Friday June 1, I woke up at 5 am to a hot flash and a bad stomach ache. It was like a heat wave through my whole body then into an intense pain in my stomach. The stomach pain was familiar and like the stomach ache’s I’ve experienced my whole life. I thought I had to go to the bathroom so I rushed downstairs. When I wiped there was bright red blood and I was happy because it meant maybe something was happening.
I went back to bed but almost instantly contractions started. They weren’t very long but they were already pretty uncomfortable and in my back. They were like a really bad back ache or period back pain. I rolled around in bed, trying to find a comfortable position, but couldn’t.
I woke my husband up around 5:30 and said “okay, lets get up and go to the city cause these aren’t stopping and I’m uncomfortable and no position feels good”. So we got up and packed the car. Our plan was to labor at my mom’s in Winnipeg, since we lived about an hour and a half from the birth centre. We played my hypnobirthing CD and I concentrated on relaxing my mind and body during the ride. Thankfully I only had about 4 contractions the whole ride.
Relaxing Early Labor
We hung out and relaxed at my mom’s. Contractions were only coming about every 15-20 minutes and still short, but intense in my back. We watched tv, took a bath, went for a short walk and I went in the shower a few times throughout the day. I spent some time resting in the bedroom listening to my hypnobirthing tracks and trying to relax. Contractions were sporadic and still in my back despite going on my hands and knee’s, getting my husband to rebozo sift and bum jiggle me, and doing inversions. The doula tricks for back pain I was trying just weren’t working.
Finally, 5:30 PM rolled around. The contractions were sporadic, about 7-10 minutes apart, but a little longer at this point. I called my doula to see if there was anything I wasn’t thinking of doing for the back pain. Here is where doula’s come in handy to have, even if you are one; she suggested to call the midwife to see if there was anything that we weren’t thinking of. I didn’t think of that! So I called the midwife and told her I was probably in early labor. I told her I may be calling her later tonight or tomorrow, and asked what I could do for this back pain. She suggested doing Welcher’s maneuver.
I proceeded to try it. I could only hold it for one contraction and two in betweens. It kind of hurts your back even when you’re not having contractions in your back. It must have done something because about one minute later I had a really long contraction. I could not find a position to help the pain in my back. I went on my hands and knees on the bed, got up to lean over the bed and sway, squatted down, walked around, but nothing brought relief.
When it ended I told my husband it was time for him to turn off his Xbox and help me find a good position before the next contraction. We went to the living room and tried a whole tool box worth of doula positions and tricks and finally settled on a hip squeeze, which brought a little bit of relief.
Active Labor Begins
It gets a little hazy from here as I think this is about the time I entered active labor. I must have gone pee and got a contraction in the bathroom because I eventually never left the bathroom. I was on my hands and knees leaning on the bath tub edge. My husband was there hip squeezing me through every contraction. I told him “I think we better call the doula”, and thinking for a second I added, “and maybe even the midwife” (although I was delivering at a birth centre, the midwives will come to your home to check dilation if you want). Things sped up quite quickly. Leaning over the tub I remember thinking, “hey, maybe I should try moaning now”, so I did and it definitely helped, I should have started earlier.
Our doula showed up first and jumped right in hip squeezing me to give my husbands arms a break. She also rubbed my thighs and butt cheeks between contractions, which I remember feeling amazing at the time.
Shortly after, the midwife showed up and I wanted her to check my dilation. I just about ran to the bedroom between contractions. They were about 2-3 minutes apart at this point and about a minute or longer. I think it was around 8:30 PM. I laid on the bed for the midwife to check my dilation and kept saying to her “please don’t say 4, please don’t say 4” and she goes “6!”. “Oh thank god” I said and was so relieved and happy. She said we better get going to the birth center!
To the Birth Centre
My husband pulled up the car and my doula put her vibrating massager against my lower back and the seat so I could push against it. That worked well and I have no idea how I would have gotten through that car ride without it. My husband was an amazing support. He was moaning with me and kept telling me “we’re almost there”, even though I could look around and see we were still about 10 minutes away. I was aware of everything going on, but couldn’t speak because it would break my concentration.
