The Birth of Ezra James, November 18th 2005
I will start by saying that this baby has the best timing! I had originally focused on November 10th as the birth date. It turned out I was not able to finish work until the 10th, and I wanted a week off before having the baby, so I revised my focus to the 17th or 18th. There were several things I wanted to accomplish before the birth (we had a planned date night, my last prenatal yoga class, and a pregnancy massage scheduled, none of which I wanted to miss!) plus Matt ended up having a conference on the 17th so he said not to have the baby on that day. I didn’t want to have him on Thanksgiving Day or a weekend due to childcare issues, or at night so I wouldn’t feel like I was going to wake up Ethan, and the midwife would be out of town for a few days after Thanksgiving.
So what do you know, he decided to cooperate nicely by coming on the day of the 18th!! His name means ‘helpful one’ and he certainly lived up to it!
At 39 weeks, with no previous signs of labor, dilation, or braxton-hicks, I woke up at 7:30am because Ethan had therapy that morning. As soon as I came downstairs, I had a hard, crampy contraction. I went to the bathroom and the mucus plug had started coming out! I was really happy and went out to tell Matt that something might be happening, so I said I’d call him if anything felt imminent and he left for work.
During Ethan’s therapy, I felt like I couldn’t sit down and I stood up and swayed or kneeled next to the table (the therapist was very understanding!). I didn’t count or time them but I had about 6-8 moderately painful contractions that hour from 8-9am.
I had promised Matt that at the slightest sign of labor I would call him and T (the midwife), after how fast Ethan’s birth was and knowing we’d need time to get Ethan to daycare. Even if it was a false alarm, better safe than sorry, so I called T and let her know, and she said she’d check back with me in an hour. Then I called Matt and told him not to hurry but to finish up and come home when he could. I called the daycare and let them know I may need to bring Ethan today, but if so, Matt would bring him when he got home.
All of a sudden I felt very scatter-brained- I couldn’t focus on anything. Fortunately Ethan was eating breakfast nicely, but I felt like I couldn’t take care of him and get him dressed or get his food ready for daycare. I hadn’t eaten or drank anything at all yet so I made peanut butter toast and tea, but couldn’t even focus on eating, I’d take one bite then wander around doing this and that to get ready but not accomplishing anything. The babysitter called back and said she’d come pick him up- I agreed and she came within minutes. That turned out to be an excellent decision, as it turned out! It was so poignant saying goodbye- I vividly remember handing him over, in his pj's, and I knew that the next time I saw him there would be a baby and his life would be changed forever, and he had no real idea.
I had started looking at the clock every once in a while so I could tell T more accurately what was going on when she called back. The contractions were like very bad menstrual cramps, down low in my cervix, and they were very frequent-anywhere from one to five minutes apart. I was surprised at how frequent and painful they were, since this was totally different from Ethan’s labor, with the tightening, belly-squeezing contractions. I kept busy cleaning, as had been my plan- to keep myself upright and moving and keep my mind busy, and make the house relatively clean in preparation for the birth. Matt called and said he was on his way home.
I somehow cleaned both bathrooms, but very half heartedly as I kept having to stop, pace, and hum through the contractions every other minute. Even today, every time I clean the bathrooms, I recall doing that in labor!
I thought I should be listening to my Hypnobabies Birthing Day affirmations to keep my mind in a positive state- it was getting very difficult to relax and not tense up, and I knew I needed to stay mentally and physically relaxed.
Matt came home at 11am and asked what I needed and what needed to be done. I said “I don’t want to talk, just vacuum and take the dogs out” I hate having dog hair covered floors and didn’t want to have the baby with dog hair all around! Plus the dogs had been cooped up on the porch since morning during Ethan’s therapy and I didn’t want them barking or being restless when I needed Matt with me.
I went into the bedroom and leaned on the bureau and just tried to cope. It was extremely painful at this point and I was trying all the different breathing techniques to see what helped. None of the breathing helped at all- while with Ethan’s birth the contractions were like annoying tightenings in my whole abdomen where deep breaths to expand my abdomen helped a lot, this was like severe pain in my cervix, and no breathing could touch it, if that makes sense. I finally settled on a deep ‘Ahhh’ sound that we practiced in yoga- a sounds that resonates up through the pelvis and abdomen- while it didn’t make the pain go away, it did give me something to do and keep my mind on and it least it was aimed at the area that hurt the most. I found it very difficult to even breathe regularly at all.
Matt checked back in every once in a while to see how I was doing or if I needed anything. I didn’t, I was just trying to deal with the intensity. I had visualized an 8 hour labor, but at this point I fervently hoped that this would be over soon, because there was no way I could take several more hours of this! I knew the only way for it to be over was to get through it. All this time I kept listening to the affirmations, but I was almost laughing at them when they said “every pressure wave makes more anesthesia flow through my body” and “I will experience the sensations only as pressure” Ha ha!! What a joke.
