At my 40 week appt with my back-up OB, he suggested a non-stress test for the following week. I took the paperwork knowing that I would never schedule the appt. My daughter, now four yrs old, was born at 42 weeks and 3 days and I tend to have long cycles so I knew that this baby just wasn't ready yet. I had another appt at home with my homebirth midwife at 41 weeks, still feeling good and having lots of contractions here and there about every other day. Emotionally I was ready so I was just waiting for a sign from inside. On January 31st I had contractions for 3 hours straight and I really thought this might be "it," but after a big dinner, a glass of wine, and a nice shower the contractions just went away. I guess our Baby Q. just wasn't ready yet, and some wonderful words from my midwife made me feel very positive about the start/stop labor I seemed to be experiencing. She said, "Every contraction you have now is a contraction you don't have to have later." So, I adopted a wait and see attitude and was hoping the full moon on Feb 2nd would jump start things.
However, we had some events coming up...February 1st is my 13 yr old stepdaughter Melissa's birthday so when nothing happened that day I think she was relieved that she wouldn't have to share her birthday. Also, I happen to have grown up in Puxsutawney, PA...yes...Home of Phil the Groundhog and Groundhog's Day. And yes, it really is like the movie! I knew that if this baby was born on February 2nd he would be forever nicknamed "Phil" by some members of my family and a few friends who have a strange sense of humor, so I was hoping nothing would happen that day. Thank goodness Baby Q. was listening to me! Unfortunately for my husband Luis, the next event was Superbowl Sunday on February 4th. Everyone kept joking with him that I was going to be in labor during the Superbowl. The other joke was that not only would I be in labor during the Superbowl, but that the baby would be another girl. (We have 2 girls and Luis desperately wanted this baby to be a son).
So, as we headed to church on Superbowl Sunday I told Luis that I was having contractions. We timed them as we sat through the service and then at our small group Marriage Enrichment class. The contractions were manageable and about 10-12 minutes apart for 60 seconds each. I wasn't thinking much of them after the 3 hour incident on Wednesday night. I figured if this was really labor we'd have to get passed that three hour mark. I think I surprised some people at our small group meeting when, at the end of the meeting I revealed that I might be in labor, and requested prayers. "Looks like someone will be watching the Superbowl in the hospital," they joked. "Well actually, we aren't going to the hospital." (We hadn't told everyone in the group about the homebirth). There were more wide eyed looks and explanations that I let Luis deal with as I was busy breathing.
The contractions remained the same intensity throughout the afternoon. I was able to take a nap, make dinner for the girls, and basically putter around the house. We had some plans for some friends to come over and watch the Superbowl, but the snow and my labor kept them away. We called our midwife about 6PM right as the Superbowl started. She said she'd check in with me in an hour as I was still able to talk through the contractions. Things started to pick up around half-time and I had to get up and walk around through each contraction. After the half-time show I gave my daughter Lily a bath and got her ready for bed. I think I desperately wanted to get her taken care of and to sleep so I could really get to work. Luis had started to fill the birth tub and it seemed like this might be it, but I was still in denial. After so much start and stop labor I think I was really just waiting for the contractions to stop all together as they had the previous week.
I read Lily some books and she fell asleep in my bed. At that point I wanted to move her to her own room and carried her to her own bed. I know, I know, lifting a four yr old while in labor is not a good idea, for more than one reason! Not only did she wake up, but I think lifting her really got things going. As I lay in her bed with her I had three back to back contractions that were so intense that I could barely lie still during them. Unbeknownst to me, my midwife called at this point and said she was on her way, but my husband told her not to bother that I was resting with my daughter, so she turned around and went back home. I could have killed him when I found this out! After the three 'super contractions' I went downstairs to find my husband who was on the phone talking about the Superbowl to his dad and his brother. "Get off the phone NOW!" I said and turned and went back upstairs, when I reached the top step I had bloody show and called my midwife. She said she was REALLY on her way now. Luis went to lie down with Lily to make sure she was asleep and I got in the shower. It was about 10PM. I was in the shower desperately trying to remember back to my previous labor to compare the pain levels and wondering how far along I was. As I put my cheek against the cold tile of the shower wall I started feeling sick and got out of the shower and asked my stepdaughter to bring me an apple. Not a green apple, but a red one. I was very particular for some reason. I stood there in my robe in the bathroom eating my apple and moaning as Melissa looked worried. She said, "Lori, is there anything I can do? I'm not sure what to do. The only thing I know to do is to tell you to breathe..." She was so cute. I told her I was fine and to just wait downstairs to open the door for our midwife and my best friend, who was coming to support the girls. I felt better after the apple and got into the birth tub. I remember feeling relieved when our midwife arrived and I suddenly became more vocal. I had my eyes closed for most of the next hour but could sense when people came into the room...Luis came from Lily's room, my best friend arrived as well as our birth assistant. I could here them busy at work setting things up and yet it seemed so quiet and calm in the room. I got into sort of a pattern of relaxing while sitting in the birth tub, then turning over to hands and knees when I felt the contraction coming. Leaning over the side of the tub through the contraction and then taking a drink of water at the end of each contraction.
