I had been quite tired for weeks 37 and 38 and decided to go swim Monday morning of week 39. I’d felt lots of little cramps and braxton hicks contractions that past weekend. I met Christina Palmer, a woman having a homebirth just a couple of blocks away from us at a local cafe (Noeteca) and both Monday and Tuesday I felt lots of little contractions sporadically.
Monday night, when Paul was doing my perenial massage, a big chunk of mucous came out, the first small hint that Bennett might be arriving sooner than later.
It proved to be difficult to sleep Tuesday night and I woke up and took a bath in the early morning. I was so tired and decided to cancel my tea that I had scheduled with Lara. At this point, as a coping mechanism, I kept telling myself that Bennett wouldn’t come sooner than Friday, or August 1.
Between Erin’s early morning bath and just the unusual extent of her tiredness, I felt like labor might be approaching. I decided to stay home and work remotely so that I could be around to help Erin if anything changed.
I continued having regular but very breathable surges. We walked to Noe Valley Produce to get some things for lunch and later in the day, Paul and I played games on the bed including Rats! and Carcassone. Surges interval continued to slowly speed up a bit and I had bits of mucous throughout the afternoon. We defrosted the birthday cake today and I showed Paul where all the snacks were.
By dinnertime, I felt like I was preparing Erin’s last supper before becoming a mother. I made my first risotto from scratch, something light yet filling that I thought would give her some strength. At this point, I felt like there was a chance that Erin’s labor would really start to pick up in the hours following dinner. I messaged Carlee Ann, letting her know of some of the early signs that Erin was showing.
Ami called at nine as we were getting in bed and asked me how I was doing. I said that i could probably get a full night of sleep ( I was still nervous about beginning labor and had talked to Bennett in the bath about sleeping for a full night. It is hard to anticipate how something is going to feel when you’ve never experienced anything like it before. Overall I think that is why I had been so focused on having him in August. Trying to put some control over something fully uncontrollable. ).
As I talked to her, she said that I could go ahead and have a glass of wine, a bath and some benadryl to help me relax, slow down the surges and get some sleep. She said the words bath and I breathed a sigh of relief as the bath I took early Wednesday morning had felt so good.
Paul and I had a Gewurztraminer wine from Navarro while i relaxed in the bath. Afterwards, I took the Benedryl, put on my belly lotion and started to read my book. Breathing through the soft surges with sleep breathing and calming breaths worked beautifully at this time. Finally I became tired and shut my eyes.
At about 1 am the surges started to wake me up and I continued to rely on the hypnobirthing techniques from our class. Paul woke up at some point when I was feeling their intensity increase. Around 3 AM Paul started to fill the tub up, labor was happening, however, I couldn’t really focus on the fact that it was. We put snacks out and I has a burst of energy that allowed me to make some fresh scones that I’d frozen. I helped put away some dishes too. Paul started to time the surges at about 3:40 or 4:00 to see how I was progressing. Again, I continued to use sleep breathing, but started to dig more into slow breaths. At about 4:30 Paul decided we should text Carlee Ann. He told her how I was progressing. I was very much into slow breathing now. Starting each surge with a cleansing breath and moving into slow breathing and then finishing with a cleansing breath. Carlee Ann said to keep monitoring. I really wanted to get in the tub since I knew that it has slowed them down Wednesday morning. Again, as I look back this was nerves bubbling up. We called her at 5 am as we had reached the 4-1-1. She said that I could get in the tub which was music to my ears. I desperately wanted the flower crown Id made and I put it on. Really helped me to channel the power and the beauty of myself. I connected with my baby in order to move through each surge and experience the full spectrum of bringing him into the world.
Around 6 am we called again as I really wanted to have them come. Some tears came at this point revealing the intensity of the surges, bearable and breathable but intense nonetheless. I think I was out of the tub at some point because when they came I was on the physio ball, really relaxing into each surge and breathing him down. I was still a bit in denial that he was going to come that day, so sometimes I wouldn’t visualize myself opening wide. However they really picked up and at some point I said okay he is telling me that today is perfect for him to come. I realized I could either resist it or embrace it, I could either say I would approach the waves and the intensity or I would shy away from it.
