After a successful home birth with a midwife ripped us off financially (I still need to write up a post about that…), when we found out we were expecting Number 3, we weren’t sure what to do.  On one hand we loved the home birth, on the other, we weren’t sure how to guarantee a financially honest midwife.

After a lot of searching we found a midwife who owned and operated a Birth Center about 20 minutes from our home.  After meeting with her and checking everything out, we were excited.  She was perfect.  She had a few employees working for her who were all super friendly and she’d been birthing babies for a long time.  She was no nonsense but kind and that was just what I was looking for.  Her birth center had two birthing rooms, one with a big ol jacuzzitub.  I was really excited at the thought of getting to utilize that baby for pain relief.  My midwife also did water births and I had done a lot of research on them in the past and believed them to be completely safe.  But I just never saw myself as being comfortable enough to actually birth in one.  But labor?  Oh yeah, I’d be all over it. Or rather, in it. 

I had another great pregnancy.  I did experience more aches and pains with this one and they seemed to start earlier with each pregnancy.  I also had acid reflux from about 20 weeks on.  Many a night I spent “sleeping” on the recliner in the living room.  But I loved being pregnant and was willing to take the bad with the good.  

I decided to purchase a few preemie outfits this time around, for those first few days.  My first two newborns had simply swum in the newborn sized clothes even though they were average or slightly above average in weight and length.  This time I’d change that.  The preemie outfits should fit “The Boy” perfectly for the first few days while he “unfolded” from his in-uteruo position and began to stretch out.

We went in around 20 weeks to a ultrasound “store” at the mall and found out we were having another boy.  I would have been happy with either gender but I realized I would miss not having a baby girl to dress up.  But who could be disappointed with another bundle of fun boy energy?  And even better, we would have a brother close enough in age for Monkey to play with and be best buds with. 

At about half-way through the pregnancy I started to measure “on time”.  This would be normal for most people but I’ve always measured small, even when I’m past my due date!  But no biggie, I hadn’t had huge babies before and I wasn’t measuring enormous.   “Normal” was good.  Then a couple months go by and I start measuring a little big. Uh oh.  Now I was getting a teeny bit nervous.  But again, it really didn’t have a whole lot of bearing on the size of the baby.  Some pregnancies you have more amniotic fluid than others or other factors that can result in measuring large.

Well, of course, my due date of February 17thcame and went.  No big surprise there.  We had two plans set up with my midwife.  Plan A was a home birth.  About halfway through this pregnancy, her insurance changed and she was allowed to do home births again, as well as the birth center births (she’d done home births for years in the past).  So of course that would be first choice.  Plan B was to birth at the center.  The reason behind Plan B was that if she had another client go into labor at the same time, I’d have to come in for the birth.  She couldn’t be in two places at once.  I completely understood and was fine with either option….After all, I didn’t have a nice big jacuzzi tub at my house. 

At 41 weeks, good ol SIL, Lyd, flew out to help us with the birth and helping Hubby handle the two older kids and taking care of me for the first week after the baby was born.  This time, I was the one about 10 weeks ahead of her in our pregnancies.  (At Monkey’s birth, her baby girl was 10 weeks old and she brought her along, of course.  It’s great having cousins close to each other in age)  The next couple of days we walked, shopped and I ate enough birthing herbs to put a bus full of ladies into labor.  We finally fell back on Ol Faithful (aka Hubby).  Once again, after an afternoon of herbs and some walking, Hubby and I retired early for some labor-inducing “exercise”.  Hubby of course, was able to get a nice night of sleep afterwards.  I, on the other hand, had to retreat to the recliner to ward off the acid reflux.  At about 4 o’ clock that morning, I had to get up to give Monkey some more cough meds (both the kids had colds at the time) and as we relaxed on the couch I realized I was having twingie contractions/strong braxton hicks.

I started to get excited but tried to sleep since I knew it could still be awhile and I hadn’t slept much yet because of the reflux and sick kiddos.  If I sat up, the contractions would be just a few minutes apart but if I lay down they spaced back out to about 8-10 minutes.  So I lay down to try and sleep.  However, about 4:45am I realized I was getting the chills.  It was a bit chilly in the house but I was shaking a lot more than was necessary.  My first reaction was to just get up and turn up the heat but as I was standing there cranking the thermostat, it all clicked… shaking for me equals transition.  But that just couldn’t be!  I’d only be having mild contractions for 45 minutes!  As much as my brain was in denial, I decided to wake up Lyd to let her know what was going on.  Of course, she immediately told me to call the midwife while she put her eyeballs in (contacts).  As I headed for the phone to call, the contractions bumped up in intensity. 

It’s so silly but I felt horrible calling my midwife before 5am!  But as we talked, she told me she’d just gotten off the phone with the one other client who was due for the monthof February.  Her water had broken.  So Plan B it was and we were headed to the birth center.  We called my other fabulous SIL to come watch the kids for us.  In those 30 minutes, my labor pains upped in intensity with each new contraction.  By the time we were able to leave, about 5:30am, I couldn’t stand up straight.  Thankfully, traffic was non-existent as we drove to the birth center.  That was my one fear with having to drive there, I didn’t want to get stuck in traffic and birth my baby on the side of the road.  I didn’t care to help further the highway patrol’s baby delivery training.  Not one bit.

