Quick disclaimer and warning for Hypnobabies students…In Hypnobabies we are taught to not use the word contraction and instead to call them pressure waves. They advise you to think of them as pressure. They think the word contractions brings up negative thoughts for most people. Because of my anatomy and childbirth background, I just felt silly calling them pressure waves. I just couldn’t do it! So instead I thought of the contractions as pressure and kept on calling them contractions.
I had been having some Braxton Hicks contractions from about month 5 or 6 on to the very last month. They started out as an occasional thing and got to be more and more frequent and intense as time went on. By 37 weeks, I was having nightly Braxton hicks that would follow a pattern and be every 5 minutes apart. We spent a lot of time walking. I would get my hopes up and then they would go away. There would be hours of this and then nothing! I had a pretty consistent schedule of going to bed and waking up at 3 am to use the restroom and then going back to sleep. I had been telling my midwife from about 20 weeks that I kept having a dream and a feeling that I was going to go into labor and wasn’t going to be able to make it to the birth center. She said to just pay attention to that and to make sure to be on alert for when real contractions started. Also as part of my visualizing my birth, I always pictured myself waking up at 3 am in labor, so each time I woke up at 3 am to use the restroom, I was disappointed that I wasn’t in labor. I just kept telling myself I would have an easy labor and delivery. At my 38 week appointment, they checked me and said I was dilated to a 4 but still not much effacement and was pretty thick. They stripped my membranes during that appointment! I spent most days on the baby board that I was part of at www.babycenter.com and I saw lots of women getting their membranes stripped and nothing happening, so I had hope it was just limited. I had some cramping after they stripped my membranes but then everything went away. No more Braxton hicks in a pattern, nothing, nada, zilch. I felt like I was going to be pregnant forever. I was still having lots of pain with my SPD (symphysis pubis dysfunction) and was very ready to have the baby. I was induced with my first daughter, J, and I can be super controlling so it was very hard to have to wait and not have any control over when she came out. While I was waiting, I was trying to do my perineum massage at least a couple of times a week-daily is recommended. I was also still taking all my supplements including the evening primrose oil, the alfalfa, and the birth prep. Tuesday evening of my 39th week, my ankles got severely swollen. I hadn’t had any swelling throughout my whole pregnancy except for a little bit at night after I had been super busy during the day and that went away after I had some sleep or sat a while. My best friend flew in from Oklahoma in hopes that she would be here when the baby was born. She flew in on Wednesday of my 39th week and R was due on the following Sunday. I was so hoping that she could be here for the birth but my Braxton hicks had pretty much stopped, so I wasn’t holding my breath. Wednesday evening, my ankles were still severely swollen, so I paged my midwife. When I told her what was going on, she requested that I go test my blood pressure at Wal-Mart. It was higher than it had been during the whole pregnancy so my midwife recommended that I go get checked out at the ER. The ER checked my blood pressure several times, they checked for clots in my legs and did some tests on my urine to make sure there wasn’t protein in it. They were looking for any signs of preeclampsia. They didn’t want to let me leave until they spoke with my midwife and the doctor that worked in conjunction with my midwife to make sure they were going to check up on me later. I went home that evening and my midwife just planned to check on me the next Tuesday for my regularly scheduled appointment. All Friday I ran around with my best friend and got a hair cut and a pedicure! It was really nice. I had read that Eggplant Parmesan would induce labor, and I was pretty miserable by this point, so on Friday night before my due date we went to a local Italian place and I ordered Eggplant Parmesan. When I woke up at 3 am after going to sleep, I was again disappointed that I wasn’t in labor! Saturday, I woke up really sad that I had not had my daughter yet because I had thought that I would have her early. My due date was the next day on Sunday. I didn’t have any Braxton hicks contractions at all, so I felt like I was for sure going to be late! I had also read that spicy foods would induce labor and I had tried everything else like pineapple and eggplant parmesan to no avail. We decided to have Popeye’s Spicy Fried Chicken. When I was eating mine, I even dumped hot sauce on it–and I hate spicy foods! After dinner, I decided to bond with my breast pump as I had heard that could stimulate contractions. I spent 15 minutes pumping one breast while I had a hot compress on the other, and then I switched. No contractions at all at this point, I was disappointed! We went to bed around 10:30 and I felt like nothing was going to EVER happen. I woke up at 3:30 am on my due date and felt like I had to poop. I went into the bathroom and had diarrhea (TMI sorry). While I was