Maeve's Home Waterbith
Sept. 28th , 2013-Saturday- The day before labor 38 weeks 4 days
Finishing up last minute to-do’s before the baby comes that l've been working on for weeks! I spent the day cleaning up, getting things tidied up and in their place. I gave Justin a list of things that I needed done THAT DAY, which he thought he could just finish up tomorrow and I felt really strongly that we needed it done today. When I later told my midwife how much I rushed to make sure the necessities got done she said “Why didn’t you call me?”.
Sept. 29th , 2013-Sunday-38 weeks and 5 days pregnant
8:30am-On the way to to church I noticed a contraction that didn’t feel nice when we went over bumps. I think I said “uh-oh, that felt real…”. Then about 10 min. later there was another one. They were so faint, and difficult to know exactly when it started and stopped so I told myself it was probably going to fizzle out. Justin was constantly saying “maybe we should go home” and “you should call the midwife” with pretty much every contraction, and I would usually reply “it’s probably false labor, and it will just stop if we go home or call the midwife”. Once we were sitting in church they were coming every 5 minutes or so, but still only 30 seconds long and pretty mild but uncomfortable.
*Note: I had been using evening primrose oil capsules for a few weeks internally as my midwife instructed to get things to “ripen”, so since I'd done those the previous night, combined with having some fun with Justin early Sunday morning*wink*, I think that all jump-started contractions and got things going.
9:30am- I decided to go sit out in the foyer at church and paid more attention to how regular contractions were, and my husband followed with one of our daughters since he was feeling anxious and excited. Someone came over and started talked to me and it was interesting how quickly that shut things down. This is why it's so important to set the stage when women are experiencing long or slow to start labors. She needs to feel safe, and have nothing distract her from getting in the zone. I didn't mind though, it was still early labor and I wasn't feeling any rush. I went awhile without any contractions after that.
10:00am -We decided to sit in Sunday school for the next hour, but only made it through halfway before I thought we should leave. We’d both been sitting watching the clock as they came every five minutes. On my way out I asked a friend if she’d still be available to take my youngest later in the day if we needed to, then we got the girls and headed out.
10:40am- We went and grabbed the kids from their classes, my oldest was not happy about leaving and cried all the way to the car.
11am- I went to the bathroom, then called the midwife and left her a message and said I was having regular contractions that weren’t too painful, and that I still thought it was probably going to stop. I then said “just letting you know” and hung up. She didn’t call back and Justin kept telling me to call her again, but I figured since I played it down so much she probably was just waiting for me to call when things picked up. We had some lunch, and I finished running around cleaning up, and even touched up my toenail paint even though I could hardly reach to do it.
12:30pm- The midwife called to see what was up. She said her phone didn’t even ring but she saw that I was calling. I told her they hadn’t changed much, but they were still very regular. She told me to just let her know when I needed her and she’d come. She lives about 20 minutes away. She also said that if I did have the baby that day there would be a third midwife coming because she was having a gallbladder attack. She said “I will do everything I can to be there, but I’ll have her come just in case I have to leave.” I felt so bad that she was going to have to do all this work when she was in pain, but I really wanted her to be there.
When things were dragging, we took a walk outside. I had been hoping we'd have beautiful weather when I went into labor, and I was happy to see I got my wish.
1pm- Justin and I sat down to play skip-bo because I needed something to do. I just bounced on the ball(I love that thing even though it didn’t feel as nice as it did last time) while we played, and pretty soon things started to get more intense. The contractions were stronger, and lasted 45 secs. They were coming every 2 ½ to 4 minutes. I remember I just kept thinking, “by now we had already had Allarie(my second)” and told Justin this was probably going to take a while and I’d have the baby sometime around midnight.
"She needs to feel safe, and have nothing distract her from getting in the zone."
3:45pm ish- Since I thought this was going to take awhile I considered grilling up some food. I started some rice in the rice cooker, then after I had another contraction I started to have my doubts and decided maybe it wouldn’t be the best to cook something right now and make all these dirty dishes. The rice was still on the counter fully cooked the next morning.
4pm- I decided to call my friend Stephanie and ask her to pick up my youngest. She came around 4:20 and I was sending Justin to the store right after to get me some food because we were running low. I really wanted Chick-Fil-A, until he pointed out they were closed Sundays. Darn! He left with our oldest to pickup something else to eat and I sat inside and bounced through a few more contractions waiting for my friend to get my 2 1/2 year old. (Oh how I wish I’d known about doulas!)
