Edward’s birth story begins about 3 days before his birth, when I started having light contractions that stayed at a pretty steady 10-15 min apart and 1.5 minutes long. The evening of the 22nd, the day before he was born, the contractions went to 7 minutes apart , 50 seconds long, and stayed consistent no matter what I was doing. They were not painful, but I did get tired easily as my body was working! I had been at about 5 cm dilated and 75 percent effaced for a week. Those few days before he was born I stayed at about 5 cm and 80 percent effaced, stretching to 6-7 cm, with a bulging bag of waters the day before he was born.
I took a good long nap the afternoon of the 23rd, waking up every once in awhile to notice the same light contractions. At about 4:30pm I started some supper in the oven, and noticed that my contractions were definitely closer together and a bit stronger when I was walking around the kitchen. Around 5:30 we sat down for supper together and discussed plans to take the boys on a walk to the playground behind our house after dinner. My contractions were definitely stronger and closer together so we decided to get out my phone and time a few contractions on a contraction app that we had both downloaded for our new phones. They averaged 2 minutes apart and 50 seconds long. By the time we were done with supper I was pacing around the front room a bit through the contractions and decided we should change our plans of going for a walk. I told the boys that if they were on their best behavior they could help daddy set up the birth pool. I had Gregory pick up his toys from the living room downstairs while Adam set up the tarp and began airing up the pool.
Zeke was very cranky and tired, so daddy put him to bed as soon as the sides of the pool were up. When Adam came back downstairs he put on a tv show for Gregory, aired up the floor of the pool, and began to fill it. By this time the contractions were getting pretty uncomfortable, but I could still talk through them. I was back and forth from the bathroom quite a bit as my body prepared for labor and the contractions pushed down on my bladder. We posted on facebook and let a few friends and family know that we were filling up the pool.
Gregory watched two shows, and then it was time for daddy to put him to bed. When he came back downstairs it was about 8pm and we decided to call our doula Rebecca and let her know that I was in labor. Her shift at work didn’t end until 10pm and she still had 1 hours before she could make it to our house from work. I could still talk some during contractions so we told her not to leave work early. The birth pool was about 3 quarters of the way full by that time, and I was needing to vocalize through my contractions a bit more. It felt natural to make low “oooh” and “aaaah” sounds. I was pacing between the living room and the playroom in our basement, trying to keep an eye on the water level while Adam did a few things with Gregory again.
The water sounded like a really good idea by this point. When the pool was finally full, I decided to try out the shower during a couple of contractions first. The shower definitely helped, but after a couple of contractions I really wanted to get in the pool. I asked Adam to check me before I got in the pool. He said that he had to reach around the bag of waters to find my cervix and it was 9 cm dilated and paper thin. I had a hard time believing him (just as I had a hard time believing that I was 5 cm dilated for a week,) but he’d checked me enough times to know what he was talking about.
After some adjusting of the water temperature I got into the pool. The pool was definitely a relief and made the contractions much more manageable. I asked for my water mug and some music. After about a half hour I decided the music was not what I wanted and asked Adam to play my hypnobirthing CD. The hypnobirthing CD was very relaxing, especially the birth affirmations track. When the CD was finished I went back to listening to piano music. I continued to vocalize through the entire length of each contraction with vowel sounds. I would remember Ina May Gaskin saying “An open mouth is an open bottom” and the videos of women I had seen using tones. It really did work to focus the energy of each contraction this way. Adam could tell by the intensity of each tone I made how strong the contractions were getting.
I was steadily getting louder and louder at the peak of each contraction. I tried to focus on a couple of objects in the room, but that really didn’t work for me. I found myself getting annoyed by visual things and so it was just easier for me to block everything out visually and focus on my tones. I was moving from a semi-sitting position with my back against the pool to a squatting position on my knees, my body leaning over the side of the pool. I would go through a couple of contractions in each position and then switch again. I wished that the water would have covered my lower back in the squatting position. That’s why I kept moving back to sitting, because my lower back was hurting some.
