Friday, 11-11-11 was our “guess date” and the day came and went with no signs that our baby was going to make her appearance any time soon. I tried not to get my hopes up, knowing that the date doesn’t mean a lot, and our baby would come when she was ready.
Saturday night we went to my parents house to hang out. We watched “The Change Up” which was absolutely hysterical. It felt good to laugh that hard and get my mind off of waiting. We went home late that night and went to bed wondering if our baby would make an appearance soon.
At around 2:30am, I woke up to a very wet bed--my water had broken! I woke Vince up and we spent the next hour beaming and saying, “oh my god, it’s happening!” Even though my water had broken, I was having no signs of contractions, so my mom told us to get some sleep. We did, even though it was difficult because we were just so pumped!
We woke up later that morning with NO signs at all of labor. I knew that if we were delivering in a hospital, any OB would have told us we had to come in. Once your water breaks, you are on a 24 hour clock because of the supposed risks of infection. We had spoken to my mom and our midwife (Charlotte), both suggested taking a lot of walks to get contractions going. I made some cookies, called some friends to share the excitement, and Vince and I started walking the neighborhood.
By 3pm, we still had no contractions, so Charlotte suggested taking black and blue liquid cohosh. This is a natural supplement that can help to induce labor. I started taking them every 30 minutes as she recommended. We went for long power walks, and by 7pm we still had nothing happening! It was so frustrating, but I trusted my body and Charlotte to know what was best for me and our baby.
At 7:30pm, Charlotte told me to try castor oil to get things going. I took the castor oil, and we also used the breast pump for nipple stimulation (which is another way to help get contractions started). So we did this while watching the first season of Friends and eating Roasters for dinner. We still weren’t worried, we knew things would happen when it was time. I think we also really enjoyed this time together, knowing that our baby would be here soon-and this was the last few hours of just the two of us.
At about 9pm, the castor oil did it's job (google it if you don't know what that job is) and around 10pm my contractions FINALLY started. they weren’t unbearable at all, but they were about 2 minutes apart from the beginning. I knew right away I was having back labor, so every contraction required Vince pushing hard on my lower back (called “counter pressure”). I would lean over our bed with every contraction and he would push hard through it. We did this for a few hours, contracting, talking, laughing, and getting more and more excited. Moving through each contraction and having Vince push on my lower back felt amazing, and almost took the pain completely away. After about 2 hours of this, it was definitely time to call my mom and my sister to come over. My contractions were getting stronger, and I was having a more difficult time talking and laughing between them.
My mom and sister arrived around midnight, and I was still able to talk between contractions. They got busy setting up the birth tub, getting the bed ready, and other things we might need during labor. Charlotte arrived at 1:20am and checked me to see how far along I was. I was only 2 centimeters dilated, so we assumed it was going to be a long night. Right after being checked, I had to use the bathroom, and while I was in there--my contractions got A LOT more intense. I ended up having about 45 minutes worth of contractions in our bathroom, leaning over the counter. Vince and my mom would take turns pushing on my lower back. I know now that this was the “transition” phase I had read so much about. Transitioning means that you are going into the final phase of labor, and you can feel the baby very very low. I told everyone at this point that she felt so low, and I felt like pushing. I had been rocking side to side through each contraction, but now, my body was starting to squat also--totally on it’s own, I had no control at this point of what was going on. I had no train of thought either, I was just 100% letting my body do what it was made to do. Charlotte said she’d check me again, but since it had only been 45 minutes, I think everyone was sure I hadn’t made much progress. When I laid down on the bed and she checked me, everyone was shocked to hear I was 9 centimeters! She said it was time to get in the tub and push. I couldn't believe it was already time to push! It had only been 4 hours since my contractions started, I was fully prepared for a long labor-but our little baby had other plans. She was READY to meet the world!
I have to mention here that while I was on my back for Charlotte to check me, I had a contraction. I could not BELIEVE how painful it was on my back! Up until that point, I had been able to rock and move through each contraction. Having this one on my back was EXCRUCIATINGLY painful. It made me realize that in a hospital, hooked up to machines, women have to be on their backs a lot-and no WONDER they want an epidural. Our bodies are made to move during contractions. The more movement we have, the better it is for our baby’s positioning, and now I know, the less painful contractions are. I am so thankful I was in a place where I could move and listen to what my body needed me to do to bring my baby into the world.
