely get it to my breast, the cord is so short. It is 9:32p.m. This little one yells at me if I try to move her much at all. S/he wants to be still and observe. For the first birth ever, I am desperate to find out the sex. But the cord is so short in between the baby's legs, I can't comfortably see. I ask Rob to help Gavin look. Gavin says it's a girl. I don't believe him. I ask Rob to look....he says he thinks it's a girl. I still think they aren't looking right. Nicole comes to look...."yep, that's a girl." And I break into hysterical sobs....for that moment there are only two people in the world, my daughter and I. "My family is complete..." I sob. And the room rushes back to me, and we are all crying.
It is really irritating me that I can't move with her because of that short cord, and I am desperate for it to stop pulsating so we can cut it. Finally it is done. Rob ties the cord with cord tape sent to us from my midwife in Ohio. She is at our last birth, as she's been at every other, if only in spirit. We cry some more. My sweet daughter, Nilah, is here. She doesn't really want to nurse yet, and she has pooped meconium all over my legs. So Rob holds her while Nicole helps me in the shower. The afterpains are INTENSE. I am so desperate to be DONE! (doesn't this sound like a theme?) Finally the placenta comes out in the shower, but a bit of the sac is still inside me but just WILL NOT come out. So I ask Nicole to gently pull it out, but we know there is a small piece left inside--turned out to be the size of a quarter.
I get back to my clean bed. I am clean. I nurse my baby girl. Everyone else is fluttering around me, doing laundry, cleaning up. Nicole checks my cervix, because she is terrified it is damaged. I told her there would be more blood if there was damage...and sure enough, I am fine. We finally weigh Nilah, and she is 8 pounds 12 ounces. 21 inches long. I call the world to let them know. My grandmother is sobbing....my mother shows she cares for the first time in my life. My daughter has brought peace and love into my life, at 1 hour old. She is amazing.
Nicole sleeps on the couch that night. Rob brings me the best Strawberry icecream of my life. The kids all go to bed(reluctantly). And Rob and I try to sleep with the most perfect little girl in between us. It's hard to stop smiling. We cry and laugh throughout the night.
The afterpains continued to be horrible, until 5 days later, that small piece of the membranes came out. The relief was immediate.
This was.....my longest labor.....my easiest labor.....my most painful and difficult birth. We determined I have damage from previous cervical cancer surgeries and DnC's....and this is why I have a cervical lip with my deliveries. It's always irked me that people say "oh well, YOU can have a homebirth because you don't have any problems." Obviously, I have problems just like anyone else. It didn't stop me from having the birth I desired because I trusted my body, I trusted what it said to me, I had people around me I trusted, and the people around me trusted my ability to listen to my body. I had planned a UC, but really appreciated my friend being there. Nicole did apologize to me later, for not listening to me earlier when I said I wasn't being effective in pushing. But it's ok. I learned how much I could trust my own inner knowledge. A lesson much needed as the mother of a daughter. I pray for nothing more than that self-knowledge for my little girl.
Thanks for reading.
In love and peace