Labor started just as I had expected- in the middle of the night and straight to active labor. I woke up at 1:40 am on April 22nd (12 days past my due date) having painful contractions that were 2 minutes apart and lasting about 30 seconds. For the first 20 minutes or so the pain was just in front, but quickly spread to my back which was to be expected since the baby had been in the face-up (OP- occiput posterior) position for the last couple months of the pregnancy.
I called my midwives within 10 or 20 minutes of waking up and Emme and Clare were here by 2:50 am. My Dad kept an eye on Henry and my Mom joined us in the bedroom.
I got into the wonderful birth tub around 3:30 am. Contractions continued close together and were quite painful, especially in my back. My midwives and husband were so amazing and supportive, rubbing my back and letting me squeeze their hands. I labored in the tub for about two hours, then got out and tried a couple other locations. I hadn’t had any cervical checks at all during the pregnancy or labor, but around 6:00 am we decided to check. Thankfully I was 9 centimeters, which was very reassuring. I got back in the tub and must have reached full dilation around 6:15 am because my body and I started doing a little pushing.
I was hoping to let my body do the work of pushing the baby out, but never felt the overwhelming sensation I had felt with Henry that my body was suddenly pushing this baby down. Perhaps this was due to his face up presentation. In any event, I knew right away I was going to have to work to push this baby out and I really wanted to be done, so I got to work. Over time the contractions seemed to get shorter and weaker which was frustrating. As time wore on I felt convinced that the baby was never coming! My support team continued to be so wonderful to get me through this. At 7:00 am I felt a pop, which was my water breaking. We did another cervical check around 7:30 am to make sure there wasn’t a little cervix left that was preventing the baby from moving down, but there wasn’t. I tried lots of different positions in and out of the tub. Sometimes I could feel the baby moving a bit and at other times nothing seemed to help. At 8:15 am, after two hours of pushing in a variety of positions in the tub (on knees, squatting, standing up), we decided to move to a side-lying position on the bed. At 8:28 am his head was out and the rest of him was born 2 minutes later. Relief! The cord was wrapped once around his lower neck/upper shoulders area. The baby (eventually named James “Jamie” Edward when he was three days old) was given an Apgar score of 8 one minute after the birth and 9 at five minutes. Many of the people in the room were predicting a girl but I knew it was a boy. I was the one who checked and announced the sex to everyone.
The placenta came about 20 minutes later. Chris cut the cord at this point. I had a second degree tear which we decided not to stitch. I held Jamie for over an hour and then the midwives did their newborn exam. He weighed in at 10 pounds, 12 ounces, was 22 inches long and his head was 15 inches. I could NOT believe his weight. I had predicted 9 pounds, 8 ounces, while Chris had been predicting 10 pounds, 6 ounces which sounded crazy to me. Just the day before at my pre-natal appointment I had said “I don’t feel like this baby is that big.” How wrong I was!
This birth was quite different from what I was envisioning, but I’m so happy I was able to have Jamie at home. I know my midwives did everything they could to help me try to realize my dream of a water birth, but clearly that was not in the cards. And the baby’s size and position seem to have preventing the quick, gentle, easy birth I was hoping for! I listened to the Hypnobirthing CDs in the weeks leading up to the birth and definitely called many of the ideas from Hypnobirthing to mind while in labor. Thank goodness for that, my support team and my belief in my ability to do this. Homebirth rocks!!