Steph arrived about 12:30 and we had lunch and a typical prenatal. I DID NOT want her to leave; the thought made me panic a little. The feeling in our home just made me feel like it was time and I would be in labor soon. I asked her about "stretching the membranes". I had heard it was terribly painful. Remember, I am a baby, a whining baby. She said that it can be very intense. She checked my dilation, which was about 4cm, and did a little stretching at my request. It was intense, but not near as bad as I expected. Whew!
I started having some mild cramping. The time was between three and four in the afternoon. It didn't feel like the start of my previous labor, so I didn't think it was going to turn into anything. I was wrong. Never had I been so happy to be wrong! After a nice walk around the block with my husband, I knew I was in labor. This was not news to Stephanie. She called the other two midwives to put them on notice, but not to rush over. I was feeling extreme excitement! Soon I would be holding my new baby. I didn't know if it was a boy or girl. I have never felt convinced that sonograms are completely harmless, so I never had any done.
While I was feeling these early contractions, Stephanie noticed I was giving them too much attention. She recommended I let them pass unnoticed for as long as I could. They would intensify, and she didn't want me using up my coping skills on the little ones. That was some of the best advice I had ever gotten in my life. My perspective changed after that.
I began to have FUN. I helped cut up a tray full of beautiful fruits and veggies for everyone to eat. I made sure I ate as much as I could, too, because I didn't want to run out of energy. I walked around the house, just feeling happy. I sat out under our canopy of desert trees on a big ball, next to my herb garden. When the contractions got more intense, I took a little time to play my fiddle for a distraction. Around 9:30pm, I was finally ready to get in the birth pool and relax.
The water felt so good! It relieved the intensity of the contractions nicely even though they were stronger. As I floated in the little pool, I was amazed to find that labor could be this gentle. This didn't just happen on its own. I had to willingly take the guidance of my midwife and the reminders of my husband. "Relax" and "Breathe your baby down" were helpful to hear during contractions. Fighting a contraction by tensing up or not actively surrendering to the surge of energy made it worse.
Two hours of hard labor passed quickly. I was getting tired as it was nearing midnight. I think this is when Stephanie asked me to get out for a potty break and try to sit through two contractions while on the toilet. I really, really, REALLY did not want to do that. During my previous home birth, I remember two terrifying contractions on the toilet. But deep down I knew it would speed things along and I wanted to be able to hold my baby as soon as possible. A week earlier Stephanie had prepped me by assuring me that anything she asked me to do during labor, I would be able to do it. I can't remember if she meant physically or emotionally, but for this request, I needed courage in both areas. I did four contractions on the toilet! Yes, I am proud of that fact.
I practically ran the few steps back to the birth pool. This field trip did its job. I soon went into transition. Transition is often the shortest stage of labor, but it can be the most difficult. Self doubt lingered around these most intense contractions. Again I received reassurance and reminders. During transition I felt my baby wiggling gently down. This was incredible to me. This baby was working as hard as I was! It helped me bear the intensity to realize this and it made me feel a swell of compassion and love for this wise baby.
Then, at last, transition was over. I knew it was over because my breath caught. It is like an involuntary stuttering while breathing. Second stage contractions had begun. These are the "pushing" contractions. Without pushing very much, the baby seemed to move quickly down and I felt it pressing on my pelvic floor. This was so exciting! Soon I would be able to hold my baby! I listened to the instructions given for gently pushing the baby's head out. I felt I had done a good job birthing the head only to find it was the sack of water! Stephanie had to use two hands to break the sac; it was so tough. Soon, the head was out and I felt it with my hand. Can you imagine how wild that would be? Bizarre and Beautiful. Another contraction came and with it, the baby. This all took about 15 minutes, about 4-5 contractions.
It's a boy! 12:26am...on his due date. Upon my chest was a wide
eyed, vernix covered, chubby and squishy nine pound three ounce baby boy. He lifted his head and I could feel his strength. His head seemed huge, 15cm I found out later. The midwives rubbed his back and he got nice and pink quickly. His umbilical cord was fat and short. We waited for it to stop pulsing before his papa cut it. Then, as if on a timer, in walks my two year old son who had been sleeping. Everything was perfect!
That early morning I nursed Jess Valentine for the first time. He latched on like a pro and nursed for about 30 minutes before drifting off to sleep. He looked like an angel and smelled divine! I couldn't dream of sleeping and missing a moment of the magic. Who was this new, strong little person that was entrusted to my care? My life had already been beautifully altered by his presence. His birth was a healing and illuminating experience. I stayed up all night looking at him.