It's hard to tell when my labor actually started. We had a difficult time figuring that out for the birth paperwork afterwards because for two days I had some strong contractions that felt like "something"...I could tell they weren't Braxton Hicks because they kept me awake at night but were not very painful, just "sit up and pay attention" contractions. I had also started to have bloody show (interestingly, I had never had bloody show before but this was my 4th baby) and loose stools.
Two nights before my "labor day" my husband and I slipped out to Home Depot. Kids were at home with my Mom and we needed to buy a vanity for the kids bathroom we were remodeling. (How's that for waiting until the last minute! He was worried that the midwives wouldn't have a place to wash their hands in there!)
As I walked around Home Depot I had some pretty intense contractions but I was happy with that...it felt good to be out of the house and I figured I was probably dilating some. At one point I had to sit down on one of those big flat buggies because I was feeling so much downward pressure in my back.
We went home and I thought that night would definitely be the night...
Next day was basically the same. Occasional contractions that were strong but not too bad. I went for a walk in the afternoon thinking it might speed things along and had one strong contraction right after the other. One of my neighbors teased me about giving birth on her front lawn.
That night I woke up with a contraction and a pop...my water had broken. That was around 10 p.m. I got up and started doing some light housecleaning. I wasn't actually having contractions at this point so I figured I might as well get some things done while I could and that maybe the activity would bring them on. I tried to lie down in bed and rest every once in awhile but just couldn't seem to relax so I gave up and got up for good.
I woke the husband up and told him my water had broken but to go back to sleep, I wasn't going to call the midwives until things heated up and that I would give him plenty of time to fill the pool, in the meantime I wanted him to get as much rest as possible. Plus my 3rd child Ilana was asleep in the bed with him and I didn't want her waking.
I started getting things ready... moving the birth kit to the table, putting the sterilized sheets in the bedroom, moving the kitchen table chairs into the living room so we could put the pool in the kitchen.
At 11:30 my Mom woke up and I was mopping the floor. She was like, "What in the world are you doing?!" I was still very comfortable at that point, having a few contractions but nothing very intense. I had used a disposable diaper (I use cloth but got a few of these in the mail as samples) in my underwear to catch the fluids and had to keep changing it out.
A couple of hours later I was starting to have to "deal" with the pains...by that I mean that I needed to get down on all fours and wiggle my hips around, breathe and focus. But they still weren't very painful! Dh was up at this point and kept saying to me..."Honey don't wait too long to call the midwives, it could be quick, this IS your 4th baby!". And I kept saying that I didn't want them just sitting around waiting all night, I honestly thought I might be going on for another 8 hours or so...little did I know that at this point I was 7 centimeters dilated!
I called my midwife and told her that I didn't think I needed her just yet but alerted her to updates. We had been in contact for the last couple of days so she knew of my situation.
My Dad was working in Chattanooga TN (we are in the Atlanta area) and had stayed at a hotel. Mom was staying with me while he was gone. She called him and told him to come on to the house. It's a good thing he headed out when he did because he barely made it for the birth and it would have killed me for him to miss it, he was there for the birth of all my other babies.
I alternated between my "on all fours on the floor" position and sitting on a huge birth ball (actually it wasn't a birth ball technically, it was one of those oversized bouncing balls with handles that I borrowed from my oldest child). I would sit on it and rock a bit. It felt very comfortable.
At this point I was feeling a tiny bit tired so I tried to get into bed, but the contractions felt more painful when I was lying down so I got back up.
I put a Patsy Cline cd in the cd player. Her voice really relaxes me so that was nice. The contractions got a bit stronger. Dh called the midwives and told them to come on. I was starting to make some noise, down there on the floor on all floors wiggling around. That was the most comfortable position I found and I wasn't moving away from it! I would also occasionally put my forehead or arms on the birth ball to support my upper body weight so that my belly could just hang.
Meanwhile Dad had called us in a panic because the street was blocked off at the entrance of my subdivision. Apparently there was a house fire...a home burned to the ground when a dryer caught fire. The EMTs had to drive my Dad to my house! All this excitement was getting on my nerves however. Dh and Mom were all worried that the midwives wouldn't be able to get to the house with their equipment. I wasn't concerned with all that...I had work to do! I figured that the fire trucks would be gone by the time they got there anyway. Turns out I was right.
Claudia my midwife and Debbie her apprentice arrived and started to set up. I was REALLY wanting the comfort of the birth pool (which dh had filled with warm water, it was set up in the kitchen) at this point, but even still, I wasn't convinced I was in heavy enough labor to get in...I was worried that the warm water would relax me too much and that my labor would stall or even stop. I asked Claudia to examine me and let me know if it was safe to get in the water, but not to tell me how many centimeters I was dilated!
