Birth always begins with pregnancy, of course, and this pregnancy was a very wonderful surprise. It felt like quite a special treat from the beginning…something so unexpected and wonderful, and how neat to not plan to have a baby but have one choose you instead!
I decided to have an unassisted pregnancy and (hopefully!) an unassisted birth. Even though I’d had pretty gentle prenatal care with my second child, after an unfortunate doctor assisted pregnancy and birth of my first, I still remained frustrated with the regulations that hem in midwives, such as “birth by 42 weeks” “maternal weight gain no more than X pounds” and protocols for water breaking, group b strep, etc. I knew that I had healthy pregnancies that sometimes exceeded the “norm” and I wanted to enjoy the peace of pregnancy without the stress of medical control. My pregnancy was great, I could tell this would be a large baby (and even suspected possible twins at one point!) both because of my fundal height and just in general how large my belly grew. On a 5’2” frame, I grew to 49” around…quite a huge and noticeable belly! As my due date approached, I was prepared for a long pregnancy, as my first had been born at 41 weeks and second at 42 weeks.
At 40w4 days, on a Friday night, I started having some contractions that were a little more intense than they had been, more noticeably labor-like than BH contractions. Still, they subsided quickly and I went to bed hoping I was making some progress. Also, I had DH check my cervical dilation, and I was 2-3 cm dilated and very soft, good signs since in my previous pregnancies I had started labor at 1.5cm. On Saturday, I decided to stimulate a few contractions with nipple stimulation, just to see if it started anything, and again got some nice strong contractions that petered out. Towards evening, however, I started to get more frequent contractions…perhaps every 15 minutes, and with increasing intensity. Each contraction came with a rush of energy and even heat…I felt flushed and full with the intensity of my body opening, and I really welcomed it. By about 10:30, though, I could tell that the contractions would space out if I slept, so I opted for some rest.
In the morning, the contractions were gone…but started by about 8:30, at 10-15 minutes apart. They started coming more frequently, and about an hour later I was having to work through them a bit. I called my sister to see if she could come by and take the older girls for the time being, to give DH and I some space to labor (our house is TINY and the noise of two boisterous kids was definitely throwing me off). Rebecca came by, and stayed for about an hour, during which time my contractions started coming more like every 6-8 minutes apart, lasting about 90 seconds long. I knew that I was definitely in labor, and was excited that we’d get to meet our baby soon!
After Rebecca and the girls left, we set up the birth pool…and my contractions started spacing out. Perhaps the distractions had been good! The contractions were back to every 10-20 minutes and definitely less intense, so I laid down for a bit to rest, and try some more nipple stimulation. After a while, the contractions came back and were again intense, but I really didn’t want to get in the birth pool too early. I had DH check me and I was about 6cm, so I decided it was okay to get in and enjoy the water. It was about 2pm.
I’d never labored or birthed in water before, and in some ways I think the birth pool might have been a mistake. Instead of using the relaxation techniques I’m used to (laying down and relaxing my body completely) I had to always keep myself up, so it distracted me. Instead of being quiet and internal during contractions, I vocalized through them, saying “Ooooopen” and “Baby baby baby.” The contractions also seemed more intense, or at least a less manageable intensity. They did pick up in time, however, and I felt my body shifting as baby was moving downward. At around 5:30, I decided Rebecca and the girls should come back home, as I felt I was almost through transition. I had thrown up a few times and felt closer to pushing. DH was great through all of this…I’m not really easy to birth around, and I was often demanding or pushing him away at the same time that I wanted him to be close. He did everything I asked and was so patient and gentle with me, always confident and peaceful.
As the girls were on their way, I had DH check me again and he felt the baby’s head and no more cervix, yay! I was so glad to not only have known where my body was, but also to be at the point where I’d really get to see baby soon! I felt pretty alert between the contractions, more so than my previous births, and was looking forward to food after baby was born. I was starting to get really hungry, yet knew I couldn’t eat and keep anything down at this point.
