It must be that babies personalities are shaped somewhat by their entrances into our world. Baby E. is a very easy-going, mellow newborn so far who had a beautiful, peaceful birth at home in our bed.
"In your bed?" you might be asking.
Yes, in our bed. And it did get a little dirty. Baby E. was ready to enter the world before the birthing pool was even all the way filled with water; my body labored extremely efficiently, and our relaxation practices helped to progress the labor very quickly. So, while we didn't have our water birth, as I had hoped, we had a very empowering and successful natural homebirth.
Sunday at 12 a.m., exactly 39 weeks into the pregnacy, I began showing sign posts of early labor. I had a bloody show and contractions that lasted through out the night, though I could sleep mostly through all of them. When we awoke Sunday morning, the contractions were still present, but they were sporadic and easy to talk, eat and walk through. My mother in law came over to help care for the toddler while the hubs cleaned up and I relaxed. She then suggested we go for a walk, and that made me feel really quite good. We came home, and I napped while the toddler refused his normal nap and opted instead to play with his daddy. The contractions seemed to lull during my nap, and I thought perhaps I wasn't actually in labor. When I woke around 3, they reappeared, and I began showing more (unpleasant) signs of labor. If you have a weak stomach, bypass the rest of this paragraph. I had lots of loose stool, and at one point I thought my water broke while going to the bathroom because I felt a huge gush of fluid unlike urination. Many of you mamas know that loose stools are a classic signpost of labor because it's one way the body clears itself and readies mom for pushing.
At this point, I was pretty sure labor was pending even though the contractions still seemed really mild. Have I mentioned I am a huge ninny? Like, huge! I do not handle pain well, so I thought that I really probably was still in very early labor stages if anything. You can imagine how surprised I was around 5 p.m. when my contractions became regular but I could still handle them no problem while draping my chest over the birth ball in the living room. During this time, it was really important for me to have a soft blanket under the birth ball to touch. For some reason it was really soothing, and it helped the contractions sail by smoothly.
We called our midwife, Debbie, around 5:30 when the contractions jumped from being ten minutes apart to 3 to 4. The intensity picked up a little, but each wave of contractions was still extremely manageable. Our midwife listened to my breathing over the phone and decided that based on that, she should come over. When she arrived, she coached me through some contractions and we talked about my first labor and how glad I was to be at home. She was awesome support. Her voice was constant and soothing, and she really hit all of the wonderful spots on my back during each contraction. She then checked my vital signs and my cervix for dilation. I was in complete shock when she told me I was 4-5 centimeters dilated after having only very manageable contractions for an hour. (Remember, I am a HUGE wuss!) I almost began crying I was so happy that my body was doing it's job because with my first son, I was stalled out at the hospital at 3-4 centimeters for 26 hours. That's right, 26 hours! Our midwife celebrated with me that my body was so able to perform during this second labor, and we praised God for it there on the living room floor!
My mom called during this time, too, to let the hubs know she was on her way because she had a feeling I was going to go sooner than I thought. I had talked to her an hour before and told her I still wasn't sure if I was even in labor.
I decided shortly after that I wanted to retreat to my room for quiet and the comfort of my own bed. The hubs was filling the pool when I got upstairs; that's when my labor really kicked into gear and our midwife took one look at me and began scrambling to all of her birthing equipment from the car. I quickly moved from active labor into transition, and the hubs said I showed all of the emotional sign posts of a laboring woman. My body rapidly began contracting at increasingly close intervals, and I found myself saying, "I can't do this!" "We cannot have another baby again!" "This sucks!" "Wow, this is intense!" Those were the signs that I had entered transition, and when our midwife checked me I was at 9 centimeters. As my mom walked in the door, she was told I was at 9 centimeters and said she couldn't believe I went from not knowing I was in labor to getting ready to deliver!
During this time, our labor assistant and doula, both midwives in training, arrived. Becky, our labor assisstant, immediately began helping me with comfort measures while my poor husband and Debbie worked diligently to fill that tub with warm enough water and get supplies together. Our doula, Lynette, held my hand while Becky rubbed my back, each of them telling me how wonderfully I was doing. All three of our labor staff are Christian women, and they prayed with me and helped me relax during the transition stage (read: the part where you feel like your whole body is opening and stretching to maximum capicity). It was quite wonderful, though, like I said it was really intense and the pain was greater than I had ever anticipated. My mother in law arrived in time to start carrying buckets of boiling water to the pool in an attempt to get it filled and warm enough for delivery. But the transition stage was almost over and my body prepared to push before there was ever any hope of the tub being ready. My hubby went into the bathroom and submerged a washcloth in some ice cold water mixed with lavendar essential oil and placed it over my neck, which was relaxing and wonderful feeling during the contraction lulls. Finally, my mom arrived, too, and then I felt emotionally ready to start pushing.
The transition was really intense, and the waves of contractions were extremely hard, but the pushing phase was even harder for me because of the burning sensation around the birth canal and periniem. I can honestly say that was the most painful part. Pushing felt oddly better than him being stuck in the birth canal, but it was very hard work to get him out. I was pushing while lying on my side, but our midwife suggested to go on my hands and knees. I first had the hubs holding my entire weight before demanding the birth ball to rest my chest on. My mom sat in front of the birth ball and rubbed my sweat-soaked head and talked me through the pushing, which helped so much. The hubs rubbed my back and kept me cool with the lavendar, cold soaked washcloth. He was so smart. He even thought to unhook my bra during labor to try to maximize my comfort. I couldn't really say much and I really zoned out during transition and pushing while I prayed for strength and peace. God was awesome to give me both, and he gave me the power to let the contractions really take over my body, which helped give way to a faster birth.
Our labor support staff said, though, that I really only pushed for about 20 minutes, which is really not much. But it felt like an eternity with all of the burning and pressure. Finally, when his head came out, I gave a series of small pushes to deliver the shoulders and a few more to deliver the rest of his body. He came out very gently.
And, oh, the relief when he was out!! He cried pretty quickly. I was honestly so exhausted that I didn't really even hold him for the first 10 minutes or so, plus the after-labor cramps were incredibly painful as was the hip that has been going out of place for how many weeks now. Finally, we did skin-to-skin, and I met my beautiful little boy. He nursed rather quickly and had an excellent latch on the first try. Both the hubs and I were in love! At this point, I noticed how little control I actually had over all of my bodily functions during labor, and I felt like a huge, sweaty mess.
At this point, I also finally realized how many people were at the birth. My sister-in-law and my sister had both made it in time, and it felt exactly right to have all the family there that was at the toddler's birth.
I was really surprised at how painful the after-labor cramps were because the first time around it was not really hard. However, it was soooo extremely nice to be in the comfort of my own bed with my own bathroom and all of my personal-items just a few feet away from my bed. There was no digging through bags for what I wanted, and I knew exactly how to manevure through our space to the bathroom while still very uncomfortable from the birth.
We found out I had a minor tear after our midwife checked me, but, honestly, I was way less sore than I had been the first time around, and it remains that way. We had a good night's sleep in our own bed while the baby decided to sleep, and we have had all of our comforts within our reach -- blankets, clothes, diapers, Lanolin, my favorite coffee from the shop down the street for this morning, soothing pads, essential aroma therapy oils -- you name, we have it here.
So now we're just snuggling in, enjoying learning about our new family. It was the most empowering birth, and it's given me a huge self-esteem boost after our first very hard birth. I am trusting more every minute now the body and instincts God gave me, and I feel very blessed to be able to share our story with you. The toddler is very smittem with his baby brother, as well.