About a week and a half before my son's birth, I started having, what I would call, "productive" braxton hicks contractions. They were felt mainly in my back, so I took this as a good sign. They weren't painful at all, but they did make me notice them. I breathed through them, again, not because they were painful, but I really wanted them to work and I wanted my body to be open to them. I wanted to keep my mouth and jaw loose during labor, and since these contractions were working on my cervix, I would help my body out as much as possible.
About a week before his birth, my second pregnancy, he dropped. My belly was absolutely gone. It was strange, as this was my 2nd pregnancy and I was only 37 weeks and some change. At this point I figured the birth would be soon, not imminent, but in the next week or so.
A couple of days before his birth, I was finally ready. I finished knitting his booties and his hat, I finished sewing my sling, and I finished sewing his diapers. I also traded some stuff with some other mamas and I had just received some homeopathic medicine that I had wanted in case of an emergency.
I was ready, and I told my son so. I explained to him that I would do my damndest to give him a gentle and safe birth and that I needed him to work with me to accomplish that. I visualized his birth constantly. I knew it would happen at night, and it would be short, about 5 hours or so, and that it would be easy and gentle. I was not scared, but was open to what was about to come.
The day before he was born, I was so cranky. I had been really irritable for the past week or so, but now, on Thanksgiving day, I couldn't stop crying---Like a faucet. I was absolutely miserable and could not stop the tears from flowing. I was really enjoying the pregnancy, so it wasn't a "tired of being pregnant" thing. Finally, we got a really big hail storm and my mood improved. Part of me was hoping I had just experienced some kind of hormone drop, but the other part of me was thinking that it was related to the barometric pressure.
The night before he was born, my contractions were like they were normally. Not labor, by any means, but very productive and helpful to my cervix. I was so freaking exhausted, but realized that things were moving ahead, and my husband and I might as well have some sex to move things along.
I slept so well that night. I don't think my almost 3 year old woke up at all. And I don't think I did either.
We slept late the day of my son's birth. My older son had went to bed very late, and after my husband and I finished our "helping the baby along" it was past 1 o'clock. I was rearing to go and wanted everyone to wake up so we could get the day started. I was also ravenous. My husband made the 3 of us some millet, and I was so excited to eat. I took a couple of bites and pushed it away. I wasn't hungry anymore. At this point, I grew suspicious.
I had planned to make some spritz cookies with my son, and get some snowflakes cut out to go on the windows (Martha Stewart would be proud), but while I was online checking my e-mail, the contractions started to come. I hadn't been able to sit in a chair since the night before, so I sat on my birth ball at the computer. I breathed through them, but was able to keep reading while they came on. My husband thought things were moving along, so I told him and my son to go to the co-op and the video store to get some supplies and so I could be alone for a little bit.
Before they left (my husband wanted to vaccum or something), I decided that I needed to get in the bath. It was probably close to noon. Everytime a contraction came on, I had to get on all fours and moan through it. At one point my son came in the bathroom while I was in the middle of a contraction. He opened the shower curtain where my butt happened to be and left after a few moments. A couple of minutes later he came into the bathroom saying, "Aidan want to see mommy's butt", this of course, amused me to no end.
They finally left after my husband had picked up my son's toys in the room I planned to labor and birth in. While they were gone, I went back on the computer and continued to moan and welcome each contraction. Intuitively, I realized that my baby's head was "off" a little bit and that he wasn't applying perfect pressure to my cervix. I took some homeopathic pulsatilla and things started to move almost immediately. It got to the point where even sitting on the birth ball was incredibly uncomfortable, so I tried a whole bunch of different positions, before finding hands and knees to be as wonderful on land as it was in the tub.
When they returned, I told my husband that he needed to call out of work as the baby was coming tonight, or maybe tomorrow. After my son's 60 hour labor, I didn't want to get my hopes up. I also told my husband that I needed the pool set up right now. He called out of work and started to get the tub set up. After he got about 4 inches in there, I stripped and jumped in. We're not sure of the time, but I think it was around 2 o'clock or so.
I invited my son in the tub, and he stripped down and jumped in too. It was fine for a little while, but, being 3, he started pouring water on my head during a contraction, and at one point while I sent my husband on an errand in the house, he had gone under water and I had to help him up. So unfortunately, he had to get out, and my husband put on the video they rented for him.
Things continued very smoothly while I was in the pool. I needed to moan through the contractions, or blow bubbles in the water, which was really relaxing. My back was hurting, which surprised me as I knew he was perfectly positioned, ROA. My husband started pushing his fists into my back with each contraction, and it felt much better.
At this point, I figured that the...I don't want to call it pain....but the sensation in my back was telling me to change position. I tried a couple of different positions, and each time ended up losing control of my breathing and my son's gentle birth. I couldn't find a position that was 100% ideal, so I decided I would stick to the hands and knees while lying on my right side during the breaks.
