At 12:50am a strong contraction woke me up with pressure on my bladder. This was a fairly regular occurrence of the past couple of weeks, so I took care of business and then went to check on Jane. She’d been having a lot of accidents at night lately, so I asked her if she wanted to go potty. When I squatted down next to her bunk I felt a little trickle. She flopped out to stand, only to refuse and crawl back into bed. I’m glad that she refused, because I was pretty certain that I had not wet myself. So after Jane declined I went back to the bathroom and checked on things. Sure enough, I was having an intermittent trickle of amniotic fluid. My water had broken and the baby was on his way.
I had been heavily preparing for the baby for the past month, but of course the night he chooses is the one where our laziness prevailed on a quiet Sunday evening. The house was a mess.
I walked over to Travis and rubbed his feet to wake him. Thankfully, we had been going to bed at a decent hour more recently, so we had a few hours under us at this point. “Trav, my water broke. I’m going to go clean the kitchen.”
He turned and smiled, “Congratulations, Honey.”
He got up and helped me load the dishwasher, clean the table and counters and sweep the floors. We remembered to hold off on starting the dishwasher & cleaning the large items – we would need that hot water for the birthing tub.
I didn’t want to call my birthing team without details, so Travis and I tracked my contractions for about half an hour while we cleaned. They were mild, but 3-4 minutes apart. At about 2am I called the on-call pager and Beth returned my call and verified that everyone needed to come right away. I had tested positive for Strep B this time, so I had to have a shot of antibiotics right away. She said that she would call Lynn, as she and I wanted her to attend my birth.
Travis told me to also call the doula and the tub rental. (I hadn’t wanted to rush things, but it’s a good thing he was there to push me along – labor progressed much faster than I thought it would and those things take a long time to fill!) During all this cleaning I also had to use the toilet about four times. This was a very good thing as I was planning a water birth and did not want any of that gross-ness factor floating around with me.
It was about 1:30am and I needed a snack, so I took a few bites of banana and drank a little water. I had felt hungrier than that, but that seemed to do it.
I called and woke my parents. They live two hours away. I told them I would call back in a bit to update them. I called the midwife pager, called my doula, and called for the birthing tub. Within one hour everyone but my parents was there. The midwife team checked my vitals and administered the antibiotics while I sat at the kitchen table. Then the contractions were starting to get heavier.
Travis supported me from behind for a few, I held onto the pull-up bar for another, but mostly I had to walk them out. Then I had to speed walk them out, then high-step them out and then Laura – my doula – would press on my hips while I swayed, bracing myself on a bed or couch. She followed me around, keeping her distance while I “hmmmm’d” and “oooooo’d” through contractions, until I called for her. In between contractions I went to the bedroom and put my swim top on in preparation for the tub.
Soon I was back in the front room, kneeling in front of the couch and supporting myself through a contraction. I called for a bowl. I could hear the women behind me, but I knew they wouldn’t make it in time, so I moved quickly to avoid throwing up on the couch or the rug and barely made it to the hard floor. Someone – I think my doula – threw a towel down on top of it and put the bowl in front of me. Good thing I chose half a banana for a snack – everything came out.
I think that it was at this time my midwife – Lynn – asked to check me. I lay down on the front room floor (for what seemed like the longest time), “6 centimeters, -1 station.” She was still checking the baby’s position when a hard contraction came on, “Lynn!!” I yelled. Her checking me had brought on a bigger contraction and she quickly moved away so that I could get up.
The pacing increased and the contractions became harder to cope with, but I focused my breathing, sound, and mind to relax through them.
Finally I was in my bedroom and I remember the whole team being nearby, so I must have been sounding like it was time. I knelt on all fours for a couple of contractions while Lynn stepped up and compressed my hips between her legs, and then with her hands. Then my body was pushing.
“My body is pushing!” I scrambled out of my underwear.
There was a murmured “That’s okay, that’s okay.” from several voices.
“Can I get in the tub?”
