Saturday morning I had started up with some very intense contractions. They were not letting up and I started wondering if I might be in labor. They came and went all weekend and I was starting to get frustrated and nervous that I just wouldn’t be able to do it. Every time I had a contraction, the only way I could get through it was to say in my mind “This is not a real contraction” over and over again.

The contractions hurt so bad because they felt like they were pushing the baby’s head against my pelvis and that she couldn’t get into my pelvis. It was like bone grating on bone. I had experienced the same thing with my third child and ended up going into the hospital to be induced and get the epidural after enduring 12 days of those bad contractions and the anxiety that he just couldn’t fit into my pelvis.

Monday came and I had an appointment for a prenatal check and some blood work with my midwife. I was still having a few contractions here and there, but nothing serious. Around 2:00 my midwife called to see if I was up to going out to get my blood work done and I told her I felt great and to come on over. A couple of minutes later I stood up to walk down the hall and immediately felt sick and had to use the bathroom. I secretly hoped that the nausea and diarrhea were a sign labor was going to start but I didn’t want to get my hopes up. My midwife took me out to get a chicken wrap and a smoothie to get my blood sugar up and we headed to the lab. Talk about last minute. The blood draw went well but I felt even more faint and nauseated.

We got back to my house around 3:30 and listened to the baby. She sounded great and was nice and low. I told my midwife about the frustrating contractions and she suggested wrapping my belly to make baby lie more upright so she could get down in my pelvis. It made sense to me, so as soon as my midwife left I got a baby sling and wrapped up my belly. Not 20 minutes later the contractions started back up again and this time I could feel them in my cervix rather than my pelvis. They were 12-15 minutes apart lasting about 60 seconds long and I posted in my blog that I thought it might be working but I didn’t want to get my hopes up.

At around 6:30 the contractions had progressed from 15 minutes apart to 7-8 minutes apart and I started to have a panic attack. I realized that my labor had started and all of a sudden I just wasn’t ready. There were still so many things that needed to be done. I told David that I wanted to go to the hospital. My friend Emily happened to call at that time to ask if she could borrow a bulb syringe for her baby. She asked me if there was anything I needed and I said “an epidural”. I then told her how I was feeling and she said she’d come over for a while. I decided to get brave and call my midwife and tell her how I was feeling as well. They both came over and talked to me. They let me voice my fears and cry a lot without making me feel bad about it. My midwife told me she wouldn’t make me do anything I didn’t want to do, and that really helped me to relax. She encouraged me to take a hot shower and try to get some sleep and not make a decision yet.

I decided to take a hot bath instead and while I was in the tub the contractions progressed to 4-8 minutes apart and over a minute long. I used a kids ball to lean over so that I could sit up and still relax. I tried not to think about how long it would be or anything at all except the moment I was in at the time. I got out around 11:30.

My midwife had gone home but she had left some Airborne Nightime tea for me to drink. It has valerian in it and she thought it would help me sleep. I had resolved in my mind that this was “IT” so I took a half bottle of red raspberry leaf extract that I had saved for the occasion and mixed it in with the Airborne tea. I’m not sure if that was a fantastic idea or not, but I had saved the extract on purpose so that I could take it quickly rather than take a gallon of tea during my labor. What I hadn’t counted on was the alcohol content in the extract. It’s 40 percent alcohol. I don’t drink, in fact I’ve never had a drink on purpose, but I forced myself to drink it anyway because I was convinced it would help shorten my labor.

The concoction had a very calming effect on me and when I went in to get some sleep I was able to really relax and I actually slept quite a bit both during and between contractions. I listened to a hypnobabies script and really concentrated on getting really relaxed and numb. The contractions were increasing in intensity and I layed on my left side to try and get her to turn from ROA to LOA for better positioning. I could feel her moving and kicking trying to find a better spot until finally at about 2:24 AM I felt an extremely strong contraction and felt her head descend perfectly into my pelvis.

At about that time, Emily, who was still in the living room with her baby, came down to check on me and see if she could head home to get some rest. She asked me how I was doing and I told her I had just had a really good contraction where I could feel the baby move down….and my water just broke. Yes right then. I was giggling because it was so funny. I was laying there soaking wet. I guess that red raspberry leaf was working its magic after all. Luckily my midwife and Emily had put down a bath curtain under my sheet. Emily and David changed it easily and by the time they were done I had changed into my swimsuit and I was ready to get in the hot tub. I waited for my midwife to get there and check her heart tones. She sounded great so out to the hot tub we went. I also had Emily start calling the other friends and family that I had invited to the birth.

