I was about 2 days overdue and going crazy waiting to go into labor. With my first son I delivered a week early (39) weeks and 40 weeks 1 day seemed so much longer. The weekend of my estimated due date (December 8th) I had tried a majority of Old Wives Tales. We had taken a 3 mile walk, shopped in the mall, eaten eggplant parm, and had sex. It didn’t seem like this baby wanted to come out! For several weeks prior to my actual EDD I had been having contractions. They were more than the average braxton hicks but nothing that could be timed or called “regular”.
On Sunday, December 9th, I went to bed around 10 pm. Around 1 AM I woke to go to the bathroom and when I stood up I felt a pop. I immediately knew that my water had broken. It was more of a gentle leak than a true gush though. It was also tinged with pink blood. Of course I woke my husband and told him. I also called our Doula, Betsy to let her know. I was not having any contractions to start with. She encouraged me to try to go back to sleep and she would check back in with me in a few hours- or to call her if something changed. Since I had experienced something similar with my first son I knew how important rest was to the labor process. I rested in bed until 2 AM when my contractions started. Immediately they were pretty intense and I had a strong desire for my husband to press on my sacrum and lower back during them. My contractions were probably around 5 min. apart but by 4 AM they had increased in intensity. At that time, I also had a very strong contraction where I actually felt the baby’s head either get into position to descend or just really push against my cervix. Either way something had changed and I asked my husband to call Betsy back. She recommended that I get in the shower to see if that increased the contractions.
So I jumped in the warm shower. It definitely helped relax me and with the relaxation the contractions became more intense and frequent. We weren’t specifically tracking them but they seemed to be about every 3 minutes or so. I spent about hour in the shower and then decided it was time to get out. I labored around my house for the next hour and a half or so, stopping often to either be on my hands and knees or leaning against the counter tops. I also still needed my husband to press against my lower back through each one.
Around 6:30 AM we decided to get my first son up to get ready for my Mother in law to bring him to daycare for the day. When he walked down the hall I was in between contractions. He ran down the hall in all of his 2.5 year old exuberance, shouting, Mommy! Good morning! It was at this point that I just started crying. I felt all of my emotions about the birth, changing my little sons life, all of it just let go. It was at this time that I was crying that I also had a contraction that literally knocked me onto the floor on my hands and knees. It didnt phase my son at all. He came up right next to me, got on his hands and knees and said “Mommy, your alright, your just fine”-and then proceeded to ask for some Life cereal for breakfast. He made me laugh through my tears and pain.
It was just after this moment that Betsy happened to call back and asked my husband how I was doing. I spoke with her briefly between contractions and she said that she felt I was progressing quickly and that perhaps she would come over. My first birth was 36 hours and we were only 6 hours approximately from when my water broke with this one, so I figured I still had lots of time, regardless of how intense my contractions were, or how frequent. I told her that it was fine if she came over, and as a midwife she could check me, so we could make a decision about where I was in labor and when we thought I should transport to the hospital. Betsy showed up around 7:15 and my Mother in law showed up around 7:30 to bring my son to daycare. Betsy helped me work through some contractions while my husband got my son settled in the car. Surprisingly my son did great with the transition in our morning routine and he was quickly off to daycare. I was preoccupied with him arriving there safely and I was still feeling extremely attached to him even though he had left the house.
Betsy suggested once he left that she check me to see how far along I was. I agreed and she did a quick internal check, my first in this pregnancy besides the first tri check. She told me she thought I was about a 6 and paper thin! I could not believe it. With my first son I had labored for over 18 hours to get to a 2! To have made so much progress in so little time was amazing. I was also getting these great, clear breaks for about 1-2 minutes between each contractions and I felt that I was doing really well.
Betsy felt it was time to go to the hospital and I told her that if she felt it wouldn’t slow down or stop my labor we could go. She assured me that this labor train was going and there was no stopping it. So we headed out to the car. It wasn’t a terrible 15 min. ride and Betsy was able to press on my lower back during contractions so I was able to work through them. We did have to stop about 1 mile from my house and turn around because we had forgotten the hose for the pool- but that was really the only glitch in the drive. Betsy had been communicating with our midwife team prior to our arrival and with the hospital so once we arrived I literally walked straight into a L&D room- no questions asked.
Once in the room, the nursing team started to fill up the pool for me. I labored through each contraction either bending over the bed or on the toilet. Someone suggested that I sit on the yoga ball to see if that helped reserve my energy so I did. This made the contractions MUCH more intense. I was able to do one standing, then one sitting in a cycle. I knew that sitting on the yoga ball was helping me progress but it took some courage to work through each one. Once the pool was partially filled I wanted to get in the water. It was so warm and relaxing.
