Early in the morning of Friday the 14th, around 3am, labor started all of a sudden. The contractions started in at about every 5 minutes, and were hard enough that I needed to work to breathe through them. I lay in bed for a while on my side, breathing and working through, until I eventually had to get up on my hands and knees and rock around a bit. Soon after that I was up and walking. I woke my husband at about 6am so he could call out of work, and called my midwife. She told me to try to get some sleep and she'd call back in an hour. I did, but at 7:30 I was awake again and the midwife decided to head out to our house.
When she arrived I was in full blown labor, contractions three minutes apart and working them out on my birth ball. They were coming hard, but manageable. After about an hour of observing the midwife decided to check me, because she was sure I was well advanced and could hop in the tub. Wrong - I was 1cm. My husband and I decided to go to the mall so that we could get something to eat, walk around, and maybe buy a baby thing to help motivate me. We stopped in Johnny Rocket's for burgers. The poor teenage boy who was serving us happened to come to our table only when I was having a contraction. Poor kid didn't know what to think.
After eating we walked some more, bought a baby outfit, and at one point we stopped at a stand that sells herbal heat packs so I could have one put on my back. We bought one to make up for it, of course. Then we headed home again.
The rest is a bit blurry now. I labored hours more, squatting and walking as much as I could, even going outside for a mile walk on the park path. At one point the midwife went over to a relative’s house down the street to sleep, and I got in the bathtub and had some wine so I could do the same. It didn't take long for me to need the midwife back again, as labor kicked in harder than ever.
By the second round of wine and a bath to soak in, I was exhausted. We'd been going well over 24 hours at this point, and I was starting to see the transfer looming. The contractions were wacky, sometimes coming 15 minutes apart and leaving me feeling fine in between, sometimes coming one right on top of the last. Some were as much as 5, 10, and in one case about 30 minutes long. I tols the midwife I had about had it, and she suggested trying just a couple more things, because she knew how committed I was to birthing at home and wanted to make that happen for me.
Into the tub I went, and that's where I stayed for the rest of my time at home. The water helped a lot, but the contractions were still getting harder than I could manage. At hour 42, I made the decision the transfer. About an hour later, we were ready to go. The half hour ride to the hospital was horrible, even though I only had a few contractions along the way. I was on my hands and knees in the back seat, just breathing and trying no to scream or cry too much and scare my poor husband any more than he already was.
The minute I got out of the car in front of the ER, my water finally broke. I never knew I could hold so much water. Thankfully it was nice and clear. We wheeled upstairs as fast as possible, where it took the longest 15-20 minutes of my life to get the epidural going. At this point the contractions had me, and there was no coping. I basically lay in the bed and screamed through them. Once the epidural kicked in I was in heaven! My contractions started slowing down, of course, so I was given some pitocin to get them going again. In about five hours I was ready to push.
Pushing felt great, but there was quickly a problem. The baby's heart rate dropped every time I pushed and stayed down longer than it should. I was given oxygen and put on my side to take pressure off his cord. The hospital midwife came to talk to me, and we decided that a c-section might be the best option, but we'd talk to the OB first. Thank Gods for the OB! He took a look, watched me push, and decided that we could get the baby out vaginally. It took about an hour of pushing, a second degree episiotomy, and vacuum extraction to get the baby out, but out he came!
Now, days later, I have no regrets. I tried my best for the home birth, but I really think the point that we transferred was exactly when it needed to happen. The baby and I are both safe and healthy, and I feel that I was in control of my labor and all the decisions made. It wasn't what I expected or planned, but it was my birth and I'm proud of it.