As a doula trained by bebo mia, I thought it would be fitting for me to write about my pregnancy and birth. But before I get into THIS pregnancy, I want to start at the beginning……the birth of my first son.
His name is Caimen and he was born on March 6th, 2009. It’s hard to believe he will be turning 4 in less than a month! Caimen arrived in an atypical fashion for many reasons, which I will go through now. My EDD was March 11th, which puts my little man 5 days “early”.
#1) Most first babies are born after the estimated due date; the statistical average is 7-10 days postdate.
On the morning of March 5th, I got up out of bed, went into the bathroom, and as I was sitting down on the toilet, my water broke! How convenient that I was over the toilet ;)
Like any other first time mom, I had doubts of what was actually going on – denial, not wanting to get my hopes up, who knows! So I walked around bottom-less for a while to see if it really was my water breaking (and not just pee!). I was making puddles on the floor while cleaning up other puddles, and I STILL wasn’t quite convinced it was amniotic fluid. Looking back, it seems so silly of me to have had any doubts at that time.
#2) The majority (85-95%) of labours begin with signs of early labour (cramping, loss of mucous plug, upset stomach, etc.); waters breaking (membranes rupturing) first before any of these signs only happens 5-10% of the time.
I called my midwives who said that they would be over in a few hours to make sure it was amniotic fluid, and to just go about my day as I normally would.
#3) When labour starts with a rupture of membranes, contractions typically start within a few hours.
My contractions didn’t start. Do you see the trend forming here so far? The midwives arrived in the afternoon and confirmed that yes, my water had in fact broken. They gave me some homeopathics to take to get contractions started, and some suggestions of things I could do, like going for a walk, eating a spicy lunch, nipple stimulation, etc. Ken had rushed home from work in the morning already, and we had a long day ahead of us, waiting for things to get going. What a boring day it was! We didn’t really want to go anywhere too far from home, and we found it hard distracting ourselves although we were giving it our best effort.
By the time evening rolled around, my midwives checked in on me again and talked to me about the fact that if contractions hadn’t started by the next morning (24 hours after my water broke), I would have to go to the hospital at that point for an induction. We were planning a homebirth and the LAST thing I wanted was an induced, hospital birth. I was sad and angry and worried!
Ken and I got up in the morning, and with still nothing going on, we reluctantly made our way to the hospital. My midwife hooked me up to the monitors and said Caimen was doing great and that I actually was contracting slightly, but it was so mild that I couldn’t even feel it! She checked me and I was 1cm dilated and 50% effaced which I had been for the past week, so no surprise there.
My midwife asked if I was ready to be induced, but we were still in triage. I said “Where? HERE?!”. It turned out that there were no rooms available yet and I was going to have to stay where I was in the tiny curtained-off triage bed. No thanks! Ken and I gently said that we were going to go back home, and try again to get labour started naturally. My midwife “disagreed” while nodding her head yes, and we came up with a plan that we would be back by 4pm if absolutely nothing had changed. She gave me a big stretch and sweep, and sent us on our way.
The car ride home SUCKED – I was uncomfortable from the stretch and sweep and was feeling sick. I was very glad to get home and have a light lunch. I called my friend Olivia and asked if she could drop off her breast pump for me to use to try to get my oxytocin flowing. She came right over and I swear, I had my first real contraction while she was at the door. “You don’t look too good” she said. I said goodbye to her and immediately went to lay on the couch. Something was definitely going on!
#4) Most first time mothers experience 12-24 hours of early labour characterized by mild, short, irregular contractions, followed by an average of 12 hours of active labour characterized by regular contractions which increase in intensity, duration, and frequency. The pushing stage follows active labour and takes 2 hours on average for first time moms.
My contractions started with a bang, and we started timing them right away, at 1:08pm. Within 20 minutes, they were already 2 minutes apart and 90 seconds to 2 minutes long. I was trying to follow the 4-1-1 rule my midwives had given me, but I never had it! I was freaking out – this was way too intense for early labour and I wasn’t handling it well because I thought I had a typical 12-24 hour labour ahead of me which would only get more and more intense. Ken was calling the midwives and I was crying, pacing the halls, asking him to tell them not to come here but to meet us at the hospital because I was going to need an epidural (which was SO not in my plan!). I really could have used a doula at this point to help calm me down and explain what may have been happening – I kick myself now for not knowing what a doula was at the time!
Ken did a great job of calming me down though, and the midwives arrived quickly. I was already naked at that point and Ken was filling up the birth tub. They checked me right away and I was 4-5cm and 100% effaced – holy crow! They asked me what I was at the hospital and I said 1cm, 50%. They didn’t believe me. After realizing that things were going quickly, I got into a good groove and settled right down into my labour. Once I got into the birth tub, I didn’t get out – I laboured in there with my eyes closed most of the time (see pics below) and made lots of birth sounds. I was feeling calm and confident and totally gave in to my body and the process of birth – it was incredible!
At the next exam the midwives did, I was 8cm. About a minute after the exam, my body started pushing! It was a huge surprise to the midwives and me, so I was checked again and I was fully dilated, with just a tiny anterior lip left to go (the anterior lip of a woman’s cervix is always the last part to dilate). My midwife instructed me to push past it with a little help from her fingers (ouch!) and then it was gone too! I pushed like The Hulk (literally, Ken said I have never looked so ripped and veiny in my life) and 23 minutes later at 4:38pm, Caimen was born! From my first real contractions to baby born was exactly 3.5 hours.
Atypical as it was, I wouldn’t change anything about it. It was an incredibly empowering and positive experience and as crazy as most people think I am when I say this, I can’t wait for round 2!
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