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Annie Rebecca's Home Waterbirth

After a long period of TTC and two early losses, I am so very grateful for the wonderful birth experience I had with Annie Rebecca, my sweet 7 lb 13 oz baby who was born in an inflatable fishy pool in our dining room at 4:00 a.m. on Thursday, April 21st, 2005.

On Tuesday night, the 19th, I had some very serious hip & pelvic pain. I complained to Beth, my dw that I thought I had pulled something. She pointed out that it was probably just the baby descending even further, which at 40 w 5d was a very good sign! We were both starting to get pretty impatient for the baby to arrive, I had very much enjoyed the 3.5 weeks of leave I had already had, but we were SO ready…there's only so many make work projects (like dyeing prefolds in funky colours!) that two girls can do! And my freezer was full to overflowing…

That night dw propped me up with about 7 pillows to try and get me comfortable, but all the same, I only slept for about 2 hours. The next morning I woke up in tears and said 'I can't go into labour today, I'm too sore to get into any of the positions we've learned about' (according to dw, this was when she KNEW I was probably about to go into labour  ). She set me up in bed with books, the newspaper, music and a tray of delicious food and told me to stay there until she got home from teaching. I had asked her not to go, but it was the last day of her teacher's college practicum, so she thought it was a good idea to try and finish it up. She brought our cellphone which she promised to keep on while teaching her very active group of grade 5 students.

I stayed in bed, dozing on and off for most of the morning, reading my birthing books, including Birthing from Within, and getting up to go to the bathroom a few times…at one point I happily realized my hips felt better-what a relief!
At around 11, I decided to put on my hypnobirthing cd, I had really been enjoying the affirmations and the meditation and figured it would be a restful activity. At some point during the cd, I realized that the slight back pain I was feeling was coming and going at regular intervals. After the cd, I went to the bathroom again only to see a very noticeable mucus plug (wow they're huge!) and bloody show. How exciting!!! I was absolutely thrilled to realize that I realize was in labour!!!! I decided to get up and walk around, inspired by BFW to stay upright and busy as long as possible. I stuck a bunch of cute little wallpaper decals all over the baby's room. I also tried to call dw a couple of times during this period, she called me to check in during her lunch break, at which point I told her that I was in labour! I also paged our midwife and entered our phone number. Oddly she didn't call back, so about 2.5 hours later I called and left a voice message and she called back right away! She told me she would drop by around 5 or 6 pm. I called my sister, who I had promised to tell when I started labour and left a message telling her to NOT call back, but to spread the news if my parents called her.

I then cleaned the kitchen and started to bake a birthday cake for our little one. What I now realized were mild contractions were coming a bit more frequently now, and I had to stop and lean over the counter whenever they took place. Around 3:30-4:00 p.m., dw arrived home from school. She rushed around tidying our room, making up the bed with a vinyl mattress protector, and starting to set up our inflatable fishy pool. Around 5 I asked her to help me with the contractions, which were coming much more often. She provided counter pressure on my back and helped me breathe and relax using some of our hypnobirthing techniques. She called back our midwife & let her know that things were heating up. She also timed my contractions which were coming fast -lasting 1-1.5 minutes and only 1-2 minutes apart. They were also getting more intense. I figured things were moving along well, and that I was possibly already in active labour.

So I was very disappointed when our midwife, Jan, arrived and told me that I was only 1 cm dilated. She assured me that I had made lots of progress with effacement, and that for a first time mom, this was the majority of the work needed for labour (in my head, I was thinking 'yeah, right, she's just saying this to make me feel better' even though I trusted her implicitly). I was VERY disheartened to learn that I was only this far, given the frequency of my contractions, and braced myself for many many more hours of labour. After being checked, I ran to the bathroom and threw up repeatedly-an emotional as well as physical reaction? Jan assured dw that this was normal and suggested we take a walk and try to relax & rest a bit. She promised to call again at 9 to see how things were going. A walk was not at all appealing to me at this point. It didn't feel at all possible. However the pool was ready and dw suggested I try it out. Probably the best suggestion she could have made at this point, as I really needed a break. I was worried that I would slow things down too much, but was desperate for the relief too. Getting into the pool was BLISS. I stayed there for at least an hour, and my contractions spaced out to 3-4 min. apart. Dw fed me grape juice and mac & cheese (much needed nourishment & comfort food) while I sat in the pool. She also sprayed my face with cool water, and wiped me with washcloths as I was very very hot. I decided to take Jan's suggestion and go for a bit of a walk, but decided to only go out to the backyard, as I didn't think I could handle much more. The cool, fresh air was lovely, and dw came out and supported me as I leaned on her through the contractions. After cooling down, I headed back inside.

