Awhile ago, during the pregnancy, I joined an online forum with other women who were also pregnant and due in May, and this group of women became my “due date club.” About halfway through our pregnancies, we decided to do a bead swap, where most of the women of the group decided to send each other a bead, often with a wish/ blessing/ quote attached to it, and we were then able to make necklaces out of all of the beads we had received from the other women. I must admit, my necklace was a huge source of strength and comfort for me! While I was in labor I wore the necklace the entire time, and clutched it in my fist while I was pushing. Thinking about the other women who were also in labor at the same time, or who had just had babies/ or were just about to have babies was a really helpful thought for me during the thick of it. And now that nearly all of us have given birth at this point, this group of women is also proving to be an invaluable source of support through the tricky new parenting/ postpartum days.
One of the women from this group was also willing to share her birth story here on Belly Tales, so with her permission I am going to post it. Her name is Katie, and she gave birth to a beautiful son, Sebastian, at home in a birthtub. This is their birth story, written by Katie:
I had a lot of nervousness going into my third birth. Mostly I was nervous about the length of labor, tearing, shoulder dystocia and some other things. My second birth was my first home birth, and it was great; however, there were a few complications, all of which were handled marvelously by my midwives. At a blessingway that my friends threw for me, I was asked to tell about my ideal birth, so I did. I was nervous to say things like” it was short,” or “I didn’t tear.” I did, though, and I just hoped it would turn out that way.
Both of my boys were born after their due dates, so I was sure I had 40 weeks before I would have my baby. I worked hard to get all of my writing done so that I could relax for a week before the baby came.
On Monday morning, May 9, when my husband Michael’s alarm clock went off, I told him I’d been having some regular contractions for a bit, and since I’d been having contractions on and off for a couple of weeks now, he reminded me that they were probably just Braxton Hicks warm-up contractions. I agreed. After a while, I got up and went to the bathroom. I noticed, though, that I had lost my mucus plus, so I knew that these contractions were different.
I kept about with my morning plans, though. I went to eat breakfast with a friend, and on the way, I called my midwife to let her know that I thought maybe I was in early labor. After breakfast, I was going to go to the YMCA to walk to the track and help move things along, but since my midwife was in the area, she decided to come over and see how things were progressing. She checked me around 11 a.m. and said that I was almost four centimeters dilated. I was shocked. My contractions were about four minutes apart, and they weren’t even that painful. She told me to try to take a nap that afternoon. She also told me that she had another mom in labor, which made my heart sink. That mom was also about four centimeters dilated as well.
After she left, I decided to take Atticus to lunch on his way to preschool. He enjoyed that, and when I dropped him off, I told his classroom assistant that I would likely have the baby later tonight, as I was four centimeters. She looked at me in complete shock, like, “Why are you driving and walking around right now?” It cracked me up.
When I got home, I did lie down, and I tried to sleep, but my excitement was too overwhelming. I knew I needed to conserve energy at that point, so I just grabbed my laptop and watched some TV shows on Hulu to keep me distracted. I watched the most recent episodes of “The Office,” “30 Rock” and “Parks and Recreation,” in that order. By the time I got to the last TV show, I had to pause the show during a contraction, get on all fours and rock through the contraction. It was becoming more intense. Atticus came home from school, and he watched me labor for a bit. He asked a lot of questions.
I called my midwife and told her she needed to come again. She got there around 5 p.m., and checked me again. I was only at a 4 ½! I was sure I was further along as the contractions at this point felt more intense. I was discouraged and thought that I was in for a repeat of August’s slow labor. Plus, her other mom in labor was at six centimeters, and I felt so nervous that I wouldn’t get to have my midwife at my birth.
My midwife’s assistant arrived around 5:30 or 6, and she and Robyn, my midwife, went outside to discuss what they would do. When they came back, she said that she was going to stay with me and send her assistant to the other mom. She also called my friend and midwife, Mary, to stay with us and be with me when and if Robyn needed to go to the other mom.
