On Monday the 15th I started feeling contractions that were definitely stronger then braxton hicks but they came with about the same frequency as I’d been having braxton hicks so I didn’t think much other than my body was getting ready to have the baby, but it still could be anytime. I’d also been feeling sharp pains in my cervix for a while but wasn’t sure if it was just baby poking me with her little hands, or if it was my cervix dilating as some thought those pains were.
On Monday I also felt more mucus when I wiped after going to the bathroom, but it was just clear or whitish so I didn’t think it was my mucus plug. On Monday night when my husband, Mike, and I were in bed, I had an emotional breakdown and accused him of not remembering what it was like to have a newborn. He’d made some comments about things we could do after the baby arrived that I thought were ridiculous. I got everything out that I’d been thinking and voiced some of my concerns about having a new baby. At first it turned into kind of a heated argument and I cried a lot and Mike was mad but then we had a good discussion and both of us went to bed happy. Sometime in the middle of my crying I had the thought that maybe this was an emotional release I needed to do to be ready for baby and for the first time thought that maybe the signs were pointing to it happening pretty soon- maybe even the next day. I didn’t say that to Mike, though.
I woke up the next day, Tuesday the 16th (3 days before my guess date) and felt the same as I had the day before. I had sporadic pressure waves that were like strong Braxton hicks but I hardly gave them a thought. I dropped my daughter off at preschool at 9, stopped at a favorite coffee shop and got tea and coffee cake and then headed home to start on some projects that I had planned for the morning.
By the time I got home around 10, I realized that I probably wasn’t going to get anything done because I was having pressure waves that were still really sporadic but I felt best just relaxing on the couch. After I got home I went to the bathroom and when I wiped I had a bunch of tan, bloody mucus. Definitely my mucus plug. I called Mike at work to let him know what was up but at that point I didn’t know if this was going anywhere so he should stay at work and not be too excited. I texted our doula to tell her the same. After all, some women deal with this off and on for days before their birthing time really starts, right?
Not too much later I talked to Mike again to let him know that I didn’t feel like I should drive to pick up our daughter from preschool because I didn’t want to have one of these pressure waves while I was driving. He said he’d pick her up at 11:30 and then come home and work from home for the rest of the day. In the meantime, I piled up pillows on the couch and leaned forward against them. Just in the last couple of weeks my baby had been sometimes turning a little posterior so I wanted to give her every encouragement to be in a good birthing position. I put on the easy 1st stage track and listened to it out loud. I was really comfortable and my pressure waves weren’t too frequent.
Mike and Sairshe got home a little after 12 and I turned the track off so I could interact with them. Mike puttered around getting his workspace set up and checked his work email. Then he started making lunch for the kiddo. I asked him to scramble a couple eggs for me since all I’d eaten was coconut coffee cake and I had the foresight to think that if this was really the beginning of my birthing time, I should eat something a little better. I didn’t really time my pressure waves at that point but when I did think to look at the clock they seemed to be really irregular- 10 minutes, then 5, then closer to 15 minutes.
Around noon my midwife’s office called to sat that Catherine, my midwife, had been called to a birth and needed to reschedule my appointment (I’d had one scheduled for that afternoon) and since I wasn’t ready to say for sure my birthing time had started, I didn’t mention it and just rescheduled my appointment for later in the week. Mike thought that I should have said something.
At some point my daughter started to bother me and I regretted turning off the easy 1st stage track so I told Mike he was on his own with her and moved to my bedroom. I tried to recreate my comfy couch spot by piling pillows up against my headboard and leaning onto them and I turned on the easy 1st stage track again. I couldn’t really get as comfortable as I’d been before everyone got home, though, and I was a little frustrated. My pressure waves seemed to be coming with a little more regularity and were getting stronger so I told Mike he should probably call the midwife and give her a head’s up.
I heard him talking on the phone and then he came into the room I guess to ask me something but then he said he’d call her back in 5 or 10 minutes. Catherine told me later that Mike hadn’t been sure if I was having a pressure wave or if I was just resting but either way, he hadn’t wanted to disturb me right then. I had been having a pressure wave but was still able to appear pretty relaxed. When Mike came in again and saw that I’d opened my eyes, he asked if I wanted Catherine to come and check me and I said something along the lines of “I guess so.” He called her back and asked her to come and I also heard him call our doula and tell her to come over too.
This was maybe 1:30 and my pressure waves seemed to be suddenly coming more regularly- 4 or 5 minutes apart- though they still seemed pretty short and were really manageable. Somewhere around this time I asked Mike to call my mom and tell her that baby was on her way. My mom lives out of state but had asked us to let her know. Our daughter was in the dining room eating lunch and Mike started inflating the birth pool in the living room while I stayed in the bedroom.
As soon as that was all set in motion, I had several really intense pressure waves. I definitely couldn’t be still through them so I’d quickly put my lightswitch in center and sway my torso back and forth while I knelt on the bed.
