This is long, so if you want the quick, no-details version: my water starting leaking around 10:30 a.m., midwives came, more people showed up, labor slowed down because I’m shy, people left, I took a nap, labor started in a hurry, less than two hours later Annalise was born. Now for the long version…
All Memorial Day weekend, I was feeling awful–so tired, achy and enduring endless Braxton-Hicks contractions. On Tuesday, I visited my chiropractor for an adjustment and felt much better. The same day, I caught a ’second wind’ and finished a number of cleaning and cleanup projects around the house, including baking double batches of muffins and pancakes for freezing. That night, I went for a long (for me) walk and decided that it would be about two more weeks before the birth since I was feeling so great.
Wednesday morning, I woke up feeling great again and planned several errands for Josiah and I to run together. As we were about to walk out the door, I suddenly felt like my bag of water was leaking. Sure enough, there was definitely some water there. I called Thomas, Toni (my midwife) and my mom. Toni sent her assistant (Andrea) over to check to make sure it was water, and it was. Meanwhile, I’m starting to get regular contractions, but nothing too strong. Andrea and I worked on getting stuff set up around the house while Josiah was starting to wonder what was going on.
Toni arrived shortly after and Thomas got home from work. At 12:30, we decided to check and see how far dilated I was since Toni had her daughters with her (she was already in town) and she lives 40 minutes away. I was only 3 cm, so she left to take her daughters home, leaving Andrea here. Josiah was taking a nap and I walked around laboring. Thomas set up the pool and I got in and enjoyed the movement and buoyancy of the water. While in the water, we were listening to an old Fernando Ortega CD we have, and a lot of his songs and hymns are praises to God for how he works in creation. It was a really sweet time for me during the contractions to praise the Lord, maker of all things, with how my body was working to bring the baby out.
My mom arrived around 3:00 to take care of Josiah. Labor seemed to slow down when she arrived, but picked back up a bit after Josiah woke up and she took him to go play. Soon after, a friend arrived who planned to take pictures of the birth for us. Things really seemed to slow down again when she arrived, so I asked for another exam. It was 5:30 at this time, and I was 5 cm dilated. We decided that I should take a nap and then we’d discuss ways to speed things along after I woke up. We sent my friend home for awhile, hoping that privacy might make me less inhibited and help things speed up before it got to late in the night and I got tired. If you know me, you know that I’m rather private, so laboring in front of a crowd was not something my mind/body was excited about doing.
I woke up from my nap about an hour later, realizing that I’d felt only a few contractions during that time. I was really disappointed and laid in bed praying for more contractions. Then I decided that some nipple stimulation might help get the contractions going. After a few short minutes, I had three really strong contractions one after another, so quickly I couldn’t get up and ask for help. Finally, I made it to the door and Thomas and Toni hurried in to assist. I was definitely in active, hard labor at this point and had to stay on my hands and knees during and between contractions while Thomas applied pressure to my lower back. Toni suggested staying on hands and knees and swaying my hips between contractions to encourage the baby to turn.
Around 7:30, Toni suggested I try the tub again. By this point, the contractions were really strong and my back was really aching. I was having a very difficult time finding a comfortable position to labor in, and transition started soon after. I started crying during a contraction and saying I couldn’t do it anymore. From my teacher training, part of my brain realized I was in transition and I prayed that the baby would come quickly.
During the next contraction, I felt like my back was ripping apart and that I really needed to go to the restroom. Toni suggested I hurry in there and see if it was that or pushing sensations. During the first contraction on the toilet, I pushed at the peak and bam! there was a huge gush of water as the forewaters broke. We hurried to the bed for an exam to make sure I was completely dilated, and I was. I pushed on hands and knees on the bed which was terribly uncomfortable, so we rushed to the birthing stool.
On the stool, I pushed during the next contraction and was able to feel the head with my fingers. During the next contraction, her head was born, and on the last contraction, her body came out into Thomas’ and Toni’s waiting hands at 9:02 p.m., Wednesday, May 28th, 2008. We were so excited to see that it was Annalise!
While my labor was difficult with the constant backache, and really intense when it really got going, it was a really wonderful experience to be comfortable in my own home, able to move around and with such a supportive group of people. Toni was so helpful and knowledgeable, but also not pushy or ever in the way. I am so thankful to her for attending our birth and for all of her encouragement. I could go on and on, but of course, Thomas was the best coach ever–so encouraging and his hands were always there for my back when I needed them.