A little back story: I suffer from PTSD from our firstborn's hospital birth. I had been carrying anxiety about our second son's birth before his conception. The only reason I decided to give it another try was because we decided to do it completely different. An obstetrician would not be our primary-care and we didn’t want to go to the hospital. Instead, I saw a physical therapist and chiropractor to prepare my body, we hired midwives, a doula, and rented a birth tub to birth at home.
July 2, 2015 (38 weeks, 3 days) – It’s the night of a full moon! It’s said that more babies are born around a full moon due to gravitational pull. Pitrelli’s Italian Ristorante has a dish with a reputation for putting women into labor. Greg picked up their eggplant parmesan and I had it for dinner. (Firstborn's labor started the morning after a full moon and eggplant parmesan.)
July 3, 2015 – What I perceive as Braxton-Hicks contractions are more frequent, lasting longer, and the strongest they’ve ever been. I think I knew, subconsciously, that it was right around the corner.
July 4, 2015 – Contractions woke me up. I tried to sleep longer just in case this was it but the contractions were strong enough to keep me awake. These were not Braxton-Hicks. I started timing them and they were 8 minutes apart, lasting 30-40 seconds, for 3 hours. I texted my midwives to give them a heads-up that this may be it. Then by noon, I was having to lean over the couch or bed, rock back and forth with my eyes closed, breathing deeply while Greg rubbed my back; standing upright was just awful.
Emily, my doula, arrived around 3:30.
My midwives arrived around 4:30.
I got in the birth tub around 5:30.
Emily was great. She took over timing the contractions so Greg could finish filling the tub, she did pelvic presses during my contractions, massaged my back, put cool rags on my neck, brought me food, took some pictures and video, spoke to me ever-so gently which was very calming and reminded me that everything that was happening was normal (very comforting for someone who hasn’t experienced a homebirth before), she provided great suggestions on positions, and reminded me to relax my body (I didn't even realize I was tensing up until she reminded me to relax my body) and let my baby move down. She really helped me focus! A doula is a necessity, in my opinion. I’ll never birth without one again!
My midwife said I could get in the tub whenever I wanted (getting in too early can stall labor but I was already to the point of no return so it was fine for me to get in). Man, that water felt good! The room was dark, I had Pandora Chromecasting “Hipster BBQ Radio” on the television… I got in mah zone, yo! I was told I win "hipster of the day” for listening to Hipster Radio while having a homebirth. LOL! At one point a Weezer song came on and broke my concentration and I told Greg, “CHANGE IT,” and Greg laughed and told everybody, “I knew she was going to say that… she hates Weezer.”
My eyes weren’t open much. With every contraction, I would need Greg’s hands to squeeze and it felt good to make low-pitched noises (Thanks Ina May Gaskin!). They didn’t check my progress "down there" once which was great. Knowing I was “only 4 cm” or whatever would have been devastating to my mental state. Never knowing gave me the freedom to let my body work without my mind getting in the way. I was actually surprised the first time I felt pushy! I never felt that with firstborn due to getting an epidural (after an excruciating 33 hours). I felt like I could not stop myself when I felt pushy and the noises I made changed. The tub was perfect for pushing. I was able to relax my entire lower body. It was absolutely fascinating to experience the progress my body was making. My midwife was observing the way my body would contort during a contraction so she suggested a more optimal position and sure enough when I tried it, my body was making faster progress. Just based on my noises, she was calling what was happening like it was a football game tape she had studied a hundred times in preparation for the championship. During one of the pushes, my plug released. That was weird. She told me I could probably feel the bag of water and sure enough I did! Wow. What a gratifying feeling to know that I was making great progress! I was encouraged! Then with more pushy urges, I could feel his head coming down! MY BABY WAS COMING! Oh, happy day! Then my water broke. It was wild to feel that intense POP. The way the contractions felt changed, which my midwife gave me a heads-up about. I felt it much more in my back and could feel him descending through the bones in my pelvis. Crowning was the most painful part, I thought I was going to tear in half, but even then I would only rate the pain level at a 7 out of 10. I pushed his head out in the tub and he started moving… I didn’t realize he was going to be rotating himself to get out. How cool?! Mother and baby instinctively working together.
Then my midwife told me I needed to get out of the tub; he was stuck. From this point forward, I didn’t feel ANY PAIN… it was probably because I went into survival mode for my baby. I kind of dove out of the tub with my baby’s head hanging out of me and she told me to get on all fours and push. Then she told me to get on my back and push. I was pushing with all my might but compared to what I was doing before in the tub, my pushes felt much weaker. I never felt scared or panicked, I fully trust my midwives. Then he was OUT! He came out anterior which I had specifically prayed for because it’s much LESS painful (firstborn was posterior and I experienced agonizing back labor.) At last, he was laid on my chest. I was so happy when I heard him cry. (The consensus between my physical therapist and midwife is that the pressure of the baby's head coming out caused my pelvic floor muscles to spasm around his neck and shoulders and that's how he got stuck.)
Now that I have my second son, I feel like my family is complete. Everyone is here now. Welcome earthside, baby! We’re going to have some fun!
Baby earned his independence from my body on Independence Day, 4th of July at 8:03 P.M.