Today is my younger son’s 2nd birthday. I’ve been thinking about posting my birth stories for a while, so here goes…
Even though my state allows non-nurse midwives, the closest one I could find was well over an hour away, so when it seemed like I was heading into labor on Friday of Memorial Day Weekend, I called her to let her know she should come. Apparently, my uterus just didn’t like what I had eaten for supper, because by the time the midwife and her assistant came, my contractions had almost stopped and were not strong. You’d think I’d know real labor from false labor the second time around, wouldn’t you? 🙂
Real labor started on Monday afternoon — Memorial Day. Even though the contractions were strong, they were only about every 7-15 minutes apart. Having had one false alarm, I didn’t want to make the midwife drive that far again for another false alarm, so I decided to wait until the contractions were every 5 minutes or until my water had broken. Contractions continued every 7-15 minutes apart all night long. I had to breathe and vocalize through them. And my husband had to sleep because he had to get up in the morning and drive. (He was driving a big rig at the time, and had a load that needed to be delivered that day. I found out later that it would have been just fine if it had been delivered on Wednesday. He says he told me that; I told him next time don’t listen to me when I’m in labor.) 🙂 What was going through my mind that morning (probably some 15 hours after labor started), is that I still hadn’t settled into a reliable pattern, so I didn’t count that I was in “real” labor, and it was likely that I wouldn’t go into “real” labor until he got back. I was afraid that he’d stay home all day, and nothing would happen, and then he have to go when I was right in the middle of labor, or just after the baby was born, and I didn’t want that. Besides, I had stayed up all night in the living room so he could sleep, and if he didn’t go, then my night of laboring by myself without him even being awake to rub my back was wasted. (Like I said, “don’t listen to me when I’m in labor” — that was the muddled labor hormones talking.) So, off he went.
I was so tired, and just felt completely defeated. Nothing was going as I had planned. We were staying with my mom at the time (not where I wanted to be); my midwife was over an hour’s drive away, and I had already disturbed her once (not what I wanted to do again); and then my husband had to leave. Plus I hadn’t gotten much sleep because of the blasted contractions. I was able to sleep between some of them, but it was quite a restless night. I called the midwife around noon to let her know what was going on, but I didn’t really let her know that I was in labor — I guess I wanted her to read my mind?? What I told her was that I was having some contractions, but they weren’t in a regular pattern, and I’d call her when they settled into a regular pattern or when my water broke.
I put my older son down for his nap (he was 19 months old at the time), and continued with the blasted labor. The contractions hurt so bad! When I was in labor with my older son, I thought “epidural” one time, and that was it. This time, I thought “epidural” with every contraction for several hours. I tried every position I could think of, including several positions I thought would be horrible, but nothing else was working. None of it worked. What I really needed was somebody to apply counter-pressure to my back. A nice chiropractic adjustment probably would’ve helped. I had pubic symphysis disorder, which I think may have contributed at least somewhat to the labor pain. Whether it was due to fetal malpositioning, PSD, just my bad luck, or something else, I don’t know. In my first labor, I opted to get a labor pool, but it didn’t seem to help that much, so I opted not to get a labor pool this time — and I was wishing for it something fierce!
Finally, about 3:30 in the afternoon, my water broke. YES!!! FINALLY!!! So I called my husband, the midwife, my mom, and my best friend to let them know that something was finally happening. Remember that my midwife lived over an hour away; plus she had to arrange for child care. My back was hurting terribly during contractions, and it really felt like I need to use the bathroom. Of course, I knew this was a classic sign of birth being imminent, so I resisted the urge. Until the thought popped into my mind that I hadn’t gone to the bathroom all day, and maybe if I emptied my colon, it would relieve some of the pressure!
My mom had come home right before this, bringing my brother’s two kids; my sister also had just arrived with her three kids; and my other sister’s kids popped in from next door. Lovely. My memory is a little muddled at this point, but I must have briefed my mom on what was happening, and I think the midwife called in to see how things were going at that point. Anyway, my mom flipped out — she’s very nervous about birth anyway (was knocked out against her wishes for all four of her births, so has no memory of anything except contractions, going to the hospital, and waking up with a pubic shave and a big episiotomy) — and she starts crying, and hustling the kids off to my sister’s house next door. I go to the bathroom to try to relieve some of the pressure I’m feeling [all you seasoned birthers are probably smiling right now — or am I the only one who can make myself believe that I’m not really pushing, I’m just going to the bathroom?]. My sister comes into the bathroom and tries to make me get into bed, so that I don’t push (per the midwife’s orders). She didn’t realize that I had been in labor so long — thought that when my water broke was when labor had started, and thought it was a premature urge to push and/or a precipitous labor. [Ha! I wish!] By that time, I had pushed one time, and felt the baby’s head move way down. I knew there was no stopping it!
