After 3 days of prodromal labor, spread out over a month, Sunday, September 26, 2010, I was awoken by a trickle feeling, at about 5:30 (I had been having a dream about water, too, ha!). I had thought that since I was already 5 cm dilated, that it might start with my water breaking. I got up and went into the bathroom to see if I was dreaming, and saw I wasn’t. I knew it was my water breaking (it didn’t smell like anything else) but wasn’t sure why it wasn’t very much (now I realize it was probably the outer bag that broke first). I went to tell Ben (who has been sleeping on the couch due to me taking up the whole bed) that I thought maybe my water had broken but I wasn’t sure since it wasn’t trickling out at all. I asked him to come lie down with me and I went back into the bedroom but couldn’t get comfortable. I asked him if he thought we should call the midwife since she’s about 3.5 hours away, and we thought we’d wait a bit.
Contractions started maybe around 6:00 or a bit after, and we called the midwife maybe around 6:15. They were perhaps 5 minutes apart. They started out as cramping feeling and they didn’t ever feel like tightening to me at all, just cramps down really low. I walked around and had Ben apply back pressure. I started getting antsy and really wanted to get into the bathtub, but wasn’t really supposed to until the midwife got there (so it wouldn’t speed up). I walked around more and tried different positions but couldn’t stay in one position at all (this should have been a sign to me…). My legs started shaking and I told Ben I was freezing and asked him to turn the heat on. Every position I tried I couldn’t get my legs to stop shaking and really wanted to get in the tub. (I think at this point I got on facebook and wrote “Whoa mama…”). I decided I was going to just get into the tub up to my calves and walk around thinking it would warm my legs up. It’s hilarious to me now to think I was wading around my tub….not really sure why I thought that would help!
Almost right after I got into the tub, my water broke, either around 7:20 or 7:50 (not sure…). It was such a neat thing since I had my water broken with Caden, so I didn’t know what it was I felt until the water burst out. It kind of felt like a really small bone had snapped in half, almost like when you break a wishbone. I initially thought the baby had kicked me in a weird spot or something. Then the whole bag burst. Ben came in to see how I was doing and I told him what had happened. I then started to say things like “I can’t do this” (I’ve done it before), “I want to go to the hospital” (ha! yeah, no I don’t), and the like. And what is really funny to me is that in the back of my mind I was thinking completely logically, telling myself, “Maybe we should call someone and tell them I’m showing classic transition signs,” especially for a natural labor. Lol. Saying illogical things (for me anyway) but thinking logically about birth is hilarious to me. Good thing my husband knew I didn’t mean any of those things! So, now I know why I decided to wade in my tub….so my water didn’t break all over the couch!
I took my clothes off (another sign I was really close), and noticed the water was greenish-brownish, so meconium was present. At this point, I got out because I knew if I stayed in I’d end up sitting down in the water. I went out to the couch and leaned over and had Ben apply back pressure and walked around a bit more. I had been toning (saying “ohhhh”) through contractions, but at this time, switched to a “mooing” tone (my labors seem to have a “barnyard” theme…Caden’s was “horse lips”). I thought in the back of my mind that I never told my husband I might use that and knew he was going to think that was hilarious (he later told me that he was shaking with laughter, trying not to make any noise, lol). After leaning over the couch again, I stood up, and immediately felt a wave of nausea sweep over me, and I dry heaved. I then felt everything open and the baby drop way down. I ran into the bathroom, stood in front of the mirror, and yelled the “F” word probably a little too loud. Nothing had been painful, just extreme pressure and I just really wanted to lie down in the water. These contractions were totally different from anything I had felt with Caden or up to this point. I had a bit of bloody show on the floor (again, glad I was in the bathroom and not the carpet).
(Up to this point, I really did not think I was this close to having a baby. The midwife or her apprentices were all not there yet, as well as my doulas or my mom. The contractions had gotten to maybe 2 minutes apart, but they had also always started that way the other three days, and I just didn’t think I was that close at all. I didn’t have anything really ready….birth pool not filled, no supplies out of the closet [not that I would have been doing this anyway], no pads on the floor…lol.)
