Sunday March 13th was a beautiful sunny day here in England. I took my son to the park to meet up with some friends. I told my DH that if I did 10 laps of the park the baby would come today. I just did one lap and felt things shifting. Walking home I had to pause for breath as the contractions started up. I had lunch plans with some women friends and felt I had to do that before the baby was going to come. We went to a wonderful vegetarian cafe and I ate delicious aubergine and almond cakes, all the while having contractions but not really syaing anything about them. One of my friends was secretly timing them though and looking more and more anxious. We realised they were 4 mins apart, getting stronger, and my face was flushed. I felt great though, filled with energy and very talkative. I had my heart set on dessert (pistachio and ginger stem cheesecake with rhubarb sauce) so I ordered that and called home to tell Dh to set up the pool. He said, "so you're heading home?", and I said, "No, actually I'm waiting for dessert!"
When I got home I still wasn't sure if this was the "real thing" but soon the contractions were coming even closer together and I realised this was going to be a lot faster than with DS. So the midwife and our doula came and everyone got busy setting up the pool and taking care of DS while I walked about the apartment and rolled on my birthing pool. Every time I felt a contraction coming somebody would miraculously appear behind me, putting counter pressure on my sacrum, which felt great. I still wasn't sure what was going on since the contractions seemed very irregular and 'too' close together so my midwife offered to check my cervix; I was 5 cms dilated. Yay!
At that point I got into the pool and had a great time floating around with DS, listening to Ravi Shankar, and the water felt so amazing by then; the contractions were almost enjoyable and I would lean on all fours through each one. The whole experience was much more pleasurable and fun than I could have imagined. After a while I felt I should get out and move around.
Thing shifted in energy at that point. The contractions got much stronger and I was filled with a different kind of energy. I started writing emails to people, telling them I was in labour! I thought, this is crazy, why is every one here waiting for me to have a baby and here I am writing emails! I asked my midwife if she wanted to go home for a while and rest. We decided to wait through a couple more contractions, but by the next one it was so intense and she said my breathing had changed, so she wasn't going anywhere. By then DS was watching a video with our doula and DH cooked tortellini for everyone. I had been hungry through the whole labour, even after my huge lunch, and ate chocolate and toast and honey and drank iced raspberry leaf tea, but by the time the tortellini was ready I was in a whole different state.
It was almost sunset and I was desparate to get outside so I walked around the garden with DH. That was heavenly, feeling the fresh air, hearing the bird song, and seeing where I had been sweeping and pruning with DS just a few days before. The whole way through labour I was comforted by things being "normal", and didn't really like having the curtains shut or being cut off from day to day life. I also didn't want any of the music I'd picked out which was more "out there" (Tibetan and Indian chants) but I stuck with Miles Davis and Ravi Shankar.
I also felt sooo much better when DS was nearby. At 6.30 our doula sat with him in bed reading stories and I wanted to be near him but somehow got stuck in the hallway outside his room having contractions. By then I was making some very low intense and sounds and I thought I heard him say he was scared. I went in to see him and he looked up with a smile and said, "We're fine". I asked him if he would like us to wake him when the baby was born, and he said "I'll wake up all by myself before the baby comes out".
At that point I knew it was getting to be time to have this baby. I felt shaky and shivery and tearful and was wondering if I could do this. I heard my midwife say, "It's hard but this is a phase we have to got through", and I realise this was transition, and that it was just that - a phase that I would get through - and then it was much easier than I expected.
I got back in the pool and prepared myself for birthing. Curtains shut, candles lit, incense burning and Ravi playing. Dh was in the pool naked with me and it was sooo comforting to hold onto his waist and look down at his body and remember how this little being was created
The contractions got more and more intense and overwhelming and people held ice water cloths on my forehead and I continued going on all fours through each one. A few times I felt myself getting a little panicked and thrashing around but my midwife lay her hand on me and said, "it's alright" and then I was comforted and breathing calmly again. My son appeared from the bedroom and stood at the edge of the pool with our doula. My midwife asked if I fel like pushing but at that point I wasn't really sure. (With DS they had me pushing before I felt any urges so I never knew what taht felt like). She kept checking the baby's heartbeat and telling me I had a very happy baby, and that helped so much.
Somehow things shifted and then I knew it was pushing time. I could feel the head moving down, and heard myself say, "Baby's coming". My midwife asked me to decide at this point if I was going to stay in the water or get out (I was sort of half in half out at that point) and that was a scary moment, having to make a decision. But I pushed my belly down under the water and knew I was staying right there.
I started pushing then and my midwife had me mostly try not push but to breathe the head out, to avoid the massive tear I had the first time. That worked beautifully. I couldn't believe it when Dh and I both reached down and felt the head! That point when it was half in half out was excruciatingly painful, I felt I was being ripped in two, but also incredible and beautiful. One more push and the head was out, and then another and the whole body was out. And there she was! A liitle girl, exactly as I had pictured her, and exactly as I had dreamed her 3 1/2 yrs ago when I was pg with DS. DH and I floated in the pool with her for some time, with DS watching, amazed by it all.
With DS there were big complications with bleeding and the placenta delivery, so that was the stage we were all most on alert around. I got out of the pool and into a kneeling position, while holding my baby, to try to deliver it. I could not believe how painful it all was at that point and asked my midwife if maybe I was having a second baby! She said she couldn't be sure I wasn't since I hadn't had a scan! Meanwhile we sang Happy Birthday and ate birthday cake and I drank a wonderful herbal tea and was wrapped in blankets and a robe by the fire.
We left the cord well alone and I was amazed by how hands off the midwives were, but after 50 minutes they let me know that soon they would have to consider giving me pitocin to avoid any complications like before. I knew I didn't want that, so my doula gave me angelica tincture, and - miraculously - the placenta was out in one huge push (and with a big bloody splash!) with me standing, within 5 minutes.
That was the hugest relief ever! We all snuggled around and ate more cake. then my midwife checked me for tears, another fear of mine, and I could NOT believe when she said I had the tiniest nick and could give me one stitch but decided to leave it to heal on it's own. After the third degree tear last time I was amazed! I put that down to the water, being on all fours, and being alowed to breathe, rather than push, the head out.
Dh cooked me a big plate of scrambled eggs and within 2 hs of our baby being born we were all snuggling in bed together while our doula cleaned up and then left us in peace. All in all it was about a 9 hr labour, with only 5 minutes of pushing. And it was all more perfect than I could believe