My Son’s Birth Story, Part I: Ramping Up

My son’s second birthday is tomorrow. Naturally, I’ve been thinking a lot about his birth today, reflecting on how much he’s changed in the past two years, how much he’s still the same little guy he was in utero, and how much his birth and his existence have changed me.

I’m posting here my “for the public” birth story, split into three parts. If you were friends with me on Facebook last year, this is very similar to the birth story I posted for my son’s first birthday.

This was my second pregnancy and second birth (and most likely my last pregnancy and birth). After a fairly traumatic birth experience with my daughter, I did lots and lots to prepare for this birth. One thing I did was practice my Hypnobabies hypnosis multiple times a day from about eleven weeks gestation on. When I refer to hypnosis tracks in this birth story, they’re Hypnobabies tracks.

Oh, and in real life, we all referred to one another by our first names. I’ve taken out all names but mine for the “public” version of the story.

*********

The day before my son’s birthday.

I open my eyes in the dark, suddenly awake.

I think I feel a trickle of fluid.

I put on my glasses and look at the clock. 12:00.

I hoist my belly and swing my legs to the floor, using the momentum to lever my top half upright. I pause, letting the blood find its way back to my head. Finally, I press my hands against the mattress and push my body off of the bed. I waddle to the bathroom and shut the door so the light won’t wake my husband. I pee, and when I wipe see just the faintest tinge of pink on the paper. The trickle seems to have stopped, but the rhythmic hardening of my belly and the pink show tell me that something is kicking into gear. I go back to bed, put on my headphones, and fall asleep listening to my Deepening Hypnosis track.

It’s light out when I wake up and see my husband, dressed, standing over me.

He tells me that he, my sister, and our daughter are headed for the Farmers Market.

“Do you need anything before we go?”

My sister has been in town from Ohio since August 1st. It’s now the 8th, 5 days after my due date, and I’m hoping the baby will be born before her return flight on the 11th.

“No, I’m just going to sleep,” I answer.

“I’ve got my cell phone. I’ll see you when we get back.” He leans down to kiss me and the moment his lips touch mine I feel another, larger trickle of fluid.

“Ummm,” I say, “wait just a few minutes before you go.”

On the toilet, the trickle is tiny. The paper comes back with a few hairlike streaks of blood on it. I call my midwife from the toilet. It’s just after 8:00am.

I tell my midwife about the trickle at midnight and this newest trickle. I tell her about the contractions, mild waves coming fairly infrequently.

“The others were just leaving for the Farmers Market. Should I let them go?” I ask.

“What do you think?” She gives the decision back to me.

“I think things aren’t really happening all that fast,” I say. “It’s probably OK for them to go. I’m going to get some breakfast and go back to bed, either way.”

“How about you have your husband time your contractions for an hour and see how they’re going, then make  a decision from there. If things ramp up during that hour, you might not want him too far away.”

I hang up and we commence timing my contractions while I eat some breakfast. After an hour of small, erratic contractions, I send the others on their way, call my midwife to update her, call my doula to give her a heads up, then I head back to bed. I listen to my Easy First Stage track and fall asleep.

The day proceeds. We stick close to home, and I alternate periods of activity, eating, and rest. I take my temperature and a dose of echinacea every four hours, as my midwife has instructed and give her updates by phone periodically. Each time I talk to my midwife or doula they ask, “Do you want me to come over yet?” Each time I answer, “No, not yet.”

I feel calm and relaxed. I feel confident. And I feel like being with my family and no one else.

The contractions have been intensifying by degrees all day, but I’m still greeting them with a smile. I look at the birth tub set up in the dining room but not yet filled. I talk to my baby.

“Mama’s here, baby. You’re safe and sound, baby. Come whenever you’re ready, baby. Mommy and Daddy and your big sister and your aunt are all here ready to love you. And we’ve got the birth tub set up. When you’re born, you’ll be born into nice, warm water.”

I touch my belly, savoring these last hours before my baby is his or her own person.

In the afternoon, I take a walk with my sister around the block. We dodge sprinklers that are watering the sidewalk instead of the grass, talk quietly, and I try to keep walking and look casual when a contraction comes on. After dinner and another nap, I walk the same route with my husband. I love these walks. I love spending this quiet time with my sister and my husband. And I love that by the end of the second walk, I need to stop and breathe at the top of the contractions.

It’s early evening when we call our midwife and ask her to come over and help us gauge things. She arrives around 9:30. I’m vocalizing, moaning quietly and leaning on my husband during contractions. They’re still comfortable, but I find I can’t stay seated during them. My husband and my sister have started filling the tub. My daughter went to bed around 7:30. My midwife, my husband, and I consult and I decide to have the midwife check my cervix.

“You’re about a 3, and very thin,” she reports. “The bag is intact at baby’s head, and I can feel lots of fluid inside.”

“So, what do we do now?” I ask.

“Well, that depends,” she says. “We can try to stir things up, get you up and walking some stairs. Or we can get you in the birth tub, try and get you all relaxed and try to slow things down a bit so you can take a nap and be rested up for when things pick up.”

I chew on this information. At first I’m disappointed that I’m not further along. But after some calm breathing and quiet reflection, I accept the situation, and decide this is an excellent chance to take a rest. This is just what I wanted, a labor that ramps up slowly and gives me a chance to adjust to each increase in intensity.

I strip down to my skin and step into the birth tub. When I sit down, the water comes up to my chest, and I float my arms on the surface. The buoyancy and release from some of my body’s weight is wonderful. I don’t know how long I stay in. The water has taken the edge off of the contractions, but they’re still coming at about the same frequency. I decide to get out, dry off, and try to get some sleep.

My midwife stretches out on the couch and my sister lies on the loveseat. My husband and I curl up together in our bedroom off of the dining room. I put on my headphones and listen to my Deepening track again while lying on my left side. I’m very relaxed in between contractions but during them, I get squirmy. I cannot keep still, and I’m starting to moan again. I make myself lie there through five contractions before I decide sleep isn’t forthcoming.

I get up and walk out to the living room. My midwife sits up.

“Looks like this is it,” she says.

*********

You can read Part 2 of the birth story here.

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