This nesting business is no joke. I feel like I’m about to sweep a hole through the tile floor. I could serve a 4 course meal in my bathroom, off my toilet even. At least up until the point I walked in and sat down to discover I had just lost my plug. I phone my midwife, Claudette. My first labor was prodromal for three days, then after an amniotomy, 2 hours of hard, fast labor. We all agreed that I should alert everybody at the first signs of impending labor.
As the day went on, my contractions continued. My dear friend N stopped by and began timing them for me. 8 minutes apart! This continued for several hours. I decided to head to the grocery store for our weekly rations, and N joined us. I found myself wandering around, somewhat confused. Seems some endorphins were already having their way with my brain.I paced back and forth down the aisles unable to commit to putting anything in my cart. I finally bought some celery and carrots and hightailed it out of there. By the time I got home, my contractions had slowed to one every half hour or so. I cried a little, fearing I was falling into the pattern of my first labor, which I had no desire to repeat in any way. I phoned Claudette again, and we agreed to meet in the morning. She advised me to get some rest, as it seemed we would meet this little Breechy soon. Taking her advice, hubby and I took a quick soak in the hot tub and then nestled under the sheets.
10 hours later I tucked and rolled out of bed feeling like a million bucks. (Haven’t done that in almost a year now!)
Claudette stopped by to listen to Webbie’s heart rate, check position, (yep, still breech!) and at my request, check my dilation for the first time in this pregnancy. I was 100% effaced, 4 centimeters dilated and stretchy.
I just want to take a moment and say how great it was to welcome her into my home to take care of me. I had never experienced a “house call” before. An exam on my own bed, not on some crunchy paper with my legs in stirrups!
Hubs, eldest daughter and I all headed out to take care of some errands and to enjoy the day. We picked up our mail, and were eating lunch when I excused myself to the ladies room. Oh lovely, more plug! Still no regular contractions. We dropped off our sweet girl with her other daddy and went to pick up a few things from the mall. While wandering (note: following the Mister) around the hardware department of Sears I noticed I was feeling pressure, regular pressure. I spent some time sitting on the bottom shelves there pondering whether or not to phone Claudette again while he looked at tools. I laugh now when I think of the clerk who approached me and asked if I needed anything. He told me he and his wife have 5 boys, and I had “that look, those rosy cheeks of a woman about to go into labor at any moment.” (I need to hire this guy into my practice, right?!) About a half hour later, in Radio Shack, I started timing these pressure sensations.
I saw that they were 5 minutes apart, on the dime, yet I felt no tightening, no cramping, as I had been feeling with my Braxton Hicks the week prior.
After an hour of these, I called Claudette and updated her. Neither of us really could tell if this was the real deal or not, it was just so…strange. It felt like a spreading, from the inside, pressure on my hips and tailbone, but absolutely no uterine contraction. It was almost as if she was burrowing down, nestling deep into my pelvis every five minutes. What a beautiful, gentle sensation it was to feel labor starting all on its own!
I began to feel a real need to be at home, so we headed out. On our way, we stopped to take pictures of the sunset, and when we got home, spent about a half hour out in the front yard photographing and enjoying the moon. I am so grateful to have these pictures! To have captured the essence of the night our baby was born forever!
I remember one of our neighbors coming over and talking to my husband while I was taking pictures.
“Whoa, looks like she’s ready any time, eh?”
“Actually we think she might be in early labor right now.”
“Um. Wow, so getting ready to head out to the hospital then?”
“No, just inside. We are having the baby here…”
Poor guy turned white as a ghost and looked at my husband like he was a crazy fool!
We went inside and closed the door, laughing and wondering if our neighbors would call the cops when they heard me moaning through transition. We had notified only one of our neighbors, but with plans to labor in the backyard in our hot tub, soon everyone in a 2 block radius may be wondering who was murdering (or pleasuring!) the woman in her backyard!
During my pregnancy, my husband would tease me about prostaglandins and the horizontal polka, always finishing with “I put her in there, just let me know when you want me to tell her to get out!”
Ok, big shot! Let’s see!
A half hour and many giggles and I love you forever’s later, my contractions got serious.
“Oooohhh…. CALL THE MIDWIFE!” I crooned sweetly from the bedroom at my husband who thought he was making himself a sandwich.
What seemed like 3 minutes later Dana materialized at our doorway. She was our midwife’s assistant, and lived about 10 minutes away, though I honestly believe that both of them teleported to my house…or drove 90 miles an hour, they got to us SO FAST!
Claudette arrived about 5 minutes after Dana, with several rolling suitcases and other miscellaneous baggage. I felt pretty bad about calling them out at this hour, considering they would just have to pick all this stuff up and go home when my labor stalled, I thought, watching them lay out birthing supplies, unpacking my kit, tenderly setting our baby’s first outfit beside 3 little hats and several receiving blankets. I thought about all the effort they were going through, all the meticulous care they were taking getting things prepared just so. Oxygen tanks, resuscitation equipment, heating pads, anti-hemorrhage drugs in little vials lined up just so on my coffee table…all for a woman who is not really in “true” labor. The fact that I was having all these apologetic thoughts as I stood naked in my living room wasn’t a true indication of active labor to me, I suppose.
