Don't Retract Pack

Homebirth of Andrew - as told by his Momma

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…aww heck–I think someone else already used that…

Seriously though–here's my version of events.

Most times have been omitted to protect those of us who never have watches on and never know what time it is.

Let's start at the beginning. Okay, maybe not the beginning–that is a bit private and all that. Let's jump to April 17, 2006.

Sunday Night/Monday Morning:
I have some contractions in bed that are uncomfortable, and feeling different than Braxton-Hicks, but sure don't feel like they are doing anything major.
I slept through them, except when I had to roll over, since that is when they seemed to strike.

The contractions continue through the morning and now I'm conscious enough to pay attention to them. They don't happen at any regular interval, but they are definitely not Braxton-Hicks. I get BH contractions across the whole of my uterus, but mostly across the top. These were very much at the bottom and more concentrated than BH.

But of course, I didn't call my midwife, because I was going to see her on Wednesday, and as the day wore on, they pretty much died down unless I was too active. Of course I had to put that to the test by going outside with Dan and the kids, but hey, no one ever said I was the brightest bulb in the pack.

Monday Night:
Everything was fine that night though. I was beat and crashed sometimes around 10:30-ish….I think. Dan came in to bed about an hour later, shortly followed by *E* coming over from his bed and shoving Dan off the bed.

I noticed when Dan got into the bed and I moved over that I had another contraction, but didn't think anything of it–since they had been that way the night before. But once *E* got in the bed, they kept coming and coming and coming–
it seemed like they were every time I closed my eyes to get some sleep.
I tried to watch the clock, but I couldn't see it well without my glasses.
And I was sure they couldn't be as frequent as it looked to me.

Besides–I still had a month 'till Maybaby was due.

The Countdown Begins:
I had to go to the bathroom. And the feeling wasn't going away.
I hate getting up at night to go potty.
Means I wake up and it takes me forever to go back to sleep.
But I had more contractions as I got up.
hmmm. This could be for real.

I knew that for some people a bath will slow labor, so I decided to go to the main bathroom that has a big tub.

Once I was there though, I kept having contractions. Every time I would stand up, another one would start and I'd have to sit back down. I did not want to spend the rest of the night on the toilet. Nope. sorry. Our toilet seat is just not designed for a comfy labor.

I managed to time things just right and went in bedroom to tell Dan I was getting in the tub–and that we might need to call my midwife…I was in the tub for, I think, about an hour hoping Dan would come in. He is a heavy sleeper, but I made sure he understood I was going in the tub before I left the room. I figured it would rattle around in his head and he would eventually come in.

But once I was in the tub I was a little more concerned about things. I couldn't get up and he wouldn't hear me call from so far away.

Whose bright idea was the bathtub again?Nevermind–don't answer that.

At around 2:30, Dan came in and wondered how I was. I told him we need to call my midwife.

2:45 Dan dials the phone, our midwife answers, and *E* starts crying for me. Dan went to the bedroom to go get *E* as I talked to the midwife, who was very much asleep and absolutely not expecting my call (My edd was May 10)

She thought the contractions were about 3 minutes apart at that time. She got her stuff together and came right over.I couldn't believe how fast she was there beside the tub.I was so glad to see her We talked for a few minutes–just babble really–about the bathroom and why it looks like a construction site

That was at 3. And that is when I really lose track of time. According to their records, our midwife called her assistant shortly after and she got there at 3:45

But it only felt like minutes before they were both there.

And it seems like they were at the house for hours.

The contractions were bad, but they were short and I really could feel a difference in my body this time around. My goal for this labor/birth was to stay calm and relaxed. I lay there in the tub, with each contraction coming on stronger and stronger. I had a cup I used to pour water over my belly. At first it was just to keep warm. It quickly turned into a way to keep my hands busy.

I was determined to keep my mouth loose and relaxed (a la Ina May Gaskin) and pretty much oooh ahhhh'd my way through each contraction.
It wasn't something I planned or rehearsed.
It just happened and it worked.
The rhythm of it was perfect to focus on—push the air out this way, breathe in, push the air out that way.
Now start again.

And I found myself starting each contraction looking at the blue tiles on our bathroom walls. They are strategically staggered with while tiles, providing a nice contrast. I was staring at them, playing the little pattern games I used to play when I was a kid–what ways could this pattern be interpreted.

If my midwife or her assistant were in the room with me–which they were for most of the contractions–they were such a calming energy. They sat and nodded their head–calm as could be, but understanding. They helped me to stay grounded–to remind myself that what goes up must come down and every contraction has an end.

