A week before my due date, I had been feeling VERY early labor pains at night with little to nothing during the day. Since these contractions were the same type I felt with my first son the day I went into labor, I just assumed things would progress in a similar fashion. Everything else about this pregnancy was similar to the last, so why would labor be any different?
Boy, was I wrong.
A week goes by, and I go in for my 40 week appointment. Not much progression. So little, in fact, that the midwife couldn’t offer me much more than starting some herbs to see if that could kick things into gear. By this point, I had done a whole long list of labor-inducing tricks, including acupuncture, long walks, spicy foods and eggplant parmesan. Same story every day. A few contractions at night. Nothing during the day.
Two days past due, I decided to stop anticipating labor and to keep on keepin’ on. I got my teeth cleaned that morning so I wouldn’t have to wait until after the baby. I went in for a reflexology treatment at Zen Well – best idea ever for my achy feet and shoulders. And that night, I went to my usual ashtanga class (extremely modified).
On Good Friday (3 days past due), school was closed, so I took my son to an Easter Egg Hunt with my online mom’s group. Might as well get out and about! The weather was beautiful. Later that day, we met up for dinner with my sister’s family and sent our son to spend the night with his cousins.
Childless on a Friday night, the husband and I made a date to see Divergent at the movie theater. Going to a theater to watch a movie is such a rarity with little kids, so we definitely appreciated the opportunity. That night, I had a few more contractions, but nothing was time-able or intense enough to think much of them.
Going into day 4 past due, I was feeling a little more hopeful. I had a few hours of contractions over night that warranted a bit of attention. Things slowed down when we got up, so we made our plans for Costco and brunch. The walk at Costco helped get things moving again with maybe a contraction every 10 minutes. After we unloaded our shopping at home, we went around the corner to Café Malta for brunch. As we waited for our food to arrive, I felt a little gush. “Uh… my water broke. Have them pack up our food. We should go.” Major props to Café Malta, by the way. The food was DELICIOUS (try the Croque Madame and Pain Perdu), AND they comp’ed our meal, which was super nice of them.
We went home to labor and wait for things to pick up. I called the birthing center to get instructions and let them know my water broke. From 11 am to 5pm, I bounced on a yoga ball, checked to see how much fluid I was losing (just a leak), and we watched a ton of TV. Laboring while watching Pacific Rim and Pitch Perfect was WAY better than if I had been stuck at a hospital, getting hooked up to wires and Pitocin!
By 5 pm, the midwife on-call checked back in with me to see how I was progressing. Contractions were 5 minutes apart consistently and lasting about 75 seconds, but they weren’t super intense. Clearly, I was in good spirits, still texting, instagramming, tweeting and giving updates on the mom board. She had me come in to do a quick check and then sent us back home to labor some more.
We started watching the last season of Breaking Bad. Might as well. The contractions required a bit more maneuvering and attention to get comfortable. But with 5 minutes between them, things were still easy going.
At 9 pm, the midwife told us to try to get some sleep. Even if things spaced out a bit, that’s okay. We had plenty of time for progress to happen. So I had half a glass of wine, took a hot shower and crawled into bed. I tried my best to sleep between 10 and 11 pm, but the kid was rubbing up against the left side of my pelvis, making sleeping really difficult on my side.
By 11 pm, I couldn’t lie down anymore. It was annoying and painful. I went to pee, and realized I was REALLY having to work through contractions. I grabbed the yoga ball and draped myself over it, swiveling my hips in cat/cow to encourage him to move off that left side and then rest in child’s pose all while hugging the ball. Contractions were now about 3-4 minutes apart, still lasting 75 seconds.
I finally woke my husband up at midnight as I needed his help in putting counter pressure on my back. Ah, how I HATE back labor. So sucky. He heated up the rice sock, and we pulled out the tennis balls too. I had to give him some instruction on what I needed him to do because an errant knuckle or rubbing the wrong direction just made me feel irritated.
By 12:45 am, I needed him to call the birthing center. I couldn’t talk anymore. I was blowing out my exhales and going really deep within myself to stay calm. Thankfully, the birthing center is 5 minutes from our house, so we packed up (yoga ball going in last!) while I dealt with a few more contractions. The two I had in the car were unpleasant, but again, so thankful we were only 5 minutes away.
Arriving at 1:30 am, we met Leonora at the door and got settled into the Art Room. It has the biggest tub, which I was really hoping to use at some point. When she checked me, she was surprised to find that my water was intact. Apparently, there’s a hind bag of water (who knew?), so my earlier water breaking was whatever was in front and not that much. I was also only 5 cm dilated but fully effaced. Being only at a 5, Leonora wanted to wait just a little longer before letting me get in the tub, so I labored some more.
Things got intense quickly. I’d guess contractions were 3 minutes apart, coming hard into my back and lasting 90 seconds. My husband was AMAZING and talked me through every one of them. I had a hard time getting comfortable as I had the yoga ball on top of the bed to keep some cushion under my legs. At some point, I sat cross-legged and leaned back into him as he supported me, breathed with me and reminded me to relax my jaw, face and shoulders.
The yoga ball became an annoyance after that, so we grabbed all the pillows for me to hug. More cat/cow and child’s pose. I remember two very distinct times when I got a real break and napped. The contractions stopped altogether for what felt like 10 minutes (in reality, it was probably 5), and then when they started again, they were earth shaking. This must’ve been transition. After the second big break, I felt the kid give a good kick, and we high-tailed it to the bathroom.
The second bag of water broke with much drama – like what they show on TV. And immediately, I knew we were close to the end. Huge, painful contractions started immediately, and all I could do while sitting on the toilet was grab for dear life on my husband. I was anything but calm in my breathing. I felt my body trying to expel this baby out of me, and I wanted to scream. I was also thinking, “I do NOT want a toilet baby!”
The midwife heard my cries and came in quickly to check on us. I told her the other bag of water broke, and I wanted to push. She and my husband quickly got me to the bed, where I stayed on hands and knees. I had a tiny lip of cervix left, and she was able to get it out of the way with my first pushes.
With the go-ahead to push, I gave each contraction my all. Everything at this point was primal. I’d hold my breath, bear down and then let out a scream at the end of each push. It took 2 contractions and 6 pushes to get him out, and I’m pretty sure at one point, I yelled, “Get the eff out of me, Bear Shark!” I felt ring of fire, his head out, then he kicked me some more from the inside before I pushed out one shoulder. The midwife asked me to turn around and give one last push to get the other shoulder out, and voila! There was a squishy, chunky baby placed on my chest.
Five days past due, Bear Shark liked to be fashionably late! He nursed almost immediately, and we rested for a few hours at the birthing center before heading home. While I didn’t make it into the tub like I had hoped, it was an amazing and wonderful experience. We are so grateful for our midwife Leonora, who had the patience and insight to let me labor at home and let my body do what it needed to do. After nearly two full weeks of labor symptoms, going from active labor to transition to delivery really only took the 2 hours from when we arrived at the center.
We loved coming home to nap in our own bed before my sister brought our older son to meet his little brother. And now the really hard part: Getting proper rest to recover.