It was a dark and stormy night. There are few times in your life when you can actually write that, and this is one of them. Baby B was born on a dark and stormy night after a lengthy process.
I woke up 10 June around 3:30 in the morning to go to the bathroom. I was a few steps from the toilet when I felt a small gush of liquid warm and moisten my panties. There was not much liquid so I figured I was developing incontinence in the last days of my pregnancy. I was lucky enough to not piddle myself during my pregnancy when I sneezed, got startled, etc. I went to the bathroom, hand-washed my undies, put them in the laundry and put on a clean pair. I was having light contractions and did not think much of it, I was going back to sleep. They were uncomfy by 5 and I was on my knees not feeling great but after a while went back to sleep. Around 6 I piddled myself again while in bed. I went to the bathroom but did not have to urinate. I examined myself when I wiped, nothing seemed off.
I had a midwife exam that day so called her prior to the appointment because through the day I would piddle myself and I figured that I was not urinating, it was something else. It smelled a little like a fixative you would use when preserving a creature in a specimen jar, just diluted. I began using a LunaPad in the morning. By 4 in the afternoon my midwife confirmed I was leaking amniotic fluid and that me and baby had good vital signs. She was excited and figured I would have the baby within 24 hours. I was to call her that night before I went to bed to update her on my progress.
I called that night, no change, just piddling. I also made a chicken curry. I gotta say, leaking downstairs was kind of uncomfortable. In the morning my midwife called and came over for an exam, I wasn’t even dilating. The only change was that I was not leaking amniotic fluid anymore, vitals were still good. She instructed me to go about my day, go for a walk to get things going, she also left a breast pump hoping that stimulation would start everything. I was to pump every hour for 5-10 minutes. She also left more herbs that I was to take upon her instructions starting in the afternoon if things were not progressing. Up until now I was taking an herbal tonic she made for a week, evening primrose oil for a week, and my red raspberry leaf tea since my 2nd trimester.
My husband took Friday off from work to be with me and chill out. We knew baby would be here soon. My girlfriend/doula came over after 12 PM and we went for a 90 minute walk and did an impromptu photo shoot. I was teaching her how to use my camera since she would be around for the birth to get pics of the baby. At that time I kicked my husband out of the house to play with his laptop at a coffee shop.
My midwife called that afternoon, I was able to relay our vitals to her and she instructed me on what to do. This conversation was the second time she mentioned the possibility of a hospital transport because I was not progressing. You see you usually have 24 hours from time waters rupture to labor because of risk of infection. She was frank about what could happen to me and baby if we developed an infection.
That walk with my doula was the last time I would leave the house for a few days. That Friday night the weather turned from our mid-90s to suddenly mid-50s for the weekend. Colorado summers, they are funny like that. That Friday I made an eggplant parmigiana and peach cobbler.
My contractions by Friday night were a regular 6 minutes apart. They were easy. Easy is not a good sign.
My midwife came over for an exam early in the morning. I was dilated 1.5 cm. At this point my waters had been compromised for over 48 hours, we talked about hospital transport again. She wanted me to make a decision, I asked to keep laboring. She let me only because my vitals were good and baby had good vitals. I tried to stay calm and breathe, in retrospect I don’t know if I should have been getting more anxious. I don’t know if that would have helped.
She left for a few hours and returned for another exam. She actually returned to move in with us at that point, she was not leaving as she had to FREQUENTLY monitor the baby and me. She felt my cervix and realized I had two ridges on it. She asked to see if she could break them up. She was able to break one with her fingernail and it hurt pretty bad. My husband was holding me on the bed while this happened and his instinct was to make her stop hurting me, but he refrained and I took as much as I could bear. She was frank in letting me know that things had to progress or we would have to go to the hospital.
I began using a more rapid, blood-pressure raising breath (Ujaiya breath) from my yoga practice and really focusing on visualization of dilating my cervix. I ran to the bathroom twice before nightfall to puke the last set of herbs I was instructed to take. The midwife even went to get a birthing tub which I labored in for about 90 minutes. We were not prepped for a water birth and my husband had to call a friend last minute to get us a hose safe for drinking water.
In the middle of the afternoon chaos we had another frank discussion about the hospital. I remember my head was laying on my husband’s leg on the carpet and I started to cry. I felt like an absolute loser for not being able to progress. I felt so much shame for doing what I thought was taking care of my body for my pregnancy but yet my body was not laboring. I thought I had to have done something wrong. I asked to stay in labor since vitals were good. My midwife was concerned for my stamina, I had been drinking water and Recharge but not eating much. She scrambled an egg for me.
