On January 31, 2002 at 4 am I got up to go to the toilet-nothing unusual for being pregnant. After I finished peeing, I noticed water coming out. I wondered if my amniotic sac had broken. The previous day my Braxton-Hicks contractions were fairly strong, and my hip felt out of joint. Luckily I had gone to see the chiropractor later that evening. I went back to bed, but felt I was leaking, so I got back up & went to the toilet. A little more water trickled out, so I rolled up a washcloth and tucked it between my legs. A couple minutes later there was a larger trickle of water to the point where it soaked the washcloth & dripped onto the floor. It was definitely the bag of waters. I stuck a larger towel between my legs and shuffled out to wake Rob.
When I told Rob that my labor started, he smiled at me and said, "We're going to have a baby." He got up and called Sharon to let her know what happened. At that point my contractions were 5-10 minutes apart, and lasting 20-30 seconds. Sharon told Rob to call back once my contractions established a regular pattern. We put the plastic liner on the bed along with the "birth sheets." I tried to go back to sleep, but before long my contractions were coming too quickly for me to sleep-probably 5 minutes apart. Besides, I was hungry and wanted to get some food in me so I'ld have enough energy for the labor.
5 am: I woke Rob up again and let him know I was having fairly frequent contractions and asked him to make some pancakes. We went downstairs and while he started cooking, I put on the belly dance CDs . I started to belly dance each time I had a contraction, then sit & rest after the contraction finished. While Rob was cooking, he also started to fill the pool we planned to use for a water birth. I managed to eat one pancake. Rob helped me stand up when a contraction started. I started to write down my contraction times to see if they were regular. Some time during this, Rob had left the water running to fill the pool. After one of my contractions, Rob exclaimed "Oh s**t!" and ran out the room. The water had overflowed the pool and was flooding the den. I relaxed through the next few contractions while Rob mopped/vacuumed up the water. Surprisingly, I really didn't care that much. I must be in labor land.
7 am: I called Sharon to let her know my contractions were 4-5 minutes apart and lasting 40 seconds. She said that was good and to give her a call when the contractions were 60 seconds in length. About 30 minutes later my contractions were strong and long enough that I didn't want to do much talking. I told Rob to call Sharon. He had already called Kim Marshall (our Bradley instructor), who said she would come after she got her kids to school.
8 am: By the time Linda Kaiser (student midwife) got to the house, I was beginning to zone out. I had gone down to the den and was kneeling on the ground and supporting my top part on the birthing ball.
Kim arrived next. She asked how long I'd been in that position. 20 minutes? 30? I don't know, I had lost any sense of real time by then. She said I could stay in that position for a little longer, then she wanted me to sit on the toilet. After a while Rob helped me over onto the toilet. I sat facing the wall. Kim showed Rob how to massage my back then left us and closed the door. Rob sang "I Will Be There" to me while massaging my back. I was zoning. About 45 minutes later Kim came in and said it was time to change positions. Rob held me and we swayed for the next several contractions. I could feel his arms shake as he struggled to hold me up; my legs were useless during the contractions, so he was basically holding my entire weight
9 am: Sharon had arrived, and Rob probably felt relieved. Every so often Kim would put a cool washcloth on my forehead or the back of my neck. They all remarked how hot it was. I had turned up the thermostat to 85 degrees (I was scared the room wouldn't be warm enough for the baby, nevermind the fact that it would be hours before the baby arrived). They turned it back down to keep every one from passing out. At one point while Rob was holding me I told him he stunk and his body odor was making me nauseous. He was very supportive and left briefly to take a shower and change clothes.
Rob & Kim kept me hydrated, and fed me the juice (raspberry lemonade) ice chips we had made. The contractions were getting stronger and coming more frequently. They felt like very very bad menstrual cramps that radiated to my lower back, almost a tingly pain sensation. My eyes were closed during the contractions and I concentrated on breathing deeply and relaxing my muscles.