Just up the street from the birth center was a Starbucks.  Hubby, being the every attentive, sacrificial person that he is, asked if he had “time” to run in for some coffee.  And me, being the ever in-denial-about-my-real-stage-of-labor, told him to go ahead.  Lyd, on the other hand, was about to come unglued.  While Hubby was in there (waiting in line, picking out a danish, taking his sweet time) I was still experiencingthe shakes, having strong contractions every couple minutes and really having to concentrate on relaxing.  Lyd, being a woman and knowing how I labor, was worried she’d have to deliver her nephew in the Starbucks parking lot (hey, it’d would have been a step up from the freeway!).  FINALLY, Hubby came trottingout, jugglingcoffee and danishes, apologizingfor taking so long.  I told him it was fine but Lydvery calmly told him he’d better get his fanny in gear and get us to the birth center pronto… unless he felt like delivering his son in the parking lot and getting his car all messy.  That was all Hubby needed to hear!  Hats off to him though, he found the perfect balance between speed and as smooth a ride as possible since a laboring body feels every. single. minuet. crevice. in. the. road.  I have no idea why but it’s horrible. 

My midwife was waiting outside for us when we pulled up a few minutes before 6am.  This is the point where the women took over and Hubby became the pack mule.  Lyd and the midwife ushered me gingerly inside while Hubby got to make the trips to and from the car, bringing in all the birthing paraphernalia (my bag, baby’s bag, snacks, drinks, pillows, cameras, etc.).  After heading tothe bathroom as soon as I walked in to relieve my bladder (and announcing to everyone that I had bloody show already), my midwife, wise and experienced woman that she was, made me lie down right away so she could check me.  As I lay there, I was praying I was at least a 5 or 6.  I knew it’d only been about an hour and a half from my very first twinge but I was soooo ready to be done already!  Surprise, surprise, my midwife announced I was a 9!  We couldn’t believe it!  This baby was a fast mover!  

I commented to Lyd that the tub was out for pain relief now.  After all, this show was already almost over and I’d be stuck in bed from here on out (walking was out of the question now.  I could only move when I absolutely had to).  My midwife however, told me that wasn’t true and I could go ahead and “hop” in (no 41 1/2 weeks pregnant woman “hops” anywhere!).  It took me all of half a second to strip my clothes off.  It was the fasted undressing of a woman in labor ever recorded.  Okay maybe not but I was fast.  I just wanted IN before the next contraction hit. 

** Note to any woman hoping to use water as pain relief: think about bringing a top of some kind to wear in the water for goodness sakes!  For some reason, this thought never entered my sorry excuse for a brain.  During my time in the tub, I couldn’t have cared less but later, while watching the video, I was horrified to see my pasty, buck-naked, extremely huge, pregnant body (and all the fat it had stored up to feed off of) and “the girls” in all their unhindered glory.  I have some serious editing to do of that video because while I don’t share my videos with everyone, even I don’t want to see those images ever again!  So, for the love of covering up all that should remain unseen, bring something.  Anything.  Dig the newborn onesie out of the baby’s bag and drape it across your chest if you have to. **

As I sank my heavy-with-child body into the blissfully deep, warm water, instantly my stressed out muscles and joints relaxed and I no longer felt gravity’s pull on my huge belly.  It was wonderful.  The only difficulty I had was trying to find a position where I could let my body float yet still be grounded somewhere so that I didn’t slip all the way under in my super-relaxed state.  I settled on a left-side position with my head and top right arm resting on the side of the tub.  Here I stayed for what seemed like forever, taking one contraction at a time, willing my body to relax muscle by muscle to allow The Boy to finish his trip to the outside world.  I did have to raise my belly above the water now and then for the midwife or her assistant to listen to The Boy’s heart rate.  My midwife checked me after about 30 minutes but The Boy wasn’t in quite the correct position, he was still too high up.  So she made me do the unimaginable.  Something that I wish I could erase from Hubby’s mind forever

She had Hubby sit on the edge of the tub, made me stand up in it, hold on to his shoulders for stability and HULA.  Did you hear me?!  She made me hula like a skinny, not-pregnant, tanned young chick in an almost “lap-dance” position in front of my husband.  Mind you, I’m buck-naked with my girls hanging loose and they were right at eye-level for Hubby.  Nice.  Real  nice.  Even in my hazy, labor-focused state of mind, I was screaming on the inside at the horror of it all.  I knew Hubby would be scarred for life.  Why oh why couldn’t she have chosen Lyd to sit on the tub for me?!!  SHE wouldn’t care, SHE wouldn’t have to force this image from her brain in order to find me attractive and enticing later on, post-baby (she and I are close ya”ll, but we’re not THAT close!)!  I closed my eyes and tried to blot out the scene as I swung my hips with as much enthusiasm as I could muster.  Thankfully, I only had to do this until the next contraction.  But alas, the damage was done with the very first swing of my extra wide hips.

