The birth of my baby boy was intense but quick. He was born at 8:50 on Dec. 29 a healthy 7 lbs. 4 ozs. I am so incredibly blessed. Oh, and it was the lovely, peaceful birth I wanted here in my home!
Friday, December 28, 2007, I went to sleep like I usually do after my son's teeth were brushed, face was washed and oiled, pajamas were on, books were read, and kisses were exchanged. I had been sleeping for a few hours when I started to feel crampy. My husband had just gotten in the bed and was sound asleep. I didn’t want to bother him because I figured there was nothing really going to happen. I’d convinced myself I’d make it till at least January without having the baby. I really didn’t worry especially because I was able to go back to sleep.
I woke up on Saturday morning still feeling crampy but nothing worse than the cramps I’d experience when my menses was about to come. When I went to the bathroom, I noticed a huge clump of mucous and a fair amount of blood. I figured this was what they call “bloody show”. I called my husband to come see and tell me what he thought. It didn’t seem to worry him and he went back to bed. I was a little annoyed with him for that. I called the midwife next to let her now. I felt fine, though, and the cramps were nothing more than annoying. So I got my son up, brushed his teeth, bathed him and dressed him. I noticed that by the time I was done with that, not only was I feeling crampy but the cramps were coming at set intervals—I would say about every 5-6 minutes with some regularity. Still, I was able to function fully.
I went to make breakfast. I decided to also make a large pot of pasta sauce because I thought that there was a good chance the baby would come that day. That was a good call. I also decided to stop being annoyed at my husband. He’d worked the night before and besides, we all needed as much rest as we could find before the new baby arrived.
We had breakfast and soon after, my husband thought it would be a good idea to keep track of when I’d feel another cramp which by this time we were calling contractions or rushes. They were very regular—every 5-6 minutes but they were not so intense that I couldn’t keep doing what I was doing. I had to pause to reckon with each but not completely stop.
This went on for hours. I thought to myself that maybe I was just dehydrated so I drank almost 32 ounces of water. (My water bottle is 32 ounces.) Then I went to lie down. My son wouldn’t let me rest so I did the best I could and then got up. The contractions, it seemed, had gone away. Thirty minutes later, they were back again and very regular. They had not increased in intensity though so we put my son down for his nap and Chris got ready to go off to work.
While my son was napping and my husband was off to work I started to straighten up the house a little and read my books. I took out Ina May Gaskin’s Spiritual Midwifery and started doing some of the affirmations and reminding myself of the kind of labor and birth I wanted. I also took out What to Expect when You’re Expecting which has to be about the most useless book of all if you are going about things naturally/at home.
At about 5:00PM, I got really hungry. I decided to make myself some eggs and toast. I made two eggs and wolfed them down. I was not satisfied. I made another two eggs and demolished those two. By 5:30, the rushes were to the point where they were taking my breath away and I thought to myself that the baby would definitely be here soon. I called Chris at work to tell him and it was unsure if he could actually get off from work. I thought it would be really sad if he couldn’t make it to the birth but I had accepted a long time ago that this was the nature of his job and probably why I was more than hesitant to go unassisted (without a midwife).
Anyway, around this time, my son woke up from his nap with a stinky pamper. I would have to change him. I spoke to my friend on the phone and she was in the neighborhood and wanted to drop something off. I told her to come through and that I thought I was in labor and she probably couldn’t stay so long. I started to change my son's diaper and just as I finished the doorbell rang. I answered the door to let her in and then went to go wash out my son's diaper. I had a very strong rush in the bathroom while I was washing out the diaper but I handled it very well. My friend was able to tend to my son while I dealt with the rushes that were now definitely labor pains. I was grateful she was there to keep me company.
At around 6:30, the contractions seriously intensified. I called the midwife to tell her that I thought it was time. She arrived shortly thereafter. The doula arrived before she did which was good to help me keep my son entertained and also to time the rushes. I called my husband and managed to tell him it was time. By now, the rushes were very intense and it was difficult for me to speak. Thankfully he said he was on his way. By 7:30, he’d arrived and I was without doubt in full-fledged labor. Once the midwife arrived, she checked my dilation and blood pressure and all that. I was making good progress.
