I woke up around 0200 hrs (having to pee, again) and felt very crampy upon returning to bed. I haven’t had any cramps, so I felt like this may be the beginning of something and was excited. I tried to sleep and experienced another good cramp 10 minute later. While I felt very relaxed, the cramps continued exactly every 10 minutes for hours. I purposefully did not wake up Ron as I knew he’d be too excited to even try to sleep and one of us should be well rested. Around 0530 hrs, he woke up and asked how long I’d been awake. When I told him, as expected, he was quite excited and wanted to call the Midwife right away. I told him that I would not call her to report that I was having contractions 10 minutes apart. Ron left the bedroom around 0600 hrs to get his son ready for school and I stayed in bed, still hoping I’d sleep a bit. 20 minutes later, I decided to go and have some breakfast. After Drew left for school I had a shower and washed my hair (dreads, I only wash them about once a week because they take so long to dry.) After the shower, Ron said we had to call Christina (our Midwife) to keep her in the loop, as her husband was out of town and it would be considerate to let her know that something was happening, what with her having 6 children at home. I asked him to call, as I didn’t want to use my voice, but as he was talking to her, relaying information along, he passed the phone to me. Christina asked what I assume are the usual questions and I told her that I didn’t need her yet. We had an appointment for 1800 hrs that evening, so I figured either way, we’d see her soon.
My parents woke up. I rested on the couch, lightly dozing in between contractions. After a couple hours, I got up and the four of us played cards for 2 hours. I timed my contractions and they were about 6 minutes apart. We had some lunch, then I rested on the couch again, some of the contractions causing me to wiggle about. I had really hoped that I would sleep, but it eluded me. This frustrated me because I wanted to be as well rested as possible. So we played cards again (Boot Canasta, if anyone’s interested.) We called Christina to give an update. We decided that she wouldn’t come out for her appointment, but later that night, when we all knew I’d be needing her. I really didn’t want her to come “early” as I didn’t want to be on display, having a house full of people watching me progress. Christina and I had discussed this earlier, but she also lives 1 hour away and didn’t want to leave it too late. Finally, around 2200 hrs, we called her to say that she could come, but not to rush. My contractions were about 5 minutes apart at this time and becoming more intense.
While we waiting for Christina, I asked that we all watch a movie. Now that it was dark outside, I felt that things were getting too real and a bit heavy and I wanted something to lighten the mood. So we watched “Baby Mama” with Tina Fey – makes me laugh every time! Christina’s timing was great, came right after the movie ended. Her and Ron went to work setting up the birth pool and I went and had a shower and changed into a bathing suit (tankini and bottoms, but the bottoms felt way too tight, so I ditched those for some normal undies.) Despite turning up the water heater, we didn’t have enough water to fill the pool, so big pots were put on the wood stove. Candles were lit. The birth space was ready.
Saturday, March 23, 2013 (40w + 6)
Shortly after midnight I entered the pool. It felt great, just as I knew it would. Ron made me a fruit and yogurt smoothie and I sipped on that between the contractions that were getting closer together. Everyone was great. My dad went to bed. My mom and Christina never left my side. Ron was around. I had made it very clear in my birth plan that I didn’t need eye contact during labour and wanted everyone to be quiet. Everyone respected this – in fact, I had a cool washcloth on my forehead and eyes for the majority of the time I was in the pool, so avoiding eye contact was a non-issue. Once an hour, I’d get out of the pool and go to the bathroom to pee. Getting in and out of the pool was quite unpleasant – it seemed every time I’d go to get out, I’d stand up and have a couple contractions back to back, making it impossible to raise a leg out of the pool. Once in the bathroom, I was quite content to sit on the toilet through a couple contractions. Not once, during the whole labour, did I come out of the bathroom without Christina having to knock on the door to ask if I was okay (she’d give me about 5 minutes, then check on me, I knew she was worried I’d have the baby alone in the bathroom, as I had previously told her that I’d be okay with that.) Ron fell asleep on the couch around 0200 hrs and my mom went to bed around 0400 hrs, when Ron woke up. Ron asked if he should go to bed, and I not so politely told him no. My contractions were quite intense and I planned on having a baby soon.
