I'm sure my emotional experience and perspective of Baby's birth has changed a lot since 11:04pm December 30, 2009 but I've decided to fill in the blanks now anyway. I still feel as though it doesn't capture the moment. Maybe I'll work on it more over the years.
Here goes...it's long and possibly too graphic for some people but I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!
Baby's Birth Story
We were planning a home, water birth. The home birth part was planned fairly early on in my pregnancy and the water birth part was planned during my third trimester after attending a very informative and interesting Water Birth Info Night held at our midwives' office space. By the end of the pregnancy we had 3 midwives on our birth team and a wonderful doula. We had also taken Birthing From Within prenatal classes, also at Pomegranate, facilitated by Dancing Star Birth. I had also been receiving acupuncture throughout my pregnancy from an amazing doctor. I sort of felt like we had a "dream team" set up.
We were ready! (As ready as you can be....)
I had a ton of braxton hicks contractions the weeks leading up to Baby's birth. I remember Christmas shopping at Canadian Tire one day and I had such a strong contraction that I had to sit down on a pile of auto tires and rest until the pain passed. Up until then they hadn't really been painful at all. My doula had already predicted I would give birth on December 31. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention Baby was due on January 3, 2010.
At 6:30am on December 30 I was awoken by my water breaking. It almost felt like a pop and there was no confusion about what it was. I checked the fluid and saw that it was clear. I had been told to check for meconium if my water did indeed break before labour started. I woke up S and told her that I was pretty sure my water had just broken. She was a bit surprised but we were both excited. I reminded her that I was having no contractions at all and that it might be quite some time before Baby was born. I decided to call my doula, Michelle, anyway just to let her know what was going on. When I called her house her husband told me she was at another birth so I called her cell and yes, she was at another birth that apparently was turning out to be a long labour. I told her the fluid was clear and I had no contractions so she told me she'd get her back up, Aimee, to call me and and then she'd check in with me later. S and I decided to tidy up the house a bit, get all the birth supplies ready and then try and go back to sleep to rest up. Around 9:00am I called the midwife on call, Leslie, and let her know what was going on as well. She was just leaving another birth and heading home for some sleep but said to call her later when contractions started and to keep her updated.
I woke up about 1:30pm with a sharp cramp. I didn't know if it was a contraction or not because it didn't really hurt all that much and since I'd never been in labour before I had no idea. I went upstairs and started bouncing on the exercise ball. I emailed some close friends to tell them we likely wouldn't be hosting the New Year's Eve get together as planned! I had a lot of blood streaked mucus over the next few hours and had some contractions but nothing too painful. S went out to buy some food and I continued to bounce. I think it was around 5:30pm when the contractions really kicked in. I remember having the first strong one while in the bathroom. I was terribly frightened by it. It was so....painful isn't really the word....intense. I completely felt out of control and I panicked that I couldn't stop it or escape it. It was interesting though because it felt different than when pain happens to you....this felt like I was doing something myself, yet I also felt out of control. I think I even said out loud at that point that I wasn't so sure that I could do this and that maybe I should go to the hospital. Aimee was there at that point and told me I was very safe and that we would do whatever I was comfortable with. But mostly her and S ignored my statement that I wanted to go to the hospital ;)
When filling up the birth pool in our spare room our hot water tank ran out of hot water. Aimee tried and tried to get it warm with water from the stove but it just never got there. And to be honest, I don't know that anyone could have convinced me to get down the hall and into it.
The contractions kicked into high gear pretty much immediately. I didn't have a long drawn out build up. They went from hardly painful to fall on the ground, don't you dare try and move me painful. I laboured on the floor in the bedroom while draped over the end of the bed a lot. I remember clutching a pillow and feeling like if I let go of it I would sink into a hole of pain and never be able to get out of it. I wasn't scared anymore though. I had realized that my body was doing exactly what it should be doing. I sat on the toilet a lot and threw up a couple of times. Even in the heat of the moment I knew they were likely both good signs in terms of my labour progressing. I also remember having a really silly outfit on...and I refused to take off my socks and slippers.
Our midwife, Lesley, came over at some point (my times are a bit fuzzy....sometime between 5:30 and 8:00), and she asked if I wanted to be checked. I hadn't been up to this point. I said yes because I wanted to know if my contractions were really doing anything. I was 8 1/2cm. I didn't enjoy being checked because it meant I had to lay on my back and I hated being on my back.
Not long after that I was laying on my side on the bed and I suddenly had this incredible, strong, powerful, unstoppable feeling that I HAD to push. It was quite simply one of the most amazing things I've ever felt. I don't even know how to describe it. It was perfect. My body was perfect. Leslie wanted to check me again and I was indeed 10cm.
I pushed for 3 hours. Beth, our second midwife, showed up at some point as well. I pushed laying down on my side and on my back - not very comfortable. I pushed standing up (I didn't like it but it was productive), I pushed crouching on the floor, I pushed on the toilet and laying over the end of the bed. I pushed and pushed and pushed. I was tired. I kept asking if the baby's head was out (I did this quite often over the 3 hours I was told ;) ). The midwives kept an ear on the baby's heart rate after each contraction and all along the baby was "very happy." I remember when Leslie told me she could see the head. I was SO excited. Beth kept encouraging me to feel the baby's head but I kept saying I was afraid of hurting it. I finally did though. Wow, what an amazing feeling. And it was also what I needed to give me that much needed extra push....Baby's head literally popped out to a chorus of ooooohhhhs from everyone but me. It felt good. I was asked to stop for a minute so Lesley could check the cord. Everything was fine and I pushed again to get Baby's shoulders out, which felt like nothing compared to the first pop. I expected Baby to slip out by that point and I remember being very surprised when Leslie urged me to "push out your baby's legs." One more push and out she came. I laid my head down on the bed and was so relieved. S had helped catch her and handed her to me through my legs. I held her for the first time and leaned back against S and closed my eyes. Best feeling in the world. Truly. She was crying a bit but mostly she was looking right up at me. So alert. All 9lb 7oz of her. I realized I still didn't know if Baby was a boy or a girl so I asked..."look yourself!" said Beth. A girl!!
I delivered the placenta not long after and had a few stitches, followed by a shower. It was so incredible to be in our own bed all cozy and warm. Everyone helped clean up, we had something to eat and then they tucked us in and we went to bed.
My birth team was awesome, S was amazing and Baby helped me along the entire journey. I wouldn't change anything about my experience.
Except, maybe next time I'll wear a more fashionable birthing outfit.