As the next contraction started to hit I eagerly lowered my body back to the water.  But I only got to my knees before I was rocked with the biggest contraction I have ever felt, in all four of my labors.  I’ve read other birth stories where women felt like they were being ripped in two and I always thought it was just the over-exaggeration of less “prepared” women than I.  Well, pride goes before a fall ladies because that’s exactly  what I felt.  It was the one contraction I let loose vocally with.  I don’t stay quiet because I feel like I have too.  I’m just naturally a moaner and sigh-er in labor, not a screamer.  But I screamed with that one.  I thought my pelvis was literally ripping free of it’s ligaments.  Thankfully, as soon as the contraction ended I felt instant relief.  I finished sinking into the water and began the process of trying to relax for the next contraction.  I was trying not to worry about the next one being a repeat of the previous.   Thankfully, it wasn’t.  And when my midwife checked me right after, I was a 10!  That sensation I felt was not rippingbut The Boy’s noggin dropping through my pelvis after the hula-ing maneuvered him out of the kink he was in.  I was just relieved I wouldn’t have to hula again. 

Similar to Birth Numero Dos, my water hadn’t broken yet and when my midwife asked me, I told her to go ahead and bust that puppy open.  I was ready to be done!  Once she had, I remember checking the color of the bath water and being relieved that it was still clear… The Boy wasn’t in stress and was handling labor well since his amniotic fluid was clean. 

The urge to push came almost instantly.  And my ol friend, Mr. Ring of Fire walked right on in and took up his temporary residence in my crotch.  Man I despise that him. 

While I didn’t think about it at the time, I was choosing a water birth.  I credit my prior research, studying and Bradley Classes for this birth.  While I hadn’t thought I would be personally comfortable with a water birth, because of my research, I knew it was safe.  So my brain didn’t bother with worrying over it.  It simply allowed me to continue working to bring my baby into the world after realizing that I was comfortable after all with a water birth.  If I hadn’t studied it before hand, I’m sure I would have been totally panicking, worrying over the safety of a water birth and yet not wanting to move to a bed at this point. 

I did notice I had a little more difficulty with pushing correctly since the water altered the sensations somewhat.  But I figured it out after a few pushing contractions.  Mr. Ring of Fire finally abandoned ship and the midwife announced that The Boy’s head was out.  After some tugging and pulling, his shoulders were pulled free and the rest of his body slid out with the next push.  It was 6:58am.  Just shy of 3 hours from my first twinge.

Ahhh! Instant relief.  His cord was wrapped around his neck twice but thankfully it was long.  The Boy wasn’t too eager to breathe on his own however.  So as I held him in the water, with his cord thankfully still attached and pumping oxygen to him, we rubbed and rubbed his back and tweaked his feet to get him to cry.  He eventually got irritated enough to start crying and breathing on his own.  I was so thankful to be with my midwife who waited on cutting his cord so that he could continue getting that oxygen supply while he worked on breathing on his own. In a hospital, more than likely, his cord would have been cut right away and then he may have needed artificial oxygen.  As the water was cooling and it was time deliver the placenta, I passed The Boy (now known as Tiger) to the midwife’s assistant and Hubby to wrap in warmed blankets and get snugly.  I sat up on the side of tub to deliver the placenta (caught by the midwife in a plastic container for inspection to make sure it was all there and accounted for).  Lyd and the assistant helped me dry off (another benefit to a water birth is no hosing offsince I was already washed off!) and get some clothes on my exhausted body.  Then I crawled in the bed for some snugglingand nursing.  Boy did he nurse with gusto!  The afterbirth pains were much stronger this time around (they seem to be stronger with each birth) but it was good since it meant my uterus was clamping down to slow the bleeding.  I still needed a shot of pitocin to get is slowed down quickly enough (I’m a bleeder I’m afraid).

As the midwife picked Tiger up and put him up on her shoulder to take him to the room next door with Hubby to do the newborn exam (the scale and such was in there), she said he felt like a 10 pounder.  I laughed, thinking she was teasing.  Well, they came back with him shortly after and announced he was 9lbs 13 ounces! Wow!  I knew I’d measured big (especially for me) but I never expected that big of a baby!  And in less than 3 hours!  I was pretty darn proud of myself.

The funny thing was, we couldn’t hardly get him in the cute preemie outfit I’d so “wisely” purchased and packed for him.  Poor baby was busting at the seams and we all laughed at my brilliant but massively failed plan.

We were home around 9am.  It was very surreal to be walking back in the house, just a few hours after leaving it, with an empty belly and carseat full of baby.  But it was glorious.  I slipped between my sheets and snuggled with my huge newborn.  His siblings were thrilled with him of course and it was difficult to finally drag them out of my bed to let me rest. 

I’d done it!  I was a mom of three.  I knew there’d be a lot of adjusting ahead but like each birth before, I couldn’t imagine my life any other way.   Or our family any other way.  He was a perfect addition to our clan.

  

My fabulous Midwife with Tiger

 By the way, the other laboring woman?  She didn’t end up coming in until that evening.  It took her body a while to get contractions going.  Am I disappointed that I had to go in?  Absolutely not!  I really feel it was God’s desire for me to have the birth tub available.  I think my labor would have been a lot more difficult and painful without it.