October 31 at 9 a.m. my water broke. My midwife, Kristen, came about an hour later to check on me. She suggested going on our daily walk, to help the baby descend lower and bring on the contractions.
So hubby and I went to take a walk, which was the longest walk we’ve ever taken, because I was going so slow. Passing trick-or-treaters on our walk, we rescued a stray dog who almost got run over by a car. Jay whistled to the dog to keep it off the road, until the dog found his way home. We also ate some Mexican food and bought Knudsen’s Recharge, an energy drink that has real fruit juice instead of sugar, for the labor we were anticipating. At the grocery store the cashier asked when I was due, and nearly flipped out when I answered, “Tonight.”
At home, we hung out and every 10 or so minutes I had contractions, which felt like severe menstrual cramps. We went to bed early, Jay massaged my lower back and buttocks everytime I had a contraction. I found it helped me to vocalize while I had a contraction. It helped me breathe through it, and it signaled my husband to massage me. I instructed him to massage my cheeks outward, to help me visualize my body opening up to let the baby out.
By 2 in the morning on November 1, I began feeling more intense contractions, the kind that actually makes me feel like pushing. I fought the urge to push by breathing through it, moaning and vocalizing all the way. I told my husband to call the midwife NOW.
Kristen arrived 2:15 a.m. She set up quickly in our bedroom, and called the other two midwives who will assist her. By that time I was on my hands and knees, the only position I felt comfortable in. Everytime I moaned with my contraction, I remembered the old creation myth about the goddess singing the world into creation, calling each creature by name in a song uniquely its own. The vibration of my voice in my belly helped me get through the pain. In between contractions, I felt delirious, almost like I was in deep dreamy sleep. (Thank you, endorphins!!!)
By 4 a.m. I was getting tired, anxious, and worried that nothing was happening. Kristen and the other midwives kept me hydrated with Recharge and some water, kept encouraging me by saying I’m doing a good job. In between contractions, Kristen checked the baby’s heartbeat through her handheld Doppler, and also checked my cervix. When she felt that the cervix was fully dilated and out of the way, she instructed me to push.
By then my arms were so tired of holding my body on all fours. I had pillows piled up in front of me, to rest my head in between contractions, but my arms and thighs were shaking in exhaustion. Kristen suggested I change position.
I stood up, and in frustration, I cried, “Hold me” to Jay. We hugged, and as I got a contraction I found myself tiptoe-ing and hanging off Jay’s shoulder in one push. He took my weight and it felt really good. I felt the baby go even lower with the help of gravity. Jay and I had found our groove. We repeated this process every contraction. Later on Jay told me he could feel the baby kicking through my belly and onto his stomach as I hung my whole body weight off him – the three of us, father, mother and child moving to the rhythm of our own unique birthing dance. He said that before we labored, he was afraid he wouldn’t know what to do, that he might be in the way of the process, or worse, be like the stereotype “waiting room Dad.” When I hugged him he said he felt like a strong man, that he could support me, not just psychologically but in a very physical sense.
As the baby got lower and lower, I kept crying, “It hurts!” My team encouraged me to keep pushing, make it hurt more, I wasn’t sure I could. I entertained fantasies of being magically transported to the hospital and being shot drugs to make the pain go away.
Kristen brought me back to earth by saying that I was ready to deliver. She suggested I go back to my hands and knees. Jay got back to massaging me to open wide during the contractions. With the most painful pressure on my whole pelvic area, I delivered the head, and the baby got stuck right at the eyes. Jay stretched me wide open to help deliver the baby’s full head at the next contraction. Kristen then expertly repositioned the baby to deliver her shoulders and the rest of the body. At 5:27 a.m. November 1 Kristen placed my baby right underneath me and I looked into my baby’s face for the first time.
It’s a girl! My beautiful baby girl!!!
I hugged her and kissed her. She cried so loud and furiously! She also blew the fluid out of her own nose and mouth. She is so strong! Her APGARS is 9/10. She is 6 lbs 10 oz, 18 inches long.
We were still connected through the umbilical cord, and the placenta was still inside me. I suddenly didn’t feel like I had any more strength to push the placenta out. The midwives encouraged me to breastfeed my baby immediately, to trigger one more contraction so I can deliver the placenta. My baby latched onto my breast immediately. She is so amazingly smart and knew what to do. Within minutes, I passed her on to my husband while I delivered the placenta. Once she was back in my arms, my husband cut the cord, and the midwives set to work inspecting the placenta to make sure there were no missing parts that could still be inside me.
After that, the three midwives split up their afterbirth tasks. Shauna stayed with the baby to measure her weight, length, and reflexes. Kristen sat me in an herbal sitz bath and assisted me in a quick shower, while Colette made us all breakfast.