We pulled into the birth center and I hurried in, not wanting to have a contraction outside or in the hallway. I saw a ladder wall in the room and went straight to it and hung on it. My back and legs felt so tight, like they needed to stretch out. It did nothing so I went to the bed for the next contraction.
I continued with the same coping mechanisms I was doing at my mom’s. Finally, 20 minutes after arriving, I heard the midwife say the tub was ready. I got up and swiftly took off all my clothes and hopped in. Oddly enough, I felt like we had only arrived at the birth centre 5 minutes ago. My husband got in with me to continue the hip squeezing. I thought I was in there for about half an hour, I was informed later that it was about 2.5 hours. I must thank my hormones for doing such a good job!
A Water Birth
I remember the first push feeling take over my body. I was mid-moan and felt myself go from the hhmmmm of a moan to the uugghhh of a push. It was totally automatic. The pushing contractions started but I still had the back pain unfortunately. I had to reach down with my left hand and feel, inside, where baby’s head was for each contraction or I felt very out of control. It went from being able to feel the water bag, which hadn’t broken yet, still inside, to it bulging out, to it popping in my hand. I said “my water just broke” and they said it was all good and clear.
From there I was feeling her head. It was very hard to control not pushing too hard, I made sure I wasn’t holding my breath and was trying to breathe out. I never felt like I had to push with the contractions, they were doing all the work. I felt like if I pushed by holding my breath, she would have flown out and I would have torn.
Her head came out pretty far at one point, I swear it felt like it was half way out… and then went back in. Next contraction it did the same thing, came half way out, and went back in. Finally, the third time, I felt the ring of fire and then major relief as her head came out. We waited for another contraction with her head out in the water.
Apparently 5 minutes went by and finally the midwives said, “you need to push even without a contraction”. I pushed and I’m really not sure if I had a contraction or not, I don’t think I did. She came out, what felt like, pretty easily, no burning or anything. I thought someone pulled her out because she came out so easily. I asked my husband later and he said no one had touched her and I had gotten her out on my own. Immediately it was the biggest feeling of relief ever. I took a second to bask in the feeling of being done.
Baby Hally is Here
My husband had caught her with a little guidance from the midwives. He held her on his chest until I was ready for her. I took her and was so shocked to see neither my husband or myself in her, she was just her own little person.
I got out of the tub after, what I thought, was 10 minutes but was apparently 25, and went to the bed. The placenta still hadn’t come out so the midwives asked me to try to push. I tried pushing, without a contraction, and it finally came out. I made sure no one pulled the cord and refused oxytocin because I was not bleeding. The midwives were amazing and supported all of my wishes. They put the placenta in a bowl on the bed with us. We did not cut or clamp, her cord for 2.5 hours. I was so happy to be able to do that and not have to fight any hospital policy’s.
Skin to Skin
She was skin to skin on my chest for as long as we wanted. We both snuggled in the bed watching our new baby girl search and latch onto my nipple. I had to get one stitch, which I made sure I had to get. The midwives weren’t positive if it was my anatomy or if I had torn. I asked them for a mirror and unfortunately had to tell them that no, this was not part of my anatomy. They were wonderful, communicating with me all the time, as I hate needles of any kind. Baby Hally stayed on my chest during the stitching.
When the midwives were done all their checks with me and the baby, they said we could relax longer if we wanted or head home. We slowly packed up. We dressed Hally in the smallest clothes we had. She wasn’t small or anything, at 7 pounds 12.5 ounces, but I wanted the clothes to fit and not drown her. I put the same clothes on I had labored in, as we had left so fast and forgot to grab some clothes for me. We said goodbye and a million thank you’s to the midwives and assistants and headed out the doors at 4:30 am.
My birth was amazing but see my post “Why you need to keep your postpartum expectations low” to see how I was feeling when Hally came out. It may not be what you expect.