(for reference: Jeff=DH, Rhanna=DD age 9, Thane=DS age 4, first birth a homebirth w/ medwives, 2nd homebirth with a hands-off midwife, new baby boy Emrys Tor born November 26th, 2005, totally UP/UC - WOO!)
Well, girls, I did it! The birth I dreamed of! I just can't tell you how wonderful it feels to have experienced a pregnancy and a labor/birth TOTALLY naturally and instinctually, without input from ANY "professional." I never even heard this baby's heartbeat, and yet he managed to be born perfectly healthy - imagine!
So here's the basic story:
My water broke at 3:00pm, as I was heating something up on the stove and dancing with the kids to "Rock Lobster." Not really dancing, but just bouncing, which apparently was enough to open things up! I felt a little trickle, raised a brow and went to the bathroom. As soon as I sat down on the toilet, there was a huge gush of water. I had always wondered what it felt like to start labor this way, since my with my other two births the sack didn't break till the end, and I had been in water at the time, so I didn't feel anything, really. So I was fascinated by how much water was in there! I must have returned to the toilet about 6 times, each with a similar gush of water. At 3:15, I lost my plug, which was also different than before. I had bloody show and stringy mucous with my first two, but not an actual *plug* - well this time, there was really a plug! It looked and felt like a clear marshmallow, same shape and everything - totally cool! I wasn't really in labor, with contractions irregular and pretty light, as they had been for weeks, so I felt like it could be hours or maybe days before the birth, and felt I should rest. I tried to nap for about an hour and a half, and then got up and ate a huge plate of Thanksgiving leftovers. Rhanna and I watched some tv, with contractions getting a little stronger, a little more regular, and then we went to bed at about 10 (had to watch Survivorman, lol).
At 1:11am, the baby woke me with a big kick which was followed by a doozy of a contraction. I had been having them all along, but this one convinced me it was time to get up. So I woke Jeff and we went out to the dining room, where we basically sat and looked at one another between contractions while we enjoyed the warmth of the wood stove. At 2:00, Thane came out to see what was going on, since he had woken for a drink of water and we weren't in bed. He was wide awake and so excited that we were now *actively* awaiting the baby. He rubbed my back during contractions and told me stories and was just so PRESENT and aware. . .it was truly awe-some.
We had set up the tub earlier in the day, and Jeff started wondering if I should get in, but I was afraid of slowing things down. . .the contractions were definitely heating up, but it's just so hard to know where you are on that labor continuum at this stage. I was leaning on the kitchen counter during contractions at this point, with Jeff behind me supporting me. I would press up against him, almost sitting on his lap (although we were standing), and I remember that his warmth and strength were so soothing and necessary. I felt the baby move at one point and was happy to know that all was well in there.
All on his own, Thane decided to go wake Rhanna at about 3:15. She came out looking sleepy but excited, and I told her it would probably be a while, if she wanted to go back to sleep. She said no, that she wanted to be out with us. I felt so content to have my family around me - it felt very *right*.
Contractions were about every 2-3 minutes at this point, but they were only about 20 seconds long, until one big 1-minute long one during which I felt the baby slip down a bit. From then, the contractions really picked up, I felt that first involuntary push, and I was starting to vocalize more. Jeff was still holding me from behind, and I remember his voice soft and low in my ear, reminding me to keep my sounds low, and he vocalized with me to help me focus. He is my rock, always in tune with me, knowing just what is right to do or say. There was never a chance to worry or get panicky with him there with me.
At 3:45 (Jeff scribbled notes of things I said all night, which is the only reason I know the timing of these things, lol), I had the slightest twinges of nausea, and I remember saying quite calmly that I was in transition. 15 minutes later, the involuntary and very real pushing had taken over, which was sort of a relief. I mean, this is the part that really hurts, but for some reason there is a part of my brain that really enjoys it, and I've felt the same for each of my three births. I've never had someone TELL me to push, and never even had to direct it myself - it's just something my body does naturally and instinctually, and I happen to be along for the ride. We had moved to the bedroom, because I had been having a hard time getting into a position that felt just right. I remember pushing on my lower belly during the contractions, trying to help push that baby's body under or around my pelvis - it just felt like it was in the way, and I sort of even wanted to lay down, but I didn't. I had been on hands and knees on the floor, using the bed as a support, but it really wasn't working. Jeff said he felt like maybe we could do with some more clearance (lol) and maybe I should move up onto the bed, since that's where I was with Thane's birth. So I climbed up, remaining on hands and knees, but it was very hard to hold myself up during these intense contractions, since the carpel tunnel in my hands and arms was so bad. I think I did sort of collapse during on of them - nice to have a soft bed to land on.
