From the very beginning, I had decided I wanted to have a home birth and not go to hospital. My due date was June 15.
Late in May and early June I began having light cramps, similar to menstrual cramps. They lasted for a couple of weeks. At one time they become quite strong and I got loose bowel movements for about an hour, but then rain started and the atmospheric pressure (or something!) made those cramps stop. For over a week nothing happened, so my due date came and went and I was getting a little impatient.
Early Wednesday morning on June 26th, the cramps started up again, so lightly that I thought it was still some of those practice cramps. The cramps kept coming all day Wednesday, but it wasn't till around 6 p.m. that I started thinking this might be labor. Well, even then it was my husband who said we should go to where my doula lived, a close, ten-minute walk from our house. That is where I had planned to give birth since she had more room.
I had an enema and we walked on there. While walking I had several contractions, stronger than during the day but still light enough that I could walk through them. The midwife was there right afterwards to check me. I was dilated to 2 cm. as I had been for the last several weeks.
That night the contractions kept on coming and became stronger but didn't increase in frequency too much. Actually they slowed down so that around 2-3 a.m. they were 15 minutes apart and I was able to sleep in-between them, from 3 till about 6 a.m.
I remember we tried hastening them, so we went for an evening walk with my hubby for a while, and I did have several contractions during that time, while visiting some neighbors, but they didn't really speed up.
I tried different positions, for the most part just standing and leaning against my husband or doula. I also leaned against the armchair's back side (still standing). I was quiet most of the time, concentrating on each contraction until it passed. They felt pretty yucky, different from what I had expected. In my mind I had thought the pain would be sharp, but no, it was more like a dull, but very unpleasant pain.
All day Thursday the contractions kept on coming, 10 or 15 minutes apart, not really getting closer together. It was just very slow going in that sense, but the contractions were effective, and I was getting dilated. We tried herbs and essential oils and walking but they didn't speed things up. I ate several times; a friend of ours was providing meals for our little team, and I was hungry too as you can imagine.
Finally by supper time on Thursday, the contractions became stronger so I could only eat one piece of bread. I was almost at the transition stage then. There were quite a few strong contractions in the early evening, around 6 to 7 p.m., and the midwife checked and said I was totally dilated. So I began to push, and that lasted a couple of hours I think. I lost my notion of time during those hours.
I was pushing on the bed, lying on my side, hoping that this would give the camera a good view as we were having the birth video taped by a family member. Then I would get up for a time, and get back down on the bed whenever they wanted to check the baby's heartbeat. I tried the birthing stool, but felt funny sitting on it. All this pressure down there made for such a confused feeling that I felt I was sitting on the baby's head or something, though intellectually I knew that wasn't the case. But I didn't feel comfortable enough to stay on the stool.
Finally I tried leaning on the bed with one knee. I remember the midwife telling me she wanted to check baby's heartbeat again so I would have to get on the bed. I disliked the idea of changing positions very strongly, but didn't say anything. I just wanted to work on the pushing in peace and get it over with, so when the next contraction came, I don't know, maybe I subconsciously pushed real hard or something, but Hannah popped out down to the waist quite suddenly. She was born from behind, so to speak and I didn't see it. They said, "It's a girl!"
I felt something wet and squirming against my behind. Then they helped me and the baby on the bed and the hardest part was over.
Even in the pushing stage the contractions were 15 minutes apart, and I was eagerly awaiting them to come each time. But this way I got to rest a lot in-between. The midwife said that because of that, the baby probably wasn't extremely stressed by the birth. True, Hannah was very alert for a long time after birth, from about 9:30 p.m. when she was born, till 4 a.m. when I finally got to go to sleep, forty six and a half hours after the initial onset of labor.
At a certain point my water bag bulged outside, and the midwife ruptured it. Seemingly if she hadn't punched it, Hannah would have been born inside the water bag.
The placenta took over two hours to be born. It only came out when I finally got on my feet and had a good contraction. I think the reason it didn't come out earlier was because some blood had bled into it, forming a pouch of blood inside the placenta, so it was quite bulky. Also, a little artery broke inside and it was bleeding for quite a while there. At that point I was too tired to worry about it but the midwife seemed somewhat concerned. You don't stop an artery from bleeding just like that. We tried cayenne pepper and white willow bark. Something worked and eventually the bleeding stopped. All told I lost between one and two pints of blood, which is a lot. But I recovered all right afterwards, taking lots of blackstrap molasses.
Finally the midwife was able to check me for tearing. I had a tear in the inner lip and then inside the birth canal, forming some kind of flap. I was surprised how little it hurt to put those stitches in, just like little pricking. That took quite a while, so after all was done, it was nearly 4 a.m.
I breastfed my baby sometime before the placenta was born, and she had such a strong suck!
If I had been in a hospital, I don't know what interventions they would have done since the labor was so slow, and the contractions so far apart, but I'm happy I got to do it my way.