This is another long one (the story, not the birth). Lots of pictures towards the bottom, including video stills from the birth.
"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven . . . . He hath made everything beautiful in His time" Ecc 3:1 & 11a
"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven . . . . He hath made everything beautiful in His time" Ecc 3:1 & 11a
|Dagyn, a couple of hours old|
|A few minutes old|
It was 1am on Thursday March 3rd, 2011, exactly 1 week before my EDD (which was March 10, and accurately based on ovulation, not LMP). I was nursing 21 mo old Thrace in the bed like I do every night. Charlie was lying on the other side of Thrace and we were watching TV (we are night people, so 1am isn’t really late for us ;0). I was having the normal crampy contractions that I had been getting while nursing for the last month or so. It wasn’t super uncomfy, but it was crampy and different from my normal Braxton hicks contractions, so I liked to use the time to practice relaxing to prepare for the upcoming labor.
Then I suddenly felt a pop! Now I have been pregnant and have gone through natural labor 5x before, I KNOW what that pop felt like!! My heart started racing! That could not be what I thought it was. I mean I was a week from my due date and I usually go ‘late’. I lay there for a minute waiting to feel water leaking out but nothing. I timidly told Charlie what happened and how I was confused because I know what it felt like but nothing was happening. He didn’t say anything (pretty typical of him) but I know he was listening. A couple minutes went by and all of the sudden, I felt the warm stream of liquid pouring out. I jumped up and said “oh crap” and ran to the bathroom! Of course that woke up Thrace who started crying. Charlie was now really curious about what was going on and ask what had happened. He put a cartoon on for Thrace to watch until I could come back and nurse him to sleep.
Meanwhile I was in the bathroom pretty much freaking out. My pants were wet, I sat on the toilet and more fluid came pouring out. I knew for sure what had happened now, I felt sick, my whole body was shaking as I looked out the bathroom door and said “Uhhh, Charlie, I am sorry but it looks like we are not going out tomorrow, I was right, it WAS my water breaking”.
About that “not going out tomorrow” comment . . . See I don’t leave my babies till they are older, meaning that usually we don’t get a chance to go out without kids till I am pregnant again. So Charlie’s mom was coming that next day (Thursday) to let us go out alone for the 2nd time in almost 2 yrs. We were going to go to dinner, then a movie and dessert at the Alamo, then shopping . . . and we were SO looking forward to it!! But that is OK, I spent the evening birthing and cuddling a new baby which is better than a night out without kids any day (and besides we will have plenty of time to go out when the kids are older).
But back to my story . . . realizing the reality of the situation, that I would be having this baby very soon, I was pretty much, like I said . . . freaking out!! I was shaking and my stomach was in knots and I immediately started having an upset stomach and going to the bathroom a lot etc. I was a week early and I had been hoping and praying to go late. I just wasn’t ready. I know, I know, for those who have read my other birth stories you know I have said this in pretty much all of them, and I should know better right? I had good intentions I really did. I was determined to be more prepared this time and not procrastinate. But with the holidays and then sewing some custom Kozys, painting some rooms, cleaning and trying to find or make room for the baby clothes . . . I was just really behind on things I needed to do. I had just sorted and washed baby clothes the day before. My birth supplies had only come 5 days before and there were still plenty of things I had left to get (disks for the camera, other supplies for birth, some yummy orange Recharge) and were planning on getting them in the next couple days! I had noticed a bit of an upset stomach in the days before, which can be a pre-birth sign, but some of the kids also had upset stomachs too so I didn’t think much of it.
Another reason why I was nervous was because I was not at all comfortable with my water breaking before labor started. In fact I pretty religiously take Vit C at the end of pregnancy in hopes that it will strengthen my waters so that they don’t break till later in labor. And in my other 5 births my water didn’t break till the end of labor or pushing.
I am uncomfortable with my water breaking for several reasons. First of all I knew baby was high and that if your water breaks before baby is engaged there is a chance the cord could prolapse (my mother lost a baby from a cord prolapsed so it is something that is on my mind and I think everyone should know what to do should it happen to them). I know cord prolapse is rare anyway, but still . . . if I can at all avoid my water breaking before labor I will!! Also, I want that cushion for baby during labor and I know that if there are any issues, like he is tangled in the cord or something then that extra cushion of water could aid in him being able to work through it. Plus, if I didn’t go into labor right away, the chance of infections is greater if your water is broken longer etc. So all these factors together, put ‘water breaking before labor starts’ outside of my comfort zone. I really should have just trusted God that this is what was supposed to happen during this labor, but at the time, I was just completely taken off guard and was not there mentally.
Anyway, I cleaned myself up, put on a pad and checked heart tones (wanted to make sure the baby sounded good, and he did) and then I went back to bed to nurse Thrace. I recall the news being on or something but honestly, I could not focus on anything, my mind was racing, my heart was racing and I was just really tense and trying to calm down.
After Thrace was asleep Charlie and I got back up because now we had stuff to do! He e-mailed his boss telling him that he was taking his time off. I needed to write a letter to Thrace (I always write a letter to my baby before I have another baby). I needed to clean up my closet to make room for baby clothes (it was a mess, and I had baskets of clothes and cloth diapers that needed shelves to sit on) and we had to make a belly cast (thankfully we got the plaster gauze just a few days before).
It was really hard for me to concentrate on anything though. My mind was racing and I was just extremely anxious. I just was not mentally prepared to take on this task. Don’t get me wrong. I was SO excited to meet this little one, I was really looking forward to having a newborn again and meeting this little person whom I knew but had never seen . . . and finding out if it was a boy or girl. But I knew what I had to do in order to meet him; I had to first labor and push him out, LOL!! Thrace’s birth was so hard, well the pushing part was so hard (though it was really rewarding too) and there were times during the pregnancy where I would reflect on how hard it was to push Thrace out and I would literally relive it . . . like I remembered and could almost feel everything, and it made me a bit panicky! Then of course I would have to pull myself together and pray for peace. I knew it was worth it, labor itself isn’t bad at all (it actually feels good at times) and the whole event is so rewarding and empowering, but pushing for me is so hard, and that baby coming out . . . wow . . . I needed to get into a better mental state before labor to allow my body to work the way it was supposed to. I knew I was strong, I knew I could do it (shoot, I knew I could do anything after Xian’s birth, he was my first) I never did or do doubt myself . . . but I thought I had at least another week to prepare myself mentally.
