December 16, 2012 Birth Center Birth
Beginning at week 37, when you’re considered to be full term, I of course began looking for every possible sign that labor was near. I had been practicing hypnobirthing a couple of months prior through a book and cd that offered positive affirmations and a relaxation hypnosis session. I would listen to the affirmations over and over while driving around. If I had time after work, I’d look forward to listening to the rainbow relaxation hypnosis track and was always amazed at how it never failed to put me “to sleep”… yet I’d wake up right when it told me to. I hoped I was really learning the subconscious messages it intended to convey, and was optimistically looking forward to seeing how this would all play out on my birthing day!
A day or two after hitting the 37 week mark, I woke up at 3:30 in the morning with awful period-like cramps that caused me to rock on the floor in the fetal position. “Could this be it?” I thought, as I tried to see if there were any sort of contractions accompanying the cramping. After walking around for a bit they seemed to subside, and I was able to go back to sleep. A couple of days later my discharge was becoming tea colored, a sign to me that perhaps it was becoming blood tinged. “Could this be the bloody show?” I kept wondering. Yet none of the discharge was ever stringy or snotty. Coupled with these two things were random bouts of crampiness and a few odd sleepless nights. I generally felt symptoms mirroring PMS, so I knew something had to be going on. My instincts kept telling me this baby wasn’t going to wait until the due date, yet people kept telling me it didn’t look like I dropped and that with him being my first I was going to go beyond my due date of December 18th. I won’t lie, a week prior to my due date I began to take evening primrose oil twice a day… I wasn’t in any sort of rush to have him, as I actually enjoyed being pregnant. But I figured “Why not? If anything it’ll help soften things up”.
On December 15th, a Saturday night, I went to bed and did my perineal massage with olive oil as usual…but when I went to wash my hands I noticed a large egg white looking slime on my thumb… wow, this was definitely part of the mucous plug! I told my husband I was losing my mucous plug, but not to be alarmed, as it doesn’t really mean much and still could be days or weeks. But underneath my calmness I was elated. Finally, after all my sign searching here was the first real sign of definite progress! Still, I went to bed thinking nothing of it.
I woke up that same night (or next morning, rather) at 3:30… it was those cramps again! I couldn’t sleep they were so uncomfortable. I plugged in the heating pad and tried to apply heat, but nothing was helping. I figured these were the same false cramps I had a week and a half prior… I was totally in denial because I didn’t want to cause a false alarm. I tried going back to sleep, but the cramps refused to go away. I was even noticing a pattern. Then I had this sudden urge to go poop, so I ran to the bathroom and did my business. But after I was done it seemed like I was still peeing, as there was a constant slow trickle continuing in the toilet. I wiped and noticed blood and a lot of mucous! It was at that point I realized my water had broken. I remembered TACO that we learned in class and noted the time which was approximately 4:30 am. Amount was small but steady, color was clear (yay!), and there wasn’t an odor. My next step was to time the “cramps” which I now realized were surges. I downloaded an awesome contraction counter app and woke up my husband to alert him my water had broken. He asked if I was serious but given my calm delivery of this news he wasn’t too alarmed and went back to snooze for a bit. I woke my mom, who had flown down to be with me for this event, and she popped out of bed right away. I had my husband call the midwife, Kaitlan, but she wasn’t too concerned yet since the surges weren’t quite lasting a minute. She told us to meet her at the birth center at 8:00 am. At about 5:30, I realized my surges were becoming stronger now, and were beginning to last 45 seconds to over a minute and coming in at 3 minutes apart. They were enough to cause me to stop talking, assume a bent over position, and breathe through. My mom became concerned. She knew the signs and was afraid we wouldn’t make it to the center in time. But I assured them we’d wait it out, as the last thing I wanted was to drive 40 minutes to the birth center only to be told to go home and come back later. Everyone loaded up the car as I calmly worked through each surge. I tried the breathing techniques I had learned, but actually seemed to instinctively enjoy a different breathing pattern that came naturally to me and felt better.
