On the morning of January 19, two days past my due date, I was sitting up in bed checking Facebook, Twitter, and Email before getting up to start the day. I had already been up to pee, Dave was starting to wake up, and Lila was still in bed. As I was replying to an email, I felt a little gush that could be my waters. It wasn’t enough to soak onto the bed, so I wasn’t positive, but I let Dave know that my water may have just broken a bit. This was at 7:15a.
An hour later, there was another small gush when I was up and about. This time, I also lost some of my plug and had some show when I went to the bathroom, so I was pretty sure things were starting to move along. The only problem was that I still hadn’t had any contractions. Maybe a few Braxton Hicks, but nothing worthy of calling a contraction. With Lila, I had contractions within 20 minute of water breaking, so this was strange and annoying to me.
Because of the lack of contractions, I was trying not to get my hopes up. It could be possible that my water wasn’t really breaking and that I was just losing my plug, which could still mean I was days away from having a baby. I did text my mom, though, and let her know to stay near her phone because today might finally be the day. I also talked to Carol, one of my midwives, and after hearing what was going on, said that we just might be having a baby today. Woohoo! I still didn’t let myself get too excited, yet, though.
In the meantime, Dave made us waffles for breakfast while I worked on a quick article for iMore. Breakfast was delicious, and afterwards, at about 10:45a, I had a much bigger gush of water — enough for me to be certain that it was indeed my water breaking and not me peeing myself. I let Carol and my Mom know and continued to wait for contractions to start up. After cleaning the living room and vacuuming, I made myself a grilled cheese sandwich.
Finally, at about 1:45p, I started having some contractions. Nothing too crazy, but definitely contractions. It was way too early to think about using the tub, but Dave and I decided it’d be a good idea to get it all setup and ready to go since we had to tear down our table. We also didn’t know how quickly things would start to progress now that contractions were starting. While Dave started working on the table and tub, my mom showed up to pick up Lila.
While my mom was over, my contractions slowed down. At about 3p, the tub was ready to go, but by 4p, contractions were pretty much nonexistent, so I decided to just relax and lay down on the couch for a bit to see if things would pick back up. At 5p, contractions started back up again, and this time they were progressing at a much more satisfactory rate.
At about 5:30p, Dave moved our car from the carport so that the midwives would be able to have a good spot to park when they arrived. Before this, he was keeping himself busy by playing video games, but now the nerves were starting kick in so he sat on the couch while I paced around the apartment timing contractions with the Baby Bump app on my iPhone. It wasn’t long before he just fell asleep
At 6:30p, contractions were still moving along, not unbearably painful, but anywhere from 3-5 minutes apart and 30s-90s in length. There was never any real pattern, but I could feel the intensity increasing, so I told my midwives they should probably head over soon to play it safe. My biggest fear was to have a baby before my midwives arrived.
My irregular contractions were driving me crazy because I couldn’t tell if I was in active labor or not. I was still in a great mood and never experienced an angry “transition” phase, so I didn’t really know what phase of labor I was in.
When my midwives Maggie and Carol arrived at 7:30p, they told Dave to go ahead and fill up the tub because I would likely want to use it soon. I also gave my photographer, Erin White, a heads up that she could head over whenever she wanted. She arrived at 8:20p.
By 9p, contractions were strong enough that walking through them was not an option. Instead, I would lean against a wall and just breathe. But in between contractions, I continued to pace around the apartment, participate in conversations, and even do a little posting on Facebook and Twitter. Dave would ask if I needed any support or anything, but I didn’t. I was content with being on my own. But by 9:35, contractions got really bad, so I decided it was time for the tub.
Up until now, I didn’t have a “plan” to give birth in the tub, but to at least use it for labor. I preferred to go into the birth experience without a plan so that I could just go with the flow and what felt right at the moment. I also didn’t want to be disappointed if there were circumstances preventing me from birthing in the tub. However, the moment I got in the tub, I knew I wasn’t getting out. Compared to laboring outside of the tub, it was heaven.
For the next hour or so, contractions continued to increase in intensity and Dave provided counter support on my lower back while outside the tub and leaning in. It wasn’t long before that wasn’t enough, though, so Dave hopped into the tub with me.
Even with contractions as intense and painful as they were, I stayed calm and quietly breathed through each one. Maggie, Carol, and Erin would even make fun of me for continuing to engage in a little conversation and smile in between contractions.
Before Dave was in, I was really struggling with finding the perfect position that would work for the actual birth, but with Dave’s total support, it was easy. In between contractions, I would just lay back and relax as much as possible with my back against Dave’s chest and when a contraction came, he would push on my back to help me get into an upright position and push his feet into my lower back for counter pressure. I put my hands on the outside of the tub with my legs up against the inside of the front of the tub. After going through a few contractions like this, I knew this was gonna be the position and that it was nearly time to push.
I’m not gonna lie; I was a little scared to push. I had a few contractions where I felt “pushy” before I was willing to admit it to myself and actually start pushing. Sometime around 11:05p, I started pushing, but it was more experimental at first and I didn’t give it my all out of a combination of fear and testing my body to see if it really was time to push. It was definitely time.
My first big, good pushes went great. I could feel Lucy moving down and the pressure building. The way Dave was using his feet on my back and pushing down on my shoulders, he was literally helping with the process. It’s weird, but my pushes were more successful because of him. And the best part is that I never told him what to do or how to best support me, he just did it and it was perfect.