As the sun was setting she did another exam, I was at 7. She did not know how but I did. I used a lot of visualization and would breathe with my hands gesturing an opening. By 9PM we called my girlfriend/doula to come over… she brought pizza for the midwife and my husband. Just before she arrived I was at 9+ with just a tiny bit of cervix on one side. My doula and husband took turns letting me lay my head on them. It was when I was with my doula I did not have to concentrate on my breathing and I started smiling, even laughing a little. I was fully-dilated, I knew it. My midwife did not even check me she called the 2nd midwife to come over to assist her.
The 2nd midwife arrived sometime around midnight/early Sunday morning. She came in the door, took off her jacket, sat on the ground and was knitting.
The midwife suggested I take that time to go sit on the toilet to get that part of my body ready for the real work, active labor. After I sat on the toilet for a while I was to have another exam and I went to the bedroom for that. I was fully dilated and we had to hold off on the exam for a quick contraction. All looked good except we had another red flag, a little meconium. Yes, we did mention transport again if I could not deliver quickly.
We went back to the living room, I laid on my side again. I was made to get up and walk, my husband made me dance a bit, we pulled out a birthing stool, we tried a few things. I was keeping it chill and did not want to push. Finally I was told I needed to have the baby. The midwife suggested I get back in the birthing pool and squat in there to push. I did not want to do that. You see I am SHORT and getting in and out of that tub was kind of hard for my stubby little legs. Hubby sat on the birthing stool and I squated in front of him jabbing my knees into his shins (he is a foot taller than me). This was the position, this was it. Only one problem… how do you PUSH?
Seriously, how do you PUSH if you have never done it before? It really is like pooping, but if you are seriously constipated. This was hard for me. My plumbing works like clock-work. This was when the labor gets a little embarrassing… I had to be instructed on how to have a constipated poo. My midwife placed two fingers on my perineum towards my rectum and “taught” me how to push against that pressure. I took a couple of efforts to get the hang of it but finally had to do that ultimate surrender. And yes, I even made some “turtle head” jokes that my doula friend had to explain to the midwife. Beyond those jokes my midwife had to wipe my behind a little but I was expecting that from the Ina May Gaskin talk I had attended last month.
The real pushing… 8-10 pushes. In the second to last push I felt the “ring of fire” you hear about. I had heard it feels like everything in your girly region is going to split. It scared me once I started to feel it, for me it was a warm sensation within my body, not like my vajayjay splitting. I stopped pushing as soon as I felt it from fear. Then I realized it really didn’t hurt. I didn’t even wait for the next contraction I held on to my husbands legs and held a long push, “ring of whatever” I held it. I squeezed Baby B out so fast the midwife had to lunge to catch him with one hand. She was not expecting him yet but she is a professional baby catcher and she got him. The most surprising part of labor during those 8-10 pushes that I had not read about… the cracking of my pelvis. Could have been bone adjusting, soft connective tissue moving, etc. but I could feel and hear cracking… so could my husband. My pelvis is fine though in the aftermath.
I delivered the baby, he was passed up to me and I sat leaning with my back against the couch holding him. He was not crying, he was sort of whimpering. Oh great, something was wrong. The 2nd midwife took him from me and swept his mouth and began breathing for him. The midwives were quick to get the oxygen tank, manual sucky lung things, machine sucky lung thingies, acupuncture needles, etc. They worked on him for 20 minutes+ until his lungs were good. It was hard because he had a short cord and we were still attached but I couldn’t reach him with how we were positioned. I could only watch him. My midwife had my husband cut the cord once it stopped pulsing so they could work on him easier. My husband and I talked to him and touched him without getting in the way. My placenta delivered and I hardly noticed I was too busy looking at our baby and his distress.
Within 30 minutes he was handed to me and I held him and an oxygen mask. Soon after he was fine. My midwives went from hippy-dippy ladies to precise EMTs and back to hippy-dippy kind women.
From that point on they began cleaning the birthing area, my midwife encouraged us to latch, they helped me clean up in the bathroom while my husband held him, we took a placenta tour, and eventually the doula left, the midwives sang us a lullaby, and our little family went to bed while the midwives finished cleaning up our home.
We woke up that Sunday morning as a cute little family in bed and to a clean house where you could not tell a birth had happened hours prior.