Baby’s sex: Female
Due Date: 9-14-2012
Birth Date: 9-23-2012
# of Weeks Pregnant: 41.1
Baby’s Stats: 7lbs 6oz, 21 inches
Mom: Brenda B.
Wednesday, September 19
September arrived when she was good and ready. My September 14 due date came and went. The week rolled on. She still hadn’t come. My midwives were supportive and fully prepared to let my body do its thing but there was some pressure: if I went past 42 weeks, I’d have to be transferred out of their care to a regular hospital. No, no, no! I was not having that.
So my husband, Matt, and I did all the at-home induction things: ate pineapple, acupressure points, sex, ate spicy food. Nothing. Then on September 19, a Wednesday, I woke up with some cramps at about 6 a.m. I timed them out of curiosity. They were 10 minutes apart. I was so convinced that this was it. It had to be! I was past my due date, after all.
Matt called into work and we ate breakfast. I did some work and took a quick nap. By noon, the cramping had stopped. I was frustrated. At about 1:30, we went on a walk. Still nothing. Later that night, we tried the spicy food thing yet again and went out for some Thai food. The waitress assured me that the Tom Yum Kai was totally going to kickstart my labor.
The cramping (because they weren’t contractions yet, even though I thought they were at the time) continued to start and stop all night. They remained about 10 minutes apart. At around midnight, I went to bed. The cramping stopped so I slept just fine.
Thursday, September 20
I woke up around 6 again with cramping. I went about my day as normal and tried to ignore it but that was next to impossible. Not because it was painful but because I’m very in tune with my body and every little new sensation sent butterflies through my stomach. “Is this it?” I would think. “Is this the real thing?”
That night after dinner, my husband and I sat around watching Eureka as I bounced on a stability ball. The cramps got to be about five minutes apart around 9 pm, but yet again, I went to bed wondering if I was in labor. Turns out I wasn’t. I was having prodromal labor. The week before during my midwife appointment, she told me the baby was in a good position, Right Occiput Anterior, but a few weeks earlier, a different midwife at the practice told me my baby was Right Occiput Transverse and that I should start doing Spinning Babies exercises. In retrospect and with some research, it seems now that my long labor was likely my body’s way of nudging her into a more ideal spot, perhaps to tuck her chin down or turn her head a bit more. Did it sort of suck in the middle of things (the not knowing, in particular) as to whether or not my baby was coming? Yes, of course. But the fact my body was on a path of course correction is awesome.
Friday, September 21
I woke up with still more cramping. However, there was the addition of a backache that told me things might be progressing a bit further. I had a midwife appointment that afternoon for a non-stress test. Good news! Baby was a-okay. I was 90% effaced and dilated 3 cms. Since I was at 41 weeks at this point, I had my membranes swept. The midwife reassured me that I was well on my way and that she had a feeling she’d be attending my birth that weekend.
Saturday, September 22
I woke up around 8 with, you guessed it, more cramping. But it was quite a bit more intense. The cramps were 10 minutes apart and got down to 4 minutes apart within the hour. We sat around and tried to remain calm. But, holy moly, this was real. I was going to have a baby! How can you really stay calm?
Matt called the midwife around 10 to let her know what was up. She reassured us to just keep on laboring at home. Take a walk. Move around. Go about the day as normally as possible. So I sat on my stability ball and bounced, bounced, bounced. Ate and stayed hydrated.
Finally, the midwife has us come in at around 4:30pm. She checked me and I was still at 3cms. Talk about disappointment!
There’s a pretty lake right by the birthing center and the midwife encouraged us to take a walk to get my labor going. So we walked, walked walked. I stared at ducks and held onto Matt’s neck as I squatted into each contraction. We got some stares, but I didn’t even care.
After an hour of this, she checked me again and I was still at 3, edging on 4. So she sent us home with a non-narcotic pain reliever in case I needed it to sleep. She was concerned since I’d been laboring for quite some time that I’d hit a point of exhaustion. She also told me that since I’d been carrying my baby so low that it was likely I’d feel “pushy” before I was at a full 10 cms.
Ugh! I was so frustrated. And I felt a little silly. Because I was so convinced that “this was it” and it totally wasn’t.
The contractions picked up in the car on the way home. Matt made dinner and the contractions got stronger and stronger. I vividly remember being on my hands and knees and trying to eat some chicken and green beans. The contractions were 2 minutes apart from here on out. They often overlapped. It’s so funny though because as soon as they stopped, I felt completely fine.
