Part One: The Journey Begins
Saturday, March 1, 2008 began as any other Saturday morning. Breakfast, showers, kids playing. We needed to go grocery shopping and I was hoping to be at Costco by 10 am to beat the Saturday rush. As I was getting the kids ready I felt a small gush of fluid running down my leg. I rushed to the bathroom telling Joe “Either I just peed myself or my water broke!” Unsure and in denial I changed my clothes and continued to get ready. A few minutes later I felt another gush of fluid. After a second change of clothes (and this time a pad) I decided to call Ellie, our midwife, to see what she thought. She said it sounded like my water and she would be right over. I said I was not having any contractions and she should wait. She was really worried that she would not make it for the birth as two weeks prior I was already dilated to 4 cm and the baby was at zero station. I told her I would call as soon as I had any contractions since she thought my labor would go very quickly. At this point we decided to head to Costco and try to get the shopping done. Oh if we only knew. Shortly after we left the car broke down and I really started gushing fluid. I called a friend to drive the kids and I home (thank God for built in car seats!) while Joe went to go get the car fixed. I was not worried about labor at this point as I still had not had a contraction. The day was rather crazy and the kids were excited about the possibility of a baby later that day. Madeline kept asking me if I was having contractions yet. I put Marah down for a nap and tried to get her to nurse thinking that would do something. Nope, still nothing. After nap we were feeling a bit discouraged and hanging around the house waiting was driving us all nuts. I called Ellie around 3 and said we were heading to Costco to get our monthly grocery shopping done but that we would head home if I had any contractions. At the checkout line I had one contraction and both Madeline and Joe asked at the same time “A contraction?” They high fived and did this little dance in the middle of the check out aisle. They were a tad excited. That contraction was it and the day continued. We ate dinner, put the kids to bed, and waited.
My belly that night.
Sunday March 2, 2008
I woke up still leaking fluid and called Ellie to ask if we could meet at her office to see if it really was amniotic fluid. Maddy and I had an appointment for pedicures at a local spa at noon and I was worried that if I went into labor there we would be a half hour from home. We stopped at Ellie’s on the way. I was rather grumpy and irritated at this point. I kept thinking how silly I was going to feel when she told me I had been peeing myself all day and night. We met at her office at 11 am and Ellie checked the fluid. It was definitely amniotic fluid. It gushed out all over her table and I was now 6 cm dilated. At this point my water had been broken for 25 hours, not long for a MW but if I was having a hospital birth I would have been induced or sectioned by now. We discussed what we could do at this point. Ellie told me she could go as long as a week waiting for labor as long as we took my temperature regularly and watched for signs of infection. I did not think I could take a week of this. Some other options were trying a breast pump and some herbs. We were going to take a dose of herbs in her office and head home but Ellie said she had a bad feeling about it after she went and got them. We went home (had to cancel the spa) with a breast pump and if that did not start labor then Ellie would come over to our house after the kids were in bed to try the herbs. After lunch Joe took the kids swimming while I napped with Marah and tried pumping. I had a few contractions but they stopped when I stopped pumping. Once Marah woke up we went on a walk. It was a beautiful sunny day outside and the air smelled so nice. The kids had a great time outside and we took some photos.
Around 5 pm I tried pumping again while Joe made dinner and I had several good contractions but they again stopped as soon as I stopped pumping. So the evening went on as normal; dinner, bath, and bedtime for the kids. Joe and I decided to get the house ready since we would be birthing a baby soon (we hoped). We readied the birth tub, set up the futon, and got out the birth supplies. I was sitting down to read some MDC and try the pump again when we heard a knock on the door.