I was going to the bathroom a lot, as my stomach was upset. I wasn’t sure at the time whether it was my nerves or the fact that my body often cleans itself out in labor like this, though the upset stomach lasted the whole time so I know it is just what my body does in labor (as happens to many women) and did the same thing in my last labors too. I had to go a lot!!
I managed to get the closet clean, and write my letter to Thrace. I got online and saw that a friend of mine’s water had broken too, just 2 hrs before mine! We ended up having our babies the same day (though she had hers like 13 hrs ahead of me). I sent an e-mail to Tierney (my midwife friend) letting her know that my water had broken and that I would call her with an update in the morning. We had been e-mailing about meeting up after church that upcoming Sunday so she could palpate and listen to the baby. I was curious at her size estimate (the baby seemed a good size to me) and I wanted to make sure that the fluid levels seemed good etc. I had only had her palpate and listen to the baby once, at 34 wks. I did all my own prenatal stuff as I had in the last 3 pregnancies, using her as my ‘back up’. And she is and has always been so wonderfully supportive, doing whatever I need her to do.
The baby was moving a lot, and every time he would move more fluid would come pouring out. Each time was a reminder of the fact that first of all, that is more fluid the baby is losing (though it does replenish itself) and second, that labor was imminent! On one of my trips to the bathroom I had a big gush in the toilet. Looking down I noticed a lot of vernix in the water (for those who don’t know vernix is the cheesy white substance that covers baby’s skin). It was a bit of a wakeup call for me. Seeing that vernix, knowing it was just seconds before surrounding the baby, and that the baby was probably covered in it . . . it was really neat, kind of like a little peak into the womb.
After I did all the stuff I needed to do we finally got around to doing the belly cast. I had been planning on taking pictures of the process to blog about it, but I was just in no state of mind to focus on that. Besides, I was going to have one of the kids take the pictures and they were all in bed . . . and Charlie and I were both covered in plaster (kind of impossible to take pictures and do a cast at the same time).
After the cast I hopped into the shower (it is pretty messy and I was covered in plaster and olive oil) and Charlie went to bed. It was 5am. I was starting to have some sporadic crampy contractions, nothing horrible. The water felt wonderful and calming and I did in the shower what I normally do in the shower when pregnant . . . think and pray. I asked for courage and strength and peace with everything. And I worked on trying to calm the heck down! I thought about shaving my legs. I usually do shave before or during labor, but for some reason, I didn’t feel like it (there were actually several frivolous things I usually do in labor that I didn’t feel like doing this time).
Before going to bed I decided to listen to heart tones one more time. I had been listening to heart tones about every hour or so, because with the waters broken like I said, I was outside of my comfort zone. He always sounded good, heart beat in the 140-150’s as usual. But this time as I went into the bathroom to listen I was having a hard time finding them. I would think I heard it, but it would quickly fade away so I wasn’t at all sure what was going on, if I was imagining it or what. I started to really get nervous. I was standing up which is makes picking up the heartbeat harder, but I had had no problems hearing it the several other times earlier that I had listened.
I headed into the living room to lie down on the sofa. Normally I can pick up heart tones immediately, in several different places on whatever side the baby was lying on, and I could always tell where he was easily by feeling (he was on the right side then, like he had been for the last several weeks). But as I put the fetoscope to my belly I heard nothing. I moved it around some more, where I normally hear it . . . nothing. I listened high and low and all over . . .nothing. I was really freaking out now! I don’t know, maybe I didn’t hear it because MY heart was beating so loudly in my ears!! I whispered . . . please God no, don’t let this be happening!!! I was especially freaked because I recalled that I hadn’t felt movement in a little while . . . so I started really harassing him, poking around, moving him back and forth . . . nothing! I started shaking and tearing up and praying. I listened again and thought I heard a faint heart beat for a second . . . then I felt a kick!! Oh my gosh! A wave of relief flooded over me and I think I may have started crying (I can’t recall exactly, I was just so relieved)!!! I listened some more and found the heart beat, much lower than normal. It still wasn’t super easy to hear, but it sounded wonderful! I think he dropped which is why I was having a harder time finding it. Plus after this I didn’t have any more fluid leaking for the remainder of the labor, making me think his head had dropped and plugged the opening so no more fluid could escape.
I felt so stupid for getting all worked up over it. I know that sometimes bad things do happen but it was as if God was telling me that I needed to trust Him. That this labor would progress in the way it was supposed to and that everything would be fine. This was my first lesson in faith. It seems like I have to go through this in every pregnancy and labor. You would think that I would have learned by now but hey, I am human and have my moments of weakness. I had thought that I may want Tierney here for the labor because I was so uncomfortable with my water breaking first, and if I felt led in that direction I wouldn’t hesitate to call her to come on over. I am opened to anything. But I never even thought about it after that . . . I just had a peace. I actually never had any other worries about the labor or things going wrong after that point (though I did have other issues to deal with like the fact that I wasn’t ready). I accepted that this labor would progress as it was supposed to; water breaking first and all, and I would just go with it as I had done with all the others.
