This is a birth story. That means I'll be talking about vaginas and poop and all those sorts of things. And I don't really give birth fully dressed. You've been warned. There is also a link to the video of the birth.
In the weeks up to Linda's birth, I kept thinking she'd be born on a weekend. Every time a weekend came I'd think, "Is it this weekend?" And when Monday came, I felt let down that now I'd have to wait five more days.
Linda dropped in my belly a week before Christmas and when that happened, all the prodromal labor seemed to cease. I spent the last few weeks fairly comfortable and without many contractions. On Sunday the 6th, while I was sitting in church, I felt the contractions move lower like menstrual cramps, which I knew was a good thing. If I relaxed and focused on them, I could feel them dilating my cervix. But this week was too busy to really focus on that: the landlords were redoing the floor in the room above our bedroom, so Isaac wasn't getting any of his regular naps and then they wanted to fix a hole in our living room floor. Also, they wanted me to watch their daughter Monday and Tuesday (I limited it to Monday) and didn't seem to understand that I might have a baby. It was stressful.
When this most recent weekend came up, I woke up on Friday morning thinking, "This will probably be the weekend." I wasn't sure if it would start Friday or not, but I was thinking it. After all, if this pregnancy followed the timeline my previous one did, as far as dates, Linda was supposed to be born on Sunday. And if this pregnancy was going to be "typical" and the baby would come sooner than the previous one, then Friday and Saturday were it.
Friday night I kept thinking, "Saturday," so I messaged Jena, a doula and massage therapist friend of mine, whom I thought I might want at the birth to see how busy her Saturday would be. She lives an hour away, but happened to have an audition in Oakland around 1 in the afternoon.
I slept fairly well Friday night. My uterus was pretty quiet. The only time I woke up was when Isaac had kicked off his blanket in the middle of the night and wanted someone to help him settle back down.
At seven in the morning, after waking up, I was having those low menstrual-like cramps and decided to focus and try to relax through them because I knew they would help dilate my cervix. I told McKay that I'd be "breathing" through them, but not to worry because I can still talk through them- I was just trying to put myself in birthing mindset. By 9am, I was getting very close to not being able to talk through them any more. I listened to the Hypnobabies birth affirmations track and I told McKay that I thought we should fill up the pool. He said that he thought that I said that my breathing through these cramps was just something I was doing, but I could talk through them. I told him, no, we need to get the pool out, so he started blowing it up and filling it. Strangely, I also had a couple of moments of just crying. McKay didn't notice and I don't know why. I think that impending labor and birth was just a little much for me to think about.
I spent the next couple of hours debating whether or not to call the midwife, J. She had all these ideas that I'd have a baby before Christmas (yeah... no...) and that since this is my third child, it'll go fast. I didn't want to call her too early and then have her sit around for a long third labor and wonder what was wrong with my body that it doesn't work. I called her around 11am and told her that things were 5-7 minutes apart. She had attended a birth the day before (actually her last for January except for me-- and I was "due" January 1) and had called me after that birth on Friday afternoon to see if I wanted my dilation checked, which I turned down. So she had a newborn visit to do and since things were "slow," she'd come after. At noon she called me to ask if things had picked up. I wasn't paying attention to the clock, so I said I'd time some contractions for her.
While that was happening, the pool was done. I was having bad lower back labor and wanted to get in the tub, but we couldn't keep it warm. The tile in the kitchen was sucking out all the warmth from the water. I got in anyway because my feet were cold and the water was warmer than my feet. The midwife's partner, L, came at this point and my contractions were 2-3 minutes apart. I got out of the tub, dried off (check out my Wonder Woman bikini top!) and sat on the ball and switched various positions to deal with the back labor. L put pressure on my back, but to be honest, I wish McKay was doing that since he would have put more pressure and I needed a lot of counter pressure. He stayed close by. I was having hot flashes and the shakes and shivers. That's pretty normal, but I kept a blanket on. For a little while, the kids went upstairs to play with the little boy who is about Isaac's age, but when it was his naptime, his mom sent my kids back down.
Before J showed up. Blurry pics! This is our dining room. We moved our bikes out of the kitchen and you can see them against the window/door.
J showed up at some point. She's a talker and that was kind of annoying at times. My friend Jena also showed up after her audition, so I guess that was after 2 some time, and took my kids to the park. I had called other people earlier in the day for child care, but being Saturday, most people had plans.
I was really tired. I had been telling McKay that all day. I really just wanted to take a nap, even back at 10am, but I couldn't. The midwives suggested I try resting on the bed or couch. I opted for the couch because our mattress is directly on the floor and I didn't want to have to get up from the floor to have a baby after being down. I probably spent half an hour to 45 minutes on the couch. L put pressure on my back, McKay held my hands. Every time I got a rest and got close to dozing off, my uterus and back would remind me that I'm supposed to be having a baby. Every other contraction, I'd have a hot flash or get the chills. I also spent a lot of the contractions hiding my face with my hands. It's like I wanted more privacy and I had to go away. You can see that in the pictures.
