Miss Maizie was born at home on December 6, in the water in my bedroom surrounded by my handpicked birth team, a total contrast to my other two births. I can declare that this birth was perfect for me.
I woke up around 7am feeling some contractions, which I mostly ignored because I’ve been getting contractions on a regular basis since week 37, but they were mostly at night. So at 8am when they were still coming I decided to track them. They were almost a minute long and 10 minutes apart. This was nice considering they at best were generally 30 seconds long and 3 minutes apart for the nighttime ones. (You know, just enough to keep you awake most of the night.) Everyone is waking up around 8am here, so we got on with the day. I told Adam that I was having contractions, but he was groggy and apparently it didn’t register. So I went downstairs with the family and cleaned up the kitchen and made string soup. I kept tracking and they were getting to 30 seconds long but 5 minutes apart. I was bummed, ’cause I was sure they were going to stop again, and the next day I would be 41 weeks pregnant. I was so ready for this jig to be up! At this time Adam was packing up his gear to go to work and I asked him what he was doing. He said he was going to work. I may have had a freak out, wherein he realized I might be in labour afterall. He stayed home. I kept tracking my contractions and they weren’t good enough, so I texted my doula and she said that if I ate something, showered, watched tv or napped and they kept going it was likely labour. So I did them all. They kept going!
Adam called his parents who came over to get the big kids and then him and I just sat around. He set up the birth pool and I concentrated really hard on telling my uterus to keep up the good work. She didn’t listen much. Adam suggested a walk and I sighed. I wanted to sleep, since I’d been pretty sleep deprived for the past 4 weeks. Finally I had a shower, blow dried my hair and put my big girl panties on and went for a walk.
Maybe I was hamming for a camera a little.
So Adam and I walked for more than an hour, about a mile and a half, where I had a lot of contractions. At the end of the walk, I needed to focus on them.
After our walk at about 3pm Adam’s parents brought us sandwiches, which we devoured, then we debated on when we should call the midwife and doula. All of the while Adam was busy filling the birth tub which was huge and drained the hot water tank several times. Adam called them and told them he thought the contractions were 8 minutes apart and a minute long. Then we actually timed them and they were 5 minutes apart and a minute long. They all replied that they would be there in about an hour. So I sat on the birth ball and bounced and focused. I promised myself that I wouldn’t panic in this labour so I really focused on what was happening and kept reminding myself that I could do it. I’d like to report that I never doubted my body, but that would be untrue. After 2 failed homebirths I was pretty sure it was just a matter of time until I was sent to the hospital.
Eventually the birth folk showed up, first the ‘other’ midwife, who I hadn’t met before, then my midwife and her assistant and then my doula. Everyone was there by about 5pm. Which was good since things were getting hard and I really had to work on keeping myself calm through the contractions which were pretty awful. My double, bless her, showed Adam some tricks to help with the pain and they helped. Adam also called his mom at this time to get her to bring snacks for the crew, who I was sure would be there all night. And while I wanted Adam to procure snacks, I wanted him to do it magically and not leave my side or make noise. Poor guy.
Around now I was feeling really overwhelmed with so many people in my space and I started to quietly weep. I wanted to be alone with Adam and just left to do my own thing in silence. I remember this about my other labours too, all of the people in the room stressed me out and made me lose focus. Somehow my midwife knew this and gave my doula some essential oils to waft around me to help calm me down, and I was able to centre myself again. Around now the contractions started double peaking, and I would lean down on the couch to get through them, which was terribly hard on my shoulders and wrists. All the while my doula kept giving me water to sip so that I would stay hydrated. Then she suggested I pee. Oh my, even though the toilet was only about 15 feet away, I was pretty sure it was across the world. So at the end of the contraction we made our way over and I peed. (So glamorous, this labour thing.) Then I got up to wash my hands and was hit with a contraction just as I soaped up my hands and was waiting for the hot water. Adam had the foresight to turn the water off so I wouldn’t scald myself since the hot water tank was extra hot to fill the tub. I stood there over the sink enduring double and triple contractions for a while, carefully focusing on them and breathing through them, still quiet, still concentrating on relaxing my body so that it could do what it needed to do.
