Well, little Julia has been nursing ALL DAY and is now finally fast asleep, so time to try to remember everything that happened yesterday… well, maybe I will start a little earlier than that.
PART I: The Crying Jag (not really the labor story itself, but psychological background stuff that you can skip if you want to.)
I really thought I might have this baby early as DS Jamie arrived 3 days early. I had pre-labor symptoms 3 days before my due date on 8/24, but despite feeling ‘strange’ for 4-5 hours, nothing came of it. Then NOTHING happened for 8 more days, and the midwives at our birthing center started talking about the things that I would need to do as I got closer to being 2 weeks ‘overdue’, including taking a fetal stress test, charting fetal movements, and having an ultrasound. The birthing center would only allow me to have a homebirth until September 7th, after which point they would want their backup doctor to assess my situation and decide whether to recommend induction or allow me a few more days to have the baby on my own.
Well, all of this procedural stuff just sounded so unappealing, so I started to feel anxious about going ‘overdue’ and felt really discouraged. It didn’t help that Tom and I were completely prepared for the birth by the due date (in contrast w/Jamie’s birth at which we were *barely* prepared!) Tom actually cut back his work hours because he was so bored at work. Every day he would tease me, saying how ‘excited’ he was to head out to work and reminding me that he would be happy to start paternity leave at any time. (I said, “I’ll see what I can do…”) I was going out of my mind at home thinking, “If the baby were here by now…” The other thing that was dragging me down was my 40 week appt at the birthing center. I met with a substitute midwife because the main 5 midwives are really busy at this time of year and needed extra help to handle all the checkups, and she managed somehow to take a high blood pressure reading on me, the first high BP I have had during both pregnancies. I really think the cuff was too loose or something was wrong, it felt funny when she took it. When she retook it 10 minutes later it was a normal reading, but it scared me because having HBP might result in me losing the opportunity to have my homebirth, which I really wanted to do.
By Tuesday night 8/29, I was feeling really depressed. I had a really rough day with Jamie, I was feeling really uncomfortable physically (just about as huge this time as with Jamie, but much less fat and much more muscle tone), and I was really frustrated that Baby hadn’t made an appearance yet. I was thinking that I was going to end up in the hospital, induced, due to HBP and post dates. Seeing how much I detest hospitals and their intervention practices, on top of this most likely being my last pregnancy and therefore my only opportunity to homebirth, it was not a happy thought. So while I was putting Jamie to bed (after being a Really Horrible Mother to him that day) the Crying Jag began. I cried and cried, thinking about all my worries and anxieties and how much everything just sucked that day. I learned recently that crying due to sadness is the only type of crying that produces tears with actual toxins in them, and I could literally smell the toxins coming out of my pores; I took a shower as a result because I felt so yucky. I think I was in crying mode for about 2 hours. Then I wrote a bunch of email to friends and stuff to an online forum (here!) and just really got all my negative feelings out on the table, and felt MUCH better, like my system was just cleaned out. I was able to fall asleep a little after 2 AM, which is great for me recently, the nighttime insomnia the past couple weeks has been really bad. (You try getting comfortable with 44 extra pounds of weight to move around in bed with soft aching pelvis joints!) I slept like a log, despite the usual bathroom breaks and the fact that Jamie decided to climb in bed with us a little after 3 AM.
PART II: Am I in Labor?
So I woke up at 8:15 AM (we are night owls, in case you didn’t notice) feeling very hot and sweaty. This was due to the fact that a hot 34 pound toddler was sleeping practically on top of me. I made the trip downstairs to bump the thermostat down, then went back to bed (scootching Hot Kid to Daddy’s side of the bed). I tried to go back to sleep for a few minutes because to go to aerobics, we needed to get up at 8:30. Maybe aerobics (low impact, of course!) would start the labor process; at least the endorphins would make me feel good the rest of the day. As I was lying there enjoying the air-conditioning, I had a contraction. It felt like the many Braxton-Hicks contractions I had been having for weeks. As I was on the edge of dozing, another contraction started up. This contraction hurt, unlike the previous contraction, which actually felt pretty good, like flexing a strong muscle. I stayed still to see what else would happen. Within a few minutes, another contraction came, and this one hurt, too, like a large menstrual cramp. I took a few deep breaths to get through it, and then decided to go confer with Tom.
