Our sweet Faye finally decided to arrive ten days past her due date on March 12, 2015. In contrast to my pregnancy which was easy, graceful, and felt pretty fast, those final ten days were agonizing and somehow seemed longer than the prior forty weeks. I still felt fine physically and continued exercising, but emotionally I was a wreck. It was so difficult to be off work, using precious leave that was intended to bond with my baby, to simply watch the days waste away with no baby in sight. I diligently studied every list of natural induction techniques and put many of them into practice. Each day would start with a renewed hope, “maybe today is the day”, I would think, but each day ended in disappointment. I tried using logic with myself, knowing that the average first pregnancy was 41 weeks 2 days, but I still felt frustrated that my baby wasn’t coming according to my plan.
I went to my prenatal appointment on Tuesday, March 10 (8 days late) and cried my eyes out to my midwives. Waiting was so hard. I explained that my sister was flying in from Albuquerque the next day for a very short visit to meet the baby, and I was so worried that our baby girl might not be here yet. To make matters worse, we had to discuss making an appointment for more biometric and non-stress testing at the end of the week to make sure the placenta was still functioning so late in the pregnancy. We also had to discuss medical induction if the pregnancy went to 42 weeks. Just the thought of not having the natural, non-medicated, home birth that I wanted and planned for was enough to send me into a new fit of sobs. The midwives assured me that it was normal for first pregnancies to go long, that my baby was perfectly healthy, and that my sister coming was the perfect distraction that I needed.
|Me and my sister, Beth|
The next day brought the arrival of my sister Beth. We enjoyed a beautiful sunny day together, going for a long walk by the ocean. We timed contractions on and off during the day, but they never formed a definite pattern and they didn’t progress in intensity or frequency. The next morning I hooked up my breast pump to try more nipple stimulation to induce labor, while my sister rubbed my feet and used pressure points that according to our Googling would induce labor. At noon, we went back to my midwife’s for another prenatal appointment.
At my appointment, I had them do a cervical check and sweep my membranes (one of the most invasive natural induction methods.) The cervical check revealed that I was 2cm dialated and 80% effaced. The baby was a +1, almost +2, which means she was very low in my pelvis. The membrane sweep removed the mucous plug, so we were hopeful that would help get things started. I cried my eyes out again. I was so frustrated that my baby wasn’t here. Thankfully, my midwives were so attuned to mind, body, and spirit that they were able to intuitively understand the problem and offer some sage advice. “Stop with all the natural induction techniques,” they said, “you’re trying to force things and you cannot force this. You need to communicate with your baby and let her know that she can come when she’s ready. One of the hardest things about childbirth is that you aren’t in control of the timing. You have to surrender that and it can be really hard. Just try your best to let your baby know that she can come when she’s ready.” More tears.
|My last belly photo, taken at 41 weeks|
We returned home for more sister bonding time. I felt so bad that my sister was here to meet the baby and Baby Girl wasn’t here. However, my sister was so reassuring that she was at peace with any outcome and happy to be visiting regardless. Around 5pm we decided to go for a walk. During our walk I could feel contractions happening with regularity, and with more intensity that I’d ever felt previously. As our walk continued, I could feel them radiating through my back and I was cautiously optimistic that things were moving in the right direction. We returned to the house at 6pm and placed an order for spicy Indian food for dinner. I told Beth that I was hesitant to start timing contractions because I didn’t want to jinx it. Nevertheless, I started timing. From 6pm to 7pm, my contractions came every 2:30 and lasted a 1:00. Wow! I was really in labor. I texted my husband that I was having contractions that were stronger and closer together, and that the baby could very well be coming tonight. He was out to dinner with a friend and immediately headed for home.
By the end of the hour, I was no longer able to talk through the contractions. I called a midwife named Allegra (not my main midwife, but the person I was instructed to call early on) to tell her what was happening. “You sound pretty excited,” she said. “I encourage you to eat dinner, and try to get some sleep. Keep things as normal as possible, because this could last until tomorrow evening and you want to be as rested as possible.” Wow! After that call I felt like I needed to hunker down and mentally prepare for labor to last a lot longer that I was anticipating. I followed her advice and had a few bites of Indian food, then hopped in the shower. Every time a pressure wave came, I would lean against the shower wall and use my Hypnobabies techniques to get through it. How in the heck was I going to handle 24 hours of this?! I climbed into bed and labored on my side for awhile. Every time Jeff came in to ask me a question or check on me, he had the unlucky timing of talking to me during a pressure wave. It was driving me nuts!
