My third birth. All three pregnancies and births have been very distinctive experiences. 1-breech. 2- Precipitous. I didn’t know what to expect with number 3. What I did know is that I craved autonomy with this pregnancy. After precipitous number 2, I knew to be PREPARED this time. Everything that could be done was done. Pool inflated, liner installed. Bed made with the plastic underlayment. Birth supplies were organized and lined up. A bag was packed for my two other children. A whole month of meals waited in the freezer.
May 7, 2014. A beautiful spring day, especially considering we had a snow storm the previous week. I was lying in bed nursing my 2 year old, and watching the sun rise through my bedroom blinds. I felt a slightly painful sensation next to my cervix and then heard a very audible ‘pop’. I shifted position a bit and amniotic fluid poured out of me. I was shocked. I checked the time- 6:30 am. With my previous two births, my water had stayed intact until labor was very far advanced. In fact, Ms. 2yo’s water didn’t break until right before she was fully crowned. I grabbed a prefold and quickly placed it under me to help catch the deluge of amniotic fluid. It was clear. Good. My last birth went VERY quickly. Because of this, I felt an extreme urgency to call my husband. Of course, I grumbled to myself, *this* would be the day I left my cell phone downstairs. I carefully got out of bed and made my way down the stairs, soaking another two prefolds along the way. “Please make it to the hardwood floors before leaking!” I willed myself. I called my husband to tell him my water had broken. “Oh, Shit!” he exclaimed, and told me he would be home as soon as he could. He was probably hoping he would make it on time!
I worked on setting things up for the impending birth. I felt slightly anxious. This was so different! Besides my broken water, I experienced nothing to give me any indication there would be a baby coming sometime soon. I also had to spend a bit of time explaining to my 4 year old, that mama didn’t actually pee on the floor. As soon as he grasped that baby was coming, his face lit up and he ran over to my 2yo to start the most entertaining discussion about how a baby would be coming out of mama’s tummy. I love my children.
S got home and filled the birthing pool. (I’d actually be able to use it this time, hooray!) We then ran down the to-do checklist I had meticulously drafted for S and realized everything was done. Wow, what now?! We sat on the couch and chatted till about 8:30 am. During that time I had timed a couple contractions ranging from 5 to 8 minutes apart.
Hours went by with no timeable contractions. I nursed my 2yo. I bounced on my exercise ball. I did squats. Nada. I kept glancing at the birth supplies set out on the snack bar and the filled birth pool. Both waiting for me. It made the whole thing seem even more surreal. I decided to try to take a nap to see if the rest would kick my labor into gear. No dice. I came downstairs and suggested a nice, long walk to my husband. We packed up my two other kids into the jogging stroller and headed out for a brisk 45 minute walk. Nothing. This went on all afternoon. I had no signs of labor and the only thing I felt was my little baby using my ribs as kicking leverage.
We decided to put our 2yo and 4yo to bed early, around 6:30. As I lay nursing my 2yo to sleep, I felt some strong contractions that wrapped from my back all the way around to my belly. In retrospect, this is the point active labor began- probably thanks to my nighttime nursing session with Ms. 2yo. Thanks, Honey! I came downstairs and sat on the couch. Contractions were timeable and were spaced about 6 minutes apart. My contractions got stronger and closer together. They were coming every 4 to 5 minutes and were lasting about 45 seconds each. I had to concentrate on the contractions, but I was still able to remain in focus and participate actively in conversation. Because of this, I didn’t think it was very close to baby time. I decided maybe it would be good for me to go upstairs to try to catch a little sleep if I could. S and I started making our way upstairs. I had to stop for strong contractions all the way up the stairs. I went to the bathroom and grabbed my toothbrush, but immediately dropped it as an extremely long, powerful contraction gripped me. After what seemed like no break at all, I was stopped by another strong contraction and I braced myself against the washing machine. I was finally able to make it to our bedroom and I lay down on our bed with S. I was able to relax for a whole 6 minutes until I had another contraction. Dealing with a contraction in bed was torture. I could barely cope with it. After the contraction subsided, I jumped (ahem, rolled) out of bed as fast as my 9 month pregnant body could muster. There was no way I was willing to handle another contraction in that position! We started to make our way down the stairs, stopping constantly for what seemed like fairly back to back contractions. With each contraction I bent forward to lean against whatever surface was in front of me. I took deep breaths and retreated within myself to a somewhat meditative state. Stephen helped by putting counter pressure on my lower back.
