Thank God we were well prepared for this part of the story! It’s the climax in my memory. For as much as I loved being pregnant with Micah, I REALLY LOVED giving birth to him. I know that probably seems a little crazy and that’s why I’m so excited to share my birth story- because it wasn’t scary and traumatically painful. It was hard, intense, biggest challenge of my life, but not in ANY way was it bad. Like I said, thank God.
Early signs: For most of the third trimester I was having Braxton Hicks (practice contractions that basically feel like menstrual cramps) they didn’t get me too excited because I was aware that I would probably have some and that they were a good sign that my body was almost ready to birth this baby. I also started having birthing dreams around this time.
I remember one dream where I was laboring on my hands and knees while my midwife, Val, was near by. I received my baby without anyone’s assistance and it was all very quiet and peaceful. This is far from what the actual experience was like but it was beautiful, encouraging and a sign that my mind was at ease over the prospect of having my baby.
Other things that were happening during these early days were: crazy purging of all useless items in our home, laundering and sorting everything that had been gifted from his FOUR baby showers, exercising, eating dates like crazy, getting acupuncture, drinking red raspberry leaf tea, squatting, visiting the chiropractor, getting a massage, writing up a birthing plan, reading positive birth stories like it was the only thing in the library and online (Ina May Gaskins guide to child birth and Birthing from within where my favorites), calling my mom, and finally making some freezer meals. Which brings us to the story…
Labor begins: I was bustling about our kitchen late in the evening on August 4th. I was baking lactation cookies for the 6 ladies in my life who were due with babies in the coming weeks. I was up so late because August had been hot! The only time I was going to turn on the oven was at night. Even that felt a bit of a sin in this weather. One friend had already had her baby a few days “early” so I needed to get on things before my time came. While talking on the phone with a relative (multitasking) I felt distracted and just a little “off”. When our conversation ended I felt what I assumed was another Braxton Hicks contraction. I wrote it off and continued with my baking and packaging everything up. I wanted them to be ready for a pick up the following morning for the friend who had just had her baby. I had a fridge full of food that I was supposed to drop off to her from other friends (The Good Food Group). Things just felt a little crazy and busy so getting the cookies baked and packed up was crucial to me feeling ready to have Micah.
All night I had cramps that would wake me up. They were annoying disturbances, but not all that exciting. My hubby was suffering with a stiff neck all night and couldn’t sleep. He came to discover that something was up when he woke in the middle of the night to find me in child’s pose breathing deeply. We slept off and on the rest of the night but woke early and called my mid wife on call. She encouraged us to get some more sleep. Hubby was able to crawl back into bed for another hour tops but I wasn’t able to sleep any more. I had been forcing myself to sleep all night so now resting was the best I could do. I ran a warm bath since I’d heard that was something that labouring women do. It wasn’t as enjoyable for me as I’d heard it is for other women. I had been in child’s pose when hubby found me and I pretty much wanted to be in some variation of that position for every other contraction. Thus the tub was not my comfort of choice. Rather counter pressure was the key. Hubby would use some of the tools we learned in our prenatal class and with our Chiropractor Jodi (who will come join us later). Learning these pressure points made a HUGE difference. Though I was so focused during the contractions, any pressure I felt in my back and uterus was alleviated by the counter pressure hubby was using.
Hubby was on all morning timing contractions, giving me counter pressure and warming up my heating pad. He was off the hook around noon when my girl friends aka doulas arrived. He subjected himself to the kitchen where he made us lunch and prepared dinner to take for the party attending my birth. It felt joyful when they arrived since they just busied themselves around helping me through my contractions. Actually Jodi took hubby to the bed room and gave his neck an adjustment after taking one look at him. (yeah! thank you!)
Their experience told them I should call my midwife, this was shortly after lunch. Things were getting a little more intense but I was still managing well. Val came and checked me out. My mucous plug came out (thankfully into the toilet) around the time she arrived. I was progressing well but only at about 5 cm. She left and told me not to transition until after rush hour. 😉 My parents arrived at about 4pm. Mom and my doulas took me for a little walk down the street against my wishes. I just wanted to stay on my couch on my hands and knees doing child’s pose when a contraction would come. They felt that if I was more active that things would move along more. So I complied with much difficulty. I slipped into my running shoes and green socks and hobbled a few steps out the door stopped for a contraction. Hobbled into the fresh air, had a contraction. Got to the end of the side walk, had a contraction. Almost didn’t make it across the street, had another contraction. Walked a little further two more contractions…. I want to go back home! 🙂 They took me back in, stopping at each point for another contraction along the way. The weather was beautiful!
The contractions at this point were really intense and the pressure on my pelvis was what was making it hard to walk. I felt like I couldn’t tuck my pelvis into walk up straight. I didn’t find out for hours later but my baby was turning a lot and spending time in a posterior position. FUN!
When we got back into the apartment building someone saw the stairs that go down to the basement and suggested I try them slowly with support. I felt at that point that if I comply they will let me back into my apartment. As soon as I stepped in the apartment I had the most massive and intense contraction yet. I vocalized louder, and my mind went blank. I only remember telling my dad off for taking my picture. (I don’t kow what happened to that picture.) We called the Midwife (it was now the middle of rush hour…irony) and she agreed we should head to the Birthing center. We beat her there by at least 20 minutes though it felt like hours. We weren’t permitted into the center until she arrived so I labored on a picnic table in the yard of the center.
When she arrived and we were permitted into the room I was ushered into the birthing tub. It was warm and nice on my back putting a towel on the floor of the massive tub helped alleviate some pain I was starting to have in my knees. Jodi and Alexis were in the tub with me most of the time doing counter pressure and offering other options for positions and reminding me to keep my breathing and vocalizing low. They were really encouraging. They also offered me drinks after every contraction.
At some point I was told to leave the tub to try going to the bathroom. I had been drinking a lot and not peed in a very long time. The only time I was scared was when I got out of the tub. I was immediately so cold that I started shaking like crazy. I could see my bloody show all over the towel I was standing on and I was in such a focused state of mind that it didn’t entirely make sense. I was quickly comforted though. Someone threw a big warm blanket around me and then my team walked me into the bathroom. Sitting on the toilet was very uncomfortable. I knew it was necessary but it was painful on my back and awkward to have people I normally drink tea with hugging me and breathing with me. The funny thing about being in that moment though, was that its something you just go with. Its real and those people still want to be my friends. Actually, we are closer then ever.
to be continued…