Caleb John, 9lbs 12oz, 22.75 inches
My first son was born on his due date - June 17th! The previous few weeks I had excitedly anticipated that any day could be it. I contracted a lot - many times fairly regularly and they palpated strong, but I knew it wasn't "it" yet. I also lost pieces of my mucous plug - a few times. I had my membranes stripped 6 days before he was born (on a Wends); the next day, I had an acupuncture treatment and another acupuncture treatment the next day. Nothing worked, but I really didn't expect it too. The failed induction methods did help me be more patient. I reasoned if gently stripping my membranes and 2 acupuncture treatments didn't work, then my baby simply wasn't ready to be born. I needed to honor the process my body and baby were going through. The day before his birth, I went to the chiro. She offered to do another acupuncture treatment, but I declined. I had finally resolved myself into waiting for my baby's birth when he was ready - not just because I was ready.
The morning of 6/17, I woke at 6 am to use the bathroom. I had tons of bloody show. I actually started crying in excitement! I knew that he would be born within 24 hrs. I tried to lay back down and sleep, but the contractions were coming every 7-8 minutes and they were intense enough to keep me awake. I got up and started cleaning. Tim started doing some things he wanted to get done before going to work - I wanted him to go. One thing he did is hang a sheet on our front door so no one could walk up to the door and see me (good thing he did too since one of our daughters friends came up later in the day when I was in strong labor, naked and in my birthing pool! What a site she would have gotten!). Tim left for work around 9am (2 hours later than usual) and he took Emma (my four year old) with him. The contractions were now 5-7 minutes apart and 1 minute long (if not longer). The had a different quality than all the contractions that came before. The were a lot more crampy. I could feel the wave spread over my lower uterus, get stronger and fade away.
Throughout the morning the girls and I got things done around the house for the birth. We finished cleaning and blew the birth pool up (if we hadn't, I probably wouldn't have had a water birth). Then the girls played outside while I watched tv and had contractions. When I would get one, I would try to get on the floor leaning over the birth ball. If I didn't recognize the contraction quickly enough, I would be stuck on the couch - and they were so much worse on the couch. I was vocalizing through contractions and staying loose. I'd think it would be much easier to recognize the beginning of contrax considering this was my fourth birth, but some contrax would fool me. I'd waste the energy getting off the couch only to not have a contrax. I started to get really tired.
Around 11:30, the girls wanted to eat. Hannah made a frozen pizza for the first time by herself. I took it out of the oven and had two pieces. For breakfast (around 10am), I had a PB&J on a toasted english muffin. I wasn't really hungry either time I ate, but I knew I needed to eat. I had been drinking water throughout the morning.
After lunch, I really wanted to try to rest. The contrax were now a little farther apart (8-10min). I listened to my HypnoBirthing tracks - twice. I was able to rest fairly well for an hour. I could still feel my contractions, but I was able to rest during them. I had to get up after that hour though. I went back to the couch. This whole time I had been having bloody show and periodically checking my dilation. I was consistently 3.5 cms with a slightly bulgy bag, 50% effaced and -3. I could feel baby's head right above my pubic bone. The lack of cervical change is what kept me from calling in my midwife and friends. I had already called them all in the am to give them a heads up, but didn't want a bunch of people around until I was making cervical change.
Around 3pm, Tim called. I had just finished a contrax, so I answered. As soon as I answered, I had a REALLY strong contrax. I had to set the phone down and vocalize for about 1.5 min. By the time the contrax was over, he had hung up. I went to the bathroom and called him back. I told him he should head home now. He was planning on coming home at 4pm, but I still needed him to fill our 5 gallon water jugs since we were out of drinking water (and neither of us really like tap water). He got home around 3:30 to drop off Emma. Luckily, he stuck around for a minute. I felt really nausous and went to the bathroom. I asked for a bucket, threw up and checked myself afterward (I had checked myself right before I called Tim at 3pm and still hadn't made change, but the contrax were stronger now and I didn't want him leaving if I was starting to make cervical change). I was 5-6, 100%, and had the bulgiest bag I had ever felt (at least until a little while later). As a L&D RN, I've done my fair share of vaginal exams! Unfortunately, his head still hadn't descended. I was slightly worried about a cord prolapse if my bag broke. I yelled out to Tim to call everyone and start filling the pool. My contractions were 3-4 minutes apart and very intense. I didn't want to move from the toliet for fear of my sac would break and make a big mess. Also, I was somewhat comfortable. I adopted the position of leaning back and resting between contrax. He didn't seem to be able to start the pool AND make calls (I think he panicked a little). He called the kids inside, and I asked for the phone. I called everyone and simply asked "Come now". No one asked any questions like how far apart are the contrax. They knew it was time.