I had been curious all along as to where I would labor and although the bed was set up with the plastic sheets and cheap sheets, I realized that I would rather be on the floor. I had the doula push my son's crib (which is side-carred to our bed) away from our bed so I could labor on the rug and not the cold hard wood floor. Since I was so into labor by this time, I could not instruct anyone to put down some plastic or something on the carpet to protect it but I had hoped that it would happen anyway.
By the time my husband arrived, I was in deep labor. I was kneeling at the bed and after every rush I would just lay my head down to rest. When my husband came home, I just wanted him to hold me tight as I negotiated the rushes. I labored like that for a while then I tried to sit in between my husband's legs and labor. I tried a couple of other positions too before I decided that kneeling was best. I dealt with each rush one at time. I remember thinking to myself, “Okay, here it comes.” My uterus would tighten and it was painful but I stayed right on top of the pain and rode it out. Once the rush was over, I said “Okay, there it goes” and just relaxed and breathed deeply and gathered my strength for the next one. I kept thinking funny thoughts and amusing myself between contractions. I was making good noises—humming, groaning and moaning during contractions. At one point, I decided that I shouldn’t make any noise at all. I decided I would look at the contraction, i.e. watch it come, feel it at its height, reckon with it, and let it go. This, I feel, was probably when I opened up the most because I was facing the pain head on and telling it that it could not and would not over come me.
At some point, the midwife had me lie on my back on the floor I guess to check the progress. That was the most excruciating pain ever and I was having flashbacks of giving birth to my son on my back. When I was giving birth to my son, I knew that lying on my back was making my labor more agonizing than it needed to be but I couldn’t ask for the help I needed to switch positions. This time, I knew I had to get off my back come hell or high water. On my back, I felt like crying. I screamed. I cursed. I got angry. I started to call for God. After dealing with 2 or 3 rushes on my back, I decided that I had to get to a different position right that moment. If I can help it, I will never lie on my back again while in labor for any reason. I’m not into needless suffering.
I got back on my knees and when I did, I felt the urge to push. I felt like if I pushed it would ease a lot of the pain. And so I did. I felt the baby’s head engage. Then the midwife pricked my bag of waters. After that, I knew he was coming soon. Everyone was pushing plastic sheets underneath me—the short disposable chux pads and I just hoped it was enough to protect the carpet but I couldn’t worry about that. I pushed. It burned. Good Lord, it burned. I pushed past the burning and finally felt his head come out. It was like he was coasting out on water. My husband caught the baby and I felt so good. I couldn’t believe how easy, relatively speaking, it was to push the baby out. I wanted to say, “That’s it?” That was it!
I held the baby in my arms. He was so small and squiggly. I was so grateful that I was not so worn out, sweaty, and tired that I couldn’t appreciate him. I was holding another little boy. I was glad that I didn’t fall into the trap of trying to guess his sex while he was in the womb. Everyone swore it was to be a girl.
I birthed the placenta soon after. That was very easy.
The midwife and doula wiped the baby down, took his Apgar scores, weighed him and all that. I think he may have gotten some oxygen. Then I got him back and started to try to nurse him. After a couple of attempts, he got it.
I guess it seemed to the midwife that I was bleeding profusely so she gave me a shot of pitocin. And then another. I’m not so sure that I needed the pitocin especially since I would be breastfeeding. I did not get pitocin after having my son and everything was fine. But I trusted that the midwife had seen lots of births and if she felt it was too much blood, I felt she should do what she needed to do. I really did not want a shot (I’m scared of needles) and I certainly did not want pitocin—especially not two shots of the stuff. But more than that, I did not want to go to the hospital.
So after all that, we trooped to the bathroom (me, the midwife and doula). The midwife wanted me to pass urine before she felt okay to go. I had to focus to do it. It was actually funny to me. I had to talk to my body and tell myself to relax. I got my peri bottle ready and finally I was able to pee. I hooked up a pad and panty haphazardly in my rush to get back to the baby.
Everyone was asking me if I was hungry and I really wasn’t. I know that eating the 4 eggs and toast before gave me a lot of energy and strength to do what I needed to do. Everyone was also pushing water on me even though I wasn’t thirsty. I drank it diligently but then I had to pee like crazy for the next few hours.