Once my youngest was picked up, and I was alone at home, things picked up fast. I called the midwife and told her I needed her now. She said she’d be right over. I watched the clock and it felt like forever before she made it! I remember feeling that suddenly I NEEDED to be in water! But I knew it would be awhile since my midwife needed to get here, set up the tub, and it takes awhile to fill. I wished I'd called her sooner. And if only I’d had a doula who could have reminded me I could use our shower and tub until the midwife came. I was too focused to think of something like that!
5:00pm- Michelle(midwife) showed up and said “where is everybody?”. I told her I sent them to go get me food and she laughed. She said sorry she was late, and that she had taken some meds so she wasn’t in too much pain from her gallbladder. The other midwives were on their way. She checked the heartbeat and asked me a few questions and said “you weren’t early with your other ones were you?” I said no, the earliest was 2 days before my due date. She said “this is going to be a tiny one”. I said “she won’t feel tiny coming out” and she said “no, even the really tiny ones still don’t feel that way, but she’ll be tiny”. At this point I was full on vocalizing through each contraction, and was finding it hard to be comfortable. Sometimes I’d try to stand up in the middle of a contraction because it was so difficult, but standing didn’t feel good either so I’d try to sit back down. I would just start my “oooooohhhhhhhhhhh” through the whole thing and Michelle would say “good girl, good sounds”. Later Justin asked me if I found it annoying that I had all these women everywhere saying “good girl” and “good birthing sounds” and “you’re rockin’ it girl” because he thought it was kind of annoying. Nope, not at all. I loved hearing all the women in the room, quietly encouraging and waiting in the background to help when needed. It was lovely. The next day I saw that they'd even folded some laundry I'd had sitting out and left it for us neatly stacked and ready to put away.
5:30pm- Once Justin got home from the store, I needed him from then on for almost every contraction. I told him I wanted that tub ready now, so he went to help Michelle hook up the hose on the sink because he was worried someone would thread it if he didn’t do it himself. He helped her pump up the tub and put waterproof sheets on the bed and all that. I just sat on the ball out in the living room and started to get really whiny and complainy. Then the doorbell rang right after a contraction. I yelled for Justin to get the door a couple times, but they couldn’t hear me over the pump for the tub so I hobbled over and opened it just before another contraction started. It was Debi, the other midwife (who I had never met before) and she came right in and started rubbing my back while I rolled on the ball and groaned. Now that the other midwives were there Justin stayed with me almost the whole time. I remember Layora running around and trying to chat with the midwives, but she also went upstairs to watch a movie at some point.
While waiting for the tub to get ready I kept telling Justin “it’s not going to be done in time, I just want to get in the tub” and hanging on his neck and groaning. It was getting pretty strong and I had never felt them this bad with Allarie(which was also a waterbirth but in a birth center). I was starting to get really anxious and that’s when I didn’t hold it together so much anymore. I cried a bit every so often, told Justin over and over that I didn’t want to do it, and I even remember thinking for one of the contractions maybe I could just walk away from it... I was pretty out of it at this point and I knew we were getting close. Transition is rough!
6:00 pm-The tub was ready, yay! But it felt too hot so I was waiting a minute to get in. Just then I felt another contraction coming and I told Justin “no, no, no, no…..” and he whispered, “You’re doing it. You’re getting the birth experience you wanted”. I did not like that at all, and as soon as that contraction was over I looked at him and said “don’t ever say that again!” Michelle walked in and said “say what?” so in a kind of punch drunk mocking tone I said “you’re getting the birth experience you wanted” and they both laughed at that.
Soon after I got in the tub and oh no…it did not help. Well, I expected it to help more because I remembered it felt so good with my last birth. But I was already in transition with this one so things were much further along. I told Justin, “this doesn’t make it go away!” and I don’t remember what he said to that. He crouched down outside the tub next to me and let me grab him and continue to whine and complain.
6:30pm- Pretty soon I told Michelle I was starting to feel pushy so she told me to check and see how far the head was in. I felt for it and it was about a knuckle deep.
*Side note-I hadn’t had any internal checks throughout the whole pregnancy which I loved! She did end up having to check me around 37 weeks because she wasn’t 100% sure the head was down and said she could either check or I could pay the $200 to have an ultrasound done. I loved that she gave me choices and let me decide what to do. I had the check at 37 weeks but when I was in labor she didn’t check me once, she just said I knew my body better than anyone and she knew I would tell her when it was time to push. And I did.
It was an interesting experience to see how the baby’s head would slowly move back and forth throughout the pushing phase. It helped me understand the 1 step forward, 1 step back process and how this is important because it allows things to stretch slowly to reduce tearing and trauma to the area. I firmly believe that the goal of the pushing phase shouldn't be to get the baby out as quickly as possible(aside from an emergency), it should be a time to slowly ease the baby down and out at their own pace, helping to reduce the stress on the baby, and the trauma or tearing of the mothers perineum. We had talked before about how I wanted to breathe the baby out and didn’t want anyone telling me when to push unless there was an emergency. I was just going to let my body do its thing. So during the contractions I hated life, but then when they were over I was all excited that we were so close to being done and pumping my fist in the air saying “let’s do this!”. I get a little goofy towards the end.
