Midway through my pregnancy with my 6th baby, I decided to make a huge jump from the midwives I knew to ones I did not. I had wanted a homebirth, but I knew with the proximity of the neighbors and how small our house was made for a birthing situation that would have been more stressful than relaxing. So I opted to switch to one of the only hospitals in my areas that allowed waterbirths.
A few weeks before I went into labor was July, and July was not turning out to be a very good month for us. Not only was there a heat wave with temperatures up to 107 degrees which was total unlike Oregon, but my husband had decided to take us overnight camping on the beach and I was miserable.
My view for 3 days with swollen ankles and shivering.
How it can be 50 degrees on the coast and 102 in the Willamette Valley was beyond me. On the way back home we stopped at 7-11 and with a large clunk, the axle broke on the only vehicle we had. With it 102 outside and a car full of stinky, crabby, sandy, hot kids we decide to try and back the car into shade where, unbeknownst to us, someone had driven up and parked just behind our bumper. We backed into him and he was not happy.
Over the next week we prayed and prayed and researched as how to fix the CV joint on our Landcruiser. We were absolutely broke at the time and paying to fix the other guy’s vehicle made it sting worse. Then we get the stomach flu. First it’s one child, then another, then another, then I feel it coming on. We have no car, I’m ready to pop, we’re all vomiting all over, I’m having false labor from the ordeal… needless to say I was not feeling very peaceful. At one point I even resolved to calling the paramedics to ask what would happen to my kids if I go into labor alone with them and I need to be rushed to the hospital. This was one question they had never been asked. “I guess the Firemen will wait with them..?” they respond.
Finally, August 2nd comes and we put a whole new axle on the Landcruiser ourselves. It works! YAY! We are saved! The next few days I have crazy false labor. Contractions are feeling crampy and make me feel ill – not at all like labor, just hell. Then… they stop. Not one contraction. I didn’t even feel pregnant.
Every day was a call from my family. “Are you in labor yet? Is it time?” And after a few false alarms my husband felt pressured at this point to get back to work, I told him that night in bed, “Honey, don’t worry. We are going to go to bed tonight and wake up, refreshed with me in early labor and then calmly go to the hospital and have a wonderful birth.”. Little did I know how true that proved to be.
My post the night before I went into labor.
Early the next morning at about 5am, I got up to use the bathroom and I was having my normal braxton hicks contractions as I had been having, once again. I checked my cervix (yes, I’m able to do that) and I was still a good centimeter dilated. Nothing out of the ordinary. So I went downstairs to get a drink and I realized my contractions were pretty regular. Nothing hard but just… regular… and ‘healthy’ feeling. I smiled big and decided to disinfect the kitchen. If I was in labor at least I could leave with a clean counter and sink? The quiet moments I had with everyone sleeping were FANTASTIC! It was just me and labor and no one else knew. I just selfishly hogged them to myself for a while.
In 20 minutes the contractions were the same, and I knew I was in labor. I called my midwife and they told me they would set up my birthing tub at OHSU (Oregon Health Science University). I finally woke up my husband and helped get the kids together and as I sat down the contractions got closer and a little more uncomfortable. We headed to the hospital and I updated everyone.
The kids in the backseat on the way to the hospital.
Unfortunately, the tub wasn’t set up when we got there. Someone previously had somehow hooked the tub up wrong and contaminated the only hoses they had available… I was about ready to send my brother down the street to A-Boy where he worked to get a new one! But they found something and my husband literally made things work together and happen. It was OK, I was in heaven. I was elated and glowing ear to ear knowing soon I would enter through the door only women can go through in natural childbirth and see my little creation in my arms. As I was getting checked in I would have a contraction and rock back and forth using my guided imagery, imagining my body opening with each contraction.
Here I am getting checked in and texting family and friends my room information.
Rocking through a contraction while they filled the tub. As soon as it was over, I was happy and glowing again.
Before getting into the tub, I was required to lay down and be monitored. I wasn’t happy about this, but I just wanted it over so I could get in. The contractions laying down were VERY painful. They also insisted I get an IV line in just in case – mostly because this was my 6th baby, but my 8th pregnancy and the statistics go higher for hemorrhaging (apparently). It was not easy getting my IV line in, and my arm was bruised by the time they were done.
As soon as the tub was ready, I was in it and getting comfortable. The nurses and midwives really had very little to do for this old pro but sit down on stool in front of me, chin in hands, listening to my stories of my prior births. Contraction after contraction went by and still, I continued. We would laugh often as funny parts of my stories would come, and I would randomly take a second to breath in between words, but nothing unmanageable. At one point the nurse said, “You don’t even look like you’re in labor… you look like you’re at the spa!”
I became impatient at this point because I felt like the fact my labor was so simple meant it was going slow. In most of my other births I was in a lot more discomfort, laying on my back in bed by that point. So I decided to get out of the tub, throw on a robe and walk around the small loop of the hall out front with my husband. After one lap I felt the curious need to use the bathroom soon, so we went back into my room just in case. It was so bright and sunny! I had one wall almost completely made of huge windows overlooking the Portland Valley. As soon as I got back into the tub, I had a contraction and leaning on my chest on the side of the tub, my body just bore down.
“OHMywaterbroke…” I said, all in one breath. I then turned over and felt the need to bear down again. The nurse immediately came to check me and said, “Hold on, hold on, the midwife isn’t here yet…” as she had stepped out for a sec to check on another patient. There was only the nurse and a nurse midwife in training there.
“I caaaaaaant!” I said grunting and my body did what it knew was best, and pushed the baby out in 3 pushes. The midwife’s assistant was there to catch as was my husband and kids.
This birth was so fantastic. Emmalia Antoinette was 6 lbs 15 oz and alert and calm. Everything was so perfect.
I held onto her as they guided me out of the bath and onto the bed to deliver the placenta. After a little loving and rewrapping her in warm blankets they took her to weigh her and inspect me for any tears.
The next few days were rough for me. My afterpains felt unmanageable and I was having a very hard time getting comfortable.
I finally was able to get the right pain medications to control them and things got a little easier. One of the things about having a perfect natural birth is not only the endorphins that lasted me a good 3+ days, but also the fact that it’s hard to say no to doing it all over again. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
My daughter Abigail holding Emma.