I've tried to answer any questions I thought might arise as you read through the story. But please, do not hesitate to ask anything about the birth, or anything about my family or any question at all. I'll be answering them next week. Oh, and sorry about the formatting. New thingy dealy.
I realize in hindsight that I had a lot of fear in this pregnancy. I feared getting pre-eclampsia again. I feared the birth itself, even though I truly love birth. I feared the pain, the time it would take, where I would give birth. I feared adding another child into the family and all the work that entailed. But I wasn't facing any of those fears. I wasn't praying about them all. And I certainly wasn't talking about them.
I had had several weeks of prodromal labor. I would have decent contractions for two to three hours that would continue even if I got up, changed activities, got a drink. These were not Braxton Hicks. These were contractions that were really working on my cervix and body, but not leading to labor. I recently read that that is perfectly normal in women who have had several previous births to have lots of stop and start labor. It is that exact thing that gets women induced in the hospital for failure to progress. Our bodies aren't progressing because they aren't ready. While it may be frustrating, it's perfectly normal. If left alone, we will almost certainly go into labor on our own.
I had weeks of it. I began to wonder if I would know when I was actually in labor. I even stopped timing them because I just KNEW it was more of the same.
The day before I went into labor, I talked with a friend of mine, who is also a lay midwife, and she recommended some Blue/black cohash and some homeopathics for helping to get the contractions going. The herbs are suppose to work together to regulate the prodromal contractions and kick start things. I was at my “due date” and ready to try.
I know due dates are a general thing and are not meant to be an exact date. This pregnancy I purposefully told Jeff to not let me know my due date. I thought it might help me to not get so impatient. It worked. I was still miserable and antsy, but I was doing a decent job of being patient.
Friday morning (the 8th) I took the herbs. Within an hour I had two big, opening contractions. By that, I mean that I could feel them in my cervix, opening it up.
I went to the bathroom a little bit later and had bloody show. Bloody show means labor is imminent. I had lost lots of mucus over the last week but this was blood. I knew it meant the show was about to start. I also didn't anticipate having the baby before the day was out...I knew it would be long. They always are for me.
Soon thereafter the contractions started coming every 15 minutes. Low intensity contractions but coming regularly.
I began to worry about giving birth here in the house because we had no water. Our pipes had frozen. More worry.
Jeff came home a bit later to begin working on thawing out the pipes. I'm not sure how much time he spent but he was unsuccessful. He asked me what I wanted to do and I wanted to go to Linda's (Jeff's mom). He called and they were actually okay with it. Linda was planning to be at my birth, so this wasn't much of a stretch. (He promised to clean out the tub afterward.) I think they were probably relived that we would be closer to a hospital. (We live 30 minutes from town.)
All this time I had been praying that I could stay at home. Certainly Linda's was better than a hospital but it wasn't home. It wasn't laying in my bed with my baby for hours. It wasn't comfort like home. But it also wasn't the hospital so while it wasn't perfect, I was very grateful.
We packed all our birth supplies, changes of clothes and some pizza and got ready to leave. My contractions were still pretty far apart, about 10-12 minutes with a very low intensity, but I knew the car ride would be uncomfortable.
Just as we were walking out the door Jeff absentmindedly turned the faucet on to rinse a dish. The water worked. OH PRAISE GOD! The water worked!
Ashlea went ahead and took the kids to Linda's so I could have some quiet time. It was so helpful. Sometimes having too much chaos and nervousness and worry can stall a labor. So having some quiet time while I relaxed was just what I needed.
I took a bath and began praying. As I prayed all my worries surfaced. Things I hadn't realized I was worrying about. I gave them all to God. I surrendered every second of my labor and birth and gave it to Him to carry. I left the bathtub revitalized and ready to give birth, then or in two weeks. Either way didn't matter. I felt unburdened, and that is what mattered.
My contractions slowed down a little during this time but I didn't concern myself too much with that. I was still pretty sure I was in labor, or would at least be laboring like that for a while. The continued bloody show was my proof that my cervix was working.
The kids came home and went to bed. We watched some TV and timed the contractions.
They were pretty regular and alternating in intensity. I would have one with about a 4-5 intensity and about ten minutes later a 2-3 intensity. I could do that for a while!
We decided to go to bed in case I had another day or two of this. I knew it wouldn't be terribly easy to sleep but I knew I needed to try.
I did pretty good for a while. The contractions weren't so bad that I couldn't sleep through them. Only a few woke me up. Once they all started waking me up I knew it was time to get up and start really preparing for the birth. I had gotten a good four hours of sleep though.
So at about 2:00 AM, I woke Jeff to tell him I was ready to get in the birth pool. He had warned me several times to not wait until it got too bad to wake him up because he needed time to fill the pool. At this time the contractions were coming about every five minutes and had picked up intensity to about a six and lasting a full minute. I knew I was making progress. I wasn't concerned that I was going to have another marathon labor...I was sure I would have a baby by the morning. To this point labor had been about 14 hours. I had her around 4:00.
