In honor of Mini Mac #1’s birthday coming up I thought it would be nice to finally write out each of the mini-mac’s birth stories. Partly so I can have some written record and remember everything later once my brain is foggier than it is now, and partly so that I can stop telling anyone who will listen all the gory details. And also partly so I can join this birth story link up. Seriously, that’s a lot of birth stories! I love it!
Beginning at the beginning…
Once upon a time there lived a couple who decided to wait until they had been married for five years before having a baby. People told them that these things didn’t go according to plan. People made bets as to when they would get pregnant. And then those people were surprised when things actually went according to plan. And then they told us to slow down once we started having all the babies.
As far as pregnancies go, my first wasn’t bad. I know people can be so much sicker than I was and so I can’t really complain. Still I was pregnant, which for me means feeling nauseous and exhausted for pretty much 9 months. I lived on Sprite and Chex Mix; that pregnancy was the demise of my veganism because I craved grilled cheese sandwiches with a passion and had an aversion to vegetables! Other than that I felt pretty well and was walking and swimming throughout my pregnancy, and on my due date I climbed stairs at the park to try to get things moving.
On my due date, a Friday, the hubs happened to have a day off, so we went out to lunch and to a movie. I thought things could be happening but as I had never done this before, I had no idea what to expect. Then for the next two days, nothing happened. On Sunday we went for a long walk and ran some errands. By the end of the day I was exhausted and generally in a bad mood. I just felt like laying around and resting. I had a hard time getting comfortable in bed and decided to sleep on the couch so I wouldn’t wake up the hubs.
Around 4 or 5 am I noticed I was having some regular contractions but decided to try to go back to sleep. I sent the hubs to work around 6:30 after he woke up, figuring if this was actual labor it could take quite a while. I puttered around the house, packed my bag, ate breakfast, took a shower and finally decided to have him come home around noon. We headed for the birth center around 2:30 since it was about 40 minutes away and we wanted to avoid rush hour. For some reason we made a few stops along the way, including going to the post office, which for the life of me I don’t remember why!
After we arrived at the birth center, the midwife examined me and told me I was 6 centimeters dilated. Unfortunately my labor stalled for about an hour, until we went for a long walk and things picked up quickly.
Its all a blur after that, but I know that I was in transition for a LONG time. My contractions were very painful and intense, and I was in and out of the birth tub several times. The midwives gave me some evening primrose to try and help me dilate. At 37 weeks I had an exam and was already 4 centimeters dilated; the doctor didn’t expect me to go full term. But going from 6 to 10 centimeters took 13 hours! If I had been in the hospital the doctor probably would have given me pitocin or eventually a c-section, but the midwives knew other interventions and manipulations to try to help the baby get into the correct position. My water didn’t break until the end, at which point I had a slight urge to push. I tried to push with contractions but after the first initial urges I didn’t feel those strong “push” feelings anymore; my midwife later told me that she was still quite high when I started pushing and actually pushed her down into the birth canal. The baby had her chin tucked and the cord wrapped around her neck so she took a long time to get into the correct position to come out. She was never in any distress and her heartbeat was strong during the entire labor. My midwives were experienced and I really trusted them to let me know if I needed to go to the hospital.
I pushed for 3 1/2 hours, starting in the birth tub, and then on the bed with the entire birth team surrounding me. I was so exhausted that the hubs was behind me holding me up during each contraction so that I could push, a midwife was at each foot giving me counter pressure, and my midwife was doing some manipulations to help the baby move into the right position. When she arrived, everyone was completely exhausted and relieved and happy that she arrived safe and sound and that I was recovering well.
Both the hubs and I felt as prepared as possible for labor after taking a Bradley class, and I would NEVER attempt an unmedicated birth without some kind of intense training. Its sort of like running a marathon, you really have to prepare yourself and birthing coach mentally and emotionally. You have to have a plan for how to handle the pain and understand the phases of labor so that you can keep calm and get through it. Through the class we had learned what to expect when you’re in transition, and because I was in transition for so long we were really thankful for all the prep. At one point during contractions I started to feel panicky and my midwife reminded me that was normal for transition. The hubs told me that during the pushing phase I asked to go to the hospital, that I didn’t want to do this any more, and he knew that I was so close to being done. What I remember from the pushing phase was thinking that I was done being in labor, that the baby would just stay inside and I would have a rest and we would pick it up another time. I remember wondering if there were any stories where people stopped labor and the babies just waited until their mom was more rested and strong enough to push out a baby.
I had wanted to have a natural birth in the birthing tub, and even though that didn’t happen I was thankful to be in a birth center in a comfortable and warm environment. I was glad that I didn’t need any other intensive interventions and that I didn’t have an epidural (because I was terrified of not being able to move my legs). Looking back on it, it was a bit a traumatic I suppose. Would I do it the same way if I had the opportunity? I don’t know. After it was over I thought, “That was really hard and really painful. But it was doable”.
We arrived at the birth center around 3:30pm but my labor probably really got going around 5pm. Lucy was born at 7:28 the next morning, after a night of intense labor and 3 1/2 hours of pushing.