Today’s post is from K La, a long time reader and commenter of my blog. I’m so happy to be able to both share a post from her and learn a little more about her through her birth story. Read her full bio at the end of this post. This birth story brought me to tears at 39 weeks and I hope that Twig’s birth will be exactly like her daughter’s birth was.
This is my birthing tub, otherwise known as an AquaDoula. My midwife lent it to me in preparation for the planned home-birth of my first child. My husband and I decided against having an ultrasound, so we didn’t know the sex of our baby. My pregnancy was text-book perfect, so we were excellent candidates for a homebirth.
I was due on 09/09/09. That day came and went with no baby. On 09/16/09, I went to my midwife for another appointment. By this time I had had two “false labors” and had been having Braxton-Hick contractions for two weeks. At my appointment, I was 100% effaced (a new development) but still only 2cm dilated (I had been 2cm dilated since 09/09/09).
The appointment went well. I went home, having small, pathetic contractions and just a little cramping for the rest of the day. Around 10:00 pm the contractions changed. It was obvious to me that the contractions were not going away, that I would not be going to sleep that night, and that I was going to have the baby soon. I wanted to time the contractions, but I really didn’t know how. Was I supposed to start timing when my tummy got tight? When the pain started? Did I end when I could breathe or when my tummy felt smooshy again?
At 10:22pm I called the midwife and told her this was it. She asked me a few questions, told me to take a shower and keep her updated. DH started filling up the AquaDoula . He hooked the hose up to the washer, but the hose’s connection wasn’t tight enough so he had to unhook it and get a different hose. Once he got that hose hooked up he started filling up the tub but the hot water ran out way before the tub was filled up. I got in anyway, by now the contractions were very crampy and quite painful. Ben started heating water up on the stove, hauling it up the stairs and dumping it into the pool. He was still trying to time the contractions (Which were really easy to time now since the pain and tightness came at the same time and were very distinct. These contractions were obvious, there was no ignoring them) and do everything I asked him to do. Poor DH, he was running all over the place.
The hot water came back on and DH finished filling up the AquaDoula. With all the boiled water he had dumped in the pool was about 100 degrees. I got back in and could feel my muscles relaxing. The water was amazing. I wasn’t sure if I wanted a water birth, but I knew I wanted the option. Once I was in the water there was no question: I wanted a waterbirth. Still, between contractions I liked getting out and lying on the bed. If I had a contraction in the water, it was fine, if I had one on the bed, it was VERY painful. I walked a lot between the pool and the bed. This was about the same time the midwives showed up. They checked me (on the bed) and I was at 6. They listened to the baby’s heart rate (great!) and checked the position of the head. They said it was a lot lower than it was at the appointment that afternoon. I was still moving around a lot and the midwife commented that I should stay in one position to conserve energy. I just couldn’t! I moved to the toilet but that didn’t help, so I decided to get back into the pool. Once again, as soon as I got in I relaxed. The midwife tried to guide my breathing and that helped a lot. I had somehow pictured that I would be silent during labor, but that was just not the case. At first I was quiet, concentrating on deep breathing and relaxing, but by the time I was at 6cm I could not keep quiet. This time in the pool I was able to find a position I liked. I was mostly on my knees (but in water, so I was relaxed) leaning over the edge.
It didn’t take long for me to have the urge to push with each contraction. This worried me, since I had planned to push as little as possible. My biggest fear was tearing, so I wanted to let my body do all the work. When I told the midwife I wanted to push she said to push a little and if it felt good, keep doing it. If it hurt, it meant my cervix was swelling and I needed to not push for a while. I did a few little pushes (still hesitantly) and it felt wonderful! It felt like I could push the contractions away. I started pushing more and the midwife said she wanted to check to see where I was. I was at 9cm! It took less than an hour to go from 6 to 9!
Sometime during all this someone had turned off the light. The hall light was still on, giving a very cave-like feeling to the room. They also put a flashlight inside the tub so they could see the water (and me, I assume, wouldn’t want to miss anything!) and make sure everything was fine. I loved it. I have always loved swimming in pools at night, with the pool lights on, glowing underwater and making the ripples reflect on the ceiling and walls. That’s exactly what it was like. No one talked except in a whisper when they needed something or asked a question. It was perfect. It was so much better than I had planned.
At this point the contractions really changed. I knew I was going through transition. Even in the warm water, this part hurt. A lot. I tried to ride the contractions, to use them, but there were a few times it felt like they would bury me. I tried to concentrate on the sounds my midwife was telling me to make, and I could do it most of the time, but a few times I couldn’t get my breathe or just felt too overwhelmed. I felt tired, but still optimistic. I know what I was doing was hard, but I still knew I could do it. At one point, I asked myself if I wanted to do this. Did I want to get in the car, drive to the hospital and get an epidural to take away the pain? The answer was no. I didn’t want to get out of the water, I couldn’t stand the thought of getting in a car, and even though it hurt, I knew I was safe. I was relaxed, focused, and surrounded by people I trusted. Even during transition, I knew I had made the best possible choice for me and that not only could I do this, but this was the best way for me to do it.
I reached down and felt the head. It was so close! I was pushing hard with every contraction and trying to feel if I was making any progress. It felt like it was taking forever but it could have only been 3 or 4 contractions later when the head was right there. I grabbed DH’s hand and made him feel. It felt slick; the water sack had not yet broken.
Suddenly I felt the baby kick! Here I was, in full labor, minutes away from delivering, and my baby was kicking! I was so surprised!
I remember realizing that the rest between contractions was getting longer. I felt that the head was coming more to the front. I knew I was getting close. During a rest periods I stayed down in the water with my eyes closed telling myself that this next push would make the head crown. I geared myself up for the contractions and when it came I pushed hard. There was a “pop” and I gasped. Not only was the contraction gone in an instant and I felt that I had fallen off of it, but I knew my water had broken!
The next contraction I could feel the baby’s head start to crown. I didn’t want to push it out, I was still afraid of tearing. There were a few contraction where I would push, but then the head would go back and I would have to start again. After a little while of this I felt like I should lay back. I did and was floating on my back in the water. I pushed hard, griping Melissa’s hand and I felt the ring of fire. It burned. It BURNED!. One more push (And it felt like a long and terrible push) and the head was out! I gasped and kept asking DH if he could see it, which was a ridiculous thing to ask since, what else would he be looking at? Besides, he was the one catching. He was RIGHT THERE.
I tried to catch my breath and wait for the next contraction. I was also still in shock from how much that last one hurt and that we were so close to being done! And then the baby started squirming. I couldn’t believe it! The baby was twisting the shoulders and even started kicking. It’s something I will never forget.
The next contraction came (not as bad) and out came the rest of the body. I couldn’t believe it! We had a baby! DH caught it and brought it out of the water. The cord was surprisingly short, so I had to be careful not to pull it, but still keep the baby’s head out of the water. The baby was beautiful! Dark hair, wide eyes! I don’t know how long DH and I just sat there, holding our baby and staring, but at some point I realized the midwife was draining the pool so I could sit down (I was bracing myself up out the water to keep the baby’s face above water) and at some point she told me that I would have another contraction and needed to push the placenta out. That was not what I wanted to hear. But, when the next contraction came I pushed just a little and the placenta came out just fine. It wasn’t bad at all.
Finally, the midwife asked if we were going to check if it was a boy or a girl. DH and I looked at each other and he slowly moved the cord out of the way. It was a girl! A baby girl! A daughter. A perfect, healthy baby daughter.
Her birth was perfect, the best experience of my life.