September 10-14, 2012 is Birth Week! Here’s today’s birth story:
On Halloween night 2010, at 12:57am I rolled over in bed and felt my bag of waters breaking. I managed to get out of bed without getting the bed wet and as I was running to the bathroom, water gushed out all over the kitchen and bathroom floor. It was a gush like in the movies and if I was in public it would have been really embarrassing. As I was running I yelled to my wife Liz, “My water just broke!” And she immediately started cleaning the floor while I sat on the toilet. It stopped quickly so we went back to bed.
Exactly one hour after my water broke, at 1:58am, I felt my first contraction. I woke Liz up to let her know, but told her to go back to sleep. We both rested, but neither of us slept; her, because she was too excited and me because the contractions were exactly 5 minutes apart and were already quite painful. I put on my Hypnobabies CD and listened to the first stage track. Eventually they became too much to even lay down through so I got out of bed at about 4am and started timing them on the laptop, just for fun. They were pretty consistent, always between 3 and 5 minutes apart. From the very first one, they were all in my lower back! I emailed my doula to give her a heads up and called my midwives’ phone service to let them know to plan to come over sometime that day/night.
I labored throughout the day, unable to sit or lay down. So, no rest at all! I had to be standing, swaying, or walking. I took a shower. Not really for relief but so that I would be relatively clean and shampooed after the birth. I even shaved my legs! Liz pushed on my back later in the afternoon. She filled up the birth tub and put the cover over it to keep the heat in. My doula called at 2pm and asked if she should come over. I felt the contractions were manageable but I wanted some help with pushing on my back, so she came over. Once she got there my contractions pretty much stopped. She suggested we go for a walk on the beach (one block from our house) where Liz and I walked for over an hour. It was heaven and such a great memory, especially because our baby’s initials were S.E.A.!
The doula stayed at our place and napped. We ran into a neighbor of ours on the beach, a cool surfer dude who was shocked when we said I was in labor. If I was walking, I wasn’t contracting much, but as soon as I stood still, they came.
Once we got back to the house, Liz started dinner. It was about 5pm now. The doula decided to go home and have dinner with her family and put her kids to bed. We were to call her back when things picked up more. I ate a few bites of curry chicken and brown rice and then things REALLY picked up. I stood and pushed on my back as much as I could. I leaned over a chair so Liz could push. I swayed and rocked back and forth, but all I wanted was someone to push HARD on my back.
I decided to take another shower. I leaned forward and pushed into the back of the shower wall while the hot water ran down my back. It felt a little better, but nowhere close to “good”. I was starting to get exhausted and frustrated. The hypno tracks weren’t helping anymore and I just wanted to sit or lay down. Besides the contractions being painful, my feet also hurt from standing since 4am!
I decided that I wanted my midwife to come check my dilation. I just wanted to know that something was happening in there. It was 11pm and Liz called my midwife to come over. She calmed me down and we talked about how it was going, in between my pauses to groan and breath heavy. She knew I wanted a hands-off birth with no dilation checks, so she was surprised by my call. She asked what we would do with the information we gained from her checking me. We decided if she came and checked me and I was at 3cm then we’d transfer to the hospital for pain relief so I could rest. If I was at 5cm then I could get in the birth tub for relief. If I was at 7cm then we would throw a party because I was almost done! So she started making the 30 minute drive over.
Once the midwife arrived, she smiled because she could see how serious I was. Labor was kicking into high gear. We went to the bedroom and she brought out the doppler and listened to the baby’s heart rate for a moment. I was nice to hear and remember why I was doing this. Since I refused to sit down, she had me squat on the floor, leaning up against the bed. That was not easy but she said she’d be fast. She gave me the “bad” news that I was only dilated 3-4 cm. It had been 22 hours since my first contraction. I was not happy about this news. She had me get in the tub.
My doula got there and took over the back pressure. The contractions were coming one on top of each other. Transition! I moaned loudly, deep and low. I remembered to keep my face and hands relaxed. I started chanting “Down, down, down. Baby come down, down, down.” I was in my head the entire time, trying to plan an escape, trying to find a way out of the pain. I felt trapped and locked into the pain. I felt like I was clawing my way out of my body.
