That night, putting the kids to bed, I had a *real* contraction at about 8:00. Now, I am differentiating real from Braxton Hicks contractions or from the ones that I had finally figured out tended to happen when my stomach muscles got tired at the end of the day. Neither of these were causing any progress. But, the one that night I could tell was the real deal. It was a bit intense, but I just went on reading the kids their book. By 9:30 I had gotten 3 whole contractions! I was so excited – I thought we might actually have a baby one day this week.
By 10:30 I was debating calling the midwife just to give her a heads up, but the contractions were still pretty irregular and happening about every 10 minutes or so. I still figured we might have a baby sometime during the day Tuesday. However, I did make the brilliant decision to text my birth team to ask if they were awake and if they wanted to come over for what might not turn into a birth any time soon, or if they would rather get some sleep. TH was asleep already, but TFB jumped in her van and was here lickety split!
By the time TFB got here, the contractions were about every 8 minutes, and this is pretty much where they stayed for the majority of my labor. I had used Hypnobabies to prepare for the birth, but unlike the Bug’s birth, I wasn’t able to focus and stay in my zone between contractions this time. I think possibly because they were spaced so far apart and partly because I was the one timing them and thinking about where we were in the game. But my birthing affirmations track was perfect for where my head was. When a contraction would come, I would just relax as much as I could and go over whatever birthing affirmation was on at that moment. I could just zone out where I was and stay calm and relaxed.
The only place I could get comfortable this time, and relax through the contractions, was pretty much laying down on my side on the couch. I had a pillow under my head and one between my knees. TFB sat across from me and worked on her knitting and I lay there and we just chatted for a while. I think it was probably around midnight or so that I finally had 3 or 4 contractions that were about 5.5 minutes apart. My instructions were to call the midwife when the contractions were 4 minutes apart, but for some reason, I went ahead and called. Thank goodness I did! Immediately after calling, the contractions went back to about 8 minutes apart. I thought for sure that we’d end up with everyone camping out for hours while I labored, since the contractions were intense, but not that intense, and still pretty far apart.
For about 2 weeks before this night, the kids had been doing all manner of crazy things on my couch, and I had found myself sounding like a broken record telling them to keep things off the couch. On more than one occasion I had said that karma was going to dictate that I would be lying on the couch when my water broke. It’s amazing how psychic I am some days. At about 10 minutes until 1, I was relaxing through a contraction, still lying on the couch, and I thought, “When this one is over, I’m going to have to go to the bathroom!” When the contraction was almost over, I felt the little gush. It wasn’t a big one, just enough that I knew what it was. And this is where it got tricky. I was still trying to relax through the contraction so I didn’t fight it. The Bug had waken up 45 minutes or so before that, and Papa had taken him back up and laid down with him to get him back to sleep – and never returned. So, mid-contraction, I had to explain to TFB where to find a towel because I didn’t want to get the couch if it could be helped. Luckily for me, she found it and got back in time and I didn’t get the couch at all! Once the contraction was over, I jumped up and ran for the bathroom and she ran upstairs to get Papa. Without that water bag there, the contractions gained some intensity, but not much speed. I told Papa to get the pool ready, because I knew I couldn’t be out of the water and relaxing through contractions much longer.
When N, the birth assistant, arrived about 20 minutes later, my contractions were about 7.5 minutes apart, and still tolerable. I still thought we might be aiming for daybreak – but at least I knew it was the real thing!
N hustled around and got everything set out for a birth. Papa got the pool all set up and filling for me. S, the midwife, arrived. We woke the Bean up. I got in the tub and we looked around at each other. I said to N, “So, how was your day?” and she just laughed at me! I stopped timing contractions at this point. I had no real idea how close together they were after this, but I felt like we were still having about the same amount of spacing between them. I learned, reading my chart later, that they were about 4 minutes apart until I gave birth.
I could feel that little body moving down inside of me. There was this dull ache between the contractions. And I felt like I was going to throw up for quite a bit of the labor at this point. I do remember at one point saying to TFB and Papa before N got there that I thought I might be in transition because I suddenly had the shakes, cold flashes, and the urge to throw up with the contractions. But I still wasn’t feeling like it was definitely transition, and the contractions were still so far apart! TFB told me afterwards, “When you said that, I thought there was no way you could actually be in transition because you said it so calmly!” Turns out, I was actually in transition.
The pushing built slowly. Sometimes I would vocalize a bit and push just a bit. Sometimes I could just ride it out. They were a bit more intense at this point. N and S began rubbing my back during the contractions and it felt so good that I wouldn’t let them stop in between. It was almost like I could feel them moving him down for me, instead of my body doing the work.
I had my hand between my legs, and I could feel his head slowly moving forward. Suddenly, I could feel it bulging through the skin, and I had that true pushing urge. I knew then that this was the real thing, and that we really were that far along. I pushed and moaned, and pushed some more. I wanted to stop, but my body kept going. There was simply no turning it off. I was trying so hard to slow down so that I would stretch more and tear less, but I couldn’t make that happen. I actually thought that I did tear, but I was assured that it didn’t look as though I had (I hadn’t). And suddenly – pop! – his head was out! We waited for what seemed like an eternity for his body to turn and a new contraction to push him out. Papa was stretched across the tub, ready to catch Squeaker. And we all just waited. I finally just pushed his body out without the assistance of a contraction, because none ever came!
They got him up out of the water, and he was not crying yet. S was working on him and N got the oxygen out. I had given birth on my hands and knees, so he was behind me, with his cord stretched out. I was talking to him while S worked on him, but I couldn’t really reach him. S suddenly noticed that I was trying to touch him and told me how to move so that I could get back to him without yanking him away from her. The overhead lights were turned on and N noticed that there was a true knot in his cord. Finally, he started to mew and then to actually cry.
Once he got going, he was great. We got settled and snuggled. After a bit of coaxing, he began to latch on and nurse. After a bit of that, we clamped and cut the cord. Papa took him and held him skin to skin while I delivered the placenta – so not my favorite part of birth! The couch was covered with a vinyl tablecloth and pillows and I was escorted there and got to lie down. Papa gave Squeaker back to me and went to wake up The Bug. I got to just lie on the couch for about an hour nursing, meeting, and loving my new baby and introducing him to my older 2. Both of the older kids were (and still are) ecstatic. The Bean helped to clean up and pack up the birthing tub. The Bug hung out by the couch, mostly.
When the cleanup was done, we all assembled around the couch for the newborn exam and the Mama exam. Squeaker weighed in at 5 lbs 10 oz, and measured 18.5 inches. He was definitely a full term guy with plenty of wrinkles in his hands and feet, and was very awake and alert.
We were up until 5, getting to know each other, getting settled, and getting everyone fixed up. We finally went to bed for about an hour and a half for the grown-ups and 2 hours or so for the kids.
Squeaker has proved to be a wonderfully happy, involved little man so far. He barely cries at all, and spends quite a bit of time awake and alert, just watching us all to see what we are about. He is already smiling happily at us, and has quite a bit of head control. He’s even rolled over several times now! We are so excited that he joined our family, and that he is doing so well so far!