I became pregnant with my second child when my daughter Hannick, was 5 months old. It was completely unexpected, but exciting. I knew right away that I wasn't going to go through what I had before with Hannick's birth. Hannick was born after a very short, very intense, medicated labor. I thought that I knew a lot about birth, but I really didn't. A week past my due date, I was lying down to watch ER when my water broke. My husband Joel and I went to the hospital a couple of hours later when my contractions started. I was 4-5 centimeters dilated when I arrived. I walked down the hall and was re-checked after about 20 minutes; I was 6-7 centimeters dilated. Then, instead of being redirected and helped through transition, I was put into bed with full monitoring and given Nubain. I don't remember anything after that until waking up with the urge to push. I had pushed through about 5 contractions with everyone yelling to "Push, push, push!" when I was given an episiotomy. I gave birth to my daughter and the nurses cut the cord and whisked her away, much to Joel's dismay. He had really looked forward to the time when our baby was just born, but my daughter was blue and not breathing from the Nubain. They injected her with Narcan and stuck a tube down her throat to suction her out. Fifteen minutes later I was handed the most beautiful little girl that I had ever seen. She wanted nothing to do with nursing from the Nubain, but we eventually worked it out.
So here I was, 5 months later, a doula myself from my drive to empower women and their families through their own births, and this time determined to have a wonderful natural birth. My husband and I decided right away that we wanted a waterbirth. I knew that there were a couple of hospitals doing waterbirths, but we had a lot of issues with the hospital policies so we started looking for a homebirth midwife instead. We interviewed a couple of midwives and decided on Jeanne to help guide us through the birth of our next baby. I was expecting another short intense labor, so when my mucous plug fell out on Thursday night the 7th of February, I called Jeanne to tell her. She told me to relax and get some sleep and wait to see what happens. On and off all day Thursday and Friday I had contractions that would get into a steady rhythm only to disappear by nightfall. On Saturday the 9th, we were to have an inspection on our house that we had sold 5 days before, when my contractions really kicked in. I called and canceled the inspection and we decided to fill the waterbirth tub that Vanessa had brought earlier that week. When the tub was filled, we packed up Hannick and went out. I quickly realized that being in the car wasn't any fun, so we went home. I talked with Jesse, my doula, and she suggested going for a walk. We walked around the block a couple of times, and then came home to relax. We got home around 1pm and I called my mom, who lives 2 ½ hours away, to tell her to come up. We kept in contact with Jeanne, but I didn't feel like I needed any support then.
My mucous plug kept coming out with each contraction and by 8pm, I wanted Jesse, my doula, to come over. She got to my house around 8:30pm and by then I was feeling very frustrated. I was expecting a short intense labor like my first one and this was dragging on and on. The music that my husband and I had picked out for labor was suddenly so sad and I started to cry. It was a very vulnerable overwhelming moment for me. My birth group supported me and put on some silly music to brighten up the mood. Jesse suggested that some nipple stimulation would be good to get the contractions going. We put the birth ball in the tub and sprayed the showerhead on my breasts and belly. That was a great moment with my husband and my friend Julie. We talked about my contractions and why we thought that it was taking so long when my first birth was so intense and fast. I got out and went into my bedroom to kneel on a pillow over the bed in a hands and knees position. My mom massaged my back and my husband rubbed my face and hair. That talked quietly and it was nice to drift away in between contractions, listening to their voices. I was getting tired. Joel checked my cervix, but he couldn't tell much. He thought that I was probably 2-3 centimeters. Not much for having labored all day.
At 11:30pm, Jesse suggested that I get into the tub. Either it would stall out my labor so that I could get some rest, or it would start my labor going. I got in with my husband. The contractions were a hundred times more manageable in the water. I sat with my arms floating, touching my husband's hands and being touched by my doula. She rubbed my hair, my shoulders, and my back. She said my name and told me how wonderful I was doing. After about 20 minutes, I changed positions. I squatted over the side of the tub to get my hands out of the water because they were pruning. My husband rubbed my back and Jessie, Julie and my sister Amy, were on the outside of the tub giving my encouragement. After about two contractions in that position, something changed. They started to get very intense and painful and I wasn't laughing or joking anymore. I needed people to talk me through each contraction. I had a candle burning on the dresser and I found myself focusing on it. I started to pant a little as I felt the pressure build, and my water broke with my next contraction. That was very scary for me for some reason. I realized that there was no going back and it was a big reality check. I took a moment to rebuild my confidence in myself and I immediately felt better. I told Jesse and Joel that my water broke and they called Jeanne right away. After my water broke I had to push but Jeanne hadn't arrived yet so Jesse had me pant. I "pa-pa-pa'd" and "pa-pa-pa'd", focusing on Jesse's face, on her eyes, on her glasses. She was so wonderful. It was very hard not to bear down, but it helped to let my uterus gently bring her down.
The urge to push was so strong that I had to push a little anyway. It took some of the pressure off, I thought that I could sneak in a little push here and there, but I wasn't fooling anyone and when I watched my birth video, I really wasn't fooling anyone! Jeanne got there a couple of minutes later and I floated up and laid back and let her check the baby's heartbeat. Her heartbeat was in the upper 130's and just fine. I lay back and I had my husband hold one arm and my mother hold the other and started pushing. Slow, quiet pushes. Listening to my body, my belly, my daughter in my womb. I felt her come down the birth canal - so intense. I knew that Hannick was sleeping in the next room. My daughter - about to become a sister.
I pushed a little bit at a time, letting myself stretch around my daughter's head. At one point Jeanne asked me if I wanted to touch her head, but I was concentrating and I could see her head coming, so I said no. I saw her head come out more and more and when I thought that the burning couldn't get any worse, her head emerged. She was looking right at me with open eyes. Her shoulders slipped out and then she was kicking away. She pushed off of my fundus as she left my body. Jeanne turned her around and she swam into my husbands hands. Together, Joel and I brought my daughter Kettie Mae, into my arms. She was small - 6 pounds 10 ounces and short - 19 inches long. And she was perfect. I loved her so much. I waited until I birthed the placenta to cut the cord and after getting into bed, she nursed immediately.
It took me a couple of minutes to realize that she wasn't supposed to be looking at me when she was born! She had been posterior the whole time, but I hadn't had any back labor, so we didn't know. That was why I had labored for so long with weak contractions that weren't doing much. I had a small tear that healed perfectly and Kettie went from 6 pounds 13 ounces to 9 pounds 8 ounces in 2 weeks. She loves to breastfeed! My postpartum period was wonderful and getting three baths a day makes all the difference in the world. I couldn't have asked for a more beautiful peaceful birth and I am so thankful for my wonderful birth group. My husband Joel and my two girls, Hannick and Kettie, are my love and my life and I am so blessed as a mother and a doula.