30 January 2009

My baby boy, Judah was born on the 30th of Jan 2009 at 7:58am.

He was born at home into the arms of a loving midwife and his birth was totally unmedicated.

I was due sometime after the 24th of Jan and had been having prodromal labor (regular and strong contractions that come in an irregular pattern but eventually subside) all week. It was frustrating to say the least. Every night I would think “this is it!!” only to have the contractions fade with the morning light. It started to wear on everybody since we were up almost every night thinking the baby was about to arrive.

On the evening of the 28th, the contractions did something they had never done before – they came in a pattern of 5 mins apart and lasted a minute each. This went on for 8 hours and so of course we were “sure” this was it. I called my midwife to let her know we might be having a baby and she told me to keep her updated. By mid day on the 29th, the contractions had vanished again.

I was so frustrated that I decided to go to bed for the rest of the day (this was a blessing in disguise!!). I slept for about 5 hours, had dinner and started watching tv. To my delight, the contractions began again, but I didn’t trust them, so by 11pm, I told everyone to go to bed .  My mom and my husband’s sister were staying with us for the birth.

The moment everyone went to sleep, labour began in earnest. Contractions became a lot stronger and were coming every 2 mins. They lasted over a minute each. I was having a lot of back labour and I tried to wake my dear husband (I needed someone to rub my back).  I told him to call the midwife, but he was fast asleep and I couldn’t rouse him – he doesn’t even remember that. I decided to take a bath, since I would have to go downstairs to get into the birthing pool, and that would wake everyone. Getting into the tub was the moment I noticed that I felt drugged between contractions.

I would breathe and hum through the pain and then would fade off into a dream world before the next one began and snapped me out of it again. I don’t know how long I sat there for, but eventually I realised that I would be delivering the baby myself if I didn’t wake anyone up. I went downstairs and my mother helped me to time my contractions. She was awesome – rubbing my back and keeping track of what was going on.

It’s a strange thing to say, but the pain of the contractions really felt exhilarating. I am not someone who likes  pain – I cry when I have to get blood drawn, but this was so different. It was like I could feel my body working to bring my baby into the world and I didn’t even have to “do” anything at this point – just breathe.

Eventually my mom convinced me to call my midwife. I told her I would like her to come over (I had been in active labour for about 3 hrs). She arrived about 30 minutes later (this was about 4 am). I managed to get upstairs and wake my sleeping husband and told him the midwife had arrived. We went back downstairs and I continued to labour bent over the sofa with my husband rubbing my lower back.

Suddenly my water burst. It wasn’t just a pop – it really felt like it exploded out of me.  I mentioned that my water had just broken, but no one heard me – I was in the middle of a contraction and I think everyone just thought I was moaning. The minute that bag of waters broke, I began intense labour. Contractions really took all of my concentration and I had a lot of pressure on my bladder.

Eventually my midwife was set up and came over to see how I was doing. I mentioned that my water had broken again and she decided to check me. I was 10cm with a small lip of cervix. She said I could get in the pool and push if I wanted to.

I climbed in and the water felt SO good. The contractions were at their peak though and I tried to bear down  when I felt them. It would be an understatement to say this hurt a lot. I actually lost it for a moment and started crying from the pain. It only took a second though – I remember my midwife telling me to listen to my body and  for some reason that really helped me to pull myself together.

It was hard work pushing in the tub though and I wasn’t making much progress. I didn’t feel an urge to bear   down at all. I would try to push and sometimes my body would take over, other times I just felt like I was wasting my energy and it was excruciating. My midwife suggested the birthing stool. What a great tool!! I really felt him moving down during the contractions where I pushed properly. After about two hours of pushing, I was getting really exhausted. I of course had no idea how much time had passed – I was just in pain, or in my own exhilarating world of oblivion.

You really never hear about the breaks between contractions, but there is this awesome thing your body and mind do. You go to another world where you are TOTALLY relaxed – I think it’s the only way our bodies are able to keep going at this point.

After an hour or so on the birth stool, we moved to the bed – I lent back on my husband, with a pillow between   us and pushed like they do in the hospital bed. It really didn’t do much to get the baby out, but allowed me to relax a lot more between pushes, because I could lay back on my husband. I remember saying “if I could just sleep for 15 minutes, this would be so much easier!” I also remember saying “I could do this if I didn’t have to breathe.” I don’t know how to explain it, but breathing was the hardest thing to do at this point in labour.

I had become very frustrated when I realised that pushing was going to be harder than I expected. I always thought of pushing as the “easy” bit, or that was the impression I got from other women.

Eventually my midwife moved me into a squatting position on the floor – my husband would stand behind me  and pull me up between contractions and when I felt one coming on, I would squat and push with all my might (very primal, but VERY effective). I don’t know exactly how many it took, but I know that I felt every single move the baby made down the birth canal – this position was what got him out. My midwife checked his heart rate and I noticed she spent a little longer listening to it than usual. She said to me in a very gentle but firm tone “come on, it’s time to push this baby out.” She placed a mirror on the floor so we could watch him being born and with the next contraction I pushed with everything I had left. I don’t know where I got the strength – I just kept pushing, even after the contraction ended. I felt him crowning and that pain made me so happy – I knew this was the end.

Judah had his little hand up by his head and that’s part of the reason it took so long for me to push him out. It took a long time over all, but he literally came shooting out with the final push. He was covered in blood and vernix and he was a dark colour and I was totally stunned.

It felt like time stood still – I was in disbelief at what had just happened. My midwife handed me my warm, slippery, gooey baby and it was at the same time, the most wonderful and foreign feeling to hold him on my chest. I noticed he was a boy before anyone else and that was such a surprise – I really thought we were having a girl. He didn’t look anything like I imagined our child would look, but he is a perfect little human being.

I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to give birth at home. I was afraid before, but during my labour I never once wished that I was in the hospital. The pain for the most part was very tolerable. Pushing was hard work, but there were a number of reasons for that and I would do it again any day.

I couldn’t imagine giving birth any other way!

by Mishka