I went to bed, it was 6am. Even though I was at peace with my water having broken first, I was still not ready to give birth. I was so anxious about it and my mind was at odds with what my body was trying to do. Despite my internal turmoil, I did manage to doze off . . . only to be woken by crampy, uncomfortable contractions. This went on for 3 hrs. They were not horrible but uncomfortable enough to keep waking me up and requiring that I relax during them. I got little if any sleep. Finally at 9am I had had enough of trying to sleep and I got up! Piper and Xian were awake and eating breakfast (we go to bed late, and wake up late, LOL). Everyone else was still asleep. I told them what was going on and they were excited and surprised (they weren’t expecting it yet either). I thought about eating something too, knowing I would need it for strength, but I never have an appetite in labor and usually eating anything doesn’t really appeal to me.
I got online and e-mailed a couple friends that were supposed to come over with their kids that day. I let them know that unless nothing at all was happening, we would have to cancel because my water had broken. I surfed around the web a bit and checked on the spinning babies website to see if I could get any tips in my head to use for labor. Thrace’s labor had been long and tiring and I wanted to have info on hand if things were long and I thought that perhaps the baby needed to get into a better position. I know that baby lying on the right side wasn’t bad, but wasn’t the most ideal position to begin labor.
During this time I was sitting at the bar in the kitchen with the laptop, and I would stand up as a contraction started. They were strong enough to take notice (and strong enough that I didn’t want to sit through them, ugh, unless I was on the birth ball). They were strong enough that I couldn’t walk through them but I could talk through them. I did however use the chance to practice relaxing my body, as I knew I would need to do that as they got stronger.
See my last 3 (and now 4) labors had contractions that were never more than like 5-20 minutes apart . . . literally the whole time. So the only way I know labor is progressing is by the intensity of the contractions. When they get to the point where I cannot walk or talk through them, but rather I have to concentrate and put all my focus into them, this is when I consider active labor starting.
Since the contractions were still what I would consider fairly mild, I had figured that I could probably get some stuff done. I had planned on folding some baby clothes (still had 2 baskets of clean clothes/blankets that needed to be folded and put away). I wanted to bake some banana bread, maybe bundle up and take a walk to help labor progress (had never gone on a walk during labor . . . except walking and pacing around the house). Though I will admit, that despite the fact that my contractions are very spaced out, I have a hard time focusing on ‘tasks’ between them, I tend to get more contemplative (unless I am talking to someone). And things ended up progressing faster than I anticipated.
I called Tierney at around 11 to give her an update. She suggested I take chlorophyll and Vit C (both of which I was doing) and drink lots of fluids. I hadn’t gotten the Recharge yet (my favorite drink in labor and after birth, we were going to get it that weekend) so she suggested I send Charlie out for some Gatorade. He needed to go to the store anyway because we needed a hose to fill the pool and a disk for the camera and a few other things. I also expressed my concern with baby being on the right side (because the others had been too and I thought maybe that was why labor was longer) but she assured me that it was fine, which made me feel better about it. She told me to call her later with an update. She said I would probably have the baby that night, which I assumed to mean “night” (like before dawn the next day, LOL). I said that I hoped to have him while it was still light out!!
See during the pregnancy I would occasionally struggle with negative thoughts, fears and all the “what if’s” about the birth. While I do believe God designed the birth process to work perfectly, and I have complete faith in my body to birth perfectly and I know that I can handle anything, I also know that sometimes His will is not our own and sometimes things happen that we would not have wanted. But I would pray about it and ask for peace . . . and it was actually better this time, with fewer negative thoughts than I had during the previous 2 pregnancies. During the day I would be fine, very positive, like I knew all will be well. But once night came, that is when the doubts crept in (not every night but if it happened it was going to be at night). It was almost an oppressed feeling brought on by the darkness at times (again, not always but sometimes) and it seemed that my thoughts of laboring at night also made it seem harder than if I were to labor during the day . . . no clue why, it is just how it felt to me. I know some people love the quiet and solitude that night brings for labor, but having labored almost every one of my labors at night (sometimes day and night, sometimes 2 nights) I wanted ‘light’. So I had decided that I would love to spend most of my labor and birth during the day. I had only given birth during the day once, and about ½ of that labor took place at night. I wanted this time to be different (and he ended up being born as the sun was setting). I had also prayed for a shorter pushing phase. I didn’t mind a bit longer labor if my contractions were spaced out, but I wanted pushing to be much shorter.
After I hung up with Tierney the contractions picked up and became more like active labor. So I would say that active labor started around 11am. I had to concentrate on them and I knew now that things were getting serious and I needed to get my act together. I was still anxious about the task ahead. My stomach was in knots and I knew I needed to do what I did in my last few labors, come to terms with what was happening so that I could move on and get down to work!! I took some rescue remedy, prayed again for peace and strength and gave myself a pep talk, telling myself to pull it together. And what do you know . . . it worked!! Maybe it was a combo of the rescue remedy, the prayer and the fact that active labor had started . . . but I was finally in acceptance of what was going on and ready to do it. I knew I was strong. I knew I could do it . . . I have never doubted that, not even during the hardest parts of any of my labors have I ever doubted, said or thought that I couldn’t do it . . . but now I was mentally ready to do it . . . which was good because I really had no choice, LOL.
Since the contractions had picked up, I did NOT want Charlie to leave, I had thought that it may be faster, so I wanted him close. Thankfully my mother in law was on her way, since she was coming anyway to watch the kids since we were supposed to go out (she did not know I was in labor) and we could send her to the store instead. I also decided against cooking, folding clothes, or going for a walk. Though I sometimes had big breaks in contractions, things were progressing too fast and my mind just wasn’t into it.
For the next couple of hours I spent my time between sitting on the birth ball, leaning over the counter, leaning over the sofa. I spent a lot of time in the bathroom. Partly because I just had to go to the bathroom a lot (like I said, my stomach was upset) and the counter is perfect for leaning over. Plus I could be alone in the bathroom and I spend a lot of time praying and talking to the baby (and sometimes to myself). I probably spent 2/3 of the labor in the bathroom. I was having bloody show that picked up as the labor did. This is very common for me as it has been the same with every labor. I love it because not only can I feel my body working, but this is evidence that I can actually see that it is working! And I would often notice more of it after a really good big contraction!
