born August 17, 2006
8 lb 2 oz
The story begins on Wednesday the 16th. I started having contractions at 11:00 pm that evening, but since I was about two weeks away from my due date, I assumed I was having false labor. They were sort of strong, not really close together, but keeping me awake. I was home alone with Iris, it was the middle of the night, and after a while I was starting to feel a little worried about what was going on. After much internal deliberation, I decided to get up and call my midwife at about 2:30 am. I grabbed my cell phone and sat down in the living room. Bizarrely, my phone was working really erratically and wouldn't let me make any calls out. I finally got a call through to the answering service who would page my midwife. I didn't hear back from her for almost half an hour, so I called again. Apparently she had been trying to call me, but my phone wasn't ringing. I was starting to freak out, as this was my only phone and it was the middle of the night. I tried calling my friend Melissa and got through after several attempts. I also finally heard back from my midwife by about 3:30. She told me to take a bath, relax, and that the contractions would likely go away. I laid in the bath tub for about half an hour and they did get easier, but as soon as I got out they came back. Still not really strong, long OR close together, but they were there! I talked to Melissa again in the early morning and she said she would come over to stay with me for the day and bring her phone over for me to use, since mine was still acting so wierd. I also tried paging my doula several times, with no response.
Melissa was at my house by 10:00 am with her son and the little girl she nanny's for in tow. She brought some toys and fun things for the kids to do so I could get some rest. I spoke to my midwife again just after 10:00 and she told me to try my best to get some sleep. I laid down at about 11:30 and slept in half hour chunks, waking up to contractions, for almost two hours. I got up and nothing was really different. The rest of the afternoon was pretty stressful. I felt like crap, the kids were all acting crazy from being cooped up inside and my apartment was totally trashed. Every time I got up from my chair I had a contraction, so I tried to stay put to avoid them. I still didn't know if I should do something to encourage the contractions or get them to stay away as long as possible. After a while I thought they were sort of coming at a regular frequency, so I called and let her know. She said to call back when they were consistently five minutes apart and consistently strong. She also said that, if I wanted to, I could call the folks about getting the birth tub delivered. At 5:00 Melissa's husband came and picked up her son and the girl she nanny's for and brought them both home. She and I then cleaned up the apartment, which felt good to me since I feel much better in a less-cluttered environment, but it also gave me a few contractions. I decided to have Melissa call and find out about getting the tub brought over. We found out that between the delivery, set up and filling of the tub it would be at least 2-2 1/2 hours before I could get in it anyways, so I had her tell them to bring the tub over. While we waited we walked down the block and back. I didn't really have contractions, but rather I felt I was having one long mild contraction the whole time. It was really, really annoying. The tub was delivered and the woman instructed Melissa how to finish filling it. Right after the tub came I called my midwife and had a little breakdown. I said that I was just freaking out because the labor was going really erratically, just like it had with Iris, and I was exhausted and scared and didn't know what was going on. She said she would get the two students together and come on over to be with me. Melissa and I had paged my doula over a dozen times throughout the day without a response. I later found out that she was out of town for two days, but she hadn't told me. My midwife wanted to bring the extra student to act as a doula for me. I also had another friend, Julie, come over to help out with the tub. She got there at about 7:00, I think, and during this time my contractions seemed a bit stronger. The two students arrived pretty close together, and the contractions increased in strength a bit more. My midwife arrived at about 8:00. I totally broke down crying when I saw her, so relieved she was there. Almost immediately my contractions started coming on like crazy, almost one on top of the other. The midwife and students were setting up their gear, getting out all the baby stuff, etc. I remember watching them thinking "wow, I wonder why they are even bothering getting set up! It might be forever before this baby comes!" My midwife checked my dilation at that point and had some amazingly good news-- I was 7 cm dilated and fully effaced and the baby was right there.
At this point I got in to the tub and the runaway freight train took off. I was having the most intense contractions right on top of one another and I could barely hold on and just was pissed off for most of it, being really sassy (so I was told by my friends) with the midwife and students. I then started to feel the urge to push. I had heard alot of times that the pushing stage is better, because it gives you something to do during the contractions, so I thought "okay, I get to push!". Um, NO. The pushing was the most horrendous thing I've ever felt, ever. I just screamed and screamed and freaked out until my midwife explained that I needed to focus that energy on bearing down, not on screaming. I wasn't going to be able to scream the baby out, unfortunately! I am not sure exactly how many contractions I had in the tub, but I wasn't able to push the baby down as fast as my midwife thought I should be able to (I just wasn't pushing very effectively), so she got me out of the tub and sat me on the birth stool. This was the last thing I wanted to do, but she knew it would get my baby out the quickest. She was right. In one contraction and a couple of strong pushes, Eloise was born, just two short (but felt like LONG) hours after my midwife had arrived and none of us even sure I was in active labor! She asked if I wanted to catch my baby, but I said no, I just wanted her out!, so the midwife caught her and handed her to me. I couldn't believe it. At that point Julie was in the room and Melissa was also there holding Iris, so they all got to witness the birth. Iris was calm and observant, and pretty tired.
After birthing the placenta, Eloise and I moved to the bed and the midwives checked me over, I didn't even need any stitches, Yay! The newborn exams were perfect and Eloise latched on pretty quickly for nursing. Iris was so awesome, just sort of hanging out being curious, not getting in the way TOO much.
All in all, not an experience I would ever want to repeat, but I am SO glad I got my homebirth. I felt so triumphant that I did it! Unfortunately I didn't get to use any of my hypnosis skills. In the beginning the contractions were so erratic that I didn't really feel like I needed the hypnosis, and by the time I got in the tub everything was moving so fast I couldn't even think straight and it felt too late to try and use my skills. I am still grateful that I learned the skills, because they helped me amazingly while I practiced, and I learned skills that will be helpful in other areas of my life. Had the labor progressed more predictably, I think the hypnosis would have fit in beautifully. I also am unbelievably grateful for Melissa and her support through the whole thing. She was there for 24 hours and worked her booty off to do everything for me. I don't think she knew exactly what she was in store for (as I effectively scared her off of ever having a natural child birth!) but anything and everything I needed, she was immediately there for me. It was exactly the support I needed through the labor, birth and afterwards.
(p.s. as I think about the labor and birth more I may come back and edit this, but here's the long-winded rough draft!)