In the easy 1st stage track Kerry reminds us several times that “you are safe and your baby is safe no matter how much power goes through your body” and that was my mantra during those intense pressure waves. It was SO much power! I felt like in my head I was yelling that mantra to myself and I didn’t feel particularly calm in my head but my physical body stayed as relaxed as I could make it. Even though I was still sitting/kneeling on the bed my legs started feeling kind of shaky during these intense pressure waves.
I had the fleeting thought that it felt kind of like transition but then dismissed it because my pressure waves had only recently become regular and still weren’t terribly long or close together. I then started to doubt if I could keep up this calmness and looseness through out my birthing time if this was how intense it was going to be.
I decided I needed a change of scenery and felt like I should go to the bathroom so I sat on the toilet. My next pressure wave definitely felt pushy. I yelled for Mike and had to yell a couple of times and pretty loud since he still had the air pump running to blow up the tub. At that point I realized I wouldn’t have time to use the tub but water felt like it would be amazing. I thought of filling up the bathtub since that would be quick but then decided even that wasn’t really worth it.
Mike came in and I told him that I was feeling a little panicky and that we could have this baby before anyone got there. Almost immediately my 3 year old came running in to say “Midwife Catherine’s at the door!” I think this was about 2:15. I was glad it was her. I’d thought it might be the backup midwife since Catherine had been called to a birth earlier. (It turned out that the other mom wasn’t too far along so Catherine came to my birth and then an hour or so after my baby arrived, she went back and attended the other birth too.)
Catherine checked me while I was still on the toilet and said that the baby was right there and then said “I’d like to run out to my car and get my supplies really quick.” I wasn’t about to say no to that. :) When she got back I said that I didn’t want to have the baby in the toilet and she said that I’d better move now then. I remember saying several times that I wasn’t ready for this to be happening so soon. I was feeling really hot and I was right next to an open window and the cold air coming in felt really nice. I didn’t really want to move but also really didn’t want to have my baby in the toilet. I asked Mike to get a washcloth wet and he put that on my neck and forehead and it felt amazing,
Catherine helped me move to the bedroom and I brought my phone that was still playing the easy 1st stage track. I got on my knees on the bed but felt like being in a more upright position so I asked for something to lean against. I still had the big pile of pillows on the bed so Mike moved that closer to me and I got in the same position I’d been in before- up on my knees but leaning forward onto pillows. Immediately I was pushing. I asked Catherine a couple of times if it was really ok to be pushing because I still was having a hard time believing that I was at that point already.
She assured me that it was fine and my baby was ready to be born. With each pressure wave I vocalized a low (but loud) “aaahhhh” noise and let my body do the pushing. I didn’t have to think about it, it’s just what felt right to do. It was amazing to be able to really feel her moving down. With my 1st, I pushed for 40 minutes and never really felt that movement with my pushing. It was really great to feel that my pushing was doing something and it wasn’t painful at all. I said once that I felt stretchy and that’s really all I felt. My only discomfort was that my legs got tired being in that position.
I was really thirsty and Mike gave me sips of tea in between waves and he put his hand on my shoulder and reminded me to relax and told me how great I was doing. After a few good pushing waves, my water broke and I really felt the pressure of baby’s head. I think it was the next pushing wave that she was born. She seemed to just fly out of me and I immediately felt an emptiness in me. It was a weird sensation and I think it was because I hadn’t really been prepared for her birth to be so quick. I had just felt like I was really in my birthing time and then she was born!
I heard her cry immediately and then Catherine passed her between my legs so I could pull her up to me. When my older daughter was born, a dr I’d never seen before came in my room at literally the last minute, decided she didn’t like something about baby’s heartrate and whisked her out of the room as soon as she was born. When they brought her back, she was all cleaned off and wrapped up. The first thing I said when I pulled this baby up to me, all wet and blue and covered with vernix, was “I never got to see Sairshe like this!”
It was so amazing to hold that brand new baby. Seconds after she was born, the room got really quiet for a second and at that moment we could hear my hypnobabies track that was still playing quietly just as Kerry was saying “. . . your beautiful birth.” Catherine said “That was beautiful indeed.” I turned around and saw that as I was pushing the 2nd midwife, a nurse and our doula had all arrived just in time to see the birth. Mike was holding Sairshe who got to see the whole thing too. She got a little nervous after the baby arrived so she went back out to the living room and played with our doula while I birthed the placenta and nursed my new baby.
A little later she came in and we all snuggled up in bed together, which was awesome because that had been my special place that I’d practiced imagining for so many weeks.
Carys was born on November 16th at 2:34 pm, only about 20 minutes after Catherine arrived and just over 4 hours since I’d had the first thought that just maybe my birthing time was starting, but I wasn’t at all sure. I sure am glad we had a homebirth planned because I’m pretty sure we would have had one regardless!
Hypnobabies worked great, even though I didn’t have a lot of time to use my tools this time! There were maybe 2 or 3 pressure waves that were pretty darn uncomfortable but the rest of the time I was really comfortable, even when I was anxious and not sure if a midwife was going to arrive in time. I listened to the tracks mostly as I was going to bed each night so I slept through them and just as everyone says, that really does work.
Birth is truly amazing and Hypnobabies helped me experience it in comfort and without any fear. Mamas, you can do this too!