10 am: Sharon asked if she could check me; I said "yes." Slowly-very slowly-Rob helped me to the living room couch. It was hard to walk. Kim told me that my legs worked (somehow I had forgotten). I could take only a few steps before another contraction would start. Rob and I would sway until the contraction was over. Finally I got to the couch-a half-hour later!-and I sat on the chux pad. Sharon waited until my contraction was over then gently felt the cervix area. She said she could feel the baby's head; I could hardly believe it. When she was done I said, "Please tell me I'm dilating." Sharon said, "You're dilated to 6 cm." I replied, "That's it?" Sharon laughed and said that was good. She said now would be a good time to get into the pool. It was another long journey back to the den, but not quite as long since I was motivated to get into the pool.
It felt so nice to get into the pool. I went on my hands and knees and felt the water swirl around my tummy. I stayed like that for a while. I heard Kim tell Sharon that she couldn't tell when I was having a contraction because I was so calm. She and Rob massaged my back. Every so often I opened my eyes and would see Sharon swaying, or Linda standing against the wall. Sometimes I was aware of the mid-eastern music in the background, or Rob telling me how strong I was. One time I gave an irritated "Shh!" when Rob was laughing and joking around.
Kim had me change positions so I was lying on my side. I really didn't want to move. After a while she let me get up again and I went back to my knees but put my arms and head on the edge of the pool. Rob massaged my hands and Kim my back. It felt so good to have the back massage during the contractions. Sometimes I heard Kim taking deep breaths, which I took as a sign that my breathing was shallow. I started to moan and say, "Back" when the contraction came so everyone would be able to gauge where I was and when to resume massaging. I kept thinking, "When is transition going to come?" "Why isn't transition here yet?" "How much longer before transition?" I wanted to feel the continuous contractions and double peaks because then I knew it would be over soon. Little did I realize that at that point I was in transition.
11 am: I felt a small poop come out and I heard the birth team talk about how to get it out of the pool. Then the contractions started feeling different. I wanted to push. There was a moment of quiet when I felt no contractions. I don't recall if I asked Sharon whether I could push, but I told her that I wanted to push. I got into a squatting position.
12 p.m.: With each contraction I felt an uncontrollable urge to push. Kim asked if I wanted the Queen CD to be played (as I mentioned in my ideal birth story); I said yes. As I heard "We Will Rock You" I knew I was in the final stretch. I let out strong moans (more of a deep whinny) as I pushed. Sharon suggested I move to a hands and knees position. I couldn't quite tell if the baby was moving down. Then I started to feel a stretching-burning sensation. I knew the baby was coming out. I tried to push lightly so as to prevent tearing. The burning feeling was pretty intense. I wasn't sure I would keep stretching. I could feel the baby's head come out a little, then go back in when the contraction ended. I heard Sharon and the other remark about a lot of hair and at first wondering whether it belonged to me or the baby. After a while I tried to keep a little pressure on the baby between contractions to keep the baby from sliding back in. I really wanted the labor to be over. Then I heard Sharon say that the baby's head was out. I know that every time I pushed I felt more of the amniotic fluid come out. All the while Sharon told me when and how much to push. Then in a short time I felt the rest of the baby slip out of me-what a feeling of relief (kind of like the relief felt after a big poop, but more so)! It was 12:35 p.m.
I turned my head to find Sharon holding the baby tummy down. A moment of fear struck me when I saw the baby hanging limp. I asked if the baby was okay, and Sharon said yes. I could see the baby was covered with vernix. Linda helped me lift my left leg over the umbilical cord, and I sat back against the side of the pool. Sharon wrapped the baby in a blanket and handed the baby to me. It was so amazing to hold our baby. I did it! I had a totally naturally born baby-I felt victorious and the full majesty of being a woman. I stroked the baby's cheek and saw our baby staring at Rob and me. The feeling is almost indescribable by words. I asked Rob to check the sex. He did, and said we have a little girl. I announced her name-Jessica Phoebe. Then Linda prepared her for the cord cutting and Rob cut the cord.
To make the rest of the story short, I delivered the placenta on our living room couch, then Rob, Sharon, Jessica, and I had to make a trip to the hospital (A Woman's Place office actually) to have my second degree tear sewn up. It seemed like a lot of stitches, but given that was the worst of the whole labor, I felt pretty good. When we got home Sharon rushed off to attend another birth, and I took a shower, ate some food, and got checked by Linda. She left, and Rob and I, with our new little girl, fell asleep on our family bed. And there was peace.