I didn’t time the contractions but I would guess them at probably 5-15min apart. They were a bit different from my other contractions in other labors. They were more crampy and almost immediately they were radiating around to my back and thighs (not too strong, but I could feel it). I thought maybe the extra cramping was because my water was broken and there wasn’t a cushion there.
For every contraction the baby would start wiggling and he would grind his head down on my cervix . . . which didn’t feel too particularly good if you can imagine. It was OK though, I count on (and prayed about) feeling a lot of movement during labor (very reassuring) and he was working with me and that is what I wanted, as I told him so several times. I promised him that I was working hard too and that I would really try my best to make it as easy on him as I possibly could.
I also had some cramping between contractions, which is unlike other labors. I think again, it was him grinding his head on my cervix. It sometimes made it hard to walk between the contractions (as if walking, or waddling at this point in labor with baby low is easy anyway, LOL). It was almost as if the contraction didn’t completely end (though it wasn’t painful, just a bit uncomfy). I went through periods of shaking (though this time, from the labor, not my nerves, LOL) and chills (I was wearing a jacket) and feeling very tired walking around with eyes ½ opened saying ‘I’m so tired’. In an effort to rest a bit, I spent some time kneeling with my body on the birth ball. I will say though it was nothing comparing to the exhaustion I felt during Thrace’s labor. This was short lived. During this time Charlie was just taking care of the kids and cleaning, and they were playing. They were aware of what I was doing because I was in and out of rooms, but I think most of them are used to it as they have seen me in labor before.
Once things had picked up and I knew active labor had started, I called my sister Kim to let her know what was going on. In past labors I hadn’t let anyone know I was in labor because I know things could be long and I didn’t want anyone to worry, but this time her daughter (10 yrs, same age as my oldest) had called me just a week or so earlier and asked that I tell them first when I was in labor because they were wanting to pack up and get ready to come see the baby. When I have a baby we have a party here. All the family will come to visit (they are 3 hrs away) and the kids play and I just hang out in bed with the baby and let everyone bring me food. They had been looking forward to it for the past 6mo (as long as they have known I was pregnant). So I went ahead and give them the ‘heads up’ and I told my sister she could go ahead and tell the rest of the family (my other 3 sisters, parents, grandma etc.) what was going on.
Charlie’s mom Sandy arrived . . . I think it was a little before 2. My contractions had progressed fairly quickly (especially considering how far apart they were). It seemed each one was a bit stronger than the next (with a few wimpy ones thrown in between). Almost immediately the intensity ranged from my lower abdomen, around to my back and down my thighs. At 11 when they picked up they started off with me needing to simply focus on relaxing with them, then they quickly progressed to me having to breathe deeply, then they progressed to the point where I was having to “ooh” and “aah” through them and now, I was starting to vocalize and moan a bit with the peaks! All the while they were still completely manageable, not painful, though with the more crampy feeling, they were a bit more uncomfortable then I recall in past labors. They were also very rewarding! I could feel my body opening with each one and visualizing this, knowing this . . . it is just amazing knowing how the body works and then being able to actually FEEL it working!!
I remember reading on the internet something about tucking your chin down during contractions, so I was actually purposely doing that. But when they get more intense I must lean my head back. I was in the kitchen e-mailing with my other sister (she was asking about labor, how things were going, this was sometime around 2.30) as the contractions progressed to moaning. I’d stand up from the stool, lean over the counter, and take my position. My position is typically knees bent, slightly squatting, hands (and face) relaxed but arms supporting myself as I lean slightly over the counter (or sofa or whatever) and then I will either rock my hips, or sway front/back or back/forth. It is almost the same every time, it is just by far the most comfortable and natural position for me. My head is back and whatever comes out of my mouth is equal to the intensity of the contraction. I don’t plan what I am going to do; I just do whatever feels right at the time.
This time, as I was standing in the kitchen with everyone, and as the strength of the contraction progressed and the moan left my mouth something else happened that is typical of what my body does when I am completely relaxing my pelvic area during a strong contraction . . . I peed! Unfortunately, I also had pants on, LOL!! (Though thankfully, I had on a pad too). I retreated to the bathroom because I didn’t want to drop trou in front of my mother in law!!
When the contractions progress in strength like this I almost always pee during them. It is not voluntary, I am not making it happen, it is just something that my body does, and has done during all my labors. I am NOT going to tense up, I am not going to stop it. I consider it a good thing, and it is good for your bladder to be empty during labor. If I am relaxed enough for it to happen on its own then I am not going to stop it or fight it . . . you just do what you gotta do ya know, regardless of what anyone thinks!
Sandy (my MIL) visited with the kids a bit then left for the store. She was going to pick up a hose for the pool and the disk we needed for the video camera, some food and Gatorade . . . oh and lemons! I am usually nauseated in labor and last time I discovered sniffing a cut lemon helped tremendously to curb the nausea. Thankfully though I had very little nausea this time (which was wonderful because for me that is one of the worst, most annoying parts). I was contemplating what to do when she got back, like, what I could wear (a longer shirt) so that I could be without bottoms but not flashing her . . . but it didn’t matter because I was in the tub by the time she got back.
After she left I came back out, sans pants, to walk around more. I threw some towels on the floor where I could stand over them for a contraction. I don’t care if I flash Charlie and the kids, though I did have to call him to come get Thrace who was clinging to my leg during a contraction (and almost got peed on, LOL). I recall the same thing happening with Ever during my last labor!!
The moaning contractions progressed very quickly too. Though still spaced out, the whole labor was a very quick and smooth series of contractions progressing in strength (with the occasional wimpy one thrown in here and there). For some of them my body was bearing down a bit, and at times it was bearing down between them too and it felt really good and natural.
