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Active Labor

I woke up at 4am with some heavy Braxton Hicks contractions. I had woken up pretty much every night over the last week with Braxton Hicks and assumed these would be no different. I would drink some water, lay down and go back to sleep, waking up to yet another miserably pregnant day. This time, however, I felt a little different, like a 6th sense, that maybe I should stay awake a bit longer, just in case.

As I walked around my master bedroom, my husband snoring on the bed, nothing was changing, the contractions weren’t painful and were coming at the same rate as before. I assumed I was just getting my hopes up once again. I laid down to attempt to get back to sleep.

At 5:15am, still lying awake in bed, things started to get slightly more painful. This still wasn’t painful enough to wake anyone or to be concerned. I’ve had slightly painful Braxton Hicks contractions before. However, by the next two contractions, they began to get more and more intense. I suddenly realized this was real labor.

I woke my husband up and told him that he needed to blow up and fill the birthing tub downstairs. I joined him downstairs to help as best I could, while laboring on the couch. I called my midwife, letting her know labor was coming, and if history was any judge, it was coming fast! My contractions were still about 10 minutes apart, I think. She assured me she would be on her way once contractions were 5 minutes apart. In pain and confident it would happen soon, I responded that my contractions would probably be about 5 minutes apart in the next 10 minutes or so.

As my husband began to fill the birthing tub with water, he had a moment to sit down. Timing my contractions, we realized that the contractions were coming between 4 and 5 minutes. Some were less, but the baby was coming and we needed the midwife here!

I can’t remember if I called or texted or if my husband did, but one of us contacted the midwife to let her know things were getting real at our house. She had already packed her bags and was just waiting for my call.

I have a history of fast labors. However, in reading about hypnobirthing, labor techniques, et cetera, it’s suggested that you should have a calming environment in which to labor. Before labor, I imagined giving birth in our living room, with the fireplace roaring, and candles lit all around. Maybe even some music in the background to help calm my nerves. When labor finally came on, as predicted, it came on fast. I was in such intense pain, there was absolutely no time for turning on the fireplace or lighting the candles. In truth, even if someone had the forethought to get those things done, I wouldn’t have even noticed.

Instead, I labored on my hands and knees, leaning against my couch, waiting for the water to fill up the birthing pool. My contractions were coming quickly, and all I could think about was that I didn’t want to give birth on my white rug. The birthing pool needed to fill faster.

The moment had finally arrived, the birthing pool was full enough and I could get in. In truth, the pool was a bit too warm for me, but it was either get in the pool to labor, or attempt to give birth on my hardwood floors. I couldn’t bear the thought of giving birth anywhere else. I had imagined my home birth being a water birth and even if the water was a bit warm, I was going to suck it up.

Having a home birth active labor

 

Up until the moment I was in actual transition, it was a complete blur. My arms and head draped over the side of the tub and I felt as if I was hanging on for dear life to my husband’s hands. Contractions came and went within a few minutes of each other. I was simply along for the rise. Birth is so intense. I’ve done this three previous times, but there is a moment in birth where it feels impossible.

Transition

The water felt hotter now since my body was working harder. I felt like I was going to pass out from heat exhaustion. But, my contractions were back to back and there was no way I could get out of the birthing tub. I was out of breath, sweating and it felt like I was experiencing one big contraction. I wasn’t getting a break to catch my breath or even take a sip of water.

Transition is hard to describe. You can literally feel the baby moving through your pelvis. I knew she was a big baby. As she slowly moved through my pelvis, the transition felt extremely slow, or at least compared to my other babies. It felt as if I was pushing as hard as I could but I was making no progress. I thought she was stuck in my pelvis. My midwife assured me I was making progress but I distinctly remember yelling out, “why is she not coming out?!” I felt defeated.

Sometime during transition my two oldest children (5yrs and 6yrs), heard me yelling and made their way down to our living room. I remember thinking, ‘wow, they get to watch the birth of their sister!’

If you’re reading this and considering natural birth, you’ll hear all about the ring of fire. It’s when the babies head is crowning and finally making it’s way earthside. It burns like you couldn’t imagine. However, simultaneously, you have this insane urge to push as the baby is literally right there. As you’re pushing, the pain diminishes which only encourages your body to push again.

Once I felt the ring of fire, it’s as if I gained that last bit of adrenaline that allowed me to push her out the rest of the way. Water birth is interesting to say the least. You feel completely relieved after giving birth and the baby enters into a warm, comforting environment. She didn’t scream or seem upset. She was peaceful in my arms as I sat in the pool.

Home birth transition

 

The moment you meet your baby is the single most amazing moment of your life. I honestly do not believe anything compares. Your heart skips a beat, your stomach gets butterflies, and when you hold that wrinkly, grumpy little baby, the world around you fades away. Birth is an almost transcendent experience, where you meet one of the loves of your life. I am so happy to have experienced it 4 times. That incredible moment, I only wish I could experience it again.

At 6:38pm, Aurora was born at 9 pounds and 5 oz. I was blessed with the amazing responsibility of this absolutely beautiful child. Holding her for the first time made my heart leap. I remember saying, “Hi Baby” as I looked at her for the first time, smiling at her uncontrollably. She had this tiny, chubby, scrunched up little face. She looked so mad that she had entered the world and all I could do was love her.

Home birth in a birthing tub

 

Wow, birth, it’s honestly one of the most out-of-body, fly by the seat of your pants, crazy experiences. I love it though. I can honestly say that, even though it’s insanely painful, it’s the biggest high I have ever experienced. The moment you meet your newest little nugget is pure bliss. Hearing their little cry for the first time, looking at them, seeing their tiny little face react when they hear your voice and recognize that mommy is talking to them. The instant bond and rush of emotions that pulls the both of you together and gives you this insane moment where there are literally the only two people in the world, you and this little tiny human.