Bradley's Birth Story – Monday 9/8/14
Sunday Sept. 7, 2014
I began prelabor around noon on Sunday. My husband S, best friend M (who was going to be our doula), and I went out to for an early birthday lunch to celebrate my upcoming 30th birthday. On the way to the restaurant I noticed I was having the feeling of menstrual cramps. I couldn't tell if they were braxton hicks contractions or not, the closest thing it felt like was a period, where there are times where it is more crampy, and subsides, but never goes away completely and there is just a constant dull cramp. After brunch we all returned back to our house and just hung out for the afternoon. We had researched the early signs of labor and decided to do a few things to prepare in case I had the baby in the next few days.
S went grocery shopping and M and I decided to go Target to buy the last supplies we needed for the birth, just in case. While we were at Target I think my labor started to progress --I was walking very slowly through the aisles with my hands on my lower back my elbows out and there were a couple of times where I had to stop and take breaks in the isles. When M and I got home from the store, I went to the bathroom and I noticed I had some pink in my underwear that I thought was bloody show.
When S got home from the grocery store we decided decided to call our a midwife Liesl to discuss my labor. Liesl confirmed that it sounded like I was having early labor but advised me that it could still be a couple of days before I had the baby so she said I should try and ignore the contractions as much as possible and get rest. Liesl said that I should call when the contractions were five minutes apart lasting one minute each and were intense enough that I was not talkative between contractions. We decided to put on a movie and just try to relax. M went home to get some rest. I noticed I was not really able to focus on the movie as my contractions were getting stronger and more uncomfortable. I also noticed that I was uncomfortable lying on my side or in any position other than sitting. Sitting on the toilet was really uncomfortable! At approximately 8:30 PM I called Liesl again to check in about my labor progression. I told her that the contractions were strong enough that I was starting to not be able to ignore them and I wasn't sure I was going to be able to sleep. She told me that was okay and to just rest as best as I could and call her when the contractions were so intense, all I could do was rest up for the next contraction .
At that point, we decided the movie was no longer helpful so we just put on music instead. S put on a relaxing spa playlist, lit candles and turned off the lights and we tried rest. We decided S should go to bed and try to get as much sleep as possible in case I went into active labor soon. I stayed out on the couch sitting in an upright position and had a blanket up behind my neck so I could rest my head back between contractions. When the contractions came I would rub my belly in a circular motion and just try to take deep slow breaths. At around 1:30 am I was too uncomfortable to sit any longer so I decided to try different positions for the contractions and the only thing that worked or felt good was standing. I would stand next to the wall with my hands braced against the wall and breathe through each contraction. By this time I was starting to have lots of back pain with each contraction. S woke up and came out to check on me. I told him my contractions were pretty intense but I could still talk through them and I wasn't sure if we should call Liesl. He said we should probably wait so he stood behind me and rubbed my lower back through each contraction and we did that for a while. At around 2:30 in the morning I felt like I was no longer getting any breaks between contractions. They were very close together -sometimes only a minute and a half apart- but I could still talk through all of my contractions and in between. But, still, I felt like I was progressing so we decided to call Liesl. I think I called during a contraction and I told her I didn't know what to do because my contractions were intense I wasn't really getting a break but I could talk and I thought that I was definitely in labor! Liesl said she would come over and assess how things were going, and then we could discuss my options.
When Liesl arrived at around 3:30am she listened to the baby and observed a few contractions and suggested we try a few different positions to help the baby get into a better position. She said that was probably why my contractions were irregular. I told her that standing was the only way I was comfortable. She suggested that I try a few contractions lying on my left side, then a few contractions on my hands and knees, a few contractions lying on my right side, and then a few contractions on my back. This was very uncomfortable and each time I changed positions it immediately caused a severe contraction that was very painful. But then the next contraction wouldn't be as bad. We tried different positions for a while and then Liesl offered to check me to see how dilated I was if I wanted. I said I don't know if I wanted her to and she said she didn't want me to be disappointed if I was less than 5 cm. I told her I was curious to know and to have her check. When Liesl checked me I was 7 cm dilated!! I was so excited! Liesl said we were having a baby and told me to call M and that we could set up the birth tub.
We called M at around 4:30 am and asked her to come over. Liesl told me she and S were going to go set things up and I should just continue to have my contractions wherever I was most comfortable. I stayed on the bed for little bit but then got up and decided to stand while they were setting up the birth tub. M arrived at around 5am and began helping set things up. When the birth tub was ready I got in and it felt really good on my back. I sat floating with my back against the side for a while and then Liesl suggested I turn over onto my hands and knees and lean over the side of the tub. That was very nice because S and M would rub my lower back through my contractions and I could rest my head on the side of the tub. Being in the tub seemed to slow my contractions a little and I was able to get some rest. I turned over and let my body float in between contractions and it almost felt like I would fall asleep but not quite and then I would get another contraction. At some point I noticed the water wasn't really helping my back anymore and Liesl suggested that we get out of the tub and go onto the bed. When I turned over on my hands and knees to get out of the tub I immediately felt nauseous and threw up over the side of the tub into a towel. I think that must be when I was going through transition! Liesl got me a bowl and I threw up a little more, but it soon subsided and I got out of the tub and went back to the bed. Liesl called her assistant midwife and asked her to come since the baby would be born soon.
