It was the hottest day of the summer so far, real temps reached 100, heat index was well over that. After several days of feeling absolutely miserable, and feeling ready to birth this baby after a good day of increased BH contractions, my mucous plug finally gave way during a huge, cooling, energetic thunderstorm around 9:00pm. I stood in the doorway and let the breeze and mist cover my belly while watching the lightning. I thought, my baby chose a storm to start her progress into this life. Come on, Baby, let’s meet. DP asked me if I was ready. “I better be,” I said. Birth was imminent.
DP and I decided to watch the video we had been waiting for two months and which had finally, if inconveniently, come that day from the library. Distracted soon after, we turned it off and I began to feel the real work of birth starting. My waters broke while I was experiencing minor contractions while leaning over the sofa, really tons of water! I couldn’t believe how much just kept coming out with almost no contractions at all. I began to harbor hopes for a quick, easy labor. I noticed the fluid was clear and full of vernix. Too cool that I could finally see some part of my baby already.
Contractions picked up from there, becoming more intense and closer together, but not regular. I was waiting for the feeling that things were becoming closer to birth rather than just more contractions, but began to get disappointed. After a few hours, I began to get frustrated and tired at my relative lack of sticky contractions. Feeling for the position, I discovered that baby was posterior and oblique. To relieve his own fears, DP checked my dilation non-invasively using a technique he read about in a midwifery textbook and found that I was only dilated a centimeter or two. Instead of telling him to keep the results to himself, I asked him to share them with me. And then felt what every laboring woman with an attendant feels when she hears numbers during a hard, long labor: “only 1 or 2 cm. You’re not even really dilated”.
Well, at that point the discouragement really set in. I realized that instead of riding the contractions I had to think about seriously moving that baby if I wanted to keep my energy going. DP kept trying to feed me, but I wasn’t hungry and able to eat. He diligently brought me drinks to keep me hydrated without my asking and reminded me to drink them. I had been fighting the urge to vomit and finally did. This relaxed me but did not help my contractions get sticky.
Contractions were irregular and intense. They would get closer together and then subside to every 10 minutes. Then 20. Every contraction was beginning to tire me. When I just couldn’t take any more non-sticky contractions I began to lean forward on a chair, relaxing my body and doing pelvic tilts. When the contraction got to a peak I would gently push a little to see if I could convince the baby to turn or descend. I tried this for too long, maybe 30 or 45 minutes. Feeling they were nowhere near what I needed, I decided I was too tired to continue labor and tried to rest. Up to this point I had tried pulsatilla, lunges, hands and knees, panting through contractions, resting, pushing, a bath, a shower, vomiting, pooping, standing, squatting, and anything else that came to me, all to no avail. This was at about 4:00 or 4:30 am.
I lay down with DP (who had already went in to nap) and our dd and tried to sleep between contractions but couldn’t. At first I could rest, but then they picked up in intensity and frequency and became harder to deal with. By 5:30 I was up again, moaning with stronger, more frequent contractions, and not feeling rested. Holding my baby seemed very far away, and I began to feel serious discouragement. The baby was transverse now, still posterior. But at least I had a little amniotic fluid again, as I noticed later when my contractions got more painful and I could not resist the urge to push with them. I tried to focus my energy on the hope that with more fluid she could turn.
DP was beginning to rack his brain for ideas, and was wishing for a midwife's advice on how to help me get through this part. I had cried with discouragement and he really felt it, too. I didn’t want a midwife, but his fear and sense of frustration wasn’t helping to ease mine. Somehow, we made it through that time. As I got deeper and deeper into painful contractions, I relied on him more and more for emotional support. This felt right for me, like I had been putting it off this whole time and only now, in crisis, was acknowledging my descent into the underworld. Only going through this would allow me to bring back my baby.
I took more showers. I read suggestions by posters on MDC. I secluded myself in the bathroom as much as possible while DP took care of our 3yo dd. My belly still looked and felt the same, baby was still high, still posterior at 9:30. I was close to what I felt was my wits’ end by 10:30. So I got into a knees and chest position to try to slow the contractions and get a bit of rest. I ordered DP to call our friend to see if she still had any pulsatilla since we ran out. He did, and she did. When she came over I was getting very intense, overwhelming contractions that shook my whole body, arching my back like there was a rope around my belly pulling me forward. They were a little closer together, as they had been many times before, and more painful. I did not feel that these were any different than previous times of stronger, more frequent contractions. I did, however, feel my body was somehow betraying me. I wondered out loud to DP, “Why would my body just keep going into stronger contractions without doing anything about them?”
Eventually, my friend and her husband and their new baby arrived. I was suffering with what in hindsight was transition. Baby position still felt the same, my belly still looked the same. DP told me after the birth that my line of dilation still hadn’t moved from 1 or 2 cm. I was totally subsumed by my body, and started to worry about a short cord or other complications.
I took more pulsatilla and DP stimulated a pressure point on my little toe our friend showed him that would help move the baby. Not 5 minutes later, I was crying, unable to not push, passing blood - then passing clots. We didn’t panic, but began to think something was wrong and considered transport. He suggested I try to breathe through the contractions, which I couldn’t. So I vocalized, which got things going.
I went to shower while DP went downstairs. I was miserable, but the shower really helped. In the shower I was alone and pushed freely. After just a few minutes, I felt like I had to poop again, so I sat on the toilet and pushed. A lot of this labor was spent on the toilet. At first, it was only poop. But then after a few pushes more, I realized the baby’s head was descending! I wasn’t going to need transport! I was going to have this baby soon! Such relief.
So I pushed a few more times with the contractions, and when DP came to check on me a second time I was able to answer him, “Chris, I’m birthing this baby right now!” It was noon. A couple more pushes and I was in the tub standing with one leg on the edge. DP helped me get into an all-fours position, and while he was getting a towel below me I felt her crown and the ring of fire. It felt good! I let her stay there to stretch my perineum, then out she came with the next contraction. I got to touch her head the whole time.
With the next couple contractions, out slipped her body into DP’s hands, and Pearl was born! She was pink and whole and cried right away. We looked at each other in shock - “We did it,” I said in utter amazement, unable to believe it had happened so suddenly after such a long labor. “You did it,” He replied, and we held our baby as I turned onto my butt to nurse her. It was 12:10.
We called in dd to meet her sister, and she stayed for just a minute and then left for the safety of her friends downstairs. I birthed the placenta soon afterward, uneventfully, with some big dark blood clots. I felt good, and very glad to not be pregnant anymore. Pearl was very healthy, long and approximately 7 1/2 pounds.
rural mama to DD1 DD2
unschooling, non-vaxing, writing, gardening, co-sleeping, critter-loving family :