by Dalas, USA
I had been lying in bed for about a half hour, lazily considering whether or not I should get out of bed. I had a couple of small contractions, but nothing too uncomfortable so I just ignored them. At 9am I had my first “real” contraction. It hurt and finally convinced me to get up, since lying down just made it more uncomfortable. The last week I had two days where I had this same kind of contraction, but they subsided. I was suspicious though, considering I hadn't had any for four days now. But, again, I was determined not to get my hopes up.
I went to go take a shower, but decided I didn't feel like it. After getting dressed and brushing my teeth I began noticing that the contractions were really starting to be uncomfortable and they were so close together I couldn't really do much. My sister came to be with us for the birth, so I woke her up and let her know I needed some help. She made me breakfast, since I had been starving since I got out of bed. But by the time she came back with the toast, food just did not sound like a fun idea; I wasn't hungry, and I was too busy concentrating on contractions. I managed to get down a couple of bites, but that was all.
She encouraged me to call my midwife; I was reluctant, not actually thinking I was in real labor. It kind of felt like it, but my contractions were all over the place and not at all evenly spaced. Weren't they supposed to be nicely laid out for me like all the books said? This was my first birth – I obviously had a lot to learn! After talking with my midwife, she didn't seem too concerned about heading over. I called my dear hubby, Jake, who was at school. Not at all planning to have him come home, just giving him an update. But he could tell by my voice that I needed him so he came right away. I thought that was fine even though I was sure this was not “real” labor yet.
After getting off the phone with Jake the contractions picked up a little. They were lasting a long time and were not giving me more than a minute in between for breaks. I think I probably just rolled around on the bed for about ten minutes, not really knowing what to do with the contractions. They weren't supposed to be this hard yet! Jake got to the house relatively quickly, which was good; I was getting really frustrated at this point. If this was early labor then what on Earth would active labor be like? I was afraid I wouldn't be able to handle it.
After a while Jake and Aubrey convinced me to call the midwife and make sure she was on her way over, so I did. We also called my doula and a good friend who were planning on being at the birth, so they could make arrangements for the day. At this point I was really hoping this was labor if we were going to call in all the troops! I wanted to take a shower, partially because I needed one and also because I thought it might help all the back labor I was having. Jake got in with me since I didn't feel like I could stand for that long on my own. The hot water on my back felt wonderful during contractions. I stayed in there until the back labor seemed to have gone away and I was feeling the contractions mostly in front. Then the shower didn't help and I felt like I was just wasting my energy by standing, so we got out.
It felt nice and cool, since this was the first really warm day of the year. By this time my friend had arrived and began showing me all of the things she brought to help with the labor. I was concentrating too much on my contractions to want to pay attention. The back labor had come back a bit so I had her and Jake tag team a back massage. That helped a lot. My sister and friend's hubby were downstairs working on setting up the birthing tub. I wouldn't let my back massagers leave their post for that!
I informed Jake to call my doula, because I needed her. Even though a little earlier I thought I would be fine without her for a bit. At around elevenish my midwife arrived and her assistant was there probably about twelve. I was still upbeat and chatty in between contractions, and I was “in the zone” during contractions. My first routine was on the bed straddling Jake's legs and leaning in to him during the contraction, then I would stand up and walk around to get my circulation going again. I wouldn't let Jake talk or be distracted during my contractions it frustrated me for some reason. I felt like he needed to concentrate as much as I was, otherwise it distracted me. It sounds silly now but seemed so important at the time!
After a while I couldn't take any more pressure on my bottom by sitting down; the baby was really low at this point. I tried standing for a few contractions, but it was taking too much energy, and I was feeling weak so I had Jake sit in a chair and I sat backwards in his lap in a semi-squatting position so I didn't have to hold myself up but there was no pressure. Also, I could feel my hips open up, which was a little more painful, but I could feel the contractions working better too. My friend had brought some aroma-therapy sprays she made herself. She gave me a damp washcloth with the spray on it and, I took a deep breath of it at the beginning of each contraction. I didn't know what it was at the time, but I knew it took a huge bulk of the pain away and I liked that!
