Throughout my pregnancy with my second baby, I told people that I expected to have the baby in November 2014. My due date was November 9, and I hoped to have a separate birth month for each child (Avelyn’s birthday is October 18). I was still certain of this “plan” through October 26. That day I told friends at church, my birth photographer, Monet, and anyone else that asked that nothing was happening anytime soon. My baby and my body had other plans.
Around 11:45 that night, I woke to go to the bathroom, as happened plenty at the end of pregnancy. On my way back into bed, I felt a contraction and not a Braxton-Hicks one. I wasn’t going to read much into it though because I would have those real contractions randomly anyway. As I went back to sleep though, I felt more contractions. Since I was half asleep, it felt like contractions were coming one on top of the other. In my real-life inspired dream that night, I dreamt I was in labor and was debating if I should call my midwife in the middle of the night. Dream me was more than a bit bothered that I was in labor, in October and at 38 weeks along (whereas I carried Avelyn to almost 41 weeks).
I woke on October 27 at the normal time to snuggle my 2 year 9 day old and have breakfast with my husband, Scott. Still annoyed, I told Scott that I was feeling contractions during the night and had the achy back and belly I remembered from the day before Avelyn was born. He got me on the phone with the midwife, Gina, and left for work since we figured the baby could come that day, or I could begin active labor the next morning (as I did the first time around) or it could dwindle off and the baby could be another week inside. Gina suggested that I be well hydrated, nourished and rested that day. We kept in touch.
I spent the morning getting birth supplies together in one place. I wasn’t moving very quickly since I felt lots of abdominal tightness and had a toddler “helping”. For lunch, Avelyn and I took a short walk to eat some chicken, let her play at the restaurant play place and pick up a few groceries. It was Avelyn’s nap time when we arrived home. She was happy to snuggle and nurse but was not going to sleep. She certainly understood the importance, stress and excitement of the day so I simply let her play on my bed while I rested and timed contractions. Once I was lying down, I could see there was a start and stop pattern at work. Contractions were 4 minutes apart and lasting 45 seconds around 3:00pm. I let Scott, Gina and Monet know. Scott came home from work to get the birth pool filled and Gina headed over too. During a phone call with Gina, I noted that I could no long walk and talk, it was one or the other, through contractions. She clarified that this was labor, and she encouraged me that all was good for me to have the baby that day. I also informed my mom and mother-in-law, Judy, about the progress. Judy was going to head over to spend my labor time with Avelyn and my mom, 7 ½ hours away and not planning on attending the birth, excitedly planned to come the next day (though she would have come sooner if she could).
With people arriving and Scott setting up the pool, Avelyn and I hung out in the living room. I found that I liked kneeling and leaning on an exercise ball. Gina checked me over when she arrived at 4:11 and estimated that I was a generous 6 cm. While listening to baby, who was doing quite well, she informed me that I don’t feel the beginnings of contractions. Monet arrived next and started photographing me with my adorable labor support. Judy also arrived and I encouraged her to take Avelyn and the dogs downstairs so that I could focus more. I was coping well at this point, though not talking during contractions anymore, but if things could go faster without a toddler around, I was up for that.
As contractions increased, I began to feel my hips spreading to accommodate baby’s passage. I remembered this as the most difficult pain of my first labor and it was largely the same this time. Gina and Scott applied some counter pressure to my hips, and I worked harder to relax and cope with the intensity. Sometime around 6:00 the pool was ready and I moved into it. Though I’d only been dealing with active labor for a couple hours, I was starting to feel achy between contractions so I tried some different positions. Keeling and leaning was still my favorite to the end. I also ate a little bit of Avelyn’s macaroni and cheese and began to feel an odd sensation in my vagina that I didn’t experience before. In hindsight, I think this was the bag of waters as it and baby started to descend. I was also still emotional at this point in labor, feeling a bit like crying anytime Scott was with me.
I continued to labor while Gina, Meridian (the second midwife), Monet and Scott ate the crockpot meal that I started that morning. While alone in the living room, or maybe Scott was in the pool behind me, I struggled more. I wanted to tell Gina that it was getting to be more than I wanted to do and I wanted it to be over. She thought of checking me to see if I was completely dilated and suggested that if I started bearing down I might break the bag of waters. I started pushing at 6:53. It was still very intense and hard. At 6:59 the bag of waters broke with a pop which frightened me and immediately changed the sensation. At that moment, the urge to get the baby out was undeniable. Baby was crowning immediately after and with some grunting and breathing, I tried to let my body deliver baby without bearing down. Gina told me when it was ok to push again and I delivered the head and body in the next two pushes. Scott was positioned behind me to catch his second-born; Gina assisted. They helped me turn around, and I held my little baby for the first time.
Within minutes after delivery, the water turned dark with blood and the midwives wanted to be able to assess. They gave me a shot of Pitocin, in case, and asked me to get out of the pool. As I stepped out, a blob fell out of me, Gina quickly scooped it up. It was the placenta and they were no longer concerned about the blood. Already standing, my little one and I walked to the bedroom where Scott cut the cord and we more carefully checked the baby’s sex. It’s a girl! We knew right away the middle name would be Joy and settled on the name Elayna Joy the next morning. There in my bed my tear was assessed, I nursed my darling girl and I began the recovery from the birth. Judy and Avelyn came upstairs to see the little baby. Then Scott held Elayna for the first time while I showered, and we watched and listened as Gina evaluated Elayna to be 7 lb. 6 oz. and 20 in.
Photos by Monet Nicole : Birthing Stories