Now, obviously the main goal of the night was to have a baby, but the other goal was to do it with little to no tearing. I tore pretty good with Lila, so when Lucy was starting to crown, Maggie provided me with some coaching to hopefully reduce the tearing. She said that when I started to feel a burn, to stop pushing and just breathe through the rest of the contraction. This would give me a chance to stretch a bit before continuing.
With Lila, I never felt any burning, but oh.my.god did I this time! I’m not even going to try to sugar coat it — it burned like hell. I completely understand the term “ring of fire” now. Actually, ring of fire is an understatement.
So yeah, I definitely felt the burn and had no problem ceasing to push when I felt it. I did this a few times, but each time, Lucy would retract back up when the pushing stopped, so I had to change up the technique if I was going to actually push her out.
So now Maggie gently told me that next time, instead of stopping the pushing completely when I felt the burn, I needed to just ease up on the pushing with the goal of keeping her head in the same spot.
Oh, you mean that spot where it feels like someone is pouring molten lava all over my crotch? Yeah, sure, no problem!!
So I tried with the next contraction and holy crap, this request seemed impossible. So. Much. Pain. I tried really hard to keep up with the mild pushing, but I ended up backing off: “I can’t, I can’t do it. Oh my god it burns so bad.”
Everyone reassured me that I could do it, but Maggie also let me know that if I wanted to barrel through it, I could. “No, no. I can do this” – I told myself. I really wanted to avoid the amount of tearing I got with Lila.
Maggie also checked Lucy’s heart with a doppler, and since she was totally happy and content with the situation, taking my time was ok.
Time for the next contraction. Push hard. Burn. Push less. Breath. Small push. Burn. Small push. Burn burn burn. Contraction ends. Burn continues.
Waiting for the next contraction while Lucy’s head was halfway out was excruciating. It felt like 3 minutes, but was probably less than 30 seconds. Maggie told me I could reach down and feel her head if I wanted and I just shook my head and quickly replied “no, no, that freaks me out”. Hey, at least that made everyone giggle.
Yes! Another contraction! I think it was just one big push and… relief! Her head was out. I knew her head was out and I was ready to be done with this and meet my baby, so I immediately took another breath before the contraction ended and pushed the rest of her out. It was one last big burn followed by major relief. Seriously, it was the best feeling ever.
Carol was the one to catch Lucy and hand her to me. My beautiful baby girl was finally here and the pain was gone. I leaned back into Dave and looked at my… extremely white baby girl. White because of how much vernix she was covered in. Seriously, you could barely see her skin.
I placed her body back down into the warm water and just rubbed her little cheeks while she experimented with the whole breathing thing and made funny faces. She was here. My Lucy was finally here.
Lucy’s birth time was 12:13a on January 20.
After the cord stopped pulsing, Dave cut it and we got out of the tub. In less than an hour, Lucy nursed for the first time.
Lucy’s birth was absolutely perfect and exactly what I wanted. Not once was I checked for dilation and no one told me when it was time to start pushing. Instead, I just listened to my body, received the perfect amount of support from my husband and midwives, and brought my baby into this world without any medical intervention. Sure, it was painful, but it was perfect.
One may tell me “you did it!”, but that’s not quite right. Dave, Lucy, and I — we did it.
So that’s the end of the birth story, but definitely not the end of the night’s events.
I delivered the placenta after getting out of the tub, and there was more blood than ideal, so I was given a shot of pitocin to slow it down. This happened with Lila and wasn’t a serious concern. As long as I got taken care of, I wouldn’t (and didn’t) hemorrhage and everything would be fine. No one was worried.
The reason it’s important to mention is because I hate blood and anything even remotely gory. I did see a lot of red in the tub and I made the mistake of glancing at the placenta and all the blood that came with it. But I was fine when I went to the couch to nurse Lucy and get inspected.
It turns out that I did end up tearing, but only a 1st degree tear and not nearly as bad and as deep as the 2nd degree tear I had with Lila.
Anyway, after getting stitched up (I was laying on my back), I decided I was ready to clean up and take a shower. Carol helped me get up and head to the shower. After she turned it on and before I got in, it all hit me — the blood loss, seeing the blood, seeing the placenta, getting up from being on my back — and I got really lightheaded. I told Carol right away and that I might faint. She summoned Dave and they helped me sit on the toilet while I concentrated on breathing. I just leaned into Dave and breathed, trying real hard not to faint.
Well, it turns out I fainted for about a second. I was given trail mix, water, and the Jamba Juice smoothie that was in the fridge and ate and drank while I recovered. I started apologizing to Dave because I know I freaked him out. He just held me and told me it was ok. To play it safe, I was also given some oxygen… which was amazing. I have no idea how much time passed before I was ready to get up and lay down, but eventually I did. Dave told me he felt nauseous and he actually went and threw up because of how nervous the fiasco made him
After being certain that I was ok, I got to have my Lucy back and nurse her some more. Before heading out for the night, Maggie and Carol made it clear to Dave and I that if I fainted again, we needed to call 911. They also left the oxygen in case I wanted or needed to use it again.
Thankfully, I never needed it and never had to call 911. Instead, I got to lay awake and stare at my beautiful new baby girl. I was so pumped with adrenaline and endorphins that sleeping wasn’t much of an option.