My due date was August 2nd, and since I was induced at 41 weeks 2 days with my first baby, I had already convinced myself that this pregnancy would last at least until 41 weeks.
I refused to let myself be disappointed when I was 38 weeks and still didn’t have a baby. That being said, I joked and speculated on the best possible scenario for my birth day. I would go to church on Sunday the 31st, have my church baby shower at 2 p.m., be in early first stage labor during the shower, and then go home and labor through the night and Madelynn would be born on the 1st of August. That seemed perfect to me because then I would have all the “stuff” that I needed and it would be neat because my other daughter's birthday is March 1st.
The shower went great, and I felt a little crampy by the end of it but I was pretty sure I wasn’t in labor. I was tired but Sundays always make me tired. So my daughter and I headed home with a trunk full of presents and my husband headed to the church to play volleyball.
That night my husband and I got into bed around 12:30 a.m., which was a little later than usual but not by much. As I always did, I woke up around 2:45 a.m. to use the restroom and then went back to sleep. Again as usual I woke up at 4:15 a.m., but before I even sat up I felt moist. When I stood up a nice trickle of water ran down my leg, and I knew it wasn’t urine. I walked to our restroom and went to the bathroom again, but I didn’t feel any more water leak. I walked around the bathroom for a few minutes, trying to see if anything would happen. It didn’t, so I went out to the rest of the house to walk around. I sat down at the computer and answered emails for about 15 minutes. The last email I answered was at 4:44 a.m. I sent a text to a friend at 4:27 a.m. that said “Um, I think my water broke a few minutes ago. More of a leak, so I’m walking around trying to see if it will do it again. No cx’s right now really.”
I tried to eat a few snacks—some peanuts and cashews and maybe some cheese, and drink some water. I knew I would probably need the energy, but I still didn’t think that I was in labor. I refused to believe it until it was really obvious. I was so excited to actually be in labor and I didn’t want to get let down.
I started having some loose bowels and spent a little bit of time in the bathroom. Around 4:50 a.m. I finally had some bloody show and boy, I got really excited! I sent my friend another text at 5:19 a.m. that said “Woohoo! I had some blood and now some contractions. Everyone is asleep!”
Around 5:30 a.m. I decided that contractions had actually started. I was still spending some time in the bathroom with loose stools and I started singing through the contractions. For some reason “Where He Leads Me” was the first song that came into my head. It just so happened that earlier in the night my daughter had woken up feeling sick, so she was in our bed. That worked out well because I went into her room and tried to relax through the contractions. I sent my friend a text at 5:43 a.m. that said “Ok! I’m having contractions but there is no way they are “real.” They’re only like four minutes apart and maybe 45 secs long? IDK. I need to go back to sleep. :-)” I even Googled “erratic contractions” on my phone around that time, because they just seemed too close for the stage of labor that I thought I was in. I also played several levels of Angry Birds Rio. Ha!
I was having a hard time lying down through the contractions, so I finally woke my husband up and told him what had been happening. He practically sat straight up in bed and asked, “What do I need to do? Do you want me to shower?” I told him no, just go back to sleep, and I would call our midwife. He was so excited and nervous.
So at 6:25 a.m. I called my midwife “D.” I told her what was going on, but I didn’t feel confident that I was in labor since it was so random. She told me to lie down on my left side as far as I could while I rested. We knew that Madelynn was posterior (face up, which can lead to a more painful back labor), so she was hoping to get her to flip over. D also told me to call her when things changed.
After that things get kind of blurry. I woke Michael up after another contraction or two because I felt like I couldn’t handle them on my own.
He helped me through contractions. He asked what I needed and I told him to push on my back. I would lean over and he would push. They seemed to be coming so fast. I remember being in three places—the kitchen, with the air vent under me (it’s in the floor) while I leaned on the counter supported by my hands; our bedroom, either leaning on the dresser, hands and knees on the floor, or leaning on the recliner; and the bathroom, with my palms pressed on the counter. Everywhere I went, Michael was right behind me. At first he used his thumbs to rub my lower back while I had a contraction, but as I progressed he used his whole palm, at my request.
D called me back at 7:20 a.m. and I could not answer, so my husband did. Apparently she was a little more awake and had decided that I might be in pretty advanced labor. When she heard me in the background I think her hypothesis was confirmed. She told my husband “She was supposed to call me when something changed!” but he told her that there hadn't been any time! The contractions were so close I was barely getting through one before the next one came. The words “transition” and “double peak” kept rolling through my mind, but I still didn’t believe I was that far along.
D called again at 8:20 a.m. and asked my husband if the pool was filled. We both laugh at that now because not only was it not filled, it wasn’t even assembled! It was in the basement waiting for me to have a nice, slow labor that would afford my husband time to bring it up and put it together. She asked him something about putting it together and he told her that he didn’t think I wanted him to leave me. Boy was he right!
I remember wanting to get in the shower or tub for some warm relief, but I couldn’t because a) I thought I would have a contraction while I tried to get there or get the water running and b) I knew I couldn’t make it through even one contraction without my husband, and I wasn’t sure that he would be able to get in with me.
