by Kate, USA
On Wednesday, 8/3/05 at about 11:30 am, my daughter and I were sitting at a coffee shop enjoying a cool drink. I stood up and felt some little liquid trickling down my legs. I really thought I had developed incontinence! Turns out my water was leaking. We spent the rest of the day at the pool with friends (thank goodness I didn't go in) and the rest of the evening in the bathroom.
I woke up 8/4/05 at 2:48 am to use the bathroom and saw some bloody show. I began feeling mild contractions 10 minutes apart lasting about five minutes. I called my midwife at 4:00 am to report in and went back to sleep off and on until 6:45. At that time, the contractions were five minutes apart lasting about one minute. I got up and proceeded through my day – preparing my room, calling my mom, walking. The contractions were manageable at this point.
My m/w came back at 2:00 – just after my daughter arrived home – and she stayed until about 5:00. At one point she took me to my room and encouraged me to sleep. That really helped, but when I woke up, I was feeling overwhelmed and crying. She took a photo of G and me from our wedding and held it up to my face and told me “this is why you are doing this. You are having really big feelings right now, but this is all perfect and it's for your family”. That was just what I needed to calm down and get centered. We went downstairs and she left.
G came home from work about 15 minutes later at 5:30 and I knew I was approaching active labor. I asked he and my daughter to sit down so I could talk to them. I was laying over the birth ball and needing to focus during my contractions. I told them I was ready to go to the next stage, but I was scared and I needed their help. I told G I needed him to sit next to me and time my contractions, to let go of his work day and be really present. I told L I needed her to let go of her needs for a moment and sit with me, hold my hand and offer me sips of water and tea. Well, that did it!
They both agreed and were so helpful. At that moment, the contractions became very intense, rhythmically moving to three or four minutes apart, lasting one minute. G called the midwife back and she arrived with her team (assistant and student) and proceeded to set up for the birth.
I was feeling intense pressure on my rectum – something I didn't feel during my first birth – but I knew that meant the baby was moving down the birth canal. I continued laboring on my hands and knees on the birth ball and then moved up to the bedroom to give birth.
As soon as we got up there, I felt the urge to push. This was probably about 8:00 or so. I began to push through most of each contraction. Everyone was very encouraging to just let my body do what it wanted to do. During this time, my water broke in a noisy gush. All I could think was that the wall behind me must look like a crime scene and my midwife soaked in amniotic fluid! Ahhhh, it felt so good! At this time, G was behind me with L applying hot, wet washcloths to my bottom. The heat felt great and it felt good to push against his hand. I felt the baby kicking me as it descended, and I felt it go down and back up several times. I had some nice rests between pushing urges and quiet times of encouragement and stillness. I was vocalizing a lot through the pushing, growling and grunting to help the baby out. After five or six pushing contractions, the baby's head crowned and quickly was pushed out. L began to cry and talk about the baby. “Mommy, the baby's head is out.” “Mommy, the baby is opening it's eyes”. I felt very calm at this point and rested, knowing that with the next contraction, the baby would be pushed out into its father's loving hands. Sure enough, a few minutes later, another contraction pushed the baby's body out. The midwife wrapped the baby in towels and laid the baby on the floor between my knees so G could slide that sweet bundle up to my face. L came around to my head, still crying, telling me she was proud of me and that the baby was so beautiful, she couldn't believe she had just seen a birth!
The four of us stayed that way for a few moments – G and I kissing, talking to L, admiring the baby. The midwife then asked L if she'd like to check if it was a boy or girl. She opened the baby's legs, moved the cord and announced that it was indeed a girl! We were all three of us shocked after believing it was a boy during the entire pregnancy. We moved to the bed and the placenta was delivered 38 minutes later and the cord then cut by papa. She was weighed and measured and received 9 and 10 on her Apgar scores. She was 7 pounds 20.5 inches long. L fell asleep during the newborn exam and the midwives left at about 1:00 am. She is a champion nurser and her papa and big sister are certainly smitten. I am too.
I feel proud about how we chose to birth this baby. No doctors. No testing. No ultrasound. No having-to-know-just-in-case. No counting the weeks, no timing, no internal exams, no medications, no interventions, no counting to push, no cheerleading. Just peace and calm and love and warmth and great, great care.