After our midwife arrives, labor definitely intensifies. I hum and sway and dance through many more contractions. During this time the girls get up for the day. We planned to have both of the girls be present if they wanted to, but Grace says she’s still sick and wants to go be with her grandfather (my Papa). Ava, who generally stays very close to me, decides to stay. An hour or two pass and the headache from the flu I have been battling is raging. I am exhausted, and the novelty of labor has certainly worn off.
Our midwife suggests I try to take a nap to store up some energy. I don’t think any description I can give will do her justice. She is approximately 5’11” with curly gray hair, glasses and a nose ring. She smells of herbs and incense. She’s tough and yet incredibly warm. She’s strong, and has an “I don’t take any shit” look about her. As I lay back to try and rest she is trying to doze on the end of the bed and catch up on sleep from being up for the past 24 hours. On the bed, I can’t seem to relax my body while laying on my side. Sitting in the rocker causes unbearable back pain.
The only thing that I can think to do is move my hips. I groan and sing through contractions. I hang on my mother’s shoulders as she puts light pressure on my lower back. Soon she switches positions with Tommy. He and I sway and dance. Mama knows just the right pressure to put on my lower back to help me through the contractions. Between contractions I sit on the edge of the bed. Tommy whispers to me how strong I was. He keeps tearing up telling me I am amazing. We follow this rhythm until early afternoon.
My coping strategies are not working for me anymore as I reach another plateau in intensity. I move to the toilet to seek out a bearable position. I also ask our midwife to check me.
I am 4 centimeters dilated.
I’m impatient, and I want to get to the pushing phase, during Ava’s birth that was my favorite part, but I’m just so tired.
Our midwife suggests a bath and trying to doze in the water. So we run a nice hot bath.
I try to lay down and rest in the bath tub, but I cannot bring myself to lay back during contractions. My midwife says that the other option for getting my energy up is to eat. Papa had brought over tapioca pudding a little earlier and Mama now serves me a dish of it and spoons it into my mouth. I sit straight up in the tub or leaning back on my hands. When she isn’t feeding me, Mama uses a washcloth to drip water onto my back. Ava, and Tommy sit quietly in the bathroom as well. On and off our Ava comes to rub my arm to comfort me. Our midwife dozes on the couch.
About an hour passes. Again I hit a plateau in intensity. I ask our midwife to come be with me again and check me. She checks me and I am at a five. Half way there. It could have felt upsetting to have only dilated one centimeter in an hour, but my team tells me how wonderful I am doing.
I feel energized again and decide to double down on my efforts. I close my eyes. With each contraction I hum to myself and talk aloud to my body. I speak in a deep voice as the low vibrations somehow seem to help.
“Good job body.”
“Thank you body.”
“Do what you need to do body”
At one point I am tensing up with each contraction and using my arms to push myself up out of the water saying “oh it hurts”. Our midwife says that sometimes when it hurt so much it helped her to think “good, that hurt” because contractions that hurt were really doing something.
I dig deep.
“Oh good body. That hurt.”
“I am strong.”
“You can do this body.”
Any variation to keep myself motivated I use. I also imagine my cervix melting back and away.
At 3pm, the intensity is just about unbearably strong. I need to get out of the bath tub and stand again. Wrapped in a towel in the birth room once again, I ask my midwife to check me. She cautions that it could be discouraging if we check again and I haven’t dilated much. I just have to know.
Thank God. I begin dancing with Tommy again. This time when contractions come, I hang on his shoulders, squat deep, and groan. He supports my weight and I allow gravity to move the baby down. I am vaguely aware of the plans going on around me about who will catch the baby, but honestly I am so in the midst of my work that I’m not paying much attention.
Several contractions later the noises I’m making must change because our midwife says to feel free to push if I want. With the next contraction I begin to bear down and 2-3 contractions later as I stand in the middle of our guest room surrounded by my husband, mother, midwife and youngest daughter I hear several things at once.
“He’s in the caul”
An excited gasp.
I grasp Tommy’s shoulders tightly, And I feel Granger’s little head and body slip out and into the waiting hands of my Mama and my midwife.
“Take him Tommy.”
“Yes, take him between her legs.”
Tommy’s eyes fill with tears. “We have a son.”
I backed up and sit on the bed. “He’s early. He has a short cord” I hear our midwife say as she stimulates him. He’s gurgling and giving out little cries, but only when he is being stimulated. “He’s not wanting to do his job.” Our midwife says as she stimulates him again and applies eucalyptus oil to his heels. I know my job is to talk to him, welcome him to the world, and remind him that his job is to learn to breath on his own before the placenta detaches. I’m still a little in shock that the birth is over. That last bit went so fast.
He looks a bit gray covered all in vernix. He has a prominent nose and….oh my gosh he’s tiny. Not what I was expecting at all. I was expecting a sturdy chubster like Ava. And though I don’t really know what to say, or feel like talking. I talk to our boy.
“Hello Granger Finn.” I repeated over and over. “Hello. You are so loved. We love you Granger Finn. Welcome to our family.”
His cord is so short that I can’t even lift him to the breast. I just sit staring into his tiny eyes as his breathing regulates.
Relief floods me as I gaze at our son.
You are also welcome to download my home birth after birth trauma resource guide. It may be difficult to believe after reading Granger’s birth story, but my first birth was a cesarean. These are the resources that I used to help me prepare for my HBAC’s.