I found out I was pregnant in late September 2004. About 3 weeks later DH was laid off "temporarily." Even though we knew it would be a huge financial strain we knew that we wanted a home birth this time, as our first had been a hospital birth and we didn't want to do that again. I started interviewing midwives in our area when I was 6 weeks pregnant. The first group I met with were wonderful, I spent almost 2 hours asking questions and getting to know the midwife who was doing the interview. It turned out that that midwife was not going to be there during the time that I was due, and their fee was almost $6000. I decided to keep looking. The next midwife I interviewed was more medically inclined that I wanted. She conducted the interview in a group session and had hand-outs to answer common questions. This felt way too much like my experience with my last pregnancy so I decided to keep looking. At this point I was about 15 weeks pregnant and starting to worry that I hadn't received any prenatal care, though in my heart I knew that everything was fine.
Around Christmas, my mom ran into two midwives that she knew - they had been her midwives for the births of my sister and brother. They mentioned that although they were not practicing, the third member of their original group still was and that she was located just over an hour from where I live. I knew that Mary, the midwife that was available was an amazing midwife. I had seen her in videos and I was very excited at the prospect. I called Mary and met her on the first day of a very heavy rain storm that ended up leaving California devasted. We sat in a cozy room at her house and talked for hours. She asked if I wanted her to be my midwife and I told her there was no doubt in my mind. She had broken off from her group of midwives because she had changed the direction of her midwifery care. She had a therapist that she worked with to help people resolve past birth issues, issues surrounding their own births, and family dynamic issues. She had just finished a video titled "What Babies Want." We watched the video, dh, dd and myself and we all felt excited about the type of care we would be getting as a family.
I started my prenatal visits soon after. I would drive an hour and 15 minutes along the coast with dd. Mary lives in a beautiful canyon and it was so serene after leaving the huge urban sprawl that I live in. Often her daughter would be home and she would play with my daughter, Emilia. My appointments were long and relaxed. We would talk about my family, dh's family..I resolved a lot of issues over the last few months.
Dh found some temp work and was offered a job in March. Things were looking up. We were able to start paying for our midwife, she had been totally flexible so it was great to finally start paying for her care.
Around the last week of May I started having some cramping sensations, it felt like I was going to start my period though I knew that wasn't the case! I knew that it was probably ripening my cervix and I felt hopeful that I wouldn't have another 22 hour labor like I did with dd. On Thursday June 2 I woke up to contractions at 8 a.m. They weren't hard to manage so I just went about my day. I had an appt with Mary that evening and asked dh to leave work early because I didn't feel comfortable driving. That appt we talked a lot about labor and a lot about babies. Mary checked me and after a day of contractions I was only 1 cm and about 80% effaced. I felt pretty bummed out, and worried that it would another really long labor.
The next morning I woke up to more contractions and a little bit of mucous. I knew that was probably caused by the exam but I was hopeful. The contractions were more painful than the day before and were comming fairly regularly, but as the day progressed they got further and further apart and finally stopped around 8 p.m. That night I got a lot of sleep, I think I slept for almost 10 hours and only woke up to pee 3 times! I woke up early Saturday morning (June 4) to bright red bloody show and more mucous. I tried to lay back down but contractions started and they were harder than the ones from the previous couple of days. Dh and dd woke up and I told them that I thought today might be the day. I timed them and they were short, about 45 seconds long but 6-8 minutes apart. I called my midwife after timing them for an hour just to give her a heads up. She said to call her every hour or so with updates. The contractions continued throughout the morning. My back was hurting a little but I didn't really worry about it, it was manageable. I draped myself over the birth ball for most of the day and drew pictures with dd. She asked me to watch Ice Age with her. I called my midwife and let her know that the contractions were still in the same pattern. She decided to head over. When she called to let me know she was about half way I started to notice that things were slowing down. The strength of the contractions hadn't changed, but they were getting further apart. When Mary got here, she checked me and was 2 cm and 90% effaced, this was around 3 in the afternoon. I was so sad. We decided the contractions would eventually go away like the last few days as they had gotten to about 15 minutes apart at this time. Mary suggested I just try to go about my day. I tired to go to the store and the park but I couldn't walk through the contractions. Even though they were far apart, they were hard for me.
Mary called and said she was worried that I may not be able to sleep so she suggested I take a bath, drink chamomile tea and maybe a glass of wine. At 9 p.m. I took a bath for an hour, but the contractions were still comming. I was freaking out that I wouldn't be able to sleep and I would be too tired when "real" labor hit. At 10 I drank the wine and the contractions just seemed to get stronger, but they were really far apart. I watched TV and then we put in The Manchurian Candidate. Not a good choice. I went back to the tub. Around midnight I started to think that I should call Mary back, but I was convinced that I was not progressing and that I would not have the baby before day break. My back was killing me.I finally called Mary around 1:30 in the morning. She talked me through some contractions but I was feeling myself lose control, my back felt like someone had a hot poker and was driving it into my tailbone.
Oh fussy baby! Will fiinish tonight!!!!
Let's see if she will sleep for a little bit :LOL
Where was I...At this point I had come to realize that I was having back labor, even though the baby had been in a great position throughout my entire pregnancy. When I called Mary, I felt like I was just being whiney and that labor was still barely getting started. I was so convinced that I would have another long, long labor that I wasn't really listening to my body nor trusting my instincts. A voice in my head kept saying this has to be it! Prelabor would never hurt this bad! But I didn't listen. Mary timed a few contractions over the phone and they were still 6-8 minutes apart and barely a minute long. She suggested we time them for another half hour and call her back. 20 minutes later, they were 4 minutes apart and well over a minute long. I yelled at dh to call her and have her come here ASAP. At this point I was also begging for drugs. I decided that back labor was not something I had prepared for (like anyone is!) and that it was so unfair! I remember feeling totally annoyed at the baby for turning during labor. In fact, during and between contractions, the baby was moving so much! Sometimes she would move a certain way and it would start a contraction.
