I went out to breakfast with Simon, Noah and my mom to have some yummy pancakes, waffles, and cinnamon roll French toast at Ruby’s. Yum. It was like the last supper LOL. I figured that was my last chance to eat “like a pregnant woman” because I was pretty sure that the consistent contractions meant I was in early labor. Mind you I never ate like that during the pregnancy so it was really fun to finally splurge and go all out!
The rest of the day the contractions stayed about the same, so I decided to go for a few walks to get things going. I even decided to go get my eyebrows waxed and tinted. A girl’s gotta take care of important business while she can! I knew I wouldn’t be able to do that again for a long while with the wee one on the way. Later that afternoon, I texted my doula and called the midwife’s office to give them a heads up that I may be calling them later when I was in active labor. Later in the night, around 8pm, the contractions started getting closer together and lasting longer, but they were still all over the place (ten minutes apart, five minutes apart, seven minutes apart). I kept in contact with the midwife and doula and then around 10pm I decided to call the doula to get her advice because the contractions were coming about seven minutes apart, lasting around a minute long, and I kept getting the shakes. I took a shower to try and stimulate labor further, but the contractions stayed the same.
Jennifer, our doula, decided to come over around 11pm. When she walked in the door, she decided I still had a long way to go because I “still looked too pretty” in her words LOL. We talked and hung out awhile and I think I got into the tub at one point because the contractions were getting pretty intense. Simon filled up the tub in our living room. It felt sooo good. It didn’t take away the pain, but it definitely took the edge off and I felt much lighter in the water. Jennifer and I chatted in between contractions while Simon took a little rest. It was kind of like a slumber party but with pain sprinkled in every few minutes LOL. Jennifer decided it was time to get some rest because we still had a lot of work ahead of us. We turned on some relaxation music and had some lavender essential oil burning. I tried to sleep on the couch with Jennifer on the bean bag beside me, but I just wanted to be in my bed at that point with Simon’s massaging hands. So I went to the bedroom with Simon while Jennifer slept in the living room.
I tried to sleep in between contractions but they were about five to seven minutes apart so every time I would doze off, another contraction would wake me up. It took so much will power to just relax my entire body during that 60-90 second contraction. I wanted to kick and scream through each contraction, but as I learned in the Bradley classes we took, tensing up only makes the pain worse. So I focused inward, using my own little script, “Relax your face, relax your feet and hands, relax your whole body, especially your birthing muscles. Each contraction brings me closer to my baby.”
After a few hours of enduring the contractions while everyone slept around me, I decided I needed to get back in the tub for some relief. So Simon heated up the water again and Jennifer stayed by my side for another 30-45 minutes. She said we have to get in and out of the tub to get things moving. My contractions were consistently 4-5 minutes apart at this point. It was probably around 3am. I then got out of the tub and Jennifer suggested Simon make us some breakfast so that I keep up my strength. It was so nice to have a home cooked meal in the comfort of my own home, rather than be attached to some IV for nourishment. I was so bloated after all those IV fluids after I had Noah…
Then I went back to the couch with Jennifer, attempting to rest between contractions while she and Simon got some more sleep. I have to admit I felt pretty alone with everyone sleeping around me, but really there was nothing they could do for me and it was better for them to be rested if they could sleep so that my birth team was in good spirits for me when I really needed them.
Around 6am I decided to wake up Jennifer and needed her guidance through the contractions. They were really intense and I was feeling emotionally and physically drained. I got back in the tub for awhile and then Jennifer suggested we go for a walk to get the contractions going (closer together). I started to feel pretty discouraged with how long the labor was taking and was also missing Noah (he was at my mom’s since the day before). I did not want to go for a walk to get things moving LOL. Well, I wanted to get things moving but I felt like I couldn’t stand up and walk for the life of me. My whole labor I just wanted to lean over something, like the kitchen counter or the couch or kneel over the side of the birthing tub. I just did not want to be upright. But I knew we had to get things moving and I was tired of being in labor for so long.
