I was eleven days over due. ELEVEN! In the middle of winter. Everyday, I had Braxton Hicks contractions and waited for them to strengthen or become consistent. Something! Finally, I woke up at 4am on Monday morning feeling like I had just had a few consistent ones. You know how your internal clock sometimes recognizes stuff like that? Well I took out my phone and started timing them. They were consistently between 10-12 minutes apart. I excitedly woke Jordan up and said, “I think it’s today!”and he got a big sleepy grin on his face. We were so excited and anxious to meet our little girl! Since the contractions were so far apart we went back to bed. We got up a few hours later, contractions the same. I texted my midwife and doula an update and tried to eat some food. Really, we had a pretty chill day, aside from the anticipation. Jordan worked from home and I just hung out, getting ever frustrated at my inconsistent contractions.
By ten that night the contractions we all jumpy, hopping from 6 to 8 to 10 and back down to 7 minutes apart. I was so sure I would be pregnant for the rest of my life. I would be that insane story in the news about “the lady who has been pregnant for a decade”. We put some Sherlock on tv for distraction and tried to rest. And although the timing of my contractions was inconsistent, they were certainly getting stronger. I couldn’t sleep or lay down. Every time one rolled through, I had to get on my hands and knees and rock my hips side to side, side to side. Breeathe. Breeeeathe. I could do it by myself. I knew I could. But every time Jordan took his hand off me, I was yanked out of my calm, concentrated reverie. All I needed was his warm hand. By 3 am, the contractions were bouncing between 6 and 9 minutes.
We called our doula to come over because I was starting to need some coaching and Jordan was lost and exhausted. By 5am, I was having to stand at our tall counter, rest my head and arms on the cold marble, rock my hips and breeeeathe. Jordan kept his hand on my lower back, just touching. At one point during a strong contraction he removed it to scratch his face. My head popped up and I said, “Really?” He laughed knowing I was really saying sarcastically, “Oh your face itched? Were you uncomfortable? Definantly worth breaking my concentration? Good, good.” Sometime that night, my contractions had started to change a bit. They were less in my belly and more in my legs, which I didn’t even know was a thing. But they huuuurt. By 6am, my midwife was there. We had been updating her all night and as soon as I saw her I asked, “Why am I not progressing?” She gave me a checkup and baby was fine but suggested that I go walk the stairs (we live on the third floor). It was like 6 degrees out (literally), but I threw my husbands huge snowboarding jacket, the only coat that fit, over my bra and sweats, grabbed Jordan’s arm, and walked the hell out of those stairs. I had four contractions outside and they were the easiest, clearest ones yet. Must have been that fresh, icy air in my lungs or something. It was also one of the sweetest moments in my pregnancy.
Outside on an icy, pink and orange morning, Jordan on one step above me, I nestled into his chest and breathed through contractions, his arms around me. We got back in the house and my midwife offered to check to see if I was dilated. I figured it couldn’t hurt since I was convinced I was barely at 1cm. I laid down in bed, Jordan by my side, and had one truly awful contraction on my back while my midwife checked. When she said I was at 7-8 cm, I was honest to goodness shocked. I immediately asked if I could climb into the birth tub, full of its nice warm water. She said I could. I climbed in in just my bra and it was bliss.
Now, this whole time, people had been putting a water bottle in front of my face and I would take a long sip, but no one, including myself, had reminded me to pee. I had been having horrible, awful, devil pains in my legs, at one point actually saying “if you cut them off, it will feel better”. I was definantly in transition by this point (I remember realizing that as I heard my midwife notice and whisper it to someone) and it was so hard to speak. I just couldn’t make words come out, too consumed with FEELING. I had already thrown up twice by this point and after taking another long drag off the water bottle my midwife suggested I pee. She had a theory that baby was getting stuck on my bladder and that’s why I wasn’t progressing. Also, my water hadn’t broken yet so there was absolutely no room left at the Inn.
I struggled to stand, Jordan behind me helping to lift, and I climbed out and slowly, painfully, waddled the 10 longest feet of my life to the toilet. I sat, waited through a contraction, internally screamed at my horrid leg pain, and tried to pee….nothin. “Okay. Relaaaax. Just……..pee. Pee. Ok, 1, 2, 3…pee.” “I can’t find it! I can’t figure out how to pee!” This was something I had never experienced before. But suddenly the strongest urge to push hit me and my body bore down. I grabbed Jordan around the waist, midwife at my feet checking for the baby’s head, and groaned through it. After it passed, my doula suggested I climb back into the tub. I wanted to but just couldn’t. The pain in my legs was so intense, I don’t even think I could have stood. So I just sat on the toilet (thank heavens I had just cleaned it!) and labored. The pain in my legs never really went away, it was just accented by the contractions every other minute.
My body kept bearing down, all of its own accord. I would try so hard to breathe through it and was doing a good job but a couple times my own voice got a away from me and a scream would sneak out. A high pitched, gut scream. Sounds I had never made before. It was truly an out of body experience. My midwife quietly, calmly reminded me to deepen my sounds, bringing me back to reality. Back in my body, my baby was beginning to crown. On the TOILET! I had planned on a peaceful water birth. Joke was on me. As her head started to show, my midwife said I could reach down and feel her but I said no. It would make things too real. I just needed to focus on what my body was commanding me to do for a little bit longer and then I could touch my child for the first time.
My body began a huge push and I could feel that white hot fire as my baby’s head came a little closer to the outside world. Quickly, my midwife asked me to try and stand and told Jordan to sit on the toilet. He put the lid down and quickly took his place. I sat on his lap and one of the final contractions began. I pushed, felt my body take over and push this baby out while I split in two. Out came her head. Jordan and I reached down and felt her slimy, warm head together. My water had STILL not broken! My daughter was completely inside the sack. One more push, the most intense, hot, ripping pain engulfed me and then…warmth. I felt my baby’s warm, wet body slide out. I reached down and gently pulled my baby up into my arms. She was here. The midwife reached up and pulled the shiny clear sack off her face and she make her first sound, the sweetest little cry. She was here. I felt no more pain. She was here. I had done it. I grew and gave birth to my daughter. Jordan looked over my shoulder with wonder at what had just happened. It was so wonderful to share that view, that first look at our daughter together.
I had begun to bleed more than anticipated so they quickly manuvered me to the floor, again resting between Jordan’s legs. They gave me a shot of Pitocin in my left leg to help with the bleeding. I watched her do it but didn’t feel a darn thing, my legs were so numb from pain. I sat there, ignoring the scramble to stop my bleeding and snuggled with my baby. I pulled up my bra and cuddled her into my chest. She rooted around and latched on after a few minutes. I nursed my sweet baby as my midwife kneaded my belly and, after one last contraction, I pushed out my placenta. We clamped the cord and Jordan cut it, in four or five very skilled snips (lol). And then we just sat there. The three of us. Our little family.
Quick follow up for those reading. This might have sounded like you should never try home birth because it was so intensely painful and unexpected but I just want you to know that it was the rawest, most beautiful, real, most human experience of my life and I wouldn’t change it for the world.