emilena faye, born at home sepember 27th, 2005
my first indication that it might finally be the day millie was to be born was a weird internal pop i felt while trying to nurse jasper (21 months) back down to sleep when he awoke at around 5:30am september 27th. i had a few contractions after this, but this wasn't uncommon in the morning while nursing jasper. phil was still bumping around getting ready for work, so when he poked his head in i asked him to stay with jasper (who was barely awake by now) so i could check if maybe my water had broken. went to the bathroom and no leakage, no bloody show, so i was pretty sure it wasn't my water. i sent phil off to work, not wanting him to be late over a false alarm.
i managed to get jasper back to sleep briefly and went back to the guest room (where i had been sleeping) to see if i would get any more contractions. there were a few, and i began to think maybe something was going on after all, enough so that i put a call into our nurse/doula, debbie, to give her early warning before she went to work. she told me to try to rest and take a bath and see if things continued. i also posted on a few boards that this might be the day. it was 2 days before millie's edd -- jasper arrived 2 days before his edd and the significance was not lost on me.
i also called phil, who by now was on the train and on the way to work, and told him to get off at the next station and wait for further instructions. there was just something about these contractions that was different than the ones i had had off and on the previous few weeks. they were erratic in length and spacing, but that's how they were at the start of labor with jasper. they were down low again, and a bit sharper and more defined than the practice contractions i'd been having, so i was definitely taking note.
i started a bath for myself in the master bathroom, but unfortunately jasper woke by 6:30am and i ended up stopping the water and taking him downstairs to get some breakfast and get dressed. he was in a cranky mood, even for him (he's not a very happy waker). swell. i took along my laptop, so i could continue to track the contractions. i decided to wait a bit before calling the midwife -- her instructions said to call when contractions were 5-6 minutes apart and lasting a minute, none of which was happening yet. i figured there was plenty of time because with jasper the erratic contractions went on for several hours before starting to really settle into a pattern.
i put a call in to my parents to let them know today was probably the day and i'd let them know when i needed them to come watch jasper. i was already somewhat frazzled, as jasper was refusing to eat and swiping food off of the table and generally being ornery and inconsolable, but i really didn't want to have everyone show up and either have labor fizzle out, or have hours of wait-time. part of what was so nice about jasper's birth was that i wasn't a watched pot, and i wanted the same freedom again.
sometime in there contractions jumped from about every 10 minutes and erratic to every 5-6 and i was starting to really feel them and even rocked through a few that were more intense. i decided this definitely felt real enough to call the midwife, jude, so i did and she decided she'd better get on the road since it's over an hour drive to us. i also called phil and told him to get home. the next train heading back out wasn't for a while yet so i told him to take a cab. no question, i knew this was it and suspected things were going much faster than they did with jasper. or at least the contractions were a lot more intense at this stage than an hour into labor with jasper!
a few more contractions passed and i decided that dealing with jasper was getting to be too much, so i put in another call to my parents. my dad said my mom needed to dry her hair and they'd come after that -- i thought he meant she was going to do her full-blown curlers in the hair and sitting under a dryer for 30+ minutes spiel. boy, that freaked me a bit. i was going to start searching for my next door neighbor's number hoping she could amuse jasper till my parents could get over to the house. i decided i needed to give debbie a call first, because things were getting more intense and felt i could use the support and calming presence. before i got her number out, jude gave a call and said she thought i should give the nurse a call too -- she said there was something in my voice when she caught me at the end of a contraction and was concerned she might not make it in time. i told her i was actually just getting to that and had others on the way as well.
so i called debbie, who was at work by now, and she said she'd see what she could work out and call back. my parents called after this and said they were on their way. great relief! jasper was still being grumpy, but i'd given up on getting him to eat breakfast and was just letting him watch tv by now and play with toys. he was being a bit clingy and wanting to nurse but i knew there was no way i wanted to sit and encourage more or stronger contractions. debbie called back and said she was on the road. she was only about 15 minutes away. more relief!
the last contraction i tracked started at 7:55am and after this i decided to head upstairs to make another attempt at getting the tub filled so i could maybe climb in for a bit. jasper followed me up and played a little, but soon got bored of mommy hanging onto the birth ball and trying not to moan too loudly. i had to reassure him a lot. he disappeared back downstairs after a few minutes and i had no strength to follow. i figured he'd be fine for a little bit till someone arrived.
debbie called my cellphone, thinking it was jude's so i tried looking up the midwife's cell for her but was all flustered and said i'd call back when i found it. i did find it a few minutes later, but was too busy dealing with contractions to take the time to call her back!
