Believe it or not.. this is the shortened version! :)
I couldn’t really get to sleep Saturday night and didn’t until 3am on Sunday, August 8, 2010. I woke back up at 5:30 am having to go to the bathroom. I sat down on the toilet and realized I was having some low back discomfort. So low, it was in my sacrum. My heart rate jumped instantly since I knew one of the first signs of your birthing time is back discomfort. I thought about it for a while, and went back to bed. My back ached and so did my low abdomen. I thought that surely it was just gas. Then it started coming in waves. I still wasn’t sure that it wasn’t just some gas. By 7:30 Patrick’s alarm went off and I told him I couldn’t go to church because I hadn’t slept well. “And oh, I’m having back discomfort that wraps around the front in waves.” He said that he certainly wasn’t going to church either if I was having waves. At 8:00 am I passed my mucous plug with the realization that I did not have gas, that I was entering my birthing time!
A little background: The childbirth education I chose is Hypnobabies. Hypnobabies is a complete childbirth education class (we got the home study course) that teaches all aspects of childbirth but includes self-hypnosis directed towards birthing. It sounds a little weird, but once I learned that by “hypnosis” they meant a state of deep relaxation that we all go in many times a day to rejuvenate, it wasn’t all that weird. The course says that we are often in hypnosis while driving or watching t.v. After reading the material it made sense to me that it is a way to train your body to relax completely, mentally and physically, pretty much on demand, whenever you choose. Another aspect of the class is that it purges all negative images and ideas about birthing that society has taught us from our brains and replaces it with only positive thinking. The bad words like “labor” and “contractions” are replaced with “birthing time” and “birthing waves”. It creates a more positive way of viewing birth and breaking down the cultural stigma of birth being "excruciating". There is also a script to help you work through your fears. I found myself much more confident about birth and tended to think about all the positive things and not any of the “what-ifs” that I was afraid of.
We called my midwife, Mary Anne at about 8am. I told her I passed the plug and that the waves were about 15 to 20 seconds long, at about 15 minutes apart. Mary Anne told me that I was in very early stages of my birthing time. It could pick up and become my birthing time, or it could stall out. But she said birth was imminent with passing the mucous plug and to call back if the waves start to last 40 seconds or longer. I took a bath, listened to my Hypnobabies "Birthing Day Affirmations" and decided to go back to bed in hopes of getting some sleep since I was going to have a long day ahead of me! However, I still couldn’t sleep. Come lunchtime, Patrick went to get us avocado sandwiches. My waves were getting a little stronger and they were starting to come closer together. I took two bites of my sandwich and it came right back up. So I got back in the tub. Patrick washed my hair and I was having more consistent waves that were now lasting 40 seconds or longer. Patrick had paged Mary Anne right before we got in the tub after I threw up, and so I talked to her in the tub and told her about my progression. She said that whenever I am ready we can come on to her house.
We planned to deliver at Mary Anne's home in Franklin, TN. Home births in Alabama are actually illegal, for some unknown, dumb reason. Well, midwife attended home births anyway. Not letting this deter me from the birth I desired, I had found a midwife I adored across the state line. She lives about 1.5 hours away and has a birthing suite built onto her house.
Patrick was like an efficient machine on auto-pilot. He had absolutely everything prepared and the car packed and ready by the time I finished my half eaten lunch and had gotten dressed. We headed out to Mary Anne’s at about 2:00. I listened to Hypnobabies the whole time in the car, which kept me completely relaxed for the drive. My waves slowed a bit when we first left. As Mary Anne said “If you move a cat in labor, it will stall.” My waves were a bit further apart and not lasting as long, but definitely still there.
We got to Mary Anne’s around 3:45 and her and Kelly, her assistant, had the room completely ready, with the air down and lights low. They immediately took my vitals and listened to the baby’s heart for about 15 minutes. She said the baby was doing great and didn’t care at all when I had a pressure wave – which is very good. Patrick and I climbed into bed and I was experiencing much more pressure in my back than in my low abdomen like I had been at home. My back was quite uncomfortable and finding a good position for the pressure waves was difficult. I ended up tucked into sort of a child’s pose while Patrick continuously rubbed my back. Mary Anne came back to check on us and listen to the baby. She asked if I wanted to get in the tub, and I certainly did.
