Below is the story of how my daughter was born the Sunday before last…
On Saturday July 13th, at 40 weeks 2 days, I started having irregular surges. This was nothing new since I had been having them in increasing intensity for three weeks. I also had been making frequent trips to the bathroom and had been experiencing lots of pressure, probably because this baby decided to engage into my pelvis from 36 or so weeks onward.
I was hesitant to start calling everyone, but did want to give the midwife a heads up since I really didn’t want her to miss it. I went fast with my daughter, and I just wasn’t sure how this one would go. I texted her, and she agreed that 3-4 minutes was close together, even though labor was still relatively mild. She said she’d rather come check on me since she was gearing up to drive to her home in Miami Beach which is farther from my home.
When she arrived a little after 8 pm, I asked to be checked and sure enough I was a stretchy 5 and 50% effaced. So there was still some work to be done. I labored for a bit before she called the assistant to come. Then at around 10 we called the photographer and my doula to come. It was rainy out, so I wanted to give everyone enough time to get here safely.
At some point I had my doula come in to do some acupressure as we listened to Matisyahu. This lightened the mood, and helped me to come to terms with the reality that my labor this time was going to be different.
At around midnight I approached the midwife telling her that the labor seemed to have puttered out and that maybe they should all go home. She said that would be fine, but that she needed to assess the situation prior to leaving. I understood, and thought there was no way I had progressed any further since I was so with it and things had been so mild. She did her exam and I was 7 ½ with a bulging bag. I was in disbelief. She said that she could not leave given the fact that I was progressing the way I was. I agreed, and decided to take it easy. Danny and I spent some time together in the room alone listening to music while I labored for another couple hours. I walked and tried a variety of positions to encourage more productive contractions to possibly break my water naturally, but I guess the waves were too mild at that point to make it happen.
Then the surges seemed to completely stop. I was still a bit unsure about this being labor, but I took comfort in the fact that my body was making great progress given the midwife’s assessment. I figured my body was just taking a break. Then the midwife came in and suggested we go to sleep, which we did. When I woke up I went up to the midwife and told her I was ready to do something. We discussed my options, and I told her I’d prefer to rupture my bag over using herbs since I knew what to expect intensity wise. Plus, I was a bit nauseous and didn’t want to try anything that might make me more sick.
Things started to pick up at that point so I labored in my room by myself so I could focus. Danny stayed with me the whole time and was great about comforting me through the surges by supporting me in a standing position.
All of a sudden my body started pushing a bit on its own. I heard my team rush to the hall where they stood waiting. I felt for a head, and didn’t feel anything. This made me wonder how much longer I’d need to endure this part of labor. Given how the rest of labor had gone, I started to feel like it may go on like this for a while. I remember my husband trying to encourage me telling me the baby would be here soon and that I’d done this before. I told him that this pressure & intensity was very different, and that the baby was not coming since I obviously couldn’t reach her…ha, ha! Ah, I was definitely in transition!
She told me that I needed to either get completely down in the water or pick a different position so the baby would not aspirate water from the pool when born. I knew she was right, and given the baby was on the way down I decided to try flipping over, and pushing on the walls for support. That was ticket, because with the next push I felt (and could envision) the head moving down. Then with the next push I gave it my all and her head was out.
When the midwife told me about her hand it all made sense in my mind. It was nice knowing that the irregularity of her labor and intense ending had a reason behind it. I also understood why the midwife knew better than to leave me with a bulging bag of waters. Our baby girl literally came 2 hours after my water was ruptured.
She was born on July 14th at 7:34am @ 8lbs 12 oz & 20 ¼ inches long. Her head circumference was 14 ¾ inches! Even given her size and position of her hand I had no tearing. She nursed for over an hour on my chest before we cut the cord and did the newborn assessment. She pooped three times and peed once, so she may have even weighed a bit more!
All in all, it was an incredible experience. I feel like I accomplished my goals of tuning in and birthing in a way that honored both me and baby. The labor was a complete wild card and totally not what I was expecting. That said, the entire process taught me so much and will continue to do so, I’m sure. There really is no normal when it comes to what having a baby looks like, and there is no perfect or right way to birth a baby.
Not once did my midwife impose her definition of what labor/birth should look like on me, and she knew the exact moments when I needed her to step in. Her presence was such a blessing as is true for the rest of my birth support team! I’m so thankful to have been able to bring our little Cancer baby into the world both gently and safely.