Birthing Lula – A Perfect Birth
by Cathy Clark
On Saturday 8/25 I had lots of Braxton-Hicks contractions and when I went to bed that night I had lots of crampy real contractions! I figured it would not be long. On Sunday I noticed that the B-H contractions were GONE, to be replaced by very crampy contractions all day long! They were pretty regular, too, which really made me think I would soon be in labor! I told the kiddos to get their room cleaned up and my oldest asked, “Mom, is the baby coming tonight?” I told him that I thought it would be that night or the next so we needed to get things in order (again!).
I went to Walmart and the grocery store to stock up on last minute things and food for the birth-day celebration! (I had LOTS of contrax on the way and while I was shopping. I would slow down and kind of breathe a little, but really felt just fine and never really thought I was in labor!) I threw out the birth-day cake I had made the previous Wednesday and made another! I made a King Ranch Chicken casserole for dinner, cleaned the bathroom (again), finished all the laundry, mowed the lawn, vacuumed & mopped the entire house, gathered all the things for my birth altar, and washed the sheets again!
Mark didn’t really ask me how I was doing all day. He just watched TV and didn’t say much. He later said he knew I was in labor but figured I was fine. I guess I knew I was, too, but never had the actual thought, “I am in labor.”
My midwife called at about 8:30pm to tell me that her power was out due to the thunderstorms that were just moving in to our area. She said she would sleep with her pager and also gave me her cell phone number. When she called I was in the tub and as I stepped out, phone in hand, out came a HUGE blob of mucus ever so slightly tinged with a streak of blood! I told her this and she said she really thought the storm was going to trigger labor! I was thinking the same thing! So I decided to go to bed early (9:00) and try to rest! I tucked all the kiddos in and then went to bed myself. I lost more of my mucus plug as I went to pee before bed! I began noticing very crampy contractions as I lay there and they seemed fairly regular, though I was not timing them.
At about 11:30pm I woke up and went to pee and noticed some bloody show – lots of it, which I never have till I am about 5-6cm, but didn’t really think about this at the time! By that time the contrax were coming about every 10 minutes (I was actually counting the seconds “one-one thousand, two-one thousand…, not using a watch or clock) regularly and were a little painful! I thought I probably had hours to go. My labors have always been about 15 hours or more with a slow steady progression, so I was fully expecting this to be no different. I went back to bed but was up again needing to pee by 1:30am. I was awakened quite often by contractions while I was lying in bed, and didn’t really *sleep*. The contractions were still very regular, about 8-10min. apart, and lasting about 45sec. They had become really crampy and my back was beginning to ache so I decided to get in the tub. It felt great! Everyone else was asleep and the house was so nice and dark and QUIET (something that RARELY happens here!!). My backache subsided, but the contractions were still crampy and regular but I didn’t feel the need to breathe through them yet. After about 30 minutes I decided to go back to bed.
I lay there in bed dozing slightly between contractions, but, again, not really sleeping at all. By 2:30am I was up again needing to pee and noticed more bloody show. I decided to time a few of them, but realized my watch battery had died. So I dug around the kids’ dressers in the dark (trying desperately not to wake anyone as I SO enjoyed being in labor by myself!!) to find my son’s Goofy watch and my other son’s Spy Kids watch from McDonalds. With the 2 of these I was able to time contrax. I noticed that when I was walking around the contractions were coming every 3-4 minutes, but only lasting about 20 seconds. I sat down at the computer to check the homebirth board and began typing a post (at about 3:00am) but very quickly realized it was NOT comfortable sitting any longer! So I went back to bed hoping to keep the contractions coming and lasting longer. I couldn’t sleep much, though, because they were coming about every 8 minutes now and I could tell exactly when another was going to start by looking at the clock. So I was up again at 3:40 and had more bloody show.
I decided to call my midwife (3:45) just to see what she thought. She said I was still probably in early labor and to try to get some sleep (just what I was thinking) so I went back to bed (she later told me that as soon as she hung up she called Sam her apprentice – who lives 45 minutes away from her – and told her to come to her house. She said she figured I’d be calling her back within 45 minutes so she got dressed and went to bed in her clothes). I had 3 good strong contractions and when I felt the 4th one coming I suddenly knew I could NOT be in bed any longer. I was needing to breathe a little through them. My back was beginning to hurt again so I got in the tub again. I was feeling lots of pressure, but not *too* much pain. I decided to check myself and found an anterior cervix (it had still been posterior at last check) and really couldn’t feel any mushy cervix so I knew I was probably completely effaced. I also could feel what I thought was either the head or the bag of waters. This stirred up a contraction so I decided not to check anymore. I had left the watches at the computer so I couldn’t time any more contrax.
