Now that BF has been around for nearly 6 months I figured it’s as good a time as any to share the story of his remarkably easy birth.
On Sunday, September 17th Mr. Fizz and I went apple picking with a bunch of friends. It was a fun day full of activity (lots of walking!). After apple picking we all stopped for some ice cream and later went to dinner at a local Mexican restaurant. Mr. Fizz blames the early labor on the Mexican food, in fact. I may have started feeling mild contractions that night, but blamed it on the 10 apples I’d eaten through the day – I’d made myself sick eating too much fruit earlier in the pregnancy, so being sick from apples seemed like a good explanation.
Labor started Monday, September 18th. That morning Mr. Fizz drove the car down to North Station to go to work, and then I took over and drove to campus to finish up some work there. Again, my stomach was feeling “off” but I still blamed it on the apples. Fortunately I found a close parking space!
I left campus around noon and went home. By 2pm I was feeling something like strong menstrual cramps at regular intervals. I began timing them, and they ranged from 5-10 minutes apart. At that point I called my mom and she came in to spend the afternoon with me.
All the books I’d read said to stay active during labor (though at that point nobody really thought I was in labor) so Mom and I walked down to the local yarn store and bought a ton of yarn for three projects (eta: three projects which are still sitting there, six months later, without a stitch of work completed). Mom took over writing down the times of contractions, and at this point I was still able to walk and talk through the contractions. Mom left when Mr. Fizz arrived home that night, but it soon became clear that the contractions were going to continue through the night and that I needed support, so Mom came back to Cambridge and spent the night on the couch. It was an uncomfortable night for everyone – the contractions slowed to 10 minutes apart, and I was able to doze for those 10 minutes, but that was it! I also found myself peeing frequently, and each time I went to the bathroom I woke poor Mom up, and she would ask if I was okay. Monday night was the first of many, many sleepless nights. It was also a nerve wracking night – I didn’t want labor to drag on forever, and I took the increased spacing of contractions as an indication that labor was failing to progress. I spent a lot of the night telling myself (and BF) that the birth would happen the next day.
Tuesday morning I gave up sleeping around 8, so Mom and I went for a walk. It took about 40 minutes to cover what must be about a mile, but it was nice to be out so early in the morning. The rest of the day is a blur – we watched some TV, I tried to teach mom how to crochet (just the thing to be doing between contractions!), we made bread in the bread machine, and I tried to get comfortable.
Mom left around 11 to wait for the cable guy at my brother’s apartment, and Mr. Fizz and I took the opportunity to try out the birthing pool. It was wonderful and very relaxing to be in the water!
By the time Mom returned and we made lunch the contractions were starting to get more intense. After reluctantly eating my grilled cheese sandwich I went to the birthing ball, knelt on the floor and leaned over it while Mom massaged my head and Mr. Fizz massaged my back. I was still in that position when my water broke around 2. It was truly bizarre – I felt (and could swear I heard) a ‘pop’ and then warm liquid was gushing down my legs. Fortunately Mr. Fizz had put a towel down for me to kneel on, so the living room rug was spared.
I quickly moved to the toilet while Mom checked the amniotic fluid for signs of meconium (she had to resort to smelling it, since I was wearing dark grey pants and we couldn’t see the color of it). When I got off the toilet we noticed that I’d also passed the mucus plug (Mom and I thought it was a blood clot, but fortunately Mr. Fizz’s cooler head prevailed). Mom called the midwife again, and she agreed that it was time for her to come over.
In the mean time I returned to the birthing pool and waited for Mr. Fizz to get in. From here time seemed to stand still. The midwife, Deborah, arrived around 2:30 or 3, just after I’d gotten into the pool. Contractions were more and more painful, and I made Mr. Fizz get in the pool with me. He spent the next four hours or so sitting on a stool in the pool, with my head on his stomach. I sat on my knees and wrapped my arms around his waist, and he held my head above water. I found this was the most comfortable position – we tried an assisted squat, but that made the contractions hurt more. Deborah showed us how to breathe during the contractions – making an “ooooooooooooo” sound as we exhaled, and everyone in the room breathed through the contractions with me. I also put on the hypnobirthing relaxation CD (which cycled through the birth affirmations and the relaxation about 10 times before I was done with the birth). I know the repetition was annoying for all the others in the room, but catching little snippets of the relaxation between contractions actually did help me relax.