I asked Adam to try a little massage, a heated rice bag on my lower back, and a cool cloth on my forehead, but with each thing we tried I realized I just didn’t want to be touched at all during a contraction. It felt uncomfortable or too restricting. The water was enough.
At 8:35 Rebecca called and left a message that she had left work early because her son (breast fed baby) was upset at home and wouldn’t calm down or take a bottle. At 9:40 Adam realized that things were getting intense and so he called her back to let her know that we would like her to head our way as soon as possible. When Adam got off the phone with her he let me know that she was leaving her house. Shortly after that I told Adam that I thought I had to have a bowel movement and might want to go to the toilet. He laughed softly and told me that was probably a sign that the baby was near. I wasn’t so sure. He tried to check me again in the pool, but could only feel that the bag of waters was at about a +2 station.
I wanted the water to be a bit warmer so Adam started to drain a little water out and fill it with some more hot water. I would move the hose so that it was rushing hot water at my lower back while it was filling. That felt really good. When the pool was full again I told Adam “It feels a little better to push during a contraction, but I don’t want to push too early.” He said to me “If you feel like pushing, then push.” Adam could tell my contractions were getting much more intense, because I was getting pretty loud. He sat with me during a couple of very intense contractions. He said something like “You are doing really really good honey, You can do this.” And for a moment I thought “Can I?” That thought scared me and so I tried to focus on getting through each contraction and not think about whether or not I could handle any more.
The contractions were pretty much on top of each other at this point and just then my water broke. The next contraction I went back and forth about whether my body was telling me to push or not, and realized I was definitely pushing anyway. I was pushing a little with each contraction, maybe 4 contractions back to back and I felt him with my hand very close to “crowning”. I thought his head felt squishy. I told Adam “Call Rebecca!” He called her and told her I was pushing. She was just south of Grand Island at that time, about 30 minutes away.
Another contraction and I felt him crowning (butting?) and thought “Is that his nose? It’s pretty far up on his forehead.” Another contraction and I realized it was his butt and his testicles. Adam was still on the phone with Rebecca and I yelled at him “He’s Breech!” He got off the phone with her and in another contraction I pushed his butt and legs out. I had a small break in my contractions after that. Adam reached his hands down to touch him and I yelled “Don’t touch him!” I was remembering “Hands off the breach” from all of the breech birth information I had read.
During that small break I also felt him kick in the water and yelled “He’s kicking!” Adam thought I said “He kicked me.” The next strong contraction I pushed his left arm and shoulder out. A couple more pushes and I pushed his head and other arm out, at 10:32pm. Nobody caught him, so he was in the water and I flipped around to sit down real quick. I said “Where is he?” because the pool was pretty bloody when his head was born, and was reaching around in the water for him. I pulled his butt up first and realized my mistake as I reached down to bring him up head first.
He was a good color but looked like he was sleeping. Adam was back on the phone with Rebecca. She asked if he was breathing so Adam checked his pulse on his neck and it was really strong. I was crying a little and saying “Oh my God, He’s so beautiful!” Right about then he started clearing his lungs and trying to cry. I knew that a few gurgles in his first attempts were normal. Rebecca said congratulations and got off of the phone with Adam. I was trying to hold the baby but was pretty uncomfortable as I was still having mild contractions to birth the placenta. The cord was still pulsing, and I started to push the placenta out. I really wanted to get out of the pool with the baby. Birthing the placenta felt like another little butt. It was out in about 5-10 minutes after he was born. Adam clamped the cord and got the kitchen scissors to cut the cord. We put the placenta in a plastic bed pan and Adam took the baby while I went to the bathroom to clean up a little.
By the time Rebecca arrived I was sitting on the couch with my brand new baby. Her help was invaluable during the “4th Stage” of birth, which is recovery. She made sure I was feeling okay and was comfortable, helped Adam clean up, take pictures, made me a comfrey bath, helped weigh and measure the baby, helped get diapers and clothes, and just made that time so much easier for us. She saw that I was comfy and tucked into bed before she left at about 2am.
Editor Note: You can view the author’s website at Natural Family Today.