Once we knew Mary was on her way, we started to set up the aqua doula. It was weird - we had it all set up for a while before I would get in. I was stuck in one labor position, my hands on the coffee table and feet spread far apart. When a contraction would hit, the pain was so intense that I would get an overwhelming feeling like I needed to throw up. It was about 3:15 a.m. at this point. I ended up making myself throw up in the bathroom because the sensation was overwhelming during contractions but would be totally gone between them. I was having some strange anxiety about barfing on the floor and having to ask dh to clean it up. By this point, I was screaming like a mad woman and crying for dh to take me to Saint John's for an epidural...that there was no way I was going through 20 hours of back labor. DD woke up, came into the living room and I tried my best to explain that I was working really hard to get the baby out and that I was saying things that were hard to hear but I was saying them because I was working so hard and it was painful. She was pretty cool about it and went back to bed and watched a movie. She was thrilled when she saw the birth tub though! I finally got in the water and because I am only 5'2" I was able to stretch out and float on my stomach. Suddenly, around 3:45 things got totally crazy. I was entering transition, though at the time I thought I was just starting active labor! I yelled at dh to call Mary to see where she was, turns out she was stuck in traffic because there was a 7 car pile up. She was further away than I expected and I started feeling really scared. I started calculating how fast I could get to the hospital. DH asked if I really wanted to go and of course I said YES BACK LABOR IS TERRIBLE (except I added a few not so nice words). Then I started crying and said but it doesn't matter because they will want to moniter my contractions and then it will take forever to do the paperwork...in some weird transition state of mind I decided to wait it out at home. I knew that I wouldn't go to the hospital but for some reason I had to say that I wanted to go...I was looking for a way out.
Suddenly, the contractions were on top of eachother, I closed my eyes and entered a totally different world. I remember that I was yelling out strings of curse words, mostly to the effect that my back hurt. I can't really put into words what back labor was like for me, it was excruciating and so not what I was expecting. We tried counter pressure, cold packs, warmth...nothing helped me.
Suddenly the world stood still. I opened my eyes and realized that Jimmy (dh) wasn't with me, he had gone to the bedroom to be with dd. An intense feeling of loneliness hit me. Everything was so calm and still. I looked at the water in the tub and it wasn't moving at all. I dunked my head under water. I was wondering where my contractions went, but I was feeling pretty out of it. I called dh into the room and I just started chatting with him like nothing had ever happened. Suddenly another contraction came and I had the stranges sensation. OMG my body is pushing! I screamed! I am pushing and I can't stop!! (Insert more crazy curse words) Call Mary! Jimmy called her and she was still about 30 minutes away. She told him that he was going to catch the baby. He started asking her to call the back up midwife that lived in our area but she knew that no one would get here in time. The strange this about this turn of events was that same day Jimmy had talked to Mary and told her that his only fear was that he would have to catch the baby. We all assured him that wouldn't happen, but Mary said, if it comes to that, don't call 911, if the baby is comming that fast then you know there is nothing in the way and nothing will stop it and it will be ok.
Mary told him to try to get me out of the tub but at this point it felt like the head was between my legs, but when I felt for it I couldn't feel anything. DH said he couldn't see anything but I still refused to move. My body pushed again and I reached between my legs and I could feel the wrinkly head and the hair, just barely crowning. I called dd into the room, and I closed my eyes. Dh hung up on Mary and begged my to lean back so he could see, I had been sqautting so I turned over and rested my head against the side of the tub. I was feeling the "ring of fire" and I knew that her head was almost out but I was afraid to push because it hurt. It didn't really matter because my body did it on its own anyway. Jimmy reached and checked to see if the cord was around her neck and it wasn't. He said in the most amazed voice, "I feel ears and a nose!" She had spun around and was coming out anterior. He told me to try to push but I wasn't having a contraction. I stayed like that for about a minute, with her head out and his hand on her head. Suddenly my body pushed again and dh out her on my chest. I had my eyes closed this entire time so I didn't actually get to see her come out. He said she just floated right up to the surface and that he saw her turn from blue to pink as she came up. I held her to my chest for a few minutes and we all just listened to her cry. I realized that we didn't know if it was a boy or a girl and we asked dd to check. She looked for a couple of seconds and said she couldn't tell - dh and I both said It's a girl! DD was so excited to have a baby sister. I got out of the tub and dh had spread some blankets out on the floor. Why I didn't go to the bedroom I have no idea. The cord was really short and it was hard to walk so I guess I just plopped down in the closest spot. About 15 minutes later Mary came in and helped me deliver the placenta. I needed 4 stitches...
I healed so fast from this birth. Bleeding stopped at 4 days post. It has taken some time to process the fact that I didn't get to have my beloved midwife present to help me through that intense back labor and I didn't get the calm gentle birth I had wanted so badly, but it went fast and after all the days of prelabor I had started to doubt my body and my ability to listen to my body.
At my 24 hour appt, Mary talked with Jimmy and I for a couple of hours and we started to process all of the adrenaline, fear, and shock over what had happened...it was beautiful, but so fast that we didn't really get to acknowledge labor like we had wanted...we are trying to slow things down for Abigail because her entrance was so fast.
Thanks for reading! Whew it was a long one!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!