Dec. 21, I woke up thinking that I would really like to have a solstice baby. I ate breakfast with Rob and Julian and took a hot bath. Immediately upon getting out of the bath at 12:45, I started having regular contractions about 2-5 minutes apart. After an hour of this I was pretty sure I was in labor, but it took a couple more hours to convince me.
The contractions were not bad at this point, they were short and I could talk and walk through them.
At 2:30 we decided to walk to the park, where Rob pushed me on the swingset and Julian played on the playground for a few minutes. I finally started to really feel pain with contractions and decided to go home and fill up the pool- we were really going to have a baby!
At home, we had all kinds of issues filling the pool up, and Robert made about 30 trips up and down the stairs with pots of boiling water because the hot tap water kept running out so quickly. Once the water was 90 degrees and about halfway full, around 4, I got in and stayed in until after Luka’s birth. The two times I got out to go to the bathroom were excruciating, the contractions were totally unbearable out of the water.
The contractions stayed at about every 3 minutes from very early in labor until Luka’s birth- they got longer and stronger, but not closer together. At 5 I called my mom to see if she was leaving work left- she said she was, but somehow managed to take over 2 hours to reach my apartment 30 minutes away! She said she was bringing me my favorite homemade vegetable soup, which sounded fabulous. Unfortunately by the time she finally arrived, food was the last thing on my mind, so all I ended up eating during labor was water, juice, and a popsicle.
Julian was driving me insane during labor, I had really wanted him there but ended up having him stay out of the room once things got really intense. He could not keep quiet during contractions, which I HAD to have. From about 4-5 or so, Robert entertained him downstairs while I labored alone. After that Nathan (Julian’s dad) came over and played with him downstairs for a couple of hours, and took him on a drive to pick up takeout (for himself) and wine (for us). At that point, I needed a break and thought a glass of wine might slow the contractions for a bit. By the time Nathan got back around 6-ish?, I was feeling way too nauseous to drink any wine. My sister arrived with groceries we’d asked for at the same time Nathan and Jules got back. Nathan left, and Jenn stayed downstairs with Julian after watching one contraction and declaring, “I’m never having a baby.”
I was really starting to lose control at this point, my relaxation techniques were barely keeping me going. I kept saying “I can’t do this” which I continued to repeat until I started pushing. I checked my cervix and saw little progress around 6. I couldn’t believe that the past 5 hours had done nothing for me and was really disappointed (this is why people advise against cervical checks in labor, of course).
After 6-6:30 I started to make progress and dilated pretty quickly. The contractions were long and very painful, I shifted positions every which way to try and get comfortable during them, and it didn’t work. The best position was hands and knees or elbows and knees, but my arms were so shaky by the end of a contraction my face would be almost in the water.
My mom showed up at 7:something and she and Rob sat and talked with me during the 2 minutes of contraction-free time. I was worried she’d be anxious, but she managed herself well.
Around 8:15 or so I checked myself and found myself complete, but waited a couple of contractions until I felt the urge to push. I pushed for 4 or 5 contractions, about 10 minutes total. The first one I wasn’t sure if I was pushing or not, but after the second I said, “I’m pushing!” and they said, “We know.” After the third contraction his head was RIGHT there about to be born and I said, “Oh my god, there’s a person in me!” It felt so strange. The next contraction brought his head most of the way out, and I paused to stretch with him. After his head, it seemed to me like a long time before his body came out but Rob and my mom said it was immediate- I must have been in some weird time warp. He was born around 8:30 pm (we didn’t think to check the time for several minutes, oops!). I pushed his head out on hands and knees and caught his body kneeling, pulling him up to me. I was so ecstatic and amazed that I didn’t think to do anything but throw a warm towel over him and stare. It took quite a while before I thought to check between his legs, and when I did I said, “Hi baby boy! Hi Luka!” He was covered from head-to-toe in thick veernix, which is odd at 39+ weeks. I rubbed it in with the wet towelI had over him.
After a couple of minutes of me staring at him lying there, I thought he wasn’t breathing. His eyes were closed and he was still. I rubbed his back, and listened closely, only to realize he was asleep! After a few minutes he woke up and looked around suspiciously.
I held him on my chest in the tub for about 45 minutes waiting for the placenta, until the water started to feel chilly and I decided to get out. I handed Luka to Rob, still attached to me by a fairly short umbilical cord (Rob had to hold him at waist-level), got out of the pool, and birthed the placenta into a bowl. Rob grabbed the cord tape and we tied and cut Luka’s cord, which at that point was totally white and cold. I left Luka with Rob and went into the bathroom to shower- Luka got weighed and I was shocked to hear he weighed 9 lbs. I had expected a big baby, but he looks so small!
I got myself and Luka dressed, ate some vegetable soup (finally!) and we called a few friends and family to come visit. Luka finally latched on for the first time about 2 or 3 hours after birth, but is still having a hard time with nursing. Julian had a hard time latching when he was first born, so I’m not too worried about it.
Our awesome friends Erica, Liz, and Colin emptied the (icky blood-tinted) pool for us and my mom took the deflated pool home to hose off. We threw a load of wet towels in the wash and that was the end of the mess- nothing like I was led to expect from a homebirth!
I got one tear from the birth, but it is on the top inside of my labia, not anywhere that affects my movement or anything, it’s worse than I first thought (it’d probably get 1-2 stitches in a hospital) but I expect it to heal within a couple of weeks. I am not swollen or sore (aside from the tear) at all. I can look at and touch my girly parts without fear or pain- something that didn’t happen for weeks after Julian’s birth.
I can’t believe I did it! It was soooo hard and definitely painful, but I am so happy to have had an unassisted birth and gotten my sweet little squishy face out of it.
Pictures of Luka can be found at http://photobucket.com/albums/y256/unconformed/Luka/