I'm just now finally getting this written out. A lot of the details are a bit blurry to me already, but luckily my doula wrote down a lot of it for me so I have some idea of the timeline, though this may not be exact. It's insanely long, sorry. I wanted to get all the details down more for myself than anything. Also, my tenses aren't consistent; my grammar is normally better.
Labour began on my due date, August 3, around 10:30 at night, less than a minute after having sex. At the time I didn't believe the contractions would actually amount to anything. All the women in my family ended up giving birth weeks late or having c-sections, so I was preparing myself for a bit of a wait. I hadn't seen a mucus plug or bloody show. I didn't time the contractions at this point, and fell asleep about 45 minutes later.
About 1:30 in the morning I woke up and realized I was still contracting. I checked the clock and started timing them. They were pretty regular, about 7-8 minutes apart. They weren't what I was expecting, to me they didn't feel like period cramps at all. I didn't find them painful, but they were definitely noticeable. Kris woke up and we decided to call our doula, H. I let her know I thought labour may have started and she advised us both to take Gravol so we would sleep. She assured me it wouldn't hurt the baby and would be out of my system before the baby was born. We took Gravol and both fell back to sleep. I woke up about 5 in the morning again to another contraction. It seemed to be taking forever between contractions and I told Kris I thought labour had stopped, but when I checked the clock they were still every 6-8 minutes, so it must have just seemed like forever. I went back to sleep for a few more hours.
We had told a friend of ours we would drive her to the airport that morning, but since I was in labour Kris went to go get her early so she could hang out at our house in case my labour started progressing really quickly. Our house is closer to the airport if she needed to catch a cab. It was good she came over though. We had just moved 4 days previous to this and there were boxes and furniture everywhere, so she helped Kris set up the futon bed downstairs with a plastic sheet and make room for the birthing pool H would bring later. At this point the contractions still weren't painful or difficult at all. When we drove her to the airport my friend asked if I'd even had any contractions while she was there, and was surprised when I told her they were 4-5 minutes apart.
We kept in touch with H throughout the day, and I also called the midwife on call, V, and let her know I thought I might be in labour. She said normally she would recommend walking to help it progress, but because I'd been having blood pressure problems she thought it would be better if I took it easy still. She didn't want me to end up in the hospital for the birth after everything I'd done to try and keep my bp low.
Around 2 or 3 in the afternoon the contractions became a bit harder to talk through. They still weren't too bad and I wasn't convinced I was really in labour. I expected them to stop any minute still. I suggested maybe we should both take Gravol and try to sleep some more, but thought if it was real the baby would come pretty quickly and so we didn't. Around 10:15pm Kris called H and told her we thought she should come soon. The contractions were more regular and about every 2-4 minutes, but still not very painful. I had to breathe through them but otherwise they weren't bad. She told us she would be about an hour but to call her if we thought she should get here sooner. She got here around 11:15 and I made a joke of some sort. She told me I sounded much to happy to be a woman in labour.
The house was really warm and it was a beautiful night, so H suggested we go for a walk. She took our dog and walked quite a way behind us and told me and Kris to just relax, go slow, and pretend she wasn't there. As we walked I could feel the contractions getting stronger and closer together. Kris and I would stop and sway together each time. H told me sometime around then is when I probably went into active labour.
Back at the house, I started rocking on the birthing ball. I was still laughing and joking with H and Kris and felt pretty good, though a bit tired. Around 1am I tried to lie down cuddling with Kris for a bit. I found the contractions really hard to handle lying down though. I tried to rest as much as I could between contractions, and during contractions I had to sit up. Around this time I took the clock down in that room and made up my mind not to go into our kitchen (where there is another clock). I'm really glad I did that. After this any times I write are from my doula, as I had no clue what time it was anymore.