When describing these contractions . . . it is like a roar that starts down deep on the body, and as the contraction intensifies the roar moves up and out of my mouth. Some of them were so intense that all I could do was open my mouth and let out a low droning “ahhhhh” . . . . And as the contraction peaked that ‘ahhh’ got louder and louder as my head was thrown back and all I could do to hang on was keep vocalizing. The strength of my moan matched the strength of the contraction, and sometimes I got quite loud (well as loud as you can make a low moan). It is amazing what those low moans can do in helping you stay relaxed though. It really took the edge off of the intensity of those last few really strong contractions!
The last few contractions like that were VERY intense. I cannot imagine how someone can cope with the intensity if made to lie on their back or if they were unable or unwilling to vocalize . . . I could simply do nothing else. People describe it as a wave, and you are riding it trying not to let it swallow you. That is how it is exactly! I had 5 hrs of this with my first (non-stop moaning and praying). It is so intense, and as the wave subsides I am usually left rocking back and forth, breathing, often whispering “yes” or “good” over and over as it radiates away completely and I am able to walk and come to myself again (thankfully giving me a break till the next one).
Is it painful? I can ‘sense’ the pain, it is like I know it is there or the potential of it is there, but it isn’t quite there either. There was probably a bit more pain with them this time than in other labors, but it still wasn’t bad, just super intense (especially if/when the baby was moving during them, which was often). I can see though where for some, there would be potential for it to be unbearable, but that isn’t what I experience. It is amazingly powerful though (and I know those of you who have experienced it know exactly what I am talking about, LOL).
With this labor, it was merely a few of these most intense contractions before my body started pushing at the peak. I would be mid moan and then there would be a catch in my voice, the moan turning to a light grunt for a few seconds, before it resumed in moaning as the peak subsided. Oh my gosh!! That was the start of pushing!! I was surprised it came on so quickly, but pleased! Though I tried not to get my hopes up. I experienced a few contractions like this with Thrace, thinking I would be pushing soon, only to be thrown back to regular labor with moaning contractions that continued for another 12+ hrs. That was not to be this time though thank God!!
I was also starting to feel back pain during them, which is typical and reminiscent of the horrible back pain I feel while pushing. I was surprised to feel it so early, sometimes I have to start pushing outright for a bit before the back pain starts in. But I am assuming with the water broken and his head quite low that was the reason why I was feeling it sooner. I was in the bathroom and Charlie was not around to help, so I pressed my back against the wall to provide counter pressure, and it actually worked fairly well, for the time being.
Despite the fact that I could tell baby was low, had back pain and was getting pushy, I didn’t tell Charlie yet because I didn’t want to jump the gun like I had last time. I’d just play it by ear and once I was sure my body was pushing then I would let him know.
At this time, my friend Barbara called (it was 4pm), asking me how things were going. I had e-mailed her earlier to say my water had broken and nothing was happening, but I hadn’t updated since then. I do get very introverted and contemplative between these later contractions, but if someone is here or there is someone to talk to, I can snap out of it and sound completely normal, even laughing and joking if needed. So I was talking to her on the phone when a contraction hit. I said “hold on” and I put the phone on the counter and backed up to the wall. I had my knees bent slightly and was in a slight semi-sit on the wall. I was at the corner with my right hand on the closed door knob and my left foot propped up on a stool and my lower back pressed into the wall. I started with my moan as the contraction got stronger, but my moan didn’t last long, all of the sudden I lost my breath as my body grunted into an all out push!! I could feel my perineum and rectum open a bit . . . Wow!! The baby was low, not coming out yet but that push definitely brought him down some. As the contraction subsided I was still unable to move as the pain was still radiating in my back. I yelled out to my friend “I guess you are getting to hear me push” and I could hear her laughing on the phone. When I was finally able to move again I said goodbye to her and went to inform Charlie that I was getting pushy!
He was upstairs cleaning the kid’s rooms or something. He asked if I wanted him to fill the birth pool but I was unsure. It wasn’t even blown up and I knew that blowing it up and getting it filled would probably take an hour or so (and we would have to find a hose to clean as we didn’t have the new one here yet). I just didn’t know. The thought of getting into that deep tub wasn’t appealing to me at all. The thought made me feel almost claustrophobic for some reason. I have always LOVED baths. I thought maybe I felt this way because during pregnancy I had developed the wonderful side effect of hives that popped up on my arms and legs every time I took a bath, ugh. Plus, I had prayed for a shorter pushing and considering how low the baby was I wasn’t at all convinced that I would have time to wait for the pool to fill. In fact I had imagined that I may just end up pushing the baby out in the bathroom alone before Charlie could even finish what he was doing upstairs!!
So I told him to just not worry with the pool. I confessed that I wasn’t just ‘pushy’; that I was actually having all out pushing contractions . . . so I’d fill up the bathtub instead. I was pretty sure I could make it work (it is an extra deep tub, but not terribly wide). Besides, being in the tub would make it easy for me to add more hot water when needed (I just flip on the hot water with my foot . . . which I did a few times during pushing). I told him though that I was pushing and having back pain and would need him soon.
For anyone wondering, this whole time the kids were simply playing around the house, doing their own thing. They would occasionally come ask me something to which I would reply “I am in labor, ask your dad” but it was very normal and natural and they were never really bothersome or affected my labor in a negative way or anything like that. It was very much just like a normal day, have a baby, go to bed, LOL!!
So I went back into the bathroom and started filling the tub. I thought about putting on some make up (pictures and video and all) and I had put on makeup well into labor for all of my previous 5 births. But I just didn’t feel like it this time. I looked in the mirror and figured . . . ah, I guess look passable, LOL!! I did put in my contacts though (not sure if I did that just before pushing or an hour or 2 earlier). You know, now that I think about it I didn’t even set out the birth supplies (I had a box of all my chux pads, my herbs and homeopathics, a bulb syringe in case I needed it, emergency cord clamps, the flannel backed tablecloth, stethoscope etc.). I normally would have brought some of that stuff into the bathroom if I knew I was going to give birth in there, but the thought never even crossed my mind. In fact other than the fetoscope (which wasn’t even in the box to begin with) I never even got anything out of that box until after the birth, well, except the rescue remedy . . . . hmmm . . . maybe I was in denial about how quick the baby would be here, LOL!!
