I began my prenatal care with Darcy’s pregnancy at a birth center. I had some issues with “white coat hypertension” meaning my blood pressure would spike when it was time for it to be taken, but was otherwise fine. I was less than pleased with how this was handled, and decided to try and find another midwife for this pregnancy.
I asked Danny to consider a home birth midwife, Kelli, whom I had researched and heard to be great. We went to a consultation and I was immediately confident that this was the direction I wanted to go in. Danny’s worries about home birth were alleviated after the consultation so we made the switch, 6 months into my pregnancy.
We didn’t take the decision lightly at all, but I was and am of the attitude that I’m only going to give birth so many times in my life, and as much as it depended on me, I was going to seek the kind of care any pregnant woman deserves, whether from a midwife or a doctor. I was also going to fight to have the kind of birth I personally wanted as a low-risk pregnant woman – unhindered, allowed to listen to my body, be present mentally and physically, push in whatever position I wanted, etc.. We did not choose to make this decision to switch public beyond family and a few friends.
Amazingly enough, but not at all surprising, my white coat hypertension disappeared under Kelli’s care.
Danny = husband
Olive = daughter, 20 months at the time
Karen = mother-in-law
Courtney = sister.
I woke up on July 30 at 6:15 am. Not normal for me, but I was awake and feeling “off”. I had some contractions, but they were pretty far apart. Olive woke up at 6:45 or so and I made her breakfast and put her in front of the TV so I could figure out what was going on with my body. (I was induced with Olive, so I never got to experience what it was like to go into labor on my own before) The contractions were probably every 10 to 15 minutes apart at this point.
Karen came to get Olive at 8:30 to spend the morning together and I packed some extra stuff, thinking that today might be the day and Olive might be gone for longer than just the morning if I was in labor. I laid back down and my contractions spaced out to every 30 minutes apart, sometimes every 20.
At about 11 or so, Courtney and I decided to go to Panera for lunch. I had a couple contractions while we were gone, but again, they were very far apart and not regular.
On the way home from lunch, I felt like I had been hit by a truck and could think of nothing but sleep. I wanted to listen to my body, and my body was telling me to sleep, so when we got home that is exactly what I did. I took a great nap, had some contractions throughout, but rested really, really well.
We were watching Ellen and at 3:30 I decided it was time to start keeping track of the contractions and timing them, because they were coming more regularly now, even if they were far apart.
I used contractionmaster.com to time them. Here is how the times went from when I started keeping track: 17 minutes apart, 10 minutes, 7 minutes, 4 minutes…they picked up fast, obviously. I paced behind the couch while we continued to watch TV and leaned over it during the contractions, doing my deep breathing.
It felt SO good and right to be standing and moving and not in a bed. I told Danny to have his mom come back and get Olive, and moved to the bedroom (after answering a work e-mail from my boss ha, ha!). I was in there for maybe 30 minutes and told Courtney to call the midwife and asked Danny to call the other people who were going to be at the birth: my mom, Danny’s sister Kimberly, and my good friend Jennifer to take pictures.Then I moved to the tub in our 2nd bathroom.
The water felt great. It was around 5:15 and Courtney came in and said she left two messages for Kelli – one at home and one on her cell. I tried not to panic, because I knew that my labor was progressing fast. Kelli called back and said she was going to run home and change into pants and then be right over. She called back a few minutes later and said she was NOT going home and was 10 minutes away. Whew! I kept saying “she better hurry!”. My contractions were very strong and long at this point. I tried to keep my tones low as I breathed through them (which was not too hard for this alto)
My contractions were one on top of the other, seemingly lasting forever. And I was having those typical “I can’t do this” thoughts that occur during those last few centimeters of dilation.
Suddenly at the end of the contractions I was pushing. Well, my body was pushing, I was just letting it do what it wanted to do. Kelli called in to the bathroom “are you pushing?” She came in and I said “I guess I’m dilated, huh?” She said “the body doesn’t lie,” meaning it wouldn’t start moving my baby down and out if I wasn’t. I will always remember that statement. She told me to feel for my baby’s head. So I did. My water was still in tact, so it felt kind of like a water ballon.
During all this everyone else was working to get the bigger tub that Kelli brought set up. We got word it was ready so I waited to get through another contraction and then moved. I think I might have dove in, it looked so inviting because it was so big. I immediately and instinctively got on my knees and held onto the edge of the tub with my arms. I was pushing and, funnily enough, narrating what I was feeling for everyone there. “Burning burning, crowning, crowning…” My water broke mid-push and then Darcy’s head was out and Kelli checked for the cord, telling me what she was doing all along so as not to catch me off guard with her touch, since she was behind me.
She wasn’t doing anything. Darcy was rotating herself to get her shoulders out. I think at that point I called my halfway born daughter a “little missy” for the discomfort her rotating was causing me. But, within seconds and one more push she was out and Kelli pushed her through the water under me and into my arms.
I played with her and floated her around in the water for about 20 minutes while Kelli took her respirations, heart rate, apgars, all that stuff. Darcy was so peaceful. The cord was not cut until the afterbirth was out (and it was not pulled out, but allowed to detach itself which took 16 minutes).
I was in “hard labor” for about 2 hours. I pushed for 4 minutes (and again, I didn’t really do it, but allowed my body to take over and do it). Darcy weighed in at 8 lb 6oz (a full pound + bigger than Olive, and 1 hour 16 minutes less pushing time!) I think those times are attributed to the comfort and safety I felt throughout my labor – from my environment and the people who surrounded me.
A big lesson I learned from the whole prenatal and birth experience is to not be afraid to fight for and have the care and experience you want. Life is too short to take monumental experiences lightly, and – You deserve it. All along I knew that if things didn’t turn out the way I hoped, at least I didn’t let myself get railroaded, and I was under the care of someone who had MY best interest in mind.