It was April 28th, a Tuesday. I was going to be heading to playgroup with some mama friends. I packed the snacks, water bottles and did all the things to get my preschooler and toddler out the door. I dropped my husband off at a favorite local coffee shop for him to study for an upcoming actuarial exam. As he was opening the car door I said, “Just so you know, I’ve been having contractions all morning 10 minutes apart. You’re phone isn’t on silent, right?” April 28th was my actual due date. Who has their baby ON their due date? I wasn’t expecting it to turn into anything. I headed to the park with my two big kids. My mama friends greeted me and asked how I was feeling “Great! I’ve actually been having contractions all morning. We’ll see if it turns into anything.” My chiropractor was in our playgroup and we were swinging our toddlers beside each other. She asked to touch my belly. “Baby is definitely dropped. I bet you’ll have a baby in your arms tonight!” We’ll see…. I thought.
After a couple of hours of playing, I picked up my husband and we headed home. I told him my contractions were still at 10 minutes but the intensity had definitely picked up a bit. I ate something and then decided to lay on the couch for awhile. Andrew called his Mom to see when she could pick up the kids. After my MIL picked up the kids, I felt an immediate increase in the intensity of my waves. I texted my midwives and doula I told them to be on standby. I wanted to go for a walk in our woods. The weather was perfect. We walked to a little bridge in our woods. I was now having to breathe through each contraction. I wanted to walk further but Andrew thought that was unwise (good call, Andrew!) We decided to walk back and forth a short distance from our house. We were surrounded by trees, heard birds singing, I would grab Andrew and lean on a nearby tree as I took a deep inhale and exhale through each wave. On my breaks we would continue walking from one big, old hickory tree to two small trees with their leaves closely interweaving. Laboring in the woods was a truly magical experience. I highly recommend!
The intensity grew, I could no longer speak through contractions at all and had a desire to lean forward or squat in my contractions. It was time to get inside! By the time I made it up to my bedroom I only wanted to be in a child’s pose type position. Andrew rubbed my back and made sure our team was on the way. It was now nearly 7pm. I was groaning through contractions, and completely lost in labor land. One midwife came, then my doula. I heard soft words of encouragement. “Breathe down to baby.” “You’ve got this!” “Just like that!” I was offered sips of water. I had no desire to talk. Even between waves. I felt very calm and still. I was lying on the floor in my bedroom, windows open and I could feel a gentle breeze coming through the window. I had my music playing softly in the background. The one song I remember that I really loved hearing was the Beatles “Long and winding road leads me straight to your door…” when it played I was reminded these intense sensations are the “long and winding road” my baby is through this intensity and the “door” is coming soon! Close to 8pm my primary midwife came (she had the furthest drive) she encouraged me to switch positions and try laboring on the toilet for awhile. I did. It made things reeeeallly intense. I didn’t love it. I asked to get in the tub. She said, “We need to get that filled up fast or you’ll be having this baby on the toilet.
I got in the tub as the water continued to fill. I really just wanted to be on all fours, head looking down, internally focused, moaning through the intensity of each wave. Inhale, exhale and not tensing up or clenching through it. Release. Release. I kept thinking. At some point Andrew got in the tub with me and continually rubbed firmly on my back in a downward motion. I began to feel that incomparable sensation of needing to push. As I pushed I wanted to raise up a bit but unfortunately the water wasn’t as high as we wanted so my midwife gently kept her hand on my low back to remind me to not rise higher.
I remember having a moment of calm before my next contraction. I looked up, the sun was just beginning to set. I PUSHED! It was intense. I remember my doula saying “Stay on top of it!” And she began to deeply moan and I immediately mimicked her and found myself softening and I began to release into the intensity instead of fighting it. I pushed again and again. The ring of fire hit (though I have never experienced a ring of fire as paralyzing as with my first birth. For me, water and experience helps dampen this extreme feeling.) My baby’s head quickly followed by his wet body and he slipped right out of me. He was blue. His cord wrapped around his neck. My midwife quickly unwrapped the cord from around his neck and placed him in my arms. Seconds passed and his color hadn’t changed. They put a towel on the edge of the tub and asked that I lay him there. An oxygen mask was placed on his little face and they were checking his oxygen levels. They asked me to begin rubbing his feet. My midwives kept me informed the whole time. What they were doing, what they were looking for (pinking up of skin) they were calm and in control. I didn’t even think to start freaking out until three minutes had passed. And then I started to pray. At five minutes he was pinking up beautifully and beginning to breathe well! They removed the oxygen and placed him back in my arms. It was a scary moment but it made me realize midwives know their stuff! Home birth midwives come highly trained and they’re skilled to handle scary situations!