I retreated into my bedroom to give my hypnobirthing training a go. Basically, to lie down, breathe deeply, and relax all the tension from my body. Or not.
Lying down was NOT OK. It made my contractions feel like my torso was an aluminum can someone was twisting into a rope and then stepping on.
OK! Well, that was what I was counting on here! I panicked. If this wasn’t going to work, then I was screwed. SO SCREWED. I knew what a hard labor felt like, and the thought that I was going to experience that again right now made me want to die.
I decided to try out the hot tub, as I planned to do most of my laboring there. My husband made me a beautiful enclosed canopy and hung twinkling little lights all throughout the inside. I climbed in, had two contractions in there and climbed right back out! I needed to move, and at this point, gave up on trying the ‘Just Be a Limp Noodle Method’. I went back inside and stood by the fire, trying to become as fluid as the flames, letting the pain resonate through me and out, not trapping it within.
It took me a half hour or so to get into the rhythm of it, to let go of the fear of it, and to simply be an obedient bystander at this great show. To SURRENDER. My body said MOVE. So I did.
With Mister on my heels fanning me vigorously, I zoomed down the hall into the kitchen and back, several times and to my surprise, found it to be completely manageable. After a few “runs” I began to feel like a mama panther. I paced my house back and forth huffing, growling and tossing my head, eyes dilated and sightless. At times I almost broke into a run even…when appropriate. I imagined myself hiking naked under the moon, in the cold December night air. It sounded so amazing, and the absolute most appropriate thing to do. I told hubby this, and headed for the front door. He gently steered me away and back down the hall. I complained, but in the back of my mind knew that it probably wasn’t a good idea, us living in a suburban neighborhood and all, a naked woman in labor might prompt my neighbors to call enforcements of some kind, which I agreed would be annoying and disruptive.
I noticed that during the absolute peak of contractions I would pause with my pacing to rock my hips in belly dance-style movements. In the back of my mind I pictured women in ancient Egypt and how many of them must have danced their babies out just like I was that night.
After a while I ended up in my older daughter’s room. I paced back and forth, squatted and swung my arms up and down like metronomes to the beat of my labor. At several points I looked over and noticed the cat curled up on a little table, watching me with a slightly irritated look on her face for disturbing her slumber with all my blubbering. It was really reassuring and amusing- to realize that amidst all my internal chaos I was still on earth, in our home, in my daughter’s room… and the cat was annoyed.
Soon I began to feel very tired. The lovely endorphins were kicking in, and I felt boozy. Between them I would lean over and rest my head, almost falling asleep. As soon as I was comfy and dozing off another pressure wave would build and I would have to get up and swing my arms, power walk and squat when all I wanted to do was SLEEP.
During contractions I started talking to her.
“OOOOOOUUUUUUUUTTT BABY, COME DOOOOOWWWWWWWN BABY, Yesss baby, I want to meet you, I want to hold you… to kiss you… “
I was getting exhausted. Though I had only been in labor for 6 hours at this point, my contractions had been coming a minute apart for the last 2.5 hours.
I made my way into my kitchen where the midwives were sitting at the table eating chocolate, laughing and drinking tea. “I’m tired.” I announced, waiting for them to give me the magic solution to my problem. They looked at each other and smiled. “Do you want me to check you?” Claudette asked. I declined and retreated back to my cave for more pacing.
10 minutes later I was back. “Can you check me now?” She agreed and followed me to my room. Thus far she had asked me only one other time during my labor if I wanted to be checked, when I went in to announce that I had some bloody show earlier, shortly after they arrived. I had avoided it so far out of fear of my water breaking during/after the check. I had labored before with broken waters and much preferred this, thank you. Though at this point I think I was nearing the end of my energy reserve and wanted some feedback.
In between contractions she knelt down and checked me as I leaned forward onto my dresser and rested. I was 7 cms dilated in the front, and 9 in the back.
She went on to explain that though it was a good coping mechanism for me to run laps around the house, it wasn’t doing what needed to be done. I wasn’t allowing the baby to hold the pressure on my cervix which is what it would take to move things along quicker. She suggested that I do lunges during contractions, and remain still.
Someone might as well have told me to place my hand in a fire and sit still as my skin blistered and melted off my bones…but I knew she was right, and I had to try.
I took a deep breath and put my foot up on my daughter’s bookshelf as I felt another one building. I steeled myself and prepared for massive agony.
I could feel my pelvis open up like a clothespin, joints at the maximum extension, then a little more. I felt so crampy and achy down low, then lower. Standing still gave me a chance to notice and really feel what was happening within me, and it almost felt good! I made low noises, attempting to let some of the insanely intense energy out of me, and then it was done.
Alright, I thought, I can do this!
