I was just hitting 41 weeks and very tired of the pregnancy; I was sore all over and hadn’t slept a good night sleep in weeks.
At one point on Monday, January 25th I went to the bathroom and when I wiped I realized that I had lost my mucous plug. It was the first time that I had noticed it with all my pregnancies, so it was surprising to me, but I knew it didn’t mean much.
I went to bed that night feeling like I was going to be pregnant forever, but then I woke at 3:30am Tuesday morning by a feeling of wetness that made me go to the bathroom and check what was happening.
I got up and felt a small gush, I wiped and had bloody show, I went back to my bed and lay down and I was leaking again, not much but enough that it was noticeable, but it stopped when I got up so I was sure that it was a slow leak. I woke Simon and told him. Excited and my mind racing, I tried to sleep but I couldn’t, and instead I watched a bit of a movie on my Zune while everyone slept, noticing contractions once in a while every 20-30 minutes.
When Simon’s alarm rang I told him that I would rather him stay home as I knew that I wasn’t in a good position to be a good parent that day and I was scared that things would start quickly when he was at work and he wouldn’t be able to get home quickly. One of my fears was that I would be labouring alone with the boys around and I didn’t want that to happen. I called my friend Martine at 7:30am to put her on standby for the day in case I needed her, and then decided to go to the grocery store as soon as it opened at 8am and we needed a few things. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the Sushi stand in the grocery store was open and I ordered a platter of my favourites to keep my energy up throughout the day, hoping that I might labour quickly and that I would have a snack for after.
I got home and tried to relax. I puttered around, hung out in bed with the laptop and watched a movie, sat on the exercise ball, switched positions, listened to music, read stories to Khéna, looked on the internet and just waited for labour to kick in. The contractions would get stronger and closer together but then they would taper out again.
By early evening my contractions had picked up a bit again and I decided that the pool might be a nice place to relax. With Khéna, the pool is what made the contractions harder and stronger so I was hoping also that it might do the same again this time. So at about 7pm we started filling the pool and I got in. The water felt amazing, the buoyancy felt amazing and I was able to move around freely but my contractions stopped completely. I welcomed the break and the warm water, and tried to relax and found myself feeling very sleepy and tired. By 8:45 I decided that I would just go to bed and try to sleep. I called my friend Martine and told her my plans and that it would most likely not be that night; I would just try to sleep and regain some energy and hope for tomorrow. I went to bed and closed my eyes and then it hit me; a contraction and pain in my back that took my breath away. I tried to fall asleep again and then another one hit and it continued like that until I couldn’t stay in bed anymore. At 10:30pm, just as Simon was heading downstairs to bed, I was heading upstairs deciding to go back in the pool. In the back of my mind I was hoping that the water would stop the contractions again so that I could go to sleep; I felt so tired.
I stayed in the water for nearly an hour and a half while Simon boiled water to make it warmer. The contractions continued at about every 10-15 minutes, the pain radiated in my back, and I couldn’t get into a position that was comfortable. As I lay in the water I kept on hearing the sound of water running and finally realized that the pool was leaking into the air chamber. I don’t know how I found the leak so quickly but I was able to block the hole with a bit of poster gum. However, the chamber had about an inch of water at the bottom and because the water there was cold, the pool water was cooling down a lot faster than in should have. By 1am, I was exhausted and needed to try to lie down again and try to sleep so we headed downstairs to bed. I was shivering and shaking all over and feeling cold and I felt I just couldn’t continue. Khéna woke up just around that time so he lay on the bed next to me and held my hand and fell back asleep. I lay down and got into the position that had helped Colin turn when I was in labour with him. It was comfortable except for when a contraction hit every 10-15 minutes and I asked Simon to press on my lower back which helped a lot. Though I was vocalizing quite a bit, Khéna slept soundly next to me and wasn’t disturbed at all.
At 1:40am I fell asleep and slept between two contractions but they were getting more intense and again, I couldn’t be in bed anymore. I had to get up. I had to move.
