Overcoming Fear: Our Birth Story, Part 3
If you read Part 1 and Part 2 of our birth story, you're probably wondering when I actually get around to having the baby. This is the post. Fair warning if you're don't like graphic details--this post maybe a little TMI!
I woke up at 3:15am having strong contractions. There was no way I could sleep through them. I got out of bed and went to the restroom. The caster oil had definitely done the trick. The acupuncturist was right--I needed a good bowel movement to really get things going.
J. got up and stayed with me in the restroom for the next 4 hours. It was the only place I was comfortable. Periodically I got up and tried to go back to the bed or sit on the birthing ball. Half the time I didn't even make it out of the bathroom before I turned around. The toilet was the only place I could relax. Due to the caster oil I think I was afraid of making a mess if spent any amount of time anywhere else.
J. set me up with a pillow behind my back so I could relax between contractions. I was cold so he got me a blanket and socks and a towel for the floor under my feet. He was there with me every second, helping me through each contraction. I chanted a long, low "Om" each time one came, concentrating on keeping my tone as low as possible. I knew it would help me open up. I was uncomfortable but not in pain. I kept reminding myself that it didn't hurt and that each contraction was bringing our baby closer to us.
Our midwives came in to check my vitals and listen to the baby periodically and once to give me another dose of antibiotics and fluids. Other than that they left us to ourselves. It was a wonderful, intimate experience and I'm glad that J. and I had it all to ourselves. I know I was as relaxed and comfortable as I was because it was just the two of us focusing on bringing our baby into the world.
About 7:30am I told J. I wanted the midwives to check me. At that moment they came in and asked if I wanted to be checked. Their timing was impeccable. I remember telling J. that if they checked me and I was only at 4cm I would cry. Not because I was in pain (mind you I wasn't terribly comfortable), but because I was tired and wanted to be done. I wanted to have this baby.
It took me a little while to get to the bed so the midwives could check me. It was so uncomfortable to lie down. At that point I understood why women in hospitals who have to stay in bed or on their back get epidurals. If I had to stay in bed for the whole of labor, I think I would have wanted an epidural too. It was the only time I thought about pain medications--not once did it cross my mind that I wanted to take pain killers myself, I was just glad I didn't have to stay on my back long. I didn't feel pain, just discomfort. But I knew each time I had a contraction that it would pass and each one was bringing our baby closer to us and I focused on that.
Once I was able to lie down the midwives told me I was a solid 7cm. That was motivating. I knew we were close. They went to wake up my mom who had been sleeping in the other room. They asked me if I wanted to get in the pool. I said yes. They started getting everything ready and I headed back to the bathroom. As soon as the tub was filled I got in as quickly as I could. It was immediate relief. It felt so good. I had a few contractions in the water and felt like I had to go to the bathroom again.
Back on the toilet my whole body convulsed. I felt myself arch back a little as my belly tensed and hardened into a little mountain. The midwife saw me and said, "Honey, I don't think you have to go to the bathroom, I think you want to push." Once she said that and I could identify the convulsing feeling as the urge to push, I knew what I had to do. I got back in the pool. Again the water brought instant relief. The contractions were getting stronger. It was harder to keep my Oms low and long. I was almost screaming. I knew I was in transition and this was as uncomfortable as it would get. I knew pushing would be a relief.
I kept telling myself it didn't hurt and that each contraction was bringing our baby closer to us. As the contractions became more intense, the breaks in between contractions were a little longer. I waited for each contraction to come, to see what it would bring. I consciously made myself relax. I had another contraction like the last one on the toilet. I knew my body was starting to push. I reminded myself that pushing would feel like I was constipated and focused all my energy low in my body. I focused on trying to poop...that way I knew I would be focusing my energy in the right place and not worrying about whether or not I would go to the bathroom in the water. I knew I wouldn't because the caster oil had eliminated everything during my four hours on the toilet. [I found out 6 months later when I watched our birth video that I did poo a little...the midwives scooped it right out with a little net...I warned you this post was a little TMI!]
I asked J. to get in the pool with me. The midwives had all of their equipment set up. Our midwives quietly gave J. instructions. After I had pushed several times one of them suggested I reach down and see if I could feel the baby. I could. I could feel the head just an inch inside me. I knew we were close. I briefly thought of my friend who spent six hours pushing. I told myself I was going to get the baby out--soon. I was going to open up and our baby was going to be born. I kept repeating that in my head over and over--I'm going to get huge, our baby is getting closer, this doesn't hurt, we're going to meet our baby.
J. rubbed my hips in between contractions. I told him in between each one that I was going to push our baby out, that our baby was getting closer, that the next one would bring us our baby. I told myself I could do it. J. kept telling me how good I was doing. The midwives continued to give J. instructions. On my third to last push I knew we were having a girl. I told myself that she was coming out on the next push. I repeated that for two more pushes and she came out. I could feel her when her head was out of my body and then as her body slipped into the water. I don't remember feeling pain, just relief and joy. J. caught her and put her on my chest. She was covered in thick, white vernix and snuggled into me. We stayed like that for a minute, all three of us close together. The midwives reminded us to check if we had a boy or a girl. We had a girl--I had to look twice to believe it was true.
It took a little coaxing for her to start crying. Our midwives suctioned her mouth and she perked up quickly. At that point the midwives told me that I was bleeding a little and needed to get out of the tub. I couldn't feel anything. All I knew was that I was holding our baby and I was done pushing, done laboring, done contracting. We had done it--we had our baby.