When the sun began to rise, I commented on the day light. Christina said it was a beautiful day to have a baby. I didn’t say anything and she asked me what I was thinking. I said, “I thought I would have had the baby by now.” And I meant it. I had never considered labouring during the day. My birth area was beautiful, floor to ceiling windows, overlooking the frozen lake and mountains, but that wasn’t the point. While I had no concept of time during the night, I was now very aware that I’d been at this for over 24 hours. And a long labour was a very real fear of mine, I didn’t want to run out of energy. For some reason, 36 hours was my magic number that I didn’t want to have to cross. I knew I was cat-napping between contractions, but I didn’t think this would be enough sleep for the long haul. I think the day light really discouraged me.
By noon, my contractions had spaced out to 7+ minutes apart. Christina suggested we take a break for an hour so I could get some real rest. I took 2 Tylenol-3’s and a homeopathic relaxer of some sort. Everyone left me alone in my birth space and had lunch. I had a few contractions that were quite painful , but still managed to get some sleep. After the rest was over, Christina gave me a variety of homeopathic pills to get labour kicked up a notch. Each one seemed to work for about 10 minutes, then fade off. I got out of the pool and walked around the house – very slowly, every step hurt and I was tired. We walked around the kitchen island for over an hour, stopping about every 3 laps for a contraction break where Christina would rub my back and breathe with me. We got the contractions back to every 4 minutes and then stalled out. I did very slow lunges which felt nice. Then we went outside and used the steps on the deck. Me, in nothing but a tankini and an open terry housecoat, doing side lunges right around the freezing mark, in the sunshine. Eventually the contractions were back to 2 minutes apart and I was allowed back in the birth pool. And in an instant, the contractions slowed back down.
So we discussed what to do next. I figured that if my body wasn’t ready, that Christina should go home, while I hang out and I’d call her when they picked up again. No one thought this was a great idea. I finally agreed to an internal exam, to see where I was. I was hoping I’d be close, and so scared that I wasn’t. I had reached the 36 hour mark. I was 5 cm. I was trying hard not to give up. Christina had never broke any one’s water before, but thought that this might help. My mom told me to go ahead and have a little cry and then we’d figure it out. So I had a little cry. Christina sent Ron and I out for a walk to think things over. Walking was the last thing I wanted to do, but I went along with it because I figured it might help. I got out of the pool, got dried off, got dressed and went outside. After about 15 minutes we had made it up the driveway and 3 houses over and I was a mess. I could feel myself losing hope of a homebirth, and maybe a natural birth. Walking hurt like hell. We decided to break my water based on the knowledge that if we went to the hospital, that’s the first thing they’d do, so we might as well do it here.