Ami and Carlee Ann arrived. It was wonderfully reassuring to see them. Carlee Ann listened to the baby while I was on the ball for a while and I was really nervous something was wrong since she listened for quite some time. She reassured me after that he was wonderful, that they would be checking on him every 30 min for 1 min from now on. The surges were becoming much more intense. I was striving to rely on my slow breathing, but at some point I really needed to start to use some noises. I would breath in and then out in a deep tone. Took me time to get into that deep tone, but the tone came along with the intensity of the surge.
I got back into the tub and Paul sat in front of me with a pillow on his lap so I could rest my head. I was in slight froggy splits, legs bent up underneath my thighs straight back and my hips low and wide. I would breath and release throughout the surge. We had waves on and with each wave I would see myself opening and widening. I would talk in my head to Bennett really trusting him, realizing that today is the day he picked and it is perfect. Understanding and realizing that I didn’t really want to be in labor for another 12 plus hours. Carlee Ann listened to him while I was in the tub and his heart rates fluctuated a bit. Ami said this was due to dehydration so Paul was in charge of making sure that I took small sips of coconut water as well as having some little cracker nibbles or bites of scone.
I got out of the tub around 8 or 8:30. Over the next two ish hours I alternated positions between being on the birth ball, to standing for a bit, to being in the tub for a short time. Mostly I stayed on the birth ball. Really breathing into each surge, deepening my noises as the time went on. Paul would breath with me, would sometimes stroke my back. Other times I really did not want anyone touching me. Baby continued to have a beautiful heart rate. I went to the bathroom regularly and would sometimes stay on the toilet for a surge or two. Throughout this time we put on a playlist I made of songs by John Meyer, Norah Jones, Jack Johnson, just nice soft calming music. I had a few meditation songs on there that I would urgently ask people to skip when they came on. When the surges really started to pick up, I felt I was going to be sick and threw up a few times. It is a very good sign and meant that labor was progressing very well.
Ami suggested that I get in the shower with Paul. The surges were long and close together and very intense. I had to dig into each one. Really visualizing my cervix opening wide and breathing him down and deep into my pelvis. We got into the shower, I remember telling Paul where his swim suit was. I leaned into him and breathed through every surge, deeply relying on my strength, the trust in my baby and the sounds of deep opening and change in my body. It was very intense at this point. I mean very intense and hard and exhausting. I loved leaning into him. I wouldn’t say I was very focused on him at all. Appreciative beyond belief of my birth partner, but very much focused on my body and working with my son to birth him.
Suddenly, there was a pop and a great amount of additional pressure. I said my water broke, I felt I had some tears and it took all my energy to speak those few words. I saw that it was clear and wonderful which meant there was no meconium and Bennett would be successfully born at home. I said I want to push I want to push. I just remember the urge being so overwhelming and I felt that I couldn’t do anything else. But they said not here not in the bathroom. Carlee Ann needed to listen to the baby, she did. I was in full, full alert mode. I threw up about 3 times, just barely missing her and successfully making all the puke into the tub.
We needed to move me to the bed to try all fours as we were going to be pushing very soon. It was so hard to walk from the bathroom to the bed, I definitely dropped an f bomb or so while moving to the bed. The photographer arrived around this time and I was so thankful that she made it and we’d have a super special way of remembering this day.
I made it to the bed and tried all fours, but it was hard to support myself so I let my hips settle down in between my legs and let my stomach touch the bed and dropped my arms and head over the tower of pillows. I said I want to push I want to push through some tears, but they had to check my cervix to make sure it was all the way effaced. They said I needed to wait. I said I can’t I can’t. So I did some short shallow small breaths until they said okay you can try to push now. It was a strange feeling realizing that with every bearing down and releasing of energy that my baby would be coming to me. I bore down and let out deep sounds that moved throughout my body. I gave it everything I had, truly every ounce of energy I sent to pushing my baby out of my body. They told me to try to feel like I was pushing out. So I visualized that more and gave huge pushes, always big, always as much energy as I could. I wanted to meet my son, I wanted to move through this phase, to dig my heels in and approach the intensity rather than shy away from it. I listed to their instructions and I gave it my heart and soul.
