Well, everyone, it finally happened! On March 26th, at 00:39 A.M. (GMT) Jennifer Nicole arrived right on time, after an amazing birth. My husband, Steve, and I opted for a home birth using a birthing pool, and now that it is all over with, I can honestly say that I would not have changed a thing.
The day started rather uneventfully. I was waiting for my home visit from the midwife. It seems that for the last couple of weeks, that my days revolved around these visits. My blood pressure was an issue for a while, but stabilized towards the time of the birth, thank goodness! If it had remained high, I would not have been able to have the home birth that I wanted.
The midwife examined me when she arrived and found out that I was already 3 cm dilated. I was in a state of disbelief! I wasn’t in labor yet, but was thrilled that I was already a third of the way there (s)… little did I know that that was going to be the easiest part of it all. She told me that there was a good chance that I would go into labor either that night or within a day or two. After she was gone, I was surprisingly upbeat about the whole thing. I had been sure that I would be quite apprehensive about the impending labor when the time arrived, but I wasn’t.
I called Steve and told him the news, and he decided that he would take the afternoon off and we would get the pool set up in the living room and do any other preparations that needed to be done. Good thing he did too! The rest of the afternoon was spent gathering everything that we would need for when the labor hit and even went to the supermarket and did a little last-minute shopping. I didn’t notice any changes until about 4 pm when I had a show. I decided that I would take a bath and try to relax because it might be a long night.
Around 5 pm, I started to feel little twinges but wasn’t sure if it was labor or if it was gas from something that I had eaten during the day. The twinges weren’t at all painful at that time. Around 7 pm, I had a feeling that I was definitely having contractions and I needed to breathe through them, but again, they weren’t unbearable. Steve and I decided that we would take a short walk around the block, and I thought it was kind of funny that I had to stop about 5 or 6 times to breathe! As soon as the contraction was over, I was back to myself, ready to walk on. I could have probably walked around again, but Steve was becoming a nervous wreck! We went back inside and I thought it would be a good idea if Steve timed the contractions for me. I was amazed. They were coming about every 2 minutes and lasting between 30 to 45 seconds each. I was breathing through everyone and felt so in control of everything. I was so certain that I would feel like I was losing control during labor, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. I called the midwife and she said that she would be here in about half an hour. By the time she got here, I was really having to concentrate on breathing through the contractions. She examined me and found that I was 7 cm! I was in shock again! I couldn’t believe that I had gone so far and found the whole experience very “do-able” and definitely not as painful as I had expected it to be. The midwives and I have come to the conclusion that I must have a very high threshold to pain.
After this discovery, there was a flurry of activity to get the pool filled. No one had expected me to be so far along so quickly, considering that this was my first child. I really could have been in the pool at between 5-7 cm, but it took about an hour and a half beyond the 7 cm mark before the pool was full enough to get in.
We had the pool in the living room and I had scented candles lit and all over the place. I had replaced the bulbs of the lights with lower wattage bulbs earlier in the day so I was guaranteed to have the dim lighting that I wanted. I also had a wonderful tape playing the whole time. It was a tape with the sound of the ocean and whales and dolphins on it. I really think this tape helped me relax a lot. It also had subliminal messages on it about feeling relaxed and at ease, which for most of the labor, I was! Before I was able to get into the pool, I spent the time between the contractions doing laps around the pool, stopping and leaning on a pile of pillows on the table when a contraction hit, and then resuming the path around the pool.
The pool was filled just when the contractions were getting a bit stronger. The difference was amazing once I got into the pool. It helped to relax me even more. One of the midwives told me later that if it weren’t for the 7cm dilation, she really wouldn’t have believed that I was in labor. At one point I had to stand up so they could monitor the baby’s heartbeat because the underwater monitor wasn’t charged up properly. I stood up between contractions but had one hit before I was able to re-submerge myself. I really don’t know how women can manage “on dry land” without some sort of pain relief! The difference in the pain level was dramatically reduced when I was back in the water. I must have been in the pool for about two hours, but now that I think about it, it seemed like a blink of an eye. Time was definitely not an issue for me. I guess I had enough to concentrate on! For Steve, on the other hand, it must have seemed like an eternity. He sat behind me, outside of the pool, not really sure what to do for me. He wiped my face with a cool cloth when I needed it and was also in charge of refilling the pool to keep the temperature where it should be.
I told the midwives that I was starting to feel shaky and they said that the baby was probably going to be born soon and shortly after that, I had the urge to push. The midwives were super and told me to push when I felt like it. Out of the whole labor, this was the part that was the painful part for me, though not unbearably so. The midwives used a flashlight to watch the progress. They let me do things at my own pace and encouraged me through it all. The baby’s head was crowning for a while and I even got to feel it. That seemed so surreal to me. Then with a final contraction, Jennifer was born in one quick move. She basically shot out like an Olympic swimmer! It caught everyone by surprise and the midwife had to quickly grab her out to the water, though they say that she was coming to the surface on her own. I got to hold her for a short while and then Steve cut the cord. I delivered the placenta naturally and cuddled with Jennifer while waiting. Even with the quickness of her entry into the water, I had no tears whatsoever! Yeah!
She was 7lbs 6oz and was 19 and a half inches long. Her APGAR scores were 9 at 1 minute and 10 at 5 minutes. I really think I couldn’t have had a more perfect birth!