My first baby was born a day before her due date so inevitably when baby’s due date came I was a bit upset, especially after being convinced that this baby would be coming any day for a week and a half. On my due date I had my appointment with my midwife and I really didn’t want to be checked more than a couple of times, but being where I was in my headspace I agreed and she reported that I had a “soft” cervix and was 2 cm dilated. I was kind of bummed big time with this news as I was secretly hoping that my baby was coming and I wasn’t feeling much and baby would just come quick (I was hopeful, you can laugh!). So, I agreed to a membrane sweep as my midwife said that if baby is coming then this would likely get things going and it’s a relatively mild intervention. Some things changed but it ended up being similar to the week and a half before this; by the end of the day everything calmed down. At this point I was starting to get really down on myself as I had so many caring people pestering me which was only increasing my anxiety. ***I have to say that people take things so personally during this time when really I am the only one going through this. I’m not sure why most people seem to forget so easily what it’s like to be pregnant or support someone going through pregnancy. Nobody needs your worries placed upon them, nobody wants to be called huge, nobody wants to hear your terrible birth stories or ones you’ve heard of. It doesn’t help. I have to add that because it absolutely astounds me that most people completely forget their manners and think they have a right to control your life the second you decide to carry one. I am still a person and I will take what you say to heart and likely won’t forget it for a long time, if ever. *** Like I said, I was getting really down on myself and wanted to hole myself up, but needed help so I woke up bawling every day after my due date because I was still pregnant knowing that people would be calling, texting and messaging me.
Finally 4 days after my due date had passed, I woke up in the middle of the night at 1:30 to some contractions. I got excited and nervous and the contractions were insanely painful. I realized that because my baby Nemo refused to get into the best position for labour and birthing that I was in for a long ride. So, I turned on my hypnobabies and it took me a number of contractions to figure out how to relax and breathe through them. I started timing them as I was still quite tired and didn’t want to have an unassisted birth in the middle of the night and they slowed down ranging from 8-16 minutes apart and were staying around 30-35 seconds long. Every third or fourth contraction I had to go to the bathroom and I did. Despite this routine, I was able to sleep between each contraction which wasn’t a great sleep, but it did allow me to rest enough to get up in the morning and tend a bit to my toddler between 7 and 8 am. DH and I probably should have realized that something was coming sooner than later as I definitely couldn’t talk through the contractions, but we both kind of assumed it was because my toddler wasn’t allowing me to focus, relax and breathe through them. So, DH had the grand idea to leave me alone and run an errand or two with our daughter to let me relax. I wasn’t sure it was a good idea, but the contractions made it really hard to carry on a proper conversation. I decided to call my midwife and see what she thought, but because the contractions I had been keeping an eye on were all still about 30-35 seconds long and still not regular (which was a lie thinking back now, I just was in a different land by this time I think) my midwife said just let her know when things start picking up. After this I felt so alone and started sobbing which made the contractions almost unbearable. I stopped crying and having contractions long enough to text DH to come home now and luckily he was pulling in the driveway. I told him that he wasn’t allowed to leave me and luckily I had the sense to text my FIL to take my daughter for the morning, so within 10 minutes that was set.
The contractions didn’t seem to be slowing down any and were coming between 2:30-5 minutes apart and lasting around 50 seconds. I wasn’t sure how I was going to be able to do this anymore and was seriously considering the 40 minute drive to the hospital. I was undecided for this birth whether or not I should have a doula and couldn’t afford to spend $500 on the only one that was available who lived an hour away. Luckily, a few days before my midwife contacted another midwife who knew of a nurse training to become a midwife assistant who needed experience at births. She said she would like to come and that she has had a home birth before, so we agreed that she would be my doula or another set of hands for the midwives. I texted her as I knew she had a home birth and survived and I needed to know how women did this! Shortly after I got DH to call my midwife as I needed to know how far along I was because the hospital drugs were sounding mighty tempting.