I don’t have any idea of the timing of the rest of the afternoon, up until the birth. I was amazed by how my body knew how to cope with each stage of labor – transition was definitely the hardest part (I even told Mr. Fizz that I absolutely couldn’t continue – as if I had a choice!), with contractions pretty much on top of each other. I remember telling Mr. Fizz to shut up and let me breathe at one point, as he tried to breathe with me during a contraction. But fortunately I’d read enough (especially Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth) to recognize transition for what it was, and knew that many women felt the most pain at this point. Pushing, everyone said, was easier – at least you know there’s an end in sight!
After transition passed I began dozing between contractions – I was that tired! Right after transition I started wondering if I’d know when to start pushing…and oh boy, there is NO WAY you can mistake that pushing urge. It was like I couldn’t breathe without pushing, and I couldn’t push without yelling. That was the noisiest part of labor, but it didn’t hurt as much as the transition phase. I don’t understand how women can do one long push – it felt much better to do a bunch of short, hard pushes. I’m thankful that Deborah was willing to sit back and let my body guide me at this point, since my body certainly knew what it was doing. I remember giving a couple pushes and then asking if anyone could see the head – I’m surprised the midwives didn’t laugh out loud, as the head was still WAY up in the birth canal at that point.
During the pushing phase, contractions seemed to space out – I was able to doze between each one. I was shocked to see that according to Dad’s log (he arrived just when the yelling started, and waited in the living room, timing contractions) the contractions were only 2-3 minutes apart.
Even though I’m writing this only weeks after the birth, I find it hard to recall what it felt like to push BabyFizz out. It was hard work, and I remember being frustrated because it seemed that however far I got with one push he just slipped back up in the birth canal when I relaxed. I just wanted him out at that point! The time between BF’s head coming out and his birth was the longest minute EVER – I later remarked that he had been stuck like that for five or ten minutes, and was told that it was, in fact, only a minute or so between contractions. Even during that minute, though BF was still kicking inside the birth canal. It was a bizarre feeling, to be kicked by someone who was halfway in and halfway out of the world.
Once BabyFizz was birthed, Deborah and Laurie (the second midwife) passed him through my legs and Mr. Fizz and I lifted him out of the water. He immediately opened his eyes and looked right at us. He didn’t need any suction – he started crying on his own. We spent an awkward 20 minutes cradling BF in the water, trying to keep his head out and his body in so he wouldn’t get cold. The umbilical cord wasn’t long enough for me to get him to my breast, or to let us get a good hold on him. But he was responsive and doing fine.
When the cord stopped pulsing Mr. Fizz cut it and got BF out of the tub and into a warm blanket. I stayed in the tub to birth the placenta – I kept waiting to feel a contraction, and never did. I was totally amazed that my body could turn the contractions off that quickly – as soon as BF was out, I felt fine, as if nothing had happened. Just tired. Eventually Deborah got me to give a good push to force the placenta out. It came out in one piece, with enough blood to finally turn the water red. Deborah and Laurie examined it, and then stuck it in the freezer (where we discovered it days later – no desire to bury it or eat it here!). I was amazed at its size and weight.
After the placenta was birthed Deborah and Laurie helped me out of the pool and into bed. Mr. Fizz brought BF in and he latched on and started nursing right away. The midwives left us alone for a bit so they could eat some dinner, and we spent some time being amazed that BF had actually arrived.
After the midwives had eaten they reconvened in the bedroom to give BF his first checkup. He was palpated, weighed, measured, and prodded. Everything seemed to be in order, so the midwives put him in his first diaper and waited for him (and me) to pee before they left. Everyone finally headed out around 11pm, and Mr. Fizz and I were left with a tiny, perfect person. I spent most of the night just looking at him, making sure he was breathing – the first of many nights spent this way.
And nearly 6 months later I am still amazed by how perfect and adorable BF is. I’m also probably inordinately proud of the fact that I had him at home, with very little intervention on the part of the midwives…and no internal exams AT ALL! 🙂 As an added bonus, our insurance has decided to reimburse us for the costs of the midwives (as well they should, since BF’s birth cost 1/10th of what a hospital birth would have cost)…allowing us to budget for a vacation this summer! Yay!