The Day My Daughter Was Born – Part 2

Part 2 of my birth story:

Finally, around midnight, I got out of the tub and draped myself over the birth ball. Twenty minutes later Layla suggests she check my cervix, and did her first internal exam. And sure enough, she said I was only dilated to 3-5 centimeters (later she told my doula that I had been at a 6, but had gone backwards). Even though it really upset me, I had known that would be the outcome of the exam before she even suggested it. She suggested I try eating something and resting for awhile and that the labor should pick back up in a couple hours. I think Steven made me a peanut butter protein shake and I think I ate a banana, I can’t really remember. I hadn’t had any appetite during labor and had spent most of it sucking on Preggie Pop Drops to stave off the nausea I was having, so even though I needed nutrition, it didn’t sound like a pleasant prospect. Layla also gave me some herbs that were supposed to help me relax because I didn’t think I could sleep between contractions. Although somehow, I slept soundly between contractions and only remember waking up when one started. I don’t even remember falling back asleep at the end of them. The midwife and doula went to catch a few winks of sleep in our living room while we stayed in the bedroom.

Awhile after I had eaten and drank the herbal mixture Layla made me, I threw it all back up. My sense of time during this whole period is completely lost. I think part of it was caused by the labor, but also because I was sleeping so soundly in between contractions. Also, since Rey was out in the living room, I have no time line for this part of my labor. The contractions became very intense, and Steven was helping me breathe through them. He would repeatedly tell me during a contraction, “Breathe in, breathe out. Breathe in, breathe out.” When he didn’t recite those words for me, I felt like I was just going to lose it. If I concentrated on the words I could breathe and the contraction intensity when to the back burner. I knew it was there, yet it wasn’t bothering me if I could focus on his words and breathing. I feel like that was the only way I could get through them and would start to panic if he didn’t wake up quickly enough when each contraction started to build. I also started having to grip his hand during contractions around this point.

As time passed, my contractions got stronger and Steven got harder and harder to wake up at the beginning of each contraction. How he fell asleep between contractions, I’ll never know – and I’m not even sure how far apart they were. I know I got up and threw up again. Everything during this time is pretty foggy to me. All I know is that I would have never made it without Steven’s help. He kept me grounded through each contraction. By focusing on the breathing, it would be all I could think about and then my body just took the contraction away and did with it what it needed to. I remember waking up and telling Steven I needed his help. Without it I felt like I would just fall off the edge and lose myself. As he became harder to wake up, I remember him saying in his sleep to me, “You can do it. Just breathe.” Which I knew, even then, really meant, “Leave me alone, I’m sleeping.” He doesn’t recall that at all.

It was around this point too (sometime after) that I started feel the urge to push. And I didn’t have to use Steven to make it through contractions. Lucky boy, he got to sleep through them now. I thought I needed to have a bm, so after multiple times of getting up to go to the bathroom, when I finally had some success, I remember thinking it was about darn time since I’d been trying for what seemed like all night to go to the bathroom. As time passed, it got harder and harder to breathe through the contractions and pushing sensation. I didn’t want to push because since I had gone through anything like what I thought transition was (from what I’d experienced earlier), I didn’t think it was possible that I had dilated. I thought if I pushed, I would just be pushing against my cervix, which would make it swell. I was sure at this point I would have to end up going to the hospital because I thought I still wasn’t making any progress. And anyway, I was so tired, I wouldn’t mind anymore if they just cut the baby out. It would be a welcome relief from the intense contractions. As my body started pushing on its own, I felt relief – it felt so good to be pushing. I finally woke Steven and made him get up to tell Layla what was going on. I was still worried that I shouldn’t be pushing because I didn’t think my body could possibly be ready. I thought I would still have to go through the type of contractions I had had in the tub (when I thought I was in transition) and I hadn’t yet. I looked at the clock and it was around 7am at this point. My doula’s timeline said it was 7:45am. I had been working hard for 7 hours.