Then I got down on my hands and knees on the floor just to see if it would help. Nothing was comfortable and no position helped it feel better but that was all I could do. The contractions never did get into a pattern or longer, it seemed like they were sort of irregular and constant the whole time. My vocalizations were getting louder. Meanwhile Matt was rushing around, apparently getting the birth supplies from downstairs (I had thought I might deliver in my 'relaxation room' or in the nicer bathtub downstairs so had the supplies down there), and making phone calls. He had only been home for a few minutes. All of a sudden I felt the slightest pushing sensation. I summoned what breath I could and called for Matt and told him to call T and tell her I couldn’t talk and I was starting to feel pressure, and told him to prepare the bed with the waterproof cloth and some old sheets. He threw the dropcloth on the bed, left to make the call, and came back and said she was already on her way.
For some reason I thought I should pee. And I wanted to see if anything was coming out like blood or more of the plug. Somehow I made it into the bathroom and was just gripping the sink and pressing my head on the faucet and blood was running down my legs. At some previous point I had gotten hot and taken my clothes off. I was able to pee a little bit and thought maybe I should try the shower- even though there wasn’t anything to lean on in there I just wanted to do something, anything to make it feel better. I couldn’t stand up and just kneeled in there with the water on my back.
All of a sudden my body was pushing hard. The pressure was forcing me to yell loudly, but I knew I had to keep the sounds low in order for myself to open up, so I forced myself not to let it become a scream. I even knew from my own sounds that I was a woman about to push a baby out!
I had to see what was going on so I felt inside and just an inch or so inside I felt a smooth, squishy bump and knew the baby was coming out very soon. This is something I had planned on and wanted to do- feel the baby on it’s way out- so that was very satisfying. I said “It’s being born right now” so Matt would realize how imminent it was in case he couldn’t tell. All of a sudden my water broke with a pop- it didn’t seem like a whole lot came out, I guess the head was plugging it. I asked if the midwife would be there soon and he said she would. Matt was trying to convince me to turn the shower off so he could see, but I didn’t want to be cold and said just put a towel on the floor of the tub, which he did.
Then I felt the head pushing out! What a feeling- incredibly painful and intense, and absolutely amazing that it was happening NOW! No ‘breathing the baby down’ or ‘Breathing love down to the baby’ to ease it out like it was with Ethan! Fortunately the contractions slowed down a bit so I could think between them. I didn’t want to tear and knew I needed to let the baby crown as long as possible to stretch. I didn’t push at all but my body was pushing for me so hard. I was saying it hurt SO BAD and it felt like I was going to split in all directions. I was holding my hand on my perineum, to try and slow things down and because it hurt so much I didn’t want that head to come through! Matt was trying to get me to come to the bed and I couldn’t even imagine moving in that state, but finally, somehow, I made the few steps to the bed. In a clear moment, I thought, I really don't want the baby born onto a wet bathtub floor, I'd rather have it on the bed.
I knelt at the top of the bed and gripped the headboard and pressed my head into it and chanted to myself ‘please wait, please wait, please wait, slow down, slow down, slow down’. I knew the head was coming out, and I guess it did, and then the body right away. I don't specifically remember the baby actually coming out. I turned around and the first thing I saw was a little pinkish purple rag doll with black hair and I was keeping it up in a sitting position and it cried right away. I knew it needed to be on my chest so right away I brought it to my chest and Matt threw a towel over us. He was sort of agitated and looking for the suction bulb saying we needed to suction the baby and I was trying to think of where it was, but I knew the baby was all right- I kept saying “It’s ok, it’s crying” (We were saying ‘it’ because we didn’t know if the baby was a boy or girl).
After a few minutes of being incredulous, I looked under the towel and said “Um, I think it’s a boy” I always hear stories of parents being confused at the first look and saying the wrong gender! Later Matt told me it was quite scary because the cord was around his neck, he couldn’t slip it off, and the baby was purple so he pulled out the body. I had no idea about this, Matt never acted worried or voiced anything to me, he stayed totally calm. So then I understood why he was somewhat agitated and worried about the baby breathing. I had no idea what time it was and Matt told me the time of birth was 12pm.
Then T walked in and Matt said “Too late!” (Later she told us that when she saw the time hit noon, she knew she had missed the birth and she sensed the cord had been around the neck.) She assessed us and said I was bleeding so I had to push out the placenta. I pushed with the (very painful) contractions and she had to reach inside to help it along. I kept trying to have the baby nurse to help it come out. It finally came did (whew) and we kept the cord attached for quite a long time, maybe an hour, with the placenta in a bowl beside us. I was very happy to find out that I only had a small perineal tear and bruising otherwise- no stitches needed.
I kept the baby near my breast the whole time and soon he latched on- what an incredible feeling.
The birth assistant made it at some point- She did all the cleanup and made us all lunch and helped me to the bathroom and shower. Nice!
We finally started guessing on the weight- he clearly had large hands, and was quite meaty in the arms! Plus he came 3 weeks later than Ethan did so we guessed 6.5# (Ethan was 5.5#)- we couldn’t believe he was 7# 9 oz, 20.5”! The midwives left around 3pm.
I am grateful most of all that our baby was born to right into his parents hands, and that he only knew gentleness and love coming into the world. No unfamiliar hands, bright lights, needle sticks, or being separated from us. This is what I hoped to achieve in having a homebirth, and I feel it was accomplished in every way.