It all started around 11 am.
It was a nice Sunday and Don was home (he was living at the Academy Mon-Fri at the time). The contractions came steadily, but not regularly until about 3pm. In between that time I helped caulk our bathtub and started to do the ‘nesting’ cleaning thing that I always do right before a baby. I remember thinking “if this is labor, I won’t be able to be in the shower. That would suck.” Cuz I just caulked the tub!
Then it all started to get very regular. Not painful per se, but they were different than the ones I had had before. Instead of coming from the top and wrapping down, they were coming from the bottom and starting to wrap my hips. I was still moving as usual, we went out to lunch with the kids, to Costco for some necessities for the kids lunches, and then grocery shopping for perishables. We even went and got Alex shoes. I felt fine… had to stop and breathe every now and again, but felt ok. I did, however, start to suspect that this was a different run.
About then I called my doula and best friend, Sarah. I told her that I wasn’t sure and that I would hate to put her out if everything just stopped, but I was sure this was different. The contractions felt different. Instead of coming from the top and pushing down, they felt like I had a constriction belt around the bottom of my belly and pushing out. About an hour later she called back and asked if she could come and just hang out, because she thought this was it, and wanted to be with me in case it piddled out and then Don had to go to work. I was so grateful for her thoughtfulness. So she got to my house sometime later… probably around 8pm?
About 9, I started turning inward.
I had Don bring in the birthing ball and was sitting on it during contractions. I had called my dad to have him come and get the kids because they were feeling that something was different and getting more hyper with every passing moment. Every move they made felt intrusive and harsh… I knew that having them around for the birth would be nearly impossible for me to be comfortable. Dad came about 30 minutes later and soon after I was left with just Don and Sarah.
At that point, I really started working. Slowly I asked they turn each light off. First the big one in the livingroom, then the next contraction, the dining room ones too, and finally I wanted it practically dark. (Sarah lit candles and Don turned on soft music) The contractions were taking all my concentration and during one I had to have it next to quiet and I would shut my eyes and just breathe. Sarah was timing them at this point and they were consistent and getting longer and harder. Sometimes I would have about 10 minutes in between two, but that next one always really hard. Sometimes I would have 2 minutes between two easier ones…. but I was consistently working, and starting to want to turn in even more. He had his hand down by his head… which made the “mean” contractions really awful sometimes becuase he would move during a contraction and his elbow or hand would press down on my cervix. Ouch!
Don pulled the birth tub in at this point, he and Sarah at least, realizing that this was the real thing, and he had me call Carolee, my midwife. She asked me if I wanted her to come, and I said that because I had had no bloody show, no loose bowels (although I did expel, but nothing loose at all), and no water breaking that I thought I had some time left and would hate for her to be here all night with nothing. She said to call when the contractions were 45 seconds long (since they weren’t ever consistent, I am glad she gave me this mark). Sarah then started recording how long they were on top of how far apart, and they were 35 to 45 seconds at that point.
She and Don started to fill the birth tub.
Around 10pm I started to get REALLY tired. I hadn’t slept from 4am that morning and was just wearing down. Don filled the birth tub the rest of the way and about 10:30 it was ready. I called Carolee and told her that they were strong and that I thought she should at least come and check. She said that she would take her time because I wasn’t sure, but she was on her way. I started to take my clothes off to get into the tub and I got a wave of nausea that was really intense. I ran to the sink and threw up everything. I went through at least 4 contractions hunkered over the sink vomiting with Don rubbing my back and Sarah holding good smelling cotton balls next to my face. By the time I got done with that I was really ready for the tub.
They got me into the tub… I still wanted to leave my underwear on “just in case” I had to send everyone home. Still had no bloody show, no water breaking and no loose bowels. Nothing to indicate (in my head from experience) that I was really going to have this baby any time soon. Every few contractions Don would lean down and kiss my fingers (as I was nearly breaking his) and tell me he loved me. Sometimes he would just hold my hand next to his face so I could feel him. This really grounded me and made me feel safer.
Transition hit just as Carolee got there around midnight. I threw up again. But this time it was only lemon water and actually felt productive. Within minutes of getting there and setting up (she had two assistants that showed up within the next 20 minutes) Carolee was asking if I felt “pushy” at all. No… not really, but I was starting to moan, and then ‘Awwwhhhhhwww!’ and pant, and have to really concentrate to keep open during contractions. I was so inward at this point that I didn’t even notice what others were doing unless they were touching me. The midwives asst kept using the dopler and this was getting harder and harder to stand the pressure on the outside as well as from inside.
