If you’ve been keeping up with the blog, you know that I spent the last 2 weeks of my pregnancy whining a good deal. I was tired, uncomfortable, and fairly convinced labor would start ANY DAY thanks to all the pre-labor symptoms I was feeling. There were 2 nights when, due to a mixture of “intuition” and increasing contractions, etc., the previous days and nights, I’d been convinced that I would go into labor that night…only to wake up the next morning, still pregnant. Finally, I got tired of trying to guess my body and baby’s timetable, and gave up. I resigned myself to the idea that he might not come till his due date or even later, and to just not think about it anymore.
That was Wednesday.
I woke up Thursday morning around 1-1:30 a.m. with some pretty uncomfortable pains in my belly. I suspected they might be contractions, but was also confused because Quinn was moving and putting pressure on my bladder, etc., which was also causing pain and was throwing me off on the “pattern” of the contractions I was having. I tried to sleep through it for a bit, then got up and went downstairs. By this time they did feel more clearly like labor contractions, so I started timing them–they were coming every 3-5 minutes, lasting about 45 seconds to 1 minute, and were strong enough that I had to stop what I was doing when one came on.
In the previous weeks I’d had many people tell me about their (or their friends’) VERY short second labor stories, so I definitely had it in mind that I could go quickly, so after timing contractions for 20-30 minutes I went ahead and called Claudia, one of my midwives, and asked her to come over and bring the birth tub. It was about 2:15 a.m. by this time. I had a snack, made myself an energy drink and went upstairs to wake Zach (my mom was already awake, having heard me moving around downstairs). We started getting things ready–making the bed, setting up the few supplies the midwives had asked me to set up ahead of time, I did a Hibiclens wash (since I’d tested positive for GBS), and then I started just pacing around the house between contractions. I remember thinking that maybe I should be trying to rest, but I just wanted to walk. When a contraction came on I’d find something to lean forward onto, breathe slowly in and out, and rocked my hips from side to side. Zach called my sister, Jen, to let her know I was in labor since she wanted to come out for the birth.
Claudia arrived pretty quickly and then Jen (my other midwife), and they started setting up the tub upstairs in our bedroom. Claudia checked my blood pressure, heart rate and the baby’s heartbeat, then started timing my contractions. After a little while, she made a joke that before she’d started timing me it seemed I was having a contraction each time she turned around, but now that she was timing them they seemed to slow down a bit. So then she stopped and went upstairs to check on the tub…and interestingly enough, within a few minutes the contractions started coming sooner and feeling a bit more intense.
Eventually, the tub was ready. The midwives thought about checking me, but figured from how I was acting that I was pretty far along already, so I went ahead and got in the tub (around 4:30-5 a.m.?). The water felt nice. The first two contractions after getting in the tub felt much milder than what I’d been having. Then I got hit by a doozy–this one was much longer and stronger than the others, and just felt… different (I think the word I used at the time was that it felt “productive”). Before, the pain had been concentrated in one spot at the base of my belly/uterus. This time, I felt a ring of pain (for lack of a better word) that started at the base of my belly, and went around my hips and to my back, and it was as if I could actually feel my cervix opening up (I’m guessing this was me entering transition). The contractions that followed weren’t quite as strong as that one, but had that same opening-ring sensation. Sometimes I had a few minutes between them, other times one would start just as the previous one was fading and I’d have two or three in a row. Zach was sitting opposite me outside the tub, and my mom started rubbing my back. A few times I started feeling overwhelmed by the pain, but then reminded myself to stop and breathe, taking each moment/contraction as it came. I wanted it to be over, but knew the only way for that to happen was to work through the rest of labor.
Soon we heard Donovan moving around in his room. I heard (midwife) Jen whisper to Zach that that (D being up) meant the baby would be coming soon. I remember thinking, Oh please let it be so. Things were just feeling so intense by then, I couldn’t imagine going on like that for several more hours still. I was coping by breathing slowly in and out, and repeating “breathe,” “open,” “I can do this,” and “Come on out, baby. Come on out, Quinn,” in my head through each contraction.
During my pregnancy Zach and I had talked about doing a water birth. I knew I wanted to use the tub during labor, but was also curious about birthing in the water. Zach was kinda freaked out by the idea, though, and the (very, very rare, but does sometimes happen) possibility of the baby taking a breath, while still underwater. So I figured I’d labor in the water, then get out to push. Well, at one point, while I was laboring in the water Zach reached over and said I could give birth wherever I wanted, in the water or out. It was nice to have his “blessing” since as it turned out I didn’t even have time to think about getting out of the tub. I had a couple contractions where I almost felt like I could feel the head starting to come down, and then midway through the next one I went from just breathing through it to starting to push. From then on I don’t remember feeling distinct contractions anymore, I was just pushing and resting guided only by instinct and the overwhelming desire to GET THIS BABY OUT NOW.
I’d been quiet all through labor up till now, just breathing through contractions. When I started pushing, though, I started crying out with each push. Pushing was INTENSE. It hurt to push, and it hurt to rest between pushes. I heard (midwife) Jen tell me to breathe and ease up a bit when I started feeling the burning of the head crowning, but I didn’t really care and kept pushing–I just wanted him out. Somewhere in the middle of all this, my mom heard D crying in his room. She went to check on him, and found him sitting in a corner of his room, a small tear rolling down his cheek. It kinda breaks my heart now to think of how scary that must have been for him, to hear his mom crying out like that and not know what was going on. But Mom told him what was happening, and she picked him up and brought him into the bedroom to see us and once he knew I was okay and that his baby brother was about to be born, he was happy and excited and found the whole thing really cool.
I soon felt his head crowning. It took a couple pushes, and then I felt the sweet, sweet relief of his head coming all the way out. Another push or two, and his whole body was out–at 5:37 a.m., a whopping seven minutes after the first push. They lifted him up into my arms and I was just amazed, relieved, delighted. I was so over the moon happy to be holding him!
I then noticed that he wasn’t crying. He made little hiccupy noises every once in a while, but no crying. I wasn’t worried, and figured everything was fine, but did register this as a red flag. Jen checked his heartbeat (90bpm) and Claudia suctioned his airway. He still didn’t really react, but then just as Claudia was about to put the mask on him to give oxygen he let out the loudest SCREAM and his heartbeat went up to 140bpm, and everyone in the room relaxed. As it turned out, a loop of his umbilical cord had prolapsed somewhat, sitting next to his head as he came out and so got compressed for a few minutes, while in the birth canal (Jen had noticed this right as his head came out, and said normally she coaches mothers to take it easier with pushing, but because of the cord, let me plow through). It had taken him one minute to start breathing on his own, but even still his APGAR scores were 8 and 9.
So then we were all just reveling in the moment. Zach took a few pictures, and we ogled our gorgeous newborn son. I stayed in the tub with Quinn for several minutes, then everyone helped me out and onto the bed and D came to sit next to me and look at his baby brother. We all snuggled together for a good hour (or more…?), while the midwives busied themselves draining the tub and cleaning everything up, until eventually I started feeling ravenously hungry. Mom got to cut the cord, and then the midwives took Quinn to weigh and check him out, while I had a bite to eat. Poor Jen (my sister) finally arrived at about 8 a.m. (the earliest she could get here from SF via public transit), right around the time that I was ready to take a nap. I think Jen was bummed to miss the birth itself, but it was really nice to have her around still and be here for the full weekend after.
So in the end labor lasted about 4 to 4.5 hours, with 7 minutes of pushing. So, um, yeah, I suppose I had one of those fast labors people kept warning me about. It was certainly not easy, but the whole thing was a pretty amazing experience and I love that we got to do it at home. =)