About 2 I was having more trouble with the contractions, and finding them quite painful. Heather filled up the birthing pool and I got in. It was instant relief. We were back to Heather having to ask me to tell her when contractions started and ended because she couldn't tell anymore just by my reactions. She timed a few of them to make sure the water hadn't stalled anything. Kris was offering me sips of water and 7-Up after every contraction and H was pouring water over my shoulders. At 2:45 I had to go to the bathroom so I got out of the water. Kris got me a popsicle to suck on but I didn't eat much of it. H had me walk up and down the stairs a few times to try and help the baby descend. I got back in the pool, and the contractions were longer and stronger now. H called the midwife to let her know she should probably come anytime.
V got here around 4am. She sets up all her gear while we all chat, though mostly I'm listening and not doing much talking. She checks the baby's heartbeat and it's strong and steady. She asks if my water has broken (I never got GBS tested), but I have no idea because of being in the pool. I get out of the pool to pee again and V asks if I want to be checked. I agree. I found it to be extremely painful. At this point I'm 6 cm dilated.
H tells me the baby is posterior and still needs to rotate. V and H encourage me to try and relax as much as possible between and throughout contractions. We walk up and down the stairs again and then I got back into the pool. H asked me to stick my bum up during contractions, but I found this really hard and painful. I was having more trouble with the contractions at this point, and finding it harder to relax during them.
About 5am I start finding the contractions really hard. I was very tired and I looked at Kris and told him I wasn't sure I could do it. The thought of going to the hospital for pain relief never crossed my mind, I just wanted to lie down and sleep for even twenty minutes. H and V were great and kept telling me I was doing wonderfully and that I could do it. I felt like I wasn't getting much of a break between contractions. At this point, H wrote that my contractions were about 2 minutes apart and lasting over a minute each. She gave me some homeopathic meds which helped, and they're still giving me sips of juice and water in between every contraction. Sometime around this point I started vomiting with every contraction. I actually told them I kind of liked the puking because it took my mind off the pain of the contractions. I got out of the pool and went to sit on the toilet. Kris was with me the whole time and I would look into his eyes with every contraction and try to breathe through them. With the vomiting, V started to worry about dehydration since I wasn't drinking much, and asked me if I would take a Gravol. I was really hesitant, but she told me it would be better for the baby than getting dehydrated. I agreed to a very low dose, and it did start to help quite quickly. The contractions were coming right on top of each other and she thought I might be in transition.
I get back in the pool, and I'm feeling a little better, though pretty tired. I noticed it was getting light outside and thought, so much for having the baby overnight. They're all trying to get me to eat some toast with peanut butter and drink more. I take tiny sips and bites, but enough to keep them all happy. V asks if I'm feeling pressure, as she says my moans sound a bit "pushy". I tell her a small amount, though once I actually felt real pushy contractions I realized what I'd felt at that point was nothing. V checks me again, I didn't ask what I was at, but found out later I was still 6-7 cm. The head is low but still hasn't descended enough. V asked if I want her to break my water, but I wasn't sure so she left it. The baby still hasn't turned.
They asked me if I want to go upstairs to the shower. I told them I would if we could bring the birthing ball in there too, which we do. I sat in the shower for a while, which was really nice, but then V or H told me I should try some different positions to try and get baby to turn and descend. They got me to crawl on my hands and knees along my hallway. I found this extremely painful and difficult, but persisted. I started talking to the baby, telling her to descend and turn and then we could meet each other. I started feeling very strong, involuntary pushing urges. V checks me and tells me unfortunately there is still a cervical lip and asks me to try my best not to push yet. I think that was the hardest part of the entire labour. Kris supports me the whole time and breathes along with me as I continue to crawl along the hallway. He holds my hand through the contractions and I ask him to squeeze it hard, but he's too afraid of hurting me to squeeze as hard as I would have liked. I squeeze his hand back too.
I'm exhausted, but I know that with the pushing it will be over soon. I asked if I could sit on the toilet, and the contractions slowed way down. I was falling asleep between contractions while sitting on the toilet. Kris asked if it was normal for the contractions to slow down so much, and V and H assured us it isn't unheard of at the end. V checked me again around 9am and I was fully dilated. At this point she did break my water, which sprayed everywhere. It felt really good to me too, like a whole lot of pressure suddenly gone. They call the back up midwife and tell me I can start pushing now. I push on the toilet for a while, holding on to Kris. He says he can't believe how strong I am, he can barely support me, and V and H agree that a labouring woman has incredible strength. I loved pushing, it hurt a lot but I knew that this was the last step before meeting my baby.
