- Disclaimer: Both this post and part 1 are long. I'm a detail-oriented person. Get over it. In good news, this one has pictures!
- Disclaimer the second: This is the actual labor story. It includes pictures and details that some may feel includes TMI (but nothing explicit, don't worry). If you're squeamish or uncomfortable about things like that, I suggest you skip this post.
- tl;dr: For those of you who don't like long things like this, I plan on writing an abridged version, hopefully in the next day or two, leaving out most of the detail and just doing the basics.
Wednesday, January 25, I went in for a routine check up. I was a day shy of 39 weeks. (Or for you non-birth term people, I was a week and one day before my due date.) Heather checked me and I was 100% effaced, dilated to a 6 and Abby was at a +1. I asked Heather, "What does it mean that she's at a +1?" Heather replied, "It means your baby is about to fall out." Oh good. But she also pointed out that I could go into labor that night, or not for 2 weeks. Being that close didn't necessarily mean I was ready to go. But she did tell me that she likes to offer to any woman that close a natural induction. If my body wasn't ready, nothing would happen. If my body was ready, then it'd help start natural labor. She said normally they start at 5 or 6 pm and are holding a baby by midnight. I told her I'd talk to BJ and let her know.
On the way home I called Jalin to see which she'd prefer, since she'd be the one driving 10 hours. Do I get induced that night or Thursday night and give her a chance to actually drive down beforehand so she could actually be there for labor? But with the risk that it might not take and she'd be down here for a week and never see baby because she'd have to get back because Brett was going out of town. Or would she rather I don't get induced and just hope I didn't go into labor until Brett got home (my due date) so she could come down then and get a full week in, but risk not getting here until Abby was a week old. She called Brett to see what he thought and he said, "Go get ready! Leave today!" So then I called BJ and asked his opinion. We talked about the various options and decided that since I felt so strongly about needing support, it would be better to have Jalin there. So we decided to schedule for Thursday evening. I called up Heather and set it up for 6 pm.
I got home and immediately started calling people. I did feel a little guilty calling other people before my mom, but I decided I should let people know who were actually doing stuff for the birth first. Thanks Mom for still loving me despite hearing the news through the grapevine! :D Jalin was called so she could pack and drive the 10ish hours to get here. Mom Homer was called to make sure she could still take Kessa. Jessa was chatted at to see if she was available to take pictures. Carrie was called to let her know that her doula-ing would be required (and in good news, she had time to prepare!) And then I called my mom. :)
I ran a few errands to get last-minute things I hadn't yet purchased (like an electrolyte energy drink) then came home and started cleaning. Things weren't too bad, but I really wanted them to look nice for all those people being here. Though, I did end up spending a lot of time just laying down and resting.
Thursday BJ went to work and Kessa and I cleaned up a bit more and played and rested. Jalin got here, I think, around 11 am. We did a few more things, but were mostly just lazy and let the girls play. (Jalin brought her two youngest kids, Tamra and Aimee.) Eventually Jalin took her kids to her sister-in-law's house (thanks again, Melanie!) to spend the night and I made a simple stir fry dinner. BJ stopped by Riverton on his way home to help his dad bring down a bed for our guest room (we procrastinated that one till the last minute, didn't we?). Carrie showed up a little before 6, but no one else did. 6:20 rolls around and we're still the only ones there. Finally BJ, his dad, mom and Teresa showed up with the bed, a dresser and a fun chair for our loft. They got the bed set up while I did a couple of last minute things with Carrie (like setting up the liners under the birth pool and mattress) and then they took off back home with Kessa in tow. Somewhere in there Jessa showed up (poor girl got lost) and eventually Jalin showed up, too. Around 6:30 or so when Heather still wasn't there, I decided to call and make sure we had, in fact, scheduled it. Because it isn't like Heather to be late. I woke her up from a nap and turns out there had been a miscommunication and she had thought we had tentatively set it up, but that I was going to call back and confirm first. Oops. So she headed out right then.
Heather got here as well as Eva and Lisa, two midwives-in-training and they started to set their things up. Lisa gave me some homeopathic pills to put under my tongue to help get contractions going. About 7:30, before they started everything, I figured going to the bathroom would be a good idea. So I did. When I was done, I leaned back on the toilet and suddenly showered the toilet room with water. I was quite surprised for a few reasons. 1) That had never, ever happened to me before. What the heck just happened? 2) I was sure I was done going to the bathroom, so certainly that couldn't have been pee. Which means 3) did my water just break?! That's insane because a) what amazing timing is that?! and b) neither my mom nor my sister had ever had their water break spontaneously. They always had to have it artificially ruptured while in labor. As Jalin puts it, "We have leather bags." (one of my remaining fears was that partway through labor I was going to have to make the decision of artificially breaking my water. And that was just too close to the situation at Kessa's birth. I feared it'd bring back those same fears, which I did not want at this labor.) So I had not at all expected to have my water break on its own. And right before being induced, too? So wait, I'm going to labor on my own, but at the most ideal time when everyone that's going to be there is already there? I get to do the entire labor with my support team?! Sweet.
