This was my third pregnancy, the first two were non-medicated CNM-assisted hospital births. I wanted a homebirth for this baby, and prepared for an unassisted birth, but George felt much more comfortable in a birthing facility.
My 39 week midwife appointment was around 9 AM on September 6. She checked and I was about 4cm dilated and about 80% effaced, so she lightly swept my membranes.
George picked me up from my appointment and we took the boys over to Aunt Mig’s, where they played with their cousins all afternoon. We enjoyed a really nice visit, as Duey & Oma stopped over for awhile. (I got quite a bit done on the baby blanket I was knitting).
We went home around 2 PM, and I told George that I was feeling a bit uncomfortable, nothing new, as I’d been contracting off and on throughout the last two weeks of my pregnancy. We went home, took a nap, and then took the boys to the grocery store around 4 PM.
While in the store, I noticed that my contractions were getting a bit stronger, and while there wasn’t a distinct pattern, I needed to stop and breathe through them. (It’s fun to freak out the deli people by telling them “I’m fine, I’m just having a contraction.”)
After we got home and put away the groceries, I started making dinner. I noticed that every few minutes I’d have to stop and sit on the birth ball to get through a contraction. I finally got dinner together (with George’s help) and fed the boys. They were filthy from playing in the barn all day, so Daddy got to give them their baths.
The boys went to bed around 7:30, and by 8 PM I was definitely experiencing “working contractions.” I took a bath to try and get them to stop, but they were increasing in length, so I figured this was it. He came into the bathroom and told me that he’d just called Linda to see if she could be ‘on-call’ to come stay with the boys. I told him, “Call her back and tell her to come over now.”
In between contractions I managed to get dressed and alternated between the birth ball and the couch. George called the midwife and told her that the contractions were between 7 and 8 minutes apart and that I was “definitely getting serious.” My sister-in-law arrived by 8:30 and we left for the hospital just before 9 PM.
I was close to transition by then, and didn’t want to talk to anyone or be touched. Going into the hospital through the emergency room is the worst; it’s loud, people staring (not that you really care at that point in labor) but noise and intrusion has a profoundly negative impact on the laboring woman. So I tried to reorient my thoughts towards the baby, knowing that I would see her and finally get to hold her soon. Then I started thinking about how this would probably be my last pregnancy, and I started crying. I know George didn’t know what to think (by this time he and the midwife were wheeling me towards L&D) but he just wiped my tears and kissed me and told me how much he loved me.
The midwife had gotten to the hospital before we did, and she told one of the L&D nurses, “This one coming in is a multip, she has short labors. They want the room quiet and dark, only one nurse. Can you do that?” So I was installed in L&D around 9:30 PM and after checking the baby’s heartbeat once with the monitor and determining my dilation (8 cm), the midwife took it off so I could labor more comfortably. She asked if I wanted her to break my waters, and I said “No.” For me, having that cushion of water helped in two ways – my contractions weren’t so close together as they were with Ethan (where they were 2 minutes in length with barely 10 seconds of rest in between), and it created a bit of a buffer for the baby’s head.
I edged back towards transition, and had a couple of difficult contractions, in which my primitive brain said, “I can’t do this!” and my logical brain countered with, “That means you’re close to pushing!” I mentioned this to the midwife and she laughed and told me, “It won’t be long now.”
Both of the boys were Bradley births, and George & I had brushed up on the relaxation techniques over the past few weeks. As I felt the first bearing down reflex, I had a moment of panic – I hadn’t practiced the techniques to use during the pushing stage. I took a few deep breaths to calm myself, and when the contraction felt nice and strong, I pushed. When the contraction ebbed, I rested and had a sip of water. I was relieved that my body knew what it was doing, and I was making the most of each contraction.
I have no concept of how much time had passed, but I know I didn’t push for very long. The midwife said the bag of waters was protruding, so she broke it and the contractions kept coming. I could feel her head almost out, then felt her go back in as one of the contractions stalled. Within a minute, another contraction started and I delivered her head. I remember George saying, “I see her head, she has a lot of hair!” With the next contraction, her little body slipped out and the midwife whispered, “Happy birthday” as she placed my perfect little girl on my chest.
I was in awe. Absolute awe of this beautiful little girl with her Oma’s nose and my long fingers. When she opened her dark blue eyes, I knew immediately that they would be brown like mine. It was so quiet, she looked around and whined a little, but didn’t really cry. She was covered in vernix (we joked that, if we couldn’t settle on a name, we’d call her Vernix Caseosa, which horrified all of the nurses). I held her while the midwife checked me, and I had no perineal trauma at all. After delivering the placenta, she helped me clean up a bit, said congratulations and left us to be alone with our new daughter.
We talked to her and held her for at least an hour before the newborn nurse came back in to check her vitals (once she was born and it was apparent that there were no complications, the newborn nurse left with the midwife to give us some privacy).
I lost some blood and passed some rather large clots, so I was feeling a bit woozy. (The nurses didn’t seem too concerned; several of them said, “You’re a redhead, and redheads tend to be bleeders.” Some fluids (by mouth and IV), and I felt much better. I did need an injection of Pitocin to help the uterus to contract and expel the clots, and the afterpains were substantial enough for me to request some Motrin. (Labor I can handle, it’s the afterpains that did me in!).
On the third day we finally decided on a name, and our daughter is Estelle Josephine, named after grandmothers on her Daddy’s side. Stella lights up a room with her smile, and has her brothers (and her Daddy) smitten. And, I must admit, I’m in love with her. She’s precious.