This is a birth story. It's long, because my labor was long, and it's got some gross details. Consider yourself warned!
Working as a team, we were managing the contractions as they came. In between contractions, Dave would be tidying up, or putting together last minute snacks for the birth center. He would drop whatever he was doing and come push on my back when I started to moan. Timing contractions with an iPhone app is a joke. I mean, really? You have to press a button when they start, and then again when they stop, and that's fine if your phone doesn't sleep in between, let alone having the presence of mind to remember to hit start or stop! At one point I decided I wanted to try a contraction on all fours, leaning over my headboard to see if that was more manageable. I got into bed on my hands and knees, and as a contraction hit, I felt a crazy feeling, then a warm gush. I jumped up yelled "aaahhh" and ran to the bathroom. The contraction must have moved the baby to allow a gush of water and other stuff to come out. I felt like things were progressing, so I had the hubby page the midwife. It was around 1:30p at this time. When she called back, she listened to me go through a contraction, and I told her they were about 3 minutes apart, but only lasting 30 seconds. She suggested I call my Doula over, and labor with her until contractions reached a full minute, with similar spacing.
Hubby called our Doula, and she arrived at the house at 2:30p. It was a beautiful sunny fall day. We had our back doors open, and I was just sitting on the end of the couch, facing the outside with the fresh air and sunshine blowing in. Maria, our Doula is amazing. She brought a TENS unit with her, and immediately put it on my back to help me get through the contractions, and to give Dave a little break. The TENS unit immediately relaxed/distracted me perfectly through contractions. For the next 3 hours, I worked through contractions with the hubby, and guidance from Maria. She was timing contractions, and when they got to be about 45 seconds long, 3 minutes apart, we paged the midwife to see if we could head to the birth center. The only thing I wanted to do was jump into the giant tub and soak.
The three of us (Maria, hubby, and myself) arrived at the birth center before my midwife. Since the birth center is unstaffed, we had no way of getting inside. I couldn't stand sitting in the car, contractions were sucking big time at this point- they were all consuming. I was slowly slipping into my own world just to cope and keep a rhythym. After about 20 minutes in the parking lot (seemed MUCH longer) I had to use the restroom so bad. By some crazy miracle, an intern for the birth center showed up to get some stuff done, and was able to let us in. My only focus was on restroom. She asked me what birthing suite I wanted, and I somehow coherently (but probably not nicely) told her to ask the hubby to pick. Once I emerged from the bathroom, I was greeted to the site of my midwife and the hubby leading us to what would be our birth suite for the next 13 hours.
The room was the size of a large bedroom. It was decorated somewhat modern, with beige walls, a king size platform bed, low couches, and lots of great light. I saw the tub, and asked "can I get in?" "Let's get you checked out first, while we fill the tub" my midwife said. I laid on the bed and she was happy to find that I was 6cm and proclaimed that my cervix was amazing. I guess that meant it was doing whatever it was supposed to be doing. Once she was done, I practically ripped off the rest of my clothes (all modesty was gone at this point, and if you know me, that says A LOT) and dove head first into the tub. OMG- it was amazing. Exactly what I hoped it would be. I got comfortable, and let the contractions come as they pleased. I didn't fight anything and slipped into my head. I knew I was making crazy moaning noises, these served a few purposes for me- allowed me to announce when I was having a contraction, distracted me with the sounds, kept a rhythym going, and because I didn't know what else to do. Maria and the hubby sat by my side at the edge of the tub for hours while I went through transition. Transition was nothing at all what I thought it would be like. I expected to get sick like many women do. I expected to have vocalizations of not being able to do it. Instead, I was entirely inside myself. Unaware of time, or anything outside of my body. I do remember after about 3 hours of me being in the tub, my midwife wanting to check to see if I was fully dialated yet. She was able to check me in the tub, and found that I was 9.5cm. This surprised her because she hadn't seen me make any pushing moves/sounds. She said I was too relaxed, and that I would need to try a new position to dialate the rest of the way and start pushing. I believe it was around 10pm at this point.
Here is where things got nuts. I got out of the tub and onto a birth stool. I did not like the birth stool like I thought I would. It was not relaxing for me, and I felt like it would hinder the baby from coming out. While on the birth stool, they did a baby heart rate check with the doppler and found that the heart rate was a little low for what they liked. They asked me to move to the bed and lay on my side. I got up and layed on the bed. The midwife checked me again and found that my cervix had vanished, it was time to push. Except, I wasn't feeling pushy. At all. She suggested on the next contraction, I direct my push towards where she was putting pressure inside me. I did that, and was met with a lot of praise. "Excellent, you just moved your baby down a bunch. We need to keep this up." The assisting midwife held my right leg and bent it at the hip as much as it would go, and my Doula had the left side. The hubby was laying on the bed next to me feeding me water between pushes, and keeping a wet wash cloth on my forehead. I was sweating like crazy. I hated the pushing. Once again, something that surprised me about this experience. I thought I would love pushing, as I could feel the progress and something different than contractions. This was not the case. Mostly because I was under the impression that at some point my body would just take over, and do its thing. Rather, I had to initiate every push, and even though they were incredibly effective, I was laying down and did not have the aid of gravity to secure my progress. Every baby heart rate check was good, so they really wanted me to stay on my side. My legs were restless, this was not how I wanted to be pushing! One of my main reasons for choosing midwife care is because I wanted to be mobile in labor. I wanted to stand, squat, be on all fours, whatever felt best. I finally worked up the energy to leave my head and ask if I could move positions. They suggested I get on all fours and hang onto the headboard. I had a few pushes in that position, and again, I was met with a dropping heart rate, and pushes that weren't as effective, defying gravity. I heard mumblings of "maybe short cord?" and "contractions are not long enough". I caught a glimpse of the clock and realize Saturday had come and gone, it was now Sunday 9/22.