Part Two: The Birth
It was about 8:00 pm when Ellie and Shauna, Ellie’s apprentice, knocked on our door. I was not sure if I was ready to start this. The thought of doing herbs to start labor kind of freaked me out. I was imagining a labor similar to Madeline’s pitocin induction which really scared me. We all sat and talked for a bit and then decided to go ahead with the herbs. At 8:30 pm I took the first dose of cotton root bark tincture. It was chalky and pinkish but did not taste as bad as I expected. We sat and talked some more and then I decided to try to pump. It was a bit strange to sit there and pump while talking like nothing was going on. I had a few contractions while pumping but none were really strong. I was getting kind of bored sitting there so I decided to quit pumping and make some phone calls. I called our photographer and our kid doula to update them around 8:45. Shortly after this I took a second dose of cotton root bark. I am not the most patient person and the waiting was driving me nuts so I called my best friend Jenny to chat. We talked for a while and when I came inside I decided to clean the kitchen. It was not that messy since I had rinsed all the dishes earlier. As I loaded the dishwasher I had a strong contraction. Joe was standing there and I had to stop and focus on the contraction. He went into the living room and I had another one right away. These were really strong contractions! I had hoped to have some sort of early labor even though I was already 6 cm. In a matter of minutes I had two more really strong contractions and Ellie heard me from the living room. She asked if I was having contractions and I told her I had just had four. It was 9:45 when I had the first contraction. I went into the living room and immediately had another one. I remember thinking these are really strong. At this point Ellie said I could get into the tub if I wanted but I really did not feel like it. I was hanging on the entertainment center and having to vocalize through them. I immediately felt some pressure and told Joe to call Amy and Jessie. Ellie realized at this point it was happening fast and they rushed outside to get their equipment. I remember hearing all this going on but not seeing any of it I was so focused on the contractions. I decided to get in the tub around 10pm and it felt so nice. The water was perfect. It felt like hours in the tub but in reality it was a few minutes before I was feeling nauseous and I asked for a bowl. Joe was rushing around setting up the video camera and lighting my candles. I thought to myself I’m in transition when I yelled to Ellie “I don’t want to do this ever again” Ellie replied “Don’t worry you don’t have to.” I remember thinking in my head I’ve said that to doula clients before which at that moment was really funny to me. I asked (yelled?) at Joe to get the camera because I did not think Amy was going to make it as I was pushing. I suddenly realized that the kids were not there and I yelled for Joe to wake them up.
Madeline had been up several times that night because she was worried she would miss the birth and we had promised we would wake her. Joe ran down the hall to get Madeline and Michael. Jessie arrived just in time to go comfort Marah, who had just woken up in our room. We had decided earlier that night not to wake Marah for the actual birth. At this point Ellie yelled to Joe to hurry back she thought he was going to miss the birth. Joe was amazing through all of this! Shauna told me to turn over if I wanted to catch the baby. I flipped over so I was leaning on the tub and I reached down to feel her head. What an amazing feeling that was. She was right there, still inside of me about to be born. I will never forget that feeling (both physically and emotionally). Naomi was born after four minutes of pushing (34 minutes of labor) at 10:19 pm. My water had been broken for 36 hours. She was so small and as Shauna brought her up to my chest we realized she had her cord around her neck and around her body under both arms.
It was a tangled mess of umbilical cord and Naomi did not help as she kept grabbing hold of her cord as they tried to untangle her. She was so small and I just held onto her. It was amazing.
Madeline chose the job of announcing the sex and when she looked she told us it was a GIRL! We all thought it was a boy so this was a big surprise. I think biggest of all for Michael though who cried when he heard this. A few moments later we asked him if he wanted to meet his sister and he said yes. It was love at first sight. He could not be more in love with her (although he does call her him still). Michael chose the job of cutting the cord and was very proud of himself. You could see it on his face as Ellie helped him cut the cord. Naomi was 7 pounds even and 20 inches long. It was so nice to be HOME after this baby. After the midwives left we got the kids a snack, put them to bed and just snuggled with Naomi. No blood pressure checks, no one painfully pushing on my uterus, no cot for Joe to sleep on, just us.
Part Three: My Ramblings…
All of my births have been so amazing. I have had a cesarean at 10 cm for breech, a planned hospital vbac, a planned hbac which turned into a hospital transfer and ended in a hospital vbac, and now a hwbac. I have had fast births before (Michael’s was only an hour from 4cm to 10cm) and a long birth (Madeline's was a three day induction) but this was different. It happened so fast that I did not go fully into “labor land.” It’s really hard to explain. I remember each moment in my head so clearly. Maybe it’s because its so new and its still fresh but with Michael and Marah's births I remember labor land. Not caring about anything and just doing. Letting your body take over and having no control over what is happening; going from pain during a contraction to sound asleep before the next one comes. This is not a bad feeling at all it just is. Each of my births has taught me something about myself. That I have strength, that ICAN stand up for my rights, that I have power as a woman, that nothing goes as planned, that birth is wonderful and I can only hope that my daughters get to experience it in the way it was meant to be. I will cherish each birth I have had and each child those births have brought me.