I was 40 weeks pregnant and had been having braxton hicks contractions for about a month already, but I noticed something different about them at dinner the night before William was born. While we were all out looking at Christmas lights after dinner I realized that they were coming a steady 30 minutes apart. I mentioned them to Justin (my husband) and my mom, but none of us thought it was time because I had been having so many braxton hicks contractions in the evenings. When we got home nothing had really changed. We put Cameron to bed and went about our normal nightly activities.
By 10:30 the contractions were about 20 minutes apart. I told Justin goodnight and tried to go to sleep, but I had become extremely restless and kept finding myself jumping out of bed to do one last thing. I was badgering Justin about the details of our "labor plan" and fretting about how things would go and that's when it hit me, I was in labor! This was it! I knew that I needed to relax and get some rest, so I laid down for bed again. And at that exact moment, the electricity went out. The house was so quiet, there was no way I could sleep. Justin and I sat up and laughed about the situation. We were having a baby soon and with no power. We wanted a home birth, not a primitive birth! Luckily, it came back on by 1:00am and by that time my contractions had gotten stronger and were now between 10-15 minutes apart.
At some point we heard Cameron squeak over the monitor so, Justin went and got her and put her in bed between us. It was sweet to labor beside her for a while. Believe it or not, during a contraction she actually reached over and rubbed my back. It was the best contraction of them all, she made me smile. Around 4:30 Justin woke up my Mom (who was living with us at the time) and filled her in. She scooped up Cameron and they went to finish the night at Justin's grandmother's house (which is practically next door, they walked). We just didn't want Cameron (21 months) getting scared when her momma started making strange noises. I couldn't resist getting out of bed and giving my mom and Cameron a hug and kiss before they left. At this point, they were steadily 10 minutes apart and I couldn't talk during them anymore, they took focus. Justin and I were just walking around the house (a front had come in that night and it was cold outside) and each time I would need to focus and breathe deeply, he would rub my tummy or my back. We were so happy and excited, just enjoying being in the moment.
At 6:30 I gave Melinda a call back. As Ina May would say, the "rushes" were now every 6-8 minutes and a lot more intense. I was starting to have to make some noise during them. Beth and Melinda were on their way so I ate some breakfast to regain some energy and took a hot shower. They both arrived at about 7:30 and checked me to find that I was already dilated to a 7 and had almost no cervix present. WOW! (And I thought they were gonna say 2cm!) I was positive that I was just being a weenie, but I was already about to go through transition! We didn't even have the bed dressed or birthing pool set up yet. Beth told Justin that if we were gonna have a water birth, he better get the pool set up pretty quickly. He worked on that and Beth and Melinda dressed the bed for me. I just walked around, circling my hips through contractions and sipping water. I texted my mom and told her that I was 7cm and we would have a baby by noon.
I almost hesitated to get in the pool because it felt so good to walk around and I was scared that it might slow things down, but once I got in, it felt absolutely wonderful. Justin turned on our labor playlist, dimmed the lights, and opened the blinds to let the sunlight in. It felt great to move my hips around to the music while in warm water. The water didn't slow anything down. In fact, I think it brought things on pretty strong. It was time to get down to business. I was able to completely surrender to every contraction and let my body and baby do what they needed to do. It was not easy by any means, but it was doable. I just took one contraction at a time. During contractions I could feel William move down further and further and between them I was calm and chatty.
I labored in the pool for almost 3 hours before feeling any real pressure, then finally during a really strong rush, my body pushed a little and my water broke, which felt really cool in the water. Then it didn't take long before I started to feel the urge to push. I decided to just let my body push when it wanted to and not "try" to push at all. I knew from my previous birth that this was the part I needed every ounce of energy for. So I ended up only pushing maybe every 10-15 min for almost an hour. Between rushes and urges to push, I was almost asleep and totally relaxed. Justin was helping me stay hydrated with the yummy labor rehydration drink that I made from Beth's recipe. It tasted really good and gave me energy as well.
I started having a lot of intense lower back pressure, so Melinda applied counter pressure to my lower back which felt amazing. Each time I had a rush, she would massage me. All during labor I could hear everyone cheerfully whispering around me, making notes in the chart, and keeping the pool water warm. I had no idea what they were saying because I couldn't pay that close of attention but their cheerfulness and excitement kept me going. Knowing you are surrounded by people that you trust 100% makes it easy to slip inside and just labor.
Beth suggested that I change positions to see if that might speed things along, so I turned over into a squatting pose with my back to the pool's edge and Justin's arms under mine holding me up from outside the pool. As soon as I changed positions I could feel William move down again and the urge to push got a lot stronger. Beth was helping me drink water since Justin's hands were full. Then suddenly, after a great big push, he was starting to crown! I continued to push with my body's urges and his head would crown and then slip back inside. We did this little dance for a long while. I would reach down during a rush/push and rub his soft fuzzy head. I was also helping stretch my tissue around his head and hold back the skin to help him come out. I remember hearing Beth tell Melinda that I was "guarding" and this was completely normal.
I had read that touching yourself and helping yourself stretch during birth would direct blood flow to the area and help you open up even more, so that's what I did and it certainly worked. It got to the point where I really didn't think I could push any harder and I started loosing focus a bit. But then I just had to turn my mind off and completely stop thinking about what was going on. I had to push this baby out, period! Beth told me that I could try a few more pushes in the pool, but that if he didn't come out, they were going to get me out and try something else, so I went completely inward again and tried not to get caught up in all the excitement. It wasn't hard to do at all, you just know how!
So I did what I thought I couldn't do and I pushed harder and longer! And turns out, I started moaning and yelling somewhat like a crazed animal (Justin says I sounded like a goat. LOL!) Everyone was cheering me on and encouraging me which helped so much! After a few more crazy pushing/cheering sessions, I felt Williams head burst out of me, one more push and I felt his shoulders, the rest of him just slid out. I could tell he was a bigger baby than we had thought! It felt wonderful and next thing I knew there was a beautiful, wet, screaming little boy on my chest! And we were all crying. We had done it! William Bryan was born at 12:06pm on Tuesday, December 6, 2011.
We stayed there and held him for a moment, just letting everything sink in. He took to my breast right away and I was in Heaven. Beth wanted me out of the water to assess my bleeding. So, Justin cut the chord and he and Melinda helped me out of the water and onto the bed. The bleeding was just fine and the placenta came out easily. I had torn a little bit, so Beth sewed me up (2 stitches) while we continued to greet William. It was amazing being able to lay in our own bed and cuddle our new little boy. He was super alert and taking everything in. Beth and Melinda gave William a full assessment, weighed, and measured him right in front of us on the bed. Justin made a pizza and we all sat around the bedroom stuffing our faces and talking about the precious new little boy. His grandmother's all came over to meet him and brought his big sister, who wasn't sure what to think about it all. Little William Bryan and I never had to leave our cozy bed. When the midwives and family all went on their way, I was able to fall asleep undisturbed, watching my little boy sleep peacefully next to me. Thank you, God for giving me faith in my body and enabling me to experience childbirth the way that you intended.
*I never experienced a contraction as intense as I had in the hospital with pitocin, they never got that bad!
Beth took note of some of the funny things I said during labor. These are verbatim from my labor and delivery chart:
9:17am "Come on little boy"
9:52am "That's a different sensation"
10:30am "Contractions are starting to feel really good"
10:31am "There's bottled water for you guys too"
11:24am To husband "Do you need to pee or anything?" (between pushes)
11:49am "Let's do this"