I laid there for an hour, and then I thought that if this is the real thing, I'd better straighten up the girls' room, because that's where the birthing tub was going to be set up. So I texted D, my mom and my midwife, and then I started cleaning the kids' room.
As I was cleaning, the contractions were a bit stronger and closer, but I still wasn't convinced. I had been planning to go to the clinic to get my blood drawn that morning anyway, to check on my bile acid levels due to the choleostasis. If this turned out to not be real labor, we needed to keep checking my levels twice a week. If they got too dangerously high, I would need to go in for a hospital induction or c-section. So I went ahead and kept that plan.
I got breakfast, got the kids dressed and ready, and we headed out the door around 7:30. I took them to my mom's house and went to the clinic for my blood draw. While I was at the clinic, I realized that this was definitely real labor. When I got back to my mom's house I told her I would not be picking up the kids, but leaving them there. That was the labor plan. I told her some things I needed from the store for labor, and drove home.
I called D and told him that this was for sure the real thing, and looked up plane tickets online for him. He had to drive from where he was working to the Pheonix airport, about 2 hours away, and then fly to a city about 2 hours from us, where my step dad would pick him up. Since my other home birth labors went 42 and 71 hours, we hoped that this one would take long enough for D to get here on time.
At home, I got everything I needed set up. I had my little station with water, my journal, my Bible, crocheting, the laptop for music on Pandora, my cellphone and charger, etc. I had made a list ahead of time and had some things already in a basket, so it was easy to get everything together. Then my mom and the girls came and brought me grapes and pinapple to snack on, and the Laborade drink
I had asked my mom to make. Then they left.
My midwife had already given the birthing tub to another couple who were due the same day as I. So she let them know that now I needed it, and the husband was kind enough to bring it to my house and set it up for me. It was a bit odd having a complete stranger in my house, setting up the birth tub, while I breathed through the occasional contraction. His wife was going to be having her first baby, so I told him this was practice for him- seeing a woman in labor and setting up the tub.
Next we needed to fill it, but the sink adapter my midwife gave me didn't fit! So my mom and the girls ran to the store to get one that would work. In between them coming and going, and guy who set up the birth tub being here, I was alone, which was really nice. I was looking forward to all of this set up being done, so everyone could just leave me alone for the rest of the labor.
My mom got the right adapter and started filling the tub for me. She made sure I had everything I needed and then left. I spent the next few hours alternating between sleeping through contractions and filling the tub. I would turn on the hot water, set my phone alarm for half an hour and lay on my stomach on a huge pile of blankets on the couch, which put me in almost a hands and knees position. Then I'd sleep between contractions, while listening to worship music. When the alarm went off, I'd get up, turn off the water, drink some labor aid, eat some grapes and pineapple, and go back to sleep on my big pile of blankets, all in between contractions. I'd give the hot water another half an hour to heat up, then get up and turn the water back on. I probably did that cycle 6 or 8 times.
By this time it was mid afternoon. The tub was finally full and I was debating whether or not to get in. For a while I just labored in the living room, and this is when I was the most glad to be alone. With L and Z, only D and my midwife were there, and because I was comfortable with both of them, I thought I was laboring in an uninhibited way. It wasn't until I was truly alone for A's labor that I realized the difference.
I welcomed every contraction, often out loud. There was no one there to complain to, so I didn't. For a long time I sat on the edge of the couch, welcoming each contraction, visualizing baby moving down and myself opening up. Between contractions, I'd just sit in a gloriously peaceful meditative state. For a while I crocheted, and for a while I just sat. Everything was quiet, and there was nothing in the world but me and my baby.
After a while, I decided to get in the tub. By this time, contractions were 3 minutes apart, if I remember correctly, but I was rarely timing them. Everything I had set up in the living room, now needed to be moved to the girls' bedroom by the birthing tub. So I slowly did one thing at a time between contractions.