We got into the tub somewhere around 5:30 or 6:00 pm. Though, I certainly wasn’t keeping track of the time. My waves were getting much more intense and much closer together. Patrick continued to rub my back and I started feeling a lot of pressure in my bottom and the most comfortable position was to lean my back against his chest while reclining. I was feeling so much pressure in my sacrum. I believe I was having birthing waves in my back (also known as back labor) because of my short torso. We were confident the baby was not posterior and a short torso is another reason given for back labor in the book "Back Labor No More" that I had read in my pregnancy. However, for some unknown reason, I never tried the belly lift technique taught in the book to relieve the discomfort (and speed up birthing). Its not that I didn’t think of trying it, I did, but I just chose not to. I have no idea why and wish that I had tried it.
At some point while in the tub I started to get a bit more relief between waves and my head felt almost euphoric. I remember thinking between waves "I feel so gooooood." I’m not sure if it was the Hypnobabies tracks playing or endorphins coursing through my body, but I was having a very out of body experience between waves.
My waves were getting so much more intense and my moans became much louder and longer. Kelly and Mary Anne sat on the floor off to the side while we were in the tub and occasionally I would hear one of them say "Good!" "So close now!" I was getting excited and I had a lot of confidence that things were going really well based on their encouragement and the fact that they were mostly letting us be.
The time, honestly was flying by for me. I never purposefully looked at the clock, but once I saw it and I couldn’t believe it was already 8:30. I was having really intense waves and knew things were progressing quickly. Mary Anne checked me and said that my cervix was “gone”. There was nothing holding the baby in but the bag of waters that had yet to break! Mary Anne asked me if I was resisting pushing feelings. I said no, that I hadn’t had any pushing sensations. It seemed like she was surprised the baby was so close but I did not feel like pushing. My back was really uncomfortable and the pressure in my bottom was severe. I kept saying “the baby is trying to come out my butt!” I got on my hands and knees then and leaned on Patrick through really intense waves. I started to think about just going ahead and pushing without the instinct to do so. I stayed on all fours for a while and Mary Anne put a hot rice bag on my low back and would push in on both sides of my hip bones when I had a pressure wave. It was wonderful! So nice that the intensity completely diminished the first time she did this. With the next wave I decided I was just going to push no matter what! The wave came and I bore down until suddenly I heard and felt a "pop!" and the baby fall into my birth canal. I yelled out "Oh my God!" I was so startled at this sound and sensation, plus I was calling out to God!
I was on my knees leaning my body on the side of the tub with my arms dangling out. Patrick was behind me and started to rub my back. Mary Anne got to the side of the tub and Kelly came around to my face to rub down my face and body with cool cloths and to hold my hands. The sensations were especially intense now. I concentrated really hard on trying to relax my face and hands, but with each wave I decided to push with absolutely all my might. I remember being a bit disappointed that pushing didn’t feel so good. I had read in other birth stories that the mom loved the pushing phase. I found it to be difficult. In retrospect, it did feel good to be active and doing something. It felt especially good to be so close to meeting our baby, but the actual pushing sensation, didn’t feel as good as I had hoped.
I pushed a few times and could feel really good progress. Mary Anne said that I was doing so great for a first time mom. She said that a lot of first time moms push for hours. I had only pushed 2 or 3 times at this point so this gave me great confidence that Mary Anne knew I was so close and I wouldn’t need to push for very long. I pushed for what turned out to be 30 minutes; each push was so much stronger and harder than the last. Mary Anne exclaimed, "Look at all that hair!" She and Patrick were looking at a full head of inch long black hair. This really excited me and I knew I was getting impatient, but was so ready. Finally, I felt her head pop out suddenly and without relenting I went ahead and pushed the rest of her body out. Patrick caught her while I was temporarily stunned. The relief was so intense and the knowledge that I had just delivered my baby was mind blowing. With help, I managed to turn around and Patrick put this pink, squealing baby in my arms. The baby was squealing as soon as her face hit the air! We cried and hugged and were absolutely overcome with joy and elation. So overcome that we forgot to check the gender for almost a full minute! Suddenly it dawned on me and I exclaimed to Patrick "What is it!?" He said "I don’t know!" We moved the umbilical cord out of the way and as I squealed "It’s a girl!" We were so shocked as the entire pregnancy we were just sure we were having boy. We completely crumbled and everyone cried, including Mary Anne and Kelly. They then sang happy birthday to her and we announced her name, Mary Abilene.
I know that having a girl just made it that much more special. I love surprises, and this certainly was a surprise! The Lord really blessed us in unbelievable ways. Mary Abilene got a 9 out of 10 on her Apgar score; taking one point for having purple feet. She was so strong and so healthy. I was so overcome with having a girl; we were absolutely overwhelmed. She is our whole world now. I never thought I could love anything so ferociously as I love her. Each day is the best day of my life.