At 3:00 am, on March 16th, a strong contraction pulled me out of sleep. I lay in the dark, tried to go back to sleep, when another hit. I decided to get up. I got a drink of water, and took some of my labor prep herbs. The contractions were very, very strong, and very close together.
After an hour, I woke up my husband, and got in the shower. At 5 am, we called our midwife (at this point my contractions had been 3-5 minutes apart for 2 hours.) As soon as I got off the phone, my contractions stopped dead. I was so frustrated, but felt very tired, so I went back to sleep.
At around 6 am, the contractions started again, but I managed to sleep between them for the next hour.
At 7 am, I got up and told my 6 year old son that he was right, his sister was coming today! (The night before, he told me she’d come tomorrow.) I got breakfast for him and his 2 year old sister.
At 8 am, I made myself and my husband some scrambled eggs and toast, and we called my parents to tell them to head over soon. When they got here, we loaded up the car, called the birth center to let them know we’d be dropping in to get my 1st round of antibiotics (GBS+), and then I’d head over to my chiropractor’s office to get one last adjustment.
We got to the birth center, and my midwife checked me. A stretchy 8 cm! I was in shock, I thought, at best, I’d be at 3 cm. We ran over to the chiropractor’s, and she put me on the roller table. I had a contraction, and I’m trapped on my back, and it was the WORST contraction I had the entire labor. No wonder I always got the epidural before, trapped on a hospital bed!
We got back to the birth center, and we filled up the birth tub. I got in, and after two contractions, I decided a water birth was NOT going to happen. I could handle my contractions MUCH better standing and swaying than in the tub. Things really began to pick up, and I found myself vocalizing to get through each contraction. I didn’t want to be touched during contractions, because it pulled me away from wherever I was inside myself. My husband was great. He stood by my side and talked to me between contractions, which was exactly what I needed from him.
I decided I wanted to be outside, because the weather was beautiful. I stood, braced against a palm tree, moaning lowly through a few contractions, then stood against the wall of the birth center. The sunshine and gentle breeze felt wonderful.
I noticed I was getting louder with my vocalizations, and wanted to be inside, away from any curious passers-by. I had my blood pressure checked, and we listened to the baby’s heart rate on the doppler. Everything was good. I was feeling a little nauseous with each contraction, and knew it wouldn’t be much longer. It was time to get into a birthing position. I chose to climb on the bed, on my knees, leaning over a birth ball. But the ball wasn’t allowing me the freedom of movement I needed then, so we replaced the ball with a stack of pillows. My husband crouched nearby, and my doula whispered encouragement and reminders to keep my vocalizations low to help move the baby down.
Suddenly, as I moaned through a contraction, I felt my body begin to push. “I’m pushing!” I gasped. It took me a few contractions, but I finally realized how to work with that urge to push, and pushing felt GOOD. To not be pushing was pain, so I was pushing and pushing as long and as hard as I could. Between contractions, I was shaking my head, not to say “no,” but to clear my head and get ready for the next wave.
Finally, I felt the burn, and I knew I her head was beginning to come out. My amniotic sac was still intact, and they could see meconium staining in the fluid. I pushed through the burning, and her head was OUT! My midwife opened the sac and tried to suction the baby, but the baby was having none of it. My big fat baby’s shoulders did not want to come out, and my midwife had to help a little. And then, pop! She was out!
My midwife turned her around and slid her between my legs. I grabbed my new little daughter and picked her up. I’d done it! After two hospital births with epidurals, I had a natural birth with my BIGGEST baby by far. 9 lbs, 14 oz! (My son was 8 lbs, 8 oz, and my first daughter was 7 lbs, 5 oz.) I felt amazing!
My chiropractor came by, and adjusted my brand-new baby right there on the birthing bed, a few feet away from me. As an added bonus, our childbirth class teacher was setting up for a class and just happened to be there, too. She got to see that I passed the final.
Unfortunately, my baby’s big shoulders did some damage on the way out (due to scar tissue I had from an episiotomy I’d had with my first), and I ended up with a 4th degree tear. I needed to transfer to the hospital to be surgically repaired. (We actually waited a few hours after the birth to call the ambulance, it wasn’t an emergency ride, no flashing lights or speeding.) Luckily, my midwife was able to get me a direct admit, and a short ambulance ride later (with my husband and new baby daughter following behind in the car), I arrived at the hospital. I got patched up, and then we were on our way home. We got home at 12:30am, exactly 12 hours after first arriving at the birth center!
Out of all of my births, this was the best (although I always loved the outcome, anyway.) I’m so proud of myself! I still can’t believe I did it! It was a great experience. My only regret is that I wasn’t confident enough to go the natural way the first and second time around. I would do this again in a heartbeat!
One of my favorite pictures is the one of me braced against the palm tree. It makes me feel so strong, so I painted it. ~Nyssa