The water pressure in the tub isn’t very strong so I had several more pushing contractions before I got in. I simply backed up to the wall as I had before. I didn’t really want to ‘intentionally’ push the baby out yet since Charlie wasn’t in there (I really thought it would be quicker, I had no clue I would push for over 2 hrs total) so I experimented with a few of them and tried panting to see if I could keep myself from pushing with my body. And it actually worked for the more mild pushing contractions (with the stronger ones there is no way to avoid them). I could still feel my body pushing and I could feel the baby moving down a bit with them, but I wasn’t allowing myself to push with them. Of course I also knew that this wouldn’t get me my baby quickly as I had hoped, but it was an interesting experiment.
Pushing . . . Ah yes, that familiar horrible, awful feeling of pushing. I wish I could say I love pushing like so many others do, but for those who know me you know how much I HATE and LOATHE pushing!! I describe it like vomiting (which I also hate and loathe). You get this feeling that wells up inside of you and overwhelms you and is takes over your body and all you can do is go with it. No controlling it no avoiding it, you just have to go with it! And the back pain!! Often it is the only real, true pain I feel during labor. It feels as though someone is sticking their hands into the spine of my lower back and ripping my bones apart. I know it is my bones moving and shifting to allow baby passage through my pelvis, but it is nearly unbearable and paralyzing. I cannot move after a contraction, I have to wait for the pain to radiate away. I think if I didn’t have the back pain I could better tolerate the icky feeling of pushing. But putting the 2 together . . . ugh, makes for a not so nice experience for me. However, it is one I must accept and embrace if I am going to effectively push my baby out!
After a few pushing contractions (spaced out of course) the tub was ½ full and I went ahead and got in. I was about to take off the white T-shirt I was wearing (I think one of Charlie’s) that I had slept in the night before . . . when I came to my senses, realizing that I wasn’t taking a bath, I was giving birth, LOL!! (Meaning again, lots of people in the room, pictures and video that I wanted to share with family, meaning I did NOT want to be naked, LOL). I thought about grabbing a black tank or similar (in my other 3 waterbirths I wore a small black tank or bra top) but again, as with the other things I normally do in labor, I just didn’t feel like it. The thought of walking into the bedroom (just across the hall) and looking for the tank I use just didn’t appeal to me . . . I wanted to get in the water! I figured that this shirt would do and I tied it up and hopped in. I have no clue what I was thinking!! The fact of it being WHITE and me being in the WATER didn’t even cross my mind. I definitely was NOT thinking clearly on that one, LOL!! (had to edit the birth pictures because of that).
The water felt so good!! I lay on my back in the tub, the normal way I would if I was taking a bath. I figured the counter pressure of the bottom of the tub on my back would be fine till Charlie came in. I wasn’t quite ready to face the contractions yet again (and, I was worried about the baby coming quickly before Charlie got there as well as just being overwhelmed at the thought of pushing just yet). So when they came I decided to pant with them. The contractions on my back just weren’t as strong as they are when I am upright, and the back pain was so much better with me lying on my back, so it was easier to breathe through those weaker contractions (though I could still feel the contraction working the baby down a bit). I enjoyed the little break, but I knew that eventually, I was going to have to get down to business and I was praying for the strength to do what I knew needed to be done!
I think I only had a couple contractions in the tub when Charlie came in. His mom had come back at around 4.30 and he had the video cameras to set up and brought me some Gatorade. I was very glad he remembered the cameras, I hadn’t even thought about them! Though I wished I would have remembered to tell him to bring the digital camera in there too.
|Charlie providing counter pressure|
|Just hanging out between contractions|
I had been having lots of bloody show still and there were several pieces of bloody mucus type stuff floating around in the tub (comes out while pushing). As I was resting between contractions, kneeling in the tub, head resting on the soft towel on the edge of the tub, I looked down over my belly and between my legs into the water . . . and there was a small red heart, lying on the bottom of the tub, moving with the ripples of the water. I remember just staring at it, thinking how ironic it was and how it was so perfectly in the shape of a heart! It reminded me what all the work was for . . . for that tiny precious little one inside working hard with me. I imagined that what they go through is very likely harder on them than what we go through to get them here. Seeing that little heart shaped bloody show gave me renewed strength.
Over the course of the next hour or so I switched positions a few times. I knelt inside the tub, I knelt outside the tub, I stood, and I lay back in the tub when I wanted a little break. I checked heart tones a couple times (I checked every hour or so during the whole labor) which required me to get out of the tub (I used the fetoscope and can listen standing up . . . during this 2nd stage I can hear the heart tones right in the middle, very low, immediately above my pubic bone). I prayed.
It was taking a LONG time. I think the problem was, not just the break between contractions, but the fact that not all of my contractions were strong enough. Some were downright wimpy and would not have brought the baby out. I needed more of the good, strong (and awful) contractions and I was getting impatient. God had given me a good laid back, spaced out shorter labor, but He was not granting my request for a shorter pushing. I may have pushed 20x in all, but I was hoping to only push like 4x. But that is OK, His plans are not always our own and I trusted that He knows what me and my baby need.
With every contraction I still needed Charlie to press on my back, and at first he was attempting to turn on the video camera before each push but I had to nix that. See we have a dilemma. I push for so long and have such long breaks, that if we were to video the whole thing, the cameras would run out of battery or the disk or card would get full and we did NOT want to miss the actual birth! So he was turning on the camera before each push . . . but that meant a delay in him getting to me. And when I said I needed him now I meant NOW!! So very quickly he realized that turning on the camera before each contraction was not going to happen this time, LOL!! In other births we have managed to keep it up for a while, turning it on and off, but after an hour or so he usually just stops recording all together, LOL!! Of course in the end, the way I ended up pushing this time I didn’t need him for counter pressure, but I think he must have just forgotten about turning the camera on till after I surprised him when I said the head was out!