Dw called Jan and explained that the contractions had spaced out a bit. Jan suggested we try to get some sleep, and suggested that Dw give me Tylenol and gravol to assist in this process. Poor Dw was distressed to find that we didn't have any Gravol at home, so went on a quick trip to our nearby convenience stores on our street. While she was gone (all of about 15 min), I threw up again, and contractions intensified as I lay on the bed. She returned and joined me in bed, helping me through each contraction by reminding me to relax and breathe deeply. She got me a heating pad for my back. We both drifted in and out of sleep over the next four hours, with me getting out of bed to stand through my contractions as they intensified. Dw continued to talk me through contractions. (she claims she fell asleep for a number of hours and felt quite guilty, but she made enough supportive comments that I didn't really notice). Around 1 am, the contractions intensified further, so I decided to get in the shower to get some help from the warm water. I was still reluctant to get back in the pool, because I was worried that labour would slow down too much. (little did I know that this was NOT a problem!). After the shower, I got on the toilet, feeling like I needed to go the bathroom…but sitting on the toilet only made things worse. (at this point I remember thinking 'why did I want a natural birth anyway?) I headed back to the bedroom and stood leaning on the wall to try and get through contractions…dw woke up and saw that there was a bit of blood dripping down my legs, a definite sign of active labour that Jan had told her to watch for. It was one of the signs that suggested that it might be a good time to call. I said to her, I know this is crazy, but I feel a bit like pushing. Dw suggested I get back in the pool. This helped, but definitely didn't offer the same relief as before. My back was very sore and the contractions felt like they were ripping me apart. They also felt like they were constant, with no beginning and no end! I was moaning and grunting deep low sounds in order to get through the contractions. When they got bad, my whole body floated up into the pool.

It was at this point that we decided to call Jan again. She arrived around 2:30. Fortunately dw had warned me that I might need to get out of the pool, because that was the first thing Jan asked…she needed to check me. Getting out of the pool was VERY difficult, and lying down for the check even harder. But imagine my astonishment & relief when Jan said, 'you have surrendered to labour very well. You are ready to push. ' According to dw, my response was 'really????' in a very incredulous and shaky voice. After this check I sat on the towels for a few minutes supported by dw… At this point the contractions were incredibly powerful and felt like they were ripping me apart. But I was determined to get back in the pool. I wanted our baby to be born in the water and I wanted the small bit of relief it could offer… So I got back in and began to push. What an intense experience, it felt like the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, not exactly the relief that other women have described. At the same time I felt completely at one with my body, obeying and participating in this incredible force that had taken me over. This part is quite hazy for me. I leaned on the edge of the pool and got up on all fours. Dw was in front of me, encouraging me and offering me juice between pushes. Jan checked me from time to time, telling me where the baby was, and how the heartbeat was. Around 3:35, she determined that our baby had reached the top of the birth canal, and decided to call the second midwife so that she would be there in time for the birth. I started to push harder and harder, and what felt like a few short minutes later, I could feel the baby's head on my perineum and Jan was saying I can see the hair. Dw moved around behind me at this point so she could watch our baby arrive. One push and there was a head…Jan told me to slow down a bit if I could, as she could tell I was in danger of tearing. Another push, and Annie Rebecca was born!! Jan caught her and lifted her out of the pool into my arms. I was in a state of euphoria and disbelief… she had finally arrived! (yes a girl  )
We waited for the cord to stop pulsing and then dw cut it. The backup midwife, Lilly, arrived about 5 minutes later! She was v. sorry to miss the birth as she is also a lesbian mama and this would have been her first lesbian mama birth. After a few more minutes, I handed Annie to dw. Jan asked me to push the placenta out, it came in one big push, very easily. The cord was almost 24 inches long! (longer than Annie ).

Annie was 7lb 14oz. I did tear a bit, requiring 4 stitches, but am pretty much recovered now. She is a delightful, healthy little girl who loves having a bath!

I am still grateful for and excited about this amazing home waterbirth experience….

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Thanks for sharing! I am laughing at myself - you described all the nurturing your DW did so well and I read it and thought - oh, I'm so glad my partner is a man and I won't ever have to do that hard job! (Well, it is a hard job, but I suspect giving birth is actually still harder.)
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