During this time, Michael started filling the birth pool, so when that was done I got in it. The water was definitely not hot enough for me, so he started boiling pans on the stove to fill it with hotter water.
During this time, my contractions stayed three to four minutes apart, but I needed a lot of help getting through them. I had to hold someone’s hand through each one. I would either blow my lips out like a horse through the entire contraction, chant things like, “I am strong,” “I am bigger than this” or “it’s ok” over and over again. I tried some of the same visualizations I used for August’s birth, but they didn’t work for this one, so I made new ones. I also told myself that I could do anything for a minute. I stayed in the pool for a couple of hours, just working through the contractions like this and thinking I had a very long way to go.
At one point, my midwife told me that she thought I was a lot further on. So, when Mary arrived around 8:30ish, she wanted to check me again, because she thought the baby would be born very soon. I was shocked to hear that. When Mary arrived, she checked me, and I was dilated to an 8 or 9 with a bulging bag of water. I could not believe it. I was sure I was going to be laboring all night. How in the world could I be that far along? I felt like even though my contractions were very painful, they weren’t even that close together yet.
We decided to break my water, and as soon as that happened, I felt tons of pressure, and knew that it was very close. My midwife helped stretch my cervix through two or three contractions, which, of course, was painful, but I knew it meant the end. That was about 8:45. Atticus and my mom joined the rest of us in the bedroom. I liked that Atticus was there. He just stood next to Michael and watched everything.
I couldn’t believe how quickly I felt the need to push. He was right there, and I could tell. During my next contraction, I started pushing his head out, and it really hurt. I kept saying that it hurt. I said I couldn’t push anymore. So, the midwives said it was ok to just breathe and pant a bit, which I did. It still hurt, but at that point, that felt better than pushing. I still could feel him moving down, though.
It was intense, and at one point, I saw Atticus run away, and that made me sad, but I knew it was probably best at that point. While he was crowing, the midwives remarked on his black hair, so I put my hand down and felt it. I could not believe that that was my baby’s head and that I would meet him soon. That made me want to push harder.
Throughout my pregnancy, I had expressed to my midwife how I didn’t want to tear as much as I did last time. While I was pushing, she was using oils to help me stretch and putting a lot of pressure on my perineum. While it was happening, though, I was sure I was tearing, because it was so intense and painful.
After his head was out, the midwife checked for cord, and then I start pushing the rest out. It felt like it took a while to come out, but now, when I look at the pictures, I see that it was less than a minute. As soon as he was out, I grabbed and just loved on him. I was so relieved it was over, but I was also so happy to be holding him. And I just couldn’t stop staring at his hair! There was so much of it! He also looked so small, as August was almost nine pounds, and this baby looked teeny-tiny compared to that. I kept hugging him, and the other people in the room reminded me to check to see is he was a boy or girl.
I knew he was a boy as soon as I saw him, and my suspicions were confirmed as soon as I looked. I had wanted a girl, admittedly, but when I saw him, I didn’t care one bit that he was a boy, and I thought about how great it would be to have three little boys, and how cute they all would be together.
I got to stay in the tub for a few minutes. I was still crampy, and I tried to push the placenta out, but it wasn’t coming yet, so I decided to get out of the pool. I didn’t want to cut the cord yet, so Michael helped me stand up, and my midwife held the baby close to me so that he could stay attached for a bit longer.
I tried to nurse him to help the placenta detach, but he was so quiet and just not really interested. I gave a few good pushes, though, and it finally came out. After some inspection, my midwife said she didn’t think that I would need stitches. I was in complete and utter shock. I was also thrilled.
My midwife had been in contact with her assistant who was with the other laboring mom, so she had to leave to be with her, which was fine with me. I was just so thrilled that she had been able to be at my birth. After she left, Mary helped me get cleaned up and settled in bed.
The next day we named our boy Sebastian Michael. He weighed 8 lbs, one ounce and was 20 ¼ inches long.
I still can’t believe that everything I wanted for my birth came true: no tearing, no shoulder dystocia/easy passage and relatively short(er) labor. I feel quiet lucky.