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November 29th held no clue that labor was about to start. I wasn’t having many contractions, no more show-felt perfectly normal. I had had a very big “scare” that evening when my 12yo daughter went “missing” after she was supposed to have walked home to a friend’s house. For the sake of brevity, I’ll not go into detail but suffice it to say it was quite the adrenaline rush.
At 11:20pm I was laying in bed listening to a birth affirmations CD when I felt this warm gush flood through me. I jumped out of bed and hurried to the bathroom calling, “Phil my water just broke” to my dh who sat downstairs watching tv. A few moments later he joined me in the bathroom where he proceeded to grab a wad of toilet paper and unceremoniously dip it into the cup of fluid pooled in my lowered underwear, as he lifted the clear dripping mess he proclaimed: “This is not pee”-well gee hun, thanks for the input.
I cleaned up, left the bathroom and sat in the living room catching the last few minutes of a Seinfeld re-run. “Now what?” dh asked. A very good question. Where were the contractions? I had never anticipated this kind of start. My water had only broken at the beginning with my first baby and contractions came fast and furious immediately following. Still my previous labors had only been between 4-7hrs and my midwives were an hour away so I thought I should at least give them a heads up. By 12:30 I had called both my midwives and my good friend/doula partner-Dorothy. Finally at a little after 1:00am some real contractions started, they were about 50-60sec long and coming every 5minutes.
By 2:15am, Dorothy and Pam (the midwife) had arrived. We all sat in the living room, watching tv-ironically it was the episode of The Nanny where Fran Drescher gives birth! I sat there thinking, “Oh please don’t let me sound like THAT”. Shortly after, the student midwife, Heather, and my mother arrived. My mom brought over my Grandmere’s oatmeal cookies (just as she had with my last birth) and also a ring of my Grandmere’s, to wear for “good luck”. While everyone sat around and quietly chit chatted (careful not to wake the children) I was sitting in the glider, letting my body go completely limp with each contraction. It felt as if there were a helium balloon being inflated in my cervix-no pain just this expanding and lifting sensation deep within.
At 4:00am, I requested an internal. My last birth had been 4hrs, from start to finish, I’d just had 3hrs of contractions that were 3-5minutes apart but they had started to space. I had no sense of “where” I was progress-wise. I wasn’t prepared for the answer. I mean logically I know that there is no way to predict how long a labor will last but emotionally I was a bit taken aback to find out that I was only 3cm dilated, 75% effaced but baby was already at +1-which was odd as none of my previous babies had even engaged before pushing. The midwife commented that although my hind waters had released, there was a bulging bag of fluid squeezed next to one side of the baby’s head. She said if she released it, it would even out the pressure on the cervix which *might* lead to faster progress but there was no guarantee. She said regardless, she had no doubt that my body would open on its own without problem. I thought about it and since there was no increased risk of infection (water already released) or cord prolapse (head very low) I was comfortable with her releasing the forewaters.
Afterwards she suggested I spend some time alone as I must be feeling like a “watched pot”-sounded good to me and so while everyone sat downstairs, I retreated to my lavender candlelit room where I sat on my birth ball and listened to a hypnosis CD. Within minutes I was falling asleep, so I climbed into bed and slept between contractions. They were now coming every 7minutes, didn’t seem like the AROM had had the desired effect, still I felt that if my body was telling me to rest that’s what I should do. It was 5:30am when I began to tremble and shake, time to get up. I used the bathroom then made my way downstairs where I sank back into the glider and watched I Love Lucy. Contractions were every 4minutes but still no stronger than they had been. In my previous labors I needed absolute silence but this time I actually enjoyed the conversation, laughter and storytelling that was going on. It felt like a big slumber party.
At 6:50am, after my 10th bathroom trip, I decided to do a little bit of walking to see if that would help. Almost immediately I was rewarded with significantly stronger contractions. At 7:00am I made another pot of coffee for everyone, strapped a hot pack to my back and situated myself in my new labor “zone” aka behind the couch, where I stood as I held on and rocked back and forth through the contractions. Soon all the children were awake and thrilled to learn that baby was on his way (and even more so that they get to skip a day of school) They settled on the couch to watch Santa Claus 3 while my mom made them some breakfast.