I was excited to try the pool as I didn’t get the chance to with my last birth. S and I navigated through several more contractions before I crawled into the pool. The warm water was instantly soothing. I sunk myself deep into the water and enjoyed a minute of contraction free bliss. When the next wave started building, I shifted positions and grasped a handle on the edge of the pool. Surprisingly, I felt less able to cope with the contractions while in the pool. Part of me wanted to return to the kitchen counter, which was just the right height for bracing myself during contractions. However, my intuition told me that my baby would be here soon, so I stayed where I was. Contraction after contraction rocked through my body. Stephen and I worked together on bringing our baby into the world with no interruptions.
I started to feel the very familiar heavy pressure of a descending baby. Several more contractions passed and my body told me it was time to push. What I mean by that is my body started pushing FOR me. No help needed. My body bore down with each contraction and I could feel my tissues moving and expanding in preparation for the birth of our baby. After 4 contractions, I could feel my perineum beginning to stretch. I reached down and could feel baby’s head right there. I knew it wouldn’t be long till I met my baby. How exciting and surreal! Another contraction brought baby’s head down a little further- about nose level. I got a minute break from contractions. I’d call this a blessing as it gave me some time me to stretch beautifully around baby. Baby’s head was born with the next contraction. I gladly accepted another minute or two free from contractions. I felt baby rotate and a second later one last contraction pushed baby’s shoulders and body free. 11:25pm. I pulled baby up and onto my chest. She was beautiful! Baby cracked open her eyelids and peered into her new world. Baby slowly transitioned earthside with sweet little squeaks and finally a deep, sighing breath. I looked into her eyes. She was covered in thick white vernix. My other two were only born with traces. She looked so familiar, so much like my other two babies. I instantly loved her.
After a few minutes I began to have contractions again- fairly strong ones that I had to concentrate on and breathe though. I worked my way through 4 or 5 contractions until I felt a strong urge to push out my placenta. I felt instant relief from my contractions after that point. I said to S, “Should we check to see what sex baby is?” He was a bit hesitant as he had originally mis-gendered our last baby, but he looked anyway. Girl! Another girl. I noticed the pool water was beginning to feel cool so I decided it would be a good time to make our way over to the bed. I handed over the baby and the placenta bowl to S. I walked over to the bed and lay down while S cut baby’s umbilical cord. S brought baby over to me, I latched her on, and we all rested. We weighed and measured her. 9lbs 9oz and 20.5 inches! A big girl, the same size as her 4yo brother! Baby girl was perfect in every way. S crashed on the bed next to me. I swear, he was sleeping before his head hit the pillow. Lucky guy! I ended up with a completely intact perineum! Just a small labial graze! Aren’t our bodies awesome?
It was somewhere around 2 am at this point. Even though I was dreadfully tired, I couldn’t fall asleep for the longest time. I gazed at the little individual next to me and was in complete awe. She was so tiny. So beautiful. So sweet. So utterly perfect. And I MADE her. My heart sang with joy. I was able to sneak in a few hours of sleep before I heard the pitter patter of little feet coming down the stairs. My little 2yo made her way down the stairs to greet us. Her eyes grew big as she saw her new baby sister. “Baby!” She exclaimed. She turned tail and quickly headed back up the stairs. I was a little confused until I heard her wake up her 4yo brother and tell him about “Baby! Downstairs!” “Baby! Mama Tummy! Downstairs!” I heard my 4yo spring out of bed and they both started to walk down the stairs together, talking excitedly about the new baby.
I now have three sweet babies. My family grew by one that day, but my heart grew immeasurably.