It was 8:30 at this point. Tom was in his bathroom getting ready to go to work. I told him I thought I might be in labor, but so far I had only had three contractions, so really I wasn’t sure. Tom decided he could wait around for 20 minutes or so before he really had to decide whether to cancel his meetings and stay home, or go to work in time to make it to his first meeting. He took Jamie downstairs for diaper change and breakfast, and I lay back down on the bed with his watch, the clipboard, and _The Devil Wears Prada_, (which was a pretty entertaining book at times, but I thought the ending was lame). In twenty minutes I charted 4 more ‘real’ contractions, 2 that were less than 30 seconds each, but then two that were each over a minute long and about 7 minutes apart.
I got up and told Tom that he’d better call into work and tell them he wasn’t coming in. (He was ecstatic) and emailed all my friends that I was in labor. I also called C, who was filling the role as our birth assistant (she is a midwife now herself) because I knew she had to arrange childcare for her young daughters. (In fact, she had given me strict instructions to call her the minute ‘anything weird’ happened.) Then I called our birthing center to let the midwife on call, R, know that I was in labor. With both of them we decided to see how things went and call again in an hour or so (Time was now 9:15). I called my mom and she planned to pack my sister (age 13) and brother (age 8) in the car and make her way over, maybe stopping at her office first. This all sounded fine because I figured it would take a while for things to progress. Hah.
It was definitely early labor because I was in a good mood and feeling fine, just having to stop and breathe deeply through the more intense contractions. I wanted to get a few things in order before much else happened, like putting the clean sheets on the bed, covering them with a shower curtain, then putting old sheets on top of that. I also wanted to clean the kitchen counters, eat some breakfast, fill my camelback with water, and generally straighten up the place.
Well, first things first, I poured a bowl of cereal and sat down to look at the news headlines. (Nothing memorable.) Tom was now monitoring my contractions for me because I am hopeless at doing math these days, usually I find it easy to calculate in my head, but things have been foggy these past few months. When I finished the bowl of cereal, I had a very strong contraction (went from sitting in chair to hands and knees position on floor) and a strong urge to use the bathroom, so I retreated back upstairs.
Whenever a contraction started, I would holler out “Starting!” and Jamie (2 yrs) would call back, “Otay, Mommy!” and when it was over I would call, “Okay!” to which he would respond, “All right, Mommy!” each and every time. I went to the bathroom several times as my system continued clearing out in a serious way. Otherwise I sat on my birth ball, bouncing and moving around a little. I tried to lie down a few times, but that was extremely uncomfortable. I was not getting much done around the house that I had hoped to accomplish, but labor was progressing smoothly. I should be done with this in the next 4 to 6 hours, I thought. The contractions were pretty intense, but mostly on the shorter side, according to Tom’s chart. Only 30-45 seconds long.
I decided it was time to get people heading over to the house. I haven’t the faintest idea what time it was by this point… 9:45? I called my mother and told her to come directly (she was coming from Sterling during rush hour) and called C (coming from Alexandria). I had a contraction while C was on the phone, and she said, “I’ll just come over now.” For some reason, I didn’t call R at this point, I should have, but I think I was distracted because my contractions were stronger, and I couldn’t sit on the birth ball anymore, so I was on my knees leaning my face and arms against it instead.
