–No pain, no contractions, no signs that labor was starting. Other than the famous mucous plug. I told my husband, P, that this could be it because I knew he had to go to work and we had to plan the day.
It was also my twin nieces’ 10th birthday and I knew that my whole family was making plans to celebrate them.
By 8:30 a.m., I called my mom and told her that I thought today could be the day and asked her to help me with the kids.
P went to work at 9 a.m. and my mom got here by about 10:30 a.m.
I started having very mild cramps. By noon, I told P to come home from work. Though I still didn’t have much pain, I wanted him with me.
Since labor with our other two kids had started at night, the fact that it was daylight threw me off a bit. I wanted it to be dark, to be alone in my room, just preparing for the real thing, if it was going to happen.
The cramps turned into soft contractions, with no definite pattern, but now I knew that this was real.
I asked my mom to take the kids (6 and 3 yrs. old) to my sister’s. At first I thought that I wanted them to be present during labor, but something told me that we needed to be alone.
As they were leaving, at 3 o’clock, I got my first strong contraction. P said we should call the midwife. I hesitated because I thought it was too early, and we should wait to establish a pattern. But P didn’t want to wait, given our birth experience at home last time (we delivered by ourselves because the midwife didn’t have time to get here!) Read the story on my ” Documentary Tab”: http://mariasotolongo.com/?page_id=9
I’m glad we listened to his instincts.
We took a minute to breathe and acknowledge that this was it, we were going to meet our baby today. Little did we know that in only 3 hours we would be holding our baby boy. We turned on the music, closed the curtains, had flowers in each corner of our bedroom, and center stage sat our birth tub.
My sister came at 3:30 p.m. She would act as my doula/photographer and a crucial part of labor.
Contractions were definitely taking my breath away. Our midwife arrived at 4 p.m. She saw me having one contraction, and asked P to fill the tub. In my mind I thought it was too early. Again, glad we followed someone else’s instinct. It took 30 minutes to fill the tub. During that time, each contraction pushed me more and more to my limit. I could no longer talk and laugh between contractions. I was focusing on each moment and trying to listen to my body, telling me what position to take. Now it was time to be aware of my own instincts.
I sat on the birthing ball, squatted, leaned on P’s back, sat in our bed, rocked, breathed deeply, and looked at the affirmations I had posted on the wall. “This birth is my chance to hold hands with God”, “I surrender sweetly to each moment of my birth. ”
The birth pool was ready. I got in. Heavenly warmth. What a relief.
For a few minutes, I didn’t feel pregnant. My body could float. I relished the moment. I thanked my midwife, my sister, and my husband for being with me. I verbalized my excitement, realizing that I deserved this birth. That there was nothing to fear. I let myself cry, full of joy, until the next contraction took over.
There didn’t seem to be a break. With my last home birth, I snored between contractions. They were intense but I had time to get my strength. Now, this erupting volcano of life was almost unbearable. My birth team would chime in every time I said I couldn’t do it. Or that I didn’t know what I was doing. They reassured me I was doing everything right.
My midwife monitored my blood pressure and the baby’s heart rate intermittently. Most times she would comment “healthy baby, great blood pressure, looking good.” But then, she didn’t say anything and I saw something in her face.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“I think maybe the baby’s too warm. Let’s try to get you out of the tub for a while. Maybe you can empty your bladder, ” she said.
I swam in fear at that point. I tried to get up, but a contraction slapped me down. I wailed like an animal. The guttural noises I made felt freeing and necessary. I gripped on to P’s arms as I knelt in the pool and then I felt a pop. My water had broken. I leaned over a side of the tub, begging for a break. My sister put the camera down and came next to me. She whispered: “Let go of your fear. Your baby is in the right position. Visualize him coming down. See his head down.” Fighting tears, I did what she said. I saw his head down.
We somehow got me out of the tub and over to the toilet. I barely made it. Forced myself to sit down. I felt a tremendous urge to push. I did. SO MUCH PRESSURE! Felt like deja-vu. Last time, giving birth to our first son, his head came out exactly where we stood now. I pushed and reached down to touch his head trying to come out. But unlike last time, his head didn’t slip out effortlessly.
“Let’s go back to the tub,” our midwife said.
“I can’t walk,” I assured her.
“We’ll carry you,” my sister yelled.
“She needs to walk,” the midwife insisted.
“I’ve got you babe,” P confirmed.
We made it to the tub.
I knelt in the warmth again. Put my head against a side. My hands holding P’s. Waiting for the next urge to push. It felt like forever. My midwife told me to reach and see if I could feel the baby’s head. I did. And I actually felt it going back. What? That shocked me. But my midwife said it was ok. That my body was giving me a break. More eternal waiting. I prayed and asked God to not let go. Then there it was. The urge to push again. So much stronger than I remembered with my last birth. Would my body break if I pushed? Could I please order an epidural? But no drug could stop me now. I pushed his head out. THANK YOU JESUS!
We knew he had the chord around his head because we saw that on our 37 week ultrasound. My midwife reached in the water to unravel it. Again, it felt like time stopped. We tried unsuccessfully to unwrap the chord. Our baby’s head was out, underwater. He hadn’t taken a breath, of course. But the midwife said I had to get out of the water.
With my baby’s head between my legs, I quickly got out of the tub and took a knee, my backside facing my midwife, husband and sister. All three of them told me to push. No one screamed or seemed worried but I sensed the urgency to get him out. No slipping out hurriedly like my last birth. There was something going on. I felt like I was pushing with no results. Later, I found out that our baby’s head was leaning against his shoulder, and both the he’d and shoulder were trying to emerge together! The chord was getting stuck on the shoulder, giving us a tough time getting him out. Miraculously though, our baby finally came to us. The midwife placed him on a towel. He wasn’t breathing yet. We stimulated him, talked to him, welcomed him, blessed him, and when I picked him up, he started to cry. Thank you Almighty Lord! We did it. We had a healthy 9.7 lb. boy in our arms. He cried and cried, his chant, letting us know he was alive. We cried with him.
My two home births were completely different. Not what I had “planned” exactly. But they were in the setting that I chose, in the position that I chose, with the people that I chose. I had freedom to birth as I wanted. I share my story to bring awareness to other women about the choices they have if they are healthy and have a low risk pregnancy. Both of my stories would be considered “risky” by the medical world. I am not “lucky that the baby survived”. That is always in God’s hands. My midwife’s experience, knowledge and love for me and my family helped us deliver our baby at home, even with some slight complications. I invite every woman, YOU, to consider your options and ask yourself, am I making the decision of where to birth based out of love or fear?
Here is a fascinating article about the importance of where we birth: http://www.bestdaily.co.uk/your-life/news/a548028/could-the-way-we-give-birth-be-changing-us-as-a-species.html