Jennifer, Simon and I went for a walk down Bushard and then circled back through the alley. The walk really brought on the contractions and I leaned over Simon’s arms while he supported me and Jennifer massaged my back through each contraction. Her words of encouragement and massaging really helped me and Simon’s strong arms felt really good when I had no strength left in my body. We kept walking, stopping for each contraction. They were really coming now. I felt like each step I took brought on another contraction. I was not a happy camper. I did not want to take another step but persevered to get this going already! Oh yeah we ate yummy frozen grapes along our walk :)
After we made one loop around the alley, Jennifer said we had to go around one more time and that this is the time that birthing mommies do not like their doulas, because they make them do things they don’t want to do LOL. I was getting pretty irritable at that point, which made me think I had to be in transition. I also felt like I couldn’t go on any longer and kept asking Jennifer and Simon if they thought I could do it. Another sign of transition - self-doubt, hitting the wall so to speak. At one point I just plopped down on the sidewalk, which Simon and Jennifer found amusing. A lady driving by with her kids stopped and asked if everything was OK and I mouthed, “What the fuck are you looking at?” Yeah, definitely in transition. (They didn’t hear me or anything by the way!).
I said I couldn’t walk anymore and that I was feeling pressure in my bottom (a sign that it was soon time to start pushing). So we turned around to go home. Literally every step I took brought on the most intense contraction and even though I was only about 20 feet away from our front door, it felt like an eternity to get there. It was the longest 20 feet I ever had to walk!
We got inside finally and Jennifer called the midwife, Lorri. I got into the tub and endured another hour or so of contractions, each one bringing more and more pressure to push. But I wasn’t quite ready to push yet. My body still had some more work to do, so Jennifer continued guiding me through each contraction. I really needed her guidance at this point.
Lorri showed up around 10am and asked if she could check me. I was hesitant because the last vaginal exam I had was pretty painful and I was afraid that the pain would cause me to tense up and stall my labor. But she said that if I felt like pushing, her exam would tell me if we needed to change positions to get pushing going. I agreed and when she checked me, she said that I was right there, that “your baby is in your vagina, Laura “ and that if I changed to an upright position, the “lip” on my cervix would disappear and I could start pushing.
So I sat upright Indian-style in the tub and sure enough, I felt tons of pressure to push. Simon then got in the tub with me and sat behind me while I held his hands and I started to bear down with the next contraction. I turned into a bit of a crazy woman when I first started pushing. I wanted to be really calm and in control while pushing, but for some reason I just kept screaming with each push. It was a release to let out all those screams because I had kept them in throughout the whole labor through contractions. I’m kind of embarrassed about all the screaming but the birth team didn’t even seem phased and Simon said he thought nothing of it…that he just wanted to take the pain away.
Bijon kept coming in and out with each push and at one point he was right there and I felt like my vagina was tearing apart. His heart rate dropped a little because he was kind of stuck (Lorri said it was no big deal, that my “muscles” were really tight, and she pushed him back in.) That felt really weird! Everyone just kept telling me to listen to my body and push when I felt like pushing. They said that if I was in the hospital, the doctors would be really urging me to push and “coaching” me, but that they as midwives wanted me to really listen to my body. That was really empowering and yet really scary…I think we women in the U.S. expect someone to come save us and tell us what to do, when we have the inner strength, wisdom, and instincts in us all along; if only others would encourage us to listen to and trust our bodies.
I remember at one point sitting in the tub, absolutely exhausted, looking around at my birth team. Each one of them was patiently waiting and perfectly calm. At that point I knew that unless I did this, they would all be here waiting, including me, all day. It dawned on me that this was all me…only I could birth this baby. So I swear I turned into a different woman (Lorri said I turned into “Earth Mama”) and I pushed that baby out with all my might. At one point, when Bijon’s head was crowning, Lorri told me to reach down and feel my baby’s head. I didn’t want to at first for some reason, but I’m so glad I did! I still remember how his soft, wet head of hair felt and I reminisce how that felt when I now rub his sweet little head.
