I know some people love reading birth stories, and some people are totally of a different mind set. So I’m clearly labelling this so you can skip it if it’s not the kind of thing that interests you!
I’ll start with some details you already know, for the sake of continuity. I was having contractions every 10 – 20 minutes from Tuesday morning and on, and by 3:30 am Thursday morning, they had turned into real labor – long and close together. I thought it was about time, since I was officially 42 weeks and 6 days at that point! These contractions continued for two hours, and just when I thought I was a few minutes away from having the baby, they started getting further and further apart. After three hours of waiting for them to reestablish their previous pattern, I sent the midwife home. You know all of that from my last posts – and that I was tired and discouraged.
After that, I took a nap, got up for a while, and was still tired later in the day so I went back to sleep for a late afternoon nap. I continued having contractions while I was napping, but nothing different from the past days and nothing I couldn’t mostly ignore or take a breath or two and then fall back asleep. Suddenly, before I was even fully awake, I had a massive contraction that I was totally physically or emotionally unprepared for, and I thought that I needed my husband that minute. There was no way for me to call him, because he was two flights below at the end of dinner time and wouldn’t have heard me even if I was yelling at the top of my lungs. But he must have heard my thoughts, because a minute later, he came up the stairs just in time for the next contraction (after hours of staying downstairs and taking care of the kids so I could rest). I immediately had another contraction after that, and as soon as they were over, he told me he was calling the midwife to come immediately. I didn’t know why he was so sure he should call her – usually he asks me what I think and goes with my opinion – but later on he told me he was timing them and saw they were 2 minutes long and that they were very different from regular contractions.
As he called her, my water broke, and I went into the bathroom to get my head together and figure out what was happening. Remember, I had just woken up and was kind of mentally foggy so I didn’t have a realistic perspective about how intense the contractions were. My mind set had been that I was going to have to make a decision about taking something to get labor going again when I got up, and that was kind of hazily going through my head as I was waking up. I was thinking that because I wasn’t yet awake I wasn’t mentally on top of the contractions, and that’s why they seemed so strong to me. After a minute, I was able to clear my head and realized that I was going through the very end of transition and going to have this baby very soon. I felt very calm by this point – it had been maybe 5 or 6 minutes from the time I woke up. I told dh to call a friend of mine to come over because the midwife wasn’t going to make it. But she wasn’t home and I wasn’t about to have him start searching my planner for her cell number right then.
While I was in the bathroom, he called the midwife again to find out how far away she was – she had had enough time from the first call to get to her front door – she told him she’d talk him through it on the phone if he wanted, and reassured him that it wasn’t a big deal to catch a baby. When I came out a couple of minutes later, he was rushing around trying to unplug the cordless phone from downstairs and bring it up to our room, but I told him to forget about it, that he didn’t need a phone or to speak to her. Honestly, does that sound relaxing, to have someone on the phone listening to instructions while you’re giving birth? I didn’t think so either.
After the baby finished moving down and before there was any urge to push, there was a short lull, maybe three minutes. By this point, he was also calm and and totally present in the moment. The baby was born a couple of minutes later, another boy! This was the first time my husband knew if the baby was a boy or girl before I did.
It was a very beautiful and peaceful experience for us both, positive in every way. I’m not even going to try to describe what a special time it was. If you had asked me about that scenario as a possibility, I wouldn’t have felt comfortable with even the thought at all. My husband has never been physically involved in any of my labors except to bring me a drink or some dried fruit, and hasn’t ever been in the room for the birth – I always sent him out and he would come back in after the birth had taken place and everything was cleaned up. But it was really all perfect. (And now, a couple of days later, he said he feels he was initiated into a private club of fathers who were unplanned baby catchers for their children – it seems there are a lot more of them out there than you would think.) I also think it psychologically was much easier for us than for many people who find themselves in this situation because: we trust the birth process and mentally see birth as healthy and normal; were planning a home birth so already had the room set up and supplies on hand; were in the comfort of our own home, not in a car somewhere on the side of a road; have already had more than one child and knew what to expect when giving birth.
Neither of us thought to look at the clock and see what time it was when the birth took place. We had other things on our minds. Later we estimated that the baby was born about 10 minutes after he first called the midwife, so we might have had a total of 15 minutes from when I woke up. Basically, I had a two part labor – 2 hours in the early morning, a 13 hour ‘break’, and then the last 15 minutes for transition and the birth itself, when labor started again right where it left off early that morning. The friend I called to come called back a couple of hours later when she got the message, and said she knows of this happening with other women who have had a lot of kids – something about giving the uterus time to ‘catch up’ after active labor is completed. When I asked the midwife at breakfast Thursday morning what her thoughts were on why things slowed down, she said it sometimes happens when the baby is unusually positioned, and needing more time to get into the right position – and it turns out his positioning was probably military, looking at the molding on his head and the way he holds his head if put down on his tummy. To me, both of these explanations make sense and are compatible.
The kids had to wait over almost 40 minutes after the birth took place to come in, but they didn’t find that too long, since they didn’t know that the baby was born before the midwife got here; it was still only a half hour after she came! My ds15 was at his baseball game – he left and I was napping with no signs of anything happening, got home and there was a new baby!
The baby was our biggest by far at 9 lb, 7 oz (almost 2 lb bigger than the last two) – before this our biggest was 8.5 lb. His birth has officially put the boys in our family way ahead of the girls, with six boys to three girls. He’s doing great, nursing well and getting cuter every minute. He so far has slept on a solid surface only at night when his siblings are sleeping, since otherwise someone constantly wants to hold him. I’m also BH feeling good – now that we’ve gotten past the 48 hour mark, the afterpains are pretty mild (thanks to my super Chinese herbal blend and tincture! – but the first 48 hours weren’t easy), and I’m getting lots of rest.
I’m so, so, so glad that I didn’t do anything to ‘make’ labor go any faster or sooner. It was an empowering experience that further reinforced to me that things generally go best when we trust the body and the labor process to proceed at the rate they’re meant to. I would have missed out on that if I had agreed to even a mild or natural way of moving things along, and that would have been a huge loss.
The shalom zachor was wonderful, with a suprisingly large turnout for when Shabbos meals end so late, and lots of women coming. Thank you to those of you who sent goodies – it really enhanced the simcha!