At some point, my husband went back to work. The midwife and doula left. I called my husband to ask him to buy me some Depends from the grocery store and something else that I can’t remember. I had some disposable pads that I bought before hand but everything was so bloody and drippy that I felt I needed some more protection. That turned out to be a good call. I called my sister to tell her the baby had arrived. my husband handled all the rest of the calls, I think. Somehow, everyone found out. My family from upstairs came down to see the new little one. It was serene.
I noticed that there was a huge blood stain on the carpet even though I had seen the midwife and doula pouring copious amounts of hydrogen peroxide on it. That was a little disheartening. Everyone had told me that midwives were good about that stuff and that by the time I had gotten myself situated, everything would have been clean and spiffy and no one would even know that I’d given birth at home. But I could see that the rug was ruined. And I knew my husband would be even more upset than me. At least I was riding on my beautiful birth experience. My husbandhad to deal with that jacked up carpet without the assistance of hormones.
My son had all the while been in the living room with my niece. I could hear him while I was laboring asking, “Mama, where are you?” in his cute baby way and trying to come find me. I was happy when labor was over so I could give him hugs and kisses and love. I put together a nighttime diaper for him and my niece put it on. I usually pin his nighttime diaper because he poops first thing in the morning and that contains it but my niece can’t pin a diaper. I hooked up a pocket diaper and hoped for the best in the morning. We didn’t brush our teeth or change into our pajamas or do any of our nighttime routine. I just laid a chux pad down to make up for my half-done pad/panty job. My son just lay in bed next to me and fell asleep. His brother was right beside me on my other side and I was overcome with joy and tears looking at my two boys and hearing them breathing and making sleeping noises. I couldn’t even sleep because I was so high.
Overall, it was a beautiful birth experience—even more so now that I’ve had time to process it all. I think the midwife was very professional and did her job well. There are minor things I would have changed like giving myself more of a chance to naturally clot instead of getting the pitocin. I was passing some huge, nasty clots in the following days and the midwife said essentially that is what pitocin does. God help me to never have to get that again. I don’t know if I really needed it at all especially since I was going to breastfeed but I guess I just have to trust that it was in my best interest. I didn’t really expect the pitocin to be out so readily right after I gave birth but I realize that the midwife has to walk a fine line. Right now, a little over a week later, I’m still dealing with swelling and I am getting these pounding headaches. I’m not altogether convinced it is not from the pitocin. I would also have been much more diligent about protecting the carpet. It’s pretty much ruined now—to hide it I moved the beds more toward the center of the room. At least all the hydrogen peroxide, Resolve, soap and water cleaned it so it doesn’t stink at all. It’s just a nasty stain now. And the last thing I would have done differently is to never have gotten on my back.
It was beautiful though, the whole experience. I was GBS+ when pregnant with my son and had to receive antibiotics as a matter of routine since I was birthing in the hospital. This time, I declined the test altogether. My water was broken for not more than twenty minutes so GBS infection for the baby was not even an issue. There were, in my mind, simply no complications to this birth. It was the birth I had been meditating on and manifesting since I found out I was with child. I think this is probably why getting the pitocin has really been on my mind because I did not picture that as a part of my birthing experience and I feel that my faith in myself and my body faltered a bit as a result of the fear of postpartum hemorrhaging and, of course, death. Fear is a powerful thing and I am a little disappointed in myself that I let fear creep in especially since throughout the pregnancy as I declined procedures and tests, I thought I had conquered all my pregnancy and birth fears. There is always spiritual work to do, though, and I give thanks for the wisdom to recognize things and to do better next time armed with what you learned this time. I have moved closer to going unassisted next time too. I think that this may be the only way to have the birth that I want in every way although there are never any guarantees.
My baby boy was born peacefully at home. He was 7 pounds and 4 ounces and completely covered in hair. He has five perfect fingers on each hand and five perfect toes on each foot. He is completely perfect in every way. He is so beautiful.
I give thanks that he chose me to come through. I am honored to be his mother.
I pray for the opportunity to give life again.