The Story of Sophia's Birth...
Having gone into labor a week early with Josh, I was hoping for the same this time around. Two and a half weeks before my January 21st due date, I started have spells of contractions and lots of signs that labor might be near. But every morning I woke up... still pregnant... so by the time I got past 39 weeks I had finally accepted the fact that only this baby knew when it'd be born. I say "it" because we'd had no ultrasound and therefore didn't know if the baby was a boy or girl.
On Saturday the 19th, I was just flat miserable and sick to death of being pregnant. Many women experience a burst of energy just prior to labor... I had a burst of angst and misery. It rained like a monsoon and I had taken Josh to the mall where Duane worked at the time to have lunch with him. I got drenched and by the time I got back home, Josh was asleep in the car and I just sat in the car in my driveway complaining to my mom on the cellphone.
That evening after Josh went to bed, Duane went to bed early, and I sat up working at the computer until around 10:30. I shut off the computer and had a late dinner of Cracker Barrell leftovers, brewed a cup of Chamomile tea, and called it an early night at 11:10...
IN THE BEGINNING, THERE WAS WATER
I had just gotten all the pillows right, glanced at the clock on my nightstand - 11:15 - and started to drift off to sleep when I felt the pop. Gush. No doubt that my water had just broken. I jumped up and ran to the bathroom trying my best not to leak all over the place.
Wow. So this was it. I'd soon meet this kid. And get the chance for the homebirth I wanted so much. A do-over for all the crap that I'd had to deal with the first time around with Josh's birth.
I pulled on a Depends and called Debbie, my midwife. No contractions yet, but I knew she'd still be up and wanted to give her a heads up. We chatted for about 20 minutes, and I had two contractions - braxton-hicks really - I talked right through them. She said just give her a call back when I was ready for her to come. After we got off the phone, I called my mom. No telling when things would get going, but I had felt for awhile that I'd have a fast labor, and wanted to make sure that my mom had plenty of notice to get dressed and drive the 60 miles from her house. I decided to not wake Duane, but try to go back to bed and get some sleep before the show got started.
AND THEN THERE WAS PAIN
Around 11:50 I had the first real contraction. Quite strong, enough that I decided to go ahead and start getting stuff ready. Duane was sleeping on the sofa bed as me and my pillows took up the better part of our king size bed. I was taking mental inventory of what would need to be done when another contraction made me realize it was already time to wake Duane.
He got the bed linens that I'd prepared three weeks before and sealed up, and brought them into our room. I started to strip off the linens that were already on the bed, and only got to one corner. Nothing was ready, but I was suddenly useless in the task of preparing the house. I crept into the living room, told him to call our friends to come get Josh, and that he'd have to finish the preparations.
As he made the bed, the phone calls, and started filling the labor pool, I tried every position known to womankind. Nothing was really working... laying down, sitting, hands and knees, swaying... the contractions were close together and felt like stabbing pains deep and in front. I was reminding myself of all the things I teach couples in my Bradley® classes, but couldn't find my groove. I laid down on the couch, and after the next contraction felt terror. This was so different from my labor with Josh! I'd only just gotten started and felt this way? There's no way I can do this.
Huh? Man, I knew I was going to go fast with thoughts like this at 12:30. I told Duane to call Debbie NOW. And call my mom back and tell her to get moving. And call Laura, who was coming to photograph the event. And HURRY for God's sake and get the water in the pool.
At 1 am, our friends came to get Josh to spend the night with them.
ODE TO THE PORCELAIN GOD
Having given up on finding respite in the living room, I moved on the the bathroom. Aaaahhh, the toilet was my new best friend. Sitting there made it bearable. Not good, but bearable. But my foot kept going to sleep and ruining my peace.
Duane finally comes to the door of the bathroom and says that he's got everything done and the pool is filling up. I notice he's wearing his tennis shoes. Not laced. We never wear shoes in the house and he'd not gone outside. I never did figure out why he had his shoes on!
THE CALVARY ARRIVES
My newfound respite had left, and I was struggling again to try and relax. Duane, who had gone through Bradley® classes with me when we had Josh three years ago, seemed to have forgotten everything he learned there, and I was in no shape to reeducate him.
The doorbell rings... Debbie's here. Duane lets her in and come back to the doorway to the bathroom where I was still sitting. She followed him, and I looked up at her and muttered a feeble "help." She told Duane to go over and rub my arms. Oh my! What a difference! OK, I can live through this. He got into it, remembering what he'd learned in Bradley® classes and what we'd been practicing. Still hurt, but I could handle it. We never timed the contractions, but they were close and hard.