You may notice that I haven’t mentioned how dialated I was at any point in this story. Well that’s because I didn’t know. When the midwife came over I asked her to check me, but she was worried it would disappoint me so she wouldn’t do it. When she came after my water broke it didn’t even occur to me to ask her. I was having contractions one on top of the other and needing lots of counter pressure and so my mind was on one thing, getting in the hot water. I think about it now though, and I figure I was about 8 centimeters at that point.

Once I got in the water I was disappointed because my contractions immediately spaced out. Out of the water they were coming every two minutes or so, and in the water they were back to 5-7 minutes apart. But they were still sufficiently strong and the water felt so good that the time between contractions didn’t bother me that much. I was on my knees and during a contraction I would lean forward and David would do counter pressure on my sacrum or squeeze my hips and it was very helpful. I honestly couldn’t have done those last four hours without him.

It was about 3:30 when I got in the water, and at about 4:30 my friends and family started showing up. My sister started video taping me and I spent the time between contractions telling the parts of the story that she had missed. I was happy and peaceful and very content between contractions and during them I felt strong and powerful. When the midwife wanted to do the heart tones she would hand me the Doppler and I would put it right where I thought the baby was and she would get the number. It was always just above my pubic bone. I could feel the baby moving lower and lower down, and since I didn’t know how far dialated I was I concentrated on that feeling rather than a number in my head. It was very empowering and I felt so in tune with my baby. I felt like the three of us, David, Virginia, and myself were all working as a team. I never felt alone. It was beautiful.

The contractions started getting closer together and lots more difficult to get through. I was feeling lightheaded and nauseated. During the contractions I tried many different positions but I ended up leaning my head on the side of the hot tub and just floating on my stomach and relaxing as much as I could. During the contractions I would say “maybe this will be the one when I’ll start pushing” and when they got to the point where I almost couldn’t take it anymore I started pushing lightly to see what would happen. At one point I did that and boom the contraction went away. In my mind I knew that I was fully dialated and I was getting a little break before the real pushing started. I was right. I had about six little contractions that hardly hurt at all and then—boom—the real ones started.

Wowzers the pushing contractions were strong! I thought that transition was supposed to be the hard part but for me, the pushing contractions were excruciating. Nothing seemed to help. I tried so many positions. It was so nice to be able to move around in the water so effortlessly. I tried leaning back. I tried standing up. I tried squatting. I tried hands and knees. In every position David would squeeze my hips right where I would tell him to. I felt so lightheaded, like I just couldn’t get any air. I felt so weak and I wanted to be done so badly. But I couldn’t do anything but keep going. I asked David to check to see if he could feel her head. He did and he could feel it at his bottom knuckle. That was the only vaginal check I had the entire time. Actually, he checked again a few minutes later because the midwife asked him to and it was just past his second knuckle.

I felt her trying to get under my pubic bone which was still sore from a fall earlier in the week. She would move down in tiny increments but she just couldn’t get all the way under. I started yelling loudly all kinds of things. I really don’t think I swore, but golly did I want to. I know I asked God to please help me at one point and the thought came to my mind that I needed to be on my back to help her go under. Finally I gave into that thought and I threw myself backwards and yelled as loud as I could. I felt her head finally slide under my pubic bone and almost immediately she was crowning. I felt her head partway out when the contraction stopped and that waiting for the next one was excruciating.

At some point my midwife had thrown on some old clothes of my hubby’s and jumped in the tub with me. She reminded me that my baby could hear me and put pressure on my perineum. She told me that it was my baby I was feeling. I just kept saying to myself. “I’m almost done. I’m going to see my baby. I’m almost done!” but outside I was blowing and panting trying not to push her out to fast. But the next contraction I had no control. I pushed out her head and then—woosh—her body as well.  It was an amazing feeling. The midwife said she came out perfectly textbook, did a little flip in the water, and then I pulled her to my chest.

My baby! It was surreal! I was dying to see her little bottom to confirm that she was, in fact, a girl, but we needed to keep her in the water and wrapped with a towel to keep her warm. Apparently it was only 40 degrees out there—brrrrr—I was so hot I had no idea everyone was freezing! I thought they kept going inside to let Dave and I have our privacy. Finally I begged to see her bottom and we moved the towel aside and confirmed that yes, Virginia, was indeed a girl!

I was fascinated with her. We just stared and stared into each other’s eyes. She didn’t cry. We just stared at each other. It was so beautiful. I have a baby girl!!! She was born just as the sun was rising and the birds were singing. My big boys had lit a camp fire and the smell of campfire amidst the crisp morning air made everything seem like a dream. Virginia was born at 6:58 AM almost exactly 14 hours after my contractions started.

I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect birth. I am still in amazement that it happened exactly how I had hoped.

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Tamra
I am just a homeschooling mom (6 kids and one on the way!) in her 30s trying raise her family amidst the chaos of adoptions, activities, a photography business and life.