When Layla had done her first internal exam, I could feel her reaching way up inside of me and feeling around. So when she checked me this time and her fingers didn’t go far, I wondered why. She asked if I could feel where her fingers were. Yes, I could. Well, she said that that was where my baby’s head was. I could hardly believe it! What happened to the transition feelings I was expecting? I was sure that I would have to repeat those intensely discouraging feelings I’d felt earlier in the tub. I was grateful that I had gotten to skip over those feelings. I remember the urge to pushing being so strong my back arched a couple times during the next couple contractions I spent in bed.

At 8:06am, I went to sit on the toilet, because the contractions felt better there. Rey says in her timeline that my water broke while I was there, but I don’t remember that. I never saw any bloody show or feeling my water break at any point in my labor. I probably was too zoned out to notice or else it happened in the bathtub. They tried helping me back to the bed, I had to sort of waddle because the baby’s head was coming down. I felt it kind of “pop” back up when I got to the bed. It was the oddest feeling. I reached in and felt the baby’s head…it was very soft (later we found out because she had some fluid under her scalp from the pressure of resting on my cervix). Steven also felt her head. I wanted to go back to the toilet, and it seems like to me, as soon as I got there, Layla was telling me I needed to scoot forward so she could deliver the baby. I really didn’t think I was THAT close to having her! My legs were too weak for that position, so I got down on my hands and knees next to the toilet. I couldn’t believe how much that “ring of fire” really did hurt. I was kind of worried about tearing, but the pain was great enough, I didn’t care – I only wanted the baby out! I remember Layla telling me the baby’s head was out, which only provide slight relief. I waited through a contraction while she suctioned the baby’s mouth and nose. Layla told me not to push, and I remember panicking in my head thinking that was impossible! When I voiced my concerns, Layla told me she meant that I shouldn’t help my body push, but that if my body was doing the pushing that it was okay. I think with the next push, or maybe two, the baby’s body was born (at 8:35am on 1-12-10 – after 28.5 hours of labor…not quite the 12 I was thinking). Her daddy got to catch her. The second her body was out, the pain went away…it was amazing. The cord was very short so I had to move closer to Steven while he held her and then he and Layla worked together to pass her between my legs so I could see her. It was very surreal when they handed her to me. I can’t remember much about that time, except that I was thinking I should be crying. The only thing I really regret was that I didn’t have someone videotaping the actual birth. I would have loved to watch my baby being born and her daddy welcoming her into the world.

Everyone helped me choreograph walking back to the bed. At 8:50am the cord stops pulsating and I let Layla clamp it and Steven cut it. I originally wanted to leave it alone for a couple hours, but I wanted to breastfeed the baby and couldn’t since the cord was so short. At 8:55am my baby latches on for the first time. She hasn’t left my arms since Steven handed her to me after she was born. At 9:29, I birthed the placenta – an hour after birth. It didn’t hurt, but it was definitely a unique feeling. I was glad to be done with that part. It was much harder to make myself push when my body wasn’t forcing me to.

Rey made us pancakes and eggs for breakfast. Layla helped me get into the shower around 10:30am, where she had me sit on the birth ball, since she didn’t want me standing up for that long yet. Steven got to hold the baby while I was showering – the first time she had left my arms since they handed her to me. At 10:40am, Layla does the baby exam. The baby weighed in at 8 lbs 2 oz, which surprised me because during the entire part of the later pregnancy, Layla kept saying we wouldn’t have a big baby and to me, 8lbs is big! I was expecting 6 or 7 pounds. Her Apgars were 10. I only had a small superficial tear – no stitches required. At 11:40am, our midwife and doula left so we can get some sleep before our families come to see the baby.

My labor was a wonderful and humbling experience. I think about it on a daily basis and it changed who I am in multiple (positive) ways. I know that if it would have been a traumatic* experience for me that I would have been depressed and it would have transformed me in a negative way. I would repeat my homebirth experience in a heartbeat!

*Trauma is defined as: injury: any physical damage to the body caused by violence or accident or fracture etc. or an emotional wound or shock often having long-lasting effects. wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn

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