I got up to go to the bathroom and I felt a gush of warmth. I paused to make sure I really felt something and then another came. And another! I woke up H and we went to the bathroom. I was shaking like crazy, probably a combo of cold and “holy shit this is actually happening.” I hadn’t had any contractions but we called my midwife who said to go back to sleep and call her when contractions were 5-1-1. H got me some dry undies and I put on the embarrassingly large overnight pad and went back to bed.
Ha! Like H or I could go back to sleep! Right. Plus I was pretty sure I was having contractions but they just felt like really, really strong menstrual cramps. We both got out of bed and as soon as I stood up it was like the flood gates had opened. My ginormous pad didn’t help one bit! H had to get 2 towels, one for me to wipe off my legs and use to get to the bathroom and one to wipe up the floor! In case you’re wondering: The fluid has no odor but is yellow and kind of thick-ish. And now I know where all my mucus was. But I never saw the plug.
We set up camp in the living room. I ate something and started to take my antibiotics (I had tested positive for strep B). We started timing contractions and there were 3 minutes apart and lasting for about 45 seconds (which by the way, it didn’t feel nearly that long, I thought it had been more like 10 seconds). So were were like, “ummmm…..already?” I called my doula and she said that sometimes in early labor the timing of contractions can mimic later stages of labor but since I was talking to her with little trouble it was unlikely that I would be having a baby anytime soon. Damn! Fast labor would be *awesome*! She told us to stop timing them and to get some rest.
After that H is snoozed away on the couch. I attempted to rest but couldn't Baby just started moving around again (after much thrashing earlier this evening. Oh, and I didn’t go to bed until 2am. Oops!) I wasn't sure how often the contractions were coming but they weren't really increasing in intensity yet and I’d been able to breathe through them fairly well. I noticed that if I grabbed something and held onto it it increased the tension in my body and I was not able to let go of the pain as easy. I am concentrated on relaxing my entire body when another contraction came. Oh, and when they ended it is a HUGE relief and I went back to feeling completely normal, like nothing was going on.
Around 6am I woke H up because the contractions felt like they were getting closer together and they were definitely more intense. We started timing again and they were about 2 minutes apart, lasting for about 45 seconds. H called our midwife, Sara, and she said that she would call back in an hour. In an hour they were two minutes apart and lasted for about 60 seconds so she said she was going to make her way over to the house. We also called our doula and she said she’d be there as soon as she found someone to take her kids (they happened to cancel school that day).
Even though the birthing pool was ready to go I didn’t want to get in it right away. I had read that if you got into the pool before you were dilated 5cm that it could slow things down. I sure as hell didn’t want that! I basically waited until I couldn’t stand it any more and then got it. I had no clue what the time was when I got in but when I did, HOLY CRAP it was awesome. Everything went away almost instantly. I drifted in and out of sleep for an unknown amount of time. I felt like I had been drugged. Eventually the intensity increased again and when my midwife came in to check the heart rate I asked her if she had any idea what I might be dilated to. Of course she didn’t and she offered to check me but I said, “If you check me and I am only 2cm or something I am going to cry” because I really would have. She said, “Oh, you’re way past that point.” Thank God. During that time I remember thinking that I totally understood the appeal of an epidural.
Sometime, probably not longer after that I felt something drop and said as much. Apparently this dropping was a good thing because my midwife and her assistance came into the kitchen and sat on the floor. I remember seeing them come in, my midwife hauling her big bag of medical thingys and thinking to myself, “I must be close if they are coming in here. Not much longer now!” I vaguely remember Sarah and Elysse sitting on the floor knitting (I could hear the needles clicking) and my doula reading a book. AH was sitting in a chair outside of the pool just kind of looking at me and holding my hand. I didn’t notice it, but at some point he left to get a book. Suddenly the intensity was bumped up a notch or ten. I yelled out, “Where is he? I need him!” then he knew something was going on. At that point I started pushing. H was rubbing my shoulders and talking to me. I got super hot at some point and he was rubbing ice cubes on my neck, shoulders and chest. I was so hot that the cubes would almost instantly melt and I remember thinking to myself, “Wow, I must be really hot. Those ice cubes are melting super fast!”
Eventually I switched positions. I had been leaning against the side of the pool with my knees up but switched to kneeling and facing H while leaning on the side. This is when the fun really began.
**Danger** Entering TMI territory**
After getting into the kneeling positions things began to get incredibly, incredibly intense. The desire to push was incredibly strong. I didn’t try to stop it which is good because there was no chance of that happening. I was holding onto H for dear frickin’ life, so much so that afterwards he told me that it took all of his strength to prevent me from pulling him into the pool. His forearms hurt for 2 days afterwards. Anyway. So I’m pushing, and I’m pushing and then, well, I poop. I looked into the pool and I could see, um, chunks floating around. I saw them and thought, “Huh. I pooped” I almost made a joke about it but then another contraction came and I didn’t care any more.
