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On July 5th, 41+2, I had a second acupuncture session. Phyllis, the acupuncturist said to eat Italian food. I had read an old wives tale about Eggplant Parmesan stimulating labor and I love Italian food so this was fine by me. Grandma Jan suggested going out for dinner since it was going to be a while before we could do that once you were around (oh how right she was!). We went to Maggianos, one of my favorite Italian restaurants and we saw my cousin Midge. I ordered the Eggplant Parmesan. It was delicious! While at the restaurant a lady saw me and told me I was a beautiful pregnant lady. That made me feel good because I did not feel beautiful! We went home and I insisted on watching the movie “The Greater Good.” Afterward at about 11, I said I was going to bed. In these last few weeks, I had been very careful of getting enough sleep since I didn’t know when you would arrive. I changed into my favorite nightgown(before and after being pregnant, I hate nightgowns), brushed my teeth and went to the the bathroom. After I finished peeing there was another gush of water into the toilet that I knew wasn’t from me. It was your water breaking! I text Salli and she said, “Go to bed.” Then I went out and told your dad and Grandma Jan. They immediately went to bed too. We all wanted to be ready for you!
About 1:30am I woke up with a contraction. It lasted about two minutes. I remembered there was an app for timing contractions so I downloaded it. About 20 or so minutes later I had another contraction. They were definitely more intense than the Braxton hicks I had been having for weeks. I decided to practice breathing through them like I learned. On the third one, your dad woke up and asked what I was doing. I told him I was breathing through the contraction. He said he needed to be rested so he went upstairs to the other guest room and left me to labor on my own. Which is okay because when it comes down to it, it really was just you and me. Especially in those moments.
I dozed between contractions, knowing I needed all the rest I could get. At 5:09am, the contractions had been about 5 minutes apart lasting 2-3 minutes for an hour which means you are now officially in labor. I text Salli and called the doula Ruth. The commotion woke up Dad and Grandma. It was go time! Salli said she was coming over and Ruth said she was waiting for her baby sitter than on her way. Ruth also told me my contractions shouldn’t be lasting 2-3 minutes until it was time to push so I should take a warm bath to decrease the intensity. At this point the contractions hurt but I could talk through them, during, etc. I got in the warm bathtub and my contractions immediately eased to 30 seconds. I thought it was great. I was like, I got this! Grandma thought I should eat so I would have strength. She made me a breakfast scramble which I love. Eating it I immediately felt a little nauseous but choked down about half knowing I needed fuel for the task at hand.
The contractions got more and more intense again. I went to the bathroom again and I heard another spelunk.  This time it was the mucus plug. I wanted to leave it to show Salli but accidentally flushed out of habit and the fact that my brain had a few other thoughts going through.  I got back in the tub looking for some comfort or relief from the intensity. Salli arrived as I was giving up on the bathtub. I asked Daddy to get the thumper(it’s big heavy chiropractic tool that vibrates.  It looks like a sander.  My cousin who’s married to a chiropractor and had 3 natural labors said it was amazing…I would say it was okay.) for my contractions. It was difficult to talk through them now. I would get down on my knees and dad would use the thumper on my lower back. It helped but the contractions were still pretty painful. Ruth kept calling to update me on trying to get ahold of her sitter. The intensity was increasing so quickly when she said she’d be there at 8:30, I thought do I even need her then? But I said “Yes, just come as soon as you can. I’ll be okay until then.” About this time, I got very nauseous and threw up my breakfast. Salli said “That’s a good sign” and smiled.
Grandma and Dad had filled up the birth tub and Salli suggested getting in since the thumper, hip circles, etc were not helping the very intense contractions. Salli had also suggested squatting. Before I was in labor I thought, I’d love squatting during labor. I even had looked into squatting bars and stools. While I was in labor that sounded like the most horrible and painful idea so I didn’t do that. Into the birth tub I went. It was sometime between 8-8:30 at this point. The warm water felt good but barely dimmed the intensity of the contractions. Ruth arrived and immediately got out a bottle of olive oil and started massaging my arm. It felt good. Grandma massaged my other arm. I started to feel hot so dad got a hand held fan with a spray bottle. He fanned my face. I hated it, but I loved that he was trying to make me comfortable. I asked him to please not do that. He then ran and got a cloth with cool water to put around my neck and a cool wash cloth for my forehead. I really liked that. The next few hours were a blur of in the tub, standing to lean on your dad and sitting on the toilet with my feet propped up on our old high school yearbooks. Your dad was so strong. During some of the most intense contractions, my legs would go completely weak and I’d put all of what felt like my enormous weight onto his shoulders. My arms around his neck. I’m sure it didn’t feel good to him, but he never complained or asked me to stop. I would let out long low moans during contractions. Supposedly it helps relax the cervix/vaginal muscles and decrease pain. I can’t tell you if it worked or not but mentally it felt good to be doing something to help the pain. At some point in here I got very nauseous again and asked your dad to get me a bucket. I had been drinking coconut water to at least get some electrolytes. As he ran over with the bucket I tried to aim my vomit in his direction . We managed to catch most of it in the bucket but some splattered on the wall and my cool antique wooden scale. I didn’t care. Grandma cleaned it like brand new. After that I switched to regular water. I kept reminding myself that this was one day in my whole life. I also thought, I can’t believe people do this more than once. I told your dad this was it. Only one baby because I did not want to do this again. Midwife Heather suggested walking outside. I said okay but only because I wanted to privately ask your dad to remind me of why epidurals are so bad and say I no longer hold any judgment to the mom’s who choose them. He said,  “No, you don’t want that. You got this.” I said,  “I know I do, besides it’s not like we have one in the fridge. It wasn’t so bad that I don’t think I can do it, but man, it would be so easy with an epidural.”  If there’s one positive to the fact that once your mama has a plan, she is going to stick to it, this would be it.  I never give up.  As another contraction hit, I ran into the house. I didn’t want the neighborhood hearing me in all my glory.