After Tim had gotten the pool starting to fill up, he still needed to get water. I told him he couldn't go and get the jugs filled. He offered to run up to the gas station for bottled water. I checked myself again. I was completely dilated, my bag was 1/2 inch from my vaginal opening, but the head was still sky high. The kids were in the house so if I really needed something, they could help. The gas station was 10 blocks away. I remember saying "Just go, but if there is a line, don't wait." He made it back with plenty, plenty of time - and cold drinking water.
Soon, people started arriving. I could hear them. Linda (a friend who is a doula) came into the bathroom first. I asked her if the pool was ready. She made a hand gesture that indicated there was about 6 inches of water in the pool. The pool wasn't ready yet. I rode out some more contraxs and the pool was deep enough to get in. I just couldn't stand on my own. I asked for Tim and instructed him to put his hands under my armpits and lift me up. I made it across the kitchen with his help before the next contrax started. I couldn't figure out what position to adopt. I ended up in a squat with him kneeling in front of me. Then I was in the pool.
I first knelt over the side of the pool. This is the position I used during my last birth, but it didn't feel quite right. So the next contraction I switched to my back. My head was resting on one side of the pool, my knees were relaxed apart and resting on the other side of the pool. I made fists and placed them under my lower back. Now the contractions were very crampy in my front AND back. I really need pressue on my back, but had to do it myself. When a contraction would start, I would start to move my head back and forth in a "No" motion. I wasn't meaning no though. I was just staying loose. Linda kept her hands a few inches away from my head. When I would shake my head back and forth, I would meet her hand. It did comfort me. Also, she would remind me "This one will pass". I vocalized a lot and just did whatever my body needed. I tried hard to focus on meeting my baby soon, whether Lillian or Caleb would be born, reminding myself it would be over soon.
Around 5:20pm, my water exploded. I had been 50% pushy before this happened. It would seem I was pushy for maybe half of the contrax - if not a little less. The beginning and end of the contrax was just breathing but the middle I'd push some - sometimes not though. When my water broke, I intuitively knew there was mec in my water. I had a feeling most of my pregnancy that there would be mec. I asked if there was heavy mec and was told no. I heard the midwives talk about particulate though. I wasn't worried. I knew it'd be o-kay.
The next contrax, the head came down to my vaginal opening - mostly without really strong pushing. I forced myself to feel the head with the next contrax. I remember thinking it might be my last chance to feel a baby emerge from my body. So with my right hand, I felt the top of the head. The next contrax started. It took about 30 sec of the contrax to feel like I could really push strong. Then the head was coming and coming. I remember thinking that I could tear by pushing this hard, but I really wanted the head out with that contrax - and out it came (along with a lot of loud screaming and one strong cuss word). I remember feeling the back of his head and his hair floating in the water. I gave two small pushes and declared he wasn't coming. The midwife assured me he was coming, and with the next push, he was born and on my chest, and screaming! I said "No one tell me the gender". I looked at my baby - just taking him in. He looked different than my other babies. I reached to feel the gentalia. I could feel balls! I leaned him back for everyone to see. One of my daughters announced "It's a boy".
Everything else went fine except I did end up tearing a bit. The tear didn't go into the muscle but it did extend along the perinium about 1/2 an inch and 1/4 inch deep. I elected to have it sutured.
My milk came in at 27 hours. He lost his cord stump at 5 days (the only thing I put on it was breastmilk a couple times a day). We are so happy he is a part of our family!
Janel ~ wife and mother of 4, L&D RN, midwifery student