At one point I looked at Luis and asked, "Do you think I can do this?" I think that made him nervous because he later told me that my eyes were glazed over. He gave the correct response though, and said, "Of course you can do this...you ran a marathon." "This is much harder!" I said. Everyone laughed and at the next contraction I felt the most intense feeling from inside my body that I have ever felt. "I FEEL LIKE I HAVE TO PUUUSSSSSHHHH!" It felt like every fiber of my being was being controlled by some other source. I had no control whatsoever and was just waiting to see what happened next. My midwife and birth assistant told me I was doing great and to go ahead and push. I remember thinking they must be CRAZY! They're INSANE, I thought. There is no way I'm ready to push. It has to take longer than this! But I said nothing and pushed on hands and knees in the tub for awhile until they noticed some decelerations in the fetal heartbeat. "Can you feel your baby moving down with each push?" our birth assistant asked calmly? "NO!!!" I said. No I can't, I thought. I don't know what I'm doing. I don't think I'm doing this correctly!! My midwife checked me and showed me her glove which had only about an inch of blood on it. "Your baby's head is right there," she said. "You're almost done." Again, I thought, she's crazy! They are all insane! "Are you sure?" I panted. "Yes," she assured me, "I'm sure."
After the next contraction the decelerations in the heartbeat continued and they had me get out of the tub onto my bed. They told me calmly and without any excitement that the baby might do better in a different position. Luis was supporting me to get out of the birth tub and as I stood up I had another very strong contraction and I almost pulled Luis back into the tub with me. I managed to get onto the bed and into the McRobert's position that was suggested. It was not the most comfortable position, (flat on my back with knees to chest), but I seemed to be moving the baby down and the heartbeat was recovering after every contraction so Baby Q. seemed to like this position better. After about three contractions on the bed my midwife told me to give a big strong push, concentrating inward. That seemed to do the trick and I pushed with all my might! "SLOW! SLOW SLOW! STOP PUSHING!" people were suddenly saying. There seemed to be a huge intake of breath in the room and someone said, "The head is out."
"The head is out?" I said in disbelief. "Yes the head is out," said our birth assistant, "reach down and touch it." I still could not believe I was DOING this and that it was almost over. But I reached down and felt our little baby's very warm and very slippery head. "OK one more push," they said and I pushed with everything I had. I felt like I was pushing against a brick wall, like bone against bone and then all of the sudden, something moved inside me, twisted and gave away, and plop, out slid our Baby Q! Our baby was covered up and placed on my chest and after a few vigorous back rubs started crying and crying. I thought I would be crying as well but I was in such a stupor that this was it! That it was over...in only 2 hours of hard labor of which 40 minutes was pushing...it took awhile for it to sink in that I'd done it! It seemed to have happened so fast! Melissa was sent to wake up Lily to meet her new baby brother and Luis could not wait a minute longer to see if it was a boy or a girl. He peeked under the blanket and said, "It's a boy??? It's a little guy??" It was his turn to be shocked and in disbelief. "IT'S A BOY!" he said and laughed the hugest happiest laugh. Then he checked again to make sure it wasn't the umbilical cord he had seen.
We spend the next 3 hours getting cleaned up, stitched up and acquainted with our newest family member and trying to decide on a name, so happy to have him finally in our arms and feeling so blessed to be entrusted with this little one. After learning that our son was 8 lbs and 7 oz and 21 inches, much bigger than my daughter was, I truly believe that my hospital C-Section with my daughter Lily was just one of the statistics...an unnecessary C-Section for what they labeled "failure to progress," but what I am now labeling "failure to be patient." I am extremely thankful however for the experience I had with my daughter's birth, because had it not happened the way it did, I would have never found ICAN or even considered a homebirth VBAC. I feel like I can handle anything, incredibly strong and extremely vindicated! Thank you ICAN!!