Labor came on slowly, as it did with my first birth. I had been having Braxton Hicks contractions for weeks and weeks. Several days before Elias' birth the quality of my contractions changed. They came at random times and weren't regular. They weren't painful but they got nice and tight. I started getting excited for labor to start in earnest. I had my hair and make up all done every day, to look nice for labor pictures. Monday morning Aaron and I went for a hike. (Incidentally, I hiked that peak with Hazel and my friend, Melanie, shortly after I found out I was pregnant with Elias. A great way to start and end the pregnancy!)
Monday came and went, with no labor starting. Tuesday, October 1 started similarly. Contractions at random times throughout the day. I soaked in my bath and held the pressure points. I did my hair and makeup. I waited for labor. The contractions continued at random times. I finished packing my bags and although labor didn't seem to be on its way, I put them by the door. I was becoming discouragated...discouraged and frustrated. After dinner, Mom put the kids down to bed while Aaron and I went for a walk. We walked through the dark neighborhoods holding hands and talking. As we walked, my sacrum hurt with each step. Soon it became a constant pain. And my contractions became tighter. Sometimes it felt like a perma-contraction...one long contraction. We walked for an hour and then went home. It was the end of the day. I was resigned to the fact that labor wasn't imminent. I washed my makeup off my face and we went to bed at 10:30 p.m.
I awoke to a contraction that made me say, "Whoa." I looked at the clock on my phone. 12:09 a.m. I lay in bed and waited for another contraction. I didn't wait long. My contractions were coming about three minutes apart. Aaron awoke after a few contractions. We called the midwife on call and found it was Marinah. She asked what I thought about this labor. I said I didn't know. I didn't know if this was really active labor or if it would just die down. So Marinah recommended we try to get some rest. We laid back down and after a few contractions I felt like I would want my doula's help soon. Kelly Sunshine was the doula on call. We contacted her and she said she would come over.
Aaron and I got out of bed. Aaron drew a bath for me. As I waited for the tub to fill, a feeling washed over me. I felt nauseous, hot, sweaty, and as though I might black out. Aaron responded, "That's all normal. They're a part of labor!" (I'm so proud of my man, knowing about labor and birth!) Then he went to get a cool wash cloth to put on my forehead. Aaron was going in several different directions at once: contacting the doula, getting the wash cloth, and waking Mom. I soon moved into the tub. It felt good to be in the water. It soothed my contractions. I breathed quietly and calmly to help me through the contractions. Aaron sat at my side constantly and held my hand. Mom soon came into the bathroom with us.
Kelly arrived and sat on the bathroom floor. She watched as I labored. Kelly recommended Aaron pour water over my tummy with a cup. It was soothing. Soon the quiet breathing and water poured over my tummy weren't enough. The contractions became longer and stronger. Kelly told me to vocalize "ohhhhhhhh" through contractions. The low vibrations helped me through them. At times I felt like the contractions would become too strong and the pain would overtake me. Kelly reminded me to stay on top of the contractions. I focused on the vocalization and sounded loudly. It helped me. Kelly vocalized with me. I appreciated her modeling the vocalization. It was very helpful. I could feel the pain of the contractions in my lower uterus, below my navel. As the contractions stretched on, I could actually feel my cervix opening inside.
The contractions continued to grow stronger. Kelly had been in contact with Marinah and said it wouldn't be too early to go to Babymoon Inn. Aaron and Kelly helped me out of the tub. Our sweet neighbor, Elaine, came over to sleep at our house and take care of the kids when they awoke in the morning.
I knew I would be very uncomfortable in Skip, our little silver car. I decided to ride with Kelly in her big black Suburban. Mom came with us. Aaron drove Skip. I sat in the middle row. Mom sat next to me. After a few contractions sitting up I decided to lay down.The contractions continued. We drove and drove. Suddenly my water broke! It felt like the huge dam in Tangled broke and it gushed out in every direction! After my water broke the contractions took on a new pressure and intensity. I felt strong downward pressure in my pelvis. I said, "He's coming! He's coming!" Kelly instructed me to breathe fast breaths as if I was blowing out candles, to keep from pushing. I had to really concentrate on those breaths to keep from pushing. I never thought I would be in a vehicle, blazing down the freeway, trying hard not to have my baby on the road. We pulled up to Babymoon Inn at about 3:10 a.m. Marinah and the birth assistants were waiting right at my door. I was in between contractions so they quickly walked me into the birth center and straight back to my room and helped me onto the bed. The water was running in the tub, but was nowhere near full enough for me to get in. It was time for me to push.
I had planned all along to birth in whatever position would feel comfortable at the time. I had assumed I would want to labor in the tub and stay there to deliver, but was open to whatever felt comfortable. I was laying on my left side on the bed and it just didn't feel right. I felt pressure at the top of my uterus and reflux coming up. I couldn't comfortably labor or push lying down. I knew I needed to stand up. I stood up and felt like I needed to lean forward onto something. I leaned forward and rested my hands on the edge of the tub. Aaron was at my left side, cheek to cheek. I needed him. I stood and pushed.
I felt intense pressure down and outward. I felt my pelvis opening, being spread apart by a large solid mass. The pressure down and opening my pelvis was immense. It was strong. It was powerful. It was bigger than me. I felt the solid mass stuck there, holding my pelvis open. I was saying, "Ohhhhhh" very loudly. There was greater pressure, more opening of the pelvis, and my "Ohhhhhh" rose in pitch. Then I heard, "Look down! Look down!" I looked down and saw a soft wet red and purple ball of a baby come down into my midwife's hands. She immediately handed him through my legs and into my arms. I held him close to my body and looked at him in wonder and awe. The midwife and birth assistants wiped him off as I held him. We moved over to the bed where I laid down with my wonderous little boy on my abdomen.
Elias was born at 3:25 a.m. on October 2. He was 20 inches and weighed 8 lb. 10 oz. We snuggled and cuddled skin to skin, him on my chest. Aaron was at our side, reveling in the sweetness of the moment. We moved Elias onto my breast where he latched on and sucked away! He was a good little nurser from the start!
We spent some very sweet family time together on the bed. Elias put his hands up to his face and in his mouth a lot. He sucked on those little fingers and hands. I felt those little hands moving down low in my stomach when he was inside the womb. It was cute to see his behavior and realize that's what he had been doing inside my stomach.
Elaine brought Lily, Carter, and Hazel to the birth center before school to meet Elias. It was a very sweet meeting. The big kids saw him on the bed by me and they all crowded around him to see him. They had happy looks of anticipation and excitement when they met him. They looked at his sweet face and little feet. They took turns holding him. They helped Elias open the gifts they had chosen for him, then they opened the gifts he got for them. It was a very sweet, happy time together. The kids left and Aaron and I soon followed. We left Babymoon Inn for home at about 9:00 a.m. that morning.
This birth was incredible and wondrous! I am so glad I bore him naturally, allowing the labor and birth process to unfold without interventions. It was not easy, but it was doable, and very worth it!