Sunday morning my prodromal labor was pretty intense, so I didn’t go to church. Instead, I stayed home and puttered around the house. My friend Diana kept me company and we got everything ready, including freezer meals for those first few days with a new baby. During the afternoon, I became very irritated by everyone in the house and went outside to meditate through my contractions. Being outside, grounding myself with the breeze and the cool grass really helped my state of mind. When I came back inside, I was no longer irritated and angry. Instead, I was resigned and trying to find acceptance. By that evening, nothing had changed. Contractions were still only 8 minutes apart. I still had to breathe through them but felt I could go to bed. Around 11, I headed upstairs to sleep.
At 1:30 on Monday morning, I head back downstairs. Contractions had woke me up and were consistently every 5 minutes. Not only did I have to breathe through them, but I also had to focus and felt an intense need to have Aaron present. So he got up and held my space for me while I labored. I felt an odd… stress of not having the birth team there. I needed to know my doula, midwife, and other support people were there so I could relax and get on with it. So everyone was called and by the time they arrived, I was in the birth pool to ease my back labor.
Things progressed. Contractions became less than 3 minutes apart. The sun rose and my hopes did, too. I wanted to birth this baby in the sunlight. Then the worst possible thing happened. I developed a migraine.
It was one of the worst ones I experienced during my pregnancy. I had a migraine on an almost daily basis since week 8 of pregnancy and I thought that maybe, just maybe, I would get a free pass during labor. That would be only fair, right? Obviously, my body thought differently and there I was, stalled out with a migraine littered with auras and nausea.
The birth team left and got some breakfast while I tried to recover. Diana drove to Starbucks to get me some heavy duty caffeine (which is ironic, since I can’t handle the smell of coffee while in labor). We applied peppermint oil and I laid on the couch to listen to more Hypnobabies tracks. Nothing helped, so a call is put in to my chiropractor in the hopes that an adjustment will clear the migraine and things will get started again.
Amie took me to my appointment. I was adjusted and it seemed to ease things up. I also had acupuncture done to encourage labor to restart. Halfway through the acupuncture session, I started to vocalizing through contractions. Amie drove me home and we sat in front of the house for a bit and had a heart to heart. We talk about her own birth a few months earlier and how her own labor had similar pattern of, for all intents and purposes, going into active labor and then it stopping. She had to wait days for labor to start again. I cried, hugged, and then went straight up to bed where I just sobbed from exhaustion and discouragement.
(As a side note, Amie shared the same story with Aaron after I had went upstairs and Aaron asked, “Should I go upstairs and hold her?” I love that he is such an amazing partner.)
A few hours later, things picked up significantly. I knew, in my heart, that it was going to result in a baby. No more stalling, no more false starts. It was happening.
The birth team was called back and the truly hard work began. Laboring in the water felt wonderful but after a while I would begin to feel confined and limited, so I would get out and labor elsewhere. I remember being very specific and verbal about my needs, like “I need THAT stool to lean over”. Looking back, I’m so glad I was able to verbalize what I needed.
Around 3pm, I started to feel like something had changed. I felt like pushing would help but I didn’t feel the urge to push. I finally gave in around 3:20 and gave a little push during a contraction. It didn’t ease my pain or discomfort but it didn’t feel wrong, either. I then pushed for the next four hours.
I think I pushed in every position known to a midwife. Nothing seemed to help the progress speed up. I was beginning to get really discouraged and so, so tired. Finally, I got into a position that seemed painfully familiar. It was what my midwife referred to as, “Dead Beatle Position”. Flat on my back, legs held up to my chest, and arching my back as I pushed. This was how my body needed me to be for my previous two babies to be born and it was the same this time.
At that point, I started to freak out in my head. This position HURT. Every contraction magnified my low back pain and it felt like my entire body was cramping up. I then remembered the conversation I had with a friend the previous Wednesday about how I needed to express how I was feeling. My emotions and physical sensations had been stuffed down during my labor with Miles because I didn’t trust the nursing staff at the hospital not to undermine me if I expressed my pain. This time, I was surrounded by people I *knew* would not being but supportive.
So the first words that came out of my mouth was, “F this sh*t!”
It seemed like everyone actually stopped what they were doing, slow blinked, and then laughed.
Things really blurred together after that until I felt her crowning. When I got to that point, the ring of fire burned SO much and I was SO tired that I simply gave up. In my head, I said, “Okay, baby. You win. You can just stay there forever.” In all honesty, that was probably the best thing that could have happened. It meant that it took me a number of pushes to ease her out, which meant no tearing despite her coming out face up and forehead first.
When her forehead emerged, I heard everyone gasp. I panicked a bit, thinking that something was terribly wrong with the baby. Everyone quickly assured me it was just the baby’s presentation that shocked them since it was so unusual. It was a bit surreal to feel the baby partially birthed. I could feel her turning to make room for the shoulders and then, during the last push, she actually kicked me inside as the last bit of her emerged. Obviously, I was taking too long for her tastes.
Hazel Etta was completely earthside by 7:39pm. 8 pounds, 2 ounces, 21 inches long on Monday, April 16th, 2012.
Ella was woken up and brought downstairs. The magic in seeing her touch her sister for the first time was overwhelming. Her tender kisses and awed face would have made me cry if I wasn’t so exhausted. Ella got cut the cord, help weigh her and listen to her heart.
My placenta had a bit of a hard time detaching but some herbal tincture and a shot of pitocin took care of that.
By 11pm, everyone had left. It was a really difficult experience but I was so glad to be at home. It allowed me to have the most successful birth possible on the emotional front. It also allowed my kids to experience a normal birth, too. Miles, my 2 year old, really didn’t care what was going on. He just did his own thing, built tent forts in the family room, and occasionally mimicked my sounds. Ella, my 4.5 year old, really didn’t pay that much attention, either. Having some of her favorite grownups (aka kid doulas) give her one on one attention all day was very distracting. The only time she really talked about me birthing was as Amie was lying down with her in bed, helping her to go to sleep. Ella told Amie it sounded like I was fighting dragons.
I think Ella had the right of it. As I was snuggled in my own bed, with my precious star child, I felt like a conquering dragon slayer.
I did it.
This is a link to a slide show of birth pictures. There’s no nudity and even the nursing images are discreet.