I was still shivering, my legs were shaky, I felt exhausted and I couldn’t stay standing up. It was about 2:30 when I went on the birthing ball. As the contractions intensified, I felt a bit of relief by leaning back on Simon and putting my pelvis forward so that my lower back was on the birthing ball. I was feeling weepy and I started to say to Simon that I didn’t want to do it anymore. I had another very intense contraction and at 3am I decided to call my friend Martine. Unlike my other births where I needed to be left alone, this time I felt that I needed support, I needed someone who has been in the same position before, someone that understood what I was going through someone that could say “I know” and mean it. I called their cell phone and there was no answer, my heart sank a bit. 15 minutes later, she called back and I asked her to come. I knew she had an hours’ drive but it felt good to know she was on the way.
I decided to head back to the pool upstairs while I waited. Simon boiled more water, I patched up the pool again with more poster gum and with each contraction that hit I asked Simon to press on my lower back. The contractions were strong and painful but between contractions I was able to talk normally. They were still about every 10 minutes, so though I had time between contractions, each one was wearing me down.
At 4:15 the front door opened quietly and Martine had arrived. The contractions continued as they were before, with both her and Simon taking turns putting pressure on my back with each one.
After about half an hour the contractions started intensifying again and starting getting closer and closer together. I stopped talking between contractions and needed to concentrate and reflect. Soon after, there was another jump in the contractions intensity and they were feeling like they were coming one after the other.
I kept changing positions, on my knees, lying down in the water, hanging over the side of the pool but the position that brought the most relief was when someone was pressing on my back and I was leaning on the side of the pool, cupping my hands under my belly and pulling my abdomen up and in.
Then it happened.
I felt the need to push and I went with it and my water broke. The contractions were one on top of the other and I said out loud “its coming!”. My body continued to push and the head crowned and then finally came out. I felt someone was pulling at her, and asked for nobody to touch, but no one was.
I was feeling her body turn and move inside me, pushing against my pelvis from the inside, it is a feeling that I will never forget. The head was out and I waited for the next contraction but I couldn’t stay still, I needed to move again. I went to a squatting position, then a sitting position and even asked Simon to take pictures. Then I went back onto my knees and finally the next contraction came, my body took over and her body slid out.
I then realized that no one was getting her and that she was at the bottom of the pool so I quickly turned around and scooped her up. Her cord was wrapped around her shoulder and torso, so I untangled her noticing at the same time that she had a true knot in her cord. It took a few moments for her to take her first breath but her body was pink and the cord was still attached so I was not worried, I just rubbed her back and put her tummy on my forearm with her head looking down and she started to cry. I asked for a towel, told Simon to go wake up the boys and then remembered that I could now see if we had a girl or a boy.
A Girl!!! We have a daughter!
Xavier was already awake listening to us from downstairs so he was the first one up. Simon woke Colin up and brought him upstairs and when he caught on that the reason we woke him was because he had a new sister he was awake completely. Simon was not able to wake Khéna up; he was sleeping too soundly so he came up about 30 min later. I got out of the pool and went to the couch and as I sat down the placenta came out right under me, so we got a bowl and transferred it to that. I decided at that point that I wanted to be in my bed. Simon got some scissors and the length of braided embroidery thread that I had prepared a few days earlier and we tied off the cord and cut it. Colin had tears in his eyes thinking that we were hurting her but a few words assured him that everything was OK.
I headed down stairs and we cuddled and she nursed and I made a few phone calls while Simon took the water out of the birthing pool, cleaned up a bit, took care of the boys, did some laundry and Martine prepared a beautiful plate of fresh fruit, dates, carob squares and banana bread for me to snack on and made breakfast for the boys. I took a few doses of Shepherds purse tincture as I was bleeding a bit more than I would have liked but I was still feeling good so though I was still bleeding, I wasn’t too worried. I decided to massage my uterus a bit though to help things along and finally with the tincture,and the nursing things calmed down a bit.
A little later in the day we weighed her in at 8 lbs, 8 oz and decided to call her Wilhelmina Anne, a name that both Simon and I loved and had in common on our lists. A few days later we measured her at 20 inches.
Though this labour and birth was longer and harder than my first Unassisted Birth, it was so much more rewarding, peaceful and less stressful than my first two births. Though they progressed the same way, they were managed so differently, and though it was hard, I am so proud that I went through the experience as it showed me first hand what I believe in. That leaving things alone is the best way to “manage” a birth.