Meridian’s Unassisted Birth
This was my fourth pregnancy and my most difficult by far. I had every symptom in the book, from morning sickness and food aversions (even chocolate!) to preterm labor and symphysis pubis dysfunction. I was pretty incapacitated from 6 months on with back, hip, and pelvic pain due to relaxin and being out of alignment. The birth would be no different!
This would be our second unassisted birth. For those of you that don’t know, dh and I feel that birth is a natural event not a sickness to be managed and that women’s bodies birth best without intervention of any kind. It can be very empowering!
At 37 weeks I was losing my plug and having sporadic contractions. I thought she might be born early as this was my fourth and I was nursing my 2 year old, Maren. That was bringing on strong contractions each time but once I hit week 38 things started to slow down. I awoke at 6 am on the morning of February 1st with a pain across the top of my legs and lower belly. I associated this with contractions similar to my first birth but the pain was not subsiding, it was constant. I got up to go to the bathroom hoping movement would ease it but it had not gone by the time I came to lay back down. I tried stretching and sitting in an elbows/knee position while listening to the annoying drone of my neighbor’s alarm clock. As I sat up a small amount of fluid gushed onto the bed. Of course I questioned it at first as being urine like all moms do but was certain when I adjusted my position slightly and it happened again. I sat on the bed still listening to that horrible alarm when Matthew must have felt me watching him sleep. He jumped up and looked back at me and asked me if I was okay. I laughed and told him he wouldn’t be going in today. This was it. I had already started feeling contractions.
We moved to the den so as not to disturb Maren and Matthew went downstairs and knocked on the neighbor’s window until he turned his alarm clock off! It had gone off for 45 minutes with no sign of stopping and it was driving us crazy! I sat on towel on the couch and called 2 of my sisters to let them know labor had started. I already needed to concentrate on the contractions and had to get off the phone pretty quickly. I had also already started shaking, teeth chattering, just as you would during transition. Layne and Liam awoke and were very excited to hear the news! Liam automatically went to draw a picture for the baby and Layne played around with contractionmaster.com running to hit the space bar at the beginning and the end of each contraction. I was surprised to find that my contractions were already 1 ½ minutes long! My body was working hard! I alternated between the bathroom and the den floor as my body was really trying to eliminate everything in it. Maren woke at 8:45 and I had the kids set up a little birth altar on a pretty silver tray with candles they picked out especially for this occasion and my birth beads from my fellow February mamas on mothering.com. Matthew herded them back into our room and set them up with movies and fruit. All the sounds were annoying the crap out of me and I wasn’t used to laboring in daylight! My other 3 were all born in the middle of the night so the light took some getting used to.
It wasn’t long before I was vocalizing through contractions. They were much longer than I had anticipated them being already and the pain in my upper legs never subsided so I felt like I wasn’t having a break. I couldn’t use my legs in any way so it was very hard trying to find a comfortable position to be in. I tried everything I could think of including the birth ball I hoped to use with no luck. Matthew took the bed from the pullout couch and put it on the floor with a blanket and towels. I ended up trying to recline back with my legs straight out. It was the best position I could find. I threw up for the first time in any of my labors. I knew that was a good thing and probably helped out my dilation. Matthew held the bowl for me and cleaned me up. At that moment I was very thankful for his presence!
I tried often to figure out my dilation and baby’s station but it was all for nothing. I thought I felt her head but the opening seemed to be only the size of a half dollar which I didn’t think could be right. My contractions were very intense but I didn’t have the pushing urge yet. Finally I had just had it! I flipped to my knees thinking I would try a test push from that position since the little ones I had tried while reclining did nothing. I could feel her head rubbing against my pubic bone and knew she was a full finger’s length in. With Maren I did the exact same thing, got on my knees to test push and it worked. It worked this time too! After one small push from that position I felt this was it! I told dh it was time and he asked me if I was sure! I told him yes I thought so and he ran to get the kids. I pushed twice in that time and she didn’t feel like she was budging but I felt my pubic bone was being ripped in two! He ran back in and I asked him if he could see anything. He said no. I pushed again and there she came, barreling through the birth canal and out! I felt like she came all at once but they told me she stopped at her head for a second before the rest of her came out. Layne immediately asked if she was a boy or a girl before I could even turn around to see her and dh said she was our girl! We all had thought she was a girl all along.
I flipped my leg over the cord and took her from Matthew. She was still blue but had started crying. I tried hard to get into a position where I could hold her head down to help clear the mucous but I was in so much pain still it was difficult. I couldn’t figure out how to sit or move at all. She pinked up fine though and Matthew ended up sitting behind me trying to prop me up. I felt like I had to deliver the placenta right away thinking that was causing my pain but in hindsight I think that due to a river tubing injury this summer my tailbone was causing it. Matthew reminded me that it took awhile to deliver Maren’s - 2 hours- so I felt inside and it was already at the opening. I couldn’t figure out how I was going to get into position to deliver the placenta so I decided to go to the toilet thinking this would be the easiest on my body. I tried and tried but could not get up! Dh ended up picking me and Meridian up at the same time off of the floor and setting me to my feet. No easy task I assure you! I delivered the placenta easily with all the kids crowding me around the toilet! I made it back to the couch and Matthew had already cleaned everything up and laid a blanket on the couch for me to sit on. Meridian nursed for the next 1 ½ hours straight while the kids anxiously made the round of phone calls to our family.
She was a little gurgly with mucous for awhile from coming out so fast but it didn’t take long for her to cough it up. We weighed her once she stopped nursing and she was 9 lb 4 oz tying Liam for our smallest baby. She is so pudgy and beautiful looking a lot like Liam to me at this age. She had a thick cap of vernix on her head and a ton in all her creases too. We just hung out for the rest of the day trying to figure out her name (which we still don’t fully have 4 days later) and enjoying the sight of her. Layne is in love with her and begs to hold her all the time. Maren has been very affectionate. Tandem nursing has been easier than I thought because Maren is very sensitive to her making sure she “leaves baby some milk”. Liam is standoffish just like he was with Maren. He will show her toys but he doesn’t want to hold her even though it “is not because she is slobbery”. It is so fun to see them all interact!
I was surprised at the pain of this birth especially since my last one was painless. The birth and the challenge of this pregnancy have taught me a lot about myself and I am sure will continue to do so for awhile to come!Pictures of Meridian