I labored in the tub by myself enjoying the quiet darkness. It was so nice to have this time alone- just me and my baby quietly and peacefully laboring together. It was so serene, so perfect. I remember looking across the room at the Noah’s ark night light that gently lit the bathroom and thinking how wonderful and soft the light was. It was so dim and made me think of Leboyer and the wonderful bath I would soon be taking with the little one we were about to meet! A contraction would come and I felt totally relaxed and calm. I was loving this part of birth. I looked forward to labor, and the gentle solitude made the experience that much more enjoyable. THIS is how labor should be. I changed positions a few times, mostly hanging slightly over the edge of the tub in a deep squat with the water covering my entire belly and just reaching my breasts. We have a deep claw-foot tub and it made the perfect laboring tub.
Finally at 4:27 I felt as though I wanted someone there with me so I called Mark to get the phone for me so I could call my mom. I had to call his name several times (even tried calling for my oldest son – but he didn’t wake either) before he woke up! He was SOUND asleep and snoring!! He brought me the phone, then went back to bed. I called my mom at 4:30. I told her that I was in labor and she said she would get my Dad off to work and head right over (she lives about 14 miles away). With the next few contrax I was moaning a little and hanging over the side of the tub completely relaxing into each contrax. I tried changing positions several times but a semi-squat seemed to work best. My back was really beginning to HURT by this time. At 4:37 I called to Mark that I really needed someone with me now. He got up and asked if I had called Michele (our midwife). I told him I had called her earlier but maybe I should call again. He said he really didn’t want to be birthing the baby by himself but that once I called it would set a lot of things in motion and wake everyone up. I had already made up my mind to wait till 5:00 to call again so everyone could get a decent nights sleep.
I told Mark that I was feeling a bit shaky and a little nauseous with each contraction (KNOWING I was in transition but really not quite believing I could be THAT far along yet!). He said, “that’s not normal is it?” I knew it was for transition, but didn’t/couldn’t tell him this. I felt hot and sweaty which I always do in transition. Mark went to make coffee and I got a washcloth with cold water to put on my forehead and neck during contrax. That definitely felt better. I squatted in the tub and hung onto the end (we have a clawfoot tub) but that did NOT feel good and I realized I just couldn’t be in the tub anymore. I was feeling very hot and shaky and moaning quite a bit with each contraction. I also suddenly realized that there was NO TIME between contrax, they were one on top of another so I called to Mark that he needed to call Michele and tell her I need her here NOW! He paged her at about 4:43am.
I got out of the tub and laid down on the bathroom floor on my left side hoping to slow things down a little (Mark got in the tub and took a bath). I was having tremendous back pain and feeling incredible pressure by then. I tried a hands and knees position, but it didn’t feel right, so I tried to slow things down by putting my chest to the floor with my butt in the air. This also did NOT feel right. So I went back to lying on my left side. I was consciously trying to slow things down because I just instinctively knew that my baby was coming very quickly. I told Mark to throw me a towel which I wadded up and put between my legs to help me deal with the enormous pressure I was feeling! I was moaning very loudly now and Michele called back (she heard me moaning in the background and knew she needed to hurry – she is 25miles away) despite Mark’s calmness. He still didn’t think things were going as quickly as they were.
The pain in my back was becoming so intense I told Mark to make a fist and push as hard as he could near my tailbone. I had to reposition his hand but the pressure felt better. He tried to go get coffee and make more calls, but I kept calling him back within seconds of him leaving the room because I needed the counterpressure again! With the next couple of contrax I pushed against the wall with my feet while Mark pushed hard against my back. This seemed to help the back pain, but only slightly!
My moaning woke up our oldest son so Mark told him to find the rice/herb sock and put it in the microwave. I had to tell him where to find it because Mark had him looking in all the wrong places! Mark was trying to explain how to set the microwave for 3 minutes but going about it the wrong way. So during contrax I kept thinking “just tell him to push the 1 minute button 3 times!!!” I just couldn’t get the words out of my mouth!!
I told Mark that I felt kind of like I needed to push. He asked me, “Do you really want to do this right here?” meaning on the bathroom floor. I said, “No, I’ll make a run for the bed after the next contraction.” There was no time in between so I began crawling out of the bathroom. Mark said,” You’ll never make it that way.” So I stood up and stumbled to the bed. Though I had wanted and planned to birth this baby in a supported squat I did NOT want to do anything but lie on my left side and I knew that if I squatted the baby would descend way too quickly. Mark came in to push on my back some more and I told him “the baby is coming.” I moaned loudly and didn’t even need to push. My body was doing everything on its own! Mark said excitedly, “You just hold back on that pushing thing!” as he grabbed our 2yo daughter and put her (still sleeping) in our son’s bed. I had our oldest son push on my back in the meantime. I put a pillow between my legs which made the incredible sensation a little easier to handle. Mark tried to leave the room to call Michele to tell her I was pushing but I called him back. With the next contraction I reached between my legs, pillow still there, and felt the bag of waters bulging out of my vagina. It broke as soon as I barely touched it because my body was still pushing. Mark said,” You just broke your water didn’t you!?” as if I had done so on purpose! I said “yes” calmly and then checked the pillow for meconium. It was clear so I relaxed a little. My only concern was that I was Beta-strep+ and I knew there would be no time for antibiotics. Luckily I had read plenty about GBS and knew the chances of exposing baby were slim, especially since my waters were intact till minutes earlier.
