like all other mothers who write their birth stories, i will try to keep this short, but i will fail.
i think "labor" started on saturday morning 4/23. i just felt weird and queasy, enough so that i called my midwife, rena, to ask her about feeling so nauseated. she encouraged me to just listen to my body, eat and rest as i needed. i didn't think it was labor, but looking back this was the beginning. later that night i had some bloody show, and this continued throughout the day sunday. i had been having contractions for a few weeks, but nothing painful. these continued, but were getting more frequent. still, they were easy to ignore, so i did.
sunday night i was up every hour and half or more to pee - and waking during contractions. still they weren't painful, so i ignored them. i called rena again on monday morning to talk to her about the contractions and bloody show, which i was still having. i knew this meant i was getting closer to labor, but wanted reassurance as well. with liam, my labor started immediately after the "show" and i perceived this to be more of an event than a process. rena is awesome, btw, and said that my body knew what it was doing, that every labor is different, and that all of this was work. i told her i thought for sure i would have the baby in the next three days, or sooner.
my appetite was unchanged, so i ate a big breakfast and continued with my plans for the day. liam and i went to sarah's house to have a playdate with ethan and amelia. i picked up some burger king on the way (a favorite in both of my pregnancies) and continued to have contractions (still painless). we all hung out for a few hours, and towards the end i decided maybe i should go home and rest and start timing them. colin called while i was at sarah's to let me know he had decided to go ahead and air up the birth pool over his lunch break.
back home, liam and i had resting time, which meant he watched a movie while i napped and timed the contractions. they were between 5 and 10 minutes apart and lasted 30-45 seconds long. they stopped while i slept, and were a still pretty painless. colin got home around 5:30 and i showed him my contraction log. we ate a big dinner of leftovers. i had ham, sweet potatoes, tomato soup and a few deviled eggs. being so hungry really made me feel like i wasn't really in labor, just still getting ready.
the contractions continued through dinner and after. i decided to call mom and mandy around 7:30pm to let them know what was happening. since they were so regular, they decided to leave for topeka. i was still doubting whether it was really happening, since it didn't really hurt and they weren't getting more intense.
i called rena to give her the heads up, too, and megan, our birth photographer. i decided to take a bath to see if they would slow down and took that time to rest, just in case i had a long night ahead of me. with liam's labor, i was in labor land immediately. with this one, i was very grounded and lucid the entire time. i watched my stomach in the bathtub during the contractions turn into practically a cube. it was so cool! colin took liam for a car ride so he would fall asleep. my contractions pretty much stopped while i talked on the phone, spacing out to 15-20 minutes. i called rena and asked if she would just stop by to check on me around 9:45. again, i wasn't really feeling like i was in labor. but thought she should come over.
after liam was in bed and mandy arrived around 9:30, i started to have to move through the contractions and breathe. i leaned over the yoga ball and spent time on my hands and knees. as soon as my sister arrived, everything picked up. i think the combination of liam being awake and my birth team not being assembled kept my labor at bay. once rena and lilly arrived at 10pm, my contractions were 3 minutes apart and i could no longer talk through them. i still felt totally weirded out by the feeling of NOT being in labor in between the contractions.
lilly, who was assisting rena and is training to be a midwife, is also a doula and provided wonderful conterpressure on my back. she and colin offered me water and i just hung out in between contractions. she told me she could feel piper's head through my back. how cool! colin and i both got to feel her - it was incredible. the contractions were getting mighty uncomfortable and i wanted the pool filled quickly. we ran out of hot water, and my support team had water boiling on every burner. i was still unsure if i was in active enough labor to get in the pool, but rena reassured me that it wasn't going to slow down.
while waiting for the pool to fill, lilly took my and piper's vitals to get a baseline. i was still breathing through the contractions, but they were getting harder. finally, i could get in the tub around 11. it felt so wonderful! the bottom of the tub is inflated and i could move around easily. my labor really picked up. and i finally let myself believe i was in labor and actually going to have a baby!
the midwives and colin turned off all the lights and lit my candles. i told them they were for all the women thinking about me while i labored. it was really powerful. i was glad to be in the dark, although i feel like i never opened my eyes again until she was born, so maybe it didn't matter.
