So, for the last few weeks (gee, maybe longer), I have been having a lot of pretty strong Braxton Hicks- though some were so strong that I could feel my cervix changing a bit, so I wouldn't call those BHs. Anyway, recently, I was having them pretty regularly every evening and throughout the night- nothing to make me think I was in labor, and pretty much what happened with my last preg, so not surprising. We assumed all along that I would birth two weeks early, just like both boys- so I was pretty amazed when we went past the end of March! And kept going...
On Friday, I noticed a change in the expansions- they were now a little crampy in my lower belly and I could feel them through my lower back, too. I had a few like that on Friday, and also on Saturday, but other than thinking I was closer to the birth, I didn't think much of them. I had a few evenings like that towards the end of William's preg, too.
Saturday night, I was up every hour or so with the crampy expansions, and to pee. Still thinking nothing of it- but I did mention it to Matt in the morning. As I was checking e-mail, I realized that they were coming every eight minutes or so- still assuming that I was nowhere near to birth, just getting ready. They didn't take any thought at all, so we just went about the day as usual. Though they did get closer together, I wasn't having any bloody show (which I had early on with both boys), though I did lose another glob of mucous (which I also thought nothing of, since I had been losing little bits for weeks). Also no diarrhea- but I was peeing a lot (again, that was "just because I was drinking lots of water" :). I vaguely thought that I might birth in a few days- this was just a gradual warmup... I would "really" be in labor when the bloody show and diarrhea started :).
I was really sleepy, and decided to take a nap- which slowed things down a little. See? I wasn't in labor...
'Round about 2 pm, I finally started thinking that *maybe* I was in early labor- which is when I posted to CBIRTH about it- fully assuming that I would be writing back later to say that I was going to bed because things had stopped...
About quarter to three, I lay back down for another nap and slept for about half an hour- again deciding that I was not in labor, since the expansions slowed way down. Then tried to get the boys to nap at 3:30- but they were too rambunctious and I had a couple of expansions that made me breathe pretty heavily, so I gave up the nap idea.
At fourish, I suddenly realized *I WAS IN LABOR*- things just really went into high gear. I had begun to have the expansions every few minutes, so I put Matt to work filling the labor tub. In the meantime, I rubbed my lower belly with arnica and clary sage oil- it felt wonderful! The expansions were getting pretty intense at this point. I also rubbed my lower back, which was pretty achey- I did a pelvic press on myself, and as the expansions died down, I would slide my hands firmly down my hip bones. I found that my favorite place to be was in the bathroom, standing holding onto the changing table. I held the railing really firmly, and pressed my chest into it, while doing a standing squat. I *had* to look at the sky through the expansions- if I closed my eyes, or looked down, they *hurt*- looking out the window kept me feeling that they were just intense. I still didn't feel that I was that close, because during transition with my others, I vocalized *a lot*.
Finally, the tub had enough water in it to get in. The first expansion in there was *IMMENSE* and almost bowled me over. I either sat or kneeled in the tub, and leaned forward, pressing my face into it during the expansions. I felt the need to be perfectly still, so when William decided to join me, I got more uncomfortable... I finally had Matt take him out (by being bribed with candy! all this time, Max was watching TV). I got out and spent some time in the bathroom, then went back to the tub. But I started to feel like I had to poop (and was thinking "ok, so how many times have I laughed when a woman insists she has to poop when the baby is coming? but *I* am not that close!"), so I went to the toilet- no poop. I ended up staying in there at my favorite spot, and was overwhelmed with curiousity about what my cervix felt like (lots of virtual strangers have had their hands in my pookie - why not me?). I reached in and felt a rim of cervix and... the baby's head and hair!! It was still behind the cervix, and I didn't have a clue how dilated I was, but thought, "well, it's at least halfway". I told Matt about feeling the head, and he thought that was cool. I also told him that I had no idea how far along I was...
After he left, I realized that I was really close. I got a catch in my throat- and thought that my body might be close to pushing. I told him that when he came back (with William)- and suddenly, my body just took over and began pressing down on the baby. I started to involuntarily groan, and my whole body was pushed into a deep standing squat- it was amazing and so powerful that I was in awe, which kept me from being totally overwhelmed. He left with William to tell Max to come up- Max came and said that he would have to cover his ears, because of the loud noises (though I wasn't making many, he remembered the last time)- then he said "I'm outta here!" and went back down. Matt went out to tell him that if he wanted to see the birth, he had to come as soon as we called, but to stay down there if he wanted to.
