On Tuesday September 6, my due date, I started having intense Braxton Hicks contractions that slowly became more painful throughout the day. When I went to bed at 10pm, they became full-blown intense contractions that came every 20 minutes – all night long. They were so intense that I had a hard time relaxing to the end of one. They weren’t close enough to bring a baby, but enough to keep me awake all night. About 7am they died down and went away for awhile.
Throughout that Wednesday I had contractions on and off: sometimes 20 mins apart, sometimes 30-45 minutes apart. Dave took Griffin to school and picked him up; I couldn’t manage driving in case I had a contraction. My birth photographer called that afternoon to check in. She actually called during a contraction so she had to wait until it was done to talk.
Early Wednesday evening I became weepy and frustrated, not knowing what was happening with all these spaced apart contractions. I knew my body was getting ready, but I wasn’t prepared for the randomness of contractions over such a long period of time. I felt like I needed to talk to someone so about 7:30 I called the midwife on call. I told her we weren’t ready for her to come yet, but asked if she could give me pep talk. She was great talking to me, said I sounded sleep deprived, and offered some suggestions. One of her suggestions was to take a bath. She said it might reset me and perhaps help me sleep. She said she thought she’d be hearing from us later that night (which I really didn’t believe). I said I didn’t want an all-nighter birth and she said babies just come when they do. I felt better after talking to her and decided to take a bath. I was in the bath from 8-8:30. It felt great but I was surprised that it didn’t take away all the pain from the several contractions I had while in the tub.
About 9:00 I noticed that the contractions were coming closer together and I needed Dave with me during them. (Before this I was able to handle them by myself.) Dave was going back and forth between me and Griffin, trying to help me while he was trying to put Griffin to bed. But Griffin just said “I want to see what you guys are doing!” So we decided that I needed to move out of our bathroom, since Griffin was trying to go to sleep in our bed. So I went to Griffin’s room to labor. Once Dave got him down he joined me. The contractions were so close together that at 10:00 we thought we better start timing them. We saw right away that they were about 2:20 apart and lasting from 45-60 seconds. After timing them for 15 minutes, and seeing they were consistently this far apart, we decided we better call our midwife back. So Dave called her about 10:15 and she said she’d be here in about 30 minutes. Dave then called the birth photographer. I heard her say she might wait until the midwife got to the house and checked me. Then a contraction started and she must have heard me because I heard her ask “Is that Wendy? I’m on my way.”
I didn’t want to birth in Griffin’s room so we moved back to our bathroom. Griffin was asleep in our bed. Dave laughed when I said I needed to change clothes since I didn’t want to wear what I was wearing (pajamas). He laughed even harder when I started putting makeup on in between contractions! Hey, there are going to be pictures taken, I better look half way decent in them! (In my defense, I didn’t curl my hair, although the thought did cross my mind.)
Our midwife arrived about 10:45pm and immediately started getting my IV antibiotics ready. Once it was in she stood there and held the bag until it was empty. The nurse assistant arrived shortly after that, and not too long after her the birth photographer arrived. Shortly after our midwife arrived, Dave moved Griffin out of our room and onto the floor of the living room. I continued to labor in our bathroom, leaning over the counter for each contraction while Dave would say “breathe and release”.
I did try laying on the bed on my left side for a few contractions but that didn’t feel great so back to standing in the bathroom. I was trying so hard not to squeeze and push during the contractions because I didn’t want my water to break, knowing that the longer it stayed intact the more protection for the baby. At one point our midwifementioned that I was sounding “pushy”. I didn’t think much of it at the time, besides agreeing with her, but I wonder if I was fully dilated and actually ready to push? My cervix was never checked so I don’t know how dilated I was at any given time.
I felt panicky during the contractions; maybe because of how fast and intense it was, maybe because I couldn’t relax through them (like I did during Griffin’s birth). I felt kind of out of control which was not how I wanted it to be.
Our midwife asked if I wanted to see what happened on the bed and I remember not wanting to do that for some reason. I did keep saying I felt like I had to go to the bathroom so I tried one time. Our midwife thought that was the baby I was feeling, even though I didn’t think it was. I finally agreed to lay on the bed (on my left side) and see what happened. Once on the bed, I asked if our midwife could see anything and she said she saw “bulging”.
Once I was on the bed, all I felt like doing was pushing. I didn’t think I was pushing the baby out, it’s just how I felt during a contraction. I couldn’t stop myself or my body, really. After a contraction ended, I kept on pushing. Our midwife suggested I rest until the next one so I would have energy. During a contraction, she suggested I hold on to one leg so that I felt like I had control or someplace to put my hand. So during a contraction I would push, not really thinking that this was the actual pushing that brings the baby, but rather just what my body was wanting to do. I still felt clueless to the fact that the baby was coming soon! I would rest between contractions. At the start of a new one, I would say “help” because I felt like I couldn’t lift my leg up to get a hold on it. I remember kind of letting some loud sounds out and apologizing for it. Our midwife said “you make whatever noises you need to make”.
During one contraction my water broke; it was 11:53pm. It was clear fluid so all was good. I kept pushing and then relaxing and at one point I asked our midwife how dilated I was and she said something like “you are 10, you are there, you are doing it”. It still hadn’t donned on me that I was that far along and ready to be pushing my baby out, which is what I was doing anyway. Another time during this pushing phase I asked what position the baby was in, since she had been posterior the whole time and it was a concern of mine. Our midwife answered with something like, “This baby is coming out.”
Shortly after my water broke I could literally feel the baby slide down a long way, which was an odd feeling and I remember saying something like “oh my”. Then they said the head was starting to show and asked if I wanted to touch her head. When I felt it I think I said “Oh my gosh” because it wasn’t just the top of the head I felt but some of the sides as well; again, I had no idea she was almost out of me! I remember our midwife saying at some point “In the next few minutes (or next few pushes, I can’t remember) you will have your baby in your arms.” And I said “Really?” I was stunned. Again, I just didn’t comprehend that she was almost here!
I remember someone saying “the head is out” and then not long after that my baby was being placed on my chest! It was the most amazing feeling! I still couldn’t believe she was here already! Born exactly 10 minutes after my water broke! And she felt so tiny on my chest. I thought she was going to be a tiny baby, but she ended up weighing 8 lbs.I was giddy with emotion and was laughing some weird kind of high-pitched laugh that everyone asked if I was laughing or crying! I told them to just ignore me.
We woke Griffin up about an hour after she was born and he was instantly in love with her. It was so cute to see! I am still in shock about how quick of a birth it ended up being (not counting the day+ of early labor). Two hours after we called the midwife our baby was born!
Our midwife said later that her head was showing quite a bit in the posterior position when she saw it turn 180 degrees and she was born anterior. Kind if neat!
Even though I didn’t feel as calm and focused as I did during Griffin’s birth, I am so happy with our home birth! It was awesome to be able to stay in our comfortable home and it was a great place to recover after the birth. Once everyone left (about 2:40 am) all four of us cuddled up in our bed and fell asleep. I was the last one to fall asleep, still so much adrenaline running through me I guess.
Here is a link to some of the labor and birth photos taken by our awesome birth photographer. Hopefully these photos can help you see a little what a natural home birth can look like.
I credit my Hypnobabies training for helping me stay in a positive mindset; their Joyful Pregnancy Affirmations are the best! I recommend the program to anyone who is considering a natural birth. To order or learn more, click here.