It seemed that everyone took forever to get to my place after calling, but they eventually arrived around 9:40 am and my midwife checked me and she said I was 7 out of 10 centimeters dilated. I thought, what?!?! How is this possible?! I only made it to 6 cm with my first daughter and I was currently 1 cm away from being too far gone to get anything helpful from the hospital anyway. Then everyone went into action. DH frantically got around to filling up the birth pool, moving things out of the way, and the two midwives were setting up their medical equipment. I was so glad to have my support “doula” (the midwife assistant in training). She stayed with me and listened to me repeat again and again how I wasn’t sure I could do this; When could I get into the pool; How did you do this naturally; How did all the other women in the world do this? On top of that she brought me San Pelligrino. It’s the only thing I’ve ever craved in pregnancy and I went through a lot of it! I was also trying not to push which I think is why my left leg and back hurt so much afterward for a couple days. The other midwife showed me to lean on my support person and try to drop my hips and sway. I did this a couple times and it was incredibly hard to do. It kept feeling like the baby was just going to drop out and I didn’t feel like it was quite the right time yet. I was also told that as I was doing this they could actually see the baby drop further into my pelvis (I thought this was so cool and it gave me hope!). The birth pool was still not ready and there was no hot water left for a shower. DH was still busy boiling huge pots of water on the stove to fill up the pool! I don’t have much of a sense of time, but I think a few minutes after I realized I couldn’t use any warm water to comfort myself through these intense contractions I really wanted to lay down. Learning how to breathe through contractions was so vital, but I was still tensing up afraid to let go.
I walked over to the bed and my midwife checked me for the third time in total this entire pregnancy. She said that I was fully dilated on one side, but was at 8 cm on the other, but that part of the cervix was really stretchy. Everyone was trying to convince me that it would help things along if they just broke my bag of waters. I’m not sure how long the women had to convince me that it was a good idea (I had read and heard from a few women about how if the cervix wasn’t fully dilated that baby’s head pushing on it can make it swell and not let baby’s head down). I finally asked that if my cervix was that soft and stretchy that meant that it could be held back so I could push the baby down. And I think my midwife sighed a breath of relief and enthusiastically said, yes! (I bet that’s such an annoying part of her job!)
I had my waters broken and the pain increased, but in a completely different way. It now felt like the end of the marathon, there’s no turning back, I made it so far (after my second birth, I now get the marathon link haha!). I did what any person would do, I pushed harder than I ever thought possible and crying out (I think). I was pushing and it felt so good to let go and not hold back or tense up. DH finally stopped boiling water and held me up off my back so I could be on my side somewhat comfortably. At this point in time I reversed back to my nursing ways and was like “BUT HOW FAR ALONG AM I??” And everyone was telling me I was there, baby just needed to come down a little more. I needed to know so pressed on, “WELL WHAT STATION IS SHE AT???” Looking back this was probably pretty funny. It doesn’t matter! Focus on your pushing is probably what my midwife should have said to me, but instead she just told me 0. I guess at this point it was the ring of fire everyone talks about, but I’m not sure I can explain it to anyone who hasn’t felt it, but it was so relieving to push that it’s hard for me to describe it as painful as I knew then everything was so close. Now baby is crowning and all I can feel is pressure, I guess my baby turned 180 degrees (my midwife has never seen this before). then as she’s coming out I’m trying desperately not to push as per my instructions because now that the head is out my midwife can see that this baby has her arm tucked up around her neck with her hand up beside the opposite shoulder (again going from what I was told, I couldn’t feel that). It felt like forever that they were making me pant and not push so when another contraction came on I said I had to push and out came my baby at 11:03 am!
Baby Nemo had the cord wrapped all the way around her body and my midwife figures it was possibly wrapped around somewhere else to for her to do a 180 turn on my perineum. She came out quite purple and was plunked right on my belly and chest where she pooped twice and peed once. She was so tiny and perfect, I remember her crying after a few seconds and she pinked up quite quickly. I was bawling, I think and just kept repeating, “I did it!!! I can’t believe we did it!!! Thank you, you were all so amazing!!!”
I figured I would have torn all the way and really badly since having my episiotomy with my first, but I had only superficial tears and one small second degree tear that needed 3 stitches. I’m actually pretty proud of that considering all that baby was up to on her way out of my body! Now after the birth, the healing has been amazing. My bottom end hardly hurt and like I said before it was mostly my back that hurt and a bit through my leg. After all was said and done though, this birth felt so anticlimactic. It was the longest fight of my life veering off snide comments about how I would traumatize my older daughter, how it was scary to think of what could happen to baby because we were at home, and on and on for 7 months or so. I wish more people would understand the facts that in healthy pregnancies home births are just as safe as hospital ones. And it’s really amazing what our bodies can do if we take care of them and have faith in them. I’m truly blessed to have experienced this and I’m so happy with my two girls!