Jolene is from the U.S.A and writes here about the calm, unexpectedly quick birth of her first baby and how she was able to find her instinct and trust her body with the support of her husband and her doula.
During my pregnancy, several people asked whether my midwife thought I would go into labor early or late. It’s typical for first-time moms to go into labor past their due date, but I also wondered if my taking progesterone (and then going off of it at 38 weeks) would cause me to go into labor early (a friend of mine who also takes progesterone in pregnancy typically has gone into labor early). My midwife joked that I would have to finish the quilt I was working on (my labor project), and then I would go into labor. Regardless of when baby was going to come, my husband, Jon and I were excited and ready.
At 39 weeks, Thursday, August 8th, around noon I lost my mucus plug. In my reading, I understood that it didn’t necessarily mean labor would start soon (still could be up to two weeks). That afternoon, I went to my midwife visit and all was well and normal, and no other signs of labor were apparent to me. We had a friend over that night for dinner and a movie, and still I felt normal as always.
Then Friday, August 9th, my water broke at 2:10am. It was such a weird feeling! I woke Jon up and he encouraged me to try to go back to sleep. From all that we’ve read, knowing labor could take a while (especially for first-time moms), the best thing to do when you think labor is starting is to rest and sleep as much in the beginning while contractions are still light. However…when my first contraction started a few minutes later, it wasn’t so “light.” The first couple of contractions weren’t super strong, but I knew I couldn’t sleep through them if they continued that way. I asked Jon if we should call Joyce, our doula, but he said we should wait to let her sleep as much as possible before coming to help me. So we did what my midwife had previously told us to do–have a glass of wine and take a bath–try to relax and try to go back to sleep.
While in the bath, I continued to have contractions and it didn’t appear that they were going to lighten or slow down. So Jon decided to start timing them and we started to get a few things ready. It was a little hard trying to do everything as we had to stop several times for contractions. When I had a contraction, I would lay down on the bed and tell my husband, “It’s starting,” and then would let him know when I felt it stopping. My first three (timed) contractions were about 1 minute to 90 seconds long, and 6, 5, and then 4 minutes apart, respectively. Jon was a little confused because from what we’ve read, this wasn’t “supposed” to happen for quite a while yet. Contractions were “supposed” to be further apart for several hours at the beginning. Jon soon realized it might be wise to call my doula, Joyce. He called her at 4:27am and while talking to her, he noticed that my contractions were now more like 3 ½ minutes apart and super strong. My doula was also confused about the timing and that my contractions seemed to be so close together so soon. But she decided to come right away to better assess the situation, and would decide what to do from there.
Around 5:10am when my doula got here, both Jon and Joyce helped me through a contraction or two, while they talked about how I was progressing. Then Joyce helped me through a couple more contractions while Jon set up the birth pool. While he was doing that, I quickly transitioned into what I know now was the start of the pushing stage.
My doula tried calling my midwife at 5:46am, but she didn’t answer right away. She called the midwife assistant, Gayla, right after at 5:48am and shared with her how things were going and how I felt very strongly like I needed to push. All I wanted to do was go to the bathroom. When she asked me a question about if I really thought I was feeling like pushing, I remember saying over and over again, “I push! I push!” and that I just wanted to poop. She had me try to go to the bathroom, but even despite my urges to push, I couldn’t. Gayla called back at 5:54am (to find out if I was really in the pushing stage). Then she said I had to get off the toilet (because Gayla needed to know if they saw the head coming). It took some strong urging to get me off the toilet onto the floor. It was determined that the head wasn’t there just yet. Jon and Joyce then had to get me to the bedroom and they tried really hard to get me on the bed. I finally did and got into an all-fours position with my head/shoulders down and my rear end up in the air to try to relieve some of the pressure of the pushing urge. I asked if I could get into the birth pool, but she said that the warm water would only make the process go faster, and again we wanted to try to stall as long as possible to give the midwife time to arrive. Joyce kept encouraging me not to push, to breathe and to try to relax. But as nature has it, when I felt that urge to push, there was nothing I could do to stop it! Baby was surely coming!
Around 6:35am, Jon and Joyce could see the head coming. They got a bunch of towels and pads under me and prepared for baby’s arrival. Jon thankfully thought to start the video camera, so we have baby’s birth on video. The baby’s head crowned, and again Joyce encouraged me to try to slow down pushing as much as possible. I felt I was able to a little bit, but again, when the urge to push came, it was practically impossible to fight it. Joyce called Gayla again at 6:47am when the baby’s head was out. At the same time she was trying to coach Jon with what the midwife assistant was saying. As the baby’s head came out, his hand came out with it. Joyce encouraged me on the next contraction to give one more big push. At 6:48am, Jon caught his beautiful baby boy as he was born.
The baby’s umbilical cord was really short, so I couldn’t yet bring him up to my chest to hold him. Joyce carefully helped me turn over on my side, where I could finally see my baby and lay next to him until the midwife came. About 10 minutes later, the midwife and her assistant arrived and took over caring for me and baby. The midwife massaged my belly and encouraged me to give a good push, which produced the placenta. They put the placenta in a plastic bag next to me so that it could continue to nourish my son through his umbilical cord while I finally got to hold him. Daddy got to cut the cord about an hour later.
So about 4 ½ hours from start (water breaking) to finish, I had my son. Later, my midwife calculated labor time (starting from first perceived regular contractions until birth) to be 2 hours and 18 minutes. I’m so glad we planned a homebirth – for many reasons – but especially because I most likely never would have made it to the hospital; not to mention how I have no idea how I could have handled being in a car and driving anywhere with those contractions and urges to push! We named him Samuel David Harms – Samuel after Jon’s father and grandfather. David because in the Bible, David was a friend of Jonathan.