It was the last night I expected my baby boy to show up. I figured it would be at least another few days. At soccer my friends teased me about my aching back, “Oh, you’re in labor for sure!”
“I’m just tired, this baby is taking it’s own sweet time. It’ll be a few days” I replied. And I cheered on my son’s soccer game, noting a few inconsistent contractions throughout the game.
We were home by 7:30 and Matt put the boys to bed. By that time my back was aching more and I thought I’d better get to work on some last minute details for work, “just in case, “ I thought. But as I typed, my backache grew stronger and those mild contractions started having some intensity to them. When I realized it was getting hard to type and put a straight thought together, I gave in and realized that yes, this baby was coming tonight! I told Matt it was time to make our calls.
I decided to try to get some sleep. I took a shower and went to bed. I could hear Matt downstairs, making phone calls, doing the dishes, tidying up. I felt a bit nervous. This was my third baby but first homebirth. Would everything go as I hoped? But as I heard those hushed voices coming in, Emme and Clare, I suddenly felt completely safe. I remembered what wonderful hands I was in and relaxed as I heard them setting up down in the sunroom.
Emme and Clare came up to check on me and listen to the baby’s heartbeat. Everything sounded great. I was feeling well. It was time for us to get some sleep.
Around 1am my contractions grew stronger. Jen, our friend who would be caring for the boys arrived and my doula came upstairs to help me through the contractions. She gave me a heated rice pack which helped with the pain in my back; I had never had back pain this intense before with my boys. She applied pressure, which helped too. Matt checked on the tub as I thought it might be time to go down fairly soon. My contractions were much stronger and closer together. Every now and then Emme would appear to have a listen to the baby’s heartbeat, to reassure me, to see what I might need or want.
By 2am I had had enough and decided it was time to get in the tub. I’d never had a waterbirth before and was amazed at the difference the tub made. I immediately relaxed and for the next few hours got into a rhythm.
The rhythm seemed exactly the same the entire time I was in the tub. I’d have a painful, intense contraction but never so intense I felt I couldn’t bear it. People took turns holding my hands through each contraction: Matt, Karen, Jen, Emme, Clare…they all took turns being with me and resting. Someone was fanning me…I remember looking at the magazine they were using. It was Time, and Obama was on the cover. Wasn’t the primary tomorrow? We would miss voting, but no matter. My baby was coming.
I stayed in the same rhythm: contraction, breath, let out the sound, let out the pain, drop down my jaw, squeeze whomever’s hands I was holding. Ask to be fanned, ask not to be fanned. Fall asleep, wake up three minutes later and start all over again. Check baby’s heartbeat now and again. Everything is good.
I kept waiting for it to get as intense as it did with my first two births, but it never did. I started to feel frustrated. What was taking so long? The sun was starting to come up. My boys awoke and came downstairs with Jen to see what was happening, then they went up to watch TV.
The frustration became worse. My first births had been done by now, and my water hadn’t even broken yet. Clare and Emme suggested that maybe it was time to get out of the tub and move around a bit. I had been in there for a few hours now and maybe a change might help get things moving.
As I climbed out I was hit with the most intense rush of pain I had felt all night. “No, I have to get back in.” But suddenly my water broke and I felt my baby drop down, and I knew it was time. I got back in and got ready to push.
I could feel my baby’s head moving down. I tried to take my time, to push slowly and relax as I wanted to avoid a tear. But he was ready to come out and he was coming pretty fast. Jen brought the boys back downstairs and I could hear Emme tell Matt to get ready to catch the baby. As I pushed my baby out, I could feel Matt grab him and push him through the water and up into my arms. He let out a loud, vibrant cry as I held him tight and cried right along with him. My beautiful baby was here, I knew it was a boy, I didn’t even check right away to be sure. I just held him and soothed him as Emme checked his vitals and he was wrapped in towels to stay warm.
My older boys were so sweet. They both touched baby’s head, and smiled. My five year old was gleeful. My two year old said the one line I will always remember, “Can we go watch Bob the Builder now?” I guess having a new baby brother was no comparison with the treat of extra TV time!
The tub was cooling, so we climbed out onto the bed we had made up on the floor, next to the tub. It was the warmest feeling I’d ever had in my life. My baby in my arms, loads of blankets around me, the sun coming up and shining in my sunroom, everyone I needed right around me. I was able to just take my time and be with my baby. No one was in a hurry for anything.
It was time to push the placenta out. Emme checked it over and my five year old got to put on some gloves and help. I nursed my baby for the first time. Someone made some hot cereal and we all sat in the sunroom in a big circle, eating it and just enjoying the glow of a beautiful birth. I remember thinking to myself that this was exactly how I wanted it. Warm, peaceful and surrounded by people I knew, loved and trusted. I will always remember that beautiful feeling.