(Comments make by Kevin are in brackets )
My labor began while Kevin and I were watching TV at 9:00 PM. I wasn't sure it was labor. I felt something that made me think, "Hmmm, what was that? Could that be something? Is it starting?" What I felt was a very subtle ache low in my pelvis. I wasn't going to call it a contraction because it just as easily could have been a gas pain. A few minutes later I decided it was a gas pain because I had to go to the bathroom. But, when I saw that it was loose stools, I thought, "Well, maybe the 'cleaning out' process has started." I went back to watching TV. About 15 minutes later, I felt another "gas pain", only it was a little stronger. I, again, had to go to the bathroom. On the way back to the living room, I had another contraction. I was pretty sure things were getting started. I decided to let the show we were watching finish and then tell Kevin that this was it.
But, my body had other plans. At 9:30, the contractions were coming about 5 minutes apart. They were strong enough that I had to get up and start pacing. I paced through a couple of contractions and finally decided it was time to tell Kevin this was it. He looked very excited and ready for action. He wanted to know what he could do. I asked him to start filling the tub and to pick up the clutter in the living room. After a few more contractions, I told Kevin, I was skipping the excited phase and going straight to the serious phase. (Referring to the way the stages of labor are describeed in a Bradley book I have.) The contrx were still about 5 minutes apart. I was trying different things to get through them. Pacing, sitting on the birth ball, and perched on the corner of an office chair. I seemed to do the best on the chair so I sat there.
By 10:00, I was becoming very vocal. I was trying to keep the sounds low and gutteral, but some came out screeching. The sensations were low and pulled at my back. Because they were so strong, so fast, I was getting a little scared. I was worried that I would have 12 hours of labor like this because I had 12 hours of early labor with Keith. Kevin started timing contractions. They were 3 minutes apart and lasting 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. We decided to call Nora at 10:30. She said she would be there within a half an hour. While we waited for her, I decided I wanted to get into the hot tub and see if the water helped. It did somewhat, but I didn't get the complete relief that I had read water would give. Kevin was pressing on my lower back with each contrax and that made it bareable. I was getting very loud. I thought briefly of the neighbors and worried that they would think someone was dying and call the police. But, another contaction came and I didn't care anymore. My legs started shaking really bad and I thought, "This can't be transition already." Nora arrived at 11:00. She sat through a few contrax with me in the hot tub and then asked me to come inside. She didn't want the baby to be born out in the cold. We went in and she checked FHT. The baby was doing good. Then she asked if she could check dialation. I said ok. As she was checking, I almost told her not to tell me how dialted I was. I didn't want to get discouraged with the force of the contrax if I was only at 2 or 3. But, before I could say anything, she told me I was at 8 cm. So, this was transition!
I got back on the office chair to continue laboring. Nora sat in front of me and rubbed my legs and gazed into my eyes. Kevin sat behind me to press on my back. Sometime around 11:30, Kevin realized he hadn't set up the temp sensors correctly on the tub. He was messing with it and everytime a contrx would start, I'd yell, "Push, push" and he'd run back and push on my back.
At midnight, the tub was full enough to get in. This time the water was heavenly. Kevin got in with me and continued the back pressure. With the water supporting me, I was able to completely relax. I started to go into myself. There was nothing in my universe but the water and the pull of the contractions. My higher functions were repressed. When I wanted Kevin to get out of the tub, I couldn't speak. I just flicked my head in a "go" gesture and grunted and he got out
I labored on all fours with my forehead resting on the edge of the tub. The contrax were very powerful, but only overwhelmed me when one would start before the previous one had finished. (I remember thinking, "Not fair.") Kevin and Nora were mostly silent. The few times they did say something brought me out of myself and suddenly the contrax were painful. [at this point she was screaming a lot for about 15 minutes, after which Nora started quitely reminding her to vocalize lower, it took a few minutes to get her pitch lower, it was clear to me she was more in control with the gutteral sounds than the screaming]
After awhile (I couldn't see a clock and I had lost my sense of time) I started trying some small pushes. The contrax gradually changed and slowly I stopped vocalizing. While I pushed, I moved back and forth between all fours and sitting upright. Only about half of my pushes felt effective. Meaning, I only felt the baby move down some of the time. I think that is because feeling that movement scared me. It was so powerful and huge. Something in the way I breathed or grunted told Nora which pushes were working and she would say, "That's it. Just like that." Hearing her voice reassured me now and encouraged me to push well.
