It’s hard to know where to begin this birth story since there were several days and nights prior to “going into labour” that were full of pretty regular contractions, making me think that we were finally on our way to having this baby. But they always eventually petered out. So I guess I’ll begin from when my midwives and I decided that I “technically” began early labour…
The early morning hours of April 28th, 2011 found me yet again trying to sleep through contractions and not succeeding. I finally got up around three to try taking a warm shower since that had helped to slow/stop the contractions in the past weeks. This time it didn’t work and since the contractions were getting to be about five minutes apart, we decided to call Jenny (our midwife) at around four. She got here in about forty-five minutes and when she checked me, I was dilated about three centimeters. She called Jackie (the second midwife) to let her know that things weren’t super urgent, but we all still thought that I’d go pretty fast once I started active labour. Everybody started getting set up. Aaron’s mom, Cassie, came down and we started filling the birthing pool.
The contractions were starting to get rather painful and I desperately wanted to get into the pool, but I knew that I should wait until active labour started or else I would risk the labour slowing down. I decided to try and rest a little bit so I laid down on the bed and moaned my way through a couple more contractions. Around seven, the contractions started getting farther apart and then stopped completely. I told Jenny (who had already figured it out due to the fact that I wasn’t moaning anymore) and she decided to leave all her stuff at our house and go hang out with Jackie at a local coffee shop for an hour or so and we were to call her if things picked up again. She encouraged me to try to sleep if I could as I hadn’t gotten any sleep the previous night.
Disappointed that the contractions had yet again petered out, I went back to bed and thankfully was able to sleep for a couple hours. Aaron called Jenny and Jackie while I was sleeping to let them know that things were still quiet and as Jenny had several prenatals to do that morning, she was planning on continuing to go about her day and just told us to keep her informed.
I got up around mid-morning, had some breakfast and then went and visited Cedar, who was spending the morning up at Aaron’s parent’s house (in order for me to rest and because all the birthing stuff was still out at our house). I came back down to our house and put away some of the towels and blankets and such. The birthing pool was still filled in the middle of our living room. We tried a couple things to get labour started again, but with no visible results (ironic since with Cedar’s birth we were doing everything to try to stop labour).
Around mid-afternoon, I started having contractions again. They were very painful and intense, but about twenty minutes apart. They continued throughout the afternoon, sometimes getting closer together, but never more than ten minutes or so. I tried to distract myself from the pain through doing some online shopping with a gift certificate I had received for my birthday and watching part of “Babies” with Cedar. Cassie had invited us up to their house for dinner and we went, though I wasn’t a very good dinner guest as I tried to breathe through the contractions when they came every ten to fifteen minutes or so.
As the evening progressed, the contractions continued…very painful, but still never closer together than ten minutes. I was exhausted from not sleeping the night before and from dealing with contractions for most of the day. As the contractions didn’t seem to be going anywhere and I desperately needed sleep, we tried several things to stop them, but nothing worked.
Resigned and exhausted, Aaron and I went to bed and I tried to doze between contractions. They were so painful that I had to moan through each one, which I felt horrible about since I knew that it was keeping Aaron up too. After a couple hours, I couldn’t handle lying down any longer and I told Aaron that I was going to try taking another hot bath (one of the methods we had unsuccessfully tried earlier to get my labour to stop). The bath didn’t help much and at that point the contractions got to about five minutes apart so Aaron called Jenny and she left to come here.
By now, the contractions were so painful and intense and I was so exhausted that I was seriously considering asking to go to the hospital and get an epidural because I didn’t think I could handle the pain anymore. I’m very pro-homebirth and don’t like any unnecessary interventions so the fact that I was even considering that was a big deal. I was sure that Jenny would get there and check me and I would still be a three or four. It was not a very fun time!
As the bath obviously wasn’t helping, I got out and lay down in bed again, trying very hard to relax through the contractions. This was a lot more difficult than it had been with Cedar’s labour as I was so exhausted from lack of sleep. Keeping up a low-pitch moan and breathing through the contractions was my goal.
Unfortunately, all the noise that I was making kept Cedar from sleeping very soundly that night and he was starting to get a little scared. Aaron was trying to drain the cold water from the birthing pool and fill it with warm, but he had to keep running back and forth between comforting Cedar and helping me through contractions. It got to the point where the only thing that even remotely helped the pain was Aaron rubbing my lower back hard through the contraction.
Jenny got to our house around three and Cassie about twenty minutes before. In between contractions, Jenny checked me and I was dilated to about a nine. I was so incredibly relieved and it then made sense why I had been having so many “I can’t handle this any longer!” thoughts…I was going through transition! I could obviously get into the birthing pool at this point if I wanted to, but the contractions were coming right on top of each other and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to try to walk from our bedroom to the living room where the pool was. Thankfully, Aaron and Jenny knew that I did really want to birth in the water so they helped get to the pool.
Getting into the pool helped so much in relaxing me and thankfully I got a several minute break from the contractions. This ended up working out really well since by now Cassie was trying to calm Cedar down and he was just losing it. Since I had a break from the contractions, Aaron was able to go and calm Cedar and then Cassie brought him up to her house where he spent a couple hours with Grandpa Donald.
Once the contractions resumed, I felt a very strong urge to push and since Jenny figured I was fully dilated by then, she said it would be fine. With the first push, I felt the head descend and when I reached down, I could feel it. My water still hadn’t broken and therefore I couldn’t feel any hair yet. I pushed for about ten minutes, about four or five contractions (though I wasn’t counting!). I felt a pop as my water broke and about a minute later I finally pushed the head out. (The fact that my water broke only about a minute or so before Genoa was born was a huge blessing as I was positive for Group B Strep and didn’t have the antibiotic drip…therefore she was protected by the bag and her exposure to the GBS was extremely minimal. We’re so incredibly thankful for God’s protection in that!) One more hard push and she was out! It was 3:52 AM on April 29th, 2011…the due date!
I drew her up out of the water and onto my chest. The midwives (Jackie had arrived about ten minutes before) were ready with warm towels and blankets and we dried her off. I discovered that she was a girl…something that both Aaron and I had thought all along. We spent about five or ten minutes in the tub and then Jenny wanted me to move to the bed to deliver the placenta. Once in bed, the midwives helped me get out of my wet camisole (the same one I wore for Cedar’s birth) and I dried off some. After being in bed for awhile, the midwives could tell the placenta had separated so I pushed it out.
About a half hour after she was born, Genoa started nursing and continued for about a half hour (amazing for me since Cedar didn’t nurse until he was five days old). When she was finished, the midwives did her newborn exam and had me use the bathroom and get cleaned up some. Then they went into the living room and Aaron and I were left with our little girl.
A couple hours after the birth, Donald brought Cedar back down and he met his new sister. He was in a remarkably good mood for having such a rough night and being up so early and he was fascinated by his little sister. We took some pictures and then Aaron put Cedar back to bed and everyone else left.
We had two girl’s names picked out during the pregnancy and after she was born, we both agreed that she was definitely a Genoa. We went back and forth on the middle name some, but finally came back to our original choice for Genoa. Once that was decided for sure, we called both sets of grandparents to tell them her name…and then we all slept.
This postpartum/newborn period has been amazing and such a night-and-day difference from all the stresses of the first weeks after Cedar was born. Genoa loves nursing and is such a natural at it. Thankfully, she didn’t have any problems with jaundice either and gained back her birth weight by the time she was six days old! We’re so amazingly grateful to our Father for this precious gift.