As I sit here nursing my newborn, who is fast growing out of the "newborn" stage, I decided it's time to tell the story of his birth.
I woke up around 3AM to contractions, pretty far apart, but definitely real. Since my Midwife lives 2 hours away, I didn't wait around to call her, so after 4 of these contractions I got up and made the phone call around 3:30. I tried 4 times, as I sat and observed contractions while the family was still sleeping. Alas, she slept through her phone (Note, had I felt it was urgent, I would have called her husbands phone too until I got someone) I then called my mom, who was already awake at 4AM, and told her I was in early labor. She said she would get dressed and head our way, as she also lives 2 hours away in the other direction. I tried the midwife again, still no answer. Then I decided that since I could easily be sleeping between contractions, I'd better rest while I could. So I went to bed, and slept between contractions until about 6AM.
At 6 I woke to a contraction strong enough that it startled me out of a deep sleep right as it peaked. That is not so much a pleasant awakening, so I decided to get up for the day and not be surprised in the peak of a contraction again. I went to the kitchen and tried my Midwife again, still no answer. I checked with mom, who was on her way. Then I tried to make a pot of coffee. Well, that was an adventure. I didn't get the filter basket in, so coffee overflowed all over the counter. After I cleaned that up, washed the coffee pot, and tried again WITH the filter basket, it overflowed again. I was laughing at my inability to make coffee while in labor, and also wondering if my coffee pot was broken. Dawn called at about 7AM and checked in with me, and was going to be on the road ASAP.
At this time, mom arrived, Dad who had been staying with us out in his camper came inside and Randy was up fixing the coffee pot and saving me from overflowing a 3rd pot of coffee. He and mom set to making breakfast, as the general mood of the house was happy anticipation. 40 weeks and 1 day, and we were going to have this baby!
I was feeling contractions pretty heavily in my back, but they were still manageable. I half smiled and was half annoyed every time I was asked how far apart my contractions were. I wasn't timing them, I was trying to ignore them. HA! I was sitting on my excercise ball chair, picking at a lovely breakfast and finally sipping that cup of coffee.
Sometime after 9 my Midwife and team checked in and were 40 minutes out. I said that was great because intensity was picking up and I was needing counter pressure on my back and vocalizing a little through some of the peaks. I was never worried that they'd make it on time, I was in my zone when needed, and happy to watch the every day bustle of my family as I sat at the dining table with my dryer balls propped just right for counter pressure.
When the birth team arrived, they checked vitals, listened to baby and checked me to get an idea of where I was in labor. Much to my disappointment, I was only a 2cm and 20% effaced. I buckled in and realized it might be the better part of the day before my baby was in my arms. The birth team set up what was needed of their equipment, and left to grab a coffee and not sit around watching me. I appreciated this, as it bothers me heavily to feel watched in labor.
It was during this quiet time, that most everyone was outside. Abigail was running in the front yard, flying her kite. It was such a calm and beautiful day. Sweet Lillian came to me and wanted to sit with me. I put her on the table and just leaned on her, swaying through contractions as she held my face to hers. In that moment, my 2yearold became my labor doula and completely calmed my nerves. I got very weepy at this point. Overcome with joy. I'd been so apprehensive about having this baby while Lillian was still a baby herself in many ways. But those 3 contractions she helped me through just melted all of those worries away. I was having a baby, and it was not only going to be okay, it was going to be wonderful.
By this time, it was somewhere near noon and my birth team came back. The menfolk were working on lunch, and mom was playing with the girls. Randy told me he was definitely seeing the advantage of birthing at home, as he could do more than sit and watch me!! Lol. At one point he and I were in the kitchen and another wave of emotion hit me and I started crying again. I couldn't communicate why I was crying, but he was relatively content to just hold me and not ask questions. I had him applying counter pressure and swaying with me through a few contractions before I returned to my chair and dryer balls. There were also many hands rubbing my back, neck and shoulders through various contractions. As I was truly in "labor land" at this point, I can't really tell you who all was doing the massage, but I felt very loved and cared for.