All of a sudden, the baby just came flying about half-way down (hey, wait, I am still waiting for bloody show to tell me I am in labor!:)- it was incredible, just this sudden intense pressure. I pressed my hand to my crotch, feeling a little liquid coming out and called, "Matt! Now!" He came running in and asked me what I needed, if something was wrong... All I could say was "BAAAAAAABYYYYYYY!". I was still standing at the changing table, and William investigated between my legs when Matt told him the baby would be coming soon. Matt put his hands betwen my legs, to be able to catch the baby (I shoved them away- I wanted *nothing* near there!), and asked if I wanted to move, since I was pretty far from the ground. I told him I wasn't sure if I could (the head was so close to crowning), but I waddled to the birth room, while holding onto my crotch (I realy really wanted to catch the birth on video! and we did!). I kneeled on the futon, over the pile of rags and blankets there. Matt and William turned the video camera on, and then started to play- Matt did not realize that the head was on its way out! I managed to tell him to get Max - which he did in a hurry when he saw the head was about to emerge.
I was on hands and knees, while holding my crotch with one hand. The pressure was incredible, and I pressed onto the head some to keep it from coming too quickly. All this time, though my body was doing everything instinctually, I had a little logical voice going in my head- "now, should I press on the front of my yoni, or the back? when the head comes out, I will feel a pop! and that will be such a relief...". I also had the presence of mind to move my hair, in case it was in the way of the camera.
Then her head *did* come out, and it *was* a relief :). I had to move all of the way up onto my knees so that I could see her over my belly, and I watched in amazement as the head slowly turned as the body rotated- all the while feeling it turning inside me too. No need for "assisting the rotation" here! I wasn't even touching her. Then the baby just slid out, landing right on the futon- I was close enough to it that she didn't have far to go, but I did have my hands on her. I just looked at her for a few moments, lying there all purple, with the umbilical cord wrapped over her shoulders.
Then I picked her up- deliberately, though unconsciously (I know, it doesn't make sense, but that is how I remember it) covering her bottom up with my hand. I didn't want anyone to know what the sex was until I had some time with the baby. I unwrapped her cord from around her, and held her, watching her gurgle a bit, then cry a little. I put a blanket over her, then noticed a big piece of mucous in her mouth, so I sucked it out with my mouth and spit it out- I didn't even have to think about it, it was just the natural thing to do. She cried a little more after that, but quieted down as I kissed her and talked to her. It was so wonderful to be able to see her change from purple to a lovely rosy pink- beautiful! Matt was taking some photos, and the boys were gathered around looking at the baby. Max asked what the sex was, and Matt told him we didn't know yet. Matt looked at her face and said "Oh, you look just like your mama!". We both *knew* she was a girl the moment we saw her, but didn't have the proof of looking yet. A few minutes later, I checked under the blanket, and all I had to say to Matt was "OH! Matt!!" to confirm that we finally had our Eudora. I realized we hadn't looked to see what time she was born, and Matt estimated that it was about 5:50 (funny, the same time and day of week as Laurie's baby)- which makes it less than two hours from when I realized I really *was* in labor!
She decided to nurse then, and would not let go except to change sides until over two and a half hours later! So, I ended up sitting in a soggy place on the futon all that time, but I got pretty comfy with some pillows Max brought in- and of course I had Dora to gaze at! She was incredibly healthy- pink, alert, and breathing wonderfully. When everyone was out of the room, I decided to push with one of the exps. I was having, and the placenta came out. I didn't even look at it- it was between my legs under a blanket, and it didn't need my attention.
After about two and a half hours, I got a little tired of sitting attached to the placenta via the baby (I didn't mind her nursing, of course!), so I cut the cord- it had finally stopped pulsing, even at her belly. Matt made a couple of placenta prints and drew some cord blood out. She stopped nursing then, so Papa finally got to hold her while I washed the blood off of my feet- and then I tidied up the birth room... :) Matt said that I looked like I could run a marathon- I felt like it, too!
