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Pregnancy & Birth

Personal Stories of Labor and Birth

I left work at 2, went to my mom's apartment for some quiet time, then headed home at 5. I stopped to get some gas-- reached down to "pop" my fuel lid-- and felt something else pop instead! I stood up and immediately confirmed it: yup, my water had broken!

I got back into the car and drove straight home. I had a couple contractions-- nothing bad-- but I was good and soaked when I finally parked in my driveway. I went into the kitchen and found my husband, John, washing dishes. "I need you to go get some gas," I told him. "My water broke."

John jumped immediately into freak-out mode. I got him calmed down and convinced him that he wasn't going to have to catch the baby right there in the kitchen. Rupture of membranes doesn't automatically mean labor, after all-- most women go into labor within 24-48 hours after their waters release, but it could still be days.

Nothing much happened after that for several hours. The leaking was annoying-- Rowan wasn't engaged, so his head didn't stop the flood. He did move down a little, so it was a bare trickle rather than Niagara Falls. I had a few contractions, but still nothing to indicate I was going to give birth anytime soon. I went about my life-- ate some supper, watched TV, got the kids fed and bathed and tucked in. John and I went to bed at 10-- but I didn't stay there long.

My contractions suddenly picked up noticeably. Lying down-- even sitting-- was uncomfortable. I wanted to be up doing pelvic tilts-- that felt better. Hmm. This might really be labor, then....

At 10:30, I woke John up. "I need you to fill the pool," I said. "I'm getting in the shower."

We had a kids' "fishy pool" (inflatable wading pool, about 2 1/4 feet deep and 5' across) set up in the living room. It already had some water in it, but I needed hot water-- as it happened, HOT water!

Water is *wonderful* to labor in. It's not called "the midwives' epidural" for nothing! Once it was half full or so, I climbed in-- bliss! Floating through contractions was so much easier than standing through them-- although I ended up  standing up through most of my labor, I think because Rowan's position and descent demanded it. I got into a pattern-- stand for two or three surges, then float through a couple, then stand again. Get out occasionally to go to the bathroom or get into the shower-- the high pressure hot water on my back felt good. Mostly I stayed in my pool, though-- and John added some more boiling (!) water every once in awhile.

I had no concept of time. I'd made John turn the clock so I couldn't see it-- I didn't want to stare at it all night. I'd jokingly said, early on, "Wouldn't it be great if the kids could wake up in the morning and meet their new baby? And I could call Mama and tell her to just stop by on the way to work?" (I hadn't told my mom and sister I was in labor-- I know them; they'd be up worrying all night.) I was expecting to be there for the long haul-- my labor with my older son lasted 17 hours. I figured I had a long way to go.

John set up a camp bed in the living room and slept as much as he could, so I spent most of the night laboring alone in the dark, like a cat. It was marvelous. Not easy-- it's hard work; that's why it's called LABOR. ;)  It was intense. Not painful-- I can't call it painful. But it's... inevitable. Inescapable. Uncontrollable. You can't get away. I kept thinking of that kids' game, "Going on a bear hunt" : "Can't go over it, can't go around it, have to go through it!"

At some point-- John says it was around 1 or 1:30 am-- I realized I was starting to push with each contraction. "Can't be," I told myself. "It's too soon! I'll swell my cervix shut!" But I couldn't help it-- I was pushing. Rather,  my body was pushing, with me along for the ride!

I got up and went to the bathroom. Believe it or not, the toilet is one of the best places to labor, because we're already so used to "opening up and letting go" there. ;)  I spent a few contractions sitting there, then went back to the pool. By now I was roaring through each contraction-- howling like a mama wolf! It's wonder I didn't wake the kids up!

Surge. Roar. PUSH! Breathe. Again. And again. And again... and again... again...

On and on and on. How much can a person take? This is silly-- I didn't have to do this! As a mom with two prior cesareans, any OB in town would have been happy to cut me. But I persevered, and I'm so glad I did!

I didn't feel I was making any progress (although it looked  much different from John's point of view, he tells me!). I started crying. "I can't," I wailed. "No more. I can't do it anymore."

"Yes, you can," he said firmly. "You can. You ARE. You're almost there."

With the next contraction, I felt some burning-- ring of fire? That's a sign that baby is crowning, that the head is almost out. Oh, surely not...

I reached down-- and stared at John. "There's a head there! Right there!!"

And there was-- a hard, smooshy, wrinkly, wet head. Rowan was crowning-- I was about to give birth!!!

John felt it too, and his expression was awestruck. "You're almost done!"

With the next surge, I pushed-- and the head was out to the ears. Then I waited. And waited. The next contraction seemed a month away! That was the only truly painful moment of my entire labor-- having a head halfway out of your body STINGS!!

Finally-- contraction. PUSH!! And-- I had a baby in my arms!!!!! Rowan was born, and I caught him, with John assisting!! WE DID IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

John checked his watch: 4:33 am. I couldn't believe it. 5 1/2 hours from the time hard labor hit, I was holding my baby. INCREDIBLE!!!!!

At 6:30 we woke the kids up. "Come meet your new baby brother!" They were amazed-- talk about the Stork arriving in the night and leaving a little stranger! Then John called my mom: "You might want to stop by on your way to work and meet someone..." My mom and sister came at 7:15 or so, with a box of Krispy Kremes. Just as I had dreamed!

We took Rowan to the pediatrician when he was 6 hours old, where he was pronounced "perfect"-- all 10 pounds, 5 ounces of him!! We even went to Wal-Mart that afternoon. That was fun: "Aww, look, a baby! How old?" "Um... 8 hours." "WHAT??!?!?!??!?" LOL

I did have one complication-- when I delivered the placenta, it came out in pieces-- and it didn't all come out. I wound up with an infection and had to have a D&C on Sat, then spent a couple days in hospital getting IV antibiotics. That wouldn't have happened if I'd transported right away, but I just kept hoping it would resolve on its own. But all's well that ends well-- it's a terribly rare complication, and it was probably caused by my previous c-sections. It certainly won't stop me from freebirthing again, if I should be blessed with another pregnancy! And Rowan wasn't admitted, so I kept him with me and nursed him, so we avoided formula too. Yay! :D

Getting the birth certificate turned out to be very easy. We just went to the Bureau of Vital Statistics, filled out some paperwork, signed a statement swearing I'd been pregnant and given birth, had it notarized, paid $10, and-- voila! Official birth certificate, stamped and filed. No worries.

It was amazing, truly. I'm so glad we stayed home. I got up and took a shower 20 minutes after the birth. I could pick up not only my infant but my toddler afterward without worrying that my guts might fall out. Sure, I was a little sore-- but it was NOTHING next to recovering from major abdominal surgery.

Don't EVER let anyone tell you that c-sections are "the easy way." I wouldn't trade my unmedicated birth for all the anesthesia on the planet. It was phenomenal!!

written by a 31-year-old mother of three 

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