MORE WATER, AND WATER IS G-O-O-D!
The pool is ready! Not quite full, not quite as warm as I'd prefer, but enough to get in...
Hallelujah!!!!!!!! I can't even describe how wonderful it felt to sit down in that pool! Duane and Debbie were bringing in boiling water from pots on the stove and microwave to speed the process, and it was chilly enough that I'd shiver ever so often, but even still... WOW! The contractions were definitely doable. But now I wanted my Mommy.
Not hardly five minutes after saying I wished she'd get here already, Mom arrived. It was around 2 am. I think she thought it was pretty funny to get to our homebirth and see water boiling!
Soon, the water heater was ready again, and with the hose back on the pool got nice and perfectly warm quickly. Now I was in heaven. The contractions were still very hard, but spaced out much more. Debbie timed them. Seven minutes apart now, but one and a half to two minutes long.
I remember thinking about my Grandmother, my Mom's mom. She had all six of hers at her home. Thinking about her laboring in her bedroom in her house somehow connected me to all the women across different cultures from the dawn of time who had labored and worked and had their babies just the way I was doing it. I can do it.
OH NO! ANYTHING BUT THAT!
After awhile like that, Debbie told me that although she was glad my contractions were less erratic and I was feeling better, she thought maybe I should get out of the water because she'd like the contractions to get closer together again.
WHAT! I begged and pleaded to stay right where I was. Finally she said OK, I could stay there for a few more minutes, but then I'd have to get out... at least to go pee.
She left the room and my mom and Duane took turns rubbing my head and giving me sports bottles full of sweet tea and water. I tried not to think about having to get out of the pool, and noticed that the contractions seemed closer together now. Easier though. Well, I figured I'd count the contractions until Debbie came back so that I could prove to her they were closer. I'd leave out the part about them getting easier. Hey, I deserved a little break!
At one point, I asked Duane to take the lid off of the trash can that was set up to be the diaper pail. I felt a twinge of nausea every now and then. Hum, I know that's a sign of transition... Nah, this is easier than it just was a few minutes ago.... it must be the chicken friend chicken and biscuits.
ALL GOOD THINGS MUST COME TO AN END
Debbie comes back in and tells me it's time to get out and go to the bathroom. I know I have to get out of the pool, but tell her how many contractions I've had... they're close! I need to get back in after peeing. She said we'll just wait and see.
After the next contraction, Duane and Debbie help me out and Duane walks with me to the bathroom. Whew! I had drank a LOT!
Before I knew what was happening, I was bearing down with every ounce of strength in my body! As soon as it was over, I panicked. There's NO WAY I'm ready to push, something's wrong! Another contraction, and the tension in my body makes it unbearable. I screamed loud enough... I'm surprised I didn't wake the neighbors!
Debbie had heard the major grunting with the push and come into the bathroom. I was freaking and saying that something's wrong!! She said "let's just see, probably everything's fine." She checked me (the first and only time during the whole pregnancy and labor) and said she felt head. What?!? WOW, that was EASY! (Boy does your perception change fast!)
"So I can get back in the water now?" was my response.
MEANWHILE, BACK IN THE POOL
I was excited again, and resting up. I got about 20 - 30 minutes of little contractions that I could ignore or grunt through, and took advantage of them to relax and regroup. Wow! Soon we'll meet this kiddo and finally find out if it's a boy or girl!
Soon the pushing urge got overwhelmingly strong and it was back to work. It was hard, and tons of pressure, and I was back to not having too much fun. I didn't think it would ever end. Each contraction everyone would get ready, and then no baby. It felt like forever, and then finally....
HERE'S A HEAD!
Stretch... push... burn... push... head! Oh, my! I could see the finish line!
Vicky, the midwife apprentice commented on how the baby's hair was waving in the water.
I felt the baby moving it's head around... wow! It's body still inside me, and wriggling it's head around!
After a minute or so, I looked at Debbie and since another contraction didn't seem to be coming on, and the baby's head was underwater, she said to try and push anyway. "Oh, yeah, one more good push and we get to see the goodies!" I said, and went to work.
Swish... and there's a baby! A girl! And bliss!
3:31 am - Welcome, Sophia Grace! 8 pounds, 14 ounces, and I did it!
For more information on The Bradley Method®, for an international listing of instructors, or to contact the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth® directly, please contact: The Bradley Method®, Box 5224, Sherman Oaks, CA 91413-5224 - (800) 4-A-BIRTH or (818) 788-6662 - www.bradleybirth.com