After a leisurely morning of wondering and waiting labor finally seemed real. Contractions were more regular and rhythmic. We had prepared the house for birth – making our bed as the midwives instructed. Our midwife, Carol, had stopped by to check in and leave her bags. I was laboring well and didn’t feel I needed support yet. Carol agreed but before leaving had a “side-bar” with my husband, Mike. While I was comfortable and doing well, they thought I was pretty far along and would progress quickly after she left. She told him to call her back as soon as we felt we needed her, even if she barely got out of the driveway.
Carol left around 12:30 pm. Shortly after, I took a hot shower. The shower felt good but was short lived. It was hard to get comfortable in the shower and I asked Mike to start filling the birth pool. It took awhile for the tub to fill. When it was finally full it felt great to sink into the warm water. The weightless feeling of being in water brought relief. I was able to float and rest in between contractions and move with ease during them.
Mike was great and kept offering support but I was enjoying being alone with my mind and body. I wanted him close by though, just in case I needed anything. He sat next to the tub, browsing Craigslist. He had music playing softly. He frequently offered me a drink and spoon fed me pudding. Time seemed to pass with a fog as I rested and moved. I would look at Mike’s watch and note the time. Seemingly minutes later I would look again, expecting to be disappointed, only to be pleasantly surprised that an hour or so had passed. I felt at ease and so thankful for the warm water.
Around 3:00 pm he called Carol to return. I was still managing well but things had definitely progressed and contractions were a few minutes apart. She arrived shortly after 3:30 pm. I was still in the tub, enjoying the hands off support and quiet music, but I really needed to move and prepare for each contraction. She quickly made the decision to call the rest of the team. Around 4:00 the second midwife, Joyce, showed up just in time to watch me vomit (thankfully, it was the only time!) Shortly after, Dina, the third midwife, arrived. By 4:30 pm my friend Courtney came over. She was training to be a doula and we would be the first birth she attended. The entire birth team was here but I was pretty oblivious to their presence. They continued to let me labor with Mike while they hung out in our dining room.
By this time I was really glad to have Mike’s support. Mike was able to apply counter pressure on my lower back during contractions and that felt really good. Courtney helped by getting anything we needed so that he didn’t have to leave my side. Every so often a midwife would pop in to see if we needed anything but they were so quiet I didn’t even realize they were doing it. Every 20 minutes or so they would quickly listen to the baby’s heartbeat and every once in a while they would take my blood pressure. Their presence was low-key and hands off yet they were very in tune with the situation. At one point Joyce came in the room and asked Mike what he wanted on his pizza. I vaguely remember him saying he wasn’t hungry and Joyce telling him he needed to eat. Little did Joyce know, I had other plans and they wouldn’t actually get around to ordering pizza!
Carol suggested I try getting out of the tub for a little while and things moved quickly from there. I labored sitting backwards on the toilet with Mike providing counter pressure. When I asked for a towel, he grabbed one that hung on the curtain rod, only to pull the entire shower curtain down with a crash! Needless to say, we had an entire birth team come running in to see if everything was all right. I laugh about it now but at the time I didn’t think it was very funny.
I continued to labor in the bathroom for a while. Mike and Courtney took turns providing counter pressure. I could tell the difference between Mike’s strong hands and Courtney’s delicate touch but both provided much needed relief. They listened and responded to my requests to move up or down along my back. By this time I felt so hot. In between each contraction I communicated in two words – “water” and “hot.” Everyone was great at knowing just what I needed and brought water to drink and cool cloths for my head and neck. While they were awesome, I got very annoyed at saying it after every contraction and snapped “every time!”
I eventually moved into the bedroom for a short while. I tried squatting. I tried leaning. I tried the birth stool. I had a difficult time getting comfortable so I quickly returned to the bathroom. They asked if I felt pressure, among other questions, but all I could say was I don’t know. The feelings were too great to process. Laboring was a lot of work and it took too much effort to talk; but I had plenty of conversations in my head! I remember thinking I must be close to the end. The midwives were monitoring our vitals more often. For a short while contractions had seemed to space out allowing more rest in between but now they seemed very strong and closer together. Resting was harder and I was tired and hot. Then I realized everyone was in our tiny bathroom. The midwives were wearing gloves. I couldn’t help but get excited, thinking it must almost be time to meet our baby.
To continue with my birth story read part four.