This birth was definitely different from the last. With Violet's birth, we spent a long time in early labor and a long time in active labor. We were probably in the tub for 6-8 hours with Violet, and I was fully dilated when I got in the tub... It had also been over 12 hours since I had realized I was in labor when we got in the tub. Now this may sound horrific to some, but in many ways we really enjoyed our slow labor. Even in the final stages, Gordon and I were sleeping in between contractions and things moved slowly and easily. This was a drawback too, though, because by the end of it I was exhausted and depleted. I passed out the first time I went to the bathroom after giving birth to Violet, but I was so tired I honestly thought I had just fallen asleep on the toilet.
Anyway, this time was not the slow and mild process of last time. On Thursday evening, Gordon and Violet took the dogs the lake by our house for a walk. I stayed home to rest. I went to the bathroom and while I had been passing bits and pieces of my mucus plug for weeks, what came out that night was the largest "chunk" yet. I texted Gordon and said that I must love him because I opted not to save or photograph the mucus plug. I was having semi-strong contractions here and there, but I had been for weeks. We had had so many false starts, I tried not to let this big signal give me too much false hope that Dez would be here soon.Thursday night I felt crampy, and woke several times in discomfort. At 3am I had to really focus on my breathing and relaxation in order to get back to sleep. I was excited the next morning to find pink-tinged mucus when I went to the bathroom. I told Gordon that it wasn't an exact rule, but that I had had my "bloody/birth show" and I thought I would be having the baby that day.
Unfortunately, because of the several false starts we'd had, this wasn't the first time I had said this, and we both took it with a grain of salt.
We went to Arctic Playgroundz so Violet could run off some energy, and I noticed that the surges were stronger. I didn't try to time them at this point because I didn't think they were coming regularly, and again I didn't want to falsely get my hopes up. A woman at the playground asked how far along I was, and I told her 40 weeks and 2 days. She and the woman next to her looked shocked, and she exclaimed, "And they aren't inducing you?!" As if treating my healthy pregnancy as such was cruel and unusual torture... I just smiled and said, "Well, I think I'm having him today, so it's not really an issue." They both looked at me like I was crazy for thinking a full-term baby was normal and for crawling around on the floor with my toddler on the day I was going to have a baby. Oh well. I was still smiling.
When we got home, Violet went right down for a nap and I made a big hearty lunch. I made kobocha squash soup from scratch and tempeh BLT's with avocado. I had a feeling it might be my last meal for a while, and I wanted to fill up. My labor with Violet was so long that I didn't eat or drink for far too long, and I ended up passing out after labor. I really didn't want that to happen again.
I started timing my surges, and from around 1:30-2:30 they were between 7-4 minutes apart. I decided the best thing to do would be to take a bath and see if they stopped. With my false starts, changing my activity had stopped what I thougth was labor. I got in the tub and continued to track it. The surges continued at about 4.5 minutes apart. I had a scheduled appointment at the birth center for 3:30, so I called at 3 and asked if I could skip it as I felt I was in labor. My midwife called me back and said she would come by and set up, and if I felt like I needed more time, she could leave for dinner or something. I was still trying not to get my hopes up, but that sounded like a good plan.
My midwife and her two apprentices got here around 4, and we were just getting done setting up the birth tub. At that point I was pacing, swaying, sitting, or otherwise working through strong surges. They were coming frequently enough that I wasn't able to help much and needed to focus on my breathing and visualization. We put my HypnoBirthing affirmations on in the background, and that helped me focus. My friend Natalie came to entertain Violet, and that made it so much easier. They went in Violet's room to read, and I continued to pace as things picked up speed. I realized then that this was the real deal, and that things were happening much quicker than Violet's birth. I started to wonder if I was going to get a break. I felt the urge to get in the tub, and it was finally full around 5pm.
The tub soothed a lot of the discomfort of the surges, but they were still very strong. I felt a lot of pressure, and this time I noticed a radiating warmth like when you hold a stretch for an extended period. I knew my uterus was doing it's job as a strong muscle, and I knew my baby was getting closer. Unlike Violet's birth, I really felt my uterus pushing downward and moving my baby. About this time, Gordon finished cooking dinner for Violet and he got in the tub with me.
I used my surge breathing, a long breath in followed by a quick breath out, and low groans through each surge. At some point, my body felt different, and I felt the need to breath OUT and DOWN. I couldn't imagine that I could already be in the "pushing" phase, but my body was telling me to breath that baby down, and I could feel my natural expulsive reflex moving Dez down. My groaning became an all out woman warrior scream at points. I tried to keep my vocals low and always focused on keeping my mouth open as a reflection of my cervix and vagina. At this point, I had a funny sensation. I felt unbearably tired, like I just COULDN'T stay awake for another minute. I wanted to tell my midwife that I just needed to get out of the tub and take a nap really quickly, then I could finish this later. I knew how ridiculous that was, and I didn't say anything, but the urge was incredible at the time.
As my vocals and surges got louder and more intense, I couldn't really respond to anyone around me. Gordon suggested I lean over the edge of the tub, and I liked the sound of that. I had just been thinking the same thing. This position felt productive, and as Desmond moved down strongly, my bowls took the pressure and released. That's what the fish net is for. Natalie had put Violet to bed, and was standing in the hallway keeping watch. I couldn't believe that Violet was sleeping through all the noise I was making!
I reached down and felt what was in fact the head, but I couldn't believe he was that close already. When the midwife asked if I felt the head I said I didn't think so. Of course, when that same head crowned just minutes later, it was obvious that it was in fact his head. I crowned three times, the final time getting so close that the midwives seemed a bit startled that it went back in. Gordon said, "No, it went back," and I knew he was remembering the hour (at least) that we spent with Violet's head emerging and retracting. On the fourth surge though, it came out completely, and my yell that time was as much of shock as the sensation of stretching. "Is his hair red?" No, he's a brunette, but we love him just the same. We quickly yelled to Natalie to get Violet, we wanted her there. So Violet got in the tub with us, and after 3 minutes the final surge arrived and Desmond made his full entrance. Gordon's hands were on him and he was put right on my chest at 7:30pm.
Violet kissed his head and patted him right away, and Gordon and I just basked in our children. I believe I said something like, "He's here!" and I know Gordon understood how much that simple statement meant. Violet was so excited that she started jumping in the tub and trying to swim in between petting her new brother. After she submerged a few times, we asked Natalie to take her out of the tub, and she went right back to sleep without protest. We bonded in the tub for probably close to an hour, and then the midwives offered to let me birth the placenta in my bed so I could lay down. That sounded perfect, so we made the somewhat awkward trek down the hall to the bed. Eventually, I was assisted in birthing the placenta and I felt a surge of relief and the remaining soreness and cramping I was feeling subsided. I said that I didn't think I was torn, but was checked anyway. There was a slight tearing not worth a single stitch. I lost very little blood this time, and have continued to lose very little blood.
Desmond had his first medical check-up right on our bed, and shocked us with his weight and length. He's a big boy! He's also "fully cooked" and just wonderfully developed. Those extra days and weeks beyond when we thought he would come really paid off. He's already proven to be very calm, but with a strong set of lungs when he has something to say. He's an equinox baby and full of balance. He not only has a good latch, but a great strong suck as well.
We couldn't be happier with another fabulous homebirth, and the wonderful support from friends and care providers. We are so lucky and grateful.