When I found out I was pregnant for the second time, I decided to have a natural birth and knew of an amazing midwife who had her own birthing center out of her house. I met with her at 8 weeks and felt completely confident that she was the person who would deliver my baby. My first daughter was delivered at a hospital and I ended up with an epidural and lots of tears, my doctor showed up only to catch and stitch me up. My experience wasn't a bad one, but I wanted to have a natural birth.
My due date was August 21st and I was beyond bored with my pregnancy this time. I gained 45 pounds and was hot! Funny how exciting my first pregnancy was and this time I just wanted it over with so I could meet my new little girl. I was the grumpiest pregnant person in the world and I think my daughter and husband were really sick of me towards the end.
I realized at 30 weeks that we had not taken a childbirth class and started to panic. I knew of an amazing doula who did a weekend class and luckily got us registered for it in my 35th week. It was helpful and we decided we wanted to use her as our doula. We scheduled a meeting with her for a week later to discuss our birth plan. Our doula was close friends with our midwife so she was very excited about our decision and reconfirmed my confidence in my midwife. The day of our meeting with our doula I was exactly 37 weeks. Aaron (my husband) and I were in the car talking on the way home from our meeting, about my water breaking and I said "only something like 5% of women have their water spontaneously break before labor starts!" Thinking there was no way mine would break!
That night I went to bed having the regular Braxton hicks contractions and feeling so done with pregnancy! At 2:03 am I woke up to my water breaking. It was the strangest sensation and took me a minute to realize what just happened! It just kept flowing! I rolled over not knowing how to move from the bed to the bathroom and woke Aaron up. I said "uhhh, my water just broke". I got out of bed and rushed to the toilet where I sat gushing water and started crying! I was shaking and said "I want an epidural now, I'm freaking out!" Mind you, I was NOT having contractions yet, just a panic attack on the toilet! There was water all over the bathroom floor. So I had Aaron call our midwife and I spoke with her while he got towels to clean up.
We have a 4 year old who was sound asleep and my midwife had told me to come right in. So I called my stepmother to come get her and realized we were NOT packed for anything. It was 3 weeks before my due date! So I threw some stuff in bags for her and us. My stepmom showed up and I had calmed down by that point. Until I had to get my daughter in my stepmom's car and she woke up and started crying a little. I lost it! She was just confused because it was the middle of the night but I was thinking about how nothing would ever be the same and she was not going to be my only baby anymore.
So with her packed up and off to my Dad's house, we were on our way to the birth center. I started having mild contractions that were really nothing at all and was mostly worried about soaking my pants some more.
When we arrived at the midwife's she was wide awake and cheery and asked me "are you in a flood". I laughed, she made me feel better. She is a very calm person. She hooked me up to check contractions and baby's heartbeat for a few minutes and then checked to see how dilated I was. I was only at 3 cm at that point and was a little disappointed. My contractions weren't even registering so she told us to sleep (yeah right!) and she quietly sat in her office. Aaron fell asleep and I sat awake thinking about my 4 year old and cried some more. I was just a little emotional at this point. I called my sister too and let her know (she works graveyard so I knew she would be awake.) It was 3am by this point. My contractions started to get an edge to them after awhile so I sat there and timed them. They were around 10 minutes apart and slowly got closer.
At around 5 am I told Aaron I was hungry and I knew he would be soon so I sent him to the store (only about 2 miles away) to get us something. I said go now before things pick up. He brought me back a breakfast sandwich which I ate quickly and then realized it was probably not a good idea. My contractions were now 5 minutes apart and starting to get painful. I had to stand through them or sit on the yoga ball. Time seemed to fly at 7:30 my midwife asked how I was doing and I told her I was in a little pain and the contractions were 5 minutes apart so she checked me. It was the most painful thing. She checked me during a contraction and manipulated my cervix a little. She said I was at 5 cm and I was slightly disappointed. She asked if I wanted to get in the tub because I was really starting to have some pain. It was nice to get in the tub but only for a little bit. I got so hot while I was in there and I think my contractions really picked up. I was getting nauseous from the pain. So I got out (that was a struggle) and went back to the yoga ball where I had a heck of a contraction and promptly threw up my breakfast sandwich and then had another whopper of a contraction.
Aaron was being so great, I didn't want anyone to touch me, I just held onto him through contractions (which I now could not talk or move through) when our doula showed up. I asked her if she brought a shotgun (I'm not kidding I really asked her that) and she laughed. I told Aaron after another contraction that if my midwife checked me again and I was only a 6 or 7 I wanted to go to the hospital and get an epidural and I was not kidding! He just said ok, and later told me he and my doula just smiled at each other over my head because they knew I was getting close. At this point I was laying on the floor over my yoga ball and moaning through every awful contraction! I was miserable and my contractions were only 1 minute apart. I could hardly catch my breath and felt like I was passing out between contractions. I was exhausted and sweating and shivering at the same time. Every contraction made me feel like my legs were being pulled off of my body! The pain was so intense and like nothing I had ever imagined.
I was beginning to go to a dark place in my head when my doula said, "how about we do 'he he he whoo breathing' to help you through these" and I was all over it! She did it with me through about 4 contractions and it helped distract me (as much as I could be distracted). Thank God for her because I don't know if I could have survived through those last few contractions. I was really losing hope. She said, "this is the worst it will get, it won't get more painful, you are in the worst part it's almost over" and I did not believe her! After that she asked me what kind of pain I was feeling, if it was more pain or pressure. I realized it was lots of pressure (and pain) and she asked if I felt like I could push a little? I said yeah a little, so she said with the next contraction just give a little push and see how it feels. It was 10:15 am. So I pushed with the next contraction......and it was the most intense feeling ever. I could feel the baby move down and I had a sudden unstoppable urge to push. I gave an involuntary grunt and my midwife and doula both said, "Oh! We like that sound let's get you on the bed!" and I said no way I can't move wait!
I had another intense contraction and my body pushed all on its own. They all had to help me up and get my pants off (that was interesting) and my midwife checked and said "Oh! Just a little lip of cervix I can move it and the baby is right there!" She told me to hold in my breath and not let any out with the next contraction and push! I was thinking "Oh my God! The only way to get out of this pain is to get the baby out!" So I pushed and could not help but growl through it! It was uncomfortable and I felt like I needed help holding my legs up I was so tired! The next contraction came and I pushed and pushed and pushed until I thought my face would explode. I could feel her head coming and realized the "ring of fire" is quite accurate! As soon as I felt her head come out I pushed with everything I had because I was NOT going to do this any longer and I felt her entire body shoot out of me! Oh and my midwife had let Aaron catch so when I opened my eyes he was holding the tiniest baby I have ever seen! He put her right on my belly and covered us with warm towels. She was so tiny and sweet and wide eyed. She just let out a little cry and then was completely peaceful! Aaron was crying and I was just excited and relieved!
I had the three greatest people around me to help me through it and loved my experience. I can say that not being in a crazy hospital setting really makes a difference! It was calm and peaceful and so amazing! Nora Jane Graham was born at 10:30 am , 5 lbs 14 oz and 18 and 3/4 inches long. A tiny little peanut! Three weeks early and only 3 hours of active labor!