About 3 weeks before my due date, I woke up at 3:30 am to let the dog out, and when I got back into bed and cuddled up to my husband, Colin, I felt a big pop. Amniotic fluid flowed out of me, soaking several square feet of our bed. We were so happy and laughing, and every time I laughed, I leaked. Because this was our first baby, we’d assumed I’d be late, so my water breaking was a huge shock. I wasn’t having contractions, but we were sure labor was imminent.
Luckily, our birthing tub had been delivered 2 days prior, so we began filling it. We were in such a rush, but little did we know we’d be waiting on our baby girl for about two more days! The faucet attachments wouldn’t fit our weird faucets, so to heat up the birth pool, we were having to boil the proverbial water. Colin must have boiled about 50 pots of water over the next 2 days.
We called Christy a few hours later to tell her that my water had broken, but I still wasn’t having any contractions. She was very calm and reassuring, advising us that most women will start labor on their own and that as long as the baby and I were fine, we could wait as long as we were comfortable. We spent the day at home, except for a quick trip out for lunch and a chiropractic adjustment. Enjoying our last few childless hours was oddly romantic. We were so sure that labor would start any minute and Ella would be born by that night. We went to bed that night just knowing we’d wake up in the middle of the night with me in labor and have a baby by morning. The next morning, I woke up rested and refreshed, but still pregnant and with no real contractions. We went to see Christy to check on the baby’s heart tones and my blood pressure and again, she reassured us that all was well with both me and Ella.
I finally started having easy, but regular contractions early that afternoon. The contractions intensified late that evening, thanks to a herbal labor start up formula and who knows how many walks around the block. Our doula, Leila, came over around midnight. I was having stronger, but very manageable contractions and was happy to finally be in labor. I remember sitting on the birth ball, leaning on the edge of the birth pool, eating bites of a grilled cheese sandwich in between contractions.
Things started to get more serious and Christy arrived about 3:30 am. I asked her to check me, thinking that I would be 5 cm or so, but I was only dilated to 2 cm. I was so disappointed. At this point, my labor got very intense, both physically and emotionally. Despite Christy’s advice, I got in the birth tub and quickly found myself in transition. My body was shaking, my teeth were chattering, and I was filled with the self-doubt that so many women profess during that phase of labor. All of a sudden, I felt my body pushing.
I asked Christy to check me again. I was only 4 cm and finally in “active labor.” I couldn’t understand why my labor wasn’t textbook and to be honest, I was hysterical. Christy, Leila, and Colin somehow managed to calm me down. They helped me out of the birth pool and I laid down on my side in our bed listening to Hypnobabies, my body still trying to push with every contraction. However, I was able to relax and surrender to the labor, with Colin and Leila laughing at my snoring in between waves. Leila noticed a lot of bloody show and Christy asked to check me to see if it was time to call the assistant midwife. Imagine our surprise when I had gone from 4 cm to just a cervical lip in an hour and a half! The cervical lip pushed back with the next contraction and the house became a whirlwind of activity as Christy and Leila readied the birth supplies.
Pushing felt wonderful.. after spending the last hour and a half trying not to push, it felt great to be able to go with my body. I was on my side at first, then decided that comfort trumped modesty, and turned onto all fours. I will never forget feeling that wrinkled little head of hair as she crowned. Ella was born 54 hours after my water broke, after just an hour and a half of active labor and 45 minutes of pushing, with both hands in fists by her face. Thanks to warm oil compresses, I had no tearing.
It is such a strange feeling to birth a baby -- her head, after all the stretching, popped out, and the rest of her just tumbled into Christy’s and Colin’s hands. It was such a joyful moment to see her for the first time and marvel at her little fingers and toes. She laid on my chest for quite some time while Colin and I just looked at her. It was amazing how alert she was.
After some bonding time, Ella and I got into the herbal bath together, where she nursed for the first time. Afterwards, Christy did the newborn exam on our bed and Colin weighed her. She was 7 lbs 8 oz... a pretty big girl for 37 weeks! I loved how relaxed everything was after the birth - no one hurried our bonding time and Ella was never separated from us. It was so wonderful to be able to curl up in our own bed with our new baby. Recovery was surprisingly easy. While I had a very different and intense birthing time, I’m so glad we chose to birth naturally and at home.