Note: This is a birth story. As such, it contains references to birth stuff like dilation, pushing, and other TMI type details. So if that’s not your thing, skip this post and check us out next time
I thought for most of my pregnancy that this little one would be born early. I had no reason to think that, it was just a feeling. I was also measuring at least two weeks ahead for most of my pregnancy, and it became a running joke that this was going to be my “elephant baby,” since her older brother got here at 10 lbs 6 oz. The weekend of Mother’s Day, I just knew I would go into labor. But Monday morning came, and I was still pregnant. I was still in pretty good spirits, just surprised that things hadn’t gone the way I expected them too.
Wednesday morning I had an appointment with my OB, who I had seen throughout the pregnancy as a back-up for my midwife. He checked me, and I was still just 1 centimeter dilated. I left the appointment chanting to myself, “Your cervix is not a crystal ball!” But I was feeling a little more discouraged. My blood pressure had also gone up, which made my midwife a bit concerned. She came over Wednesday afternoon and did a few pressure points to see if we could encourage things along at all. She also noticed that baby wasn’t really in the best position.
Thursday was my due date. I went to my chiropractor, and was thankful again for the fact that although I was ready for the baby to be born, it wasn’t because my back was killing me! Thursday night my husband and I went out for a date. I had arranged a babysitter earlier in the week, even though I had been sure I would have to cancel. But to my surprise, we went out for dinner, AND made it all the way through the new Star Trek movie without a hint of a real contraction.
Friday I tried to stay relaxed about things, and do what needed to be done around the house. I also drank lots of red raspberry leaf tea, and spent a fair amount of time on my birth ball. I wanted to encourage baby to get in a better position, and to move down, since I was still really high. My husband and I stayed up way to late Friday night watching Doctor Who, so it was almost midnight before we got in bed.
That night I kept being woken up by contractions. They were fairly mild, but were peaking in my back and right hip. I decided as long as I could fall back asleep between them I would. Finally a little before 5 I couldn’t sleep any more. The contractions were getting closer together and my back and hip were really bothering me. I got up, woke my husband, and called my birth team. I mixed up some “labor aid” and started drinking it. If my other labors hadn’t gone so quickly, I wouldn’t have called everyone when I did, but I was concerned about things progressing quickly and people not making it in time. Everyone was here by about 7. I updated twitter a few times. My midwife started organizing and setting up all our birth supplies. About 30 minutes later… my contractions stopped. We all hung out for awhile. My husband went and got us all breakfast. My midwife went home to get some knitting stuff…. But my contractions never started back up. I felt pretty discouraged about it, but everyone encouraged me that this was a sign my body was getting ready, and that it wouldn’t be to much longer. My midwife made plans to come over the next afternoon and do some more pressure points if nothing happened before then.
After everyone left, I laid down and felt pretty sorry for myself! But I listened to my “labor playlist”, told baby it was time to come out, and took a good nap. That afternoon, I spent some time reading on Spinning Babies. We knew baby still hadn’t tucked chin or engaged, and that her position still wasn’t quite right. So I crawled around my room for awhile, and did my basement stairs several times. That evening we went to the mall and walked, and then I spent awhile on the birth ball after the kids went to bed. I continued to have 1-2 contractions an hour, but never more than that, and they weren’t getting any stronger. My husband and I were supposed to share at church Sunday, but he made arrangements for a video to be shown instead, and also found someone to fill in for him on the media team. I told him that if we got up the next morning with no signs of things progressing, I was probably going to cry. We went to bed around 10.
Around 2:30 I woke up to a contraction that was much more intense than the others had been. I really had to concentrate and breathe through it. I got up and went to the bathroom, and had a loose BM (TMI, but something that typically always happens at the start of labor for me!). I had another contraction, but decided to try to go back to bed. I laid down for just a minute, but couldn’t get comfortable, so I decided to go to the living room. I had another few contractions in there, and these were intense enough I couldn’t lay down and rest through them – I had to stand, rotate my hips, and breathe. I decided I should wake up my husband. I told him I was having contractions again, and that they really hurt this time. He told me to call my midwife. I hated to call her after what had just happened Saturday morning, but I felt like things were different this time. I called her, but decided I would wait to call my support ladies. But then I had a few more contractions! Things continued to get more intense, and I decided it was better to risk being embarrassed then for everyone to miss it. My two year old and four year old were both asleep in my bed, and since my room was “labor land” my husband moved them to the living room. Unfortunately, that woke them both up, but they settled down pretty fast and watched Jake and the Neverland Pirates. Over. And over.
I’m not sure what time everyone got here. The contractions were intense enough that I stopped paying attention to what time it was, and totally forgot to update Twitter about #elephantbaby. One of our major goals for this birth was to prevent the tearing I’ve had with all my other deliveries, so my midwife asked to apply some evening primrose oil to my cervix. I asked her to check me too, even though I said I knew it didn’t mean anything. By this point I had been having hard contractions for about 45 minutes. She reminded me that it really didn’t mean anything, but agreed to check me. And I was ONE AND A HALF centimeters. I almost lost it right then. I couldn’t believe I wasn’t a four or five, like I normally was by the time my contractions reached this level of intensity. My contractions also spaced out from every 2-3 minutes to every 5-7, but they were lasting a lot longer and getting progressively more intense. I hung out my birth ball for awhile, but the pain in my back was getting harder to deal with. My doula got here and started doing counter pressure, which helped a lot. At some point my midwife suggested I get in the tub. That sounded nice, so my doula ran a hot bath for me and I climbed in. Everyone decided to give me some privacy, and just check on me every so often and see if I needed anything.