everyone arrived at pretty much the same time. i heard phil walk in and ask jasper where i was. and then i heard him directing debbie upstairs to where he figured i was. and then i heard my parents come in, so phil came upstairs as well. i was pretty much tied to the birth ball, but thankfully still good to talk twixt contractions to direct debbie to anything she needed or ask phil for a hairband (i was sweaty and my hair falling into my face with each contraction on the birth ball was driving me nuts). once debbie was mostly setup she asked if i could get up on the bed to be checked. i wasn't checked the previous birth till i was +3 so i was all for finding out where i was this time. even though things were really hot and heavy by now, i still thought we had a decent amount of time left. though the last contraction or two i spent hanging on the birth ball i did notice i felt like i almost wanted to push. my mind wasn't close to being there yet so i didn't mention it.
next contraction hit when i had just climbed up into the bed. not so fun, and there was now no question i was feeling pushy -- i started to grunt at the end of that contraction a bit. so debbie checked me once the contraction had passed and said yep, baby is at 0 or possibly +1 and i think she might have broken my water at this point. i also started pushing in earnest, and was not too pleased to be doing so. really, it's hard to describe. i really wanted to be anywhere else doing anything else at this time. i felt the baby move down easily into the birth canal, no mistaking that, and then pain pain pain. i really hate the crowning. debbie was trying to get me to focus on effective pushing, reminding me to tuck my chin. phil was telling me i was doing awesome. i, on the other hand, was not tucking my chin or doing awesome at all (though i guess i made fine progress regardless)... i was probably making a hell of a lot of noise (as i had been for a while, but this was worse) and was having a lot of trouble listening to anything debbie was asking me to do. her suggestion to grab my legs and pull them back was met with a probably-grumpy "now?!" from me. i was apparently deep in laborland, and following directions is not something i did well from that place! this was the one thing i wanted to do differently this time -- be in control of pushing. alas, it was not meant to be. i suck at pushing, or at least suck at being enough in my own head to do so without fighting it. since i've never had to actively push more than 3 times to get a baby out so far, though, i guess it's not such a handicap. just something i wish i would have done better.
i felt the baby crowning, felt the ring of fire and then the head was out. i thought the head had actually gone back in rather than out, and was thinking -- shit, now i've gotta go through that pain again. pushing this time was different -- much more painful than i recalled perhaps due to the speed of labor and the baby's descent. even though jasper's labor was relatively quick, i was trying to fight the pushing urge for a good 30+ minutes -- which didn't work, but i'm sure it slowed things and gave both my body and head time to adjust to the new sensations and also probably got the natural anaesthetic flowing. phil asked if he should call the midwife at this point i think, and for whatever reason i thought this meant something was wrong with the baby. a few minutes earlier debbie hadn't been able to find the heart tones with the doppler, but she had said something about the batteries being low so i don't think any of us were really concerned. in reality, the baby was crying already with just her head out, but i guess i didn't hear her over all the noise i was making! debbie was trying to get me to relax (damn near impossible, i never could during pushing with jasper either) and then another push when the next contraction came on and she was out completely. it was 8:38am, so a whopping 3 hours plus minutes after that first weird internal pop i felt.
then i heard the crying and was handed one very messy little girl, who managed to pass meconium all over me right off. millie cried a lot while i held her. she wasn't interested in nursing yet so i just talked to her and tried to keep her warm up against me under the towels debbie put over us.
so, once again debbie was the only one who made it in time and caught my baby. i wish i had called jude earlier, but i had no idea things were going *that* much faster than jasper's birth! but neat about debbie -- i kinda consider her to be my kid's guardian angel here on earth. they were both easy, uncomplicated births but having helping hands that knew what they were doing (jic) and the emotional and physical support meant a ton. i was stunned that the whole experience was so short, and it was more painful and intense than i expected as well (i'm sure due to the speed of things). there just wasn't any time to adjust and get my head around things, and i think i'm still reeling a bit! after jasper's birth i was flying, and ready to do it all again. after millie's birth, i was taking the stance of -- don't ask me if we're having another because right this moment i don't even want to think about doing this again. of course i've come around since then, but still don't plan on making any big decisions for a while. for now i'm just happy the shock has worn off!
so little miss millie's birth stats were 6lb 15oz, born at 8:38am, and her apgar scores were 10 and 10 (not that we do them officially but debbie did take note and mention it). i don't recall the head measurement, but i know she was bigger than jasper, all the way around. millie's length didn't get measured till her 1-week appointment, at which time she was 20" long. jude noticed she had an odd little loop in her cord -- just the vessels were looped but not the cord itself, so it wasn't a knot. jude said it was the first time she had seen something like that. all else was perfectly normal, with a healthy little girl and stunned mom and dad (not to mention grandparents and big brother).