**Note: though I tried to write this entry with great discretion and tact, alas, it IS a birth story, and so, is slightly graphic in nature. Just a heads-up!
On (Monday) June 23, as mentioned in an earlier post, I spotted all day long and then experienced painful contractions starting at about 10:30pm. Rather than getting closer together, my contractions got further apart and stopped altogether at about midnight.
On (Tuesday) June 24, I awoke to nothing unusual, and so, went about my day as I normally would. Come lunchtime, though, I began experiencing slightly painful contractions, consistently around 15 minutes apart. Thankfully, RD had to stay in town to fix an on-going computer problem at a local business, and so, was unable to go to his 2 day/wk. contractual job out of town (approximately a 45 min. drive). Yea! That helped me relax knowing that he was working so close by and could quickly get home.
Contractions continued to remain about 15 min.s apart throughout the afternoon. I called the midwife to give her a heads-up and she recommended I try to nap when the kids went down for quiet time. I was able to sleep some but was awoken 3x's with painful contractions. After my nap I called RD and told him this was the "real thing" and would keep him posted if contractions got closer together. Also called my babysitters to let them know that they should come and pick up the kids when the hubby got out of work.
At about 6:30pm, my babysitters arrived to pick up the kids and RD got home from work. By this point, my contractions were painful enough that I had to work through them and they were approximately 8-10 min.s apart. After the kids were gone and RD and I got settled, that's when my contractions started coming pretty hard. We called the midwife when they were about 5 min.s apart. She only lives 12 miles away and so was able to get there fairly quickly.
When the midwife came, I was near transition. Contractions were coming about every 2 min.s and were lasting about 1-1/2 min.s. RD and the midwife went about making preparations in the master bedroom (where I knew I wanted to birth). They also started preparing the herbs for my postpartum bath. What a familiar smell! It totally brought back memories from when I birthed Cassandra.
I labored like that for about an hour more. My midwife actually got a little knitting done during that time. ;-) Finally, contractions started coming one after another... hard, painful, and long. There were a few contractions that nearly led me to vomit so I knew I was in transition at this point. I remember there being at least (2) contractions that were back to back. Ouch! As with Cassandra's birth, I was in my lazyboy recliner, rocking through each contraction. For some reason, rocking helps me to work through the pain. The midwife kept telling me to relax my whole body, to pull my chin down to my chest, and breath slowly through them. This was the first birth where my fingers didn't go numb from lack of oxygen. This was also the first birth where I managed to not vomit during transition!!! (Perhaps it helped that for dinner I ate a light turkey sandwich.)
It must have been around 10:30pm and I felt like I had to go to the bathroom. In between a contraction, RD helped me up and walked me to the restroom. The walking made the contractions worse and I had to work through a few really hard contractions while sitting on the toilet. Just to see what would happen, while in the bathroom, I tried pushing through one of the contractions and discovered that it felt good to push! RD called back out to the midwife to tell her I felt like pushing. She told me to go ahead and take my shorts and underpants off and head to the master bedroom.
Once there, I sat on the birthing stool (which is a crescent shaped chair with handle bars) and she gave me an internal (my first with this pregnancy- yea). I was fully dilated and effaced with a bulging bag of waters! To prepare our bedroom for birth, our birth kit included a HUGE clear plastic tarp... which we spread out to cover the carpet and the surrounding furniture. Underneath the birthing stool were several of those large square hospital absorbency pads. RD had a chair behind me so he could hold and steady me. My midwife sat Indian-style in front of me with a hospital absorbency pad covering her lap.
I was ready for pushing right around 11pm. I tried pushing through a few contractions but it was unproductive. My midwife suggested that when I feel a contraction I pull my chin into my chest, bend forward, and groan with a relaxed jaw. I felt sort of weird "groaning" really loud but it helped a lot. She also helped by doing another internal and pushing at a spot in the birth canal, giving me a focal point/pushing target. Still slightly unproductive.
My midwife decided to make me switch positions. I was squatting with my knees on hers and my arms wrapped around the back of her neck. For some reason, this opened things up down there and made it so much easier to push. I remember I kept asking her if it was ok that my water hadn't broke and she kept assuring me not to worry and that in due time it would break. She was right! As Edmund was working his way down the birth canal, I felt this 'pop' and clear liquid came rushing out. Yea! I felt a rush of excitement as I could see I was nearing the end!
When Edmund's head was over halfway down the birth canal, my midwife had me reach down and feel his head. So neat!
Then... it got hard. I thought that what I had experienced thus far was hard. But no...
His crowning was the most painful thing I remember from any of my births. Out went the slow, deliberate breathing. Out went the chin in/moaning thing. I don't want to go so far as to say I was "writhing"... but it was close. I remember I couldn't breathe regularly and I started crying. It seemed like an eternity, but it really was only 1-2 min.s (if that).
Then, at 11:47pm, Edmund was born! Just when I thought I couldn't take it a second longer, he was quickly birthed and I was graced with the biggest feeling of relief and accomplishment. The midwife caught him, wrapped him in a receiving blanket, and as I sat up on the birthing stool again she laid him on my chest. I remember looking at his face and I just knew he was a boy. He had such masculine features. I pulled the blanket back to see and sure enough, my prediction was confirmed. ;-) RD was simply beaming! As soon as the cord finished pulsating, the midwife clamped the cord and handed RD the shears to clip it.
For some reason, the placenta took its time in coming out. Usually it slips out without any effort, but not this time. There really weren't any afterbirth contractions. The midwife pushed on my tummy some and then had me push. We caught it in a Schwann's ice cream tub. (ha ha) The midwife just kept commenting on how it was "such a clean birth".
After we cleaned up a bit, we wrapped one of those hospital absorbency pads around me like a big diaper and I walked upstairs to have my postpartum herbal bath. My midwife always encourages the baby to bathe with momma so the two of us got in and took a nice warm bath. The herbs help both my tissues and the baby's umbilical cord to heal. Edmund took his first round of nursing there in the tub and took to it like a pro. There is something truly bonding about nursing. I just can't explain it.
After our bath, Edmund and I got dressed and headed back downstairs. Once there, I ate some cheese and crackers while Edmund got weighed and measured. We also went over the postnatal care list of do's and dont's. Then she brought back out the placenta and showed us how she examines it to make sure everything looked healthy. In one regard, the placenta looked gross... but from another perspective, RD and I were both in awe over God's perfect design in creation.
Once the aftercare procedure was over, the midwife left RD and I to bask in Edmund's birth and to let him have another round of nursing. She gathered all the birthing laundry to get that started washing. She completely cleaned up the birthing materials in the master bedroom. She even washed up the tub upstairs from our bath. In less than 30 min.s, our house was back in order... to the point you would have never guessed a baby had just been born. It was amazing!
RD and I stayed up for about an hour more after the midwife left to snuggle and enjoy our new son. I drank a cup of herbal "Mother's Milk Tea" (helps promote healthy lactation). This was at about 2am. Finally we retired and went to sleep. RD slept on the couch so he could be with me. I slept in my lazyboy recliner with Edmund, letting him nurse and sleep as he desired.
Well... that's it. :-)
I was terribly curious to see how this homebirth differed from Cassandra's, but it really was quite paralleled in experience. They were both quiet births. Both babies came out alert and content...
If I could describe my experience in one word it would be "peaceful"...