Note: This is a birth story… so there’s lots of stuff about bodily functions that are normally TMI. But reading birth stories was something that helped me prepare for labor and gave me ideas of what might help or other little tips so I wanted to write S’s birth story to hopefully be of help to others, as well as for our own memories.
I went to the bathroom while Erina finished getting the tub ready (again, it didn’t sound like it would give relief, but since we had the opportunity for a water birth I wanted to take it!), and then got in the tub on my hands and knees. She said I could stay that way for now but would have to be in a different position to deliver so she could see better.
The water felt good, but still didn’t really feel like it gave a lot of relief. While I was on my hands and knees, I saw a waterproof pillow on the edge of the tub and that sounded amazing, so I asked Erina if I could use it and ended up reclining in the tub. I could tell contractions were changing and I was getting a longer, more complete break in between and was able to talk and even joke between them.
At first, pushing felt great – I could channel the energy of the contraction down and out and that was a relief. But as the baby moved down and I got to the part where everyone talks about it feeling like pooping, it was awful. … because I did feel like I had to poop, but no matter how hard I pushed nothing came out, leaving me feeling raw and empty, like when you’re dry heaving but can’t throw up. I was fighting it for a while, but Erina and Ezra were coaching me through them, trying to help me relax and get into a better position, especially with my legs – I liked to keep them close together but Erina was saying to keep them open. I kept thinking how I’d always said I wouldn’t push reclining, but here I was, completely happy that way. Ezra was out of the tub but behind me and would help pull me up a little during contractions. He kept reminding me to keep my moans low. They were putting cold wash cloths with lavender oil on my forehead, too, and trying to get me to eat bites of beef jerky and drink water. At one point I felt a small pop and said “Did I tear?” Erina said “We’ll see.” Now I realize it was probably way too early to have torn.
Erina kept checking the heart beat and timing contractions, as well as keeping an eye on “it” (which was my one thing that made us decide to write a birth plan for the birth center and that made me relax about being there – they’d keep an eye on it during labor so that if it started to get bigger or change then we could transfer).
Then I started feeling stretching, which I also didn’t really like, but it was exciting and rarely lasted for very long. It did make me want to stop pushing, though. Elizabeth, the birth assistant got there and I heard Erina giving her a run-down of everything, which was encouraging to me. I kept looking at the clock, but it really didn’t mean anything to me. It was just a time, not a measure of the length of anything, just a number.
Soon Erina said she could see part of the head, and a few contractions later asked if I wanted to feel. I wasn’t sure… I knew I didn’t want to look in a mirror and see what it looked like down there, but decided to go ahead and reach down. It was AMAZING – soft and fuzzy, but that’s not really a very good way of describing it. I was so excited because I could tell there was a fair amount of hair. Then Erina held up the mirror so Ezra could see.
I felt like I was finally starting to get the hang of not backing off from contractions when Erina said “This is the part we talked about,” and reminded me not to push but pause and let my body go at its own pace. That felt awful, and I feel like I did a really terrible job fighting my body. I craned my neck back and up like Trisha had told us to do in class, and I know my low-moan went way up… and then there was instant relief as her head slipped out.
Ezra moved around by Erina, who had guided the head out, and she coached him through catching the baby. I felt the baby turn and then slide right out – I don’t remember pushing her body out, it just came. Ezra put the baby up on my chest and I looked down to check the gender – it was very obviously a girl, and I announced that, even though I was pretty sure everyone else had already seen. It was 0722, after 11 hours, 45 minutes of labor with 37 minutes of pushing.
I held her and Elizabeth took pictures while Erina worked with the cord and we waited for it to stop pulsing. Then she clamped it and soon after Ezra cut it, then went with the baby to the bed for some skin-to-skin while I delivered the placenta, 11 minutes after the baby. That felt so weird, but good after all the work to push the baby out. Erina showed it to me and explained some things about it, like that it had a type of insertion that was slightly more rare, but still completely normal, which I thought was cool.
They drained the tub and helped me get out little by little – first sitting up in the tub, then on the side, then swinging one leg over and waiting, then the other and waiting, and then I stood up with Elizabeth on one side of me and we went to the bed.