*E* was still running around through all of this. He came in a few times with Dan, which I was also grateful for. I'm glad he wasn't kept out–he seemed really comfortable with everything. Of course he also kept asking to get in the tub with me–poor kid

I'm guessing it was around 4:30 when things were really feeling different. My back hurt, the contractions weren't the same, and I was almost dozing off between contractions–things were still going strong, but calmer.

I suppose I ought to mention that through my pregnancy we'd only been able to hear the baby's heartbeat once and we couldn't get a heartbeat at all while I was in labor.

We had already figured I had an anterior placenta–which basically means nothing other than the placement of the placenta muffles sounds and makes it harder to hear a heartbeat. I wasn't worried, my midwife wasn't worried–we knew the baby was doing good and was still moving around lots.

Anyhow–around 4:30 I asked my midwife to check to see how dilated I was.
My intuition was telling me that I was complete, but I didn't feel pushy I was a little worried that I might be wrong and I could still have a ways to go.

My poor midwife –our bathroom is so small!But she managed to check and said I was complete–might have a tiny lip, but was ready to go if I felt like pushing.

I want to add that this was the one and only internal check I had through the entire pregnancy. How awesome is that? I never knew that pregnancy didn't have to mean everyone and their neighbor looking up and touching every private part of your body.

So I was right–I was complete. Things were going to be over soon. We really were going to have MayBaby in April. My midwife asked if I wanted to get out of the tub (it is a really narrow old cast iron tub. Deep, but narrow). I told her I was worried. I was doing okay in the tub and was scared I wasn't going to be okay out of the water.

She told me that chances are I would be fine–things were really just about over and would be about the same regardless of where I was.I rotated in the tub a few times–but nothing worked well for a position. So finally said lets go in the bedroom.

Around 4:40 Dan helped me out of the tub and to the bed. I never knew the bedroom was so far from the bathroom (it is right next to it!!), but I was okay in Dan's arms. Next thing I know I was clambering up onto the bed.
(me? on the bed?? I had sworn no more kids on dry land! (*E* was a waterbirth back in 2003))

I was on my hands and knees, but definitely not comfortable. Dan grabbed my exercise ball and I propped myself up on that. Things were definitely getting serious at this point. I was ready to be done and to meet Maybaby (who I was talking to through most of the labor–even if it was just a "come on, baby, work with me here")

A few minutes later–much to my relief, my water broke. The relief was short lived though, as the baby was now *right there* with no cushion.

I started to lose it at that point.
I lost my rhythm and was stuck in the sudden intensity of it all.
Then I heard the midwives saying to get me back to what I was doing in the bathroom--the breathing….
they got me back together–for the moment at least

Dan was there, at my head. I was glad to have him there with me, unfortunately he brushed my hair out of my eyes and the lights were just too bright. I shook my head to get my hair back–but couldn't get any words out about needing him there AND needing my hair over my eyes. I was worried though that he was going to get the wrong idea and think I didn't want him there (yes, I was actually worried about this while I was trying to push the baby out...)

Next thing I remember is just making a very high pitched cry. Funny how you read about people saying "Was that coming from me?" But I really was wondering that..and really annoyed at myself for hurting my ears so bad. Inside I was saying "omg–come on baby! This hurts!!!!"

I pushed for all I was worth and suddenly felt MayBaby's head come out. Just to be sure, ever insecure about where things were at, I asked, "That's his head,right? It's out, right?"
Yup. It was.

"Good. Get the rest of it out NOW"

And I pushed again….desperate to have some relief.

Andrew was officially born at 4:54am

We snuggled on the bed and I delivered the placenta about 15 minutes later, at which point we cut the umbilical cord. After some complex mathematical computations we determined he was 6 pounds 6 ounces and 19.5 inches And at some point, they told me Andrew was born with his left hand up by his head.
Not that I think it would have been painless without that, but geeeze no wonder it hurt!

And somehow, no tears or stitches needed! Wooohooo!

At some point, (I believe right before I got out of the tub?) Dan had taken *E* downstairs to my mom. After Andrew was born, he went down to get *E* who was so sweet. *E* then ran upstairs to wake *A*up to let him know he had a brother. *A* seemed a little shy about it all at first, but then again, he has never been known to be much of a morning person–nevermind at 5:30 am

The sun was coming up as we got settled into bed and got some much needed and well deserved rest. (Well, as we slept…as Dan took *E* for a car ride in hopes that it would help him conk out. He was too wound up to sleep on his own and Dh desperately needed some sleep too)

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