I was now starting to have to make noise through the contractions. “OOOOoooooooohhhhhhhhhhhhoooooohhhhHHHHOOOHHHhhhh. ” Even though I had demonstrated this to Jamie many times before (it’s the same noise I made in labor with him) he didn’t like it. He and Tom were now upstairs putting the bed together, Jamie ‘helping’ Tom by crawling around the bed and pulling the sheets off. When I started up with the noise he came over to try and cover my mouth and hit me when I didn’t stop making noise. I said, “GET OFF OF ME,” and pushed him away, I could not deal with being touched much less hit. After the contraction was over I apologized and explained, “Mommy has to make a lot of noise for the baby to come out.” He looked worried and peered curiously at my (dressed) bottom, as we have read a book that shows the baby being born out of the mother’s bottom. Tom took him downstairs and tried to get him to watch TV or play with toys. Did he stay downstairs? No, he was too interested in what was going on upstairs, although Tom took him down several times, he always came right back up.
By now I had been on and off the toilet at least three times, and I decided it was time to move there and stay there. I like to labor on the toilet because then I can concentrate on relaxing my bottom and not worry if anything comes out. I was having a strong urge to urinate but nothing was happening (this should have been my first clue that things were progressing much faster than I thought!) I was also having these major amazing contractions. I remember thinking that I had forgotten how much contractions hurt; these suckers were really taking it out of me. I was also shaking quite a bit, and having trouble relaxing between contractions, which were right on top of each other, 2-3 minutes apart and about a minute long each. (I did not know this until I looked at the chart that Tom was keeping while I was progressing through labor. I had absolutely no sense of time, which was flying by.) I was starting to wonder how long I would be able to keep going, and really hoping that Mom and the midwives would show up soon. I was going to need a lot of support to get through several more hours of these wicked contractions. Oh yeah! Sometime around here I finally asked Tom to call R and get her headed to our house. Again, I had no sense of time passing whatsoever.
Tom could tell from all of the noise that I was making that things were progressing; in fact, he might have known more than me at this point. He kept coming into the bathroom, trying to put his hand on my shoulder, asking what he could do, and I kept barking, “Don’t touch me! Just hurry up! Get things ready! Bring me some water RIGHT NOW!” He has been telling people that between all the moaning and growling, I was like the demon in 'The Exorcist'. (Thanks, Honey.)
So now I am doing my best to relax between each contraction, but it is hard to relax when I am dreading the next one. I am staring at the rubber bath mat that is draped over the side of the tub, looking at the neat rows of perfectly round suction cups, touching them with my fingertips. (Every time I see that bathmat now I think about trying to relax between contractions. The next one always seems to come before I am ready, (well yeah! I am getting less than a minute break between contractions at this point!) and now the intensity is lifting me up off the toilet seat; I am shaking violently, I am propping my weight up on my hands. My body is vibrating like a gas powered lawn mower and my voice is matching the vibration in the lowest voice at the highest volume possible: “OOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO HHHHHHHooooooohhhhEEEEEEEEEERRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGHHHHH HHooooohhhOOOOHHHHHhhhhhhERRRRRRGGGGHHHHH!!!!!!!!! ”
Hey, wait a minute, I think. That ERRGGHHH noise is the pushing noise! Could I really be in transition already? Part of me is thinking, “Oh, s*&%!” and another part is thinking, “THANK GOD this is almost over because I will die if I have to do this much longer!!!” (Thinking you are going to die is a symptom of being in transition along with the other symptoms I hadn’t been paying attention to, such as snapping at husband, violent shaking, and having intense contractions one right after the other… duh!)
Okay, let’s see. I decided to check myself and see what the status was; meaning I wanted to check my cervix and see how dilated I was. I vaguely thought about washing my hands, fortunately I had done that repeatedly a short time previously when going to the bathroom repeatedly… I reached a tentative hand down and within a few inches felt her head emerging from the womb. (technically it was the bag of waters, which hadn’t broken yet, bulging in front of her head, but either way it meant that I was fully dilated and she was on the way out. Hooray!) I decided to break the news to Tom.
“The baby is coming soon.”
“What do you want me to do?”
