Raney Amnah was born at 11:49pm on Sunday, September 5th, 2004. She was 7lbs 5oz and was 19.5” long.
I woke up at about 5am on the morning of the 5th. It was before sunrise and (surprise!) I had to pee. I walked into the bathroom and discovered I’d lost the mucous plug. I was two days past my due date and overjoyed at the discovery. With Mieke (born almost exactly 2 years earlier), I’d started slow contractions the morning that I lost the plug and figured it would be the same this time. I went into M's room and lay down in her bed. She, of course, was in the big bed with daddy. After about 10 minutes, I felt an easy contraction wash over me. They were about 20 minutes apart.
I went into our bedroom and took a picture of B and M asleep in the dark room. I decided to clean the house as today might be the day. I finished the dishes and made sure all the bags were packed and ready to go and decided to get some more sleep. I went back to M’s room and slept until about 8:30am.
When I woke up, I went in and told B I was having contractions. I was pretty low key – even though I was pretty sure this was it – so I don’t think he took me so seriously. We were scheduled to go to a Labor Day picnic (Labor Day indeed!) and he was surprised when I insisted on taking all of the bags with us. He was upset, because one of his best friends was in town and they’d planned on hanging out that night. Men.
The picnic was about an hour and a half away – but hospital I was to birth in was between our town that that one, so I decided to go ahead and go. It was a family get-together on B's side and everyone was quite amused that I was there and in labor.
The contractions got steadily stronger – I wasn’t too concerned because my labor with M had lasted about 30 hours. At about 4pm, they kicked into high gear and I told B that we should head to the town where the hospital was. We had decided to birth in the hospital in our home town this time around. M was born in A--- and the experience there was pretty bad.
We left M at the picnic with B's mom. At this point, the contractions were about 3 minutes apart and quite strong, though not painful, per se. The 45 minute drive was surreal – it was a beautiful sunny day and my body was contracting beautifully.
I told B I wanted to go to the cemetery in town. We’d both grown up here and I’d spent countless hours in the cemetery – it was on a huge hill that overlooked the town. We walked around for almost two hours – contractions steadily 3 minutes apart. I would hang on him through each contraction. I felt wonderful, powerful, in control – everything that I hadn’t felt the first time around. We walked past the grave of B’s grandmother and I felt a huge connection to this woman who neither of us had ever met but who’d birthed eight children including B’s mother. The evening grew to dusk and I told B I wanted to go to my parents’ house. We walked in and told my parents I was in labor. I knew immediately I wouldn’t be able to stay there long – just couldn’t deal with the familiarity of my childhood home. We stayed about a half hour and I told B it was time to head to the hospital.
We got there around 8:45pm and checked in. I was the only woman in the labor center the whole time. I told the nurses that I didn’t want to be offered any drugs and that I only wanted a hep lock (NO IV!). They said I needed to do 20 minutes of fetal monitoring so I lay down and they strapped me up. 20 minutes turned into 30 – there seemed to be slight dips in the heart rate. I finally told them I was NOT laboring in bed anymore and they convinced the doctor (over the phone – he wasn’t there) that everything looked o.k. The two nurses on duty were angels and so supportive of us.
The filled up the tub and I got in expecting relief. Which didn’t happen. I was having back labor (again!) and there just wasn’t enough water or room and I just didn’t feel “grounded.” I did make it through a few really tough contractions by hanging on the bar, though. I got out and hung out on the birthing ball for a while. I started ‘lowing’ during the contractions – really low, long, entreatments vocalized as ‘baby,baby,baby,baby.” It felt really good to do and helped me make it through. One of the nurses threw a bunch of blankets on the floor and told me to get on my hands and knees which felt *wonderful* - thank you nurse! The doctor came in at some point and asked me if I wanted a ‘short labor or a long one” (he wanted to break the amniotic sack). I told him that I learned from my mistakes and there was no way I was letting him do that because the baby was still posterior!
I felt the moment when Raney turned – it was an amazing feeling. I hopped up and told the doctor I was ready to go. He checked me and told me I was complete (thanks, doc
…). My waters broke on the third pushing contraction. I pushed for a while in a sitting crouch position when the baby’s heart rate started to decline. I could tell B was freaking out because of what had happened with M (2 hrs of pushing, vacuum assisted, horrific episiotomy) but I knew everything was o.k. They told me to labor on my side. The whole time I was trying to feel Raney’s head and I think annoying the crap out of the doctor. At 11:49pm, Raney entered the world – beautiful and perfect. I had a tear along my episiotomy scar and a small labial tear, but compared to the way I’d been sliced up during M’s birth, I was thrilled.
Raney’s birth was such a healing experience. I felt that it was on my own terms and at my own pace. It was painful at times but not scary. It felt familiar and the familiarity was comforting. I think it was the most empowering thing I have thus far experienced.
And now Raney is crawling around me – almost 8 months old. Beautiful dark-haired, blue-eyed beauty.
Thank you for sharing this experience with me