It was a day that began much like the one before- all of the pre-labor signs and a gut feeling that it was going to happen any day now. My estimated due date (which I paid little attention to) was September 15th- the next day. I could just tell that my body was very ready to give birth to this little guy. My body knows no due date and knows no human implemented time-lines, but it sure does know how to tell me that it is preparing to give birth.
Around 3pm on a sunny Tuesday afternoon, I was on the couch waiting on my Husband to get ready so we could drive across town to pick up our 9 year old daughter Hailey, from school. As I stood up to slip my flip-flops on (as this was all I was wearing on my feet these days no matter what the weather), I felt a gush and saw liquid spill onto the floor from between my legs. I stood there for a couple of seconds, trying to process what had just happened, and once I wrapped my head around it I called out my Husband’s name.
Evan must have heard the panic in my voice because he sounded frantic when he answered me back. I told him that I *thought* my water just broke (even though I knew it had). He scrambled to get out of the bathroom while telling me to calm down and came to my side to look at the growing puddle. With my daughter (and only other birth), I was induced in the hospital. So I had no idea what it was like for my water to break spontaneously or really even what it felt like to be in true labor without medication. I waddled to the toilet and as I sat down, another gush of water poured out. It leaked for hours from then on. My Husband and I shared a minute of excited smiles and nervous laughter.
The first person I called was my Doula, and new friend, Melissa. I told her what had just happened and as excited as she was, her first question was ‘Did you call Laura?’ (the Midwife). I laughed and told her no… I just had to share the news with her right away! The Midwife was apparently second on my list. I hung up and called my Midwife Laura who calmly told me it was going to be a while. She gave me a list of the indications of when I should call her back and we hung up. I frantically paced the house, making last minute preparations until Melissa arrived. Meanwhile, my Husband reluctantly left me to pickup Hailey from school.
Melissa arrived after my Husband and daughter got back home about an hour later. It was around 4pm now. We all talked and laughed and went on a walk to get contractions to pick up. We ate pizza and just hung out and went on with life as usual, while the contractions slowly got stronger- eventually keeping me from finishing sentences and being able to fully concentrate. We began to time them to get an idea of where I was in the process. Around 6pm or so, they were about 6 minutes apart if I remember correctly.
I got into the birth pool shortly after those last 2 pictures were taken. From this point on, I lost track of how things progressed. I paid little attention to time, although I remember asking from time to time how far apart they were. I would call Laura or she would call me to see what our plan was. I remember at one point telling Melissa that I think it was time for Laura to be there and literally one second later, Laura called. She ended up heading out my way (which is a good 40 minutes from her) shortly thereafter.
By this point, the contractions were pretty intense. They were coming so fast it felt like there wasn’t a real break in between them. I remember being able to feel them coming on 5 seconds or so before one would truly set in and I would begin to brace myself for it. As the contraction would start to get stronger, it felt like the most acute pressure and tightness in my hips and sides of my lower back. All I could do was make deep moaning sounds and close my eyes while envisioning each contraction bringing my baby down and closer into the world.
I knew I just had to get through the first 30 to 40 seconds of each contraction, when they peaked, and then it would begin to taper off from there and become more bearable. I could only take it one contraction at a time. I couldn’t look ahead to the next one or look back at the last. There was no time. The break was always short-lived, because somewhere toward this point, they were all beginning to feel clustered together- like there was no break in between each one. Like it was one long contraction with different peaks in intensity. I knew at this point that I was very close to meeting my son.
When the Midwife arrived around 9-9:30pm, I was dilated to an 8 or 9. The contractions had been very strong for the last hour or so. The moaning noises got deeper and came from a place inside of me that I never knew existed. My Husband told me later that the noises I was making sounded very primal, bring up a mixture of intense emotions in him that he had a hard time describing. I don’t know exactly how the moaning helped me, but it seemed to make the pain so much more manageable. More so than the moaning, the birth pool was the best tool for managing my pain. If I got caught having a contraction while outside of the birth pool, it felt 5 times worse than being in the water and having one. I hated getting up to go pee because they were coming so close together that I knew I would have to endure a contraction on dry land and the thought of that was not a pretty one.
My Midwife was trying to assess where I was in the process a while later, while I was in the pool. She asked me if I had the urge to push and at the time, I did not. I was beginning to feel pressure, but no urge to do anything about it just yet. She asked me to push against her fingers so she could see where the baby was, because she suspected he was ready and that I had an obstruction (of poop… yes, poop). While I tried pushing in the water, it just didn’t feel right to me. Being in the water was awesome but pushing in the water was not. I even remember my midwife saying I was pushing away from the contractions (and I was). We decided it was tome for me to get out, try to push on the toilet for a minute, and go from there.
I tried pushing on the toilet and no luck of removing any obstruction. Sitting on the toilet when you don’t have the urge to go is like trying to force a dog to drink when they aren’t thirsty- it just wasn’t going to happen. After one contraction in the bathroom, I went back into the birth pool before another contraction hit. It was my safe place. I wanted to be there so badly. Yet when I was in there, it wasn’t right for pushing. My Midwife suggested trying to push in my room, on the bed. She said the baby was ‘right there’ and I could push him out in one push if I put my all into it. I was sold! I went to the room and got onto the bed to push.
I didn’t know what position I wanted to be in when I got to the room. She suggested lying on my back and I remember saying ‘My back??’ confused that this might not help me push him out, considering that gravity would be against us. I didn’t think I would stay in that position, but when I lied on my back, it felt so right. I had hands to hold onto and my support people around me. At first, Melissa had the video camera. Somewhere along the way, the torch was passed to Hailey and she finished up the video while watching it all happen herself.
At the next contraction, I started to push. I didn’t believe the Midwife when she told me that my baby was ‘right there’ but once she removed the obstruction, I felt a lot of pressure and the need to push. As I was pushing, almost immediately, I was told by my Doula to reach down and touch my baby’s head. It was surreal. It was really happening- so quickly! I kept pushing and I remember the excitement and anxiety in my Husband’s voice as he was telling me he could see his head. I remember feeling the head come out and then knowing that for a moment it was going to hurt a little more for the shoulders to come through and then my baby would be here. I kept pushing and out came his shoulders. My Husband caught our baby as I birthed him into the world.
Cohen was born at home on Tuesday, September 14th, 2010 at 10:51PM. He weighed 7 lbs., 5 oz. and measured 20 inches. He came into the world less than 8 hours after my water broke.
I cannot imagine the birth going any better than it did. One long push and he was here. No unnecessary interventions, no forced routine procedures and no drugs to inhibit the bonding between my baby and I. Labor was relatively short and much less painful than my hospital birth with an epidural. I did not tear (most likely thanks in part to being in the water for so long) and had little blood loss. The contractions were ‘intense’, but never unbearable. It is a kind of pain that I have a very hard time forming into words. Pushing him out hardly phased me compared to the contractions. They were unlike any other feeling I have ever felt. They were pain with an amazing purpose. And one of the best parts? My Husband, Myself and our newborn Son slept together in OUR BED in OUR HOME the same night. Home birth is truly an amazing experience.
After all was said and done and we were all getting to know each other, I looked over at Hailey and she was crying. I asked her if everything was OK and she replied by shaking her head yes and then she said ‘That was just the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.” I will never forget those words or the look in her eyes while she spoke them. They touched me in ways I cannot describe.