I just focused on the sweating, and the annoyance from every 15 minute BP checks, and every 10 min baby heart rate checks. I was exhausted and just wanted my body to take over. This went on for 6 hours. The hubby was in and out of sleep while I was struggling in my head to remember why I thought this would be a good idea. It wasn't painful, it was just mentally exhausting. I kept hearing they could see the baby's head and that I was so close. There finally reached a time when the baby's head was very low and visible at all times, the midwife said to me "you've been pushing for 6 hours. You need to get this baby out, or we need to transfer to a hospital." I could feel a baby coming out of my vagina. There was no way I was moving anywhere. The midwife suggested we move back to the birth stool to use gravity to get the baby to crown, and ultimately, out. The midwife informed me that once the head was out, I might have problems with the shoulders, and if that was the case, they would move me to all fours again to get the shoulders out (Gaskin manuever). That nearly destroyed my spirit. Since the baby took/was taking so long to descend, I had plenty of time to stretch out and get used to each new phase of pain. The body is an amazing thing. My midwife commented that she would be very surprised if I tore at all. That made me feel good. I moved to the birth stool again, and Dave was behind me supporting me so I could lean back and hold onto his legs. Things moved very quickly once on the birth stool.
I kept feeling more and more burning/stretching to the point where I kept thinking "how is this baby not crowning yet?!" Finally I heard my midwife announce his crown, and then not very much later, his head was out. I thought there would be massive relief after the head, but it was only slightly better. The next thing I knew, the entire birth team was instructing me to push like mad, don't stop, keep with it...and then I felt the biggest relief/rush of my life. I knew exactly what had just happened, and I looked down to see a mix of blue baby, red blood, A LOT of blood, and big testicles hanging out. "Its a booooyyyy" I exclaimed. I felt the hubby relax and begin to cry with raw emotion over the whole experience. I'm sure some of the tears were pure joy for a baby boy. He really wanted a boy (what guy doesn't?). I was on cloud nine. I immediately stood up and made my way to the bed where I laid down and baby boy was handed to me. He had the biggest cone head I'd ever seen, but his eyes were wide open looking at me. He was warm and the softest thing I'd ever felt. He smelled incredible- better than puppy paws, and was seriously amazing, all encompassing, distracting, and I couldn't stop staring at him. I did it! I thought. I really did it. I can't believe I just did it. With the hubby laying next to me, we spent the next 20 minutes fawning over our new baby, trying to decide what to name him, counting his fingers and toes, and just in total bliss. The midwives commented on what a big baby he was. I had no concept of that, I just knew I loved him. They were guessing at least 9 lbs. I couldn't stop thinking about how lucky I was. How much I love my husband, and this new little thing that I just met. I mean, everyone says their babies are perfect immediately upon birth, but really, how can that be true? It is. Some evolutionary shit or something, but it's true.
I still had some work to do, I needed to deliver the placenta, and get baby boy to latch on. I was a little nervous about the placenta, because I could already feel things swelling up, and all my pushing muscles were so exhausted. I was also informed that I would need a few stitches because of the quickness he came out once I was on the birth stool. My midwife instructed me that when I felt a cramp, to give just a slight push. She said "you'll love it, don't worry." I felt a twinge in my uterus and every so slightly pushed. Next came the second best feeling of relief I'd felt that day. Out came a giant slimy placenta and tons more fluid. It felt really similar to when I was home and had that random gush during a contraction. My midwife was right. Next, Maria worked with me to get baby boy to latch on. The hubby and I were still working on names.
With baby boy latched on and sucking away, we went over the list of names on the hubby's iPod. Jacob? The hubby said, "he looks like a Jacob?" I liked the name, but wasn't totally sold on it. Then he listed off Cyprus. "Oh, I like that, can you look up the meaning real quick?" The hubby did, but I already knew that was his name. I had also told the hubby that if we had a boy, I wanted his middle name to be a tribute to my dad's brother, Theodore. So there we had it. Cyprus Theodore. The hubby was busy making the text announcements to friends and family while the worst part of labor began for me- the stitch up. Yowww. Getting lidocaine shots in your hooha after just delivering a large baby is not the best thing. Further more, getting stitched up for what seems like an eternity is not cool either. Eventually the lidocaine kicked in and things were better, but man, that was enough for me to decide I'll only be doing this once! The only thing I could think about next was getting cleaned up. My midwife suggested I get back into the bath, and take Cyprus with me. Yes! Best idea ever. Taking our first bath together and getting cleaned up was yet another experience I will never forget. Cyprus loved the bath, and I loved getting all the birth goo washed away. I couldn't believe how great I felt. Except starving. I was sooooo hungry. I just wanted to get home with my family, eat something, and go to sleep.
Cyprus still needed to go through his newborn evaluation, get his vitamin K shot, get weighed, measured, etc. He weighed in at 9lbs, 9oz (holy crap! My first birth was a 9.5lb baby?!?! Guess they were right all along) and measured an impressive 22 inches. The hubby was beaming and so proud the whole time. He got Cyprus dressed up in going home clothes, we finished everything up with the midwife, and set to head out. We struggled a little getting him into the carseat, we should have brought the manual. Ha, dad figured it out like a champ after a few minutes. Away we went, 4 hours after Cyprus hit the floor we were on our way home. I got everything I wanted out of my birth. Every. Single. Thing.