going, I felt a pop and felt like I peed a little bit. When I wiped I had bloody tinged mucus and got excited, because I finally felt like it was my time, but I felt like it was going to be a long day. After I finished going to the bathroom, I kept feeling like I had to go and having cramps. I spent several minutes going back and forth to the bathroom. It hit me that I was having contractions and that was what the cramps were. I decided to go get some water and start timing contractions. I went to my side of the bed to get my cup and when the next “cramp” hit, I leaned against the bed and groaned. Up to this point, G was aware of me being awake and pacing back and forth to the bathroom, and had heard me tell him that I had bloody mucous when I wiped so he knew today would probably be the day. When I groaned, he looked at me like he KNEW today was the day. I finally made it into the kitchen to get my water and while I was trying to get my water, I had three more contractions. It seemed to me like they were two minutes apart. I wanted to get my computer to go to www.contractionmaster.com to verify this before I called my midwife. I got my computer and took it into the kitchen. I kept having to lean against the counter and sway my hips, groaning with every contraction. I was starting to feel a little bit like a wild animal. It hadn’t been long since I woke up, maybe 20 minutes. I finally made it onto the website and back to my bedroom. I set my computer on the pillow and timed a few contractions. I kept groaning with each one and things felt very intense. I don’t remember it being very painful, just intense with some pressure (Thanks Hypnobabies). I kept using the Release and Peace cue while breathing. I told G, who was still in bed, that the contractions were coming every 1.5 to 2 minutes and I needed to call my mother and the midwife. He got up to get some coffee and start getting ready. I called my mother who was 3 hours away at 4:09 am. She was going to come out to try to be here for the birth. I told her that I thought today was the day, but she needed to wait like an hour to make sure before she got on the road. I told her I would call her in an hour and give her an update. While talking to her, I kept pacing at the foot of the bed. I had to grab the foot of the bed, sway my hips and groan as contractions would hit. Remember they were coming super fast! I remember thinking that I couldn’t do this and realized immediately that I was in transition. I knew this because of all the reading I had done that said that when a woman was in transition she would feel as if she couldn’t go on. She later told me that based on the way I sounded she knew that today was the day, and jumped in the shower and got in the car immediately. After I got off the phone with my mother, things began to get fuzzy. I went into the bathroom because it still felt like I had to poop. I was trying to call my midwife and I kept forgetting how to use my phone. I would be in the middle of trying to dial and another contraction hit so I would hang up and end up back on the toilet, trying to poop. I finally dialed the midwife and paged her. She called back immediately. I told her I was having contractions every 1.5 to 2 minutes apart and she wanted to listen to a couple before she advised me on what to do. I went through one and I remember pacing around the bathroom grabbing the towel rack and groaning, and telling her that I couldn’t focus and was feeling very intense. I think i told her that I couldn’t do it, if it was already this bad this early. She just told me to focus on this contraction. She kept telling me to breathe and relax. They were lasting about 1 minute long. At the peak of the first contraction she listened to, a monstrous animal-like groan came out of me from my toes and I felt like I couldn’t talk to her anymore. I hung up and threw my phone on the floor. I really wasn’t thinking at this point and my animal brain had taken over. Right before I let out my animal groan, I heard the tink, tink, tink of G stirring creamer into his coffee, but after that groan he was suddenly in the bathroom gathering the last-minute stuff to go to the birth center. It was almost ninja-like to my brain how fast he got in there. I at this point realized that I had taken my shorts and underwear off and I felt like trying to “poop” again. I suddenly felt the urge to leave my toilet throne I had been on and assumed an all fours position (pantsless) on the carpet outside of the shower. After I moved, I told G in my best growly, breathless, animal voice that it was happening too fast and I couldn’t do this…and he responded that he was getting ready and we would be leaving in a few minutes. I said that we were not going anywhere, this baby was coming and we had no more time. At this point, my midwife called and I was in between contractions so I answered, but as soon as I said hello, another contraction started up. She told me that I needed to call 911 and that I was not going to make it to the birth center. I panted/groaned that I couldn’t call 911. She said, “Let me speak to G,” and I gladly handed him the phone. I heard him say to her that he was getting ready to take me to the birth center and even though he wasn’t talking to me, I inserted again that wasn’t gonna work and this baby was coming. Another gutteral groan lept out of me and I knew I was