The back up midwife, M, got there and soon after they tell me it's time to get off the toilet and go downstairs to where everything is set up. I started crying and didn't want to get off the toilet. They told me I needed to get up or I would have the baby on the toilet, but I really didn't want to go down the stairs. I asked H if they could bring the pool upstairs. (Full of water and all!) They couldn't do that obviously, but they did go get the rest of their birthing supplies and lay them out in my hallway. I knelt in the hallway on some of those blue pads and a towel and held on to Kris. At one point someone told me to be nice to Kris, I would need him after, but I didn't let up on the poor guy. The baby's head was visible with every push and V let Kris see. He said it looked painful for the baby, the head was a very funny shape. They held up a mirror for me to see too, and let me touch the head. I could see lots of hair.
I gave a push and I guess her head came out, though I didn't know it. V told me to stop pushing for a minute and luckily Kris picked up on that and started puffing, and I copied him just long enough for the baby to turn a little so the shoulders could come out. V started to let us know the baby's head was out but then I gave one more push and the whole baby slipped out. It surprised her and she barely got her hands up in time to guide the baby to the floor underneath me. I couldn't believe it was over. It was 9:44 am, August 5, about 35 hours after the first twinges started. I had pushed for 44 minutes. She came out posterior and with her chin out, rather than tucked in.
They were telling me to pick up my baby, and I looked down and saw this little baby below me and couldn't believe that that was my baby. But I picked her up and held her to me and she proceeded to immediately poop on me. I looked at Kris and said "We did it!" He responded that I had done it. Someone asked if it was a boy or a girl, we hadn't found out ahead of time. I held her out and looked and couldn't quite connect what I was seeing with a gender, so Kris was the one who said it's a girl. It didn't surprise me at all, that just felt exactly right to me.
They helped us downstairs to the futon where I delivered the placenta, while holding my daughter skin-to-skin the whole time. Soon after that she started rooting around and they showed me how to nurse her. She pretty much did all the work herself though. We snuggled and nursed for a while while they cleaned up. Eventually M asked if she could weigh the baby, which would be done right next to me. I had to go pee though so Kris stayed there while I went to the bathroom. She had perfect Apgar scores and weighed 7 pounds 3 ounces and was 20.25" long. She was alert right from birth, and we still get comments all the time on how alert she is even now. We opted out of the vitamin K and the eye goop. Eventually they left and Kris and I snuggled together with her for a while, and then Kris went to go sleep. I wasn't really tired anymore so I stayed awake staring at her. We didn't name her until a little later when Kris went to send off e-mails to everyone. We had had a few names picked out, and both of us agreed on the same name very easily. It was what we had both felt suited her best. We decided on Meredith Alannah.
We spent the next 2 or 3 weeks skin-to-skin. People kept asking us if we ever dressed her (or if I ever got dressed) or if I ever put her down. No on all counts.
I still try to hold her skin-to-skin as much as possible and we still don't put her down. She has gained over 5 pounds in 8 weeks and about 6 cm.
I am so glad we decided on a home birth and would do it again in an instant. There were times it was hard and that I was doubting myself, but I had a great team and was glad for their support. I didn't have a birth plan, but I had discussed some of my thoughts with the midwives and the doula ahead of time and knew and trusted that they felt exactly as I did about birth, so I didn't feel I needed one. H told me later that because she was posterior and didn't turn, if I had gone into the hospital I almost certainly would have had a c-section. Our hospital has one of the highest c-section rates in the country (over 40%), and there aren't a lot of options for different positions to get baby to turn or descend. (You wouldn't catch me crawling on a hospital floor, that's for sure!)
Anyway, if anyone's actually read this far, here are some pictures:First PictureFaceRestingDaddy~2 Weeks Old