We went home and I sat on the birthing stool while Christina broke my water. The baby’s heartbeat was checked moments before and was great. Right after my water was broken, she checked again for baby’s heartbeat and couldn’t find it. So my mom checked, too, and couldn’t find it. During an internal check, Christina could feel the head moving against her fingers so I wasn’t too worried. I got into the pool and Christina told me to talk to my baby and tell baby to move so that we could see that baby was okay. I had both hands on my belly and silently willed my baby to move. Christina kept checking for a heartbeat with the Doppler. I could tell she was getting worried. She did another internal and again felt the head move against her fingers, and reported that I was 7am dilated. One hour later, no audible heartbeat, no movement in my belly, but lots of good, strong contractions. Despite knowing that no one could find the heartbeat and not feeling baby move for some time, I really wasn’t concerned. I don’t know if I was just in denial that anything could be wrong, or if it was intuition. Somewhat frantically, Christina and my mom searched for a heartbeat again and again and couldn’t find one. Christina suggested we go to the hospital, as she wasn’t comfortable going any further without knowledge that baby was okay. Obviously I really didn’t want to go to the hospital, but I had no proof that baby was okay and didn’t want to risk the alternative.So an ambulance was called. I’m in a subdivision 45 minutes from town, so it’s a volunteer fire/ambulance team. We knew the two men that showed up 10 minutes later. I was out of the pool and dressed in Ron’s sweat pants and a hunting print nightgown, waiting in the driveway. I got into the ambulance and they told me we’d meet the real ambulance half way. And they then started driving. Fast. Hitting every pot hole and frost heave. In an old ambulance. With horrible shocks. I was bouncing around, getting slammed down, having very intense contractions with Christina draped across my hips, trying to keep me from flaying about. I kept telling myself that I just had to endure this for 20 minutes and then I’d get to be in the fancy ambulance with good shocks. Over the radio, I could hear dispatch confirming that my Doctor would be waiting for us. And asking – what seemed like a dozen times – when the last time anyone had heard the heartbeat (1800 hrs). Having everyone else so worried was beginning to cause me to worry. Christina was singing “Amazing Grace” and I was trying to relax in between contractions, but couldn’t, so I tried to mouth the words along with her. We met up with the other ambulance and their paramedic jumped in with us, saying there was no point in transferring me as there was nothing they could be doing different in their vehicle. She draped herself across my legs. No one really spoke for the rest of the trip, except when we were about 10 minutes away from the hospital, the paramedic told the driver to slow down.
We arrived at the hospital and I was wheeled up to Labour and Delivery. The Doppler was placed on my stomach and immediately the wosh-wosh sound of baby’s heartbeat filled the room. I was the only member of my birth team not crying. I was relieved, but in a considerable amount of pain, and now in a hospital. I kneeled on the bed, hanging over the headboard part of it, struggling to keep it together through contractions. I felt like the drive into town sucked out the last of my energy. Christina was massaging my back while Ron proudly handed the doctor my birth plan (while announcing, “Here’s her birth plan!”) “Forget the birth plan” I mumbled. The doctor was actually really great. She acknowledged that I didn’t want to be there, but said they’d work with me to give me the birth I wanted. I said that I didn’t care, that I’d like some drugs – my back and neck and hips hurt like crazy and I seriously doubted my ability to carry on much longer. Technically, my birth plan didn’t say “no drugs,” it said “don’t offer me drugs, I’ll ask if I need/want them.” When the doctor checked, I was still at 7cm, which seemed crazy after the bumpy ride in... The doctor said that she’d come back in a couple hours and we’d see how I was. I didn’t think it was fair that I was going to have to suffer for a couple hours, but told myself that there was probably another doctor around that could get me drugs if I needed them while she was away. I wasn’t looking for an epidural, I was hoping for something that would take away a bit of the pain so I could wrap my head around it again and regain some lost confidence. Anyway, the doctor left.
Christina asked if they had a birth pool and they did (I didn’t know this.) She asked for it and set it up in the small bathroom. Hospital policy said that a patient could labour in the pool, but not deliver. I wasn’t handling the contractions very well on the bed and honestly couldn’t imagine continuing on for hours. Once the pool was 6 inches full, I begged to get in. I changed into a tank top and climbed in. Despite not having much water in it, I instantly felt better. Of course, baby was moving about in my belly, something that I would have really appreciated a couple hours earlier!! Our nurse Tiffany would appear every now and then, each time asking if she could put the Doppler on me, then usually handing it to either my mom or Christina, whomever was closer to my belly in the cramped bathroom. Once the heartbeat was located, she’d disappear.
After an hour, I was pushing against my will at the end of the contractions. This surprised and scared me – I’d heard that pushing before fully dilated would cause my cervix to swell which just wouldn’t do me any good. The next contraction had me involuntarily pushing at the end and I yelled “Stop” to my body, which made my mom and Christina jump a little (I had been very quiet.) I told them that I just couldn’t help pushing at the end. After several more like this, we decided to inform the nurse. She seemed very cool with it and actually left the room mid-push (and not to go get the doctor.) I believe that she knew I was in good hands, and if I happened to deliver without hospital staff present, so be it. 30 minutes later, the doctor returned. We told her I was feeling pushy and I felt that she didn’t believe us.
