Since 36 weeks I’d had nursing contractions every night, after nursing DS to sleep. Since 38 weeks I’d been hopeful that they would lead to the actual labour. Every night started with a bit of excitement—maybe that was it—but then sleepiness would take over and I’d wake up still pregnant.
On April 3rd (40 weeks, 2 days) all of us went to bed around midnight, and when the contractions started they were just enough different from the earlier ones for me to get really excited. I decided that if I had 10 in a row, then maybe that was it. I couldn’t sleep. I got up, folded some diapers, walked around, and did some stretches and squats. I even went on the contractionmaster.com—they were lasting about 25 seconds and were about 5 minutes apart. At one point they were 1 min long, but 7 minutes apart. They never got very regular either, and remained rather pleasant—the ones when you think, ooooooooh, I’m in labour, and I have to breathe through them just a bit, and they are uncomfortable, but not too painful. The contractions remained very low in the uterus. The night went by pretty fast and by 10AM DH and the kids woke up as well. We had breakfast. By that time the contractions stopped and I was extremely tired and thinking that staying up all night when I could have tried to sleep wasn’t the smartest thing to do.
But when I went upstairs and tried to sleep, the contractions came back—still irregular, still only down below, but a bit stronger. For about 2 hours I tried to sleep between them. Around noon their intensity grew and I started thinking and saying things that women say in transition—I want it to stop, I don’t want to do this anymore, I’m too tired. Yet I knew very well I wasn’t close to the transition, and that they weren’t actually even that bad. But I was exhausted and whiny. I hated moving through them. Nothing felt right. I took a shower. I walked in the hallway, while DH and the kids played downstairs. He came up to me from time to time, stay with me for a bit, and I’d send him back to the kids. I didn’t want him to tunnel-vision on me, and wanted the kids to be occupied and happy.
Then the intensity of the contractions went one level up. I stayed under a blanket in bed and found myself screaming through them, loud. The low om sounds I was making with DS’s birth weren’t working anymore. The contractions were long enough that I couldn’t get through them in one vocalisation. I was losing my breath. I don’t know how long this lasted. I think maybe about 10 contractions, but they weren't very close together. I tried getting up and walking. I thought about a different position, as I wanted to change them every so often, but the idea of being on all fours or squatting, or even standing didn't sound appealing. When a contraction would start I couldn't move and felt like my body would collapse.
At one point DD came over and I asked her to call DH so he could run a bath for me. All of a sudden I needed to be in water. I got into the bathtub. I remember being really mad at DH for letting the shower curtain touch my face. I kept yelling at him to get the curtain away, but he wasn’t understanding me.
I was very loud. Both DD and DS retreated to the "office" and watched a DVD there. At one point DS appeared in the doorway, just as my contraction was over, and asked me whether I was in pain. I told him that I was, but that I was feeling well and that babies are born that way. He was satisfied with my answer and left. He didn't seem upset.
DH stayed in the bathroom with me. I told him that I was hoping I was in transition. He said, no way, your contractions are pretty irregular. Luckily, I didn't take him seriously, so I didn't get discouraged. Thinking back, we think it was about 4PM.
None of the positions were comfortable and I thought I was definitely in transition. Because I couldn’t take THAT for much longer, that for sure. The pain was overwhelming. Each contraction lasted for a very long time, it seemed. But my water still didn’t break, so I wasn’t sure what that meant and was second guessing myself. Maybe I only wanted to be in transition? Then I realised each of my screams—thanks goodness the duplex neighbours weren’t home—ended up in a grunt, and I remembered reading that this meant I was probably getting ready to push. But the urge to push didn’t feel like I thought it would. It was just an incredibly painful pressure in the lower part of my uterus and the feeling was worse than regular contractions.
Then all of a sudden I thought I should be pushing. My body was pushing, but not enough and I just wanted this to be over. I remember thinking that I didn’t care at all if I’d end up going to the hospital for stitches. I pushed with all my might. I was sort of on my side, but mostly on my back. I thought about changing the position, but felt it would have been too torturous. I placed my hand on the perineum, and there was nothing, and I thought, oh shit. Where’s this baby? Then I felt my waters break and a bit of bloody mucus came out. DH rushed to clean it up and started draining the tub. I yelled that I needed water, and I was mad that he wasn’t listening to me. Then with the next push the baby's head came out halfway, above the water. It was absolutely awesome to touch the head. I left my hand on its head. I was in love with the little one. The contractions were still as intense and overwhelming. I kept on screaming. DH called for DD to come and start taking her video—this was her assignment for the birth. Her camera was already on the tripod. She rushed in and set up her tripod. I remember watching my perineum stretching and thinking that I’d get the stitches, for sure, even if I never tore with my first two. On the next contractions I pushed again, hard, and the entire head came out. I kept asking DH whether the baby was okay, and he assured me that it was. I pushed again and the body slid out into DH’s hands, very fast. He put her on my stomach right away and she passed meconium right then. She was pinkish blue, cried right away and moved arms and legs, and settled at my breast, trying to nurse. DD brought the receiving blanket that she’d chosen to cover the baby. I was still in a lot of pain, it seemed that everything hurt, and I kept saying, baby, baby, baby, over and over again. In a way I still I couldn’t believe she was in my arms. Everything seemed to have happened so fast. It was 4:30PM.
I stayed in the bath for about 20 minutes, I think, but my concept of time could be distorted. The baby nursed. When we turned the main light off the baby opened her eyes and briefly looked around. I don't remember why we turned the light back on, but at that point she closed her eyes again. Then I felt the placenta coming out—the pain and the pressure was still really bad and I couldn’t tolerate the idea of sitting for its birth. I needed to stand up. The cord was too short for me to stand up with the baby in my arms, so we decided to cut it. DH did it with his Swiss Army knife and tied it with the braided embroidery yarn. We later realised we forgot to disinfect the knife, but we had cleaned it thoroughly a week before. At this time we finally looked—it was a girl! I’d been having dreams of having a boy! DD was very excited—she’d wanted a sister. I passed the baby to DH and got up. Right away a huge clot dropped into the tub—the size of my hand. I even thought it was the placenta, and stared in surprise at the cord still hanging. Then the placenta dropped with a tiny push. Then two more huge blood clots. I placed everything in the placenta basin to look at later, took a brief shower and went to bed with the baby.
The afterpains were horrendous, and lasted for 4 days. The good part—I didn’t tear at all. To my great surprise I wasn’t even sore.
Thanks to DD we have an awesome video of the birth. I love that we have it, and she's very proud for videotaping the birth. She also took countless photos, many of them just fantastic.
Today baby Y. is 10 days. She has the softest hair on her head and is an absolute delight. She spends longer periods of time awake and looking around and gets so much attention and love from DD. DS is warming up to her as well--kissing her, talking and singing to her.
We are all in love.