For a couple of days leading up to my labor, I had started to feel a little different – though not really in a way I could easily describe. It was just a feeling that things would happen soon. Paul also sensed that something was up, and commented that I even looked different. We had been going through a small to-do list of things to try to get done before the baby came, and Paul finished the last item on the list Tuesday night. He joked that it made him nervous to finish the list, since maybe I was waiting for it to be done to go into labor! That evening we also played with Silas (23 months old) outside for a long time – it was abnormally hot and sunny for Minnesota in May. I remember thinking about how happy Silas looked playing with our garden hose, and feeling that it was bittersweet how much his life would soon be changing.
I slept really well that night, and in the morning drove Silas to daycare at 8:00. I planned to use the day alone to plant some annuals in the garden and then relax. I got home and made some tea, and started to notice a few “signs” when I went to the bathroom. Around 9:00 I was feeling crampy so I called Paul and my sister to give them an early alert that something might be going on. I couldn’t decide if the cramps were contractions, but I started timing them using an online timer and found that they were somewhat irregular and between 3-6 minutes apart, lasting 30 -60 seconds each. I was still able to move around easily through them at this point, so I wasn’t sure if they were the real thing. I called our midwife Emme and also put her on “alert” – she thought it sounded like labor. Then, at her recommendation, I ate a breakfast of yogurt, granola and banana.
Paul decided to leave work and come home, as he was more convinced than I was that labor was imminent. He arrived home around 10:30, and by then I was feeling the contractions much stronger – I wanted to stop moving and breathe deeply when they happened. So I called Emme and asked her to come; she let the other midwife know and by 11:00 everyone was assembled. Clare listened to the baby (who was moving and having huge hiccups) and took my vitals. They helped us to fill the birth pool and they organized their supplies, and then made up some postpartum herbs in the kitchen. Then they offered to plant and water some annuals for me, since it was so hot and dry outside and the plants were wilting! Paul and I showed them around the yard and then went back inside. It felt good to be on my feet and moving, and every time a contraction would come I would lean against something and breathe through it. Paul was always nearby and would sometimes press or rub on my back. One time I got caught sitting down when a contraction came and was surprised to feel some pain – it felt so much better when I was standing up! As long as I was able to stand and move I felt strong and calm.
My midwifes came inside and said they would stay out of my way unless I needed or wanted them. My contractions had slowed a bit to 5-6 minutes between them, but they were getting very strong. I also felt some nausea at their peak. I asked Paul to come upstairs with me and I took a hot shower. The shower felt wonderful, but suddenly the contractions were happening very fast. I said that I wanted to get in the birth pool soon and had Paul ask Clare if that was ok – I was still worried that birth might be a long way off and I didn’t want to get in to soon. Clare and Paul started filling it, but filled it too hot at first and needed to add cold.
I remember suddenly feeling impatient, and my contractions were changing and feeling “pushy” and I was vocalizing/ grunting for the first time. I was finding it hard to communicate so finally I hopped in the pool but then just stood there. The baby felt so low, I couldn’t imagine how I could bend at all to lower myself! Finally I got on my knees and started to lean forward over the edge of the tub, holding Paul’s hands. He was out of the pool but was prepared to jump in with me. I was grunting and heard Clare say “she is pushing” and Emme came up the stairs at that point, surprised that I was already at that stage. I remember seeing Paul’s eyes widen in surprise, too. I felt a burning sensation, and for the first time all day I really thought – that hurt! Clare encouraged me to reach down and feel – and I was surprised to feel the unbroken amniotic sac protruding. An urge to bear down came and then the baby’s head came through, one more urge and the body followed. I never really did do any deliberate “pushing” per se. Clare (who was behind me) caught the baby as he floated up “in the caul” – the bag was intact and his eyes were open! She caught him and passed him under my legs and I brought him to my chest. The bag had now broken and he cried and wiggled in my arms, we were so happy! Suddenly everything else faded away and it was Paul and I together with our tiny amazing baby. It was 1:33 p.m, I had only been in the birth pool for six minutes, and less than three hours had passed since the midwifes had considered me in “active labor”. I guess the first thing I said right after the baby came out was “oh – that felt really good!”
I was helped out of the pool and we were dried off and wrapped up so that I could snuggle and nurse my new little boy Milo and birth the placenta. Milo really got with the nursing probably about 20 minutes after he was born and did great. My parents (who had planned to pick up our other son from daycare and bring him to the birth) arrived shortly after the birth, as did Paul’s mother. Clare and Emme made me scrambled eggs, gave me an herbal bath, and did a newborn exam where they weighed the baby on a newborn scale and checked his vitals. He was a perfect little boy! Paul got Silas from daycare to meet his new little brother. At first, Silas looked startled and shy, but then smiled and wanted to see the baby up close.
Everything went so well and so beautifully. My midwifes were so caring and wonderful and never felt at all intrusive, yet one of them was always somehow there right when I needed them. I loved the skin to skin time I had with Milo, nursing him right away, being in my own home, having Silas be a part of things, and all the comfort and independence I had. I am so glad that I did this and that my son got to enter the world in such a gentle way. I feel proud that I was able to give my son such a peaceful and loving entrance into the world.