I don’t think I’ve ever been that determined in a physical way to accomplish a goal. It was incredible how my body would be in full push mode, overwhelming every sense of me and then it would give me a short break. At one point they told me to reach down and feel his head, he was a knuckle in. I touched his squishy head and was now even more determined to birth him. I gave a huge push and they said I moved him down a ton. Then he went back up some, which is what they are supposed to do, but I was having none of that. I said damnit I pushed so hard!
I remember really listening to Ami’s voice as she coached me through the pushes. At some piont I switched positions and leaned over Paul rather than on the pillows. I was a bit more up right. I leaned down as much as I could on him so I could direct all my energy out and down. The hardest part was when his head was coming out. It felt like I was stretching so far. Like I’d never done the splits before and now someone wanted me to do them instantly. I gave it all I had. It was so intense, it hurt in a way that wasn’t painful but was so strong. I bit Paul’s shoulder accidentally because I was bearing down with full force. They had him stay there for a minute so that I wouldn’t tear, later I would learn that his arm was up by his head the cord was keeping it there so they couldn’t release it. The elbow torn the tissue inside my vagina.
I continued to push and to birth my son. It was so intense, so hard. I was so so sweaty. And then once I felt that intense streach release and gave a few more pushes I felt him slide out and they passed him through my legs to Paul. I would say I was out of it for a bit and then they gave him to me and I held my son. I held him right after he and I worked so so hard together. I saw his little eyes and blood tinged hair. His little hands and feet and nose and lips. He was perfect, he was everything to me in that moment. I knew I loved him. I didn’t cry then, I smiled and sighed and released and inside knew I was a super star.
The next part is a bit fuzzy. Somehow they got me on my back with my son on my stomach. We were having some trouble birthing the placenta. He wouldn’t nurse right away and that usually helps the release. Carlee Ann would reach in and check it. Part was still attached and it was very uncomfortable as half was chillin inside my vagina and half was still in my uterus. I really couldn’t push it out on my back, it was so hard. I also didn’t want to push any more. I wanted to just enjoy my son. They had me get up off the bed and sit on a birth stool on the floor by the bed. That was really hard to do. I held my son the whole time. They gave me this nasty tasting stuff to help it release. It really didn’t taste that bad since now I had the perspective of comparing every difficult task to birthing my son. They said I was a champ, that I did beautifully, and pushed so hard and did so well. It was music to my ears as I am quite competitive and thus was so happy to know that I rocked the birth.
On the stool I was able to birth the placenta with minimal bleeding. Ami let me rest in bed for a bit. I shivered uncontrollably and so she had me put on a robe. She said she’d need to do some stitches and wanted to know if I could go pee before. I tried, but I couldn’t as I’d thrown up so much right before. So we did the stitches. She gave me quite a few shots to numb the area. They said they would hurt, but I really didn’t think they did that much. Kind of like novacaine at the dentist. Jamie Shapiro was our assisting midwife and she was wonderful. She helped during the stitches. Paul held Bennett through this process. They had to do them inside as well as a few on the labia. She asked me about the area and I said there was already some scar tissue there before. Carlee Ann did a few of the stitches too.
The photographer was helpful and made me some crotch sickles : ) Jamie brewed some sitz bath for my perineum for later. When she was done I reclined on the bed with Bennett on my chest. They had dapped him off, no bath of course. Carlee Ann showed us the placenta. A bit of calcification which she said is normal in older placentas. It was cool looking at it and seeing the bag in which Bennett lived. Carlee took it to do the print for us as well as prep it for the freezer.
Jamie made me a placenta smoothie so I could eat right after. I still needed to pee for Ami which I was able to do later, much easier with the stitches in place. Ami went over the birth certificate paperwork with us as well as some other paper work. They did the newborn exam also. They weighed our little munchkin, he was bigger than I thought he’d be. Measured his length and head circumference. They took my vitals as well. I went through another shivering period which is normal with so much change in hormones. We got our little guy to nurse in a side lying position since he had a bit of a frenotomy which makes it much harder to nurse. I could feel cramping which is good.
At some point, everyone finished everything and we were in the quiet space of our home. I loved that I never had to leave our home. We spent the night together as a family, lovingly falling asleep in each other’s arms.