Since my little guy is the inspiration for this blog, I thought I'd post his birth story. It's a long one so you better get a snack:
Born: June 14, 2007 at 9:33pm
Weight: 8lbs, 6ozs
Length: 21 ¼ inches
My water broke at 12:30am on June 14. I was half asleep and I felt some moisture (more than usual) and it occurred to me that maybe my water had broken. I jumped up and went to the bathroom and there was a little splash followed by some trickling fluid. My water HAD broken! I was totally surprised – I never expected my water to break because my mother's waters had not spontaneously ruptured with any of her pregnancies.
I woke Nelson and told him my water had broken. I called the BirthCare answering service and told them my water had broken. The midwife on call, Regina, called me back in a few moments. She asked me a few questions – what color it was is, had I felt that baby move, was I having contractions. I was not having contractions so she told me to go to bed and get some rest and call back at 8am and we would discuss ways to start my labor.
I started having irregular contractions around 1:30am. They were about 30-40 seconds long and anywhere from 6-10 minutes apart. My contractions became stronger and more regular by around 3:30. They were 4-5 minutes apart and around 55 seconds long. I called Regina back and she suggested I try and lay down and that I call back around 7am. Regina was attending a birth at the birth center, so she was going to figure out who was available to deliver me.
I tried to lie down and that made my contractions much stronger and more painful, so Nelson and I walked the floor and I rocked on the birth ball. Regina had suggested that I keep changing positions to ease the pain. By 7am, my contractions were 2-3 minutes apart and 60-70 seconds long. This is when they really started to hurt, but they were still not unbearably painful. We called the birth center again, and Regina told us Marsha would be attending our birth and that she'd be calling us soon. Marsha called a few minutes later and told us she'd arrive around 9am, and advised us to call our birth assistant, Liz. We called Liz and she said she'd also arrive around 9am.
I continued with labor until Marsha and Liz both arrived around 8:30. I was walking the floor and using the birthing ball and swaying with Nelson through my contractions, which stay consistent but did not get any longer or more intense. A few hours later Parvina, a midwife from England who is training to be a Birth Care birth assistant, also arrived.
Marsha decided to check me around noon. I was 1-2 centimeters dilated. I was really disappointed because I'd been in labor for so long and the contractions were so intense. At this point, Marsha was concerned about my energy level. I was exhausted and had only had about 2 hours of sleep the night before. She asked how I would feel about taking Ambien so I could sleep in between my contractions and get rested up for transition and delivery. Nelson and I decided this would be a good idea, because I was really wiped out and having trouble maintaining a positive attitude. I took the Ambien around 12:30 and I slept between contractions until around 3:30 or 4pm. This was actually really tough because when I was lying down the contractions were much longer and more intense, but I was actually falling dead asleep between them. The Ambien wore off and I continued to labor between the toilet and the bed with Parvina and Liz close by. They suggested Nelson nap, which he did in another room, and Liz and Parvina were with me, rubbing my shoulders, lower back, and legs to relive the pain during my contractions. When I woke up, I started having back labor, which was the worst. It felt like a 100lb weight grinding into my lower back. The only thing that relieved it was Liz and Parvina putting counter pressure on my back. I did not develop my own spontaneous ritual, but my vocalizations were either an uncontrolled scream or "Ohhhhh!!" Thus, the midwives suggested I vocalize, "Ooopeeen. Open. Open…"
I was 5-6 centimeters dilated. This was around 5pm. She told Nelson and I that because my labor was progressing so slowly, she was worried about our stamina, and she felt like we need to do something to push me into transition. What she suggested is that we try some nipple stimulation. We agreed, and she and the assistants left the room to give us some privacy. And, WOW, did the nipple stimulation put me right into transition!! The contractions starting coming right on top of one another and were lasting about 90 seconds. This is the point I thought to myself "So THIS is why women get epidurals!" It was so amazingly painful, and there was no rest in between them. I was screaming my brains out (I'm surprised my neighbors didn't call the police! – seriously) I really started to feel (and say) that I couldn't do this, I didn't want to do this. Just then, Marsha showed up and said she wanted to check me again. I was 8-9 cm! And I was starting to feel the urge to push. So she and the assistants went about setting up for the birth, and we were ready to get Oscar out by 7:30.
Nelson was incredibly supportive and really got me through transition – he didn't let me give up and he really helped me keep going when I thought I couldn't.
So, I started pushing. Unfortunately, Oscar had been ramming is head down on my cervix and the lip was swollen. He couldn't get past it, and it was keeping me from fully dilating. For the first hour, I pushed in several positions – on my side, on all fours, in a supported squat all with no progress.
I ended up on my back in between contractions, and I was pushing from a sitting up position. Marsha had to actually go in and hold my cervix out of the way so Oscar's head could pass through. That was the only part of the pushing that actually hurt. After his head got past, things started to move more quickly. In between contractions, I kept asking Marsha "where I was pushing" so I could visualize the baby's position, and that was really helpful. Initially, I was vocalizing during contractions and expending a lot of energy. Marsh and my birth assistants recommended I vocalize in a lower pitch, push with my chin on my chest in order to put more of my energy into the pushes. Grunting as opposed to yelling made a huge difference. Marsha coached me in my pushing the whole time. I was so tired, and she was great. And it really is true what they say about the pushing being gratifying. It was the best part of my labor.
I remember reaching down and feeling him crowing, and then I remember my last four pushes the best. Marsha told me I was almost there. So I pushed and I pushed and then Marsha told me just one more push and to reach down and catch my baby, and I did! He slid right into my hands. It was so awesome and awe inspiring. Nelson was great during this part too – he was so excited because he could see the baby and knew how close we were. Oscar came out with a cry, and my dogs, who were both lying in the bedroom door way, each issued a welcoming bark! It was pretty funny. In all, I labored for 20 hours and pushed for 2 of those.
Marsha put the baby on my stomach and suctioned him. They waited for the cord to stop pulsing and then Nelson cut it. I got to hold the baby and bond with him for a while, and Nelson took him while I delivered the placenta and they stitched me up. I had a second degree tear, mostly on the inside. Then I took a shower and watched Marsha show Nelson how to diaper and dress an infant. It was very cute. They observed us until 2:30, made a heroic effort to clean and straighten things up, and then left us on our own!
Marsha, Liz, and Parvina were all amazing – they kept me hydrated, well fed, and in good spirits. It was wonderful to have so many experienced women assisting in my birth. Even though my labor was long and hard, I didn't even realize that day until the next day when Marsha told me how long and hard it was, and what a great job Nelson and I did. And they were all impressed with Nelson and how supportive he was and how prepared and calm we both were during our labor, which we totally credit to Susan our childbirth instructor. And Nelson was the best birth partner a woman could ask for. I would never have made it though labor without him. Our decision to have our baby at home one of the best we ever made. Neither of us could imagine doing it any other way.