Finally I was able to rinse and dry my hands and asked to get into the pool. I felt it was too early, I didn’t want it to slow my labour, but I really wanted to be submerged. Adam helped me to pull my dress off and I made my way to the pool and crawled in. I kneeled in the water and my doula told me to open my legs more and I did, aware that I was sitting with them in a W fashion like a child. Then I just relaxed, the water was AMAZING. So relaxing. It was nice and warm, and I was able to just let my body mostly float. I remember, clearly, my arms floating in the water and the warmth and the calm I felt. I had been craving that for a while. It’s about 6:05. Moments later I was hit by the most intense and body wracking contraction. Until now I had been silent, but out of nowhere I managed this primal sound that frightened even me. My doula encouraged me and soon the contraction passed. I managed to moan “something’s happening” just as the contraction hit, which brought the midwives and the assistant running. Until then they were in the hallway with someone checking on me periodically and listening to the baby’s heartbeat. During this contraction my water broke. In the lull between the contractions I heard someone comment on the size of the mucus plug, and I remember thinking that I wanted to see it, but didn’t ask, thinking it would be too weird. My midwife also checked me for the first time and tells me that my baby’s head is there, and she’s about to be born. I didn’t believe her. I was still convinced I’d be transferred to the hospital, although I was sure a transfer at this time would really, really suck.
Another contraction, my low guttural moans escalate into full on screaming which I couldn’t bring back. My midwife is beside me with Adam and the doula at my head. Adam is holding my hand, my doula is rubbing my back and my midwife is saying “hmmm hmmm” over and over which was so soothing and reassuring. In the next lull it’s mentioned that I’m pushing. I assure them that I am not, and I’m reminded that I am, and that my body is doing it. I ask if I can push and they tell me yes. Another contraction, I feel it coming and swallow my panic and scream through that one, the baby’s head comes out, Adam is directed to look and I focus very hard on keeping my legs solid. Another contraction, more screaming as I push my baby’s body out, she comes out from under me to in front of me. Someone tells me to get her and I pull her out of the water. I DID IT! I birthed my baby at home. My midwife pulls the caul off of her face and body and I cradle her, a little bit in shock and amazed that I did it. I’m worried that I’ll drop the baby,and worried that she’s quiet. This moment lasts forever. But she starts wailing, and wailing and wailing. She’s a loud baby. I sit back against the side of the tub and Adam reaches in up to his armpits to help me hold her head out of water. The second midwife starts to drain the tub some since it’s quite deep and I’m worried about dropping the baby in the water. At one point I see something floating in the water and wonder where the condom came from. Then I realize it was part of the amniotic sac just bobbing in the water. Eventually the placenta is birthed and transferred to a bowl. I get out of the tub and move to my bed to cuddle my baby. The second midwife empties the pool before the children come to see their sister so they’re not frightened by all of the blood that was in the pool.
There is much checking of me and listening to a loud baby and the bigs come. They meet their sister and are mostly excited. Trixie gets to cut the cord and Hudson is dubious. Once while he is sitting next to me the baby starts to cry which makes Hudson cry. Poor guy is so overwhelmed. He quickly calms down and comes back to see her, Lego in hand to show her, which he does proudly and I can see how amazing he will be as a big brother. My in laws come to meet the baby and everything is cleaned up by the birthing people. My doula takes many photos and I relax in bliss. I’m helped into the shower and I clean up. I’m shocked and amazed at how good I feel. Very little pain, very little exhaustion at all. Mostly elated and amazed.
Baby is weighed and measured which makes her voice her displeasure, so she nurses. Like a champ. For a long time. I’m checked and everything is good. There is one small tear which should heal on it’s own. Again I am so amazed because there was much tearing with Hudson, really traumatic awful tearing, and now, nothing. I can’t help but to make the comparison of what a good body position can make in labour and in birth. With Hudson I was sequestered to a chair, it’s no wonder that labour stalled, and I was on a bed on my back with him. It’s no wonder I tore so badly, and he was a smaller baby!
Soon everyone gets ready to leave and the big kids are sent to their grandparent’s house for a sleep over. Hudson is pretty sure he’s too sick to go and wants to stay home, but we convince him it’ll be fun and he reluctantly goes. Even now 10 days later he wants to be Maizie’s constant companion. (Made more difficult with his recent illness.)
Now reflecting on the labour and birth of Maizie, I can’t believe I did it. It’s so reassuring that my body can do this. I thought for so long that it was broken, after an emergency c-section with Trixie and her resulting NICU stay and then Hudson’s labour which was traumatic and full of opposition and doubt, to this birth. I was my own roadblock, and I had to work hard to stop myself. Ultimately I did it. Adam was a blessing and knows me so well he knew what to say to keep me calm and more importantly what not to say and what to do. My doula was amazing too, knowing how a woman’s body in labour works and knowing that I need information, not caudling. And my midwife, who knew that I am a cerebral person, but I had a desire. She knew not to handle me either and to leave me be. They all knew me, they weren’t strangers who thought they knew what was best for me. Even though it hurt, A LOT, I don’t want to ever birth any other way. Finally, this was my perfect birth.
Oh, and we’re totally planning #4.