So then I pushed a little with the next contraction and when I did my body would take over and push A TON. I would only give little pushes and they were very effective. I told Michelle I didn’t like the pressure and she said “well you don’t have to like it.” The other midwives came in and gave some extra encouragement reminding me not to be afraid and telling me “you’ve got this.”
"I firmly believe that the goal of the pushing phase shouldn't be to get the baby out as quickly as possible(aside from an emergency), it should be a time to slowly ease the baby down and out at their own pace, helping to reduce the stress on the baby, and the trauma or tearing of the mothers perineum."
Pretty soon the baby was moving down fast and I could feel the water bag in front of her head was starting to bulge a bit. I held my hand on her head to keep it from coming too quick because I really didn’t want to tear this time, but when her head got really close to crowning I told Michelle “you watch the bottom and I’ll watch the top” haha. Man it burned too. I hate that part. So of course when it got close to crowning I was full on yelling/growling and saying “ouch ouch ouch, it HURTS!!!!” and then I felt a little pop and said “uh-oh” then realized it was the water breaking, so I kept on pushing.
Layora had come down when I started pushing (she probably heard me yelling) and said “you guys were supposed to come get me!”. We told her she was just in time because it would take me a little while to push anyway. I’d already talked to her beforehand and explained that I would be yelling and that it was okay because that’s how I get the baby out. She covered her ears with a smile and she loved watching her sister come into the world.
Right when the pressure was at it’s most intense, I felt the head come out and asked “is the head out?” and they said yes. Michelle unwrapped the cord from around her neck, and I pushed again and she came out the rest of the way. They said “catch your baby Callie!” so I reached in the water and pulled her up to my chest. Woo-hoo! The best feeling ever, being done. She had a little meconium, and Michelle just rubbed her back while I held her until she gave a nice good cry.
We sat for a few minutes and said hello to the new baby while we waited for the cord to stop pulsing. Then it was clamped and cut(I can’t remember if Justin cut it?) and Justin held the baby while they helped me to the bed to deliver the placenta.
Layora sat by me on the bed a bit later while I tried nursing the baby, and the midwives got the herb bath ready in our bathtub. The herb bath was nice, but Maeve was not a fan and screamed through most of it. She was ready to be on dry land I guess.
Then I got back in bed, and Michelle laid the baby down next to me and weighed, measured, and did all the checking while we took pictures/video. Poor Maeve just cried and cried.
I also didn’t tear with this one (hallelujah!), there was just a tiny little nick less than a centimeter that would heal quickly on it’s own.
Justin said that he thinks this was the first birth that he felt really emotional with once the baby was out and he kept saying all that night “that was awesome”. It was nice that he finally felt that way since it never seemed like it affected him the same way with the other two. I think part of that was how much I relied on him with this one, we worked together through contractions so he felt needed. A part of the process. I never needed much support from him during my other labors since they were so fast, and the times that I did he just didn’t know what to do.
The thing I loved most about my homebirth(there are lots of things!) is how much control I had over how things went. I loved feeling safe, and I knew exactly who was going to be there, and I could walk around, eat, yell, get in the tub, be free of wires, and be the one to say when it was time for me to push. Also after the baby is born, I hold her, or Justin holds her, and all the weighing/measuring of the baby happens an hour or two later, right next to me on the bed. Awesome. And of course having an experienced and qualified midwife who I trust and know will tell me when she needs to step in is so necessary.
This birth was my longest and hardest, although it was only 10 hours. I really believe that having danced through my other pregnancies and staying more active helped things to progress quicker. This pregnancy I didn’t keep up with practicing and exercising as much and it really made a difference. Seeing my husband step up into a more active role is one of the things that really fueled my passion to start my profession in helping other couples prepare for a great birth too. I love being able to witness that now in action, seeing couples learn how to bring their baby into a safe, loving environment. What a beautiful way to bring a new life into the world.
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Callie teaches Birth Boot Camp Childbirth Classes and other one time courses for Early Pregnancy, Refresher courses for couples, and a Siblings at Birth Class to help prepare children for the upcoming arrival!. She also serves clients as a Birth Doula in Flower Mound and Denton County, TX. Some of her favorite things are birth, Brene Brown, her three precocious little girls, making new creations for her family or Etsy shop, and stashing treats in her closet for a rainy day. You can check out other posts on her blog or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.