The tub was amazing for the back labor. I could tell a huge difference with the very first contraction I had in there. I started to really enter a serious labor zone. I would have a strong, hard contraction, but as soon as it was over, I would almost fall asleep, and stay in that completely relaxed state until the next contraction hit. When the contractions did hit, I tried to keep my body relaxed, and remember what I had read about the uterus working in my Bradley book. After awhile I started to feel a lot of pressure with the contractions, but I wasn’t feeling the urge to push. I was also kind of out of it, like I said. During contractions, I started wishing other people were around, and thinking it might be close to time, but as soon as it was over I didn’t really care any more, and it was hard to motivate myself to get out of the tub. I finally really decided if I didn’t get out soon, I might give birth in there with none of my support team, and that wasn’t what I wanted, so I stood up. And had a hard contraction. I dried off. And stopped for a contraction. I used the toilet, and saw a tiny amount of blood, but still nothing that looked like bloody show or my mucous plug. I started getting dressed, and had to stop between each article of clothing for a contraction. At some point while I was getting dressed, my midwife knocked on the door. I told her I was getting out, but had to stop in the middle of answering her to deal with a contraction. She could tell from my breathing that these contractions were a lot different than they had been when I got into the tub, and she grabbed my doula and told her to stand right next to the door while she started getting some things ready in my room.
I walked into my room, and told everyone I had decided I better get out, because things were getting more intense. Right after I said that, another contraction hit, and I instinctively dropped to my knees next to the bed, and rested my upper body on the bed. My doula came up and started doing counter pressure. All of a sudden, I felt a pop of my water breaking, and I started pushing. I still had underwear and a pad on at this point, and the contraction was so intense that I couldn’t say anything. So I was kind of panicking about the fact that this was happening and no one in the room knew it! As soon as the contraction slacked off I gasped out, “I’m pushing!” and everyone started rushing around… In a very calm, reassuring way I asked someone to get David and the girls, and I was also really worried about getting my underwear off, and then about the fact that I was on carpet!
With all my other labors, once I’ve felt the urge to push, I just push with all my might until I’m done. I knew that if I wanted to reduce my risk of tearing, I needed to try to breathe through some of that urge, and not push so hard. My midwife and doula did warm compresses, which really helped with the urge, and everyone kept encouraging me to just breathe, and that I was doing great. I could distinctly feel the babiy’s head moving down, but it was a few more contractions before she crowned and came out. Her body was out in one or two more pushes after that. Because I delivered on my knees, she was behind me, and I knew my midwife was suctioning her, and that I didn’t hear any crying immediately, but everyone seemed really calm. After a moment, my doula helped me flip around and sit down, and they handed her to me. Everything happened so fast, we had to estimate the exact birth time, but it was around 6:05am – less than four hours after I got up with the first contractions. So much for my worries about labor taking to long. Dilation really doesn’t mean anything.
I still didn’t know if baby was a girl or boy yet. We had given my oldest the job of “announcing” to the room, so I checked to see if it was a boy or girl, but tried not to be obvious. I was so excited she was a girl! I had really been okay with either, but part of me was hoping for a girl. It was an amazing feeling to be holding her in my arms when I found out – we’ve always found out at the ultrasound before.
At this point, I noticed that she was pretty filthy, even more so than a normal newborn, and she still wasn’t really crying well. My midwife suctioned her a little more and kept rubbing her, but she started to turn a little blue on us. It was scary, but within a minute or two she pinked up and let out a few little cries to let us know she was okay.
We called Makaylah over, and let her check to see if it was a boy or girl. Her cord was right in the way though, so at first she proudly announced, “Boy!” to which we said, “Are you sure?” When she realized she had another sister she was over the moon! I delivered the placenta, and my seven year old Sophia came over to cut the cord. We hadn’t planned on my four year old, Isaiah, being present for the birth, but in all the rush and confusion he ended up in there too. He has since told me that Talia was “gross” when she came out, and also that he knows how he got out of my tummy now, but he seems to have taken it in stride overall!
We relaxed on the floor for a few minutes. It wasn’t until I was talking to my midwife during this time that I realized why she was such a mess – there was TONS of meconium in the water. She was also pretty covered in vernex, so the combination was quite a sight! My midwife and doula also couldn’t get over the fact that she had come out with both shoulders at the same time – not something you see every day. She started rooting around, so I pulled down my top to latch her on. Before I could do much more than move her towards me, she opened up wide and latched right on. My midwife and everyone else on my support team were shocked, and we all have breastfed. I’ve never seen a baby latch on that way at the first feeding. After about 30 minutes, we got into the herbal bath (verrrrrry slowly, on my part!), which felt amazing, and got us both cleaned up. Then they helped me get into bed, and we pretty much stayed there for the next few days!
It was an absolutely amazing birth experience. I know not everyone feels comfortable birthing at home, but for me it was the most natural thing in the world. To give birth surrounded by people I know in love, with my children right there, and to crawl into my own comfortable bed afterwards to get to know my baby…. It was perfect.
Oh, and as far as the elephant baby thing goes… We were all pleasantly surprised that she was “only” 8 lbs 11 oz