It starts to get a little fuzzy.............
The contractions started to come on much closer together and while I was still riding on top of them, I started to doubt myself. I felt like I was in transition, but doubted it, because I was so "right here" and not in that "la-la land" that I've heard is so common. At this point I had to poop and decided that it would be best to get out of the pool and sit on the toilet (yes, please insert laughter here), honestly, what a mistake. I tried to poop, but it hurt too much and brought on a wicked contraction on land!!! AAAHHH. I couldn't get back in the pool quick enough.
I needed to push my head against the side of the fishy pool; I don't know why. But at this point my husband jumped in because he couldn't reach me from his side of the bed. By accident he had his legs on either side of my hips and pushed his legs together while he was providing counter pressure to my back. This felt wonderful.
Contractions kept coming, faster and faster, and I was managing them. At one point my son came in the room (remember he was naked since leaving the pool) and started jumping on the bed while chanting, "poop on finger, poop on finger". Evidently he had stuck his finger in his butt and my husband had to get out of the tub during my 10 second reprieve to wash his hands. I decided that I wanted him to call our friend Laura to help watch our son as it was taking too much from me.
I kept trying to feel inside, but as I couldn't feel my cervix for the past week or so, this did nothing for me.
At some point, I told my husband that I wanted a c-section and that I wanted to go to the hospital. I was still managing the contractions, but being in transition, started to feel that "I couldn't do this anymore". I knew it must be close and after playing through what going to the hospital would entail in my mind (getting out of the tub, getting dressed, getting in the car, and the awful reception I would receive there---a very backwards hospital), I realized what a stupid idea that would be. Of course, when I started talking about a c-section, my husband got excited and told me that it had taken me 3 days to ask for one last time, so things must be close. This bolstered me so much.
Things started moving even more quickly and I decided that I needed to get out of the pool, but as luck would have it, there wasn't a crane in the bedroom to lift me out the pool, so I ended up, slightly upright and leaning on the side of the fishy pool. At this point I started doing some pushing, mainly, because I really had to poop and I needed to get it out. I pushed quite a bit, and pooped more than I thought to be possible. My husband diligently fished the poop out with a bucket during my breaks in contraction and emptied them in the toilet. He also wiped my butt----what a guy!!
Right around this point I started thinking about my friend Jessica and how I wanted her there to tell me that I was doing well and that things were moving along, and that the baby would be here soon. But then I realized that I was telling myself already what I wanted to hear, and that gave me tremendous courage as well.
I also knew at this point that despite not having my body push without me, that it was time for the baby to come out. In retrospect, I probably could have pushed when I felt the urge to poop and got out to sit on the toilet. But, I feel that I would have lost the gentleness and the calmness and brought on the labor much quicker. This is probably why I was so comfortable on hands and knees as it kept it from getting intense.
I needed to communicate to my husband that I was going to hold on to him and squat. I was unable to talk though, as the contractions were one on top of another, but we somehow, managed to get my arms around his neck while I squatted.
I tried pushing to move the baby down, not just for the poop. It felt absolutely wonderful. Amazingly enough, there was still poop in there, despite me being on the toilet the past week or so. I guess that was just a practice cleaning out.
As I was pushing, I reached inside and felt his head. How wonderful. I was having a baby. I looked down and saw lots of poop in the pool. I said something to my husband and he wanted to fish it out. Obviously I could not let him leave at this point, and he said something about how if he didn't get the poop out it was going to touch him. He was half joking, but very serious at the same time, and it cracked me up. Little poop submarines all in the pool.
At some point around here, I think my water broke. I was pushing and felt a little pop and said, "oh, my water broke".
I pushed with a couple of more contractions and he started coming down. I felt the tightness briefly, and caught my breath. I started pushing some more and felt his head come out and I felt his little ear, which then took my breath away. Oh my, a real baby!!! As his head was coming out, I started chanting, "gentle pushes, gentle pushes" as I really didn't want to tear. At the same time my husband was gently reminding me to breathe. His head came out, and I said, "shoulders" and I pushed him out gently. I don't remember what happened next, but my husband thinks I held on to his neck with one hand and then used my other hand to bring my son up out of the water. He was crying as soon as he emerged from the water. And he was absolutely perfect.
The placenta came out about an hour later, and took that long as I didn't want to get up from the comfy bed, and we had no problems with the placenta, beautiful and intact, and no hemorrhaging, and no nursing issues either.
The midwife I had stopped seeing agreed to come and do a newborn well visit, and she estimated his weight at 6lbs and 8oz at birth---exactly what I had thought. And I figured he was about 19 inches long, a little tiny thing.
We named him Owen, which means "well born" in terms of class or society. But I really think it describes his birth perfectly.
And with the exception of laboring at night, it was exactly as I had planned, very gentle and about 5 hours long, give or take. I am beyond thrilled that I could give him this birth---my first gift to him.