Anyway, I was feeling frustrated with having to call him over when I needed him every time. I know he doesn’t mind doing it, but he is a man of few words (meaning he doesn’t say anything either way about it) and I just didn’t like to have to rely on him (even though I had for the last 3 births). I was watching him, sitting on the stool, dozing off between contractions and to me he looked downright board, LOL!! (maybe he was) so I lay on my back in the tub thinking what I could do differently . . . I was tired, I was anxious, I was wondering how much longer this was going to take and kept reminding myself of the verse Isiah 66:9 “shall I bring to the point of birth and not give delivery?” I KNEW it was going to happen, I could feel the baby moving down, I just needed to be patient and keep working!
So I was thinking . . . what else could I do? I had tried every position several times. Then I recalled that there was one position that I had never tried during pushing (in any of my last 4 births, as I was always upright) and that was side lying. So I turned over on my right side where I was facing the door, and tried to see if I could get counter pressure for my back on the opposite side of the tub . . . and it worked!! So with the next contraction I hooked my left arm under my left leg, pulled my knee clear up to my ear! (Not intending to do that, but it just happened as my body contorted with the contraction). I had my body angled so that my lower back was pressed into the back wall of the tub and I pushed!! And it worked!! Not only did it work but I was having some pretty good contractions!! Don’t get me wrong, they were horrible and I hated them, my body was being twisted and wrenched from the inside out during each one, and my back was being split in two . . . but they were nice and strong.
I could feel the baby’s head come down and I could feel the rectal pressure that I had felt with the very first contraction (and several in between). . . but they were not bringing the baby all the way out yet. I had a few contractions like this and then Charlie left to get me some more drink. I was tired and I prayed aloud . . . “God, I need just one good contraction. One good contraction God. God if you can give me one, good, strong, contraction I will push the head out completely. I am ready to have this over with, I am tired. I cannot do this alone, I need my body to help and I need you to let me have 1 good, strong contraction and I’ll do the rest!!” What I meant by that was that I wasn’t going to let happen during this birth what happened during Thrace’s. I wasn’t going to let his head come ½ way out and then go back in over and over and over!! If I had one chance to get the head out, I was going all the way with it!!
Charlie came back in the room and I had a couple more contractions but they were not really doing the job (they were icky and strong, but not strong enough). I told him that after the next one, I was going to lean over the side of the tub and I would need his help with counter pressure again.
Another contraction came, I started to push but it wasn’t a super strong one, it started to subside and I started to put my leg down, when I felt like maybe that wasn’t all. I looked up at Charlie and all of the sudden the contraction came back with a vengeance!! As the contraction started to take over it was all I could do to I quickly grabbed my leg and pulled it back up, knee to ear. As my body was wrenching again from the inside, with my head down I curled my body into itself and pushed while letting the contraction do its job!! This was the mother of all contractions! This is the one I was praying for! I felt the baby once again come down, I felt the pressure in my rectum and perineum once again . . . only this time, I felt the burning!! Ah yes, that familiar burning that haunted me so many nights during my pregnancy. But it is so much more than a burning, it is a raw, rubbing, stretching, the feeling like a load of concrete is being shoved through your body . . . and YOU are the one doing the shoving!! It is the feeling of birth . . . and there is nothing in the world like it!
I threw my hand down to support the tissues at the top (where I feel the burning the most) but I couldn’t keep it there, I needed to use it to hang on to the tub for dear life!! I grabbed the tub to hang on (I always feel like my body is going to be pulled away or something) and with my grunting I looked up at Charlie as if to say “this is it!!!”. The head was coming out but now the contraction was fading away . . . but there was NO WAY I was letting that head go!! I grunted and grunted and pushed and pushed, feeling as though my body was being ripped in two . . . but I kept pushing till I had that head out!!
Finally I could breathe, my body no longer in torment I said “the head’s out”. To which Charlie replied, as he has every time, for every birth, with a surprised and excited “really?”. I suppose he hadn’t picked up on the non-verbal eye language I was trying to send him, LOL!! OK so he isn’t a mind or body reader! But I am always amazed that he can’t tell when I am pushing the head out . . . then again what I am going through and what I feel like I look like and what I really look like from the outside are 2 different things. How is he really supposed to know? He asked if I wanted him to get the kids and I was like “yes, yes, get the kids!!”
|Head is out, he just turned on the camera and left to get the kids|
|I wait about 4 sec. then decide to push|
|Hard pushing (no contrax) but the shoulders don't budge|
|Kids are coming in, I'm telling them to "come on"|
|Yes!! The shoulders are free!|
|Helping to guide him out (you can see his arms under the water)|
|Ooh, have to push a bit more for his butt and legs|
|Turning him face down as I lift him up|
|No words to describe this|
Ah relief!! Finally, it was over and I had my prize!! Nothing can describe the feelings that one feels after a natural birth where you free the baby from your body and pull them up to your chest. You feel relief, exhilaration, satisfaction, exhaustion and overwhelming love. It is the culmination of 9mo of fear and joy, excitement and anxiety all the discomforts and questions and curiosity about this little person. And then the hours and hours of childbirth, of inner and outer turmoil coming to terms with what your body is doing, and trusting the process completely so that you can proceed in completing the hardest work of your life! And all the anxiety and emotions and exhaustion from such hard work melt away the second you have that baby in your arms and realize that you did it, yet again, and you have a beautiful, amazing, wonderfully healthy and perfect baby who was just born gently into your arms and was is worth everything you went through to bring him here and more!