Jeff and the kids were behind me, at the foot of the bed, during all of this. I tend to get very loud during this last part, and Jeff had seen that the kids were standing there with their hands over their ears, so he told them they could go out if they wanted to. They weren't scared or anything, they just don't like loud noises, lol. (I had been reassuring them between contractions that I was perfectly fine, and we had talked beforehand about how loud I am in labor, so they were prepared and fine with it all.) They only stepped out for one or two contractions, though, because this baby was coming! They ran back in just in time to see his head emerge. I wanted to feel the head, and I was a little surprised at how large it seemed - I clearly remember how Thane's head felt in the palm of my hand at this point, and this head barely even FIT in my hand! I also expected the head to be followed by a large gush of slippery little body, since that's what I experienced both times before, but instead, there was quite a pause. Quite an uncomfortable pause!!! Jeff saw something near the neck, and put a finger there to see if it was the cord, but it was a hand instead! Another contraction and the hands and shoulders emerged, but dang if there wasn't another pause! Jeff asked if he should do something and I wanted to tell him to pull the baby OUT - because ouch, I tell you, being stretched that far for that long!! - but I didn't say anything, since he probably would have, and I knew I didn't really want him to pull on the baby. One last contraction brought the rest of the baby out into Jeff's hands, a gift we had made together last Spring finally making its entrance into our family, surrounded in love BY that family. Truly beautiful. (It was 4:26am, so active labor was about 3 hours.)
Jeff laid the baby on the bed next to me, and he appeared to be asleep! The cord was fairly short, so I didn't bring him up to me, but just rubbed him all over, trying to catch my breath. Rhanna and Thane had come up onto the bed to peer at him in awe while I rubbed and crooned to him. The kids had asked to be the ones to see if it was a girl or a boy, so although Jeff had seen, and I had felt the scrotum with my hands during the delivery, we hadn't said anything about that yet. After a minute or two of rubbing the baby, he opened his eyes with a little squeek and just looked around, totally alert, not crying or anything. Just sort of curious about this new, colder, brighter, room. I asked the kids if they were going to tell us if it was a girl or a boy - they had forgotten about that in their wonderment! So they looked and pronounced him a boy, and I was happy that there wasn't a split second of disappointment for Rhanna, who had really been hoping for a sister. She was just ecstatic with him, and asked what his name was going to be!
I was so curious to see how delivery of the placenta would go, since in both of my other births there had been a third person there who told me "now it's time to deliver the placenta." With that experience taken from me, I was unsure about how I'd know, exactly.
But of course my body did know what to do, and about 30 minutes after the baby's birth, I felt a few more contractions and the urge to squat up and push out that placenta. It seemed huge to me, like another whole baby. We put it in the placenta bowl (we've used it for each birth!) and I sat up a bit to see if Emrys wanted to nurse. He did nurse for a few minutes, and then we all five fell asleep for about two and a half hours. When we woke up, Rhanna cut the cord (it felt so very cold!). I looked at the placenta thoroughly at that point, and it *was* huge, and just beautiful. Perfectly formed, intact, and. . .well, luscious. I felt a wave of thanks toward it, for helping me grow a perfect baby.
A few hours after that, we weighed Emrys, and when Jeff said "8 pounds, 4 ounces" I replied with "SHUT UP!" LOL! Thane was only 6lbs, 5 ozs., and Rhanna only 7lbs., 4ozs., so this is a big baby for me! No wonder it felt different pushing him out!! He was also two inches longer than my other two, and his head was two inches bigger, as well. I may have to re-think that high-protein diet next time!
So we've made it through the first 4-5 days, which for me are always the hardest. Starting off by pulling an all-nighter didn't help things, either! But my milk is in, Emrys is nursing and pooping just like he should, and we have started to find a little groove. Just this morning I got out of the shower and looked at myself in the mirror, sort of fascinated as I considered myself a mama of three. Wow, three!!! What a huge blessing!!!