For those of you that hang with me through my sporadic blogging, you may remember that we were planning a homebirth for the birth of our third child, who is lying here sleeping in my lap as I write this. As I look down at him going through his series of “going into a deeper sleep-cycle” faces, my heart tightens to think things could have been very different.
Jude was “due” sometime around the first or second of March, and as it was with my first two babies, he took his time. Unlike my first two, I experienced prodromal labor this go ’round. The contractions started getting so regular at one point that we actually had my parents come and get our first two kiddos one night because we thought our little guy was on his way. Or not, as we learned a couple hours later when the contractions ebbed off. Finally, a few days of this happening off and on, March 5 rolled around. I had an appointment with my midwife that morning and had my first internal check of the pregnancy (one more reason I love having a midwife instead of a doctor). Because I had been experiencing prodromal labor, she asked if I would like her to sweep my membranes. Essentially, sweeping the membranes can get labor going if it is “on the fence” like mine was, but this isn’t a guaranteed jumpstart. For me, it seems to have worked.
As the evening of March 5 rolled around, it appeared that sweeping my membranes had effectively locked my contractions into a more regular and progressive pattern. Within the past week or so, I had had a sneaking suspicion that little man was going to start his arrival in the middle of the night, requiring us to wake up not only our midwife and her assistant, but also my parents and our two oldest children. Sure enough, around 9pm, I began to sense that Jude was getting started on his journey. I waited an hour to see if the contractions were going to stop, and when they didn’t ease off, I called my midwife to give her the heads up that I would probably be calling her back later that night. She advised me to try and get some sleep and requested that I call her when the contractions became too strong for me to sleep through. I woke up off and on but managed to get some rest until around 11pm. I then got up with the realization that I was in pain and that I couldn’t stand lying down any longer. I walked around awhile before deciding to wake up Will and begin calling everyone we needed to call. I called my midwife around midnight, and then called my parents. We gathered the kids’ things (they were going to be at my parents house during the birth) and got them downstairs.
My midwife arrived and was coming in right as my parents were heading out with the kids. At this point contractions were starting to get more intense but were still somewhat manageable. Once our midwife’s assistant arrived, she began setting up the birth pool upstairs in our baby’s room (one of the only rooms that would allow enough space to assemble the pool since we hadn’t put his furniture in yet). My midwife regularly took my vitals and then checked to see how dilated I was. I was at 5cms, so halfway there. We all sat and watched a few Cosby Show episodes as I labored, often by hanging onto my husband during contractions. It is somewhat surreal watching the Cosby Show at 3am.
As labor became increasingly intense, I was really hoping the birth pool would be ready soon. It took quite a while to fill it- I’m not sure how long exactly because I was otherwise occupied but I know it took longer than an hour. We watched Cosby until the birth pool was ready and my midwife was sure I was far enough along to get in, so that it wouldn’t slow down labor. I was thrilled when I could get into the water because, while it didn’t take the pain away, it was relaxing and took some of the pressure off. I can’t exactly tell you how long I labored in the pool. My midwife and her assistant continued to do periodic vitals checks and used the heart doppler periodically to make sure Jude was still doing well. Like with my first birth, when the midwife checked me at one point we found that I had a bit of a cervical lip and had to wait for it to fully dilate. I could see that it was getting light out and realized that my assumption that Jude’s birth would be quicker than Asher’s (my second child- his story is here) was not going to be a reality. I remember getting out at one point, relieved, when it was discovered that I was at 10 centimeters and ready to push. I ended up on my bed despite plans to do a waterbirth- it just felt better to me somehow. Yet as we began the pushing process, we found that the cervical lip had come back and that I couldn’t push anymore. There are no words for how discouraged I felt at that moment. I was getting tired. My midwife recommended I get back in the pool and take time to allow my body to rest. Will, the midwife, and her assistant were all continuously encouraging and made sure I stayed hydrated and had food to give me energy. I was in the pool probably for another hour or so, attempting to rest between contractions but realizing that my mind was not having it. I had to fight the thoughts that started coming as my weariness and discouragement grew. (See Part 2 here).