My first child was born at home in water on Sept 24, 2001. I knew I wanted a midwife who supported homebirths and waterbirths. At first I was scared of a homebirth, but since none of the hospitals in the area had birth tubs, it was our only option if we wanted to have the baby in water. We decided that was the way to go.
I had a wonderful pregnancy with mild morning sickness at first, incredible energy in the second trimester, and I felt round and beautiful during the last months. I was very comfortable with my large self, even in late pregnancy. I owe much of that to my chiropractor, Dr. D. I now tell every pregnant woman I see to find a chiropractor. It makes such a difference.
Our birth team included our midwife, Dianne, and her assistant, Lynne. We also needed a doula. We chose a neighbor and fast friend, Toni Jean, to be my labor coach. Toni was already a wonderful encouragement. She had shared the story of the birth of her daughter, Samantha, with me. Toni also wanted to birth in water but wasnąt able to because her insurance wouldn't cover it. Even through Toni's long and difficult labor, she insisted on having natural childbirth. I searched for stories like Toni's. They inspired me and helped me understand what my own labor and birth might be like. Steve and I also asked an old friend of ours to be at the birth to take pictures. Ryan had already taken several rolls of me and my growing belly.
Our birth team was coming together nicely and we patiently waited for the baby to be born. At 38 weeks Dianne gave "Baby Wiggles" the OK to come out. Wiggles was head down and had dropped. As if on cue, I began having groups of contractions. We thought I would deliver any day. I continued going to work and to school, even though people thought I was crazy. I had decided not to have an ultrasound. I relied on my close connection to the child within me to tell me that everything was OK. Some people had trouble understanding that.
It was then the 40th week and our patience was starting to wear thin. Dianne gave me some homeopathy to encourage Wiggles to be born. That seemed to help. The following Saturday morning I called Dianne and told her that my still painless contractions had been steadily coming about every five minutes and lasting almost 45 seconds. Dianne came over, checked me and calmly left, telling me to stay relaxed and assured me that everything was fine. Then on Sunday morning the contractions stopped. I got out of bed in a foul mood, convinced that I would be pregnant for another week or two and tortured with these on-again-off-again contractions. I had just finished using the bathroom and telling Steve my woes when I noticed a pinkish snotty glob on my leg. I squealed in joy. My plug had fallen out! I called Dianne again and told her the news. When I woke up Sunday afternoon around 1 PM I felt pains in my tummy that felt like period cramps. They kept coming back, so I called Dianne thinking I might be in labor. Dianne returned and checked me, announcing that I had progressed and told us it would be wise to fill up the birth pool. Later I learned I was then 5-6cm. I began to sink into "the zone," relaxing and cherishing all the things my body was doing. We called our birth team, including Kelly, our Bradley teacher, and told them I was in early labor.
Steve and I enjoyed labor for several hours, taking a hot shower together and also a little nap. At midnight the contractions woke me up and I walked over to Toni Jean's house so Steve could get some more sleep. Toni helped me relax through contractions until around 1:30 AM, when I announced that I wanted to get into the water. I went home and woke Steve up and we finished filling up the inflatable kiddie pool with hot water. I got into the water at 2:20 AM, gently moaning through contractions.
The water was amazingly helpful. I was able to relax so easily, closing my eyes, sinking into the warmth and moving my legs in slow kicking movements. Then, all of a sudden I felt nauseous. I leaned over the side of the pool and vomited my dinner. Steve called Dianne and told her we suspected that I was going through transition. It was 3:45 AM and we wanted our birth team to join us. Toni was the first to arrive, then Ryan, Dianne, Lynne and Kelly. My contractions became stronger and I began calling Steve to the pool to be close to me during them. During one contraction I grunted, and when it had passed I whispered that, "it wants to push."
I kept drinking water and Kelly cut up an orange and handed me pieces. Three contractions later I still had a pushing urge. I asked Dianne to check me. I wanted to know if I was complete. Once again I was examined. It was then 4:50 AM and I was at ten centimeters! Everyone cheered and I happily began grunting along with the contractions. My vocalizations grew louder. I was amazed at what my body was doing. I simply HAD to push. I wasn't in pain, but it helped to make noise.