definitely pushing at this point! As I pushed with that groan, my water broke all over the carpet! My boyfriend turned to me and told me that she wanted him to put stuff down on the bed for me to lay on. Well that didn’t sound good AT ALL so I told him that I wanted water in the tub. He started filling up the tub, hung up with the midwife and called 911. I somehow got in the tub and if felt amazing!!! At that point he must have got back on the phone with the midwife because he told me that she said not to push too hard. He looked at my back-end and said excitedly, “I see the top of her head!” I don’t think at this point he knew how close I was to having the baby. He kept encouraging me by saying, you’re doing it baby! You’re really doing it! You’re doing great!” He was so calm, not at all like the crazy dads who are losing it on tv! About two more contractions and pushes and I felt the ring of fire and G said, “Her head is out! She’s looking at me! She looks so pretty!” After her head was out, it seemed like the contractions had stopped so I pushed gently without them. During this moment, I was worried something was wrong since the contractions stopped. I still felt like my brain wasn’t functioning and I saw something red tinged floating in the water. It scared me. I thought it was something wrong that shouldn’t have been floating in the water. I handed it to G and asked him what it was. He was trying not to laugh when he told me it was poop! I handed my boyfriend poop! I was too confused at the moment to realize the humor in the situation. It seemed like 5 minutes without contractions but G said it was more like 2 minutes. One more contraction and push and I felt her slide out of me. She came out right into her daddy’s hand and he passed her through my legs up to me. It was awesome, amazing and such a high! R was born at 4:38 am. Just one hour since I woke up feeling like I had to poop. My best friend and daughter slept through the whole thing. We hung out looking at her for a minute or too soaking in the enormity of the situation. It seemed like it took forever for her to start crying. I had G grab the nose sucky thing but I ended up not needing it. We wrapped her in a towel to keep her warm. I felt so in love with her the moment I held her. I couldn’t believe we did it alone, with just the midwife on the phone! I asked G to hand me my phone and I called my mother and told her that her Granddaughter was born! Just 28 minutes after I called her and told her that I thought today was the day! After a few minutes G said that he had to go open the gate so the EMTs could get in. We weren’t thinking to take any pictures since we were alone at that point. G got my best friend up and told her the baby was born before he went to go let the EMTs in and I was so thankful that she was there to be a part of it! Once the EMTs got there they clamped the cord and were about to cut it, but G asked them if he could do it. They held it so he could cut it. They took the R and cleaned her up and wrapped her tightly and gave her back. At this point I still had the cord hanging out of me so I couldn’t really sit down. I had intended to breastfeed immediately, but since I couldn’t sit down, I couldn’t figure out how to do it. I still wasn’t thinking at all. I might have been able to avoid all the breastfeeding problems to come had I got her latched on! It just felt so uncomfortable sitting and couldn’t figure out how to breastfeed. I was trapped in the bathtub for an hour waiting for the placenta to be delivered and couldn’t sit down because the water was cold. My brain just couldn’t figure out the logistics. The EMTs said baby and I looked good and they would leave me alone to deliver the placenta and I should go to the ER to get checked out afterwards. They told me to bring the placenta but baby looked great and if all was well, I would probably be let go home immediately. This is the one peice of advice that I wished that I hadn’t followed. My best friend dressed the baby while I was waiting to deliver the placenta. Once I delivered the placenta, I jumped in the shower, put on adult diaper (best for postpartum bleeding) and got dressed. Then we hung out on the couch for a little while I tried to breastfeed. I had waited more than that golden hour when they are most alert and she wouldn’t really latch on. While I was sitting on the couch, I called my midwife and told her that the placenta was delivered and I felt great. She told me to go to the ER and I asked if I could just come to the birth center like planned and have them check me. She said that she was going to a birth and didn’t know how long it would be until she could check me. She didn’t want my bleeding to get too bad while she was at that birth and no one know about it. They were worried a bit because my platelets had dropped substantially in my blood work the week before my delivery. So we started slowly gathering gear to head to the hospital. We woke J up and she got to meet her baby sister at this point! She said that she heard a baby crying and thought we were watching the tv so she was trying to go back to sleep. We left the house at 6:30 am for the hospital. Giving birth at home with G was the most amazing, wonderful, awe-inspiring, powerful event of my whole life. I would do a hundred births like that, before I ever do a medically induced epidural birth again!