Preface : On August 26th, I started to get a cold. I was nervous that I was getting sick so close to my due date (Sep. 4th). On the 29th, I felt a lot better, but knew the cold was still persisting. Also, a couple of weeks earlier, I had tested positive for Group B Strep (which I didn't with my other kids), and had retested on the 29th because I was not only concerned about the antibiotics for the baby and me, but also about the logistics of the reception of the antibiotics interfering with the labor (I knew I had to be attached to an IV, etc..). The test took two days to complete so I was hoping to get the results back before going into labor. Also on the 29th, I had a growth ultrasound done because I was measuring small. I told the midwife that I had measured small with my last baby and she was 7 lbs. 4 oz. She understood and wasn't concerned, but ordered an ultrasound just to be sure. The ultrasound predicted my baby would be 6 lbs. 15 oz. (with a one pound margin of error). The doctor thought the baby looked great, so that was a relief.
With all of this to think about, I prayed a lot, and tried to be calm so that my body could do what it needed to do without stress.
August 31st: One contraction woke me at 4 am. I went back to sleep and another woke me at 6 am. At that time, I couldn't sleep, so I moved to the couch, and listened to relaxing music on my iPod, just in case this was "the real thing". I usually have long labors (44 hrs. and 30 hrs.), so I just tried to relax and conserve my energy. At 7 am, I decided to get in the tub because I LOVE to labor in the water. The rest of my family at this time was still sleeping, (including my husband - kind of. He was in bed but later told me he wasn't really sleeping), so I kept the lights off and tried to be quiet. I was coughing while in the tub, and prayed that the coughing wouldn't interfere with this birth, as the coughing brought on strong contractions every time.
According to the ultrasound I'd had at 20 weeks, my due date (I call it a guess date!) wasn't until the 4th of September, and I'm never early, so I was surprised that I was laboring! The contractions were stronger than Braxton Hicks, but they weren't coming at consistent intervals, so I was questioning whether they would continue or whether this was a false labor. So I just kept to myself, listened to my music and a Hynobirthing relaxation script I'd uploaded to my iPod, etc...
About 10 am: My mom was on the main floor with my other two kids - she had gotten here to help about 6 days earlier. My husband got ready for work (his office is in the basement). He called our doula to let her know what was going on. She said to start keeping track of how far apart the contractions were, told us the labor could progress or possibly stop at that point, and told us to keep her updated. I had my husband make me a green shake, and labored in the tub, on the side of the bed, and on the couch. My contractions were inconsistent - anywhere from 2 to 10 minutes apart, but they were strong. I was sure at this point it was the real thing. My husband and my mom intermittently checked on me and my husband kept the doula updated, as I didn't want to carry on a conversation while laboring.
About 3 pm: I was in the tub, and at that point thought I needed help getting out, as standing up/exerting myself brought on stronger contractions. So I called my husband on the phone to come help me out (lol!). He came upstairs, and from that point on stayed with me while laboring. He put a chair in the shower and I sat on it with the water spraying on my abdomen. It felt so good! I was in there for a while, but then all of a sudden felt nauseous so I got out. We then started walking around the upstairs, and even went downstairs where my kids were doing a puzzle with my mom and watching a show. When I would have a contraction I would face away from him, and he would essentially hold me up so I could totally relax my body/move with the contractions. It felt really good to move my hips with the contractions. A couple of times, my kids asked if I was okay, and I told them the baby was coming out, and that I was fine. They basically just said, "okay!", and went on with what they were doing. It was actually kind of fun to labor in the midst of everyone - something I didn't do last time.
5 pm: We were having a hard time deciding when to go to the hospital because we had several things to take into consideration. 1). With my other two kids, we went too early and I was sent home from the hospital 2). I didn't have the Group B Strep test back yet, and didn't know whether I had to be there 4 hours before delivering to receive antibiotics, 3) I have long labors and I had only been laboring for 13 hrs. 4) My contractions were still inconsistent, though strong.
All things considered, I wanted to be safe about the Group B, so we decided to go.
(On the way to the hospital! I had no idea my husband had taken this pic!)
6:30 or so: My doula arrived. I was elated to see her. She just brings a sense of comfort and relaxation with her. I knew from then on, she would take care of me. Also, the tub was filled and I was excited. The staff covered my IV heplock with a waterproof wrap, I dressed in a hospital gown, and then got in the water. Ahhhhhh....Me and the tub - we just go together. (At least during labor). I was in the tub for an hour or so and was getting hot, so I decided to walk with my husband.
8 pm: It was time for another strip of fetal monitoring, so they attached the monitors to my belly and gave my husband a pack to wear around his neck so we could walk and the nurses could still get a reading of fetal movement. The hospital didn't have this type of technology with my last birth, so it was really nice to not be inhibited by the necessities of the hospital staff! We only walked to the end of the hallway, and then I sat down. The contractions were stronger and harder to find comfort with while I was walking! By that time, my mom had passed the kids off to a babysitter and had arrived at the hospital! Yay! After having only a couple of contractions in the chair, which was right by the registration desk, my husband asked, "Do you really want to labor here?" I replied, No, but that I just didn't want to face getting up and walking again! lol! But I got up anyway and made it back to my room.
I got back in the tub.
9:30 pm: I'm seriously doubting myself. On the outside, I am doing great, and handling the contractions well, but my mind is playing tricks on me this time - I don't know why! I'm just really tired and want it to be over. My doula suggests breaking my water, as my water has never broken on its own. I question it because I know the labor is more intense after the membranes are released, but my midwife tells me that labor is intense anyway - and will probably be a lot shorter if my water is broken. I agree.
She breaks my water and says I'm about a 7+. I'm having stronger contractions and hear my doula say, "Don't pull up with your surges (contractions), go down with them." So I start going with them. With each contraction, I'm rolling like an alligator in the tub. My doula is cradling my head in her arms so my face doesn't submerge in the water. My doula tells me I'm swimming with my baby. I hold that visual in my mind. All of a sudden, my body turns over onto all fours and my noises deepen. I'm going down with the contractions. I feel as though my body is pushing, but it is such a different sensation in this position and in the water that I am trying to figure out what is happening. I'm thinking in my mind, I'm only a 7+, if I push, am I going to tear? No one has any idea I'm as close as I am to delivering this tiny bundle of joy.
10 pm: My midwife tells me, "We're going to have to get out of the tub".
"No, no, please don't make me!"
My doula reiterates that it is against hospital policy and that my midwife could get in trouble if she allows me to deliver in the tub.
I have a strong contraction at the same time my midwife says, "Okay, she's not crowning. Let's get out of the tub."
I declare, "She's in between my legs!"
My midwife and the nurses look down and say, "Oh!" I guess nobody had any gloves on or anything because they had no idea she would be born so soon. My doula tells me to wait so they can prepare for a minute. "I can't!" And out comes her head. Then they tell me to push her out, but my contractions have stopped so I think her whole body is out. I reach down, and sure enough, only her head is out. So then I have to push her body out. We wait for the cord to pulse all of the blood, with its nutrients, to the baby, and then cut it. Because of the water, she comes out clean - no need for rubbing her down with a towel. She is then given to me for skin-to-skin contact.
I was SO happy I was able to deliver in the water. We never intended to do so, but I don't think that I will do another birth OUT of the water, so I hope the hospital changes its policy before my next baby comes :)
(Our new and improved family!)