Here it is. I wrote the body of this soon after he was born, and just finished editing it. I'm glad I wrote it when i did, because if I would have waited then it would have been a lot less true to how I felt then. Now looking back, it just didn't seem that bad. But the truth is what was written. It was hard, and painful. Like a lot of women say, "if you remembered how tough it actually was then no one would ever have a second baby." Good thing the joy and love you feel for that thing when it comes out, over shadows and replaces the memory of the pain.
All the pictures were taken by josh, and had I not needed him by my side throughout the whole thing, we would have had A LOT more pics. He said there were a lot of good potential shots if he could be in two places at once. I'm happy with what we have.
Thursday during the day sometimes I would think that maybe “today is the day.” Just maybe I felt a little different, had more pressure, felt a tiny bit of cramping, and just maybe the baby was ready. MAYBE. But every other day was also kinda like that and I would work myself up to thinking, “OK, today could be it.”
I went throughout the day and night doing business as usual. I left work around 6 and headed to the gym, thinking I would just do my standard workout and add a walk on the treadmill to get things going. Guess it helped.
Josh and I made dinner, watched TV (this wonderful Nature episode about Echo the elephant and her herd, very interesting), and then I nested a little bit. I went into the extra room, tried to organize stuff, dusted some furniture we are selling and got ready for bed. I think I was in bed at 12am and was not very happy it was so late since I had planned on going into work on Friday, although I didn’t really want to.
Josh came to bed around 3am, and soon after he got in bed and fell asleep I started to feel little contractions. I wasn’t sure what the deal was but they were long and seemed to have a pattern. I counted and they were about 45-50 seconds each with 5 minutes apart. After a little while I woke josh and told him. We stayed in bed for a little bit, but they didn’t change and there was no way I would be falling back asleep.
When I made the decision to have a home birth, I made the decision to not over learn or over think anything that “could” happen - or that “may” or “may-not” help me. This was my labor and it was going to be different than anyone Else's. I made the decision to surrender entirely to my body and just count on the support of the many women over eons of time who had done this before in less comfortable situations. Also, I’m not one to judge anyone else on how they choose to deliver their babies. To each his own and I don’t knock any other way – this is just what was right for me.
When we got out of bed a little after 4am, I knew at least it was time to blow up the pool. While josh blew up the pool I sat on the couch and kept timing the contractions. The length was still the same; the only thing that changed was the intensity.
At 5:03am I called the midwives’ emergency # and spoke to Karen (after I woke her up). She didn’t seem to think my labor was going to progress quickly, she just said, “ok, sounds good. Go rest or take a bath and call later when something happens.” I bet she thought that was going to be hours! Ha! I called Colleen – my doula – at 5:22am and told her what was going on. She agreed that I should take a bath and to call her when I wanted her to come. I ran a bath; josh made me some Red Raspberry Leaf tea and the warm water felt nice. The contractions were already fast and hard and the water gave me some relief.
I have no idea how long I stayed in the bath; we (actually josh- I wasn’t about to talk to ANYONE) called Colleen again at 6:25am and told her to come.. When I got out of the bath I just lay on the bathroom floor for a while and asked josh to fill up the birthing pool. I couldn’t even think about walking down the hall to the living room. It seemed 18 miles away. That bathroom floor seemed like the perfect place to have a baby. I sat on the toilet at some point and started to bleed, that was my cue to call Karen and tell her the latest. Josh called her at 7:46am told her about the bleeding and she said she would be RIGHT over. I guess that means things were progressing quickly?
I really don’t remember much in between breaks of conscious thought. I remember breathing a lot of deep breaths and concentrating on breathing during each contraction. I would try to imagine spinning at the gym and bringing down my heart rate through deep breaths: in through the nose and out through the mouth. I would repeat that over and over again in my mind. It helped but the pain was intense and I would just want to push through whatever I was touching. I remember sitting on the toilet getting a contraction and just wanting to push my feet though the wall in front of me and push the sink over with all the strength of my upper body.
Somehow josh got me on my feet and helped me out of the bathroom and into the pool which was in the living room. He was so helpful and great and would tell me to remember to breath deep and relax and it helped. I knew I needed to, but hearing it come from him helped so much and I would focus on the deep breaths and keeping relaxed.
The pool was better than the bathroom floor, I liked how it was big enough for me to really spread out and stretch my body when a contraction would come – which was every minute. I have no idea what time Colleen got there, she showed up and helped josh lower the temp in the pool and took over josh’s duty of putting a cold rag on the back of my neck (which was heavenly). I had VERY LITTLE time between contractions at this point and the feeling was unlike anything I had experienced before. Josh told me he had to go park Karen’s car I think that was the call on my phone at 8:31am. I was draped over the side of the pool and unaware of anything going on outside of my mind and body. I tried to picture each contraction as a wave with the tide coming and going it helped for about 2 contractions and I was over that. I tried the flower opening image and that didn’t last either. I just had to not think. Not picture anything, just concentrate on pushing my air and breaths down throughout my whole body. This is what brought me the most peace and made the pain manageable.
