On arrival she offered to check my dilation (something that she doesn’t do routinely). I told her I wasn’t sure, because I didn’t want to be discouraged. She said she felt it would be encouraging, and I knew she would only tell me how it was going in positive terms. She checked and said I was 5 – 6 (later she said probably 6 – 7) centimetres dilated, and almost fully effaced. In other words, awesome! Labouring without her we’d got really far. So we continued.
The waves got stronger, and I continued moving around and focusing. M filled the birth pool and we tried that but the ambient air temperature was too cold, so I wasn’t able to relax into it. I ended up positioning myself at the end of our kitchen island, a solid concrete surface of perfect height to hold onto, and that’s where I was for the rest of the time. After a while M sat behind me on a chair and I sat on him between and during some waves. The doula was in front of me, rubbing my hand and offering me water; the midwife to my right, talking me through things and reminding me of the affirmations we had discussed; M behind me, rubbing my shoulders and telling me to breathe and relax.
Some things I did consistently really helped move things along. Vocalizing in low tones from the start to finish of the waves. Keeping my self-talk positive and vocalizing positive sentiments about labour. Staying upright so gravity could work with me. Doing relaxation breathing and sighing between waves. Staying hydrated. Smiling after each wave. Going with the labour as much as possible rather than fighting it – remembering that it was something I had to go through and couldn’t circumvent. There were moments when I understood fully why women want pain relief during labour. I also knew I was probably beyond the point where that was possible, which I think also helped me move forwards.
The process, though out of my control, was quite conscious. I thought through many of the things I’d read over the previous 9 months and applied them to my own body. I’m very grateful that I did read so much and reflect on it. At the same time, I am quite amazed to find that I could overcome my resistance and let go of control in that situation so well!!
Though I had a clear view of the clock on the oven, I made sure not to check the time because I knew it would be discouraging, and that it could become a distraction from focusing on my body. However, at 5:00 I accidentally looked over and felt frustrated. I couldn’t believe I’d been in labour that long (to me :)) and the baby wasn’t here yet! That is about when I shifted to phase 2, pushing out the baby. The midwife says my first pushes didn’t do very much. However, after a while the waves completely took over. It was either push with them or resist, so I went with them. I applied a strategy she’d told us about: to push the baby down with the contraction, hold baby there (rather than let baby retract up the birth canal) and push further during the same contraction. Apparently this worked!
I had a lot of pain throughout all of this through my lower back and pelvis. In discussing after with the midwife she said that yes, it’s probably because baby was posterior (she had switched to this from side-lying in the last week).
After a number of contractions which felt completely overwhelming she let us know she could see the baby’s head. Then I felt baby start to crown – further and further with each wave. I was still leaning forward over the counter at this point, and the midwife said that based on position, it would help if I leaned back onto M. I said (I’m pretty sure) “I can’t” but moved to do this – not comfortable! As I tried to settle in another wave came and I bolted back forward. However, for the next one I settled back and pushed as hard as I could. As I moved the baby down in that last wave, first the head, then the entire body slipped out. There was baby!!!
The midwife caught the baby, the second midwife wrapped/dried the baby and then put baby onto my chest. We held baby, in awe. The biggest conehead we’d ever seen! Our sweet little baby! Here at last!! She was crying, stretching out her lungs, but not too badly.
After a few minutes I looked down and saw her genitals: a little girl! How amazing!!!
I could hear some steady dripping and the midwife said I was bleeding (i.e., more than she would like). The 2nd gave me a shot (oxytocin I think?? for blood clotting), I passed baby to M, and got back up to push out the placenta. I tried to stand but needed support, so had the midwife on one side, doula on the other. It was surprisingly challenging to push out something so squishy! However, it came out after just a few pushes.
The last check was my perineum – only a tiny tear, too small for a stitch. I was done labouring, and everything had gone well.
We all made our way to the bedroom where we snuggled in, baby fed, and then we slept. Amazing and wonderful! Active labour had taken just over 7 hours; the pushing phase was 1 hour, 11 minutes. Baby was born at 6:11 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 14 in our kitchen.
One thing we learned after that makes me feel extra connected to baby: we had been giving baby messages about how to position herself for birth. We kept on saying (as our doula suggested) “head down, arms by your side, and wiggle wiggle wiggle!” (I may have added the wiggle wiggle part as I had been calling baby Little Wiggler for a while). I had been doing a wiggle movement when I’d been saying this to baby, moving my head side to side and then straight up (kind of like a snake charmer’s snake). The midwife said that on the way out, baby’s head had been wiggling back and forth in the birth canal! And she flew straight out of my body – posterior position, so back of head facing up, then shoulders and body out without turning, as is typical. Baby listened so well to our message!! Smart baby!!