After looking in the mirror for just a few seconds, I jumped in the tub, turned on the water, and got into right side-lying position (so I was looking out into the bathroom), with my upper leg up on the side of the tub, and my head on the side of the tub as well. I don’t even remember THINKING about getting into the tub and didn’t debate it at all as I had before – I think it was all intuition and it was just what I needed to do. Right away, I had another contraction where I could feel her move down, and I realized I was having pushing contractions, and my body was pushing her out. I didn’t contribute to the pushing AT ALL because I was trying to delay it so the midwife could get there, but mostly I just knew that the best way for baby to come out with minimal repairs needed for me was to let it happen on its own. I wasn’t in a position to reach down and see where she was at, so I just withdrew into myself and let my intuition come through. I didn’t experience these contractions with Caden and think I just pushed when I was at 10, but never had the urge to push. These had a force behind them that I didn’t have with Caden. And they were amazing, let me tell you! I was thinking, “These are soooo cool” the whole time, lol. I was actually excited for the next one. I started to notice a pattern where at the beginning of the contraction I would moan through it (or moo, I guess), until the height of it, and then I would start to breathe slow, almost pant. I think it was my body’s way of letting everything naturally stretch when it needed to most, when it brought her head to almost crowning. Ben called Nicci and told her he could see her head. He was trying to apply back pressure, which I really needed, and hold and comfort Caden at the same time. I think Caden was a little worried because I was being really loud, but I would talk to him in between contractions and tell him I was fine, mommy was just being really loud right now, and he would smile and be really cute.
During these contractions, I couldn’t keep my hands still, and I started slapping the side of the tub. I remember hitting my husband’s back a few times, too (sorry, honey!). I am a really restless laborer and just need to move something. With Caden, I rocked back and forth on my knees in the tub. I am also a really loud laborer, moaning through everything.
This point I’m maybe a little fuzzy on everything, mostly because I couldn’t see what was happening. My two doulas arrived almost at the same time, maybe about 8 minutes before she was born. Nicci told me I was doing a great job, and I was almost done, to which I smiled (I knew I was close, but I had no idea how close. Not sure my husband would have been able to tell me). Nicci tried to talk me into bringing my leg up further on the tub, to which I told her ha, no way, I couldn’t do it (and I did try…not sure why I couldn’t). So she brought it up for me, which I hated, but needed to be done to get her head out. She asked me if I thought I could get on hands and knees because the water wasn’t completely submerging the baby. I said no, I didn’t think I could. After a few of them, though, we decided (they decided?) to try to move me, and we did get me moved, and I think her head came out either right before I moved to hands and knees or right after. Lauren was holding Caden and taking pictures and video for me. Nicci said I needed to push to get the shoulders out, and I said I couldn’t (my sides were so weak from the pushing contractions it was really hard to!). But I did, because I needed to. That part was slightly uncomfortable, when the shoulders came out. I don’t remember feeling her head come out completely, but do remember feeling the shoulders come out one at a time. Baby came out above the water, along with a lot of meconium. Nicci said something about “him” being out (I think…), and then said, wait, it’s a girl! I was shocked! Ben and I were both so sure it was a boy! She told Ben we needed to get my leg flipped over the cord, so I could hold baby.
Baby pinked up right away and I rubbed her and talked to her and can’t believe how alert both her and I were. In the video I have, I am wide-eyed and don’t seen to have just had a baby. I asked what time she was born, and they said 8:19. I couldn’t believe it was just under 3 hours from when I noticed my water had broken. The cord was super short, and it was difficult to hold her up very high, so I was more holding her on my side. I moved from the tub because the water was getting kind of cold, to the bed, where I got covered in blankets and held baby and put her near my breast to see if she would latch on. One of the midwife’s apprentices got there about 10 minutes after she was born, and the midwife got there a bit later. Baby was doing great and we were just waiting for the placenta to come, which did a little over an hour later. The midwife said the cord was only 16 inches, and speculated that may be why I had the 3 days of spurts of labor, because maybe baby couldn’t handle it all at once (can anyone tell me why the short cord might cause that? I don’t know).
We had our herbal bath and her measurements were taken. She was 19 inches, and 8 pounds, 1 ounce. I was anxious to know if I needed any repairs because I had torn in three spots with Caden. We went back into the bedroom and the midwife checked everything, and I just had skid tears (I think is what she called it…) that she said they wouldn’t even be able to stitch up, they were so small. So no repairs! I was ecstatic that I had an 8-pounder and didn’t need repairs. 🙂 I think it really had to do with my position and just letting things happen instead of pushing myself.
This labor and birth was just simple amazing and I can’t stop thinking about it. I wouldn’t have wanted it to happen any other way and already want to do it again, ha! But we’ll wait. 🙂 I felt awesome after and couldn’t believe how it just seemed like that morning I got up and thought I’d have a baby that day, like I got up and just decided to brush my teeth or eat breakfast. It just FIT and seemed completely normal to do. To experience the normal physiological process of having a baby and know what was going on is awesome and even though Caden’s was also a natural birth, it was different this time. So glad we made the decision we did!
Editor Note: You can learn more about the author at Belly, Birth and Beyond.