If you haven't already, you'll want to go read Story Number One and Story Number Two before you read this one. I also wrote a post with some of my Thoughts on Home Birth a couple of weeks ago. So, Story Number Three begins...
We were planning a home birth this time, and I had been seeing a midwife throughout my pregnancy. I really enjoyed the personal care, focus on a healthy pregnancy, and just the overall view of pregnancy as healthy and normal rather than it being a medical event. Ross had been to most of my prenatal visits with me and was completely supportive. I was excited and a bit nervous.
Towards the end of my pregnancy, all of the unknowns really started to get to me. Aside from (of course) not knowing when the baby would arrive, we didn't know the gender of the baby since we hadn't had an ultrasound. Ross was looking forward to the surprise this time, but it was driving me a bit crazy not to know. Both times previously, my water had broken quite dramatically, so I kept wondering when and if that would happen. I told my mom I felt like a walking water balloon, ready to pop any minute! Not having had a home birth before, I didn't feel like I had a clear picture in my head of how things would go, what position I would give birth in, or just what it would all be like. Julia was 2 weeks and 2 days early, so that was my date to have everything ready by, but it also made the wait beyond that date feel so much longer. I had to try very hard to remain patient and calm with all of this swirling through my head those last few weeks!
There were a couple of days in my 38th week where I had some contractions and felt pretty achy, but for the most part I was just feeling normal end of pregnancy stuff. Ross had some time around Christmas where he was able to be home from work and we spent our days in pajamas playing with Lucy and Julia and relaxing. We kept wondering if this would be the day for baby to arrive, but he/ she seemed to be pretty comfortable in there. Ross went back to work on January 4th, and I started to get nervous. I was almost 39 weeks at that point, and he worked 45 minutes from home. Incidentally, his office is in the same building as the midwife, so they would both be pretty far away if I went into labor during the day.
At a couple of my appointments I told Yolanda (midwife) that I was nervous about her arriving in time when I was in labor. Julia's labor was just three hours total. She reassured me that if I was having a fast labor it would be much better to have her on the phone and on her way to me than be trying to rush to a hospital and have the baby in a car. At home I had all of my supplies gathered and she could talk us through anything we needed. She did mention that if the baby were coming fast, she tells the mom to lay on her side with a pillow between her legs. A standing position or squatting would only encourage the baby to come faster.
I think I called Ross every afternoon that week, wanting him to come home early. On Thursday he did come home a bit early. That night I had a bit of bloody show. I ran to the computer and Googled "bloody show how long until labor starts", and asked friends online if they remembered how long until they went into labor. Some websites said that it could mean labor would start within 24 hours. I knew that my body was very ready at this point, so I told Ross not to go to work the next day. When Yolanda had done her home visit before Christmas she checked and said that I was already 80% effaced then.
Thursday night we watched a movie and I sat on an exercise ball and tried to relax. I didn't have any hard contractions, maybe a few extra braxtons, but not much. I went to bed - laying in the direction facing the bathroom so that I could jump up if my water broke. I slept all night and woke up around 7:30 am with some braxtons rather close together. I got up and started having a few contractions. Ross was home and getting the girls breakfast while I kneeled in front of the exercise ball for a bit. Around 8:00 am I told him I thought this was it and he called Grandpa and Grandma to come pick up the girls. I was having more bloody show and around 8:30 my water broke. It broke just a little bit at first so I wasn't sure, but it soon started to pour out. We called Yolanda and she said that she would be on her way in about 15 minutes and to call her back if anything changed. Pretty quickly my water was gushing out and I decided to get in the bath tub to help with the painful contractions.
Ross had been busy getting Lucy and Julia breakfast, calling his parents and Yolanda, putting old sheets on the bed, and reassuring me in between all this. As soon as the contractions had started they were intense, close together, and very painful. I kept telling Ross to call Yolanda back and tell her to hurry. He kept telling me that it was fine and she was on her way. The warm water in the tub helped with the contractions, but they were still quite powerful. At one point I thought "Forget all this, I want an epidural!" ... and another part of me thought "That's what people say when they are in transition!" ...yet another part of me thought "Calm down, people don't have babies in ten minutes. I can't be in transition yet. This is quite painful, but the baby has to come down, I have to dilate, etc. Yolanda will be here soon." I was anxious for Yolanda to get there because I felt like I didn't know what to do during the contractions and wanted help figuring out what position to be in and how to get some relief.
I started to feel like I needed to go to the bathroom and was trying to figure out how on earth I would get myself to the toilet through these intense non stop contractions. I didn't want to sit on the toilet though for fear of making the baby come too quickly. Just as I was trying to figure this out, I realized that my body was pushing with a contraction. I told Ross that I had to push and he replied "No you don't. Its not time to push yet." I told him that I couldn't help it and he told me to "get in that position that Yolanda told you to." I sort of laughed and replied that I was, I was laying on my side in the tub and there was nothing else I could do. He asked if I wanted to get out of the tub and I said no, that I couldn't. He went back out of the bathroom and I had another contraction and felt my body push again. I reached down and felt the baby's head coming out. Ross came back in the bathroom and I told him that the head was right there. He reached into the tub and caught his baby girl with the next contraction.
I remember thinking as she came out that she was huge. I told Ross to check around her neck for the cord and he said she was fine. Ross pulled her up onto my chest and we rubbed her back a bit to get her to cry. He covered her in a towel and had Yolanda on the phone giving him a few directions. After a minute we checked and found out that we had a baby girl. We just looked at her and snuggled her for a few minutes until Yolanda arrived. She helped Ross cut the cord and delivered the placenta (at which point Ross started to get queasy).
I moved to the bed and held Esther and nursed her for a bit. Yolanda checked her over and said she was perfect. She weighed 9 lbs even and was 20 1/2 inches long. She had been born at 9:28 am, just one hour after my water broke, an hour and a half total of labor. I had only been in the tub about a half hour before she was born. It was amazing to feel my body push her out, to reach down and feel her soft head. Even though the contractions were incredibly painful and intense and I was worried about Yolanda arriving in time - when I realized that I was pushing, I was amazingly peaceful. I only tore very slightly (although I did end up with a very sore bottom that took quite a while to heal up).
For the next few hours Yolanda was there writing up the birth paperwork and checking on Esther and I. We eventually called Lucy and Julia at Grandma's house to come meet the baby. We didn't tell them it was a girl until they arrived and met her. They were both thrilled to have a baby sister. Ross and I were both kind of in shock for the next couple of days - amazed that we had a healthy new baby girl and trying to process the crazy birth events.
Esther Joy is beautiful. She came out with a head of dark hair quite unlike her sisters. She is a calm little one and has already smiled a few times in response to Mommy and Daddy talking to her. She turns her head to find her Daddy when she hears him talking. We are in love with her and in awe. Welcome to our family, little one. We love you!