After our extremely successful, textbook perfect unmedicated hospital birth of our first daughter in August 2009, Scott and I decided we’d like a home birth this time around. We found an incredible midwife, Karen, who was willing to work with us, despite my Type 1 diabetes, and are so thankful we did. I am pretty convinced that if we hadn’t done a home birth, Audrey would have been born in a car on the side of Route 66 because of how fast labor was and because it happened during the morning rush hour.
On the evening of November 4th, I started having some timeable Braxton-Hicks style contractions. At one point, they were coming every 3 minutes for an hour. Because my midwife lives over an hour away, and because I was already at least 5 cm dilated, 70% effaced, I got a little nervous and called her. She was at another birth, nearly 2 1/2 hours away from me when I talked to her, and that made me really nervous. If this baby was coming now, she would probably come fast and I wasn't interested in an unassisted childbirth. Soon after I got off the phone with her, my contractions stopped completely. She went ahead and found a backup midwife just in case, and around 10 or 11 p.m., we went to bed.
I had a hard time falling asleep and the baby was moving lots. I was worried I wouldn't sleep at all, so I listened to two Hypnobabies scripts and eventually fell asleep, probably around 1 a.m. At 5:15 a.m., I awoke and was having some mild cramping. I timed them for 15 minutes, and decided to text my doula, Aimee (who lives much closer than Karen). She said it sounded like labor, and unless Karen said otherwise, she was going to head to our house. I called Karen and she also decided to head out, given the traffic in this area and how far she was from me.
At 6:00, I woke up Scott and told him what was going on and asked him to get the birth pool set up. I went downstairs to the basement to shower so he could use the upstairs bathroom to set up the pool. During my shower, things got a lot more intense - it went from regular cramping to "I have to breathe through these" contractions.
After my shower, I went upstairs. I felt very unsettled, like I didn't know what to do, and told Scott this. We made the bed with old sheets and a waterproof layer, and I laid down and listened to a Hypnobabies script. This script lasted about an hour, and at some point during the script, I asked Scott to call our chiropractor and good friend, and Aimee also came in. Our chiropractor showed up soon after and gave me an adjustment - that was heavenly!
Scott kept offering me food - I agreed to toast, but once it was cooked, I didn't want any. I wasn't hungry at all, though I did drink water. At this point in my memory, things really get fuzzy, and time stops making sense. I think I laid on the bed for a while after my Hypnobabies script finished, just breathing through the contractions. Aimee offered to listen to the baby if I wanted to, but the baby was moving and I didn't want to be interrupted, so I didn't ask her to.
At some point, I moved to the floor, to try using my birth ball. I think I tried sitting on it, and that wasn't comfortable. I also tried kneeling on the floor, leaning the front half of my body over the ball. This was OK for a little while, until I figured out that it was making my contractions more intense because the ball was pushing on the top of my belly. I think Karen arrived while I was on the floor, but she didn't interrupt me (bless her!) - I assume she got the information she needed from Aimee and from Scott. Once I was on the floor, I needed Scott to put counterpressure on my back/SI joints. I was grateful that the fan in our room was on and blowing on me while I was on the floor, too, because I was quite warm. Scott gave me a few bites of applesauce, but I still wasn't hungry.
Then, all of a sudden, I NEEDED to be in the birth pool. It wasn't completely full yet, but it was close enough. I stripped down to just my bra, and got in. (I think I was in transition, or nearing it, at this point, but I was never checked during labor, so I don't know). The water felt great. I sat on my bottom, leaning back against the edge of the pool, letting my arms float. I did this for a while, and at some point, Aimee suggested I try leaning over the edge of the pool while kneeling. I tried this position, and it really hurt my lower back, but I realized I did want to lean forward. I then got on hands and knees in the water, and Aimee massaged my lower back in between contractions and applied counter pressure during contractions. I stayed like this for a little while, and things were really getting intense. I started having feelings of "when will this be over?!", "how much longer?!", "I want drugs!", and a little of "I can't do this anymore." To cope, I told myself "this one isn't so bad" and "I can get through this one." At one point, I said out loud, "I'm scared," but it wasn't the traumatizing fear that I experienced during this stage of my first daughter's birth. And then my body started pushing. I kept my mouth open and said "Aaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh" through the contractions, as I had read in Ina May's book. Soon after I started pushing, my water broke. I thought it was her head emerging and was disappointed to find out that it wasn't. When her head did start to emerge, I said "ring of fire!" and I think this was the point where I started actively pushing, instead of just letting my body do it, though this might have started earlier. Once her head was out, I still had work to do to get her shoulders out. They were never stuck or anything, but it was obvious to me that this baby was bigger than my first. Once her shoulders were out, it wasn't much more effort to deliver the rest of her. I don't remember turning over, but soon I was sitting on my bottom again, holding my baby. You can tell in the photos that I was totally out of it. It took a few seconds for me to sort of "realize" that I was holding a baby, and to look at her.
She was really gray and not breathing, so Karen rubbed her chest. She let out a cry,and we knew she was perfect. I sat with her in the water for a short time, then decided I wanted to get out. This was pretty awkward because a) I hadn't delivered the placenta yet, b) I was holding a newborn baby, and c) I was weak from the delivery. But, we made it out of the pool and into the bed, where we waited for what seemed like a long while, but I'm guessing was around 15 minutes, for me to deliver the placenta. I had a small tear that required 2 stitches - much smaller than my first birth, despite this baby being nearly 1.5 lbs heavier and 3 inches longer than my first!
Audrey Veronica was born at 9:37 a.m., weighing 8 lbs 12 oz, 21 1/4 inches long, and had a 14 3/8 cm head covered in dark brown (nearly black) hair! No wonder I felt the ring of fire this time!