He was perfect!! He sputtered immediately as I removed him from the water. He had been moving so much when his head was out I knew at least that he was active and kicking at that point, but it was wonderful to hear him sputter and breathe immediately. He was fairly purple, my purplest homebirthed baby (all the others had been pink), maybe that is why he was anxious to get out . . . but he pinked up immediately. I’ll usually hold them over and rub their back to help any fluid drain out and help stimulate them but he responded so quickly that I didn’t feel the need to do that (though he did have a good bit of mucus still inside and got choked up several times in his first 12 hrs). He whimpered a bit here and there but after 30 seconds or so he started bellowing. I held him to my breast but he was not interested in nursing just yet. He settled down and was content to simply hang out and look around.
|Calling for Sandy|
|Looking him over|
|Oh my gosh it's another boy!!|
|Thrace 21mo. was the first to come in for a closer look|
|Thrace giving Dagyn a toy|
|Notice the water has gotten pretty red|
The water in the tub had gotten very dark red and though I felt just fine, I asked Charlie if the pool water after our waterbirths had gotten this red (he was the one who always emptied them out) and he assured me that the pool water was always quite red! Knowing that was like 4x more water than what was in the bathtub, I wasn’t really concerned.
After about 20 min or so I decided I was ready to get out. I had Charlie hand me a towel for the baby (and he did NOT like that towel over him) and I asked Xian to go grab a bowl for the placenta. I got up on my knees hoping that moving would bring on a contraction so I could push the placenta out. It didn’t work. I am thinking maybe the fact that he wasn’t interested in nursing yet may have been why I wasn’t getting contractions (all my others had nursed, sometimes more than once by this point). I tried pushing a bit but that didn’t work either. The cord wasn’t terribly long (I could bring the baby to the breast but I didn’t have room to hand him off to anyone). I had Charlie put some chux pads on the edge of the bed so I had a place to sit and then he helped me out of the water and across the hall into the bedroom. I sat on the bed, covered the baby with a dry blanket and tried to see if the little guy wanted to nurse again. He was finally ready and latched right on . . . and then he dozed off a bit. Once he figured out what nursing was he decided that it was pretty cool, LOL!!
|Notice the molding, my babies have all been pretty cone headed|
I could feel the placenta just inside so I had Charlie bring me the phone so I could call Tierney. This was about ½ hr after the birth. Her questions are always the same . . . how is everyone doing, how is my bleeding and is the placenta out. I told her that it was detached and that I could feel it just inside but that I was getting no contractions to push it out. She said that if I knew it was detached and near the opening that it would be OK to pull on the cord a bit. She said for Charlie to get some gauze and to pull gently while I pushed. Then she said to call her back when it was out.
I needed to lean back on the bed so I tried to hand the baby to Piper, but the cord wasn’t really allowing that to be done easily. So I kind of propped him up on the side of my leg with her supporting his body. He was fussy, and had been sucking on his fingers earlier, so I told her to let him suck on her finger, and just like all my other babies, that did the trick and he went to sleep!!
Charlie went to get gauze but I was impatient and didn’t want to wait for him. So I leaned back a bit, hiked one leg up on the bed , grabbed the cord as close to my body as I could, and I pulled ever so gently while I pushed. I was NOT going to be forceful, so it was very slow going. I pushed several times before the placenta started to come out. Of course I was met with the same back pain and burning that I had when I pushed the baby out (though of course not nearly as intense . . . but the placenta is BIG). It seemed to get a bit stuck about ½ way out but I worked on it ever so gently, while pushing until it was free from my body (I wanted to make sure it came out whole and that nothing was retained).
|with his placenta a few hours after birth|
|after my shower|
As I got out of the shower the phone rang , it was my sister Kristi. I answered the phone with “guess what” and she had no clue what I was talking about, she didn’t know I had had a baby an hour before! Or that she was the first one to know! She was floored (I think they were expecting it to take longer) as she was just calling to check in on me and see how things were going!
|newborn check, he is big and strong and perfect|
|getting weighed, 8.4|
She checked us both out. I looked great and so did he! He weighed in at 8lb 4oz! With a 14” head. The same weight and head size as Xian and Thrace (my other babies were 8.2, 7.12 and 7.12) He was 22 and ¼” long (I grow them long, I have never had a baby under 21”). I was so grateful to God for not answering my prayers to go like a week late! At his size, he would have been over 9 lbs if I had gone late. And though I am sure I could push out a bigger baby, I don’t really want to if I don’t have to!
|On my lap, 4+ hrs after birth, just before cutting the cord|
We decided it was time to cut the cord a little over 4 hrs after birth. Piper wanted to do it so she did (with some help from me, as it was hard to cut). Like the others, he whimpered a bit as we cut it, but it was nice to have him free from his placenta. Piper wanted to dress him so we did that together (though I like to keep them naked as much as possible in the beginning).
We phoned some more people, took more pictures, pulled pictures off the camera . . . edited and uploaded them, e-mailed a bunch of people, got the kids ready for bed etc. By the time I had nursed Thrace to sleep it was well after midnight. As I lay in the bed with a newborn under my arm, snuggled up close to my skin nursing, it was the same, familiar, surreal feeling of pure bliss . . . it is the same every time. By the light of the nightlight, I just gazed down at him until I fell asleep. I was exhausted but I am always on such a high, however when I do sleep after birth, cuddled up with a newborn, it is the best sleep ever!
|First night, in bed with daddy while I nurse Thrace next to them|
And so, here I sit yet again, newborn babe asleep on my lap and as I say every time . . . taking care of a newborn, ya, it all comes back to you . . . but the feelings, having that precious new life again . . . I tell ya . . . there is nothing like it in the world!! Hearing the little grunts, feeling their soft skin, smelling that newborn smell, seeing how they crank their head around, arch their back when they stretch and flex their little hands . . . so wide eyed, just soaking in every sight and sound and feel of their new world. And it is our awesome responsibility not only to grow and give birth to this precious being, but to also love, care for, and teach them. I can’t believe it is over, the birth seems like a dream to me, I can’t believe I did it again and now we are starting a new journey!
|nursing in bed, his first morning on the outside|
|New family 3.4.11|