On Thursday, at 41 wks + 5 days I saw my midwife. ¬†I asked her to do a stretch and sweep and had a little cry about the fact that I was still pregnant and was having no signs of labour. ¬†She couldn’t really do a proper stretch and sweep – my cervix was still hard and quite closed. ¬†This is not a comfortable procedure – but I tolerated as much as I could – I wanted her to try. ¬†It was an intervention I chose to try and help stimulate my body to go into labour.
I was predictably uncomfortable for the rest of the evening – stretch and sweeps stimulate cramping and contractions. ¬†I managed the waves as we strolled down the street getting some fresh fish for dinner. ¬†I also picked up the ingredients for the labour cocktail and told my midwife I might take it in the early morning after a good night’s sleep. ¬†I was ready to meet my baby, and was starting to feel that I would rather encourage my baby out now and have her at home, than wait and increase the potential of needing to deliver in hospital.
The night brought some more consistent contractions, I slept as much as I could, only being woken by a few and of course the frequent need to pee! ¬†In the morning I called my midwife to tell her that things were slowly progressing on their own. ¬† I was in early labour and would delay taking the cocktail to see what happened.
At 8am my waters broke. ¬†With both of my labours, my water started trickling – I didn’t have a big gush to deal with, just a trickle that is constant and can be managed with a pad. ¬†I was excited and anxious to kick into active labour. ¬†I called the woman taking over the lease on my car and told her we’d better hurry to the dealership to finalize our paperwork as I was going into labour. ¬†I also noticed the tiniest bit of meconium in my amniotic fluid – it was soo faint, but I suddenly worried that it might get worse. I decided I wanted my baby out sooner than later so that I could stay home! ¬†I called my midwife and gave her the heads up that I was taking the cocktail at 10am, just before heading out to finalize the details with my car.
My husband followed behind me in his car, anxious about me driving with my water broken and a regular contraction pattern. ¬†I assured him that this was just early labour (and crossed my fingers that the stomach upsetting affect of the cocktail would hold off until I returned home). ¬†The employees at Honda were just as anxious as my husband when I told them our rush, they were insistent I leave and go to the hospital – I’m sure no one has received such speedy service as we did that day! ¬†The car ride home was tough – the contracions were picking up, but I knew it was still early. ¬†I feel EVERYTHING! ¬†Every woman is different, some don’t even notice their early labour and dilate to 3 cm without much discomfort, for others (like me) we feel the contractions that soften the cervix before it even starts dilating! I made hubby stop and get me some Marble Slab, which I happily ate between contractions on our 20 min drive home.
When we got home I decided it was time to do some stairs. ¬†The activity of walking up stairs or up a steep hill in lunges can really help get baby down and increase your contractions. ¬†I had some loose stools from the castor oil, and things WERE increasing ,but not at the rate I was hoping. ¬†We went for a short walk through the woods behind our house.
This was by far my favourite part of my labour. ¬†I will never forget how peaceful it was walking through the trees. ¬†We would stop when a strong wave came, and I would hold onto Vince. ¬†We would slow dance while I breathed my way through. ¬†I told him that what I had was a typical contraction pattern for a posterior baby – I knew she hadn’t turned, and was pretty sure she wasn’t going to. ¬†He told me he was thankful that I knew so much, I knew what was happening and what I wanted to do – he just had to be there. ¬†We walked and swayed in the sunshine, and talked about how excited we were to meet our baby, and how soon we would be a family of 5 instead of 4. ¬†We enjoyed the firm bump of my belly, as we knew these would be the last hours.
We went back home around 2pm so that we could be there for our new bed to be delivered! ¬†I hid in the spare room breathing through my contractions while the movers brought in our new bed and took out the old. ¬†I was not yet in active labour, but these early labour contractions were enough that I didn’t feel like interacting with strangers. ¬†We had our¬†birth pool¬†set-up¬†in the dining room and Vince proudly explained that we were having a home birth today!
