If I had one word to describe this labor, it would be intense. Yes, there was pain, but mostly it was just incredibly intense.
At 4:30am, I woke up with what I figured was probably just gas. After two weeks of thinking gas pains were contractions, I had finally given up and figured everything was gas. I tried to go back to sleep but lying down made it worse. So I got up to watch TV. I watched a few shows (I believe it was “The Middle” and “Modern Family” in case you were curious), and by 5:30, I was pretty sure these were actually contractions. At 6, I woke Collin and told him it was time to set up the birthing tub. I was watching SNL, when Caedmon woke up. He came into the living room and sat on the couch with me where he soon fell back asleep. By 7, the contractions were getting so intense that I stopped being interested in the show and could only concentrate on what was going on within my body. So I got out my handy iPhone because there’s an app for that! But seriously, the free contraction timer was nice because all I had to do was hit a button with the contraction, and it told me everything I needed to know (Well, at least as far as timing contractions.).
It was around 7:15 that I told Collin is might be time to call my midwife. At this point, my contractions were between three and five minutes apart, but were lasting less than a minute, so my midwife said to time them for an hour and let her know what they were like for that hour. By 7:30, my contractions had increased to less than three minutes apart and they were lasting for a minute or longer. I had moved to the birthing ball and couldn’t do anything but deal with labor. I think it was Collin that decided we should call my midwife again. This time she said she was heading our way. Once I knew she was coming, I stopped timing contractions, and from then on I didn’t look at a clock again.
I moved to the bedroom. I think at that point I decided that with no one to direct my labor (unlike last time) that I would follow the advice of Ina May and let my monkey do it. In other words, I simply followed my instincts. I was pacing around my bedroom making goodness only knows what kind of noises. I kept trying to sit or lie down but that made it hurt worse. I had to be able to move. I kept thinking about those women who used to be tied down during labor, and I could not imagine what kind of hell they went through.
All this time Collin was filling the birthing tub which meant draining the hot water heater into the tub, waiting for the heater to fill and reheat, then draining it again. Once the tub was full and the water reheated, I moved to the shower where I felt some relief. That’s when I started dry heaving. I never experienced actual transition with Caedmon so this was new. I think I knelt down in the shower and my water didn’t just break, it exploded – it was like opening a shaken soda can. Things were starting to get pretty intense (as if they weren’t already), and I felt the need to get out of the shower and move around.
I moved back into the bedroom and got down on all fours. I was beginning to feel a very slight urge to push, and I began to think, “Okay, if it’s time for this baby to be born then it’s happening, and it will be okay.” I moved back to sitting on the bed, and the doorbell rang. In came my sweet midwife who asked if I wanted to be checked. Yes, I did, and I was 9 cm! So I moved to the tub. Not long after I got in the tub, Caedmon woke up. We had read him a book about birth where the mom “roared like a lion.” So of course, Caedmon comes in and says, “Mom, are you roaring like a lion?” “Yes, Caedmon.” “Mom, are you swimming like a lion?” “Of course.” And that was that as far as Caedmon was concerned.
The water was a bit of a relief, and I soon felt the need to start pushing. I think the nice thing about the water is that it really allowed me to relax between the contractions. I thought it was taking a while. Caedmon was born after twenty minutes of directed pushing. But when my midwife told me it had been an hour, I couldn’t believe it. She asked if I wanted her to check me to see if she could help. I was feeling pretty ready to be done, so I did. She gave me a homeopathic to help the stubborn cervical lip that was getting in the way. Not long after that I needed to get out of the tub to use the potty. While in the potty, I felt the baby’s head start to crown.
(I have to make a side note here. One of the things that makes this experience so amazing is how involved I was – yeah, I know that sounds funny since in both situations I was birthing a baby. At the hospital, they had to practically force me to touch the baby’s head, and even so, I don’t remember much of anything about it. I think I’ll remember what Caitlin’s squishy little head felt like for the rest of my life.)
I called in my midwife, who told me there was still time to get to the tub if I wanted to have her in the water. So I quickly waddled back to the tub. In one big push, her head came out. The cord was wrapped around her neck and it was too tight to unwrap, so I pushed like a mad woman to get the rest of her (ahem, ginormous and somewhat stuck) body out. After one or two more big pushes, she was born into the water, my midwife handed her to me, and it was amazing. I feel like there should be better words to describe something so awesome, but I’m not the writer I used to be, and those words just aren’t there. She was beautiful, Collin was right there, and Caedmon came in almost immediately to meet his new little sister.
Next blog, I’ll tell you what a great day that was after she was born because the benefits of home birth don’t stop with the birth!