Apparently my labors always last 28 hours and I have babies on Tuesdays. Who knew? Contractions started Monday morning around 8:30, spaced out, speeded up, and were generally inconsistent but painful enough to keep me from sleeping Monday night. By 4:30am contractions were consistently five minutes apart, so I gave my parents a call at 6:30 and mom arrived to entertain G by 7:15. Omer and I headed to the birth center, where Connie, the on duty nurse, told me that I was a mere 3cm dilated. She said that if this were a first baby she’d send me home, but given my last labor I could stay. So we stayed.
I spent the next two hours laboring in and out of the tub, made it all the way downstairs to the first floor in the hopes of taking a walk (contractions were 2 minutes apart, so I didn’t make it as far as the door), and feeling sorry for my doula, Jan, who had nothing to do. G had arrived at the birth center with my parents shortly after 8, but left around 10 due to boredom (“WHERE is baby brother? Where’s the blood?” he asked every time he came in to check on me) and the lure of Grammie’s house. By 10:30 or 11 my contractions were getting far more painful, and I called Jan in to apply counterpressure to my back and hips while Omer scratched my back to take my mind off of the pain. Things sped up from there – I could no longer make polite conversation between contractions, and merely directed Jan and Omer to where I needed them.
My water broke during one of the contractions and was thankfully free of meconium – my last hurdle to staying in the birth center for the birth. I started crying, partially because I was relieved that I wouldn’t have to go to the hospital, and partially because I knew the end was in sight. Two or three contractions later I could tell I was in transition. Transition was the most painful part of my last labor, with contractions almost on top of one another. This time I seemed to get through it in a few contractions. I went back to the tub to push.
At this point the midwife on call, Joyce, joined Connie, Jan and Omer in the very small bathroom to coach me through pushing. Connie took the lead, checked me, and found that I was only 8cm dilated with A’s head pushing on my cervix. For what seemed like the next dozen contractions I was told to NOT push and instead blow out with small breaths. This was nearly impossible, given how strong the urge to push was, and I remember yelling at people to blow with me because I just couldn’t do it by myself. I was finally given the okay to push, and it seemed to take ANOTHER dozen contractions before A was ready to be born. I give full credit to Connie and her amazing coaching – she told me when to push, when to blow, and let me feel A’s head while it was still far up in the birth canal – for the fact that I didn’t tear or require stitches. On the whole the pushing phase was much more painful with A’s labor – I think mainly because Connie made me do it on my back in the tub, instead of on my hands and knees as I’d done with G. I remember flipping onto my back and feeling Jan and Joyce pin my legs up and telling them “This is wrong!” but Connie told me I couldn’t birth on my hands and knees due to the shallow depth of the tub.
Once A was out we encountered the same problem we had with G – a very short cord. We could barely get A up on my chest, and held him awkwardly out of the water until his cord was done pulsing. At that point Omer cut the cord and took A out of the bathroom, and the midwives helped me out of the tub to birth the placenta. As with my previous labor, contractions stopped as soon as the baby was out, so the midwives eventually made me give three (very weak) pushes to get the placenta out.
The midwives then made sure A was able to latch on, and left us alone for about an hour while A nursed. They then took his vitals, weighed him (7lbs, 9.3oz!), and returned him to us so we could all have lunch and a nap. After naps I got to take a shower, and then our pediatrician came to check him out. I love our pediatrician, Dr. Meikrantz. He’s a family doctor (so he also sees Omer as well as G) and he’s got a great demeanor with kids. I was very impressed that he was willing to come all the way to the birth center to check A out!
After Dr. Meikrantz left we filled out our paperwork (most ironic form? The one to which I was supposed to attach A’s non-existent hospital bracelet, and certify that he was really my infant. The only time he was out of my sight was when Omer took him out of the bathroom, so I guess I’ll just have to trust that Omer didn’t make a switch on me), got a list of future appointments, and left! We were discharged 10 hours after we arrived, and less than six hours after the birth.
Big bruvver G met us back at our house, and I’m happy to say that he seems fascinated with A. So far he’s been great about washing hands before touching the baby, not putting any hard objects near him, and carrying stuff for diaper changes. We’ll see what happens when the novelty wears off, but right now I’m so proud of G!
All in all, I prefer the experience I had at the birth center to the home birth – mainly because of the coaching I got during labor and the excellent post-partum care at the birth center (it didn’t hurt that we were able to abscond with extra receiving blankets, pads, peri bottles and other assorted goodies!). I was impressed with how efficient yet caring the birth center staff were, and the speed with which they made follow up appointments for both me and A.