Finally they were gone and it was time for my second dose of the cocktail and a visit from our midwife. ¬†I knew things were not progressing as quickly as I’d hoped and so decided the second dose would be a good choice. ¬†My midwife confirmed what I knew when she checked me and found I was still only 2 cm. ¬†Vince went to pick the kids up from daycare and I had my midwife do another stretch and sweep and then we chatted while I drank the cocktail.
We got the kids in and settled. ¬†I decided to go and take a nap before the second dose kicked in, and before doing some more active work to get labour going. ¬†We planned nipple stimulation in the sunshine next to try and bump up the intensity – but it never got to that. ¬†In fact I didn’t even get my nap. ¬†I went and lay down on our new amazing king sized bed (to this day I am thankful almost every time I climb into that comfortable bed), and within about 15 min I went into active labour.
Very suddenly it hit.¬† It was 6pm when I went into active labour. ¬†I went to the bathroom and vomited, and then went to bed. ¬†I lay on my side hoping I would get some rest in between, gripped the headboard through each wave and rocked myself and toned through it. ¬†Thankfully Vince came upstairs to check on me, and was quite surprised to see me rocking and moaning on the bed. ¬†I told him I needed him, and to call someone for the kids. ¬†We hadn’t come up with a back up plan – I don’t know why, we just never thought past 41 wks and 5 days, so we were now stranded with no child care. ¬†He called his sister, and his mother, and my dad – everyone was a few hours away and things were moving along quickly now! ¬†The boys were bickering so Vince went back downstairs to them and continued frantically calling family and friends. ¬†I decided it was time to get in the shower. ¬†I’d spent many times late in my pregnancy standing in the shower visualizing labour and being in there belly dancing through contractions, bending my knees and moving my hips. ¬†This is just what I did. ¬†It took all I had just to get from the bed to the shower – every time I moved another strong wave washed over me. ¬†I got in under the hot water and rocked and moved and bent my knees in a low squat. ¬†I just kept repeating in my mind “soft and stretchy, opening for my baby. ¬†” ¬†I visualized my body opening and my baby moving lower and lower. ¬†I was hardly getting any breaks in between the contractions now and I suddenly felt compelled to call the midwife.
I coached myself out of the shower “ok, two more contractions and then we’re going to get out. ¬†Ok, one more and then we’re getting out of the shower.” ¬†(I was the doula and the mama today!) I made it! ¬†I leaned on the bathroom counter as another wave brought me into a deep squat, with a long deep “open” coming from my mouth. ¬†As soon as it was over I ¬†moved quickly¬†to the top of the stairs -just as another one hit. ¬†When it was over I yelled for Vince. ¬†”Call the midwife now!” and another one hit. ¬†I stood there leaned against the wall in the hallways to work through it, and then went back to the bedroom and got down on my knees. ¬†I leaned with my arms forward over our bed and continued to rock and moan. ¬†I heard Vince come up the stairs and turn the shower off, and then he was next to me. ¬†He was on the phone and then I heard him say the midwife was on her way, and it seemed like no time at all before she was beside me and I was back in the bathroom leaned against the counter squatting and swaying again.
Suddenly I was having slightly longer breaks between my contractions. ¬†”Oh no” I thought, and then I said, panting “maybe I called you too soon, I don’t know, I just wasn’t getting a break, but now they are spacing out again. ¬†I’m sorry”. ¬†My midwife reassured me that it was ok. ¬†”You’re all alone, Vince has to take care of the kids, maybe you just need someone with you, so I’m here – I’m with you!”
She asked me to sit on the toilet and see how that felt – well anyone that’s sat on the toilet in active labour can tell you it sure does the trick to ramp up the pressure! ¬†I knew she wanted to get an idea of where I was at – and there are 2 great ways I know of to assess where a mama is in her labour. ¬†It got the contractions closer together again, but it was unbearable. ¬†I was curling my toes and holding my belly trying to keep my tones low. ¬†After only a few minutes I said “I don’t want to be here anymore” ¬†and went back to my position leaning against the counter. ¬†Then back to the bedroom on my knees leaned over my bed. ¬†Suddenly the boys were bouncing on the bed in front of me. ¬†They were excited! They’d been read “We’re Having a HomeBirth” several times, and they knew exactly what all this noise and excitement meant!