Finally, I got in the tub. Labor was starting to get harder, but the water was great. I sometimes labored on my knees with my head resting on my arms on the edge of the tub. Sometimes I'd turn over, so I was sitting, but when a contraction would come, I'd let myself float up. My legs were tired, so it was wonderful to have the water to relax in. I sometimes massaged my feet and legs, which was a good distraction between contractions and felt really relaxing.
I got tired and between contractions I rested with my head on my arms on the side of the tub. I got to that point where I'm not sure if I was sleeping or meditating or just completely focused, off in labor land somewhere, in between each contraction. But again, nothing else in the world existed except what I was doing right there.
Suddenly, I heard and felt a POP! It startled me and jolted me out of my focus. I said outloud "What the hell was that?!" Then it dawned on me that my water had just broken.
I looked in the tub and saw what I was pretty sure was meconium. Because of the choleostasis, that concerned me. I got out of the tub and called my midwife and we agreed it was time for her to come.
Contractions started coming hard and fast. I knelt on the floor and put my head and arms on the couch. The urge to bear down was intense. At that point, I really wanted D there. I missed him so much and wanted him to hold me through this.
I labored that way for half an hour and then my midwife showed up. She checked to see how dilated I was, and I don't remember if she gave me a number, but I was close. I got back in the tub and the contractions were easier, but mostly because there wasn't so much weight on my legs.
I called D and told him "This is getting hard."
I was only vaguely aware of my midwife moving around the room. She was quiet and calm. She asked to listen to the heartbeat a few times, which I was fine with.
An hour passed in the way that time can only pass during labor. Where it feels like every contraction is lasting forever and that this will never end, and at the same time, when it was all over, I could have sworn it was only 15 or 20 minutes, not an hour!
I remember telling my midwife "I'm tired," and saying the same thing I say at some point during every labor, "This still beats a c-section." I told her that I was feeling the urge to bear down, and that I couldn't remember if this was what pushing feels like. I told baby, "Come on, baby. I want to meet you."
I checked myself a few times and I could feel baby's head and hair. There was still a lip of my cervix not quite out of the way yet.
Finally I was pushing. It took a few contractions to get her head out and then we waited. I could feel her little face and she was wiggling. My midwife later told me that 3 minutes passed between those contractions. The next contraction came and I pushed her out and caught her.
I lifted her out of the water and we waited for a moment, but she wasn't breathing. My midwife gave her a few puffs of air and a few chest compressions. The chest compressions were overkill, but we were both concerned because of the choleostasis, so I didn't mind. We both rubbed her back and chest and she started to cry.
We moved to the couch, and I nursed her.
That should be the end of the birth story, but then started the epic saga of delivering the placenta. It took two freakin' hours! After this awesome labor and birth, the placenta would.not.leave. My mom brought the kids back to the house, and she and my midwife took turns holding the baby and helping me.
That's when I started complaining. I kept saying "I already had the baby. I'm done! I don't want to do any more. Stupid placenta!"
My midwife offered to do a shot of pitocin in the cord, but that freaked me out. I was thinking that pitocin causes really hard, painful contractions when used for induction, and I just couldn't do any more. The cramping I was already experiencing was worse than labor, because it didn't let up. Constant cramping is way harder than contractions that ebb and flow and you know each one will end. Plus I was tired and just wanted to be done and enjoy my baby.
After moving from the couch to the floor to the bathroom, doing a whole lot of whining and even crying on my mom's shoulder, I finally said yes to the pitocin shot in the cord. It didn't cause anything any worse than what I was already feeling and after 10 minutes or less, the placenta finally came. I told my midwife that I was planning on keeping the placenta, but "now I hate it." I did end up keeping it though.
The girls loved seeing their baby sister, but they hadn't liked seeing me in pain delivering the placenta. If they had seen any part of it, I wish they would have actually seen her be born. The only got to see peaceful, meditative laboring mom a little and never got to see powerful, pushing out a baby mom. Mostly just whiny, in pain, miserable and feeling done mom.
Baby and I settled in on the couch, while my mom and my midwife cleaned up. Everyone left before midnight and then D finally made it home.