I don’t recall when Karen came in or what she started to do, I felt my water break and Colleen said it was good and clear - I think that was when Karen was on her way upstairs (which later she told us that when she came into our building she took the stairs to the left! You NEVER take the stairs to the left to get to us! She had been here countless times and her hurried actions; cost her extra five flights up and down with all her medical supplies). My first memory of Karen’s presence was at one point she was using her Doppler to listen to the heart beat and I asked her if this was what transition was and if I would be having the baby soon, she told me that if I felt inside a little I would most likely feel the head. After another set of strong contractions, I did just that and sure enough the head was not very far away. I don’t know what that really meant to me, but it did give me light at the end of the tunnel. But too far down the road was not very visible. I was living second by second doing everything I could to conserve my energy for the big pushes.
I started feeling like I had to push -it wasn’t a conscience decision to push, I just pushed. My body knew it had to push and it did. I could not have stopped or started pushing on my own if I was told to. It was natural and undeniable. That’s the first time I remember making any noise aside from the long deep breaths I was taking all night. I screamed, well maybe more of a grunting scream- not the blood piercing scream they show in movies and TV. Man it hurt. Badly. There was little time for rest between. I only had time enough to remember to ask josh to call my mom and tell her I was in labor. He called my parents and I remember hearing him say something like “the weather?? I dunno check the internet!” (Apparently, my Dad thought that it was the perfect time for him to ask my Mom to ask josh what the weather was like in NY so they would know what to pack - We all laughed) I called for him to come back. You see I needed him. I needed him there to give me his hand to grab and squeeze and pull and just feel. Oh, and pop his thumb. I remember once when I was deep in a contraction, I squeezed his hand so tight I popped his thumb and thought “oh good I popped his knuckle”. I also needed him there to keep me from putting my head and face entirely under water. With each push and contraction I would put my face down and blow bubbles.
Karen was having a hard time getting a heartbeat and when she found it she said it dropped a little not to worry but she’d like me out of the pool unless I had my heart set on a water birth. I didn’t really care; I just wanted the quickest safest way to get this baby born. We moved to the little sofa (luckily josh thought ahead and there was already a mattress protector over it). Karen’s birth assistant still hadn’t arrived so josh and colleen were both playing multiple roles. I was on my side with my right leg bent and on the sofa and my left leg bent toward me. Sometimes when I had to push, my left leg would cramp up so bad, half my pain copping attention would be dealing with that and I’d yell “Leg Cramp!!!”, start to laugh and they’d stretch me out.
Ok, so there were about 4 giant pushes one right after another on the sofa. Karen told me to use my energy and screams lower and direct them through my body all the way down, to scream the baby out. She said next push and the baby could be here in my arms. The first half of the push I felt the head come out and I immediately wanted to suck it back in stand up and say: “ok, thanks it’s been fun, but party’s over I quit.” I’d rather keep this baby inside than push it out and feel that again. The end was so close, I just had to push the baby out, all 40 weeks of pregnancy and five hours of labor were about this moment right here, this is what it was all for. So I took a deep breath and as soon as I felt that push feeling coming, I went for it. For a fraction of a second, I thought I would die right there. It burned. I felt the baby descend through my body fast. SO fast, and then I looked and saw him go right into Karen’s hands and then he was on my stomach and it was over. Well, mostly.
I don’t remember when – I think then they lifted him up to put on my belly I saw his penis and I said “Oh it’s a boy!” The umbilical cord was too short to lift him all the way up to my chest, so he hung out on my belly for a little until the cord stopped pumping and Karen thought it was good to go and we got that placenta delivered (9:29am).
She asked josh if he wanted to cut the cord, he did. I’m glad about that. What else? I think that’s all you want to hear/read. The rest might be too much information – in case the rest of this wasn’t already. But it involved some stitching up. Fast forward a little bit, I was in my bed with my new nameless babe and being taken care of. He was weighed, 7 lbs 4oz. and measured 19” long. He had a normal sized head and everything else was just right. We lay in bed -he nursed and they cleaned up, fed me and said their good byes. Then there were three. We were in our bed, in our apartment and no one was there to poke or prod me and Sonny It was wonderful. It was everything I wanted. The pain, the experience, the rollercoaster of thinking I couldn’t do it followed by the feeling that I HAD to do it and I WANTED to do it. Finally knowing I COULD do it. That is the best part. I did it, drug free, with my husband by my side the whole time, encouraging and supporting me. I was surrounded by good women who cared for me, and wanted to help me delivery this baby. I could not have asked for anything more. And we lived happily ever after.
Colleen, Karen, Karen's Assistant
Sonny's first real picture