Here it was…THE day, my due date. That date that only 5% or so of women actually have their baby, even though 100% of us fixate on it like it is magic. I had my 2nd acupuncture appointment that morning (acupuncture is said to encourage labor) and honestly, I didn’t have much hope that I would go into labor that day since I had tried just about everything else to naturally encourage labor: evening primrose oil for the past 3 weeks, eaten 6 dates a day for the last 4 weeks, drank red raspberry leaf tea every day for the last 4 weeks, eaten more pineapple than ever, ate spicy foods, went for 3 mile walks. You name it- I tried it, but it was clear that nothing was going to encourage this little one to come out except for him deciding that he was ready. So, I went to my acupuncture appointment that morning and afterwards booked another appointment for 2 days later, sure that he still wouldn’t be earthside.
When my husband got off work that afternoon, we agreed to meet at a nearby mexican restaurant for dinner at 5. As I was getting ready to go meet him, guess what happened…my water broke! But it wasn’t the Hollywood scene where a bucket of water came flooding onto the floor, so I questioned whether or not it was really my water breaking. I called my midwives and they told me to come to their office so they could determine whether or not it was really amniotic fluid. Right before calling them, I sent my husband the following text:
“Don’t go to restaurant. Come home.”
After hanging up with the midwives, I saw my husband’s responses and realized I probably should have sent a more descriptive message to let him know I was ok, oops.
At that point, I drove to the midwife’s office where they confirmed that yes, my water had broken. We decided that if nothing progressed throughout the night (since I was a first-time mom, there was a good chance things wouldn’t start on their own by morning) then I would take a castor oil/lemon verbena mixture the next day to get contractions started. I went back home, sure that was what would end up happening. I got home around 7:00 and at 7:30 a notary was coming to our house because we were in the process of selling our previous home. A few minutes before he was going to arrive, as I was standing in the kitchen, the Hollywood scene of someone’s water breaking happened (turns out earlier was not the main event). So, when the notary did arrive, he was super speedy (and probably a bit weirded out) since my husband told him that his wife’s water had just broke.
Later that evening, around 10pm, I started to have what I thought were just a little bit more noticeable Braxton Hicks that were about 10-15 minutes apart. They weren’t painful by any means, just uncomfortable. We headed to bed a little later, and I was still having the uncomfortable contractions every 10 minutes or so. I was pretty sure that this was the onset of labor. I knew that I needed to get some rest, and tried EVERYTHING I could to go to sleep- birth hypnosis recordings, guided meditation, calm music, even taking Benadryl, but the combination of discomfort and nervous excitement kept me awake all night. At about 1:30am the contractions were still about 10 minutes apart but switched from just being uncomfortable to slightly painful. However, I could still cope through them pretty easily on my own, so I refrained from waking my husband up. They very slowly got more and more intense until 4am at which point I woke him up because I was definitely nervous and a bit anxious. However, I still felt that I could cope on my own and I had a MAJOR craving for donuts- specifically sprinkle cake donuts. The local donut shop opened at 5, so I sent him on an emergency donut run. After our super nutritious breakfast, things started to get more intense. Around 7am, I called the midwives to check in and told them that the contractions were about 5-6 minutes apart now, but weren’t too painful. They told me to update them when they were 3-4 minutes apart, for a little over 1 minute each, and it had been that way for an hour. I also texted my doula to update her on how things were progressing and decided to take a warm bath to help me cope and relax. Also, up through this point, I had been listening to my birth hypnosis recordings as a relaxation technique, helping me to refocus. After my bath, I called my doula again and told her that I thought she should head over soon. At this point, I had my husband take over timing the contractions so I could focus on breathing and relaxing through them. I spent a while sitting on the yoga ball at the edge of the bed, leaning over a pile of pillows.
An hour later, around 8:30am, he let me know that they were 3-4 minutes apart, lasting just over a minute and suggested we call the midwives. For some reason, I tried to tell him we shouldn’t call yet, but thankfully he insisted. At that point, he called the midwife and told her we thought she should head over. The contractions were getting more and more uncomfortable so I again got in a warm bath. My husband turned on calming music for me and turned on my essential oil diffuser of lavender oil. As I was in the bath, I had to close my eyes as the contractions came on and very consciously breathe through them.
My doula and midwife arrived as I was in the bath- around 10:30am. At this point, I was definitely in active labor and was just starting to feel the need to vocalize through the contractions to help me get through them. For the next couple hours, my doula helped me by suggesting different labor positions. She and my husband would switch off massing my shoulders and back and making sure I stayed hydrated and as nourished as possible. (And by nourished, I mean force feeding me an oat/chia seed/protein bite. I did NOT want to eat, but I needed some sort of energy.) My midwife also suggested different labor positions that would help my baby to move down lower and lower (these were also the positions that felt the most intense, aka painful). As I worked through the contractions, the sounds I made were guttural, primal sounds that have never come out of my mouth before. After a few hours of increasingly intense contractions, I started to question whether or not I could really do this. Every time I started to doubt myself, my birth team and husband were there to reassure me of how strong I was and that I was already doing it.
Finally, my midwife told me that whenever I felt like pushing I could. I moved to a birthing stool where I pushed for about 30 minutes. She then had me move back into the bathtub, since I wanted to have a water birth if possible. As I was pushing in the tub, the midwife and her student were using the fetal Doppler and could tell that my baby’s heart rate was starting the decelerate, so they put an oxygen mask on me and she told me that I needed to push him out in the next push or two. At that point, it didn’t matter how exhausted I was or how much pain I felt, I knew I needed my baby safe in my arms. His head came out on the next push, followed by the rest of his body. Moments later, we heard his cries and I held him to my chest. He stayed connected to his umbilical cord for a few minutes so he could get all of the oxygen and nutrients possible. I remember asking “Is he ok? Is he ok?” about 50 times in between laughing and crying. He then remained on my chest as I started to deliver the placenta. But then, getting the placenta out required me to not hold my baby, so my husband held him skin to skin when I couldn’t. Afterwards, the midwives helped me over to the bed, my little guy was back on my chest and he latched on right away.
From the moment my baby was born, it was as if the hours of intense pain, self-doubt, and tears were wiped away and in their place was a euphoric state of love for this tiny baby in my arms.
I am lucky that I had such an amazing birth team to support me and my baby in our homebirth. It was an experience I would not trade for anything and definitely the proudest moment of my life.
I wrote out my birth story in the first week of my little one’s life so I could capture as much detail as possible and not forget aspects of it. It was also a very therapeutic process for me to reflect on my labor and his birth.
I would love to hear about your labor and birth experiences, or if you have a birth coming up, what are you nervous/excited for?