I told Vince I wanted to get in the pool NOW! ¬†And after me instructing him NOT to dare fill the pool all day, because I was sure things were going to take a long time, he was suddenly frantically filling it as fast as possible. ¬†My midwife wanted to check me, and I told her no – I said “if I’m only 5 cm I’m going to want to go to the hospital, and I don’t want to, so I just don’t want to know”. ¬†Vince was with us again, and he watched as my midwife gently tried to reason with me that if she could just check me then she would know if she needed to call the other midwives. ¬†I could feel her lifting the duvet I had draped over me, I knew she was looking for other signs to avoid checking me internally. ¬†Finally ¬†I consented, but told her not to tell me where I was at. ¬†Vince sat in front of me on the bed while my midwife skilfully¬†assessed me without making me move from my favourite labouring position. ¬†She left the room and I told Vince “I can’t do this anymore, it’s too intense”. ¬†In retrospect I should have recognized the classic signs of transition, but of course when it’s ourselves, it’s harder to do. ¬†He looked at me and said – “you’re doing so well though, she just held up a lot of fingers behind you to tell me – 8 or something, you’re almost there!”
I was SO relieved. ¬†’8 cm? ¬†Ok, the baby will be here so soon, I can do it then’ – it’s supposed to be this intense at 8, I just had myself convinced I was only 5! ¬†The midwife came back and said she’d called the others, and now was a good time to get in the pool. ¬†I only had a lip! ¬†(Meaning I was 9.5 cm) ¬†She told us she needed to get her equipment setup right away, and got to it. ¬†Vince ran back to check on the pool and the boys. ¬†I made my way to the top of the stairs again. ¬†I had the sense to call to someone to close the blinds so I wasn’t flashing the neighbours coming down the stairs. ¬†I was aware but unable to care that I was dripping blood on our white carpet (it’s common for there to be blood with cervical changes), and I ¬†made my way down the stairs slowly. ¬†I was wishing Vince was with me and not the kids. ¬†”Why didn’t I have a back up doula and backup child care?” I wondered as things became frantic in the house. ¬†I was alone trying to get into the tub – Vince and the midwife were doing REALLY important jobs taking care of the kids, and getting the equipment¬†set-up¬†for delivery in case my late baby or I needed any assistance. ¬†I couldn’t control it though, as I tried to get in the pool I just yelled “Help me!” The intensity was overwhelming me, and my midwife was right there to help me into the pool, then she raced back to finish setting up. ¬†It was 8:45pm. ¬†I felt my body bear down uncontrollably.
I was again on my knees, this time in the water with my arms and head draped over the side of the pool. ¬†The water felt so good. ¬†The midwife noted that the pool was too shallow, and told me I couldn’t deliver in there like that. ¬†Vince was filling the pool as fast as he could. ¬†I told her there was no way I was getting out, so she just told me I had to keep my bum in the water! ¬†This forced me to do a deeper squat, but I was happy with that.
Suddenly the doorbell rang as I was now doing the higher pitched moans associated with the intensity of baby’s head moving down. ¬†I later learned that our friends who were there to pick up the boys had looks of horror (they’d never seen a natural labour before), and there were neighbours standing outside peering in hahaha ¬†I’m not quiet!
I yelled to Vince when the wave passed – “I don’t want the boys going anywhere!”