I think there were a couple of chuckles at my request, but someone helped me get in the tub. The water came up just past my waist and felt great. The achiness in my back dissipated, and I relaxed. I am told that I was in the tub for over an hour altogether, but time took a back seat to existence at this point. I closed my eyes, and focused on the strong sensations that encompassed my womb. Between contractions I would try to relax my body into a focused state to allow the next contraction to roll through. Sometimes they rolled, sometimes they tumbled. The tumbling sent me squirming and heavy as if a bowling ball were being created from my abdomen. The rolling was intriguing; showing me just a glimpse of what it really means to conquer our natural selves. There were brief periods of transcendence when I would Ooooooo… or Aaaaahhhhh… my way through a contraction and I felt that my mind and my body were open and connected in a new way. It felt like a great and quiet power was passing through my body.
Much of the time, though, I tumbled with that power and I struggled to harness my body.
Travis continued to be behind me at the side of the tub. He and the doula would put a cool washcloth on my forehead between contractions. He held my hand sometimes, I squeezed his in return. I was checked once or twice and Lynn told me that the baby needed to come down a lot more. That was my new focus.
Breathe, see the baby’s head descend further into the birth canal. Open. Descend. Open. Descend.
Miss Beverly woke up around 4:30am. We had watched many videos of home births on Youtube to help prepare the girls for what would happen. She loved watching them and finding out about the birthing process, but she told me that she was “…not interested in hearing you make those sounds.” Travis asked her if she’d like to go in and see me. True to her word, she declined. Travis set her up in the front room with Go Diego, Go.
My parents arrived, I remember my mother sitting nearby. She had brought her own stool so that she would have a good seat. I heard my dad’s voice in the background, but Mother told me that he couldn’t bear to stay and hear me, so he took care of Mom’s things and went back home.
Then it was time to push. Lynn told me to let it go slowly, to let things stretch. I remember being impatient to get the pain to stop. I moved around in the tub, but I was conscious of staying low enough so that I could keep the baby entirely under the water.
At one point I turned around, with my face now toward where I had been sitting. I was on my knees, and I remembered Deborah’s character from Birth. I knew that she had drawn her character from experience, and so I drew from that a guide on how to birth my baby. As the baby descended, I reached down and felt his squishy head. I could feel the hair covering his head. I knew that he was bigger than my girls because the pressure of the stretching was so intense that I thought that I might tear. I was afraid of that, but I knew I couldn’t do anything about it. I wanted to control the baby’s descent, so instead of letting his head go back in a bit after a contraction, I pushed harder and held him there. (In hind sight, I really wish I had allowed the contractions to push him out instead of using force. My bum didn’t take kindly to that.) Finally his head popped out. Lynn and Marion checked the baby quickly and then gave me the go ahead to push him out the rest of the way.
I pushed. I felt his little shoulders come through, I picked up his little body and lifted him to me, with Lynn aiding me.
Moving over to the side of the tub I held his smooshy body and rubbed his back while Marion wiped him with a receiving blanket and covered him for warmth. He let out a small cry of protest and fell asleep. Lynn and I rubbed him to try and get him to cry more, but he would not. She listened to his lungs, but he was alright. He was just a mild little guy. Eldon Scott Leithead.
Several towels and blankets later, someone took him from me so that I could get out of the tub. I’m sure that a couple of people assisted me. I was amazingly exhausted – empty in many ways. I needed to deliver the placenta. Someone handed me a bowl and asked if I would like the birthing stool. They had to retrieve it from the front room, so I opted to squat since that took less energy than standing. The stool arrived and it was a lot better than squatting over the bowl. I was surprised at my inability to push at this point. Marion had me cough a few times and finally we were done.
After being helped into my bed, Lynn helped me get my swim top off, I was covered with a cozy sheet and the rest happened in a blur of exhaustion. I remember the girls coming in to greet me. They had already met Baby Scott. I had some time to hold him skin to skin in my warm bed, snuggling his sweet little body. I nursed him.
The girls watched everything very interestedly. Jane took to Baby Scott immediately, but Beverly needed some time to process all of the commotion in her home.
By the time Marion was ready to do all of Scott’s measurements, the girls were right up in everything. They were fascinated and it was lovely to watch.
Here’s looking forward to the next addition.