I started pushing in the birth pool (around 7 maybe? I don’t recall exactly. Maybe it was later.)…and the contractions were really intense. I had tremendous pain in my back as I pushed, and I thought oh no, is this back labor? It helped a lot when DH gave me counter pressure, but at the same time the counter pressure almost removed the sensation of the contraction (it was pretty amazing) so I had trouble feeling the wave to push with. I tried a bunch of positions…in the birth pool, out of the birth pool, standing, on the bed, hands and knees, semi-squat. The pain was almost overwhelming, and unless DH was doing the counter pressure, I couldn’t handle the contractions at all. At the same time I felt so exhausted and like my strength was zapping away. The girls and Rebecca were there, excited, waiting, and I felt like my body just wasn’t cooperating. Finally at about 9:30 or 10pm, DH had been asking if I wanted him to check me again. I kept thinking, “Why? I’m complete?” But maybe he could tell something I couldn’t, finally I let him check, and not only was the baby’s head unreachable, but my cervix was down to about 5 cm. I’d experienced major reverse dilation. I was really demoralized, tired, yet my body kept contracting, and I didn’t know what to do.
At this point, if I’d been having any sort of assisted birth, I would have been headed to a hospital for interventions. Clearly my energy was gone, the “lack of progress” would have been a warning sign to a doctor or a midwife, and perhaps the baby’s size would have been a reason to claim CPD and head to surgery. I thought about transferring myself…I know a lot of women do it, and I had to evaluate the situation in my head. I thought about what I’d get at the hospital: pain meds first, probably, lots of monitoring, pitocin perhaps (though I knew the strength of the contractions wasn’t the problem), and perhaps very pushy doctors. I knew that not only did I not want anything the hospital could offer, but I didn’t really NEED any of those things. I just needed some peace and strength to get this baby out! I had confidence that I could do it…I really believed in my body’s ability to birth a baby it grew, no matter the size.
Rebecca put DD1 asleep, DD2 was already asleep, and she slept with them as well. It was around 10:30pm. DH and I went to the bed, and I said I really needed his help to relax through the contractions. I laid down and he laid next to me, and every time a contraction would start I’d announce it and he’d say along with me, “Relax, relax, let your body do the work, relax, relax.” At one point it started raining out, and he helped me focus on the rain. He was so good, and I could tell he was so tired. Again, I don’t know what I would have done without him, without his unfailing confidence in me, in my body, and in the natural birth process. After a couple of hours, he was really tired, and drifting off between contractions. Although they were double peaking and almost constant at this point, one would start to subside and another would begin, I was in my traditional transition groove, totally internalized. For another hour I labored while DH slept next to me. It was about 2 am, and I needed his help again, only he woke up extra groggy. He was doing his best, but was only saying relax maybe 2x per contraction, and I needed constant and increasing support. I kept saying “more” meaning more encouragement/verbal support, and he had trouble knowing what I needed, but the contractions were so constant that I couldn’t stop to tell him anything else. I started saying some of the things I wanted to hear: “My body is doing all the work” “I can do this” and “I’m okay.” He still wasn’t quite getting it, just too asleep, and after he helped me to the bathroom I knew I was almost ready to push and wanted still more verbal support. I said I needed a little peptalk, I was so scared of pushing again and having it not work, having my body fail. I was worried about the baby, I hadn’t felt him move in quite a while. I was worried about the pain. I had so much fear in me, and exhaustion, and needed him to say that I was doing an amazing job. I think on the one hand, DH didn’t know enough about birth to know what it meant to make it out of the whole I’d been in with the reverse dilation. I wanted someone to say, “Wow, you are doing such an amazing job, you have so much strength and courage and are so determined.” DH and I talked a bit back and forth, as much as I could through the contractions, and he reassured me that he was really proud of me and the work I was doing, had faith in me, and knew everything would be fine.
He offered to check me…but there was no need, I knew I was ready. I could feel my body taking over. I did try to reach in a couple of times myself, and couldn’t feel the head at all (but I have short fingers and a huge belly to reach around, so that might have factored in). I didn’t let it get me down, though, and tried pushing again. All the same positions. All the same pain as the first time. Every time I tried to push, I just felt like my pubic bones were going to rip apart. I felt myself getting tired again, I’d been pushing for about an hour or so, I think it was after 3 at this point. Rebecca and the girls woke up.
