On January 18th of this year, just after midnight I started feeling my first rushes. Initially, I didn't think much of them. Even though I was "overdue" I really thought I feel a few rushes, go to sleep and wake up the next day still pregnant, ready to go about my day. Part of that was true.
After about 35 minutes I started to feel like something was happening. I wanted to get really excited, but I also wanted to rest too. It's a strange feeling, being up that late with those surge of emotions running through you. It's a surreal feeling. After an hour I decided that I would tell my boyfriend and mother (she was in town, waiting on the baby to arrive) that I may actually be going into labor soon. The birthing tub was in my 2½yr old's room and I needed that placed in the front room, as well as few other arrangements. Once those things were done, I told myself I would tell the midwives what was up, let them know I might be calling them back and then catch some shut eye!
Three hours later my rushes were still coming, but not progressing and I finally began to feel sleepy again. By 4:30am I started to drift off to sleep, being awaken every 20minutes by rushes. By 6am, after six hours, they'd stopped altogether. That morning I made some breakfast, saw my 5yr old off to school, watched television with my mother and felt a mix of emotions. I was slightly disappointed that I wasn't in labor yet, but still amazingly calm and patient. For the last part of my pregnancy I was blessed with a calm knowing that things will unfold as they were meant too. My baby would come when it was time and the fact that I wasn't in labor yet just meant it wasn't time. I wasn't going to rush anything!
By 11:30am I started feeling some twinges. Nothing big, just what I like to call a hint of labor. I had things to do so I decided if labor was coming, it would make itself known soon enough. I went on with my to-do list. By 1 pm my rushes got my attention. I called my midwife again and let her know what I was feeling. No big deal, just letting you know, yada, yada, yada. She told me to keep updating her and enjoy my day. My son got out of school at 3:35pm and by the time it was getting close to get him, my rushes were getting stronger and closer together. It felt, quite frankly, wonderful! I was excited and filled with adrenalin. My mother was with me. My boyfriend had been getting things ready. I was at home and we didn't know what sex our baby was. It was like Christmas. Everyone who was anyone was hoping for a girl, just because I already had 3 boys and so was I. Either way, I was having my beautiful baby...be it a Miles Christopher or Simone Renee!
I called my midwife and said I think maybe you should come over. She was already on her way to another birth and told me I had great timing considering where she was on the road! So she arranged for the other head midwife and student midwife to be at that birth and she would bring the other student midwife to mine. I decided to really test my labor by going to pick up my son. I thought with all the walking, if my rushes still felt strong, I would know for sure if this was it. Needless to say, it was :-). I called my doula and told her to come over and a dear friend who would update a cheering squad online as well.
By the time I got back home my rushes were strong and steady, maybe about 6-7minutes apart. I didn't bother with timing them too much after a while. I got out the birthing ball, stripped down to a tank top and underwear and rotated from straddling the ball to kneeling with chest across the ball. Both positions felt wonderful. My mother spent most of this time siting close by and we chatted. I can not classify what I was feeling as pain, just intense feelings in my abdomen. My boys played in the room together and from time to time got loud enough to where my mom would go in a remind them that I was working to get the baby out. They were fine though. They weren't a distraction at all. I thrive on the normalcy of it all. Chatting with my mom, Rick (my boyfriend) working on his computer in the office, poking his head in from time to time, the kids playing in the room, fussing, laughing, being silly. It all felt so right, so perfect. And me, straddling the birthing ball or kneeling, feeling these wonderful sensations! It made me feel so powerful and so alive. I kept thinking about how my mother once birthed me, and I birthed the two little boys playing in the other room and life goes on. It's surreal and humbling and wonderful.
Around 5:00pm or so, I started feeling pressure in my bottom with the rushes. I started to get a warm sensation as well and for a minute or two thought this might be an unassisted birth if my midwives didn't show up soon. However, at just a little after 5:30pm there was a knock at the door and it was them. They weren't even completely inside yet before I had another rush came and pressure, then pop! My water broke. I heard myself saying: My water just broke! And then they were quickly there, helping me get something under me to save my carpet and getting my underwear off. Good thing I had them on, because very little fluid got on my carpet :-).