“What? ¬†They’re in their pajamas, they’re going to go over there, it’s fine”
“NO! ¬†The baby is almost here, I want them here to meet the baby. ¬†Get her to take them upstairs with a story while I push” ¬†And another wave hit. ¬†I worked with my body’s instinct bearing down, pushing my baby down and down. ¬†Vince established the new plan with our friend and got the boys upstairs with books to read with our friend. ¬†My midwife continued reassuring me I was doing things perfectly. ¬†My body was tense, I was overwhelmed with the intensity and the franticness of how quickly the baby was coming, and arranging our child care! ¬†The phone rang and Vince answered it while I was between contractions – “we’re in a break right now” he said filling another pot with water to add to the pool. ¬†The poor guy he had no idea how fast things were going now! ¬†”Get off the #@*!ing phone!” I yelled. ¬†I always tell people ¬†- you can never take offense to how a woman…communicates in labour. ¬†It’s raw, you don’t have time to think before you speak, you are busy and sometimes a grunt is all you can muster. ¬†Vince hung up immediately and sat in front of me, trying to offer some comfort – but we were both just caught completely off guard by this speedy process.
I felt my other midwife come into the room. ¬†She knew not to knock or ring a doorbell, she just came up to our dining room where I was in the birth tub. ¬†”Hi Emily” she said gently putting a hand on my shoulder. ¬†I didn’t respond. ¬†I was in a break and had my eyes closed. ¬†”Soften your body” she reminded me, and I melted completely. ¬†Ah yes – I needed that reminder. ¬†Suddenly I was calm – we needed this other person, this other woman here. ¬†There is too much going on for there not to be another experienced person to keep things calm.
I don’t have any regrets about this birth, but I really am deeply aware of what a difference having had a backup doula would have made! Again, we just didn’t anticipate that I would deliver so late, and that our chosen doula would have left town – she was completely up front about her departure date, and we knew ahead of time – we just somehow failed to plan.
So here we were. ¬†Vince was beside me now where I wanted him, one midwife had a hand on me transferring the most calming and grounding energy, and the other midwife was behind me with a hand on my baby’s head, protecting my perineum and coaching me where to put my hands and when to slow down my pushing. ¬†It was intesne. ¬†I hadn’t felt this part of my labour with my son, and I was shocked by the sensations. ¬†With my posterior baby I really didn’t feel the “ring of fire” in my perineum, I felt it ALL in my bum – the whole way through.
I don’t know how the rest of it happened, I pushed a few more times, and my baby was out – I love that moment they have left your body. ¬†Even with the epidural in Ethan’s delivery I felt that – this sudden relief, not an emotional relief (although that too I suppose) but it’s like your body feels relief as their weight is suddenly their own, and not your body’s anymore. ¬†She was out, and my midwife told me to turn around and hold my baby. ¬†Apparently Vince helped catch her, but again I don’t know how this all happened – I was in labour land! ¬†I don’t know how I turned around or how they guided the baby and umbilical cord so we didn’t all get tangled, but suddenly i was sitting with my back supported by the pool, and she was in my arms. ¬†Staring wide eyed at me. ¬†She was silent. ¬†”Breathe baby” I said. ¬†”Oh she is Emily!” Someone reassured me. ¬†”Look how pink she is, she’s breathing, she’s just really clear and quiet.” ¬†And as many water birth babies – she was, she didn’t make a sound. ¬†There was no gurgling and snuffling of mucus. ¬†Just clear bright eyes staring into mine. ¬†Someone went and got the boys, I was going to stop them because I thought the blood in the pool would scare them, but Vince reminded me they knew from the book, and that they should be here. ¬†We hadn’t actually checked what sex she was yet. ¬†We were waiting for the boys.
Ethan and Aiden came downstairs looking cute and cozy in their sleepers. ¬†They stood next to me behind the pool, and stared at their baby. ¬†I can’t remember which one of them told me she was a girl. ¬† The cord had stopped pulsing, so Ethan cut it – what a proud moment for all of us that he got to do that!
“Hello Camille” I said – we had our baby girl. ¬†We all sat staring at each other, falling in love.
Camille was born at home on May 27th 9:07pm