By 7:30am, the contractions were coming every 2minutes and I knew it was time to head up to my bedroom. “It won’t be long now” I informed everyone as I changed into a nightgown. Feeling overheated, I asked for some cold washcloths and was quickly obliged. The ice cold water felt sooo good against my neck as I stood holding onto my dresser breathing loudly and deeply through contractions that made me want to gasp with their intensity. I brushed away several sets of massaging, well intentioned hands and apologized “I’m one of those hard-to-help laboring women, I don’t like being touched, it‘s too distracting” I said to my doulas and midwives as way of explanation. My eyes began to tear as I realized I’d soon be holding my son. I felt so blessed to be having this “peak” experience and tried hard to commit each moment of it to memory, knowing it would be my last.
At 8:00am my joy turned to dread as I started to feel that telltale pressure that signals the start of my least favorite part of birth-pushing. I had no desire to push just a downward pressure and so I requested an internal-looking for some confirmation. Sure enough I had a tiny anterior cervical lip and baby was at +2! I knelt through the next 3 contractions, then decided to get off the bed and get down to work. With my last birth, baby was at 0 station and was born in 3 pushes-this baby was already at +2, heck I should have been able to sneeze him out, or so I thought. I decided to try a supported squat and so dh sat on the bed as I squatted between and rested my arms on his open legs. It was 8:10am, I began to push. After 3 contractions I grew discouraged as I didn’t feel like I was getting any “traction” -like I was pushing past him as opposed to actually moving him down. My legs began to shake and my feet felt like they were falling asleep, so I stood up. This was disorienting as the next contraction began and I wasn’t sure what to do, where to hold on to, how to move…I held onto the corner of the dresser and began to bear down, suddenly I could feel him surging lower.
When the next contraction began, I leaned into dh, his arms hooked under my own, squeezing my hands as I began to push-knees slightly bent. And then it happened. A loud “SNAP”, like a firecracker going off, rang out through the room. Dh hands left my own as he wrapped his arms under my breasts-convinced that I had just broken my spine and was about to collapse. “Is your back ok?” the midwife asked-um NO, I had heard that noise before, though not quite so loud, at my 2nd child’s birth. I knew I had just re-injured my tailbone. “Well maybe baby was just giving you an “adjustment” so to speak” the midwife suggested. Suuure. I didn’t have time to worry about the implications as another contraction rolled through me, this time I could feel myself opening-that awful feeling that you’re turning inside out before the burning begins. The burning was so much worse than I remembered, I was convinced that I was tearing upward. My heels left the ground and I was standing on tip toe as his head finally emerged. “Oh thank God!” I said (loud enough to be overheard downstairs) I reached down to pull the rest of him free but he had the cord around his neck (as have all my children) it was tight and the midwives were debating whether or not it needed to be clamped and cut before the rest of him could be born. Thankfully my midwife was able to slip it over-a moment later they guided my hands under my baby’s arms and I was able to lift him up and out me…a moment I’m not likely to forget.
Phil’s arms wrapped protectively around both me and his baby as I leaned my back against him. Our boy was here! He didn’t cry-just opened one eye and peaked at us. My friend helped me out of my gown and I laid back in bed, skin to skin with my content and curious little Jackson Bryce.
Later we learned that the cord had actually lifted his chin, and so his chin was not tucked as he made his way down. Instead of coming “crown” first, the entire top of his head emerged at once, creating a TON of pressure on my urethra (making it impossible for me to urinate for quite some time) and other female “parts”-thankfully I didn’t need any stitches but do have a small upward tear that makes going to the bathroom a bit tricky. He has a ridge on his head from the plates overlapping but it should be gone within 2wks. My tailbone will probably take a couple of months to heal. Ah well, a small price to pay for a healthy baby and wonderful birth. In comparison to my others, his labor was longer, but gentler-his birth harder, but more gratifying. There really is no such thing as a predictable birth; each one is unique and exciting as it should be.
Jackson Bryce born 11/30! 7lbs 12oz/ 21.5in
<span style="color:#9932CC">“If you don’t know your options, you don’t have any.”-Diane Korte and Roberta Scaer
“Birth is not an emergency. It is simply an emergence.” Jeannine Parvati Baker
“Anything I’ve ever done that ultimately was worthwhile…initially scared me to death.” Betty Bender
CONGRATULATIONS, Jessica!! What a wonderful birth story...I'm so glad all went well, except for that pesky tailbone re-injury. (And need I point out how jealous I am that your little guy came a day early, and my girl is still holding on? ) I can't wait to see more pics of your little Jackson - off to add the news to the due date / birth announcement thread now!!
mom to Rachael, 10 ~ Milly, 6 ~ foster mom (waiting on the next call)