SO we got in the tub, and WOW did it make a difference. It felt so good in the water-my contractions hurt less, and the weight and pressure in my belly was alleviated immensely. Once we were in the tub, Charlotte started coaching me on how to push. Vince was in the tub with me the whole time, pushing on my back again through contractions. He was incredible-I cannot say enough about how lucky I am to have such a loving, supportive husband. He was my rock through labor-I felt like he was going through the whole thing with me rather than being an observer.
While we were in the tub, Charlotte tried to get me in a few different positions, but our baby just wasn’t moving as low as she needed. We had to try something else. At this point, she suggested trying the birth chair which can be helpful in getting the baby to move lower. I would have stood on my head if she told me it would work-I just wanted to get my baby out, no matter what. I can honestly say I didn’t have a train of thought throughout this phase. I just listened to Charlotte, and listened to my body. I didn’t let myself think about how long it had been, or how things were going. I put ALL of my effort and energy into pushing during contractions, and resting in between. When we realized that the birth chair wasn’t working, Charlotte suggested I get on the floor on my hands and knees. Again, I didn’t even think about it, I just did it.
This is where things get a little fuzzy for me and I have to depend on my mom and sister’s memory. I was so “in the zone” that I don’t remember exactly how things happened from here. When a contraction would come, i would push with everything I had in me....and I started to hear everyone say they could see the head. This was so encouraging, so it helped me push harder with the next contraction. As our baby moved lower, Charlotte would listen to her heart rate. Every time the baby’s head was crowning, her heart rate was dropping. This was worrying Charlotte, so if I couldn’t get the baby out with a contraction, she had to push her back in between my contractions. This was the most painful part of my labor, because I could feel that she was so close to coming out, and then I could feel her going back over my pelvic bone each time.
This happened three times; baby’s heart rate would drop to about 100 and Charlotte would have to push her back in and then it would go back to 130/140. After the third time, I knew I had to get her out with the next contraction. I didn’t want our baby to have any problems, and I didn’t want to have to go to the hospital or have any sort of emergency. My mom suggested I pop one leg up-like a runners stance-and I did that with the next contraction. I felt the surge coming on, and I pushed with everything I had in me: and it worked! She came out so fast, and I turned around to see our beautiful baby girl! I said right away, “it’s a girl, it’s a girl!” My dad was downstairs waiting, and he heard me say it, and HE started shouting, “A BABY GIRL! WE HAVE A BABY GIRL!” It was all so incredibly magical.
As soon as she came out, Charlotte rubbed her to get her blood flowing, and she suctioned some fluid out of her mouth, but she didn’t need any other attention, so I got to hold her within seconds. I couldn’t wait to feel her in my arms, so while she was still attached to my placenta inside of me, I held her and fell in love. We named her Sawyer Catherine- there couldn’t be a more perfect name for her.
I couldn’t stop looking at this perfect little thing, Vince and I were in heaven-she was wonderful and healthy and I DID IT! I couldn’t stop thinking, I DID IT, I DID IT! I was so proud and so relieved to be holding our baby in my arms, and know that I brought her here safe and sound. I was amazed at what my body could do, and the fact that we were in our home, surrounded by family who loved us and our baby so much.
My sister was there, getting towels warmed in the dryer to welcome our baby, and taking amazing pictures of the experience. My Dad was downstairs waiting to meet his granddaughter, and opening the champagne. My Mom was absolutely invaluable as my Mom and as a Doula. She helped Vince with the counter pressure on my lower back, she helped me stay focused during contractions, and I felt so comfortable with the process knowing she was there with me every step of the way.
So while I was holding our baby, we waited for the cord to finish pulsing before Vince was able to cut it, and then I handed her to him. I couldn’t wait for him to hold her-and sure enough, he fell in love with her too.
After Sawyer was checked out and everything was fine, we were able to crawl under the covers as a little family of three and get some rest. We had been up all night and were definitely feeling tired at that point. Falling asleep together in our home, with our perfect little baby-was a feeling I’ll never forget. My mom and sister were downstairs if we needed anything-but it was just the three of us in our bed. It was truly incredible.