You know those birth stories where the mother speaks of a peaceful birth wherein she breathed her baby out? This isn’t one of them. (if any reading are pregnant with the first, note that most don’t have such fast labours!)
On Thursday, I was exactly 38 weeks pregnant and had a midwife appointment. I’d been having more Braxton-Hicks, and the midwife actually saw one, but nothing more. Baby was lower, but not engaged, and all was well. I told her I’d see her next week.
When I got home, I started having niggly contractions that didn’t go away with activity, but also weren’t really painful. I installed the car seat, filled a Doomoo seat (they really need to sell those things in the US), and was happy my birth kit had finally arrived. The contractions stopped by evening, and I figured it would be at least a few more days, minimum. My husband and I hung out a bit after the other kids were in bed, then I decided to try to sleep.
As usual, I was up and down in the night, moving to the couch at one point. I’d wake periodically with back pain, change position, and go back to sleep. By 6.25, it finally dawned on me that the back pain was back labour, and I decided to take a shower for relief. I had to step around Cosmo, which should’ve been another clue, as he watches over me when in labour.
The shower helped, and I was convinced I was in early labour. My husband was awake by the time I got out, so I told him I thought it was baby day. Charlotte wanted to snuggle, so we did, and then went up for breakfast. Strangely for me, I wasn’t very hungry, and just had some Weetabix and sat on the birthing ball. I also decided to start timing things and found they were 10-15 minutes apart, lasting 30-45 seconds. I could easily breathe through them, though counter-pressure helped.
Knowing this was likely it, I told my mom she needed to cancel her lunch plans so she could take the kids for us. I also told the kids they’d get to spend the day with Grammy and PowPow. Charlotte seemed concerned and wanted to be held, and I actually ended up leaning into her for a few contractions. I was starting to vocalize, softly. Kieran asked me what I was doing and I explained that I was in labour. His eyes got huge and he said “you mean we’re getting a baby?!”. It was precious. He also tried showing me a book, but I was getting in the zone. I was also getting annoyed with noises, so I asked my parents to take the kids. I hugged them and they left. It was 10.00.
My contractions were then 5-7 minutes apart, lasting 50-70 seconds. I wondered if the jacuzzi would feel good, so I asked Bart to check on it while I phoned the midwives, as Ashley, knowing my history of fast labours, had given strict instructions to phone when they came at 6 minutes or less. There was soap residue, so he set about cleaning that, which further irritated me and made my contractions slow a little. The receptionist phoned and said I needed to come into the birth center, which meant I was even more annoyed (if two women are in labour at once, you have to go to the birth center). We got things in the car and went, and my labour, predictably, stalled.
Upon arriving, Ashley greeted me and apologised for making me come in. The other lady had given birth, but would be there another hour or so, and Ashley wasn’t comfortable telling me to wait that long (it was 11.00) – she was right. She checked me and got me in he room, and I requested a bath. The hot water was nice, but after 30-45 minutes, I’d had enough and wanted the birthing ball. Shortly after that, the larger room was available, and we moved in there. My contractions were getting more intense, my vocalizing less controlled, all with my wonderful husband providing counter pressure each time. Ashley requested that I get on the bed, so I alternately leaned on the headboard and went on all fours.
It was around noon, and I was definitely in transition. I couldn’t help screaming, roaring even, declaring “I can’t!”, and crying in pain. Sometimes I’d notice my crucifix and miraculous medal and try to focus, remembering that I was offering the pain up for some friends who were in emotional pain. After a couple of those, my body started bearing down, but there was no relief from the raw agony of transition like my other births. Because I was bearing down, Ashley requested to check me: 8cm (which I knew because I’d seen the second bloody show), and baby was still high.
Another contraction took me as I got back on all fours. My body was bearing down with everything I had, while I continued to scream. I knew things were close, but wasn’t expecting to feel the “ring of fire” right then! Baby was crowning! Ashley asked if I wanted to go onto my side, and I said no, so she just asked me to go slow. On the next contraction, the head was nearly out, and Ashley thought baby was posterior. She had me flip over real quick, and the labour assistant helped hold my leg while I pushed him out in one or two pushes, roaring all the while.
Immediately there was relief and euphoria, as my son, Leo Vianney, was handed to me. It was 12.34. The labour had been intense, but the euphoria was equally intense, and the tears were now tears of elation. I was, and am, overwhelmed with love. I stayed like that, holding him and nursing him, for an hour or two. The cord wasn’t cut until the placenta was birthed, and, even though he had a nuchal hand, I had no tearing! I sipped coconut water and took in my son and thanked my wonderful husband and the midwife. It was amazing. Once Leo unlatched, I showered and dressed, and all the checks were done before we headed home. It may not have been the home birth I’d planned, but it was perfect.