then liam woke about 20 minutes later. he was crying and i wanted him to know i was ok. i hugged him over the side of the pool and colin took him to mandy and the grandmas downstairs. my contractions completely stopped. i can see now that my body was waiting for him to be taken care of to start piper's labor, and it wouldn't start again until he was ok. i got the report that he was watching a movie and i could relax again. i asked rena to turn on the cd player to get my mind off any ambient house sounds (including liam). i listened to musical acupuncture, a cd i found in with some doula books michelle stottlemire donated to the AP and LLL libraries. i didn't listen to it beforehand, i just knew it would be what i needed to hear, and it was.
everything picked up and continued to get harder. my water broke in the tub a little after midnight. i continued to labor in the water, but it was getting increasingly difficult to find a good position. i felt like i was moving constantly in between contractions, but would invariably lean over the side on my knees during one. lilly and colin continued to offer me water to drink.
then things get a little blurry. transition was INTENSE. i was still lucid in between, and needed reassurance that i could do this after all. i started to feel really hot, so rena got a bowl of ice water and they gave me a cold wash cloth for my forehead. it seemed like i hadn't been in labor long enough, and i was afraid it would be that hard for too long, that i would get too tired. i asked rena to tell me that i would for sure have this baby by morning. she said, you are definitely having the baby. ah, midwife speak. still, it was enough.
i really vocalized during transition. lots of moaning, and blowing through my lips all blubbery - ina may fans will know what i mean. that breathing really helped me open up and melt the contractions away. it was amazing. i started to feel like i needed to get into another position and got into a squat and immediately felt like i had to poop. i remember thinking - "you're almost done! remember, that's what it feels like to push!" of course, i did poo some, which is expected. but i was ready to push.
rena asked if i could feel her head inside. i reached in and there she was - about two inches in. that was INCREDIBLE! i was totally re-energized and knew i was going to meet her soon. i pushed with the next contraction and she moved down. i pushed in a squat, on my hands and knees, but then decided it felt best to lay on my side. i held my right leg up pushed. i could feel her move down, then back up in between. when she crowned, it was awesome. almost done! i gave myself perineal support and could feel myself stretch slowly. i pushed just a few times and her head was out. this apparently took colin by surprise, as he was supposed to get the family from downstairs.
i felt her little head in the water and then pushed out her shoulders, then her little body. her cord was wrapped around her neck (twice i think) and she somersaulted out, unlooping it once. i still had my eyes closed, but i had my hands on her and was ready to bring her to me. rena told me about the cord and unlooped her and handed her to me. she was officially born at 12:57am.
she was perfect. she was covered in vernix and so tiny! she weighed 8lbs 4 ounces and was 19 inches long. her hair looked very red, but we haven't quite decided what color it really is. she didn't cry for awhile, just looked around taking it all in. rena listened to her lungs and heart while she was on my chest and checked out her color. she was perfect. liam got to watch her being born, and really wanted to get in the pool. as soon as she was born, i was over the water. it was pretty funky, so after 5 minutes or so we decided to cut her cord so it would be easier to get out. liam got to do the honors, with daddy's help.
i didn't have any tearing, maybe just a skid mark or two. i wasn't even really swollen. i delivered my own placenta on the bed after i got out of the pool. it was just awesome.
no one checked my dialation, or told me to change positions, or told me when or how to push. my midwife and lilly really trusted that i would know what to do and just let me do it. they were in the room the whole time, but didn't meddle with my labor. they gave me encouragement when i asked for it. i feel like the space we created really helped my labor move so quickly.
i can't get over how awesome everything went. i ate some snacks, and piper nursed and pooped a few times. we had some family alone time for about an hour while lilly started preparing my placenta for encapsulation. i took a shower (the shower chair was really handy for that!) and we did the newborn exam around 2:30am. everyone left around 3:30 or so. grandma sonja took liam on a car ride to get some fries so he could fall back to sleep.
since then it's been life with a newborn. i'm averaging four hours of sleep a day, in one hour chunks here and there. i lay in bed all day or in the recliner. i am waited on hand and foot. i get food and snacks delivered to me all day long, and this really helps me not feel sleep deprived.
i cannot wait to see the photos megan took of this special time.
piper is absolutely perfect, and although liam wasn't sure he would, he does in fact love her. <3
you can see more pictures on her website, piper.whataham.com