Back into the tub I went. Heather, in her third trimester pregnant napped on the couch between knitting sessions working on a blanket for her soon to be baby. My dog Jade came to lick my hands and check on me. She paced around the midwives as if to find out how I was. She had been quite the companion all through my pregnancy. I was so tired. Not like, physically just did a workout tired, but like I stayed up all night, can’t escape it tired. I kept saying I wished I could push a pause button take a nap and then finish. I felt like I could really handle it well that way. Obviously that wasn’t an option. Salli told me it was the hormones. I had heard birth stories of so many women who slept between contractions then woke up and pushed then back to sleep. I never understood how that was possible before. I get it now. The heart rate monitor was so annoying. I’d have to hold still while they used it which felt basically impossible. I was writhing in pain.  After holding out as long as I could, I asked Salli to check me. I think it was around noon. I remember her reaching and reaching. I thought how can she still be that far up after all this work? I silently prayed “please be at least 6-7cm.” Salli emerged and announced, “9 and a half.” I don’t remember if I said it out loud, but I thought, “Oh thank God!” After about 20 minutes Salli said it was time to push.
I was so excited to push! From my research on birth and labor, I expected a few pushes and then yay baby. Not exactly how it went. I started pushing in the tub. It felt futile. This was going nowhere. We tried the toilet with my feet up again. I was facing backwards so dad could rub my back. I pushed so hard I poopped. Poor dad was right there to smell it. I also felt like this wasn’t working. I could hear Grandma say she must have been really good at pushing. That also annoyed me. I asked Salli to close the door so I didn’t have to listen. Salli suggested squatting. I couldn’t. Besides the fact that my legs turned into jello with every contraction, it was too painful. I said I was so tired and asked to lay down. Salli suggested all fours on the bed. I did, reluctantly. It actually felt really good. Between contractions I would ease into child’s pose to rest. After a few pushes Salli could tell this wasn’t an effective position. I wanted to stay because it felt so good. She could feel your head tipped. She suggested laying on my left side and holding my right leg in the air. I again reluctantly agreed. I did not want to put my legs together. It was too painful. Grandma and Ruth held my right leg in the air. Dad helped keep my left leg bent. I pushed and pushed. It was going well until you hit my pubis bone and got stuck.
Again pushing and pushing going nowhere. Salli suggested dad adjust mom’s hips to help you move around my bone. I knew that meant my legs would need to be very close together. I did not want to get adjusted but I said okay. Dad and grandma put the adjusting table right next to the bed. As soon as a contraction ended, I rolled onto the table. Dad adjusted my hips and wanted to check the rest of my back. I told him no way and scrambled back to the bed as another contraction hit.
More pushing. You’d come down then back up. Still stuck on that bone. I’d been pushing so long and not getting anywhere (about 2 hours). I glanced nervously at the midwives to try to read their expressions. Nothing. I couldn’t tell what they were thinking. I really didn’t want to go to the hospital but I wasn’t sure how long they would let me go on. I remembered reading on the spinning babies website to prop up the pelvis at the level of the trochanter to help an acynclitic head move under the pubis. I decided to tell the midwives and they wanted to try it so we propped me up and started pushing. It worked! Little by little down you moved. You were still going back in a bit but at least making progress. They kept telling me to push like I was pooping. I did that and pooped a little with every push. Poor Randi the student midwife ran out of gauze wiping it. Eventually, I got the hang of it and when I did I started pushing so hard with all my might. When I was pushing, I was so focused I didn’t feel the pain of the contraction. I was pushing so hard so long the midwives started telling me “Stop pushing the contraction is over.” Finally I got to the ring of fire and it hurt so bad I wanted to just push right through. Heather reminded me to pause and allow the skin to stretch so it wouldn’t tear. The next contraction I pushed so hard you came right out! Head and shoulders! Salli looked at us and said we could pick you up. I reached down so fast! I’d visualized catching you for months and after all that hard work, I wanted to be the first to pick you up. We ended up doing it together. I put my hand under your left arm and Dad under your right. As we lifted you up I checked that you indeed were a girl. We brought you to my chest and I was just staring at your beautiful face! I announced, “She’s so cute!” I had been so curious about what you’d look like and hopeful you’d at least have some resemblance to me. You did. We looked a lot alike as babies. You had a cute big round head though and I loved it! You nursed right away and actually basically all night.
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Dad ordered pizza for everyone. The midwives, Ruth, Grandma, Dad, everyone was bringing things to me and I just wanted to get up and move around! I was so tired of being stuck in the bed in labor. The midwives were impressed with how easy I could move around and wanted to. I actually really felt great! They made up an herbal bath for you and I. You were so calm. You loved it. You hated all baths after that until you were 9 months old!  When everyone left and grandma and Dad went to bed, it was just you and I. I kind of felt like, “You’re just going to leave me to do this by myself?” I couldn’t stop taking pictures of you. You didn’t want to sleep. You wanted to eat all night long. I don’t think we really slept until about 8:00am! The next day my eyes were swollen from pushing so hard and I felt like I went through the windshield of a car. I was so happy all our relatives lived far away and we could just be alone to look like crap and sleep! Grandma helped me get rest and daddy headed off to work.
By Dani, Aubri’s mama
birth, natural birth, homebirth, midwives, midwifery, midwife birth, birth center, waterbirth, home birth, baby, babies, pregnant, pregnancy, natural birth, breastfeeding, postpartum, doula