|Laying on the bed, just before induction.|
|See how funny my belly is shaped?|
Turns out amniotic fluid makes things
nice and round.
|Leaning on Carrie during my first real contraction|
(that I could feel, anyway)
|Leaning on BJ while Carrie provided physical relief.|
|On the birthing ball so I could relax my legs.|
|See? A smile during a contraction!|
|BJ holding my hand in the tub.|
|Everyone just there, supporting me through a contraction.|
|This video is very dark, but that's because the lights were out.|
The pictures all look light, but that's only thanks to flash.
The noise at the beginning are Abby's heart tones.
Then you get to hear me vocalizing through contractions.
In which we take a short break to talk about my support team
|BJ kissing me, or maybe whispering|
|Getting massage through a contraction.|
|Carrie and Abigail|
|Heather and Abigail|
|Heather, Carrie, Abigail, Molly and Lisa.|
Eva not pictured as she had to rush to another birth.
Then there was Jalin and Jessa. Neither of them were physically supporting me (like I said, there probably wasn't room around me). But Jalin sat where I could see her and kept my blog updated, which I had really, really wanted. I really appreciate looking back on all the live posts from Kessa's birth and wanted that again with Abby. She commented at the right times and stayed silent during the right times. (Except that once when her phone rang. Hah!) Jessa was in and out periodically, taking pictures and doing homework. I'm pretty sure that the further along it went, the more she stayed in the room, to be sure not to miss anything. And man, I'm glad she was there. She got some great pictures. Thanks, Jessa! (Jalin took some, too, when Jessa wasn't there.) With both of them I remember opening my eyes between contractions and making eye contact at various times. I remember their encouraging and excited smiles. I remember feeling a rush of peace and love every time I caught their eyes. It's amazing what a simple look can convey. (I'm also glad Jessa was there because she's scared of labor thanks to media and horror stories, and I wanted her to see that labor didn't have to be all about screaming and terror. I'm glad that everything went so smoothly so she could have a different perspective to draw upon when she's at that point in her life.)
Back to our regular scheduled programming… the last of labor
It started getting intense. Breathing was getting quite heavy. I stopped opening my eyes in between contractions for the most part. I started to lose a bit of faith and started dreading what was coming. I was ready to be done. (My guess? I was in transition.) I kept reminding myself that my body COULD do this. And it would. I even told myself I was probably in transition, which is the hardest part. I tried really hard not to vocalize any negative comments, because I wanted to focus on the positive. I wanted to stay relaxed and positive. I wanted to work WITH the contractions, not against them. So I started focusing more and more on the contractions. During a contraction, when it was starting to just get too hard, even with vocalizing, I would remind myself to relax my body. I can't tell you how many times I totally surprised myself when I would remind myself to relax only to realize that I was relaxed. Without even needing to consciously relax, when a contraction came, my body just automatically relaxed. Apparently listening to all those scripts and practicing relaxing really did work! My body was just trained to do it. Very few times did I have to consciously relax. But in a way, that was bad. Because I didn't have anything to focus on during the contraction. So instead I focused more and more on the breathing. Of lifting my uterus with deep breaths. Of vocalizing. Of counting how long my breaths were.
|We did it!|
Jessa, at one point, asked me on a scale of 1-10, how much it hurt. I didn't want to answer for two reasons. 1) In HypnoBirthing, they tell you to never answer that question. Because as soon as you think of it as pain and label it, it becomes pain. 2) My brain was not in the mood to think about it and come up with some sort of logical answer to the question. It wasn't working in logic mode. It was working in "in the moment" mode. To switch gears seemed completely counter-intuitive. So I just kind of waved her off and said, "I'm not going to answer that." I think Jalin and Jessa interpreted that as, "Man, she must be at the top of the scale!" But that wasn't it at all. I simply just didn't have an answer for them. The birth assistants started trying to come up with the best word to describe contractions. "Pain isn't the right word," they explained. They tried out a few different words and finally concluded on "intense." They asked me if I agreed that it was the right word. Again, I wasn't in the right mindset to debate grammar and choice of words, so I just agreed with them. "This is intense." Because, well, it was. Honestly, though, I still don't know what the best word was. I'm still not sure that I'd say pain was the right word. And it was definitely intense. Pressure doesn't seem to be adequate. I'm not sure there is a word to describe it.