The car ride was by far the most uncomfortable part thus far, as I wasn’t able to assume my bent over position through the surges. We finally made it to the center, and as we waited for the midwife I tried to walk around a bit. This proved impossible, as each surge brought me to my knees and I’d wait it out on all fours. For some reason it was just more comfortable for me to do that. Minutes later the midwife arrived, along with 2 assistants and a friend of mine. We went inside and they prepped me for an antibiotic drip (I was unfortunately strep B positive). The surges continued, each seeming to get stronger. My husband would rub my back through each surge, and this really seemed to help. Finally, after the antibiotics were administered and I had yet another bowel movement, I asked them if we could fill the tub. They asked if I felt I was ready for that and wondered if I instead would rather walk around some. I quickly said “nope, I really want to get in the tub now”, so they began to fill it.
The water felt really nice, especially being poured down my back during surges… but I’d say after being in the tub for only minutes I was suddenly feeling a strange urge to begin pushing. I was alarmed, as I really didn’t think I could already be at this stage. The midwife asked to check me, and through my surges I heard her say “his head is right there”. I was 5cm dilated, 100% effaced, and zero station. She asked me if I felt like pushing and I said yes… although for some reason I was fighting the urge (a big no no… I should’ve known better!). She told me to go ahead and push and work with the surges. By this time they were becoming very intense and all I can remember is going within… the rest was like a dream happening around me. At one point I remember them pointing out that the rest of my water had broken and they pointed out the pieces of vernix floating in the tub. I didn’t care… I was becoming oddly louder and guttural with each surge, grasping hard onto my husband’s arms as I worked. I was very shocked at how loud I was being. A very quiet person by nature, I thought for sure I was going to be calm and quiet through labor. Nope! Louder I grunted, but it wasn’t really out of pain oddly enough… it was more like a concentration of power through my voice, much like a weight lifter grunts while lifting weights I guess. Since time ceased for me I’m not sure how long I was in the tub, I just remember them pulling the oxygen tank out and telling me to get on the bed so we could get him out. Apparently he wasn’t progressing with the pushes and his heart rate was dropping (although I didn’t know this at the time), so they moved me to the bed and onto my left side.
After putting the oxygen mask on my face and spreading my legs ever wider apart, they kept coaching me to breathe deep for baby and bear down when pushing. I think at one point I said “I am!”, although frustrated as I was I continued to try harder as per their requests. At one point they made me feel his head, which now was crowning. It felt soft, but that’s all I remember. They told me we have to get him out, and urged me one last time to lean forward, bear down, give it my all, and PUSH. I did, and sure enough his head finally popped out. The relief was immense, and after another quick surge, out came his body. That is when they realized his fist was by his head which is what caused the labor to delay and become a bit more difficult than it should have been. But he came out crying loud, and all was well. Even more remarkable was that I had no tearing other than a skid mark! This I attribute to the perineal massages and probably even my time spent in the water. About 5 minutes later out came the placenta, a piece of cake considering I had just delivered a baby!
At 11:30 am, Logan Samuel was born at 6lbs 12 oz and 19 inches long… very healthy with a nice thick umbilical cord and healthy placenta. I was in actual labor for an estimated 6 hours, and although it got intense I can honestly say that never once had I wished for any sort of pain relief and never once was it unbearable. Throughout the ordeal I kept telling myself “your body knows what to do” and to me it was all mind over matter. Had his fist not been by his head I’m sure I would’ve birthed him much more quickly in the water as I had intended, but still, given the circumstances I really couldn’t have asked for a better birth! He latched well and at 3:30 PM we were given the green light to go home. I couldn’t believe that when I woke up at 3:30 AM the same morning I’d be home with my new little bundle of joy only 12 hours later! Was hypnobirthing to blame for the short and relatively easy labor? I can only speculate, but I like to think it definitely played a hand in it. Regardless, I really enjoyed birthing in the comfort and coziness of the birth center, and the staff was amazing. I got to leave with a healthy baby and a very positive experience, and that, to me, was priceless.