As I was getting ready to lie down on the couch. Hiding my face. Could have used a little more back pressure, to be honest.
Sometime in this Jena had come back with the kids and they went upstairs again to play with that little boy whose nap was over.
I moved over to the couch and leaned on the armrest, so I was in a hand/knees/kneeling position. I had a contraction or two there and got very discouraged because the pushy feeling had left. In a particularly long lull (you know... 2-3 minutes), I said out loud, "No baby coming." But everyone heard "Baby coming." So they got all excited and I was all, "No!" My brain was so distraught that I was no longer pushy and everyone was waiting for a baby.
Then immediately, a contraction happened and I pushed and suddenly I felt the balloon of my water come out (also, I pooped, which I knew was going to happen, but I couldn't stop it). It was like my vagina was blowing bubble gum, but with the water sac being the gum. I guessed it was probably 6-8 inches in diameter from what I was feeling and so I declared, "Nope! Baby is coming!" My water broke and Linda's head crowned. Lots of voices all at once. Someone said, "That's the head!" And I couldn't tell if they meant that the head was out all the way and the pressure I was feeling was the shoulders trying to get through, or if that was just them saying the head was crowning. I quickly realized it was just a crowning head. I eased that out (loudly) while L put a warm wash cloth on my perineum and told me to push into the warmth/heat. McKay said he could see the face. I was just trying to stay upright- my body was so tired and I don't think my legs wanted to stay attached to my hips.
Once the head was out, I asked if I needed to wait for the shoulders to turn. I was ready to rest to allow that to happen, but the answer was, "No" so I kept on with the pushing. They moved my leg up, but I didn't feel very stable. Lots of noise was happening (mostly from me) and I couldn't think, so I just pushed a baby out. Linda was placed underneath me, but because my hips felt like falling off, I didn't want to pick her up right away because I was afraid I'd fall over or drop her. In the blur, I thought I saw a vulva, so I announced it was a girl. In the video, you hear me saying, "I don't know what I'm supposed to do," and that's because I was afraid if I sat back too quickly, my legs really would fall off and I'd fall off the couch. She was born at 4:18pm.
If you want to see the video of crowning to birth, it's here. There was a ton of meconium everywhere, which is why I mention the mess that's there. Also, I did all that without tearing. Sweetness!
After sitting back, I started nursing her and the afterpains happened and it was like I never had a baby and was still in labor. The kids came down and met Linda.
Kids meeting Linda. I like Isaac's expression in the second one.
Same pic, but this time I'm in the middle of an afterpain. Sucky suck suck suck. It's like being in labor, but with no baby at the end.
I've never had to work at getting a placenta, so I just laid back and figured it'd come out on its own. After half an hour or 45 minutes of waiting, the midwives were getting a little nervous about that, so they had me squat and wait for pushy contraction. It came out with about 3 cups of blood and clots, about 50 minutes after the birth. I know that's nearing "hemorrhaging" proportions, but to be honest, it seemed about right from what I remember from the other births and told the midwives that I just bleed a lot. I give blood regularly and I know what too much blood loss feels like and I wasn't feeling it. On the plus side, the back labor with my afterpains got better after the placenta was out. Still happened, though.
Placenta was inspected. It was big and whole, no calcification or other signs of age (none of my placentas had any calcification).
Linda wasn't weighed until after the placenta was out, but I figured the few teaspoons of colostrum she had wouldn't make much difference in weight. She was 10 pounds even, which was bigger than I thought- I was guessing around 9 pounds since that's between Isaac and Margaret's weights.
Jena went and got me gyros for my first meal postpartum. That was lovely. Midwives cleaned every thing up. Ended up not using the pool because of temperature issues, but McKay emptied it and cleaned up. I missed out on a potluck we were planning on going to that night (sorry about not calling you back, Fran!)
Linda on Sunday morning:
Oh my goodness, labor is intense. I was hoping that the Hypnobabies stuff would be more effective, but I think I'm too cerebral for that. Lots of back labor and I don't know why. Maybe I'm just doomed. I think a warm tub would have been nice, or if the water heater could hold more hot water and I could shower with water on my back longer. And I need McKay putting pressure on my back. I'm glad he got the video. I just watched it for the first time while typing this up and it doesn't seem as chaotic as it felt in my brain. Seriously, I felt like everyone was talking all at once and it was very disorienting for me. But I know McKay felt glad people were there because with juggling the kids, he wouldn't have been able to do as much hand-holding and support-giving if he was the only person there. And if I had thought my brain hadn't erased the intensity of Isaac's birth, I'm not sure if it'll ever erase this one. Intense. Seriously, anyone with back labor needs to figure out how to manage it better than I have been doing. This is why people get epidurals and I don't blame them.
But yay, baby! We went to bed that night and got a little sleep... until Linda decided that she had to poop meconium out her diaper at 4 am. Fun times.