Everything is kind of blurry at this point I remember going from being panicked to being able to handle the contractions really well and back to panicking. I think I even whined (“I want this to be over”) and cursed (“Get the fuck out already!”). My doula would remind me to make low moaning noises instead of high-pitched ones (to open my pelvis). H looked freaked out. I poo’d again.
At some point my midwife had this mirror thing and was checking to see if she could see the head. At one point she told me to reach down and feel it. So I reach down and I expected that it would be right there but it was still pretty far up there. I said “Well that’s not very inspiring, is it?” Dammit! I was really, really hoping things were a bit further than that! I’d push and I’d feel her come down but then she’d go back up again which I knew was going to happen but it was SO frustrating.
In total I pushed for just under one hour but it felt like much longer than that. It’s hard to describe what it felt like during that time but I’ll try. The urge to push eventually came so close together and so fast and so frackin’ intense that it was like tidal waves crashing on the shore over and over and over again. I’ll be honest, I screamed louder than I’ve ever screamed in my entire life (I had to use Clorispeptic spray for a few days afterwards). I could hear my doula’s voice trying to be calming (as she took photos) and my midwife telling me to slow down (so I wouldn’t tear) but I swear to God I couldn’t have if I had tried. The “ring of fire” that every book mentions? Let’s just say that if I thought it was intense during the perineal stretches we had done weeks prior or even during the first part of pushing, damn, when her head was actually coming out, holy shit, it was like Dante’s motherflippin’ inferno x 1000 with Habanero sauce thrown in for good measure.
(Oh yeah, and at this point I really wanted to switch positions to squatting, but I couldn’t, my legs had gone completely numb)
When the head came out I could sense all the excitement in the room from everyone. Everyone was all up in my lady business checking things out, H was trying to see what was going on. I just kind of sat there leaning on the side of the pool on my knees until my midwife told me to push one more time. I grabbed onto AH again and pushed. When the rest of the baby came out it was kind of like when the space shuttle takes off and there is that big explosion of fire at the bottom. I felt like everything inside me emptied out as the baby shot out of me. I kind of shuddered from the shock of it.
I think the baby cried? H said it did but I really don’t remember that. Everyone was checking it out as I leaned against the side of the pool. Eventually they tried to get me to sit down in the pool so I could see the baby. After all that I just did, the ring of fire, everything, I complained about my legs hurting from being numb for so long, lol. When I sat down they gave me the baby and I took it and held it to me. I didn’t have the emotional feeling that I thought I would when I first held my child. I felt so insanely whacked out and tired. I remember thinking it was so small and the thick, Crisco-like vernix all over the skin was weird. Eventually I asked, “What is it?” they told me they hadn’t looked so I held it up and said, “It’s a girl.” She looked around a lot of and cried a little. H was leaning over my shoulder touching her and wondering aloud about how small she was and how strong her grip was on his finger. My midwife put these warm packs in a towel and gave them to me to hold against her, to keep her warm.
At this point I pushed out the placenta which was nothing. We had planned on keeping it attached to her for a bit after she was born so that she could suck up the extra anti-bodies and whatnot. I thought it was funny seeing it float around the pool in my metal mixing bowl. My midwife asked if I wanted to touch it and I was like, “hell yeah!”
After holding her for a while my midwife told me to try to breastfeed her so I pulled my bewb out of my tank top (even though I was in labor I was still self-conscious about being nekkid so I wore a tank top) and tried to get her to suck. She really played with it more than anything. H cut the cord and took her from me. My doula helped me get out of the pool and wrapped my bottom half with a big beach towel. I was dripping quite a bit of blood and I was shaking a little bit. We went into the bedroom and I was helped into bed to rest while my midwife and her assistant checked Ruby. I was only half there as they weighed her and measured her. She didn’t have any goo in her eyes or heel prick. H was so exited and eager to help. He put on her very first diaper and dressed her very gently in her first little outfit. I asked how much she weighed and was surprised when they told me she was only 6lbs, 12 oz.
After they were done checking her my midwife came over to see if I had torn and to see if my uterus was shrinking correctly. I was positive I had torn but she examined me and told me I hadn’t. She pressed on my abdomen to feel my uterus and it was contracting nicely. Then H brought over Ruby and we sat there and looked at her for a bit. A few minutes later I got up to put on underwear and a pad and comfy pants. When I went out to the living room my midwife’s assistant remarked that I looked like I had just woke up from a nap, not given birth. I was a little tender but I actually felt pretty good, considering what I had just done.
We decided on her name, filled out paper work and about an hour later everyone left. H was left to clean up the birthing pool and its contents but I ended up helping him because the sump pump that we’d got to drain things quickly didn’t work. The rest of the day we spent hanging out and letting people know we’d have our little girl. I bled a bunch and the first time that I peed afterwards was an experience all its own. I didn’t even THINK about having to be a little more, uh, tender, than usual. Yee-OUCH!
From water breaking to birth was only just 8.5 hours. I couldn’t believe that! My birth experience was pretty much everything I wanted and I am so, so grateful for it.