My due date was October 26th. That came and went! Our midwife was calm and reassuring. She gave us a list of labor inducing activities. 😉 A warm bath and a small glass of wine was nice. Raspberry leaf tea, black cohosh, long walks uphill, dancing, scrubbing the floor on all fours, spicy foods, etc. All of which we did. And then some. November came. Days passed. On November 3rd in the morning I called my midwife and told her I was going grocery shopping for the last time before the baby came. I also informed her that I was going to pick up a bottle of Castor oil. She laughed and suggested 2 ways of taking it, but that I needed to make sure I called her as soon as I took it. And then to keep her updated on any progress. You know how nerve racking that was?! Trying to induce my own labor like that! All I could think about was my mother. She was 10 days late with me and took Castor oil. Three hours later she was in hard labor and called her doc. 45 minutes of labor and I was out. I stared at that bottle and tried to decide how ready I was for this. And then I took it.
I went about my day finishing up laundry, cleaning up the kitchen, vacuuming, etc. Nothing was happening. Hours later and nothing happened. Apparently I was either going to be sitting on the toilet for days or I’d go into labor or both. Nothing happened. I called my midwife about 4 hours later and she said to take another ½ dose. Great. Power shitting here we come. But at 9 days over due I was ready and willing to suffer anything to get this baby out. So I took the second dose late afternoon. And waited. John got home, he ate supper (I didn’t want anything more in my stomach, thanks), we showered and crawled into bed early expecting something to happen soon. Nothing. We went to bed about 7:45pm. And at that point I had felt nothing. Not one contraction. I started to doze off when it all began. Around 8:15pm I began feeling contractions. I didn’t wake John, I just stared at the clock and timed them. Right away they were 30-40 seconds long and about 6 minutes apart but they weren’t too strong yet. That changed quickly. By 9:30pm they were 4 minutes apart and a solid 45 seconds long and I had to breathe through them. I could still walk and function but they were getting strong. We called the midwife and her doula. The doula came over shortly before midnight, checked me, and said I had a bit to go before Monica would come. We walked and talked and swayed and moaned through the contractions. By 1am Monica (the midwife) was there. She checked me and said I was about 6cm and had some work to do yet. I was okay. It was hard. But I honestly can’t say it was terribly painful at that point. Everyone stayed calm and focused. John massaged my back as I was having terrible back pain. That hurt more than the contractions. By 3am I was getting tired and anxious and it was starting to really get difficult. Monica checked me again and said I was close and suggested that I do the stairs a few times to speed things up. “Are you kidding me?!” I yelled at her. She just laughed. John walked with me. During the 1 minute between each contraction I quickly went down the stairs, braced myself for the contraction, then ran back up the stairs. I am certain it was quite the site. But it did the job. A few time of that and I was almost a 10. At that point I could barely stand up but Monica kept telling me that there was a “lip” of cervix left and I shouldn’t push yet. She kept trying to push it aside during my contractions but I could hardly take her doing that. Oh my goodness I felt like I was going into shock. Apparently it was transition (the point between full dilation and pushing). Eventually I was ready. Monica suggested trying a couple different position for pushing. I pushed on all fours. That was NOT comfortable for me. I pushed standing up. My legs almost went out from under me. Finally I just laid down on the bed and John was behind. That didn’t work either. Plus he wanted to watch and I needed to SEE him to keep myself calm.
Note: John was absolutely amazing during my whole labor. He never left my side. Not once. He massaged my back, he held me, he was my rock. Every time I thought I was going to lose it, I focused on him and held eye contact and I’d find my way back to a calm breathable state. I know labor was difficult for him too. I remember looking at him during a particularly difficult moment and he was teary eyed. Helpless yet THERE, which to me meant everything.
Women say there is a relief in pushing. I’m not so sure. Pushing was almost more difficult that dilation (for me). It took 3 hours….3 hours! To push him out. I remember at one point probably half way through pushing Monica says to me “Theresa, you have to focus and really push as hard as you can or we’re going to have to get in the car and head to hospital.” Apparently his heart rate had dropped a bit. It wasn’t terribly low but if he didn’t come out soon, she was concerned he’d go into distress. Well, I wasn’t about to walk my laboring self to the car and be driven to the hospital. No way. And I wasn’t going to risk my baby’s well-being by not giving my all. I mustered up the strength and energy to push a million times harder. Oh my goodness! Talk about empowering. Talk about strength! From there on out I don’t remember pain or difficulty. I remember pushing and the burning from his head crowning. And then his head came out and his slippery little body came out in the next push. 9:26am November 4, 2005 Hayden was laid on my tummy….pink, cone headed, and screaming. I burst into tears. As John said, “there were four of us in the room all night and now there is five.” He cried too. Nobody said anything more for several minutes. I delivered the placenta and they cut the cord. Finally after about 5 minutes of staring and soaking up my baby the doula says, “Well, ya gonna look to see what you got?” It hadn’t occurred to us that we didn’t know if it was a boy or girl. BOY. All 10lbs 4oz and 21.5 inches of him. He was perfect. And I lay there staring into his eyes. We had a few moments of complete perfection.
The midwife did her tests and weighed Hayden. John stayed with him while the doula (Jana) helped me into the tub to get washed up. When I returned to the room, our bedding had been changed, everything was cleaned up, and John was standing in the corner ogling our son. I crawled into bed, cradled Hayden, and we all fell asleep. Monica and Jana threw the bedding into the wash machine, filled out their paperwork, packed up their stuff and left before I could even say thank you.
We spent the next couple days in bed together, all of us resting. It was awesome. Truly awesome. Our families came a couple days afterward. Of course John’s parents were shocked and concerned about him being born at home, but ultimately they were excited and happy. My parents came with Steve and Isabell (Betty had to work) and we spent the afternoon together. They were all so proud and happy. I’ll never forget those first few days of bliss. Tired, exhausted, loving bliss.
FYI and TMI: Did I end up with an episiotomy? Nope. It took me so long to push him out that I gradually stretched and didn’t tear. What a relief! Oh, and the pain afterward was almost worse than the whole labor. It was so hard for me to get out of bed to use the bathroom. John had to literally lift me to a standing position because my whole bottom half was so exhausted and sore.
Was it worth it? ABSOLUTELY! And the crazy thing was that I was anxious to do it again. I can’t even begin to tell you the high I got from labor. Oh my goodness! It was a total rush! Like climbing a mountain and then the freedom of jumping off and flying. It was truly awesome. It was way more intense than anything I had ever experienced…EVER. I understood right then why women would want to do it again, why they would talk about it as “wonderful, mind-blowing, a high”. It is absolutely that and then some.
Labor is mostly mental. If you can train yourself mentally to focus, breath, almost meditate during contractions, you’ll have the birth experience of your life!
p.s. I have a disc with picture from Hayden’s birth but I can’t seem to find it. I will post them as soon as I find the disc.
p.s.s. stay tuned for Yvette’s birth story soon. Hers is completely different in every way…failed induction, second induction, long labor, drugs, etc. Details to follow….