And then my leg fell asleep.
Completely deadened. And I was kneeling. As it started to come back I started bawling… It was only 3 or 4 contractions, but those were honestly the worse 3 or 4 contractions I have ever had. I think he had his elbow in my Sciatic Nerve somehow…
Sarah said later that the next two contractions or so, I started growling. Deep low grunting growling noises and she could tell that I was getting VERY close. I still didn’t even believe it. I felt I had a long way to go because I still wasn’t bleeding at all.
About 12:40 I start feeling some intense pressure. It wasn’t like my last birth, where it was all bowel movement pressure, this pressure was up front as well, just pushing DOWN. I thought at this point my water broke, because I felt a gush, but my best guess is that he emptied my bladder while I was pushing. I said “He’s coming!” and Carolee got the mirror and the light, Ester (her assistant midwife) got the Dopler. We heard the baby’s heart, but he didn’t seem low enough to me, so once again, I thought “well, maybe I have a while.”
Then I was pushing.
Sarah put a wet wash cloth on my neck as I started to move into a squat. The pressure in front, especially not having encountered that before, was really intense and I felt as though I was tearing a bit with the first push. It was more than the ‘ring of fire’, it was a specific area that was starting to give. I screamed a bit, and then started to put my legs together. (In transition you really arn’t rational are you?) Carolee said “Ok honey, open up… here comes your baby.” So I pulled into a side squat position on my left knee and then my right foot and pushed hard.
The top of his head was out… the next contraction was RIGHT on top of that one and I remember saying “Get him out!” because his head was only half way out at this point. Next push the head was out. I started to push my pelvis up so I could see but my eyes were blurry from the pressure of keeping them closed so tight for the last two hours and Carolee warned me to keep my bottom down in the water and she took the amni-hook and broke the amniotic sack that was still over his head. They started counting. “30 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 30 seconds, Ok Val, honey you have to push now.“ Another contraction started soon after that and I pushed his chest out… he stayed there for a second and then I pushed the rest of him out.
She brought him to my chest and I was able to open my eyes for a second.
He seemed SO tiny. He curled in a ball and made little grunting noises and I started to open to the world a bit. I saw Sarah, and heard Don behind me sniffling. I kissed his hand and he came down to kiss my face. Every one else was flurring around getting the prep ready to get me out of the pool and whatnot, but I couldn’t even hear them at the time. I was in my own little world with my husband and my baby. Don had his arms wrapped around my shoulders and was rubbing the baby while I held him. Carolee was squeezing his feet and trying to rub his back to get him to really whail. It took him a while, but once he did, everyone relaxed and just sat there in the moment. It was candle lit darkness and very peaceful with Tracy Champman playing in the background. Everything was quiet for a few minutes.
It took about 20 – 25 minutes for the placenta to come. They actually made me stand up after Don cut the cord and took the baby to push it out, because it wasn’t coming on its own. But after that, they helped me out of the pool, and turned on one light. Don had the baby, and he was “jiggling” him. Every time he would stop jiggling the baby would start to cry. Don actually said he stopped a few times just to see if he was still ok and making noise, and low and behold each time he did Logan would start to yowl.
They moved me back to the bed, and checked every thing.
I had one tiny tear (just where I thought I was tearing during that first push) but it was small and didn’t need stitches.
Don gave me the baby and I tried to nurse while the midwives and assistant got a snack and hung out in the kitchen to give us space. He latched on, after realizing that he needed to close his mouth and nursed for 15 minutes or more. It was beautiful. He started to open his eyes a bit, and I noticed they were really blood shot. That contraction around his head was a real one. Poor little guy (they still are blood shot 4 days later.)
As Don, the baby, and I were in the back room, they started to examine the placenta. It was very dark and large and it was falling apart a bit on the my side. They showed it to me, and told me what to do if I saw any pieces of it pass later etc.
Then they weighed the baby.
9# 14oz. OMG… He seemed SO tiny, but compared to my last baby (8# 3oz) he was HUGE! And no major tearing. Just amazing.
It was so beautiful. I was very able to go from one contraction to the next without feeling helpless or hopeless. I never felt that transitional feeling of “I am going to die” or “I can’t do this”… it was always “This is hard. What’s next.” Don being there holding my hand meant the world to me.
Logan is a beautiful baby, and a champion sleeper and nurser. He already had settled into a schedule of waking only 3 or 4 times during the night and I have been able to really start recovering. I felt all the support and love of everyone I have shared this journey with and esp Don and Sarah. Who I was SO grateful to have them there with me. It was the most beautiful birth I could have imagined.
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