My second child’s birth story actually began over two years ago with the anticipation of our firstborn, Koen. A natural childbirth was in my heart and always had been, but there was fear of the unknown. I turned to prenatal yoga and my aunt (our doula) for strength and wisdom and through that found Enlightened Mama Lamaze. It was there, in a like-minded community, that both my husband and I found the education and confidence to prepare ourselves for my envisioned natural birth plan.
With all that said, my first birthing experience was difficult and lasted over 40 hours. With no sleep, 16 hours of early labor, 20 hours of active labor, I looked to my support for guidance in effort to maintain a vaginal childbirth. I received an epidural after 36 hours of labor, hoping to rest my uterus and it worked! My stalled 6cm cervix went to 9cm in an hour! I labored down for another hour and my dilation was completed. By this time the epidural had worn and I was able to use the squat bar, which felt productive. We pushed for three hours. Just when I thought I would never meet my baby I was able to feel him crown “the ring of fire” and with a few more good pushes his head was out and the rest came shortly after. He was a beautiful, healthy baby weighing 8 lbs. 12 ounces with a 15.25-inch head, which may have been part of the long labor and delivery.
With baby in arms, I felt strong, beautiful and like we could conquer the world. I looked forward to visiting our birth plan again and that birthday was estimated as August 15th 2012. It’s truly a great birth story.
My preparation for this childbirth included a continued healthy diet/exercise, yoga and a ‘just do it’ mentality with my previous Lamaze knowledge! Our birth plan hadn’t changed much other than we prepared ourselves for a water birth if the opportunity presented itself.
Friday, August 10th 3PM
I was working from home and spent most of the day wrapping up projects knowing that my due date was approaching. I closed my computer feeling content and ready for the weekend. I decided to nap. It was at that time that I felt cramping that was different from the Braxton Hicks I’d felt for weeks prior. This was more of a wave – there was a peak with more throbbing than cramping. It came and went. I was able to sleep.
I experienced another wave, this was deeper and sharper than earlier in the day and baby was very active. My husband was running errands and I let him know this felt different. Interestingly at this time, I also noted that my body odor was very strong. This was something I remembered from my firstborn and knew that my hormones were shifting again. When my husband returned, I took a long, relaxing shower.
I was experiencing more frequent waves and decided to start timing. They were about 10 minutes apart and varied in length. I knew I needed my rest (taking a mental note of my long previous labor), so I went to bed. I slept on and off dozing as I labored. I breathed through the irregular waves with good yoga breath and continued this way through the evening.
I’m awake with another wave and timing again. I decided to eat something and also knew from my first labor that my early labor included an emptying of the bowels. The loose stools had begun. The waves came more frequent, 5-7 minutes apart, lasting around 45 seconds. I went back to bed dozing on and off again.
Awake again with more loose stools.
Is this “it”, is baby coming or could it be false labor? I had heard of false labor, but was unsure. The thought crossed my mind. As I reflect, of course I was in early labor. I decided to rest in bed then get up and move around to see how I felt. I was being extra conscious in expecting the unexpected and rest and relaxation was my priority.
Around 9 :00 – 9:30 AM is when I believe active labor started.
I called my mom to see if she would come and get Koen. By this time, I didn’t feel I had the patience or concentration to labor with a two-year-old running around.
10 AM, I dropped the house key off at our neighbors. Labored at my neighbors for a while with some good breathing as I gave them the final details.
Phoned my aunt to let her know that I was in labor. She asked if I had any bloody show and told me that if I was dilating, I should see some blood. I lost my mucus plug at 36 weeks so wasn’t expecting any “show”. I had lost it the night I went into labor with my first so this was all new to me, but something I would keep my eye out for. By this time, my irregular contractions are 2-3 minutes apart, 30 seconds long. My husband thought we should head to the hospital, but I wanted to be at home as long as I could. I was waiting for the textbook 5-1-1 timing before we went to the hospital and felt very comfortable at home.
My mom came to pick up Koen. At this point, I had to brace the table and rock / squat as I labored. We continued “nesting” as I made the beds while my husband cleaned the house.
Again, I noticed my body order – a very ripe smell. I decided to relax with another long shower.
Bloody show. Since my aunt told me I should see some bloody show, I had been looking. After I used the bath, there was light blood when I wiped. I was dilating. This was a good sign that I was progressing and mentally, this progression was helpful for my morale.