It was around 2245 hrs and I got out of the pool so that the doctor could check me (she didn’t want to do it with me in the pool.) The contractions were coming on quick and strong and I didn’t want to lay on the bed. I stood next to the bed, draped over the birth ball on the bed. Christina convinced the doctor to check me from that position, and she did. And I was fully dilated!! And she said I could go ahead and push! As if I could help it! While I had envisioned breathing my baby down while in a pool, at that point I was so tired and knew if I got this baby out, I’d be able to lay down.
Each contraction brought on such a strong urge to push that it all felt very natural. I growled through them, low, swaying my hips, feeling very productive. At one point I grimaced and Christina asked if I felt the ring of fire, and the doctor piped up to say that I wasn’t there yet – which surprised me because I thought I was. A few pushes later I felt like baby should almost be out, or at least really crowning, when the doctor said that you could see a bit of hair. A bit!?!? It felt like the whole head was right there! She asked if I wanted to reach down and touch baby and I said “no” and kept pushing. The doctor was applying warm compresses to my perineum and Christina told my dad (who was hanging out on a chair in the corner of the room) to come sit on the bed next to me. The doctor (who would have been more comfortable if I’d been on the bed) asked Ron if he’d like to help catch the baby. Another push and the head was out. Everyone told me to take a moment to breathe, but it felt so weird to have a baby hanging half out of me, that I pushed the rest out. The feeling of the baby turning to get in position to come out while half inside me was really weird. At 2314 hrs, baby was Earth side!
Baby was passed to me between my legs. I looked down and couldn’t help but notice all the blood! (Luckily for me, I find blood kinda cool.) And no tears! I was holding baby, but couldn’t bring baby to my chest because the cord was too short. I half sat on the bed and Ron asked if I knew what gender the baby was yet. I shook my head no and he told me that I’d just given birth to a boy. And all along I had thought I was carrying a girl! Opps! The cord stopped pulsating and it was clamped and cut by Ron. I could finally hold my baby close to my chest. I thought my heart would explode with joy.
When they came at me with a needle of Oxytocin, Christina reminded the doctor that I had hoped to deliver the placenta naturally. The doctor gave a small tug on the cord and I asked her to stop, it did not feel good! After about 10 minutes, I agreed to the shot so that I could quickly deliver the placenta so that everyone would leave. The doctor was a little worried since I had lost about 500cc of blood and wanted to make sure I didn’t bleed any more. I was worried the needle would hurt and everyone found this humorous. Turns out I barely felt it. And then I delivered the placenta, which the doctor placed in the ziplock bag I had brought so that I could take it home. I asked if I could go home and the doctor said that technically I could, but she’d rather I stay in case I started bleeding. She said she’d be back in around 1000 hrs to do her rounds. Then the doctor left and Tiffany began to clean up the blood on the floor and my legs.
An hour later, baby weighed in at 8 pounds, 10.6 ounces and measured 20 inches. My parents left. Christina left shortly afterwards, promising to come back out to the house after church to clean up. Tiffany asked me to go have a shower so that she could make up the bed and finish cleaning. I knew she had cleaned me up a bit, so I didn’t think I really needed a shower, but a quick look at any part of my body waist down proved different! So I showered and it felt great. I really had to scrub to get some of the dried blood off. By this time it was around 0200 hrs and I was exhausted. Elated, but exhausted. I had officially reached the 48 hour mark.
Tiffany rolled in a cot for Ron, we settled the baby in the bassinette next to me (I would have slept with him, but I was so tired I didn’t want to chance anything.) He still hadn’t nursed effectively, but showed a strong rooting instinct, so I wasn’t worried about it.
12 hours after he was born (and still nameless), we were leaving the hospital. The doctor was very nice, saying as she left that my next birth would probably go smoothly at home. Tiffany came to talk to us before she left to tell us that we had completely changed how she viewed births and thanked us for letting her be a part of it.
So we bundled our little boy up, and headed home.