I was definitely ready to be done, though. I started expressing my wish to just be done. It was probably around 9ish or so that I started saying I wanted to be done. I remember Carrie telling me that I was doing great and that she was sure that I'd be done by midnight. I had no idea what time it was, but I knew that midnight was still hours away. And instead of being heartened by the fact, I was dismayed. "Midnight," I told her, "is way too far away." And I prayed fervently that it wouldn't take that long. Since I wasn't letting Heather check me, I would randomly reach down and feel for myself. I could definitely feel a head, but it just seemed so far away. I was starting to really feel the urge to bear down and just get her out, though I think most of that was just a desire to be done, not an actual need to push. I just wanted her to be right there, ready to crown. But instead she was at least 2/3rds of my finger length away! Which, looking at my finger now, isn't that far. But it sure seemed like it at the time!
Every time I felt the urge to bear down, I would try to do so with breathing and as relaxed as possible. And every time I'd start to push a little, I'd feel this gush of liquid, and then the urge would be gone. At first I wondered if I was peeing in the tub, which sounded gross, but I didn't really care and it wouldn't surprise me, considering all the water I was drinking. But then I realized that it was probably just more amniotic fluid. That the initial breakage and subsequent leakage didn't get it all out. And that to get the baby out, the fluid had to come out first. This happened several times.
|Everyone focused during crowning.|
Poor BJ didn't get to see anything
till they handedher to me.
|There's Eva on the left!|
And me holding my brand new baby.
|So much love. How can you put it into words?|
|Mommy and Daddy admiring Abby.|
And then I remember afterbirth contractions kicking in. I remember after about 15 minutes in the tub I got out and BJ held Abby while they helped me into bed where I got Abby back and we were covered in towels and blankets. And I remember thinking, "I thought I was done! Why does my tummy still hurt?" And then they reminded me that I was having afterbirth contractions and that they were good, because they'd help shrink my uterus back to its normal size. And that if they hurt, I could treat them like normal contractions and breathe through them. But I didn't want to focus on breathing! I had a baby now! I wanted labor to be done so I could just lay there and stare at her! I really was annoyed at the whole affair. And then I still had to get stitches and it took longer and was more painful than with Kessa. (They think her hand was up by her face. But since she crowned so fast, no one saw for sure.)
But really, when it comes down to a choice of 1) not remembering much of the after-labor stuff, but also not getting that immediate bond and rush of awe and 2) remembering all the after-labor pains and annoyances but also being overwhelmed with amazement and love, I choose the latter.
|Checking heart tones while she laid there contentedly|
The after stuff
|Daddy holding Abby while we all sat|
wrapped in towels to keep warm.
|Cutting the cord, probably an hour or so|
|She weighed 8 lb. 5 oz.|
I didn't even have to get out of bed (well, except to go to the bathroom). I just waved them goodbye, then cuddled up to go to sleep. (Though, sleep escaped me because my body was still pumping with adrenaline. I mostly just stared and cuddled with Abby, feeding her whenever she woke up, half sleeping between feedings for the first half of the night, then finally getting real sleep for the last half.) I never had to deal with nurses waking me up to take my vitals. I was able to walk without assistance (it took me 3 days to do that with Kessa). I never had to waddle out to my car with a big bag of stuff, nor have the hospital staff check to make sure our car seat was in our car. I just went to sleep, then woke up to go down into my own kitchen to eat freshly cooked waffles and bacon and eggs. Then I got to sit (well, lay) on my comfortable couches and move around freely whenever I wanted. I had everything I wanted right there. I never had to groan because I wanted something I hadn't thought to pack. I loved it.
So my thoughts on home birth now that it's over? I loved it. I loved never having to drive while in labor. I loved being in the comfort of my own home the whole time. I loved having everyone come to me. It felt much more like everyone was there to support me instead of me going to their workplace. My favorite part was definitely all the support. I feel like labor is one of the few times when a girl is allowed to be totally selfish. And I absolutely loved knowing that all of those people were there for me. That their entire focus was making sure I was as comfortable as possible, and looking out for my and Abby's safety. How can all of that love and support not make a person feel so good? That's what I'm going to remember the most about this birth. Would I do it again? Absolutely.
|Ok, ok. It was at least an hour and a half,|
maybe even two hours later. And for what it's worth,
I got on my iPod around the same time to announce
the birth to the Facebook world.
Also, I've asked several of the people who were there to write up their version of the birth story. The more I talk to them, the more I realize we all saw things a little differently. As they come in, I'll post them and link them here. I think it'll be a fun keepsake for Abigail later.