After that, I sat rocking on the ball as they filled up my tub and we all chatted. The rushes were stronger, but still not painful. I briefly considered being checked (up until now I'd not been, not during my prenatals or anything), but realized that was remnants of the medical procedures creeping in my mind. There was really no need and I certainly didn't want to ever be put in the supine position. As soon as that tub was filled I got in and didn't get out again until after the baby was born.
The water felt so calming. It was where I belonged. Shortly after getting in my doula arrived and from that point I felt completely taken care of. I felt like the birthing part was my job and the job of everyone else was making sure I didn't want for anything during the birth. My mother made sure the boys didn't get too loud. My doula got me whatever I needed, my midwives were really just there. They rubbed my back a few times, listened in on the baby a few times, but mostly we all chatted when I wanted to chat and everyone was extremely quiet when they sensed I needed it and they had great senses. As it got darker, candles were light to keep the lighting dim and my rushes got stronger and closer together still, but again, I can never say it was painful. I did feel like my whole body was electrified. My senses were heightened. Everything felt hyper-real!
As my rushes got stronger, so did my focus. I let my body float in the water at times, other times getting into the hands and knees positions. Again, both positions felt right and I loved having the freedom of movement to decide which was most comfortable and efficient at the time!
I could feel pressure building in me and eventually I knew the time to push was coming soon. This in between moment was to me the most unpleasant part of my birth only because I began to get nauseous. As soon as that passed and my doula got me something to drink and gum to chew, I felt fine again. Then the strong undeniable urge to push came. I didn't fight the urge at all, but instead relaxed my bottom to give into it. In my mind, I told myself I would lie back, let my body take over and gently allow my baby to be born. My body had other ideas. A strong wave came over me, all but forcing me to grunt and go primal, I think I called out it was time to push, and with that I quickly got back to the hands/knees positions.
I grunted loudly and it felt divine. It was fast and furious, but I had time to hear in the distance my 2½year son slightly freaking out and saying, "tell mom to stop making that noise". Even in the middle of that, hearing that grown-up tone in his voice made me crack up on the inside. I know I cracked a smile, but it didn't last long as the baby quickly crowned, then out popped the head. I didn't feel that burning sensation, but I did feel the stretching. She was completely out shortly there after and Rick was handing her to me, under water, through my legs.
The initial feeling of relief took over me, and then almost immediately I felt like I was drugged. I felt so high. The world melted away and it was only me and Simone. Oxytocin is a wonderful and powerful thing! It felt like forever before I got out of the tub. I just held my little girl, thinking of how maybe one day I will be able to share in her moment of birth like this. It made my heart swell up. Thoughts of her and her three brothers ran through my head as well. I could not have imagined a more perfect birth. It was 8:03pm.
My boys came in to meet their sister at that time, but this part is a blur because like I said, the world had melted away. Afterwards, Simone and I hung out on the couch, waiting for her cord to stop pulsating and the placenta to be born. I breastfed her for the first time and felt even higher. I love breastfeeding and had been secretly missing it as my 2yr old self weaned very shortly after his 2nd birthday! My mother and midwife surprised me with cake, fruit, and cheese. A wonderful after birth snack and I ate while Simone breastfed and we chatted a bit. No one touched my baby but me for what seemed like hours and hours, but in reality was probably 40-45minutes. I'm not sure. I just know it was shortly after the placenta was born.
We marveled at her true knot in the cord, took pictures, her weight, 8lbs 5oz, and the midwives gave her a thorough, yet quick evaluation and then she was back in my arms. I don't even think my mother held her for hours and hours after her birth. It was perfection, even the postpartum.
After the midwives left and the boys were put to bed, I spent time just staring at my baby. I hung out with her, just two of us. Eventually mom came in and hung out with us too and for the first time I felt a strong female connection to my mother I'd not experienced before, not even with the birth of my sons. It was three generations of women laying in my bed and I'd just birthed one of them. It was a very powerful and defining moment for me. I felt overwhelmed and calmed by that moment at the same time. I was so incredibly happy to be sharing it in my own home, surrounded by the people I love. Sleeping in my bed that night was a cherry on the top of a wonderful cake!
Here is a link to all the wonderful pictures my doula took at the birth!