I am expecting my second child next month and thought it would help me prepare by writing about our first birth.
At 3:30am, 10 days before the due date, I woke up to go pee, but noticed a little trickle of warm fluid coming out of my vagina. I knew immediately what it was, and I knew instinctively that if I sat up in bed, it would all come gushing out. I lay there for a second, then I woke up dh and told him that my water broke and he should move out of the way. So I sat up and out it all poured. We laughed, happy and excited. He got up and prepared the cameras, then went back to sleep. I called one of my midwives and told her the news. "Cool, very cool," she said, approvingly. She suggested sleep, and she would check in later. I called my parents on the east coast because I knew they would just be getting up then. I told them they were going to have a grandbaby today. It was all very fun.
I rested in bed, excited. I finally told myself to sleep and wait for contractions to start (I hadn't felt any yet). I took deep breaths to try and relax, I considered every muscle in my body and willed it to sleep. The moment that I hit utter relaxation, 45 minutes later, I had my first contraction. Shocking, but bearable. I wanted to notice everything. I heard the blood pumping in my ears. I rested through a few more, then got antsy. I wanted to let dh rest, so I went into the shower and stood under the water for about 30 minutes. It felt lovely to sway under the water with my eyes closed. I felt tired, though, and wanted to sit down.
I got out of the shower and pooped on the toilet. I went to the bedroom and knelt down on some pillows next to the bed, resting my head on the bed. The contractions were starting to feel annoying
, so I woke dh up and complained a bit. I started to feel like I was getting dreamy, and a thought passed through my head: "I'd really not like to do this today." Dh called another midwife, because apparently the contractions were 5 minutes apart and he was noticing that they were getting closer. She wanted to talk to me on the phone to guage where in my labor I might be. I managed to talk through one contraction, then the next one I breathed deeply and moaned in a way that sounded kind of sexy. She told me I was handling labor really well and she would check in later. It was about 5am.
Time passed and I got on the bed to lay on my side. I started moaning deep "ooohhh's" with each contraction. Sleeping, or trance-like, in between. Dh called another midwife and said the contractions were coming fast and that I couldn't talk at all. I threw up in a trashcan then lay back down. I heard a car park out front. A midwife appeared, blessed wonderful midwife. Another appeared soon. The sun was beginning to shine brightly on me, the breeze was gently blowing the curtain over me. It sounds peaceful now, but at the time I just really wanted to be in the dark, so I held my arm over my face.
One midwife suggested I try to pee because my bladder was bulging like crazy. They walked me down the hallway, annoying thing to have to do, and I sat on the toilet, hating being there. I wanted to go back to my sleeping, trance-like position in bed. No pee came out. "That baby's head is really pinching your bladder!" the midwife said with great sympathy. Back in the bedroom, she had me squat over something to pee in it. I think some pee came out, but not much. I finally lay back down. They offered me water to drink, pulled my hair back, put a cool cloth on the back of my neck. Quietly waited. Dh lay next to me and moaned when I did. The midwives moaned, too. Then we were all quiet in between contractions. By then, the 3rd midwife had arrived. It was about 9am. I kept my eyes closed the whole time, but during one contraction I thought I'd try something new: I opened my eyes and stared at my husband, giving him the contraction, giving him the power. It was intense and I lost my concentration, so I went back to my closed-eye moaning.
A midwife suggested checking my cervix. I'd never had an internal before and wasn't thrilled with the idea at the moment, but no words could come out of my mouth. I was scared that she'd find me to be 2cm dilated after all this work. I prepared myself for the possibility.
She waited for a contraction to end, then felt inside. The sensation made me cranky and I tried to push her out. But then she told me that she didn't feel any cervix at all! Joy!
The contractions immediately stopped. I was in a semi-upright reclined position now. I rested for a long time. I thought I was supposed to be pushing or something, but there were no contractions. I tried a little push, but it seemed silly without a contraction. So I waited and rested and started to feel a little nervous, knowing that soon I'd have to deal with the pain of a head stretching me open. A contraction came and I ignored it, refusing to push. All 3 midwives knelt on the floor at the foot of the bed, and I opened my eyes and smiled at them, thinking, "what next?" and "how do I do this?" I think they sensed I was scared, and they told me to just listen to my body, women all around the world are doing this same thing right now, that I was doing great.
Then I pushed a big push and bore down when the contraction ended. I wanted to get this over with fast. It occurred to me that the baby had no room to come out with my sitting up like that, so I flipped over on my hands and knees and pushed hard during and between contractions. I leaned on pillows in between contractions. I pushed like crazy with deep, angry, determined, cow-like moans. It felt perfect to have them supporting my butt, so I could relax my bottom and push against them. A midwife who was massaging my lower back said she could feel the head moving through my sacrum. Then another said she could feel the head at the opening and would I like to put my hand there and feel my baby? I shook my head in a vigorous "no" because I was pretty freaked out about the idea of a head coming out there. Then all of a sudden it felt like my clitoris was going to tear apart! I announced this and was very upset, thinking for a moment about my sexual future, and they assured me that wouldn't happen, but it really felt like it to me. One midwife supported my clitoris with her hand and it felt very pleasant, actually.
Then with one big push and a bad word and a donkey kick, the head was all of a sudden out. It squirmed around and I thought it seemed other-worldly, to have another being squirming around in between my legs, half out of my body. Then the body slid out onto the bed.
I let out a deep breath of relief and started to sit back. "Wait, wait, you're going to sit on your baby!" Oh yeah, there's a baby back there. I awkwardly turned around, and kneeling, picked up the baby. We wrapped a blanket around it and dh and I cried, looking at it. "You crazy baby!" I kept saying. "It was you who was inside there this whole time!" He squalled and cried and squirmed. Then I opened the blanket and saw that we had a boy. We cried and laughed. It was 11am.
I sat back and a midwife put some yummy cinnamon-y stuff in my mouth. I soon felt this excitement flash through me, then the placenta slid out. Time must have passed as I held my new baby, then my husband cut the cord. The midwife was back at me about trying to pee, damn her!
(Now I understand why: in the pictures, my bladder is obviously hugely bulging, and I now know that this can actually contribute to hemmorhage, if the uterus is in an odd position b/c of the bladder in the way.) So, holding my baby, I sat on the edge of the bed over a bedpan and worked very hard at relaxing my bladder so I could pee. Finally, with great pain and burning, I peed!
I was feeling exhilarated, completely awake now. I put my boy to my breast and he did not seem interested yet. The midwives left us alone to meet our baby. We looked at him and cried and smiled. Dh's mom walked in, shocked to see the baby was already born! The midwives came back about an hour later, after the baby had latched on and nursed briefly. They weighed him and measured him and tested him for maturity (ear springiness, etc.) He was 7 1/2 pounds. They checked me for tears - no tears, but one labia was indeed quite stretched out, but not quite torn, so no need for stitches. One midwife kneaded my uterus like crazy and I laughingly cursed at her - that hurt pretty bad. I later found out that I had lost quite a bit of blood.
I wanted to tell the world. I called my family, all across the country. I called my friends. I called the Birthing From Within instructor. The midwives, having cleaned everything up, said it looked like it would be cozy to curl up in bed with that beautiful baby, so I did, and they left us to our cocoon of family.