We had some dinner, then went to bed. I was up and down a few times with Dora to change her multitudes of meconium diapers (after the first time of cleaning it up off of her legs from having her just wrapped in blankets, I put her in some really soft diapers- it definitely made it easier to clean her up). She got pretty loud at one point, so I moved to the other bed, so she wouldn't wake anyone up. I did get some sleep, but my afterpains got pretty intense and I was woken by them. Motherwort tincture helped a little, but I finally took a Motrin, and that helped a lot. I am barely bleeding at all, and I have *no* evidence that I just gave birth- not a scratch. My yoni isn't even swollen! A nice change from the other times (one episiotomy, one with skid marks and swelling).
Dora has spent all of her time in my arms, sleeping and nursing... and nursing in her sleep... This probably could have been typed faster with two hands, but I am not letting her go yet!
* * * * * * *
Note from Laura: A few months after the birth, someone asked Beatrice about her pain quotient. Here is her response.
Q: Can I ask you about your *pain quotient*?
A: Hmm, for most of the day, I was having just the tiniest bit of crampiness now and then during contractions. Mostly they were just tight through my lower back. All of that got slightly more intense later in the day- 'round about 3:30ish. My most overwhelming feeling was one of sleepiness! I just kept wanting to nap. When I did, everything slowed down- until around 3:30, when I was trying to get the boys to nap. I think that it may have felt a little more intense then (not painful, just requiring a little thought and deep breathing) because I tensed up at not being able to get the kids to nap (I wanted them to be well rested so that when we got them up in the middle of the night- remember, I "always" birth at night- they wouldn't melt down).
Anyway, when I gave up getting them to go down, I turned them back over to Matt and spent some time alone. That was when I started to do more belly/back rubbing with the labor oil (arnica and clary sage in olive oil), and I swayed a little during some contractions. I still had no pain, but did have some achiness in my back and hips- like I had been on a long hike, sort of... doing a pelvic press on myself took that achiness away. I did have some crampiness in my lower belly. Right around four, I arbitrarily told Matt (I felt like I was making it up- or making it true by saying it- sort of suspension of disbelief) that I thought the baby would be born by five. He sort of said "really? why do you think that?" and I just said it was just a feeling... (i was off by about 45 minutes in my estimation!:)
Then between 4:03 and 4:09 (I just happend to look at the clock), I had *3* contractions. (I had been having them about every six minutes before then) and they were *strong*- but still no pain, just everything I had been feeling was suddenly more intense- during one, I held onto Matt and we swayed together. That was nice, but didn't do quite what I wanted for the achiness. I had been going back and forth to the toilet to pee a lot, and if I was sitting on the toilet during a contraction it did feel uncomfortable- not pain, more like it just didn't feel "right" and I wanted to stand up. I started to spend more time in the bathroom holding the changing table, and after 4:10 or so, like I said, everything felt more intense. Still no *pain*, but I did want quiet and to look at the sky. (Like I said in the story, if I looked down from the sky, the intensity did feel like pain a couple of times- but if I kept my eyes on the sky, no pain.)
And time just stood still- I had no idea what time it was, and I didn't care. I had no idea how often the contractions were coming- and I didn't care. I just let myself be swept away with them- and kept my eyes on the sky. I really enjoyed it! When I did sort of think about it, I thought that I was finally in early labor and that I would have the baby that night...I was in *transition*!!! Then after I felt her head inside- and I was about halfway open- her head flew right down to almost crowning. I still felt no pain, but just an intense fullness and openess, and *almost* a moment of panic, because it happened so fast. But then I realized that all was well, waddled to the bed and kneeled.
That is when the tape started- I (do I sound like a broken record yet?;) had no pain from the crowning, just the same fullness, and wonder at feeling her head as it was emerging (and that little voice in my head I mentioned in the story)- no burning, some stretching feelings. I just breathed (without thinking about it) and let my body do the work- with a couple small involuntary pushes (you can hear and see them on the tape)- then that cry at the sudden release as her head was born (it didn't hurt, but that *feeling*- whew! though it didn't hurt, it *was* a relief). So, my pain quotient? None... :)