There was nothing I could do to escape, so I planned. I calculated how long it would take to get out of the tub and into the car, drive to the hospital, check in, call the doc for the epidural, etc. I knew it was going to be a long time until I felt relief. I kept saying to myself, “After the next one I’ll get up and we’ll go.” “Ok, after the next one.” And on and on. It made me feel like I was doing something to get away from the pain. I had a plan. Just after the next contraction. Just get through this one and then we’ll leave.
The midwife and doula kept trying to get me to eat dark chocolate and drink coconut water. I planned on miso soup and wonderful foods while laboring. I didn’t want any of it.
Looking back, I realized that Liz was no where I could see and wasn’t with me since the midwife got me into the tub the first time. It turns out that she made Liz go lay down in the living room. She was exhausted and there wasn’t really anything she could do to help. I wanted the doula pushing on my back because she was stronger and less tired. Liz was laying in the living room the whole time praying and saying the rosary, just trying to pray my pain away. She hated hearing me moan and groan and occasionally yell. She wanted it all to be over — and soon.
During this time the midwife asked Liz her opinion on me going to the hospital. She said, “No. She can do it. She might not think she can, but she’s stronger than she thinks. She can do this. Please help her do this.” The midwife told Liz that she thought I still had a few hours of pushing left to go, so be prepared. That scared her a lot. She prayed with everything she had to make the pain stop soon.
It was now about 4:20am. I started lightly grunting during contractions. I told my doula that I felt pressure in my bottom. I knew what this meant and it made me happy. But I was also worried that I wasn’t fully dilated. But my body started pushing on its own and I couldn’t stop it. The midwife took Liz out to her car to get the rest of her equipment and bring it to the kitchen. All of a sudden I just HAD to get out of the water and be upright. I had planned all along to birth in the water, but I had to get out. It took a few contractions of bending over so the doula could push on my back, but I finally made it the six feet to the bed. The pushing continued. All I wanted was to sit on the birth stool. Finally, somewhere I could push and sit comfortably!
My midwife came in the room and checked me quickly. She was very surprised that she couldn’t even get her fingers inside me up to the first knuckle. The baby’s head was right there! She immediately called the other midwife on the phone and said “The baby is coming NOW, get over here!” She told me to reach down and try to touch the baby’s head. I couldn’t move. I could feel everything; the stretching, the pressure, the full body vomiting feeling of my stomach muscles contracting to push the baby out, but I couldn’t move. The midwife had to quickly set up her equipment so she had Liz rub olive oil around the baby’s head and my perineum. I was swaying back and forth while the doula pushed on my back and squeezed my hips with her legs. I leaned into Liz while she stood in front of me. I moaned and moaned.
The midwife then called Liz to the kitchen to help her with something since the other midwife wasn’t there yet. I then felt my baby’s head coming out. I called Liz over to feel the baby’s head. She was amazed and I could see the excitement in her face. She lit up! Feeling my baby’s head with my hands felt so surreal. It was the first moment I realized that this baby was her own being and not part of me anymore. It was only right then that I realized I had done it, was doing it, and I was REALLY going to have a homebirth!
I felt her crowning and the stretching was unbearable! I was terrified of tearing so I held back, slowed it down. I kept repeating out loud, “Hold it, hold it. Slooooow, slooooow.” Then my midwife saw Liz grab her video camera and started recording in front of me. She raced to the room, gloved up and told Liz to “move over please…MOVE… MOVE!!!!!” She then reached out her hands and caught our baby, while Liz recorded it. After her head was out the rest of her slipped out easily. The midwife then handed my baby up to me. I held her and just kept repeating, “Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god!” The pain in my back stopped instantly and I felt such relief! Our baby girl was just fine. She started crying immediately and was looking around, completely shocked. Liz kissed her on the head. Here we are, a family of three!
Time escaped me but apparently it was only 20 minutes from the first grunting in the tub to holding my baby! I went from 3 cm dilated to holding my baby in 4 hours! She was born at 4:49am on November 2nd, 2010, 7lbs 2oz. My half-Mexican daughter was born on her due date, the Day of the Dead — Dia de los Muertos!