I labored on the bed for what seemed like a long time, doing different positions on my side, on my back, on my hands and knees. Through each contraction, I would say “open, open, open, nice and open, nice and relaxed.” That was my mantra and my rhythm to remind me to let everything relax and open so the baby could make its way down. Liesl told me that childbirth and labor was a journey and a natural process and that my brain and I were just along for the ride. She reminded me that the contractions were just sensations and that I was ok and everything was ok. I would repeat this to myself during contractions, that it was just a sensation. After a while Liesl checked me again and said that my cervix was thin and effaced but the top lip of my cervix had not thinned all the way. Liesl tried to manually maneuver the cervix to push it back over the baby’s head, but was unsuccessful so she said we would just continue to wait. The manipulation of my cervix was painful and caused painful contractions. I was also having full body shakes, which the midwives said was from the hormones. Soon, during one of the contractions there was suddenly was a large gush of fluid and intense and immediate pressure. Liesl said that my water had broken and that soon I might feel the urge to have a bowel movement or push. She said I could push when I felt like it. The pressure on my cervix was very uncomfortable. The midwives reminded me that it was time to push and that it at times it was going to hurt and there was no way around it, over it, under it, I just had to go through it and the sooner I accepted that the easier it would be. My body began to push and with each contraction, Liesl would place a warm washcloth on my perineum to give me counter-pressure to push against and to help my tissues stretch. At some point Liesl suggested that I lie on my back and try pushing with my knees bent up to my chest and holding onto my legs. M and S were each on either side of me and were helping hold my knees. During contractions I would tell S to rub my back. Sometimes I wouldn't even say anything I would just squeeze his leg a little and he would rub my back. When I had started to feel the urge to push I wasn't prepared and so I was taking short breaths through each push. Instead Liesl suggested that I take a deep breath, hold my breath, hold my moans back, tuck my chin down and push. This worked great! While I was pushing Liesl would tell me “good, just like that, that's how we do it, that's it, little more, push a little further, push a little more.” I was surprised at how difficult it was to hold my breath and push for such a long time and then push more. Sometimes it felt like I might pass out so partway through the push I would blowout my breath and also make moaning noises. Through most contractions I would get three urges to push so I would push three times for each contraction and sometimes I would push four times. Once I developed the breathing pattern Liesl suggested it really seemed like my pushing progressed.
At some point I remember the midwives saying that they could see his head and they told me to reach down and feel his head. I could feel just a tiny bulge with a little hair. With each push his head was getting closer and closer to crowning. I so drenched with sweat I was having a hard time holding onto my legs to bear down while pushing. When the ring of fire started it was incredibly painful and uncomfortable, it felt like I was going to birth the baby out of my butt! The midwives assured me that I would not and told me that my tissues were stretching and we were giving them time to stretch. I didn't expect the ring of fire sensation to last as long as it did. It seemed like it was burning for a long time. At one point the midwives asked me if I would like to see with a hand mirror and I told them no, I needed to focus. I kept pushing and when the head crowned Liesl asked S if he would like to help catch the baby. S went around to be next to Liesl and soon I pushed the baby’s head out. Bradley came out with his right hand up next to his ear so I birthed his head and hand together. When his head was out, he immediately started to make noise, not crying but coos and hums and squeaks!! Very quickly after I pushed and Bradley’s body and a large gush of fluid came out. Liesl and S put the baby straight up on to my belly and I said “I'm done!! I did it!! I'm done!!” The midwives put blankets on the baby and began gently rubbing his back. The midwives said I had the biggest umbilical cord they have ever seen! About 20 minutes later Liesl asked if I was ready to birth the placenta. She told me to push again and I pushed a few times and the placenta came. They asked S if he wanted to cut the cord and he did so. The midwives then massaged my abdomen to help my uterus contract and a large gush of blood came out and a few minutes later they massaged again and a little more blood came out . They looked at me and said “stop bleeding now” and advised that, a lot of times, a mother’s body listens when you ask her to stop bleeding. They continued to monitor my blood loss and a few minutes later I stopped bleeding. After we cuddled and admired our new baby for a little while, Liesl said that I had good hormones, adrenaline and pain relievers working in my system and it would be a good time to check my bottom to see if I had any tears that needed to be stitched. She also offered that we could do it later, but it might be a little more painful. I told her let's do it now. She looked and I had a fingertip length tear on the inside of my vagina and a “road rash” spot on the left side of my perineum. Liesl told me she could either stitch me or, if I promised not to leave the house for two weeks, no stairs, no walking, and to keep my knees together when getting in and out of bed, she would not stitch it and we could just let it heal on its own. I opted for no stitches!! It healed beautifully.
Bradley was born at 10:07 am. I was surprised at how late it was because to me I thought the room was black and dark and it was still early in the morning. I had had my eyes closed through the majority of the labor and pushing so I realized that I had no concept of time. At that point M realized that if she left right then, she could still make it to work, so she gave us hugs and kisses and left. The midwives started to clean up. Liesl gave the baby to S to hold skin to skin while I took a shower. Liesl sat on the toilet next me while I showered. She told me that if I felt dizzy or lightheaded that I needed to tell her and to immediately sit down. I felt okay at first and then I did get a little lightheaded so I got down on my hands and knees in the shower. She offered for me to get out but I told her I felt okay and could finish my shower. After I was done, Liesl helped dry me off and got the special panties and pad on. The midwives had remade the bed with clean sheets and I got back into bed next to S who was holding our son. Meanwhile the other midwife was making breakfast for me and S. She brought in a huge plate of scrambled eggs with mushrooms and cheese, bacon, bananas and peaches. I fed S and I breakfast while we were in bed with our sweet baby and the midwives examined the baby and weighed and measured him right in front of us. Then the midwives finished tidying up: They washed the sheets and towels and picked up the floor protectors and did dishes. Then, a few hours after the baby was born, they left so we could enjoy and bond with our new baby.
Childbirth was very painful but it wasn't so painful that I ever thought I wanted pain medication or that I was going to die or that I couldn't do it. It was amazing and I felt safe and secure and calm and supported. My midwives were great, so gentle, kind and loving. They made my birth experience amazing!!