I guess things really began at my 38 week appointment on September 12. My midwife stripped my membranes and said I was dilated to 4 and about 75% effaced. After that appointment, I spotted the rest of the day and my contractions changed in character and never really went back. They were neither regular nor very strong, but they were more painful and just felt different. Knowing I could still be in for a week or more, I went home and went about my usual business.
That night I woke up about 1am with strong contractions that I couldn’t sleep through anymore. They weren’t terribly regular, ranging from 7 minutes apart to as close as 2 minutes apart. At around 2am I woke Jay up and we called the midwife. Jay set up the pool and we got all ready for the birth. When my midwife arrived around 2:45, I was only dilated to 5, and realized we could be in for a long ride. My contractions would stay regular and close as long as I moved around, but when I stopped they would space out again often as far as 15 minutes apart. This is exactly what happened with Max’s birth. I was really disappointed. I knew I could keep my labor going strong if I squatted through contractions and walked non-stop, but that would also really wear me out for the pushing phase and for the recovery period. So I made the conscious choice to just let things die down. I lay down on the couch and dozed in between contractions, trying to take this time to just rest up and save my energy for the upcoming birth. My midwife went home between 6 and 7am.
The kids got up around 6am to get ready for school and were all excited to see the pool all set up and everything ready. I told them not to tell anyone at school what was going on because I didn’t want people to be calling and checking in on us. Jay and I rested as much as we could on Thursday, knowing we could have a long night ahead of us again, at least if we were following in the trend of Max’s birth. All day long I had strong, painful but not regular contractions.
Thursday we crawled into bed around 9:00 and watched some TV. Jay fell asleep, but I continued to watch until about 10. At 10 I turned off the TV and tried to go to sleep, but almost immediately realized the contractions were stronger. I lay in bed and tried to relax again, but found myself really having to concentrate to breathe through the contractions. At 11 I woke Jay up and asked him to time them. After timing the contractions (average of 3 minutes apart, lasting 60-90 seconds) for a half hour we decided it would be safe to call the midwife again. I dreaded the idea of calling her again for a false alarm or I might have called sooner! But it is a good thing we called when we did!
Jay jumped into a quick shower, and I decided to try a contraction on my hands and knees leaning over the rocking chair. I thought that I should keep moving if I could because I didn’t want the midwife to get there and find out I was only at 5cm still – that was my biggest fear right then. I SHOOK all through that contraction. Jay came out of the bathroom and I told him I needed help to get back on the bed. He helped me get back on the bed and as soon as I lay down another contraction began and my water bag popped. (This is the first time in all my labors that my water bag broke on its own.)
I felt like I needed to go to the bathroom, but was still reasonably sure it wasn’t the urge to push, but I knew I was close, so Jay helped me down the stairs so we could get near the pool. I wanted to be able to get in as soon as the midwife got there. I tried to go to the bathroom, but nothing happened except for a really miserable, long contraction. So Jay helped me go and lay down on the couch.
Jay had our living room set up so well for the birth. The pool was on top of a tarp in the middle, but since the tarp was so big, he had run it up over the couch as well and covered that up (on the couch) with a quilt. He had towels in strategic spots all around the room and the birth kit was on the other couch already organized.
So I lay down on my left side on the couch, trying to relax as much as possible through the contractions while Jay pulled together a few more details in between breathing with me through contractions. At some point I pushed for just a second or two during a contraction and the pain STOPPED. Pushing felt so much better. At that point I told Jay, “She’s not going to make it!” (meaning the midwife.) He said yes, she will get here and just kept comforting me. After another contraction and a few more little pushes, I felt the baby really move down and told Jay, “No, she REALLY isn’t going to make it – she’s (the baby) is coming NOW.” I was listening so hard to hear the midwife’s car door close outside!
Jay took a look and realized Lily was already starting to crown. He told me that I had better turn over (onto my back) because I couldn’t have her on my side with my legs together. And he got into position to catch her. He coached me through easing her head out while supported my perineum and tried to prevent any tearing. He checked for the cord once her head was out and, not feeling it there, asked me if I wanted to finish pushing her out. I said yes, and in a couple more pushes her shoulders and body slid out and he put her up on my stomach. He reached behind him and grabbed one of his strategically placed towels and began to massage her and cover her up. She really didn’t cry, but pinked up right away.
I told him to go check the time, it was 12:05am. Then there was a knock at the door. Jay answered it and told the midwife, “You missed her!” She laughed and said everyone says that. Then she saw me on the couch with the baby and realized he really meant it! So she was still there in time to assess the baby and deal with the placenta and all that.
Lily was smaller than my last three babies by more than a pound. 7lbs, 5oz, and only 19 inches long. She is a little peanut. I had no tearing and no complications. Our rented birth pool went unused.