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I woke up about a quarter after 7 on Monday, June 13th to see my girls off to school and start getting ready for work. I’d just walked back into the bedroom after finding the bathroom occupied, and was standing beside the bed talking to SO when I felt a little gush and my underwear and the floor were suddenly soaked. I was pretty sure my water had just broken, but was afraid that it was just a really bad case of stress incontinence due to my very full bladder and the baby being so low. The leaking continued but I was still not completely sure that I hadn’t finally lost all control of my bladder. I called in to work, and we paged the midwife.
MW arrived at our house around 11 am. She was very confident that what I’d described did indeed sound like my membranes had ruptured, but I wasn’t convinced until I saw the litmus paper she’d brought turn a dark, inky blue. Because I was GBS positive, we discussed the antibiotics I would take intravenously every 4 hours until the baby was born, and we decided to start the first dose.
That afternoon and evening SO and I went for a couple of walks together, visited MW at her office for two more courses of antibiotics, bought castor oil just in case, and went to Target for some last minute supplies. I was having contractions, but they still lacked the regularity and intensity of real labor. Back home and too excited to sleep, we settled in to watch some TV shows on Netflix and wait for the midwife to return for my midnight dose of penicillin.
Somewhere between the midnight and 4 am IVs, my contractions became more painful. We’d gone to bed, only to be awakened every 10 to 15 minutes by another one. SO was keeping track of the intervals, and I was jolted awake by the pain each time. Finally, we gave up on sleep. I thought being able to feel each contraction coming would allow me to prepare, and that that would be easier to handle than a rude awakening as they peaked.
Our MW had informed us that she had a professional obligation she could not get out of, and that she would be unavailable until 1 pm on Tuesday, the 14th. We were disappointed, but we had met her co-practitioner and fellow midwife, and were prepared for the possibility that she might be our birth attendant. It was MW2 who came to administer my next course of antibiotics that morning.
She arrived about 40 minutes late and complaining of childcare issues. Because MW1 spoke so highly of her and we thought so highly of MW1, we felt confident in MW2's professional capabilities as a midwife, but I was a little uncomfortable with the fact that she was making her personal issues our business, and at such a critical time. My contractions were still not very close together (about 8 or 9 minutes) but they were extremely painful and I felt we might be nearing the finish line. I did not want us to be alone for the birth.
MW2 offered us three options: she could go home (across town) and figure out her childcare issues before coming back for my 2 pm IV, she could stay in the area (close by but not at our house) in case we needed her suddenly, or she could stay with us at our home. I told her that I was worried that this might go quickly, and I would feel most comfortable having her here or very nearby, but not wanting to dismiss her personal issue, I told her that she probably knew better than I whether we’d be safe (time-wise) to let her go straighten out her childcare situation. She elected to leave after checking me and finding me only dilated 2 or 3 centimeters, and she gave reassurances that she would be less than a half-hour away should we need her. I was conflicted emotionally: I felt disappointed with the lack of apparent progress given how much pain I was in, and I felt resentful that I’d been put in the position of having to have concern for my caregiver’s schedule, when she was supposed to be taking care of my needs.
The pain of my contractions continued to worsen until I could hardly get through one without tears, and still they were about as far apart as ever. SO had filled the labor tub the night before, but we were hesitating to use it before the contractions were closer and more regular lest it slow labor down. But now I decided that I needed something to help me deal with the pain, and warm water sounded great. Besides, with no midwife around until about 2, I was ok with things going slow for the time being. I got into the tub about 11 am.
Right away the water felt amazing. It didn’t make the contractions any less painful, but it eased my tension and made them easier to bear. At first. Contrary to what we expected, my labor sped up! The contractions went from around 7-10 minutes apart to 2-3 minutes apart, and they were almost unbearable. SO called MW2. He was right next to me the whole time, touching me and holding me while I struggled through each contraction. I began to feel pushy, and got out of the tub close to noon.
I put on a robe and moved to the bedroom, where we’d prepared our bed for the birth. The pain was so intense that I felt like I might lose consciousness. The world was going white around the edges and I thought I would faint. I lay down on my left side and tried to just breathe (more like scream) through the contractions, too afraid to push. I kept thinking there was no way I’d dilated enough in such a short time, and that if I pushed I’d only slow things down by inflaming my cervix. Also, I was really anxious because I'd had diarrhea throughout my labor and I really did not want SO to witness me having a bowel movement during delivery- but I felt like I needed SOMEONE to help catch! (I know that sounds so neurotic, but at the time I was really distressed over this and I didn't tell anyone) SO was on the phone with the midwives, first MW1 and then MW2, getting advice and trying to help me work through it.
After what seemed like a very long time, MW2 arrived with a birth assistant. She checked me and announced that I was fully dilated and could begin pushing in any position I liked. When she suggested hands and knees I moved to do that, hoping for gravity’s help. She coached me through the pushes, telling me what she could see and how much I needed to give. When she called out that the baby’s head was crowning, I said, “that’s it!?” I was so sure he must be nearly out.
SO knelt in front of me and I leaned against him, then onto him, then wrapped my arms around him, relying on him more and more with every push. He was supporting my entire weight when our baby was born. At 1:01 pm, about 15 minutes after the midwife arrived, Julian came into the world. MW1 arrived about a half hour later.
It was far more painful than I’d expected, and the anxiety over not having a knowledgeable attendant there was awful for me during labor, but over all it was a far more peaceful experience than it would have been in the hospital and I am so glad we chose to have him at home. If there is a next time, however, I will talk to my midwife ahead of time about my strong desire to have an attendant present...
Wow I'm glad MW2 got there in time! I can't believe she acted like that though. I understand everyone has days where things just haven't worked out with work and such but considering her work is so specialized you'd think she'd at least know not to burden you with her situation. BUT I you still got your baby boy here safely so that is a blessing for sure!
I'm glad you got your home birth though and that you would do it again - that's awesome! Women who do home births are so much stronger (and less anxiety ridden) than I am.
Awesome birth story!! You are a total birth warrior and your SO is wonderful for being your sole support person!! I don't know what DH would have done if my midwife and "doula" hadn't been with me through most of my labor too!