The water let me move a lot. I tried several different positions, which helped me move the baby down. I could feel it too, passing through my cervix like a bolder rolling down a hill. It was beginning to hurt. Suddenly I felt something against my perineum. I pushed and called out, "I feel something there!" I had pushed out part of the bag of waters, still intact. There I was with a strange little water bubble between my legs. I knew the baby was close. I kept touching the membrane and between contractions I reached my fingers inside to touch the baby's head. It was moving down so slowly. I talked to the baby and asked it to be born soon, so I could hold it.
At 5:40 AM Dianne and Lynne told me to try a new position. I leaned against one side of the pool and held a rope. Steve, who had joined me in the pool after my first pushing contraction, leaned against the other side and held the other end of the rope. I was told to pull on the rope during the contractions. This would help me curve my body to let the baby slide out. The contractions became amazingly strong and my perineum felt very vulnerable. Dianne put her hand on me to support me, and the counter pressure helped. It gave me something to push towards.
I was in another world and time meant nothing. I didn't even notice Ryan's flash going off as he took pictures of the whole scene. Toni Jean had left to get five-year-old Samantha and when she returned my labor became even more intense. Little Samantha's presence was a huge comfort to me. I tried to relax as the contractions grew stronger. I was now crying out in pain as I pushed, and telling everyone how it stung and burned. They all encouraged me to push into the burn and Kelly told me it would go numb. The baby's head was then slightly visible. Steve begged me to push it out. Toni wrapped her arm around me and held me. I was beginning to give up; I didn't want to push anymore. Everyone encouraged me to keep going, telling me that I was doing so well, and that soon the baby would be out. I had been pushing for almost two hours.
The baby's head was almost all the way out. I had my hand on it. All I could think about was holding the baby. Dianne noticed some blood in the water and quietly commented that she could feel something as she supported my perineum. She quickly took the rope away and told me to get on my hands and knees. There was an urgency in her voice. Kelly and Toni helped me change positions. Samantha asked, "Is it a girl yet?" Once again, I thanked God for the water, as it helped me change positions so easily. I knew the baby would be out soon. I gave up trying to help my body give birth; I was just letting go, letting my body take over.
Dianne asked me to give tiny pushes. The sharp pain made me cry out, it was so strong. She was talking to herself, "I see what's happening. We've got a little arm here." I leaned into Steve and told him I loved him. I felt the burning intensify as Dianne loosened the baby's arm, which was still halfway inside me. Then the pain subsided. I wasn't able to see my baby come out but I felt a sliding, a happy expulsion, then a tugging feeling. "Ouch, don't pull!" I told Dianne. "I'm not going to pull" she said, and then she said "OK, here comes your baby!"
She had given the baby a gentle push, and it came swimming between my legs so I could lift it out of the water. I sat up and looked at my baby, squirming underwater. Steve and I put our hands on the child and gently lifted it up, and everyone cheered, "It's a boy!" It was 6:35 AM on Monday, six days after my due date.
Our baby boy began to cry on his own. Dianne wrapped him in blankets as she explained that the bleeding and burning I had felt was caused by a presenting elbow. His arm had been up next to his ear. She said I probably had a tear because of this. Steve cut the cord after it stopped pulsing. After we settled down Toni and Kelly helped me out of the pool so I could deliver the placenta out of the water. I lay down on the bed and Lynne told me to "think Jell-O" and give a small push. The placenta slid out painlessly. Dianne did find a small tear and gave me two stitches. I was a total chicken through the stitching process, not wanting anymore business going on down there. It really didn't hurt at all. I held the baby and Kelly helped distract me, reminding me to moan, like we had practiced during Bradley class.
Steve was busy calling friends and family, letting them know the happy news. Within a few minutes our close friend Dave, who our baby boy is named after, arrived. Dave played Steve's guitar as I made an attempt to nurse Baby David. He nursed for a few minutes and then fell asleep at my breast. I was also very tired and now I was so relaxed with my baby in my arms that I began to drift off too.
Dianne and Lynne scurried around talking about going out and getting some breakfast. Toni took Samantha to kindergarten. Ryan packed up his cameras and film. Kelly helped me to the bathroom and settled me back down before going home to her family. Slowly our small house emptied and became quiet. Steve joined Baby David and me in bed. The sun had come up, marking the beginning of our child's Birth Day. A day I will never forget; one of the most wonderful days of my life.