I went back into my room and into the bathroom and started restlessly folding the towels draped over the shower door. I had an incredible urge to nest, even this far into my labor! I paced back and forth in the bathroom between contractions. I felt another one coming, and got into the suggested lunging position. As it wound down, I felt my belly curl over, and a telltale grunt followed.
Pushing time! YAY!
I love pushing. I happen to be one of those women who is incredibly efficient at pushing, my first only taking 18 minutes. I was sooo almost done!
I suggested Hubbs to RUN and fetch the midwives as our baby was on her way!
Claudette appeared in my room seconds later, asking to check me again before I started pushing. Being that we were attempting a breech birth, it was important that I be fully dilated and then some if possible for the safest delivery.
I was complete…with a lip… darn!
She asked me to wait, if I could and keep up with the lunges.
I took a deep breath and lifted my leg up onto the ottoman at the foot of our bed. Dana was sitting on our bed peacefully, watching it all unfold. I looked at her, through her, as the pressure wave grew stronger. Time stood still. I flared my nostrils and took in as much air as my lungs would allow. I felt my cervix stretch over our baby as she passed through it and filled me to bursting below. Deep inside I felt the screaming intensity of post orgasmic sensitivity and heat. I was a tuning fork, my entire body ringing with the energy of birth, the cosmic power of earth moving through my bones. I went blind. I saw grasses blowing in the wind, clouds drifting through the night sky, heard my heart pounding in my ears as I ran and jumped off a cliff. And I was falling, soaring… Complete peace and stillness. Looking back on this, I nearly tear up and feel overcome with emotion and awe, even though I can hardly touch but the hem of that incredible moment. Those last few contractions before our baby was born were an incredibly spiritual experience. The kind of stuff one goes looking for on the other side of DMT, LSD, or Iowaska. I compare my experience to a type of vision quest. The sort of thing that pushes your body and soul to the edge of the abyss, one foot in life, one in death. To stand there rooted, yet flexible, simply existing and allowing the forces to crash into you, through you, fearlessly…peacefully. Pain disappears, agenda evaporates, all things seem trivial and illusory in that place. All is one, and all is well.
A split second later I snapped to and felt something between my legs. I pulled down my underwear quickly and saw the milky-clear bag of waters ballooning out from me. I could see the clear water swirling around with bits of blood and vernix incased within a globe. It grew larger and larger then burst with a loud pop all over the floor.
Immediately the urge to push was unavoidable.
I was vaguely aware of Dana running supplies in from the living room (My original planned birthing space) as fast as she could while Claudette supported my bottom with oils, washcloths and counter pressure. How wonderful! It never occurred to them to ask me to move! (Reason number 10,364 why home birth and home birth midwives ROCK!)
My husband was sitting on the bed in front of me, I squeezed his hands, and let go. I felt her body stretch mine to the limit, and then begin to part from me.
I felt everything, and it was glorious.
I looked down in between my legs and heard Claudette’s delighted chuckle- “She’s peeing on me!!”
I could see her little buns sticking out, cupped in Claudette’s palm. I shut my eyes tight and pushed her out into the hands that have caught thousands before.
Emptiness. A river of fluid down my legs. A baby crying!
She passed her through my legs and set her on the bed. “Short cord, ok?”
(AH! Short cord! Breech babies are usually breech for a reason…if I had gone through with the external version, it could have snapped her cord, possibly killing us both.)
I looked at my new daughter. Wide eyed, crying, chubby, beautiful, and cooked to perfection! I tried to scoop her up to my chest but her cord was too tight. I set her back down on the bed and cradled her up in my hands and crooned “Hiiiiiii babyyyyyy…There you are”
She settled down for a moment then cried some more. She pinked up right away and needed no suctioning! With their help I scooted up on the bed to lie down with my fluffy pink delicious newborn.
(My own bed! Yes!!)
They checked her over and deemed her perfect, (of course she is!) and with hardly a bruise on her bum. Claudette took me to the bathroom to get cleaned up and dressed (My own bathroom! Score!) while Daddy got to snuggle with his precious little girl for the very first time.
A while later we weighed her, she was a yummy 6 lb 13.5oz and 19 inches long.
Claudette checked me out and found me intact, not a tear in sight. (For those of you who are wondering if birthing a backwards bub renders your cash and prizes unusable, I will have you know I was back in the saddle a week later, and good as new within 3 months, so the answer is no! I’ve never had a single issue of any sort “down there” before or after children. I get that question a lot. Nutrition and exercise, people!)
I was on top of the world.
I did it! WE did it!
I had my little Breechy at home, and it was even more amazing than I thought it could be. I ate some food and drank tea, then invited my mom and sister over for a sneak peek of the new baby. There was so much love there, people… No resentment, confusion or sadness, no wanting, no pain. Just pure respect and love.
A few hours later, Claudette tucked us in and kissed me on the forehead, turning the lights off behind her as she left.
Midwife: Claudette Coughenour, New Life Birthing Services
Photography: Babymoon Birth Services and family