The evening of Nov 9th, Gabe finally started to get that "this may be one of the last days without a baby" feeling, almost a week after my due date. I on the other hand who had been hoping she would come a little early had been suggesting we plan a special evening for the last month.
We went for a long walk, and I started to feel pretty good. Actually, in spite of an overall opinion that pregnancy, for me anyway, is not the most awesome thing in the world, I was enjoying the last days as much as I could. That very morning I was laying in bed with my hand on my now rather too large for even maternity clothes belly thinking about my baby, telling him/her that I would enjoy it while it lasted while he/she kicked back at me, as if to say the same thing. I tried to ignore the pain in my hips, the heartburn that seemed never to go away, my itching belly in spite of the many layers of belly butter and ingested flax oil pills.
It was dark and cool, and as we walked I felt energized. When we got home I thought "wouldn't it be cool if I went into labor now, just when I feel content enough to just be pregnant a little longer?" We were watching something on TV, and I got on the floor to practice some birth positions during my usual evening braxton-hicks contractions. But they started to get stronger, and happened more often than usual. I noticed it was about 8:30 pm.
We went to bed, and I asked Gabe to time the contractions. I thought they were maybe 20 seconds long, but he was timing them at 50 seconds every 3 or 4 minutes. They were still light enough that I could just relax and breath normally through them, and I knew I needed rest. So Gabe started to read a book to me and I tried to ignore the contractions and fall asleep.
It got to the point where I wasn't even paying attention to Gabe's book. We called our midwife Melissa who said she would get her car ready but that it may not be the real thing yet. I got into the tub with a glass of wine, but instead of slowing things down like it "should" labor sped up. I went back to Gabe but now I was moaning a little through them and keeping him awake. I didn't have a choice about sleep at this point but he did, and I told him I would labor in the other room and for him to try and get some sleep.
I was alone in the dark trying to just zone out, I don't know for how long, before I got really anxious and asked Gabe to help me. He called Melissa again who said she would be on her way (I think she arrived at about 3 or 4:00 am on the 10th), mostly so Gabe could keep sleeping and Melissa could be my support.
Everything gets really blurry here. I remember feeling my baby moving around a little and I felt the fluttering of hiccups low in my pelvis. Melissa checked her heart tones and was always catching them on my lower belly right where they should be. Even through the contractions her heart rate was good. Eventually the birth tub was full and I spent a lot of time in there. It didn't make the contractions easier but it was a nice place to rest. I had long ceased to be comfortable in pretty much any position so I wasn't about to find one while in labor, so the water was just the best place to rest in between.
It became light, and Ginger our photographer showed up and eventually the midwife assistant Heidi. I remember asking where Heidi was but not able to explain why out loud. I felt like when Melissa decided it was time to have her there then we were in serious labor. I found out after that some people thought we'd have a baby by noon.
I was eating and drinking as much as I could but in reality I didn't care at all what was happening. I was in laborland! Gabe had the hardest job. Once everyone was assembled they could all come and go as they pleased as long as I knew Gabe was near. Once I opened my eyes and he was gone, and someone said he had just gone to the bathroom. "But he is coming back, right?" I would not permit him to leave me alone for long!
By 2:00 pm there was a lot of low back and hip pain but no baby yet. At some point my labor slowed and I curled up on the couch next to Gabe and got my first sleep since 2 nights before. Melissa became concerned that if things didn't move along I'd be in labor all night and get too tired, so we started the breast pump and black and blue cohosh. That is when things really started to get real.
They wanted me to sit on this metal "birth stool" which I really hated. I know I was less than cooperative and they had their reasons that had me and my baby's best interests at heart, but I really hated the whole ordeal. The herbs were disgusting, my contractions so intense, the birth bar painful on my legs, and in between I sat with this machine on my chest.
It paid off in that I started to really lose my mucous blog, but I was quickly exhausted. They checked me and I was completely dilated. I was so excited I decided I would do whatever they asked. Well, the next thing was the worst! I had to get into that labor position one hates most...on your back, knees back toward your head. And I can see why! It was so uncomfortable...I wouldn't say painful, just, awful. The only "pain" as I remember it was that awful back and hip pain that had become progressively worse. But then as they urged me to "relax" and "push" I got it in my head to REALLY try to do what they were saying...my water broke. It made a loud pop, and was warm on my body. I was ecstatic...I finally allowed myself to think, "my baby is coming!"
But Melissa was trying to get my attention. "I have to tell you this...your baby is breech." I just kind of lost it. The baby must have flipped around? I guess I pushed for another few hours but I was never able to win the fight in my head. Breech? I was scared. I knew it was "safe," but I had never seriously thought about what I personally wanted if this had happened, and it did.
I remember wanting to go to the hospital, a place I had thought nothing about the entire span of my now almost 24 hours of labor. But everyone kept saying it was OK, that I could do it. They could not see into my head, where I was so upset that the baby wasn't head down. Heidi tried to be encouraging but it wasn't terribly helpful to be told that my fear was getting in the way, or that labor was a test. I had gone from positive that I was going to have this baby when my water broke to completely lost at finding out it wasn't a head in there.
I do not regret having tried at home. One of the coolest things that happened at home is I did get to feel my baby. I didn't believe Melissa when she told me the baby was just inside my birth canal so she told me to check. There that little bottom was! It was pretty cool. I would not have been "allowed" to do that in pretty much any typical hospital labor situation. I won't forget that I got to be one of the very first people to touch my baby.
I pushed for a long time with no movements down from my baby. Though we were both doing just fine, I was tired physically and emotionally. I got out of the tub and put on my bathrobe, not bothering to dry off, and walked out of the room. Nobody was sure what I was doing, but Ginger said she thought I was going to the hospital.
I was now on my hands and knees on the floor of the dining room demanding that everyone take me to the hospital. Had they not taken me seriously I would have walked. It was only about three blocks away. The car was warmed, Gabe packed a few things ("we don't need things, we just need me!" I cried out, thinking he was the reason we had not left yet). They checked me and my baby's vitals and we were on our way.
I knew I was likely c-section bound, but I didn't care. I tried everything. On one hand, I could have tried harder and longer, since me and my baby were doing OK. On the other, I had given it a really good go, and the fact we were still doing great also begged the argument why keep at this until something does start to go wrong then have to do an "emergency" transfer? The thing is, maybe I could have done it. Maybe I needed more time, maybe I needed to try a few more suggestions from the midwives. But maybe something would have gone wrong, or maybe I would have just ended up in the same place only a few hours later. I'll never know, and that's OK.
Next time, a very happy ending and a pretty gosh darn good c-section birth...