On Tuesday night I was lying in bed thinking about shoes. My feet had swollen so much none of my shoes would fit, and I wasn't able to go anywhere because of it. Dh went and got me some flip-flops in a size larger, and they were still too narrow, so he took them back and got me a new pair. They hurt my feet, and I didn't want to send him running back and forth for more, so I said I'd take them back tomorrow. So I was thinking, how is this gong to work? I have to wear the shoes to the store, try on others and not let them see me cutting the elastic so I can actually walk in the shoes, and then attempt to return the shoes I had just worn into the store? No, forget it, I'll just stay home until I have the baby and the swelling stops. Then right at midnight my water broke!
I figured I could call the midwives in the morning. I told dh, and he said "But don't you want to call now and give them a heads-up?" I told him no; often contractions don't start until several hours later. But then in 15 minutes they came every 3 minutes apart and were very intense. I called, and was told to try and sleep for as long as I could. 2 hours later they were every minute apart and very painful; I had not been able to sleep at all. The midwives came over.
The contractions continued to be every minute apart and they were excruciating. The midwives offered to check my cervix. I agreed and they said it was almost 7 cm but not all the way effaced. They did say the baby was LOA but that it might not have been the best position for it; it's not the ideal for all moms and babies. So for hours I walked around and sat in the bathtub. I was miserable because I hadn't been able to sleep. I kept asking them if there was something they could give me that would stop labor and let me sleep so I could start all over again later. They said there was nothing.
Finally, 8 hours later I got an urge to push. I was 10 cm but the head was still not well applied, they said. They offered to stretch the cervix over the head while I pushed, and I declined because I heard that is really painful. So I pushed every time I felt an urge. With Linda I never experienced that urge, so it was nice to have completely involuntary pushing. But after an hour I started to get discouraged. I kept remembering that part in What to Expect where it says "Second babies often pop out in a matter of minutes, not hours." I thought the whole labor would only last 6 to 8 hours. I kept alternating positions - walking, standing, kneeling, just about everything. I pushed for another hour with no progress. They said the baby was caught on the pubic bone, and that pushing on my back or in a reclining position with a lot of hands-on interference might actually be more effective. I agreed to give it a try. Them stretching the cervix over the head actually wasn't that bad. They had me push for awhile while semi-reclining in a chair while they stretched the cervix, held the pubic bone up, and pushed on the fundus. All that actually helped the urges get stronger. I kept alternating between that position, lying on my back on the floor and pulling my knees up, side-lying, and supported standing squatting. Lying on my back actually brought on the most progress!
But we were going on 3 hours of pushing and I was growing more discouraged. I kept telling them I didn't think this was normal for a second-time mom. I even asked for an episiotomy so they could just reach in and pull the baby out! Luckily they flat-out refused. I asked again and again for some kind of magic thing to stop labor and put me to sleep. I asked if I could take several OTC sleeping pills. I asked if they could use our salad tongs as forceps and get this whole thing over with. The heart rate was fine through everything, but I was actually wishing the baby would be distressed so then I could go to the hospital and have a c-section with general anesthesia and get to SLEEP! I also considered going so I could get an epidural. I figured, I've already had one unmedicated birth; why do I need two? Or I thought maybe I could go in just long enough for them to use the vacuum extractor and then go straight home, and maybe we would even still tell people we did the home birth. Or I thought maybe we could call the paramedics and perhaps they could use a VE in the home setting.
But there was nothing left for me to do but continue what we had been doing. I pushed on my back some more, and the head was just about crowning. I looked in the mirror...but the first thing I saw was that I had grown some extra part! My "urethral pad" had swollen very big. I didn't even know such a thing existed. At all times there were 8 fingers in my vagina, dh pushing on the fundus and another arm pushing the pubic bone down. Finally I pushed in a deep squat and the head popped out after a total of 5 hours of pushing! The shoulders were stuck, so I was flipped to hands and knees and they were free in about 2 minutes. Then the rest of the baby. I had no tearing. They didn't tell us the gender; we told them. Another girl, 8 lbs 9 oz and 21 inches. 14.5 inch head and 15 inch shoulders. We named her Andrea Zoe.
The placenta stayed in for an hour. Andrea didn't nurse right away the way Linda did, so maybe that was why. I wanted to just let it fall out, but I was still having painful contractions so I let them yank it out. The cord had stopped pulsing, and luckily it all came out in one piece, but I was surprised at how much it hurt.
I was discouraged because I had done everything right and still had a painful, difficult birth. The whole thing took only 14 hours, in contrast with Linda's 38 hour ordeal, but it was just as painful and I had to work even harder. Maybe it was because it started with rupture of membranes; I hear that makes everything a lot more intense. But I was really glad the midwives never gave up on me, never hinted that something wasn't normal, and never suggested the hospital. They just kept telling me to keep doing what I was doing.
Afterwards I felt much more tired and sore than I did with Linda. My labia are swollen to the size of testicles; I look like some kind of hermaphrodite! My pubic bone and tailbone are sore, and it hurts to walk. It takes a long time to get up out of a chair, and I don't trust myself to carry the baby up the stairs. So I'll just be resting a lot and soaking in my herbal sitz bath.
But I'm still glad it all worked out. The baby is doing fine, and this was a second generation homebirth! Now I just have to convince Linda and Andrea to have homebirths...