I was needing to vocalize through the peaks of all contractions, and my back was quite painful even when I wasn't having a contraction. After using the bathroom, I had to bend over the counter to make it through a contraction, and my Midwife said "Well, you're definitely not a 2 anymore!" She asked me about my back pain, and we decided to do some sterile water injections in my lower back since I was hurting even without a contraction. This is essentially a long lasting acupuncture to tell the pain center for that part of your body that this hurts so much, it's time to shut down. Temporary, but useful. The injections themselves were not fun, much like 4 bee stings simultaneously. But it was almost immediate relief. I remained on my bed to see if that would allow me to rest. I completely relaxed and almost dozed off before the next contraction hit, and it was very intense. I was shaky through it, vocalizing was barely enough to get through without screaming or clinching my body. I decided laying down was not going to work and came to the living room. I told Dawn at this point I thought his hand was by his face based on movement I'd felt the last few weeks.
I reported the intensity of that last contraction and said I wouldn't be laying down again. Lunch was ready and I decided to sit in my recliner, rocking and focusing. I ate a few bites of green beans and maybe 2 bites of chicken between more super intense contractions. I realized that it wasn't the laying down that made that contraction so intense, they just jumped in intensity. I had 3 or so really big contractions, and realized he was super low and I had been pushing with the last contraction. Dawn asked where I wanted to give birth, and I said my bedroom. She told Hannah (apprentice midwife) and Ashley (Assistant) to go setup the bed. I headed in there, stopping in the doorway of the dining room where everyone was eating to get through another big contraction. Dad asked how far apart they were, and I said "not very" and went to get on my bed. But before I'd made it on my bed, another wave was hitting and I knelt at the foot of my bed. I asked where Randy was, and Dawn went to get him. Then he was there, holding my hand as I knelt on the floor leaning on my bed for support.
It was about this time I asked if it was too late for the birth pool, and there were gentle chuckles as I was told yes, it was too late to fill the pool. He was near crowning at this point. As I had help in removing my pants, they were laying down pads on the floor under me. This was all a blur. I heard Dawn mention to Hannah to check for a lip of cervix, after I'd pushed through a contraction. Sure enough, there was a lip from 11-1. I was told to push Hannah's fingers out, as she helped move that lip of cervix. His head was out with that contraction, and I reached to feel him. He was already taking a breath and crying. Another big push, and there he was. Hannah placed him on the floor right under me, and I brought him up to me. They mentioned he was big, but he didn't look big to me. We got up to the bed (how, I don't know) and I snuggled my newborn on my belly as he cried several loud and healthy cries. After I delivered the placenta, Randy cut the cord, and I brought my baby up to my breast to suckle. He had already begun to root around, and make his way toward the breast on his own. Newborns are quite remarkable little people. He latched easily and was quickly swallowing and snuggling next to me.
The room was quickly tidied, and both our vitals were checked often, but we were mostly left alone to snuggle. A heating pad was placed under him and I snuggled him closer. After an hour or so, he was weighed and measured. It was then that I understood why he was so much harder to push out than my last babe had been, he was 9lbs 1oz, 21" long, with a 14" head. I had been right about that hand as well, he was indeed born with his hand on his cheek. I had no tearing whatsoever, even with the fast birth, lip of cervix, and nuchal hand. He was almost born en-caul, as my waters didn't rupture until the last big push. He was born at 1:25PM, almost exactly 3 hours after I'd been disappointed at "only" being a 2cm.
Shortly after his birth, the rest of the family came in to meet him. Randy brought Lillian in asleep, but Ethan's newborn cries woke her. She then snuggled next to me and nursed for a few minutes and was asleep next to us on our bed. As intense as his labor was, it was absolutely beautiful. I couldn't have asked for better.