Our son Luke was born at home on April 23rd at 12:55am after seven hours of active labor. But really, the labor started about a week before that. On April 15th, I had a very busy day and at the days end I started to contract regularly. I realized that I needed to rest and put my feet up, which was exactly what I needed. Then on Wednesday April 20th, I had another couple hours of contractions, but this time it was in the wee hours of the morning and I couldn't go back to sleep. My body was preparing for labor, but in small spurts!
On Thursday, the contractions started around 9pm and didn't cease. All night I was having contractions, but they were 15 or more minutes apart. I kept thinking if I tried to go back to sleep I could sleep through the labor, but no, these contractions weren't going away. So all night I worked at ignoring them, but it wasn't working. Early the next morning I decided to call Marilee, my midwife, to ask her opinion about what was going on, but at that point I didn't think she needed to come to my house. I thought that the contractions would subside the same way they did the week before.
Even though Luke is my second child, my first child was a c-section and I had never labored, so I was pretty clueless about things. I could still talk on the phone and do normal things without having to stop, so I figured I wasn't ready just yet. My mom came over for lunch and I was uncomfortable, but the contractions were still at least 15 minutes apart. Then I took a nap when my older son went down for his nap, and got some rest. After I woke up from my nap, it seems like everything just kicked into gear. Suddenly the contractions were coming more regularly and closer together. I'm not sure about the timing, because I was too busy trying to ignore them still, but I would look at the clock and say, hmm, I think I just had one a few minutes ago. When those contractions had been going on for about an hour I figured I had better call my midwife to come over. She checked my cervix and said I was 2-3 centimeters dilated. I thought, I'm really in labor!
I started to contract more heavily and at least every 5 minutes. She would help me work through them, which I hadn't really been doing too well on my own. I think I was trying to fight through them, but she told me to put the fight somewhere else, by clenching my hands, and to keep breathing, and eventually I got the hang of working with my surges and allowing them to do what they needed to do. I think once I was able to understand how to do that, the labor progressed even faster. I took a shower at her suggestion, but after a few contractions, I felt a little claustrophobic in the shower, so I got out. We ate a little dinner; actually, they ate while I labored and nibbled on some apple sauce. My husband got my son to bed, and my midwife stayed close by, but I was pretty much on my own for a little bit, laboring. We decided to call in the support (doula, sister and mom) around 8pm after it was clear that things were really happening. After I made the phone calls, I went upstairs with my midwife to show her where all the supplies were and to get things set up. She helped get everything set up and I rested in our guest bed, away from the commotion. She came in to check on me at one point and placed her warm hands on my back. I found out a few hours later that she is a reiki master, which is why her hands felt so wonderful and supportive on my back.
Dennis came in to check on me too, after he got Zach to sleep, and then I wandered into our bedroom. Wendy arrived around this time and was helping our Midwife set everything up, and she also helped me with my labor. I remember leaning on Wendy and thinking she was just the perfect height to lean over and let the contraction do its work. She would say "give it over to me" and I would lean on her with all my weight. I was laboring in the bed for a while and don't remember too much, but my water broke not long after. I had a bloody show and tried to go pee, but I couldn't release any pee. I had been drinking a LOT of water, and I knew I had to pee badly, but I just couldn't go. I think the baby was putting pressure on me in such a way that prevented the urine from passing.
At some point in all of this my doula Lori arrived. Lori and Dennis were very good at helping me through contractions. As I remember it, after my water broke, I was pretty much in la-la land and I don't remember too much. I know that I was holding onto Lori's hand with a very tight grip as each contraction came and went, and then I would pant a little bit before the next one came. I was going through transition, but I didn't really know it at the time. I just knew that things were going pretty fast and hard and I felt tired and overwhelmed. I kept saying how I didn't really understand how much labor was going to hurt. I thought I was in pretty good shape and that I had a high tolerance for pain, so it would be a cake walk. HA! I think I was deluded. Labor hurt. But every time I would moan out and say how much it hurt, Lori would encourage me and tell me it wasn't any more than I could handle, and I was doing really well. I can't explain how awesome that was to hear, because I was in another dimension, but just having someone cheering for me was what I needed to get through it. I remember at one point saying that I didn't want to have any other children. I also remember saying that Lori need to remind me how much this hurt because I knew I would forget!
At the very end of the day, around 11:55pm, I had a very strange urge during a contraction where my body curled inward and the pain was very different. I was complete and ready to push. I couldn't quite believe it, because I didn't realize I had gone through transition already, so when my midwife said if I felt like bearing down to go ahead and bear down. I was in disbelief. But that's what I did. The first push I peed all over myself. I guess the pressure came off my urethra because it all came out. Thank god for chux pads. So anyway, I pushed a few times on my side, and then I tried to sit with my husband behind me, and holding my legs back, but it didn't feel right at all. Someone suggested I use the birth ball, so we grabbed that and it was awesome. After each contraction I would flop over the ball and rest. I was sweating profusely. I felt like a floppy noodle. Unfortunately, flopping forward on the ball also undid the work I had just done in the contraction, making the baby move back up, so after a while we switched back to my side lying position and I put a foot up on my midwife's neck, and pushing was a little easier.
The baby crowned not long afterwards, and my midwife worked to help my perineum stretch, which it did rather nicely, but nothing can prepare a birth canal and perineum for a nuchal arm. Yes, Luke came into the world waving his hand over his shoulder. Phew! He tore my perineum nicely, which took a while to fix. He was born at 12:55am April 23rd. He weighed 7 pounds 6 ounces and was 21 inches long. My husband was able to catch him and then we put him on my chest to cuddle. Not long afterwards the placenta came out with almost no effort on my part. After it all I just lay there, in a state of euphoria. I felt so relaxed and joyful. I was so happy to meet my beautiful newborn son. I felt so proud of myself for accomplishing my goal of bringing a healthy baby into the world.