There was one position that I’d felt like I was making progress in, when I pushed in it, I felt all the pain but also felt baby moving down. It was kind of leaning back on a bunch of pillows, and during the contraction literally reaching down to the bed to lift up my bottom off my tail bone and push. Strange, I know, but it was what worked for me. With everyone watching, I just decided it was time. I knew my bones literally wouldn’t break, and that I had to just do it.
I started pushing…and it hurt…tremendously…but I finally pushed his head past my pubic bone, and as soon as it was fully in the birth canal, I got the traditional overwhelming urge to push. At this point, the bag of waters broke during a really hard push and sprayed over DH, shooting out at least 4 feet, which I figure was a testament to the strength of my pushes. I felt glad that that finally happened, I knew we were close.
I could tell that his head was huge. I shifted my body down to where I was laying more than upright, because I needed to support my perineum as I pushed him out. On the next contraction, his head started to crown…and it filled up my whole bottom! I couldn’t imagine how my perineum would stretch over it. DH got the olive oil, and I had Rebecca get a washcloth to help push on my perineum. I got another one and pushed it down over the top of my opening, I really didn’t want to tear, but if I was going to I was determined it would be towards a side. With the pressure of our hands, I pushed, once, twice, and his head was halfway out. It was almost stuck there, I had to reach down and push my skin down over his ears and super chubby cheeks, until I could finally say that yes, the head was out. Seeing how big his head was, I was worried his shoulders might get stuck, but just then he rotated his body, and on the next contraction I pushed with every ounce of my being and his body came, slowly over two or three pushes, into this world. DH caught him, announced quickly and jubilantly that he was a boy!, and handed him up to my belly. Amazing! With all that difficulty, I’d almost lost track of our goal, the baby, and it was so wonderful to have him there! The cord was really long (quite a surprise, after the girls both had very short cords, I was expecting a shorter one) and wrapped once loosely around his neck, I undid it and he was a tad limp, so I started rubbing his back and talking to him. He cried within a few seconds, softly at first then louder. Then he kept crying, I’d never heard a newborn be so inconsolable! We noticed he had a ridge about an inch into his hair line, and I’m guess that’s where he was stuck against my bone, had to retract during the reverse dilation, and reenter. He must have a had a horrible headache! Even though he was crying so much, his lungs sounded a little snargly, but I wasn’t worried since he was clearly breathing well. Eventually I got him to nurse and he enjoyed it and calmed down a bit.
Cypress, a boy! Born 3:55am on August 13th, 10lb. 4oz. and about 22.5 inches long, with a 15.25 inch head circumference.
It took about two hours for the placenta to come out…again, if we’d had an attended birth, there would have been a lot of “worry” about it. Eventually I pushed it out on the toilet, and I was surprised because it looked smaller than I expected, although complete. There were also lots of clots attached to the mama side of the BOW, and since the birth I’ve had very little bleeding, so I almost wonder if the delay helped my uterus clean out all at once. DH checked me the next day, and despite the size of his head and relatively quick crowning, I had only one tiny tear not worth worrying about, and a couple of little skid marks. I know that the UP and UC were the right thing for my baby and my body, and am so glad I got to share this experience with my family!
Congrats Mama, and Welcome Cypress!
| @jovialady is Kiya ~ TTC 3 years & counting for a ~ Connsumte BookDragon|
Enjoy your babymoon!!
Rochelle ff: /home/simplyrochelle Wife to Matt; 9/08; 11/12; 6/13;
Every day brings me closer to fulfilling my dreams of becoming a midwife and a mother
DCP to 1 busy munchkin! and a CRST too!
"And when our baby stirs and struggles to be born it compels humility: what we began is now its own." Margaret Mead
Mountain Biking Mama of 3 little beans, . Epumped 22mths for dd1 (2006)
Nursed my babe, dd2 (2008) until self weaned at 3yrs. We survived a major nursing strike.
Awesome for Baby #3 who turned out to be a (Aug 2013)!