The contractions started intensifying, but the birthing tub was finally warmed up enough for me to use it. They were skeptical that it would be ready in time, as our water heater wasn't very cooperative but my sister and friend's hubby worked overtime on it! My midwife was surprised they pulled it off, saying she had never seen a turnaround like that before. After friend's hubby left I walked carefully downstairs and got in the tub. Jake got in with me, as I still wanted his help during contractions. The water was very relaxing, too relaxing in fact. I still had contractions but they weren't as powerful and I had a lot of recovery time in between. I could also feel them moving back up instead of progressing down as they had been.
My midwife asked if I wanted her to check my dilation. I was concerned about the tub so I said sure. I was only five centimeters, so she suggested I labor outside of the tub again for a while. I got out and break time was over! I was doing all sorts of squatty, squirmy moving without thinking much. I was simply trying to get comfortable, but I couldn't. Later my midwife told me that was exactly what I needed to be doing! The body truly is amazing and knows exactly what it needs to do. The tub was still getting warmer and had reached a perfect temperature, so I got in again. And again… my labor pretty well stopped. At almost five o'clock my midwife asked if I wanted another check. I was not even six centimeters yet. Now I was frustrated!
It had been over an hour and I was assured the last five centimeters went more quickly than the first but not even six yet?! Argh!! My midwife's assistant kept reassuring me that the baby was really really low and I was almost completely effaced, which were both good signs. But I was not to be consoled. I was beginning to feel like this was never going to end. So my midwife offered to break my water and see if we could speed up the process. Yes please! Let's get this over with!
Unfortunately I had to get out of the tub for this, but it was worth it I felt. I got out with the agreement that I wouldn't get in again until I was ready to push; this way my labor would stop stopping. But after she broke my water the contractions were immediately more intense and way too close together. I asked to get back in the water, she told me to wait three more contractions. I could do three more, but after three I was right back in.
The water surely didn't slow it down this time, but the weightlessness helped me get on top of the contractions. I felt like I could labor in any position and it was effortless to move around. Transition came very quickly. I felt a little panicky and was trying to find a way out of this! But there wasn't… I kind of wanted to run out of the house and escape, but when I realized I would have to get out of the tub to do that, so I scratched the idea. Before long I felt my body starting to push on its own; I told my midwife that I was pushing and asked if it was ok; she assured me it was fine.
And then I definitely felt the I NEED TO PUSH NOW feeling. She checked me and said that I was 9.5 but there was nothing in the way of the baby coming out. I could feel her moving down the birth canal on her own and with the next contraction I made the effort to push. Her head crowned! I reached down and could feel her head. I told Jake to get in the birth tub so he could be there for the birth; I knew she was coming quickly. The funniest part of labor, I thought, was when Jake said “I think I feel it, but I'm not sure.” And my midwife responded, “It's the part that's not usually there.” I gave him a hard time about it afterwards!
I pushed again and her head came half way out. Jake and I were both surprised at how quickly that happened. I could have pushed more but I was afraid of tearing so I didn't as much as I could have. There wasn't much burning though; it was a lot easier than I had expected. And when I heard someone say that the head was half way out I figured it was only going to get better from there. I gave another great push and felt her head come all the way out. With a third push her body came out and I leaned back to bring her up to the surface of the water. She was all purple and waxy and the most beautiful thing I had ever seen! Jake and I stayed in the tub for a few minutes just admiring our little blessing. We were so enthralled we even forgot to check the gender until someone reminded us! We had a gorgeous baby girl.
After all the excitement had died down a bit, we transferred from the tub to the couch. I delivered the placenta and Daddy cut the cord, as I marveled at how bright and colorful it was! I had a lot of bleeding afterward, but nothing too major. We talked about the name and decided she definitely looked like an Evangeline. We named her about an hour after the birth. She recognized her Daddy's voice immediately and calmed down whenever he sang to her; it was so sweet! Evie had spent a little too much energy breathing the first hour or so. So she was too tired to nurse. My midwife had me give her a little powdered sugar on my finger to stimulate nursing. It worked wonders! So her first food was powdered sugar – boy are we in trouble!
We spent the rest of the evening cuddling and rejoicing. And also enjoying milkshakes and fries… hey I earned it right?
Evangeline NellieMae Mueller
March 31st 2010 – 5:48pm
7lbs 7ozs – 20 1/2 in.