“Get things ready, take care of Jamie.”
More contractions. I knew the midwives were just minutes away. I just needed to hang in there. I just couldn’t stop the urge to push during the contractions. I can’t do this anymore, I thought. I am just going to have to have this baby. RIGHT NOW. I wasn’t panicky or frightened or anything, I knew she was just fine, and I knew I was going to feel just fabulous after I got her out. Of. My. Body. As. Fast. As. Possible.
Tom came back and I snapped, “CHUX PADS! CHUX PADS!” (Those big disposable hospital pads, very handy when giving birth). Tom said, “How many? Where are they?” “LOTS! IN THE STUDY! I NEED WATER!!!” He threw a stack of Chux Pads to me. (He is still trying to get Jamie to go downstairs through all of this. Jamie is determined not to miss the action.) I kicked off my pajama bottoms in the corner and started spreading the pads on the bathroom floor with my feet. Tom arrived with water (finally—I had forgotten to drink any during the entire labor—sort of distracted by other things…I was anxious to avoid getting dehydrated). I looked at him and said, “Call R. Baby is coming RIGHT NOW.”
I had another contraction. I climbed off the toilet. I was still wearing my shirt. I stripped it off, figuring it would just get messy and would be in the way when I went to bring the baby to my breast. I got on my hands and knees and rested my head on my forearm propped on the side of the bathtub. I could hear Tom talking in a calm voice to R. Contraction. I Oooohhed through it as best I could, and my water broke. Not a huge gush, but a POP! and a significant amount of fluid, right onto the Chux pad (They’re great. They are also great for your child to sleep on when they have the stomach bug…) I knew there wasn’t more water at this point because her head was so low in my pelvis, it was blocking the rest of it. “WATER BROKE,” I announced. “MECONIUM IN WATER.” Er, yeah, the water was a lovely tan/brown color. Childbirth fluids are pretty nasty.
Tom came over and said, “Regina says to blow through the contraction as if you are blowing out a candle. She is almost here.” And at that moment I could see in my mind’s eye the front door to our house. I had walked past only an hour before, and it was…locked! No time to mention it now, another contraction started, and I am trying to blow out the candle which results in an alternating grunting/puffing noise that would have blown out fifty candles, no problem. Tom told me later that at this point he was thinking a) This is Not Good and b) he is really wishing he had time to review his childbirth notes. Fortunately I had read him the Emergency Childbirth Instructions not too long ago.
Despite breathing through the contraction as much as I could, I could still feel what I knew had to be The Ring of Fire. (I didn’t feel this with Jamie because by the time his head reached my perineum, I was totally numb from the waist down and I didn’t have an epidural or anything. I guess you go naturally numb after pushing for 2+ hours. I didn't even feel the 4th degree tear I wound up with...) Anyway, The Ring of Fire meant the baby’s head was stretching my perineum. I absolutely didn’t want to tear, so I asked Tom to make me a perineal compress. Now I didn’t screech, “PERINEAL COMPRESS! PERINEAL COMPRESS!” because that would have freaked him out and he wouldn’t have known what to do. I knew specifically that I wanted him to turn on the hot water tap, and while the water was running and heating up, I wanted him to go to the linen closet and get a washcloth, bring it back, get it wet with the hot water, then fold the washcloth and put it on my bottom. I told him these specific steps in a calm, non-demon-like voice, because if he had gone to get the washcloth before turning on the water, I would have gone berserk. He did exactly as I asked and the compress felt absolutely wonderful; it was the ONLY thing that felt good at that moment. R was listening in on the phone and she was impressed with my calmness.