Right before I got in the birth pool
I stayed on the couch breathing through contractions, which were increasing in intensity, but still five minutes apart, for about 15 minutes while he filled the pool. Once he gave me the go ahead, I was so relieved.
I LOVE the water when I'm in labor. It's so relaxing.
relaxing my entire body (the Bradley way) during a contraction
Labor continued smoothly for the next hour. We called Linda to give her a heads up, letting her know that it should be in the next few hours, and then we woke Ashlea up.
I was still smiling and talking through the contractions and hadn't yet got down the hard work, so I thought it was still a few hours away. But actually labor didn't get intense until about an hour before I delivered.
Jeff began praying for me as I concentrated on the contractions. I love when Jeff prays for me.
At some point, Jeff recalled that I asked him to rub my shoulders. I honestly do not remember that. I must have been in the birth zone by that point.
I was only in the birth pool about an hour when the contractions began to be a lot more intense and a lot closer together. I remember I was still talking and even mustered a smile or two about comments from Jeff, but I knew it was getting close. We called Linda.
I began focusing all my energy on labor. I kept my eyes closed between contractions as they were right on top of another. They began to really get uncomfortable to the point of being painful.
I knew transition hit when they were so painful that I wondered why I was doing this again at home.
To me the contractions themselves aren't bad. I could do that for two days, in fact I had! But these contractions were due to the bulging waters and were creating so much pressure that I almost cried. I'm very quiet in labor and totally in to myself. But the pressure was so intense, I don't know how I managed that.
I just remember telling Jeff, between contractions, that it hurt so bad from the pressure. That I could do this if the pressure would just stop.
He began praying specifically for my waters to break. They did! A small gush and some relief. He asked if my waters broke and I said a little.
I think it was about this time that his mom arrived.
At the next contraction I began feeling pushy. I labored through several contractions feeling pushy before I began pushing gently at the peak. I told Jeff I was feeling pushy and he told me to wait but I couldn't.
I pushed gently through several contractions but the pressure was so intense that I began to push harder. Jeff reminded me to push gently. But again, I couldn't. I wanted that baby out so the pressure would go away.
I pushed really hard once and could feel the baby sliding down. With the next contraction, with maybe a 20 second break, I pushed really hard again. I think I pushed a third time before I felt her head crowning. I remember saying it burned.
Jeff told me to reach down and feel my baby but I told him I didn't want to. I regret that now but at the time I just wanted the pain to stop...the pressure was so painful.
With the next contraction Jeff said he could see her cheek and I thought he said something about her hand.
Later Jeff told me that she was covered in the sac and he didn't know what it was at first and thought maybe she was presenting wrong. Once she crowned he could see her hand on her cheek.
I usually push them out in one or two pushes and this was taking a while. I had a worrisome thought that she was going to get stuck. Then I pushed HARD and out she popped.
I remember saying, come on baby and praying in between that. That was all I could do to vanquish my fear.
Jeff handed her to me and we immediately saw that we had another girl. (If I were to be honest here, we were a tiny disappointed to not have a boy, but it didn't last long.)
She didn't take her first breath for well over a minute and a half. (As long as you don't cut the cord they have a few minutes before they have to breath.) Even though I knew not to worry, I began to worry about that. (WHY SO MUCH FEAR???) Her mouth was gurgling too. Finally she took her first breath and made a tiny little cry. We didn't even need to suction her mouth as she cleared it out herself.
Linda and Ashlea came in and saw her. Linda and Jeff told me what a great job I did...Jeff had been saying that all along with his prayers.
They left so I could get out of the pool. As I was standing there the placenta just slipped right out and Jeff caught it. I didn't even realize it was coming out...quick hands.
Jeff discovered she had a knot in her cord. But everything looked great. She nursed immediately and knew just how to do it.
Jeff tied off the cord with sterile shoelaces. Linda cut the cord, as Ashlea didn't want to.
Jeff is tying her cord. The bowl has the placenta in it.
Linda cutting cord.
Ashlea held her for a long time as she gazed into Ashlea's eyes. I nursed her again and started having the afterbirth pains. I decided not to be a hero and started taking Tylenol. They only lasted for about two days.
We went to sleep and presented her to her siblings in the morning as a big surprise. They were surprised. They thought it was false labor the night before.
She continues to nurse and grow. At first she never cried, but she's finding her voice. She is our biggest baby yet and is growing better than any of them. We are so blessed.
I was only sore for a few days. I had some tiny “skid marks” on my outer parts that healed within a few days. The bleeding began tapering off after a week and completely stopped by three weeks. Quickest recovery yet. I began exercising by week four.
We recorded the birth, discreetly, but have not watched it yet. If I can figure out how to put it on my blog I'll share the birth with you.