Once in the water things went from 0 to 60 in no time. The break I was experiencing became seemingly non-existent and I needed my husband to press on my back with all his might. I also needed to grip Betsy’s hands as hard as I could through each contraction. I was still experiencing what I would call intense cervical pain and my back hurt tremendously. I was feeling very little pressure at this point. After some time in the water, someone recommended I change positions. I asked to get out of the water as I had been kneeling in the water and was becoming fatigued. My MW had yet to check me and the nurses had been wonderful so far. No one had bothered me to insist that they put in an IV, I was getting sips of water and ice chips. They were intermittently checking the babies heart rate but all was well and they generally just let me do my thing. I had no concept of time at this point after being in the pool- I just kept thinking that things were getting too intense and that this had been a stupid idea to try to give birth without medication.
Once on the bed, my MW, Linda asked to check me and I told her that it was fine. I remember briefly crying as I was walking from the pool to the bed and that Betsy whispered to Linda that I was in transition. I thought to myself there is no freaking way I am in transition! Sure enough once Linda checked me she said I was essentially a 10 with a small lip of cervix. I didn’t believe her. Once in the bed they suggested I work through some contractions on first my left side, which was tolerable. Then they suggested I try to get the babies head around the cervix, by working through some contractions on my right side. It was at this point that I started to emotionally lose my mind- as the pain with each contraction was intense! I was able to lay on my right side for a small amount of time before I asked to get back in the water as I was feeling some pressure.
Once back in the pool, I was somewhat feeling a need to push- but the urge wasn’t super strong. I went for it anyway. This was the most intense part of the experience and I was struggling to keep myself together. There were moments of yelling for drugs, I must admit. I credit my husband and the rest of the team for calming me and for encouraging me. No one wavered for a single moment in their support and it helped me through the tough moments. In the pool I just kept thinking that my pushes weren’t effective and I couldn’t get good purchase with my feet pressing against the sides of the pool to push. I also kept telling the team that they were lying to me that the baby was coming, that I was dying and so on. In between contractions, I assured them I was ok, but once a contraction started again it was like I needed the emotional release of stating that I wanted that baby cut out of me! Since I was making very little progress pushing and expending a lot of energy it was suggested I move to the bed. I would have done anything at that moment to end the labor so I walked from the pool to the bed- probably the longest walk of my life. Once on the bed, I got on my hands and knees and Linda said she was going to check the baby positions. This time she checked me during a contraction and she managed to push that lip of cervix over the babies chin (which I did not know the baby was face up at the time) and then I was really ready to push. I actually wanted to lay down to push which was surprising but at this point I just wanted the baby out.
My contractions were spacing out which was nice and I was able to get a grip on when to push. Erin, our other Doula showed up at this time to help me and to take pictures during the birth. During pushing I held onto my legs and it was nice to have reminders to do a pelvic tilt during the push. I would start each push making that deep S sound we learned in class and then it would turn to a very loud guttural growl. Everyone was encouraging and telling me what a great job I was doing. I actually would do 2 quick pushes then a really long and hard 3rd push. I could actually feel him move down with each push. Thankfully my MW stretched me with each push and when he crowned it was for a very short time. My body took over at the very end and I couldn’t have stopped it if I had wanted to.
On the very last push, Oslo made his appearance, albeit face up which explained all of my back labor. Once his head was through I actively stopped pushing and his body just slipped out. Thankfully I did not tear or require an episotomy. I believe the water in the pool helped with that, as well as my MW stretching me during pushing. I could not believe I had just done it~ I was so emotional and happy. All of the pain was immediately gone. I helped bring him up to my chest. He was a slightly bluish color but he started to pink right up and started crying. His poor little head had a nice lump where he had been crowning. It was on the top front of his head which they later told me made sense bc Linda could feel his nose as he was coming down. He presented face first with his chin tilted back. Most babies are face down, and chin tilted down towards their bodies as they are born. Thankfully, moving from the pool to the bed probably helped him tuck his chin under so he could make that final descent. All told the labor was 13 hours from water breaking until end. I “pushed” both in the pool and on the bed for an hour and a half. Honestly the pushing really only became productive once I was on the bed and that was probably 30 min. total (although my sense of time may be off!). Time was slightly irrelevant to me, I’m just so thankful that it wasnt 36 hours again!
Oslo was born at 2:10 pm weighing 8 lbs. 4.5 oz and was 22 inches long. It was an amazing experience, and I wouldnt change a thing about it. I credit the mental and physical preparation for the birth for helping me get through the labor, specifically Deb Goodman’s prenatal classes and the sessions with our Doulas’s, Erin and Betsy thinking/talking about the birth. I also think that I had as close to a home birth experience in a hospital as I could get at Burdett Care Center. No IV’s, no one poking me or prodding me. Just me and my birth team in a quiet room. The way that I wanted it. It goes unsaid that I could not have done what I did without my husband-his poor hands from pushing on my back for hours! He never wavered in his faith that I could make this happen. It was truly an amazing experience.