Contraction. Much more pushing than blowing, but I am doing my best to take it s-l-o-w-l-y. I am focused; I can feel her head moving through my pelvis. The pressure on my bones is telling me to move my knees slightly farther apart, which I do. I ask, “What’s happening?” Tom says, “Her head is halfway out.” I can feel her moving down as I tilt my pelvis back and forth, trying to decide which position is best for pushing. I remember from Jamie’s birth being told to cup myself around the baby while pushing, so I move into cat pose, tilting my pelvis down while arching my back up. The next contraction is almost immediate, again I try to push as little as possible. “Her head is out,” Tom says. He is kneeling behind me applying gentle pressure on her head to keep it from coming out too fast. Since she is face down and I am on my knees, he sees her little face, he says it was like a little statue. She has her little fists bunched up beneath her chin. He uses my compress to wipe some of the goop off her face. (I immediately say, “WASHCLOTH, WASHCLOTH!” in response to the increase in burning at the Ring of Fire.)
I get up off my hands so that I can reach down and feel her head, at this point she was turning somewhat towards my left leg. As instructed in the Emergency Childbirth Instructions (which I read several times, thinking of being at home alone with a toddler and having a super fast birth, I like to prepare for Worst Case Scenarios) I gently pushed her head towards Tom in an effort to get her front shoulder to slip out before the back shoulder, the shoulder being the main tearing danger. This movement brought on the next contraction, more careful pushing and her entire body slithered out into Tom’s hands along with a large quantity of brown amniotic fluid and some blood as well (not much, but some. I hoped it wasn’t blood from a tear.) Goop was everywhere and the baby was quite slimy. Tom asked, “Should I suction out her mouth?” I said, “No, just give her to me.”
He passed her between my legs and I leaned over her, holding her in front of me and watching her breathe and look around. She looked pretty bewildered, but she was breathing right away and pinked right up. “Hi baby, yeah, that’s right, you’re doing fine.” Tom got up and asked Jamie—still hiding under the co-sleeper in our bedroom—to go unlock the door (yes it was locked just as I thought!) and let my mother in, she had been outside for several minutes, freaking out. When Jamie went to unlock the door, he didn’t say anything about the birth that had just occurred upstairs, but immediately asked my brother if he wanted to play basketball. They had a blast.
Tom brought me a hat and blankets, which I clumsily wrapped around the baby and held her against my stomach. I am still kneeling in the bathroom at this point, still shaking and having contractions, though they are less intense now that the baby is out. Suddenly my Mom was there, teary eyed, hugging Tom, who was covered in goop. They are moving Chux pads around, getting me ready to move as I decided I wanted to go to the bed. C appeared, and helped me to move to the bed while keeping a Chux pad under me. I lay on my right side on the bed (and more Chux pads of course) with Julia against my side at my breast. She was crying a little at this point, not latching on but looking around and nuzzling me. R is there, checking Julia’s vitals, checking me, all without intruding on my just looking at and talking to my beautiful baby. It’s difficult for me to describe exactly what R and C were doing because they are so good at staying in the background while they do their thing. R somehow gets the cord set up to be cut after it stops pulsing, and Tom cuts the cord.
I am happy to be no longer pregnant (okay, ecstatic) but I am still having those darn contractions and I can’t stop shaking! I am gripping my mother’s hand and C’s hand at different points, and they have covered me with a large towel. Apparently this is normal and I will feel better after the placenta delivers, which happens about 10-15 minutes after Julia’s birth. It felt like birthing Julia’s large yet boneless twin. It was a HUGE relief to get that over with. Then I still had some cramping but much less. I didn’t remember this part from Jamie’s birth due to still being completely numb when the placenta arrived.
So then I am resting in bed, still trying to get Julia to nurse (took 45 minutes). R checks me and confirms I didn’t tear at all, thanks to Tom’s excellent midwifery skills! She examines Julia and we are all shocked and amazed to learn that she weighs in at 10 pounds 8 ounces, a full 7 ounces more than Jamie weighed even though I swear I ate significantly less this time around…
I finally get the chance to urinate, which is a great relief since I have had to go since early labor but wasn’t able to. I take a shower under C’s supervision, and she towels my legs dry as I am still recovering from all that intense work and not up to leaning over. Then I get a fresh nursing bra and nightgown and climb into my fresh clean bed (they cleared away the old set of sheets). Julia is similarly freshened up although it will take several days to fully clean off the goo from the birth, we keep finding little bits in her creases and ears. She naps and I eat some lunch my mom has put together.