I was scared that I was still in early early labor and had lots of time left. Claudia assured me that I was WAY past the point of worrying about that and to get in the pool! Later she told me I was about 8 centimeters dilated when she arrived.
I got in the pool and the water felt SO good...I was kind of wiggling around like a crab...when a contraction came I would move my hips around like a belly dancer. I was also a bit more vocal this time than in previous births. I kept hearing myself saying "Baby...baby...baby"
with the pains. Like I was asking for her help to make this short. I did feel a lot of wiggling, like she was pushing against my fundus with her feet to help things go fast.
From the time I got into the pool, it seems like I only had around a dozen contractions when I felt tears coming on...I had had a lot of nightmares late in this pregnancy and worries about the baby dying. When she was too still I would push on my belly to wake her up so that I could feel the comfort of her movements. I think all that emotion started to overwhelm me at this point and I heard myself saying: "I don't want my baby to die!" and I started crying. It's amazing how much love you can feel for someone you've never even met before!
When this happened I knew I was in transition. Everyone started to move around like "It won't be long now"...it was surreal. Like I was watching someone else labor. I heard the midwives getting things ready for the birth.
I started feeling a bit irritable now. I remember looking into dh's eyes and saying that I really, really wanted to stop what I was doing and take a nap.
Debbie reminded me that since so much of my blood was going to my uterus right now, it was normal to feel sleepy. I was REALLY REALLY REALLY wanting to stop what I was doing at this point and go to sleep.
A couple more contractions and I started feeling antsy and hot and nauseated. Dh had been giving me sips of juice and I asked him for ice water instead and a cold washcloth and that felt nice on my forehead. He had been sitting in a chair beside the pool and in between contractions I put my head in his lap and kind of napped. I had a contraction and felt "pushy" but thought... no way! There is NO WAY I am ready to push, I'm not working nearly hard enough!
But sure enough, when I said: "I feel..." and Debbie finished my sentence: "Pushy?" I said, "Yes". So she came around and examined me and gave me the go ahead. I couldn't believe it! I pushed a bit with each pain but couldn't really find a position that felt right. It was like I couldn't find my pushing muscles. I told Debbie this and she made some suggestions, but it just didn't feel effective to me.
Then all of a sudden I got that really familiar feeling of I MUST GET OUT OF THIS TUB RIGHT NOW.
I always get that feeling right before I push the baby out. I have nothing against waterbirth but it's so undeniable and I believe laboring women should listen to their bodies.
So I get out and got on the birthing stool that Claudia and Debbie had made ready. The cool air felt awesome and rejuvenated me a bit. It's so cool the rush of energy you get before pushing...God knows what he is doing, we are so wonderfully made!
At this point I still didn't feel the head descending...it was still too high up and my pushes felt like they weren't making anything happen. But after a couple more pushes I felt THAT feeling.
I don't care if you have had one baby or twenty, you dread that feeling of the head descending and the infamous "Ring of Fire"... crowning. It's exciting because you know it will only be a few minutes before you see and hold your baby, but it HURTS!!!! and you dread what's next. I heard myself say: "I hate this part".
Jesse was sitting behind me on a chair and I leaned back into him and had my arms on his thighs for support and leverage. He had said earlier, when the midwives asked him, that he wanted to catch the baby. But when they told him it was time, I said: "No! I need him back there." I was afraid that if he moved I would lose my momentum. I wanted it OVER WITH!
The kids were starting to wake up too and when they came into the room I whispered to somebody: "I don't want them in here right now...". Again, I was afraid that I would lose my concentration and I could tell it was only seconds away.
Then I got that OH-MY-GOD-IT'S-COMING-IT-HURTS-SO-BAD-I-CAN'T-STAND-IT-ANYMORE-I-AM- GOING-TO-SPLIT-INTO-A-MILLION-PIECES-OH-PLEASE-I-CAN'T-DO-THIS-
And it's over.
And I am holding my slithery creamy beautiful purple pink baby in my arms and everything is peaceful and time stops and I am so filled with love and emotion and there is no one but me and her and everyone I love and I thank God for her and for everything and she is so beautiful that she glows and I feel as if I have known her all my life and I am in bliss and I thank God for letting me experience all of this....
Sadie Miranda was born at home on September 1, 2005. She was Carrie' s fourth birth and weighed 8 pounds, 2 ounces and was 21" long.
You can visit Carrie at http://www.NaturalMomsTalkRadio.com/blog