Soon after, Bijon’s head was out and I looked in the mirror one of the assistants was holding to see what it looked like. His face was so scrunched up and he looked like a little old man! I was so excited and proud because I knew the hardest part was over (birthing the head). I said, “I did it! Well, almost!” and Lorri flashed a huge smile, joining me in my pride, saying, “Yes, you did it!” So then it was time to birth the rest of Bijon’s body but for some reason my contractions stalled. Lorri asked me why I wasn’t pushing and asked if I stopped having contractions. I said that they had stopped and she asked if she could stimulate my nipples to get them going again. I agreed and sure enough I had another contraction and pushed Bijon out. Oh I almost forgot - at one point I was pretty exhausted with all the pushing so Lorri asked Simon to push down on the top of my fundus while I beared down with each contraction. This really helped and Simon was really excited to be able to “help” me push the baby out.
Once Bijon was almost out, Simon reached his hands down with Lorri’s hands and they guided Bijon out onto my stomach/chest. They had to maneuver a little so that Simon could reach and in the process, I could feel Bijon kicking his way out of me. It was surreal. Simon and I were both crying tears of joy (Simon especially J ) and we were stuck in time gazing at our precious little boy. Simon kept trying to pull Bijon up on my chest, but the cord was too short to reach that high so Bijon hung out more on my abdomen while in the water. Lorri advised us to get out of the tub and make our way to the couch. This is the best part…I was able to carry my own child after giving birth to him without any help to the couch. When I had Noah, they would not let me walk anywhere with him while holding him…I had to push him around in this stupid cart for liability reasons. Lame. This birth was therapeutic in so many ways.
So we headed to the couch and Bijon latched on perfectly right away with very little guidance from me. The whole birth team was in awe at how quickly and perfectly he latched on. I was able to nurse him for the next two hours on the couch with no interruptions. While I nursed him, I birthed the placenta (on our protected couch) and the midwife wrapped it in a blanket and put it in a plastic bag next to us. We were able to keep the cord attached to the placenta for the whole two hours while I nursed him, definitely ensuring all the oxygen reached Bijon from the placenta in that timeframe. I had learned how important it is to keep the cord attached as long as possible and was really pleased that we were able to do so.
My doula then asked if I was hungry. Of course I was! That was hard work man! So she came over to the couch and spoon fed me while I laid there nursing Bijon. Brunch in bed LOL! Simon stayed with me the whole time and the rest of the birth team left us alone to bond while they ate lunch and completed paperwork at our dining room table. This was really important to me…that we were left alone right away to bond. In the hospital, Noah was on my chest for a brief few moments before they whisked him away across the room with Simon and I was left there in the hospital bed all alone listening to my baby’s cries and being unable to soothe them with my breast right away. What a dramatically different, fulfilling experience we had at home.
After a few hours, it was time to cut the cord, stitch me up, and do the standard newborn exam. We opted out of everything they routinely do in the hospital - no vaccines, no eye ointment, no Vitamin K, nothing. My baby was born pure and clean and has only had breast milk in his system since birth! That thrills me! Not to mention the fact that I had no IV’s, no pitocin, no drugs, nothing in my own system being passed on to him. I experienced a natural high that only natural birth can provide uncomparable to anything else I’ve ever experienced in my life and seriously felt like I could do anything after that. The love, pride, and positive energy of this experience cannot be matched, I believe. I feel like I have completed the female rite of passage and I feel more “whole” if that makes any sense. I’m just beyond happy with my birth experience and love, love, love this baby boy!
|on my due date in early labor|
|some relief in the tub with my doula, Jennifer|
|just hanging out on Bushard. What, you've never seen a woman in labor on a major street?|
|starting to push|
|Happy birthday, Bijon!!!!|
|minutes after being born, bonding with mommy|
|daddy weighing Bijon|
|Mr. Scrunchy Face bonding with daddy|
|meeting big brother and Grandma for the first time|