About this time, my husband calls to see how things are going; the midwife is calling in on another line (as she’s racing down the highway trying to get there in time — no way!); and one push has put the baby to crowning. My mom is trying to handle two phones at once, and is crying and flustered; my sister is trying to get me to stop, and I tell her there’s no way. And then my mom hangs up on my husband!!! When I found out later that had happened, I was furious, but what could I do?
I’m not really sure if the first push put the baby at crowning, or if it was the second push, but anyway, the next push birthed his head, and the next push birthed his body. I was in hands-and-knees position, and my sister caught him. She handed him to me, and we started drying him off with towels. About this time, a lady from church (a former nurse) arrived. My mom called her all flustered when it became apparent that I was going to be having the baby without the midwife, and she dropped everything and left her 5 children (the oldest was old enough to babysit!) and flew down. Seth wasn’t breathing yet, but he was looking around and looking at me. Everybody else was kinda freaking out, but I could tell everything was just fine — he was still getting as much oxygen from the placenta as he was before he was born, so I knew he was all right. When they started rubbing him briskly with the towels, he cried in irritation, and everybody else breathed a sigh of relief. He started nursing immediately.
His birth time was around 4:30, about an hour after my water broke, but nobody looked at the clock right then. It could have been much earlier if I hadn’t tried not to push. About 10-15 minutes after that, I pushed the placenta out. We were all still in the bathroom, so clean-up was a breeze! Just wipe up what little blood there was with the towels, and toss ’em into the washing machine. (We kept them until the midwife got there, so she could verify that it wasn’t a hemorrhage — my mom thought it was a lot of blood, but I could tell that it wasn’t very much. It’s just that a little goes a long way. A “hemorrhage” in a vaginal birth is more than approximately 2 cups of blood — visualize 2 cups of red food coloring spilled onto your floor, and it looks like a lot.)
We didn’t have an ultrasound at all, so we didn’t know if he was a boy or girl until birth. When he came out, my sister said, “Oh, he’s beautiful!” and I said, “Oh, he is a boy?” which is what I had thought most of the time. She kinda laughed and said, “I didn’t check!” So I looked and was the first to find out for sure that he was a boy. He seemed so small! I thought he was about the size that my older son was at birth, which was 7 lb. 5 oz. I called him, “My itty-bitty boy.”
Anyway, we wrapped the placenta in a chux pad and put it in a plastic bag to keep from making a mess with it, and I went to bed with my newborn son. Somebody brought my other son back over, and he wasn’t too sure immediately about the baby, but liked him pretty quickly. At some point, somebody called my husband or he called back — anyway, he heard that the baby was born, and everything was okay. About an hour after birth, the midwife and her assistant got there and checked everything out, and did all of the post-birth stuff (weighing, measuring, etc.) My husband was delayed by a car wreck or construction or something, so didn’t get home until about 3 hours after the baby was born.
When the midwife and her assistant saw the baby, they said, “Oh, he’s big!” But then, they’re used to seeing newborns, whereas it had been almost a year since I had seen a newborn baby. He was 9 lb. 2 oz. Born without a tear, only “skid marks.”
The birth was quite a bit different from what I had expected — so much for visualizing how birth will go, huh? Even though my water didn’t break until the end (and it had broken at the beginning of my first labor), the contractions were just as painful, if not more so. I was alone. Sometimes I see women writing that their “perfect” birth involves them laboring alone, outside under the moon or whatever. No, thanks — been there, done that (well, not the “outside” part), and don’t want to do it again.
Let’s just say that I completely understand why women seek the care and comfort of other women during labor. But my main regret is that my husband wasn’t there. In thinking about giving birth the second time (even prior to Seth’s conception), I always envisioned my husband receiving the baby as I pushed him out. Instead, he was the last person in the family to see him — my siblings and all their children saw him before my husband was even home. I’ll have to make sure my husband knows this next time around (if there is a next time) — don’t require me to think very much during labor! When I’m in labor, it feels like my brain is underwater — sights and sounds are muffled, and I’m pretty much “submerged” into labor. Listen to me when I say things like “rub my back,” but anything that requires more thought than that is subject to tremendous error! You learn something new every labor.