I went into labor Monday February 8, 2010. I woke up feeling crampy and uncomfortable – contractions had likely been disturbing my early morning sleep, but I was too out of it to really notice. When I got out of bed, I decided right away to get to the chiropractor so that if this WAS the big day that I would be in good alignment for it – and also to take advantage of “contact,” a technique used by chiropractors to encourage labor. I started to have bits of bloody show that mornind, continuing throughout the day.
Contractions were easy to get through and ignorable pretty much all day until early afternoon, but I kept track of them sporadically anyway, so that if a pattern developed I would have as much info as possible. I looked for an early labor project to do, like baking, but a friend had just given me two loaves of yummy bread earlier in the week, so I really didn't need any baked goods and my freezer was already bursting! I decided on homemade granola (Alton Brown's recipe), which was a great choice.
I put Silas down for a nap in the early afternoon, and he seemed to take FOREVER to fall asleep – I wrote down my contractions while playing possum. Around 2:30 I texted my husband to come home when his afternoon meeting was over because it seemed like the contractions were becoming slightly more serious. Around 3 or 3:30 pm I started having to stand still through them and rocking gently – but between contractions I was still totally conversational and upbeat.
I called the midwife on call not too long after to let her know that I thought things were happening though still in the early-ish stages. My husband arrived home around 4 p.m. and started to get the birth tub ready. This involved removing our shower head and connecting the hose there (our kitchen faucet would not work). We realized we didn't have to correct adapter to connect the shower to the hose, so he ran quickly to the hardware store to get the right one. When he arrived home a little while later, we started filling the tub. After a while of filling, I realized much to our horror that we had forgotten to put the tub liner in!!! Since we were borrowing the tub from the midwives, this was a really important step to forget. I was seriously dismayed that we had to dump out all that hot water and start filling it all over again! Little did I know it would be hours before the midwives would let me get in.
We got the hot water dumped out the front door, the liner in place and started filling it again (with what little hot water was left). My mom started boiling water on the stove to supplement. Sometime around 5 p.m. Tina, the main midwife on call, arrived to check us out. She took my temp, blood pressure and listened to the baby's heartrate, all of which were normal. She stayed a little while and then asked if I would like her to check my progress. I agreed – I really wanted to know how far along I was. The week before she had checked me at an appointment and I was 2 cm dilated and my cervix was soft and baby was low, so I really hoped that the head start would prove profitable. After she checked me, she was pretty quiet, which I took to be a kind of bad sign. I said, “I must not be much more than 2 cm, huh?” and she replied that I was 3 cm but very stretchy and soft. She said that she would leave for a while (get food, etc) and to call her when something obvious changed – contractions became longer or more regular, etc. She said getting in the pool so early was a bad idea, which was disappointing to me.
I labored on the exercise ball at the side of the bed for a long while. I started to REALLY want to get in the tub, so DH called the midwife to check in. She said to try the shower, which was a good idea. DH put the exercise ball in the shower and I sat in there, facing away from the water stream until the hot water ran out a little while later. I got out and we moved the ball to the side of the bed again and I sat there. Tina the midwife called a little while later to check on us and I told DH that I was ready for her to come back – I'd been feeling that way for the last several contractions, but holding off of saying anything. She was about 35 minutes away.
When she arrived around 7:40 p.m. and checked me, I was only 5 cm dilated – I was pretty discouraged at that point, I was really hoping that I was more in the neighborhood of 7 cm (which is what happened during DS1's labor). Even though I was discouraged about the dilation, I was thrilled that Tina said I could get into the tub! It was nice and hot and mostly full, very relaxing. I hung out there for a while, an hour or more. The second midwife and midwifery student arrived around 9 p.m. I really started to lose my focus around this point – I had been able until that point just concentrate on each contraction, breathe through it, or make low vocalizations. I started to complain how tired I was already – I could barely keep my eyes open. The midwives suggested some sustenance, so I drank miso soup through a straw and had a popsicle. I kind of had a hard time getting comfortable in the tub – when I leaned forward it felt like the back labor got much worse, but I didn't really want to recline either. DH was not in the tub with me, he was pushing on my back from outside the tub. After a while, the midwives mentioned that my contractions had spaced out and that maybe it was time to get out for a little while. I really didn't like the idea of moving, but I climbed out.