Mark said,”You’re really soaking things ya know!” and got a towel (of course he had to grab one of the kids WHITE embroidered towels despite the STACK of junk towels and the towels I had set in the bedroom specifically for the birth) to put under me as I tried to take off my tshirt. I managed to get it off one arm and over my head, but that was it. I actually had about 10 seconds before the next contraction came and my body began its work again. I really didn’t have to do anything but go with the contraction. I didn’t consciously push, but rather allowed my body to do as it wished. I told Mark,”I feel the head.” He said,”NO!” I told him, “Call Kelly (our neighbor and friend). Call Jennifer (a friend).” So he left the room to do so. He called Kelly at about 5:00. When he came back in I told him the baby was crowning so he told our son to go get Kelly. She walked in just then (5:10). They both grabbed the “Precipitous Childbirth” instructions from our notebook and Mark ran out of the room to wash his hands! I was sitting in a semi-squat supporting my perineum with both hands so that I wouldn’t tear and trying to ease the head out slowly. I noticed my labia were paper thin and completely blanched white (YES I actually watched myself birthing my baby!)! The head was on the perineum and I could see most of the top of it! I could see that our baby had dark hair and lots of it! Kelly sat at the end of the bed and I laid back a bit and moaned deeply with the next contraction. I reached down to figure out how this baby was presenting (knowing it was posterior, but wanting to make sure) and could feel the bridge of the nose at the top of my vagina so I knew this baby was definitely sunny-side-up!
Still supporting my perineum, I had another contraction, and the head was out! I laid back and said,”Thank GOD!” then told Kelly to check for the cord. She said the cord was around the neck so I reached down to check how tight it was and try to slip it over. By that time Mark was at the end of the bed and our 2nd son had woken up, so both the boys were watching!
Mark said he couldn’t get the cord over the head but I knew it didn’t matter because another contraction was coming. With this one the first, and then second, shoulder were born and the body quickly followed, into the waiting (and very nervous) hands of Papa! I sat up immediately and said,”Give me the baby!” (I don’t remember saying that, but they both said I did!). Mark ran out of the room to call Michele again. I picked the baby up and laid her across my belly and put my finger in her mouth to remove a blob of spit. I began telling Kelly where the blankets, etc. were. She dug out the bulb syringe but the baby was already crying and pink. Our oldest exclaimed, “It’s a GIRL!!” (he had been wanting another sister), then Kelly said,”A GIRL!?” I checked and said,” It IS A GIRL!!”
My mom walked in the house just as Mark came out of the kitchen! She stood in SHOCK as we told her we had a little girl! She had to look in the bedroom (right next to the front door) to believe it! We covered her with blankets and I put her to the breast. She began nursing right away! I asked them, “What time is it?” and we decided she arrived at 5:11am. Kelly and Mark started looking for the cord clamps and scissors but I told them the cord and placenta would be fine until Michele arrived.
About 4 minutes later Michele came in and Mark told her the baby was already here! She didn’t believe him until she looked in the room and saw me nursing our little girl! Sam, the apprentice arrived shortly after, and then a few minutes later Vicki, another apprentice, arrived. They were both shocked that they had arrived too late! They came in and Michele quickly checked the baby as we told them the story. I asked if I had torn, Michele checked – NO TEARS OR SKID MARKS!! WOOOHOOOO!!! A few minutes later they started the newborn exam. Lula weighed 7# 2oz., was 20.5″ long, and had a teensy head circumference of 13.5″!! No wonder she was such a rocket! Having birthed 15″ & 15.5″ heads, this one was EASY!
So 1hour and 26minutes after I first called my midwife to say I was probably in early labor my daughter was born! After having 3 labors that lasted 15-19 hours each, I had a 1.5 hour labor!!! WOW!!
This birth was definitely the most memorable of them all! Even though she was posterior and the pain was definitely more intense, it was a WONDERFUL and EXCITING birth!!! I would not change a thing! It was really kind of great NOT knowing how far along I was because I had to *COMPLETELY* trust and LISTEN TO my body this time!
The experience taught me so many things! For one, I cannot always expect things to go as planned – no matter HOW many lists I make!! I also learned that I am far stronger than I ever imagined (I think most women sell themselves FAR short of what they are TRULY capable of)! I never dreamed I would be able to make it through labor as calmly as I did, OR that I could be *LUCID* enough to provide my own labor support especially with a posterior birth! I would never have imagined I could think so clearly that I would support my own perineum and talk someone through the birth of my baby! I had always joked with Mark and Kelly that if things seemed to go quickly I would just talk them through it! I never really THOUGHT I would, but I DID!! All in all, it was a perfect birth experience!