. . . Contractions became more intense around eight, so I called Kerry, my midwife, and told her that I was going into the tub. I had put it off until this point because I didn't want contractions to slow down. Ahhhhh.... The tub was deliciously warm and comforting. This was what I had envisioned my second child's birth to be like. We lit candles, turned off lights and turned on the music; the soothing sounds of Enya. Kerry arrived 20 minutes later to see me relaxing the in the tub, holding onto the side during contractions.
At about 9:00, our interpreter, Sandy, arrived. Rob and I are deaf and although I felt I would be focusing within myself during labor, Sandy would be interpreting primarily for Rob so he knew what midwives were instructing me to do and so he could participate in the birth and support me. At about that time, I asked Rob to join me in the tub since I felt like I was floating away and had to hang on. Rob did a beautiful job of being a very calm, comforting, stable rock that allowed me to flow with the sometimes tumultuous waves of contractions. Now the laboring picture was complete.
Soon after we were in the tub, I had to run to the bathroom. The first time, Kerry caught me and asked that, before I ease back into the tub, she check my cervix and take other vital signs. I had dilated to 6 cm at about 9:00 PM and all vital signs of the baby and myself were good. Kerry also told me that the contractions would not get worse, but perhaps closer together. After learning that, I felt that for sure I could do this. Each time I got up to use the bathroom (fluids were pushed, including an enzyme drink which seemed to help keep my energy up), Kerry advised that I "sit through" a contraction. Good thing our bathroom is small as I was able to hang onto the side of the tub and windowsill because the waves felt quite strong, as if they could toss me into the sea of contractions, especially as I went through transition. It was during one of those last bathroom-contraction sit-throughs, that Kerry said maybe the urge to have a b.m. was actually the baby and that I should reach down and feel for her. At another point, tears just rolled down my face and I felt nauseous. I don't remember thinking I couldn't do it, although I may have said that, but I was overcome with emotion. Everything that I had dreamt about for the birth of this baby was actually happening.
Finally at about 11:40 p.m., I felt that familiar urge to push. Because of my prior birthing experience, I felt I had to ask the midwives if I could push. Kerry just said, if I felt the urge, to go ahead. What a feeling, to trust my body to give the signals, not a person on the outside! I waited until I got the signal to go ahead. Meaning my body was telling me when. Kerry had said to stop pushing for a little when It "started to burn". That was difficult, but it seems to have helped prevent tearing as we discovered there was, miraculously, none. At one point, we had to reposition from all fours to semi-reclining with Rob supporting me from behind so that we could all see the baby emerging. Pushing seemed to go well and then I could see the baby when I looked down.
Actually what I saw were the buttocks and the back. I remember thinking, "Well, where's the head? I guess I better keep pushing to get her all out." It didn't hit me until later that Emma actually emerged breech, although Kerry and Brigette whispered and my interpreter heard them say, "It's a B." Breech births are common in my family as my mother had two out of three children born breech and my maternal grandmother's three children were all born breech. At last the rest of the baby emerged at 12:01 AM (midnight, just as I had thought).
When she was placed in my arms, blue and not yet breathing, I held my breath as they got her "pinked up" and breathing at last with a little oxygen. She was finally here! She looked so tiny, but strong, as she quickly and, it seemed, skillfully nursed in the minutes after she was born. One thing that traditional midwives do is let the parents discover if it's a girl or boy. We checked her out and sure enough, Emma was here.
When people ask about the birth, I am always so proud to tell them how she was born, since as Kerry said, "Her birth was a gift." Had we known she was breech in advance, the birth environment, labor and delivery most likely would have been different. We feel quite blessed that we were able to have her at home, in water, with soothing music and candlight. What a beautiful, gentle way to enter the world!