I moved to the end of the couch on the exercise ball and REALLY started to lose focus – instead of my zen breathing, I started screaming things like “Noooo nooo noooo!” or “Please please please please!!” As in, please save me/please let this end! I felt really stressed and disappointed with myself while it was happening, but I just could not get on top of it for a lot of the later labor.
After a while the midwives suggested trying to move to the bedroom to do another cervical check. After I stood up, I hung on around DH's shoulders for several contractions and started to feel a little pushy. I've never felt comfortable pushing without being checked, because I'm always paranoid that I'll push without being dilated and get a swollen cervix, etc. So I slowly made my way to the bedroom. Once on the bed I had several really hard intense contractions while on elbows and knees, and felt REALLY pushy – in fact I pushed enough that my water broke right then on the bed. My midwife checked me and said that I was 9 with a lip and that she would try to push it aside during the next contraction. She did it and said that it basically just disappeared during the next contraction. They brought the birth ball up on the bed and I leaned on it so that I was in a better gravity position for pushing on the bed, kind of like hands and knees but on ball and knees. The pushing contractions were crazy – I was scream-pushing and DH said I was squeezing his hands so hard that he was sure that I was going to break his fingers.
I felt like he was barreling down the birth canal and that he would be out any second – I was pushing so hard and, really, the distance isn't that far!
Pushing was hard, but I felt like I was DOING something which was satisfying. I didn't have this experience with Silas's birth because I was on my back, my contractions petered out and I lost the urge to push. With his birth I ended up with a 3rd degree episiotomy due to heart decels and the whole experience was just really stressful and I felt really out of control. This time, it was very different. I felt in control and encouraged by the midwifery team. One thing that did annoy the hell out of me was that the student midwife would check for his heartbeat after every push contraction – it was sooo distracting to me! I wanted to try to stop and listen for it, but I was so focused on pushing – it really broke my concentration each time.
They decided that I was close enough that if we wanted to bring in Silas and my mom that now was the time, so my husband woke them. Silas was totally chill about the whole thing, encouraging me and asking questions the whole time (even though it was WAY past his bedtime!). After many big big pushes they finally told me to start to pant and do little pushes. Finally, his head was out – along with a hand up by his face! Later my mom told me how freaked out she was because he was PURPLE – but the midwives didn't seem to care so she kept her mouth shut. A few contractions later and he was born – cord wrapped around him a few times, a really long cord! After they unwrapped him, they passed him to me between my legs and I saw him for the first time. I was so glad that it was over and I was finally holding him. It was 11:07 p.m. and my husband cut the cord. August screamed bloody murder for a long while, he was MAD to be out! Both eyes were bloody looking – I think it's called subconjunctival hematoma? Nothing to worry about, but a testament to the pressures of being born, most likely exacerbated by the hand by his face. He had vernix all over his back.
I remember shivering with adrenaline after the birth – I wasn't cold at all despite being completely naked. My contractions went away while I was holding August and they kept encouraging me to push to deliver the placenta – but I really didn't have the urge. They decided to give me a shot of pitocin to encourage the placenta's delivery. Once someone else took the baby to hold, my contractions came back right away and I delivered the placenta easy peasy. Silas was obsessed with seeing it!
I ended up with a 2nd degree tear, most likely due to the fact that his hand was up by his head when he was born (according to the midwife). I got around 8 stitches which have healed really well.
The midwives stuck around for a while, doing cord blood collection, the newborn exam, stitching me up and giving me postpartum instructions and trying to get August to latch on for the first time. He weighed 9 lbs 7 oz at birth (even though we ALL thought he looked smaller than Silas when he was born – and he was 8 lbs 15 oz!). August was 21.5” long and his head was 14 cm. Then the midwives were off like a flash to attend another birth! It was about 2:30 am when the last of them left; I can't imagine going to another birth after that!
We had some issues breastfeeding – after a really rough start with Silas, I was really hoping for a better one this time. Unfortunately, my flat nipples – which had been drawn out eventually while nursing Silas – had pretty much retracted to their flattish state. I really couldn't get him to latch all the next day and was starting to really worry about it, so I called my midwife for advice – she suggested trying a nipple shield, which I had never tried with Silas. Now I am kicking myself for not trying it last time! It was like magic – August latched on right away, I had no pain, and my nipples are getting gently drawn out again.
By 1 week old, August was already back up to 9 lbs 3 oz – the midwives want him to be up to his birth weight by 2 weeks, so we were well on our way! By our scale at 2 weeks, he was past his birth weight at around 10 lbs.