The truth is I was expecting some sort of indication that labor was imminent. I had it in my head that I would have some intuitive understanding that my body was about to do something profound, an understanding that would proceed early labor and last minute preparations. So at 7:00 pm on Friday, February 17th, when I hoisted my pregnant mass off the couch I had been reclining on for the greater part of the afternoon and early evening, I didn’t think anything of the minor contraction I began to experience. After all, I had been experiencing a lot of sporadic contractions in the last few weeks. I said something in passing to my mother about having a small contraction and went on my merry way.
Travis and I were making a quick trip down to Wal-Mart to drop off our redbox movies and during the course of this brief outing, it occurred to me that I was continuing to have contractions and that they seemed to be manifesting at regular intervals. Out of curiosity I began to time them. By the time we had returned home my contractions were about 30 seconds long and two minutes apart.
Unlike my husband, though, I was not convinced that I was in labor. While he wanted me to call the midwife and at least give her a heads up, I wanted to wait. They were still very manageable and honestly, I was more than a little confused by their length and proximity. Weren’t they supposed to begin shorter and farther apart?
At two hours, however, when the contractions had started to lengthen to around 45 seconds with 90 seconds in between, I conceded to my husband’s request and called our midwife; I didn’t want to call her needlessly but neither did I want to have a spontaneous birth without her assistance. She agreed that I was likely in labor and advised me to call back when my contractions grew to about a minute long or intensified.
In the meantime I busied myself arranging the items the midwife would need and prepared beverages and nourishment. For a while I could walk comfortably through the contractions but eventually they became too intense and I began to kneel on all fours to ride them out. I even began to vocalize through them, softly and low. I thought it was an interesting development because, despite all the classes, I wasn’t quite sure how I would manage labor.
Travis was convinced enough of my being in labor that he began to fill our pool; I remained skeptical. But the contractions were intense enough that a warm shower was an appealing prospect. The shower, however, quickly turned cold because all of the warm water was being routed to the pool. Cold water does not for comfortable contractions make so I quickly waddled to the half-filled but nonetheless warm pool.
And there I was, slumped over in a pool, moaning quite loudly by this point. My contractions were running a minute long and a minute apart. This time Travis didn’t ask if I wanted to call the midwife, he just picked up the phone and dialed. Although, I believe I was now ready to admit I might be in labor.
This is where my memory gets blurry. The midwife arrived around midnight I am told, along with her assistant, and they observed while I continued to labor. I think I remarked at one point how dull their jobs seemed.
Travis entered the pool some time following their arrival. His soft touch, light kisses and gentle encouragements meant the world at a point when the contractions seemed to be coming on one after another, without a break in between. I may have remarked that it was becoming apparent I was not an orgasmic birther. I may also have admitted that I could understand a woman’s desire for medication. Still, the time passed remarkably fast. I had been so entirely focused on keeping my face and hands relaxed, squatting through the contractions, and opening into the pain that I hadn’t noticed the progress of time.
It was, I believe, two-thirty in the morning when I began having small convulsions in the midst of my contractions—my body was preparing to birth. The urge to push was an odd sensation but a welcome relief and by three o’clock I was baring down. It was difficult, not because there was a lot of pain involved but rather, because it was an impulse completely out of my control. I had to learn how to use the pushes efficiently.
I was blissfully incognizant of time—either how long I had been in the pushing stage or the length of each rest but I knew I was nearly done. With my midwife coaching me through, I began to push with more strength and determination and eventually, the baby’s head began to make its way out. The pressure, I remember, was intense and more than a little intimidating. On the third to the last push I chickened out. My midwife, though, helped me gather my resolve and on the next push I powered through.
It was a relief once the head was passed. I was so relieved in fact, that I was gearing up to push the rest of him out immediately. But my midwife reassured me that I could take the break my body was offering and at the same time, she told me to reach down and feel my baby’s head—it was still surrounded by the amniotic sac. It was a neat little detail I am happy she called our attention to.
On the final push his entire body slipped out, quickly and with ease. I fell back onto Travis and my midwife quickly lifted the amniotic sac from the baby’s head and laid him on my chest; He began crying immediately. We were so busy cuddling and calling to him we neglected to confirm he was a boy until some minutes later.
Joshua Sebastian was born at 3:41 am on his due date, February 18th. He was 8 lbs. 15 oz. and 21 ½ in. long.
I felt at the time, and I still feel, my son’s birth was an amazing experience. We were blessed with a wonderful labor and delivery and we are so pleased that it took place in the comfortable space of our own home. I am especially grateful to my husband who fully supported my desire for a natural pregnancy and home birth. I am also very appreciative to Jessica Nipp, our midwife, for her calming influence, easy guidance, and unfailing support of our natural, intervention-free birth.