Less frequent waves, but SO strong and more than one minute long.
We had Mexican food for lunch to add some spice to my labor of love. I didn’t have much of an appetite, but I knew I needed to eat. Laboring was comforted by holding on to something and rocking – whether over a table, on all fours (or table top position) or on the birthing ball. All with strong, yoga breathing.
3:00 – 4:00 PM
Very intense labor. I’m still waiting for the regular 5-1-1 timing, but some were closer together, some further apart. All are over a minute long and all very intense.
I believe I was transitioning. While my husband made calls to both my aunt and our midwife, I started to get nauseous and shake as I labored. The midwife told us it might be good to come in. With the nausea, I agreed and we finished packing things up and were in the car by 5:15.
5:15- 5:30 PM (The ride to the hospital)
Transitioning in the car — Holy Moly. By this time, I was experiencing closer to the 5-1-1, which helped because I knew about when I need to brace myself in the car. Holding on to the door handle and squeezing my husband’s hand every 4-5 minutes with deep, riveting breathes.
5:30- 5:45 PM (Hospital lobby)
They asked me if I wanted a wheel chair. With this intensity there was no way I was going to sit. They wouldn’t let me take the elevator up without an escort so we had to wait about 15 minutes. I found a focus point in the lobby aquarium and rocked and squatted as I labored.
Once we checked in upstairs, I could see my aunt waiting for us at the end of the hall in front of the birthing suite. I felt a rush of emotion as I walked towards her. Excitement, because I knew baby was on his/her way and fear as I had a flash back of my previous 40 hours of labor. With how intense my labor was, I honestly feared the potential of laboring for another 30 hours.
Once settled into our suite, the midwife asked if I wanted a cervical check. I was apprehensive, but my aunt and midwife thought it would be wise to have a benchmark – especially if we sought a water birth. I agreed to the cervical check and I’ll never forget her saying, “Wow, you’re amazing. You’re 8cm! We’re going to start filling up the tub.”
Hallelujah! My husband and aunt’s faces lit up with praise. I felt delighted with my progress! My strength and trust in my body and mind had me even more ready to meet our baby.
Sat on the birthing ball while they filled the tub and I could tell I was progressing quickly. I felt the urge to push on the ball and also felt like I was going to vomit. Deep, strong, riveting breathes as I labored. The intensity literally took my breath away. Holding my aunt’s hand was the support I needed.
The tub was full. What seemed like a long walk down the hall to the birthing tub, helped baby move down the birth canal. Right before we entered the room, I experienced another huge wave and held onto the bar in the hallway to rock and squat through it. Again, more wonderful urges to push, but I resisted. I sauntered into the tub, sat back and with another wave; my midwife broke my water and I immediately felt intense pressure and released a primal, deep sigh. That was what baby needed for the final drop. My urge was to move from sitting to my knees as I hung over the side of the tub. Intense.
7:04 PM (10 cm)
With the next wave, I NEEDED to push. This was more than an urge. The midwife gave me the go ahead. I held on tight to my husband’s hand and although the next 10 min or so was short, it felt long. Intense waves were coming every 1-2 minutes.
Baby was posterior so pushing was a challenge. The sounds that came out of my mouth were very real and primal. The midwife coached me to bring my energy down, deep to my pelvic floor. I did, and it helped, allowing much more productive pushing. I pushed long and strong, coached to rock while resting. The rocking must have worked because as baby descended, he turned.
The ring of fire was deep and powerful. I was hot in my labor and could feel the sweat dripping down my neck and forehead. They brought me a cup of ice to help cool down.
In a moment of rest and internal reflection I found the last bit of strength and confidence I needed. “Baby out, let’s do this baby!” I voiced.
I heard the midwife ask if my husband wanted to catch the baby. He hesitated and questioned if I was pushing the baby down or out. The midwife said “both”. I told him “yes, go catch our baby, but I need a hand to hold”.
With my aunt’s hand, and a few more strong, controlled and coached pushes, baby’s head was out and the shoulders and body came out with a few more pushes.
My husband caught our baby and as I turned around, lifting my leg over the cord, my beautiful, sweet baby boy was in my arms. Surrounded by warm water, a calm and peaceful setting and amazing support – his entrance was truly special. We named him after his great, great, grandfather and his dad. Magnus William. Magnus is Scandinavian and means, ‘great’ – just like our labor, his entrance, our bond and my hope for his future.
This is the beginning to our great story.