Contractions started every 7-10 min at about 3:45 Saturday morning, and gradually picked up in intensity during the morning. Since I was GBS+ and suspected my water had broken (I was incorrect, we did some test that is more conclusive than the litmus paper), Mary Anne got there around 9:00 and I was at 4cm, could be stretched to 5 when I asked for an exam. Lindsey arrived not too long after and set up the pool I had rented from her.
I labored walking around, on the birth ball, and hanging from my husband who by the way was the most fantastic labor partner I could have EVER hoped for, yay for the Bradley class! Lindsey gave him breaks every so often, and he was able to run out to pick up some lunch for all of us. I started moaning through contractions when they were still only 45 seconds long and every 6-7 minutes and Mary Anne had a great suggestion to save the yelling for when I really needed it or else my throat would be very sore by the time baby got here. I am SO glad I took her advice!
I don’t remember what time it was, but contractions had been every 5 min or closer for a couple hours and I was tired enough to suggest that I go to bed for a nap. Mary Anne suggested that I try the pool where I could relax more between contractions. I did that and was able to sleep between some contractions. To my disappointment it was not much relief for the contractions themselves, but in between it was very soothing.
Transition was rough. At one point I was barfing and said something about this being “the most undignified **** ever.” The midwives even charted some of the crazy stuff I said, like “this is the least comfortable I have ever been in my entire life.” Ha! I know Ina May says it’s better not to complain, but… um… I complained. A lot. Everyone, including my husband, was wonderful to me. Mary Anne and Lindsey kept telling me what a great job I was doing.
I started feeling pushy during contractions but it hurt to push (still in the pool). I had the idea that it would feel good to push, but it didn’t, not the whole time. Mary Anne asked to check me since I said pushing didn’t feel good even though I had the urge, and when she found that I had just a little lip left I asked her to hold it back so we could get on with it. I probably pushed for an hour, hour and a half in the pool. My bag of water was bulging and Mary Anne suggested that we break it to see if that would help me progress and I agreed.
I moved him down some in a lot of positions (floating on my back, kneeling, hands and knees, holding my legs back while Brian held me from behind, etc), but I was getting tired and baby wasn’t flying out like I expected. I had this ridiculous idea that the dilating was the hard part and the pushing was the fun easy part.
So we moved to the birth stool and I moved him down a little more and that’s when I remember it getting really hairy. His heart rate tanked and stayed down. I pushed for all I was worth and the Mary Anne and Lindsey were very intense about getting him out NOW. I was about out of gas. It was very scary–I remember thinking wildly that even though I knew my baby was in trouble I really didn’t think I had anything left to get him out with.
From the birth stool we got me on my back with my knees around my ears. The midwives were intense but not panicked, my husband was as scared as I’ve ever seen him. Mary Anne asked if she could cut an episiotomy to get her hands in to help and I agreed. There were hands everywhere and my husband said all the right things to help me find more strength to push, and finally he was out.
He was pink and had a good heart rate, but he was floppy and not too interested breathing on his own. So Mary Anne and Lindsey left him attached to me and worked on him. They checked his blood sugar and it was not low. It was weird–my husband was still terrified but I was not as soon as I saw the baby. He was so pink and looked around with the most alert expression. It did take a while to get him to start up but by the time the cord stopped pulsing he was doing much much better. And he is perfect! 8lbs 8oz, 21 inches of sweet little baby.
Afterwards I moved to my bedroom and cuddled with my new little family for a while, took a shower, got some stitches and something to eat, and watched Lindsey perform the newborn exam. My parents were able to be at the birth, so Mary Anne gave my mom the postpartum instructions.
The follow up care was wonderful. Mary Anne came over the day after he was born, and the day after that, and when he was two weeks old. Emotionally I was having a little trouble, so Mary Anne put me in touch with local resources for postpartum depression and provided lots of hugs and validation. At my six week checkup I was able to tell her honestly that I was feeling great!
So all’s well that ends well and I’m glad I was at home with wonderful midwives that I trusted completely and a husband who gave me exactly what I needed to get the job done. I see the value in all those long prenatal visits–Mary Anne and I got to know each other well enough to have that all-important trust and be able to work together when it really mattered. When an intervention was suggested I was able to consent without hesitation because I trusted that it was necessary–and knowing that a “no” would be respected somehow makes it easier to say “yes.”
Pictures are courtesy of my friend Marcy of the Plan B/Not Plan B birth stories 🙂