Jamie has been in and out to see us, but he is wary of me after the whole Exorcist act and much more interested in playing with my brother and sister, who arrived with Mom.. Jamie and I finally get to talk later that evening when visitors have left, and we debrief the birth. I apologize for scaring him with all the noises I made and promise to not make noise like that anymore. After that he is willing to hug me, sit on my lap, and nurse again. He couldn’t see into the bathroom from his post under the co-sleeper, but he heard everything that happened. I think he wasn’t too upset or concerned because other than my loud noises we were calm and unafraid, just very intense. He has mentioned a few times since the birth that Baby Julie came out of Mommy’s bottom; it will be interesting to see exactly what he remembers. We weren’t planning for him to be at the birth, but I am sure glad we had read the homebirth story, _Welcome With Love_, just in case.
The midwives left within 4 hours of Julia being born, and I was happy to be home, in bed, relaxing and visiting with family with our new daughter in our arms. C and R each visited for follow up exams with us in the next 2 days, but I had to get out of bed to visit the pediatrician within 24 hours of her birth!
In retrospect I don’t think I would have made it to the hospital for this birth (hospital is 20 minutes away and would have taken longer as it was rush hour). I am glad that I had her in my own clean bathroom near my own clean bed rather than some horrid place like a restroom on the way to the hospital (remember, I was having BMs every few contractions when labor was picking up, I would have had to stop several times to use the bathroom!) or the car on the side of the road or the germy hospital elevator, or something. The entire labor/birth, including delivery of the placenta, was 2 hours and 30 minutes, although it felt more like an hour or so! I didn't mind that it was just us for the birth; it was kind of romantic : We took the Bradley class and I was pretty comfortable with the whole process. Tom was a little more alarmed, but I wasn't aware of that until later...
Overall it was an amazing experience and now my house has great karma.
cosleeping, tandem bfing, cding, gding INFP mother of DS 26 mos and DD 2 mos
SAHMlovin' fan to DD 10/00 & DS 10/04 If your ds is intact, keep him safe, visit the Case Against Circ forumCirc, a personal choice, Your sons11/986/99anti-tobaccoThyroid cancer survivor. With & & (Boxer) wishing 4 &
Way to go mama- well written and fun to read,
Thanks for sharing that... some other moms do that too-- not be perfect?
I am on month 5 of my third baby and I feel like a "Really Horrible Mother" very often.
My emotions just seem BIGGER and nastier with this pregnancy.
My 2yr old and my 4yr old are great, great kids. Luckily my son (4yr) has a great sense of humor.
Thanks of sharing!
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As for being a Really Horrible Mother, it's not something I am proud of, and it actually got worse after Julia was born, there were some really dark days back in October when I did not enjoy caring for my son at all. I couldn't seem to find my feelings of love for him. It didn't help that he has just turned two and EVERYTHING is a battle, all day every day. It was extremely scary and I very close to going to counseling.
Fortunately the bad time passed and good feelings returned gradually, starting with a moment here and there when it actually felt good to be with him. I can remember the moment the tide turned; he fell asleep on my chest while I was lying on the couch, and it felt so good, and waves of relief washed over me. We also had special bonding time at the ER at 4AM on Thanksgiving morning, when he was wheezing and it took 4 hours to find out if he had pneumonia (no) and if not, was it safe for him to fly (yes but not for 24 hours, so our t-day dinner was pizza from 7-11).
Now I think we are doing pretty well; I can still feel the love during his hitting, kicking, biting, running away, whining, and screaming, and during my anger, irritation and frustration.
I am reading the _Raising a Spirited Child_ book and according to it we are both spirited personalities. Poor DH!