I paced and squatted and listened to my Hypnobabies tracks to keep calm and focused. While I didn’t experience pain relief from them (and that very well may have been due to my own mental blocks about it) I did get a sense of peace and reassurance. I kept thinking, “I can do this, I am made for this.”
10 pm rolled along and the midwife told me to go ahead and take the pain reliever to see if I could get some sleep. If it was real labor, and not prodromal, the medication wouldn’t do a thing and I’d keep progressing. If it was prodromal, it would slow things down enough for me to get some rest.
I followed her advice and took the pain reliever. I got into a warm bath and tried to relax. Once I got out, I laid down and the contractions did slow. They spaced out to about 10 minutes apart and I was able to nod off for a few minutes at a time. My body gave me a break, which was much appreciated.
Sunday, September 23
When the contractions picked up again they did so with a vengeance. All that stuff before? Cramping. This was the real deal. I knew it. I told Matt to call the midwife because I felt like I needed to push. She told us to come on in. I remember Matt asking me a question at some point while he was packing up the car and I snapped at him. I’m busy here! I felt bad, but my mind and body were a bit occupied.
I didn’t know it at the time, but I was in transition in the car. Having to sit upright and not get on my hands and knees or squat made the experience pretty dang painful. But I listened to Hypnobabies and breathed through it, saying “Open, open, open” to my cervix like that woman does in front of the door in that old Mervyn’s commercial.
We arrived at the birth center at 3:30 am. My midwife checked me and I was at 7 cms. “Thank the lord!” I said. Finally, some progress!
So I hopped off the exam table and waddled my way to the birthing room with no pants on (I really didn’t care at this point) and got in the tub. Ahh. Sweet relief! The water felt great (though I wish it could’ve been a bit warmer) and the knowledge that we didn’t have to go back home was reassuring. The next time we left that birth center, it would be with our baby!
I squatted in the tub and made some weird, guttural, grunting noises. I felt primitive. Like I was connected to all the ancestors of women who had done this very thing, squatting in a forest somewhere. Matt held onto me and gave support. My awesome doula, Sera, was there as well. The entire staff was kind and supportive, giving me words of encouragement the entire time. “You’re doing so good, momma.” It might seem small, but these words told me I was on the right track. I was doing this “right.”
The midwife checked me a few more times and finally, I was at 10 cms. I have no idea how much time passed. They don’t have any windows in the birth center so you’re not focused on the passage of time. So my time notations from here are out are just guesses. I think I labored in the tub for about 2 hours. I was feeling really “pushy” and was bearing down without trying. My body just did it.
So I pushed and pushed without much result. Turns out, I wasn’t pushing hard enough. I was afraid, I think of hurting myself. I held back a little bit.
They realized I hadn’t peed in a while so they got me out of the tub. I sat on the toilet and everyone left. I wasn’t able to pee but I had a contraction on the toilet and finally had some progress. The position change helped to work her down a bit. I remember reaching down and felt something. For a moment, I thought I’d broken something down there. Then I realized, what I was feeling was my baby girl’s hair! Oh my god, this was real!
Everyone came back in and my midwife asked me if I’d be okay with laboring on the bed while they gave me a catheter. My bladder was so full it was pushing my uterus to one side apparently. So, I laid down and right before she could put in the catheter, a contraction came. I pushed hard. They gave up on the catheter idea. My midwife asked me if I’d be okay with having my baby on the bed and not in the tub like I’d planned. So long as she gets here! I thought.
I was probably only on the bed a half and hour, but I don’t know for certain. I pushed a few times before she crowned. They held up a mirror so I could see and that provided a lot of motivation. The midwife and crew poured hot olive oil on me and placed super hot wash rags on my perineum to prevent tearing. Then a big push and out her head came. I paused for a few breathes, another contraction came and I pushed again. Her body slipped right out. The midwife handed her to Matt, with the warning that the umbilical cord was a bit short, and he handed her to me.
At 8:09 am, September Elyse was born.
The first thought in my head? She’s so slippery!
I delivered the placenta after a few minutes then they wrapped everything up and made me comfortable as Matt and I sat and admired our new baby. She was so cute and wiggly.
She nursed right away after that. I just couldn’t stop looking at her. This came out of me?!
After a time, the midwife came back and helped Matt cut the cord. They whisked her off to be weighed and measured. 7lbs. 6oz and 21 inches long. She had a full head of hair and blue gray eyes. So pretty.
They cleaned me up and gave me a catheter to empty my ridiculously full bladder. Then we received a few aftercare instructions and they sent us on our way. Five hours after giving birth, we were back home, and for the first time, as a family.
A big thank-you to Brenda for sharing her birth story with us!
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