I'd been pushing for sometime (I don't know how long, but it felt like quite awhile) when Nora suggested I get out of the tub and let gravity help bring the baby down. I really made an effort to get out, but as soon as the water wasn't supporting me, I felt exhausted. The baby's head felt like it was between my legs and I thought I would squish it if I stood up. I decided to stay in the tub and resolved in my mind to push better. I knelt more upright and pushed and grunted. I could feel the baby moving down with most every contrax. Nora asked if she could check the FHT again. I pushed my belly up out of the water. The baby was doing great. Then, Nora wanted to check how far down the baby was. As she did, I felt the water break. A small pop. She asked if I felt that. I asked, "Was it clear?" She said, "Yes". I kept pushing. Nora said she could just see the head. In my head, I was starting to panic a little. I was wearing out and I thought I would never get the baby out. I pushed and pushed. I could feel the baby move backward everytime the contraction stopped. But, slowly, the baby came down. I felt a small sting as the head started out. It hurt more and more and I was sure the head would pop out any second. Then, Nora told me the head was just coming out and I'd be done soon. So, I knew it was going to burn a lot more. More pushing and grunting and breathing. The burning was concentrated upward. I was afraid I was going to tear through my urethra. I reached down and felt my baby's head. Nora let me know as each feature came out. There's the forehead. The eyes. An ear. The nose. And the heads out! Nora slipped one loop of cord from around the neck. I relaxed and caught my breath. (And to be totally honest - I thought, "Just pull it out. I can't do this anymore.) I pushed some more and my baby slithered out of me. Nora scooped him up. I saw a little penis and said, "I know why he didn't want to come out." We had been sure the baby was a girl and had said she and her through the whole pregnancy. But, here was our little boy. Nora put him on my chest. He gave a little cry and Kevin and I said hello and soothed him. Then, he just looked at us and calmed right down. He was born at 3:44AM. Calvin was gray, so we rubbed him until he pinked up. At about 5 minutes old, I put him to my breast and he latched on perfectly. [ Nora clamped the cord and had me cut it] We nursed for a half hour.
Now it was time for the placenta. Always, my least favorite part. Kevin took Calvin (I'm not sure when the cord was cut.) and I proceded to push out the placenta. The contractions hurt so bad. Worse then anything during labor. It took three contrax and pushing mightily over a half an hour and the placenta came out. The membranes were still attached and Nora had gone to the bathroom, so I just sat waiting for her. I didn't know if I should pull on them. When Nora got there, she slowly twisted the membranes and they detached and came out. Nora showed us the placenta. The cord was attached well and in the center. She showed us that there was a dead, gray spot. It was about 10% of the placenta. Nora said that probably happened when I had PIH. I'm really glad it didn't last any longer than it did.
As I got out of the tub and dried off, I felt great. Totally energized. I felt like I could do it all again.
Nora checked Calvin and me over. Cal was perfect. 9 lbs. 6 oz and 21 in. I had a 2nd degree tear on the bottom not the top. Nora gave me 3 stitches. She said instead of closing the wound she just brought the edges together. I think that made all the difference in my healing. I healed quickly and without any itching or pain.
Nora told me I pushed for 1 1/2 hours. She told me I was beautiful and that I did a wonderful job. I don't think I could have found a better midwife. She gave me exactly what I needed through the pregnancy, labor and birth.
Nora went home at 6:00AM. We went to bed and stared at our son! :-)