cont’d from Part 1
We settled into bed around midnight, but I wasn’t ready or able to sleep. After all my apprehensions, I was still just a little nervous but finally looking forward to meeting this baby. Contractions continued to build in intensity and frequency and I watched the clock, timing them at 8 minutes apart, then 7. At about 2:30 AM with contractions at 5-6 minutes apart, I turned the laptop back on to update the blog and Perry woke up.
He began setting up the birth pool even though I didn’t plan to get in right away. We knew that it would take a while to fill with warm enough water, so he rushed back and forth, heating water in pots and pans on the stovetop while the water heater recovered.
Becca also woke up about this time to let us know that she was sick. After throwing up once, she kept me company while Perry continued to prepare, checking in often. Becca was excited and a bit of a chatterbox but she understood the need to keep quiet during contractions so I didn’t mind her company.
I soon found I needed to focus more on relaxing during contractions, so Perry sent Becca back to bed. She was replaced by Kaitlyn, who confessed to lying awake in bed and using her iPod to check our blog for updates on my labor. Kaitlyn helped Perry while I wandered between the bedroom, the bathroom and the deck.
By the time the pool was ready, so was I. It was after 4 AM now and though I was holding up well, things were getting intense. I was planning to get in and out of the pool and move around regularly, but was ready for some relief by means of “nature’s epidural,” as laboring in warm water is often referred to.
Contractions stayed steady at 4-5 minutes apart, but the water did its job and the pain stayed manageable. I noticed that my back hurt, though not severely. I was surprised to feel most of the pain in my cervix rather than all over my abdomen. I don’t remember having such sharp and localized pain with past labors but thought maybe it was better than having the pain spread out.
Perry wondered aloud whether it was time to call the midwife, but I assured him that we probably had plenty of time. I was plagued by fear that she would arrive and find me at 5 cm. I don’t like an audience, and wanted to be sure things were well underway before she arrived and called in the assistant midwife and the midwife-in-training.
I think he waited until about 5 AM, then called. When Jennifer heard that contractions were 4-5 minutes apart, she agreed that it was time to head out.
About 5:15, I got out to use the bathroom. I wasn’t surprised when 2 long and painful contractions came nearly back-to-back. I headed back out to the pool again and noticed that my face in the bathroom mirror was very pale. Another strong contraction hit me as I reached the doorway.
Instead of trying to climb into the pool in the middle of a contraction, I staggered across the deck and leaned against the rail for support. Perry saw what was happening and came to help support me.
I felt myself getting woozy and sank to my knees.
Then I was soaring over verdant hills in bright sunlight. All was peaceful and quiet except the rushing of the wind in my ears.
Gradually, I became aware that something was wrong. Wasn’t I supposed to be somewhere? Was I in the middle of doing something else? Something important?
The sunlight around me faded, and everything was dark. I heard Perry yelling into my ear, or so it seemed. He told me later he was praying, afraid that I was dying or had already died. I opened my eyes and remembered where I was and what I was supposed to be doing. The peaceful feeling lingered, fading slowly. I felt refreshed by my little break.
“I’m fine,” I murmured. ”I was dreaming.” He was relieved, but not at all refreshed by my little break. By our reckoning, I was out for about 45-60 seconds.
While I was out, he had yelled to Kaitlyn to find his phone. She scrambled around, found it, and dialed the midwife. As Perry prayed aloud, Kaitlyn told Jennifer I had fainted. Then she brought him the phone and he spoke to Jennifer, who was already on the road and would be here asap. She assured him I was probably fine and it was likely due to a combination of low blood pressure and low blood sugar, both known issues for me.
They were still on the phone when I finally came to, and since we didn’t have any orange juice Jennifer told Perry to feed me bites of sherbet between contractions to boost my blood sugar.
Contractions came again, easing me back into the real world. The first 3 or 4 were still close together but either milder than before or I was still slightly sedated by having passed out. They quickly built to their former intensity and I stayed where I was on the deck, leaning against Perry for support.
He called the midwife once more to let her know I was ok but things were happening quickly. She was still at least 10 minutes away. She told him not to let me back in the pool right away just in case I fainted again. She needn’t have worried. I wasn’t going anywhere.
Kaitlyn was rushing around inside the house, preparing our bed in case I ended up delivering in there. Presumably, this was the back up plan, but I wasn’t moving. I sat on the deck, right where I had landed, bracing myself between the rail and my husband’s body. Contractions came one after another, with no break between.
I warned Perry that I was feeling “pushy” and he asked if I could wait, then called my mom to let her know that she’d better get here quickly if she wanted to witness the birth.
I had one or two more contractions. ”Are you pushing?!” Perry wanted to know, still shaken. He sounded like he’d caught a child being naughty, and I felt like one. ”Just a little,” I admitted. Under other circumstances, I would have found it hard not to laugh. I think I did chuckle just a little.
Headlights came up the driveway and Perry suddenly looked relieved: “Here she comes. The midwife is here.” He sent Kaitlyn to help her carry up her equipment. I felt the baby descending and shifted to all fours. There was a loud pop as my water broke. I knew it was too soon for the midwife to be here but had other things on my mind.
“Here it comes!” I told him, as footsteps topped the stairs.
I think there was half a moment of stunned silence, and then: “The baby? The baby!!!” I was briefly afraid that Kaitlyn would have to catch while Perry supported me, but he didn’t hesitate now. He scrambled around to the business end of the affair and assumed the catcher’s position with hardly a second to spare. I was oblivious as my mom and Kaitlyn joined us.
For the first time ever, there was no distinct “ring of fire.” I felt the head and then the rest of the baby’s body emerge all in one quick push. It was still dark and we were far from the windows and lights, so Perry was catching blind.
The rest happened just as quickly. At first, Perry thought that the baby slid through his hands in a smooth curving motion and landed face up on the surface under my belly. Having reviewed the event in his mind, he thinks what happened was that he caught the baby then tried to pass him into my hands, but the cord was around the baby’s neck and/or body. There wasn’t enough slack so he quickly set the baby down to unwind things, letting his bottom hit the deck with a thump and then easing his head down.
Either way, the baby was on the surface directly below my belly, just as surprised as the rest of us.
Then he yelled. Somebody – Mom? – brought a towel to wrap the baby, who was already crying lustily. She called for a suctioning device and checked to be sure his airways were clear.
It was 5:50 AM, just 35 minutes since I had climbed out of the pool.
Perry announced that it was a boy (“Really?” I asked him, wondering when he had found time to check. ”A boy? Really?“), and we all relaxed, laughing over how quickly everything happened.
Jennifer arrived about 5 minutes later, followed a few minutes later by April, the trainee. The second midwife was called off since she wasn’t needed at this point.
After that, things proceeded more normally. I peeked under the towel when Perry wasn’t looking, still disbelieving. Yup, it was a boy. He was breathing well, nicely pink and very angry. The adults discussed the baby’s position and landing, and decided that he must have been delivered sunny side up to have landed the way he did. He was unscathed by his ordeal except for the ridge across the top of his skull indicating that he was, indeed, born posterior. I was doubly thankful for the relatively short labor and swift delivery.
Perry, on the other hand, has vowed to call the in the midwife much sooner in the future. He is also ready to institute a new rule that I’m not allowed to leave the pool for any reason until the midwife arrives. He didn’t mind my having jumped the gun once in 9 deliveries, but now we’re at 20%. That’s a little worse, and he wants to play it safe. I can’t say I blame him.