On August 13, 2016, around 2:00 am I woke up from sleeping in our basement apartment of my parent's home. This happened from time to time during pregnancy when I couldn't go back to sleep. I waited it out in the bed for an hour before giving up. I decided to move to the couch with some headphones to listen to a Hypnobabies track and see if I couldn't get back to sleep. I put on "deepening your hypnosis," and must have dosed off, because I remember coming back to it at 3:45 am with a pressure wave (which just felt like menstrual cramps in my pelvic area). I drifted back, but had another pressure wave at 3:57, 4:05, and 4:15 am. Towards the end of the 4:15 am pressure wave, I felt a release of warm liquid between my legs. I put my hand down there to feel how wet it was. It was wet enough that I was pretty certain my water had just broken.
I got up from the couch and went to the bathroom through the bedroom, calling to my husband, Justin, on the way through to wake him up. He groggily came into the bathroom and I told him my water had broken. He asked if I was sure. I said yes, I was pretty sure. We checked the color to make sure it looked clear enough that we weren't worried about myconeum. It looked okay. Just was pretty adamant that I get off the toilet and back into bed and try to sleep or rest. We had been told that first-time mom's labors are 18 hours, on average, and our biggest enemy would be tiring too early from lack of rest/food. So, I cleaned up and moved into the bedroom to a birthing ball. Meanwhile Justin had been timing my pressure waves from the time my water broke. They were averaging about 4-5 minutes apart and 30-60 seconds long. Each pressure wave on the birthing ball (or toilet for that matter) was bringing more fluid out, which was pretty uncomfortable on the birthing ball (with a towel on it). I moved back to the toilet to Justin's chagrin. He kept pushing me to get back into a resting position. I finally looked at him and said how much I appreciated his concern and how he was so right to be concerned about my rest, etc...but that I really didn't think that a long labor was going to be my problem.
About then I started really feeling like we needed to get things going. I kept saying, "we need to inflate the tub," "we need to turn up the water heater," "we need to text the midwives and tell them my water has broken," etc. But as soon as Justin would leave my side to do any of things, I would call for him and think, "Where is he!! I need him right now!!" The poor guy. I finally repeated my query as to whether he had contacted the midwives. When he said no, I told him, "I need a midwife here now!" He texted and followed up with a call to our midwife, Heather Johnston, at 5:30 am. Heather was on speaker to see how I was doing. We told her the times on my pressure waves. I think I told her I really wanted her there. She said okay, she would come.
I remember hearing Justin try to get her oriented and knowing exactly what to say to get her here, but being unable to say it since I was in the middle of a pressure wave. As soon as it cleared, I got her oriented in just a couple of sentences. She arrived around 6:30 am. I was so relieved when she arrived!
As soon as Heather arrived, we stopped timing pressure waves. Justin got her a stool to sit on and they both set up beside me in the bathroom. I remember Justin asking her about her sister's recent birth (our other midwife). I remember thinking, "Why are you small talking!! Stop! I need you focused with me right now!" I think I shushed them at some point. This part blurs together and I have no idea how long it took. I remember asking if the tub was ready yet. Heather asked if I was ready to move to the tub, and I said yes. She said, "Ok, we can start filling it." "Start???" I thought. Oh, boy...
At some point on the toilet, I stopped being able to tell the end of one pressure wave from the start of the next. It was just more intense and less intense. I remember one or two where I seriously wanted to tense up, get up and protest or scream that this was too hard!! I knew that that would not help and would probably hurt more, so I just tried to stay relaxed through it. Looking back, I believe this was transition for me. And because I appeared so relaxed (from the outside) and because Heather hadn't checked my cervix for dilation at this point, I don't think anyone else had any idea I was already to transition. Especially since first time moms are typically slow (this was about 4 hours from my first contraction).
Our hot water heater did too good a job, and the water was full, but too hot. Now we had to get ice from upstairs to cool it down. All this waiting and Justin leaving my side was really, really hard! Finally, Heather announced that the tub was ready whenever I wanted to get into it. I indicated that I was ready right now. She and Justin helped me up and amidst a "less intense" part of a pressure wave I moved to the birthing tub, which was set up in the front room just off the tile on the carpet. I got in and Justin, just outside the tub, held both of my hands. The first pressure wave that came I made three sort of pushes. Heather said, "Did you just slip, or are you getting pushy??" I told her I was getting pushy. She made a surprised sound and ran out to her car to get some things and call Fara Bitter, the other midwife that would come.
When she came back in she checked me (not too fun!) and said she thought I was at an 8, but that it was hard to tell because of my hands-and-knees position. Heather said that if I hadn't crowned in 15 minutes, she would want to do a more thorough check on my cervix.
At this point, I was at least getting a break with relief between pressure waves. I remember my sister-in-law and photographer, Mickelle, arrived and started setting up cameras, and I remember Fara arrived, but I don't remember in what order.
I remember pushing and pushing. I could feel his head descending. At one point toward the end, I decided to change positions from facing the tub wall to putting my back to the tub and squatting more on my feet with Justin's arms under mine supporting me and me holding his hands. I remember really trying to make low guttural noises and keep my throat open and loose to prevent tearing. I remember thinking maybe this next push he'll come out...maybe this will be the one. I knew we were close. As soon as I changed positions, Heather checked me again to make sure I wasn't pushing against my cervix. About two inches in she exclaimed, "Oh, yep! I feel a head! He's coming!" She confirmed what I thought I knew, but it was a relief to know the past hour of pushing was not wasted effort. I was starting to feel pretty exhausted. To this point I knew I hadn't put all of my energy and effort into each push. Partly I wanted my body to do it so I wouldn't tear, and partly I was just too tired. My feet slipped out from under me at one point and I just kept pushing like that. As his head approached, the buoyancy of the water made it feel like his head was putting pressure on the upper part of my cervix, like it wanted to float up.
Finally, after a pressure wave and a push (with me giving a little more umph towards these last pushes), his head came out and the midwives exclaimed so. I remember throughout the pushing phase, they kept putting the doplar into the water and onto my belly, which I found pretty annoying. I also remember when he crowned and when his head came out, they asked if I wanted to feel his head. I said, "No." I wasn't really interested, and I didn't think I could let go of Justin's hands long enough to do so. They put a mirror into the water for us to see his head. I still wasn't terribly interested. It was distracting to me and my work wasn't over. I know it gives some people the boost they need to keep going, but not me.
I remember being between pressure waves with his head out and I felt a serious amount of movement between my legs all of a sudden. It was not at all comfortable. I wasn't exactly sure what was happening, but I could feel a lot of baby moving, and I said, "Ouch! Can you just pull him out?!" at least twice. The midwives said no, they had to wait till the next pressure wave. It felt like forever until the next pressure wave, which may have been triggered by the next bout of wiggles. Finally, his little body slipped all the way out at 9:47 am, about 1 hour and 15 minutes from getting into the tub and starting to push and 6 hours almost to the minute from my first contraction.
Heather picked him up out of the water and placed him on my chest. His back was just covered with thick vernix. He had given one good scream when he came out of the water and quieted down quickly once he was on my chest. His bright eyes looked around. Justin was able to look right down at him and talk to him. It was pretty apparent that the baby recognized his voice and looked up at him. I loved his "baby fur." He had so much blond hair on his body and his head, which you didn't notice how much, really, because of how light it was. I also remember noting the smell of the whole experience, from my water breaking, to laboring in the tub, to holding my baby. I don't know what the smell was, exactly, but it was very distinct.