We decided to call the doula and ask her to come over. Words cannot express the relief I felt when she arrived. She told me at a later date that she thought I was sleeping when she arrived. Clearly the intensity of what was happening inside my body wasn’t translating in my outward expressions. However, at one point she did ask me how I was feeling. I told her the waves were really intense. She asked if I was feeling pushy and I remember telling her “I really feel like I have to poop with every wave and I don’t know if that’s what you mean by pushy.” She asked me to get up and walk around. I was not pleased. “Where are we going?” Lara instructed me to walk around the living room, while thinking in her head that she needed to get me out of that bed in order to keep the labor progressing. I made it into the living room and then onto the toilet in the guest bathroom. I labored there for awhile and then went back into bed, where I found that laying down had become unbearably painful. My legs were spasming and I felt like a flopping fish. I requested the birth ball and found some relief in that position. Lara instructed Jeff to rub my back in a way that felt really heavenly! I believe it was around this time that we decided to call Amy (my main midwife) and ask her to come.
|Beth filling the birth tub (which we never had time to use)|
By the time Amy arrived, I’d been laboring on the toilet of my master bathroom for awhile. Lara was actively coaching me through each pressure wave. Her voice was such a source of solace and strength for me. We had Hypnobabies tracks playing through the sound system, but Lara also used many of the verbal cues to help me stay deep and use my natural anesthesia. She helped me breathe through the waves and reminded me to relax my muscles, which was so hard! As soon as Amy arrived, there was a flutter of activity as they unloaded equipment. Jeff and Beth began filling the birth tub. However, after only about five minutes, I felt a strange pressure moving down and out. “Lara, the baby is coming!” I was still on the toilet so I put my hands down to catch the baby, and I felt a warm gush of fluid as my water broke. Oh, so that’s what that feeling was! Amy noticed some meconium in the fluid so she was anxious to check me and see how quickly we could have the baby. They wanted me to move to my bed to perform the check. I was silently skeptical that I could make the fifteen foot walk to my bed because the pressure waves felt relentless—coming so strong and frequently that I was only getting about 20 seconds between them. I got onto all fours on the bathroom floor…my poor attempt at making progress toward the bedroom. I made it through a few waves in that position, before throwing up my Indian food dinner. Mercifully, Amy seemed to understand that the bedroom was out of reach, and she brought a birth stool into the bathroom. Once on the birth stool, she was able to check my cervix. “She’s complete…10cm…let’s have a baby.” Hallelujah! That was music to my ears.
After fifteen minutes of pushing, we were getting close. Faye’s heart rate was fluctuating and I could tell my birth team was concerned. They would check her heart rate between each wave and at one point, it dropped pretty low. “Okay mama, I need you to breathe to your baby,” Amy directed me. C’mon baby girl, I thought, we need your heart rate to go up. You can do this sweetie. We are almost there. Her heart rate improved. The sensation of the baby crowning was so incredibly intense, a burning feeling that made me want to avoid pushing. Lara sensed that I was shrinking away from that sensation. “Emily,” she said, “I need you to push toward that feeling. You cannot pull away from it. You need to go toward that feeling.” She reminded me to hold my breath as I pushed, and Jeff (who was standing behind me) said he’s never seen my traps and shoulder muscles grow so big and tense. Amy’s next instruction was to reach down and feel my baby’s head. She was right there. After another wave, Amy had more guidance. “After the next wave, I want you to stand up and wiggle your hips.” Somehow, I was able to follow her instruction. Once standing, she instructed me to stretch my arms over my head before sitting back on the birth stool.
|A little comfort from my doula, Lara|
|Standing up to stretch before the final push|
The burning sensation between my legs was unbearable. With the next pressure wave, I held my breath and gave my everything to push out my baby. She flew out in one quick, slippery motion. Amy caught her and apparently Lara had to tell me to open my eyes and look at my baby (I have no recollection of that…haha…but Lara says she had to tell me twice. Apparently I was enjoying the sweet, sweet relief!) I lifted my baby to my chest and we quickly moved to the bed.
Our sweet baby girl was finally here.
After just six hours of fast, furious labor, she was here.
After twenty seven minutes of pushing, she was here.
10 days late, but perfectly on time, at 11:47pm on March 12th.
7lbs, 2oz and 20 inches long.
I hope to write another post where I talk a bit more about the immediate post-birth experience. I’ll also discuss our decision to use a midwife for our prenatal care and our decision to have a home birth.
Welcome to the world, baby Faye. We love you so much and are so glad you’re here. In three weeks time, you’ve filled our hearts with so much love, joy, and gratitude.
The birth story continues here.
Read more about our decision to use a midwife and have a home birth here.