I also remember my husband asking if he should shower, and I just told him I didn’t want him to leave me. He also needed to go tothe bathroom (it was 8:30 and he had been up for almost three hours without going!), but I remember telling him just to wait. Then as soon as my next contraction was over I said, “Go to the bathroom!” and he ran there and ran back.
D called back at 8:26 a.m. because she was a little lost. I’m pretty sure the noises I was making in the background made her nervous, since she is very accustomed to the distinctive sounds and noises of labor and its stages. I still had no idea.
In fact this thought crossed my mind several times, even from early in the morning: “If this is early first stage labor then I cannot do this. I need to just go to the hospital.” I never voiced that opinion, but I couldn’t imagine that what I was feeling was going to get worse and worse.
Finally D arrived and boy was she in a hurry to get things set up. Nothing was ready! I had planned on double-making the bed (the process of putting clean sheets on the bottom, then a mattress protector or shower curtain, then an old sheet on top) but since I had “planned” to do it during the easy part of labor, it didn’t get done. I’m pretty sure I slept through that part of labor.
From this point until right before I started to push I became stationary in our bathroom, with my hands on the counter and my husband behind me applying counterpressure to my back. I would go between moaning a low “oooohhh” to talking to Madelynn. I just remember saying her name and her nicknames (Maddie, Mada) over and over, with “open, open” mixed in there. That made me feel more in control than when I just said “ooohh” for some reason.
D was in a furry getting things set up, and her assistant C arrived to help. She put a few chux pads around the room, including under me in the bathroom. I think Madelynn was starting to descend because my straight-legged lean became more of a bent-knee stance as everything opened up.
D listened to Madelynn’s heart tones a few times and they were great. Between two contractions she asked if she could check me, and I was happy to hear that. After D checked my dilation the only thing she said was, “Okay, you’re close!” and I remember freaking out because “close” is so qualitative! Immediately I said, “What’s close? Like 8 cm?” and she told me that I just had a “lip” left, so I was between 9 and 10 centimeters. Victory!! I knew I could do this. Every contraction after that was easier because I just told myself that I was getting rid of that lip and soon I could push. I started to notice that pushy feeling and by my noises D could tell I was getting close to pushing.
D told me I needed to decide where I wanted to have this baby—either right there in the bathroom or a few steps away on my bed. At the moment I was having a contraction so I held up a “just a minute” index finger before I answered. She asked me to try having a contraction or two on the toilet to try and break my water (it had leaked earlier but never broke) so I sat down and my husband leaned over me and I wrapped my arms around his neck. He continued to apply counterpressure, even in that very difficult (for him) position. On the second contraction there was a little pop and a good gush, so I moved to the bed.
In my mind I wanted to squat to push, but that had proven very uncomfortable earlier in labor so I didn’t even consider anything else but kneeling while my husband supported me. I ended up on my knees on the side of the bed with him standing in front of me. D and her assistant and my mom (who arrived sometime after D) had fixed the bed up with the mattress cover and the shower curtain from the spare bathroom, plus several chux pads.
I don’t really remember pushing any on my own. I was so scared of tearing that I just let my body push by itself. I know I was making some crazy-loud sounds, at least in my mind, but nothing like screaming or yelling, just very basic grunting and moaning still.
At 9:33 a.m. D said that the baby had crowned, and then she told me to just say “ah ah ah” and blow through the pushy feeling. I follow directions well in this type of situation so I did just that. My husband was still holding me and helping me every minute. I wasn’t just resting my head on him—I was laying on him and pulling him with each wave. I think I was making some pretty pitiful sounds because he starting tearing up, which was probably the sweetest memory I have of my labor. He said it was really hard to watch me in that pain, but without him I would never have made it even that far.
D then said, “The head is out, just one more shoulder and she’ll be here” and before I knew it, she was out at 9:35 a.m.! It wasn’t until then that my water actually broke, and it was a lot. On my birth record D noted it as “about a gallon.” Wow! D caught the baby, and I was still on my knees, supported by my husband. So I sort of turned and lifted one leg over D and the baby, then I leaned back on some pillows and got to hold Madelynn for the first time. She was covered in a thick coat of vernix and just beautiful.
Everything else is just the regular after-birth clean up stuff. D and her assistant C cleaned me up and started washing sheets and towels. Madelynn latched on almost instantly and nursed for a very long time. At 10:41 a.m. my husband cut the cord, after it had stopped pulsating and almost all the blood was gone. My placenta took about and hour and a half to detach and come out (10:59 a.m.), even with Madelynn nursing so well. I ended up having to sit upright on the toilet to give the placenta the extra gravity it needed to exit.
My husband dressed Madelynn for the first time and put her first diaper on. I drank my victory orange juice and then also had a glass of chlorophyll, which turned my teeth green!
D and C made an herb bath for me to help me heal and unwind. It was very hot and smelled like red raspberry leaf tea, the same tea I had been drinking for weeks to help strengthen and tone my uterus. D brought me my cell phone so I could turn on some music, and the first song that played was JJ Heller’s “Keep You Safe.” I was so happy and relaxed!
Looking back on this birth, there is nothing that I would change or want to go differently. I have such a different feeling regarding this experience versus my first daughter’s birth, which involved induction, Pitocin, and an epidural. People say that an epidural is easier, but I now beg to differ!