It's hard to say when labor began with this little guy. Beginning nearly three weeks ago, I had irregular surges (hypnobirthing for "contraction.") I'd have them in the middle of the night and think labor was starting and it was, but my body was really just chipping away at things. Whatever work your body does now, it doesn't have to do during your "real" labor, right?
My due date was 1/3/13, so when I woke on 1/4/13 with regular surges, and losing some pieces of mucus plug (pretty much the grossest term ever,) I figured it would be that day. So I texted my doulah and hypnobirthing instructor to let her know that it was likely to be soon. Then things stopped again. I got up to get something to eat and do some work in the kitchen and things stalled out again. My mom had planned to take my son Magnus anyway, so we just went with that plan and Rob decided to stay home for the day with me even though I wasn't sure he'd need to.
We took a slow morning which was a delightful thing we never do. Then we had sex to help move things along, which I have to say I did not think sounded good so much as necessary but turned out to be really enjoyable. Seriously, pretty much never a bad idea. It wasn't long after that that I felt things pick up. We'd planned to have Magnus come back for nap and my mom and I planned to take the dogs out on a trail for a short and very slow walk. We went ahead with that and my surges really picked up as soon as she picked me up. We walked a short ways on the trail and I'd had to stop several times to move my hips and center myself to manage a surge, so I decided we should turn around. I really knew it was going when we pulled into my driveway which has a very steep lip on it and the bump combined with a surge to steal my breath. It was a little rough. Still, I was worried I needed to poop and that the pain was more
gas-related than uterine, so I didn't say anything to Rob when I came
Magnus was sleeping fitfully and I heard him cry out in his sleep. I crawled into his bed and held him for about 20 minutes and smelled his soft head and just enjoyed what I knew would probably be the last nap with him for a while. When I came out it was about 3:45 and I told Rob we should start calling people. A surge came, then another 8 minutes later, then 7 minutes, then 6 and I could tell the intensity level was rising. I told Rob to let my mom know to plan to take Magnus right after nap and that we should ask the doula to come over. He called the midwife as well to let her know not to drive back to her home town (which is quite a ways from here.)
Michelle, our doula, arrived shortly thereafter and Rob began filling the birth tub. By now it was about 5 pm and there was no question that this was labor. Still, the surges felt like they were far worse and more gastric and that if I could just release some gas, they would be much more manageable. It was probably only about 20 minutes after Michelle arrived that I went inward and stopped interacting much. I focused on Michelle's instructions and her touch when she'd tell me where to release and where to move the energy of my body. I focused on Rob when he told me I was breathing well and it became the only thing I heard and focused me on continuing to breathe.
The birth tub took time to fill since our hot water ran out part way through. We had to wait for it to refill. Then, unfortunately, the tub had filled with some cold water as well which had layered itself such that when the midwife, Alli, measured the temp, it read warm, but actually there was a layer of very cold water underneath.
Once I was in, though, there was no getting me out. Shaking or teeth chattering or no, I was not getting out. So, Michelle boiled pots and pots of water and poured them in and between that and a towel I wore over my shoulders, it would be enough to make it doable.
We put the hypnobirthing affirmations on. I thought I would want the relaxation track that I'd practiced relaxing to for the past several months but the birthing affirmations were what I wanted. Her voice calmed me and reminded me that my body could do this. Rob and Michelle constantly reminded me I could do this. Rob touched my face and gently traced his fingers along my upper back and occasionally kissed me (I think,) and he was the only connection I had to the outside world. I needed him like never before and he was wholly there and it made all the difference. There is nothing more important than that moment and a coach that made the baby to begin with and cares so much about how you're doing is the most amazing thing.
After some time in the tub, I felt like I might fart or poop and that it would help ease the surges, but whenever I tried to release anything it brought on a surge and I couldn't separate the release from actual pushing which I did not want to do. I wanted to allow the baby to come gently and not push this time. I'd pushed for 2 hours with Magnus and it had been exhausting and not particularly efficient. Also, I didn't feel the baby crowning so I kept thinking it was too early to push.
So I farted a little and it helped but I also nearly pushed so I continued to fight it and just focus on trying really hard to listen to Rob's voice and keep my lower abdomen relaxed through each surge. I just tried to take each surge as it came and focus on what he said. Sometimes it worked and I was able to not tense up and those surges were much more manageable. Other times, I whined and cried that I couldn't do it. He never wavered in telling me that I was doing great and that I was breathing well and just to relax.
Then I felt something I couldn't fight any more and my body began to push. I thought the midwife and doula were telling me to wait, but it turns out they were saying to go ahead and push. I pushed really hard and felt the head and then the body come out all in one push. I think someone said, "That's the head. That's the body!"I'm also pretty sure I heard my doulah say "Oh my god." Thank fucking god, it was over! I had never felt my water break though or the head crown so I was really surprised. As it turns out, he was born in the caul, meaning my bag of waters didn't break-- considered very rare and fortuitous for the baby.
At 7:13 pm on 1/4/13, Gavin Patrick Murphy joined us in the birthing tub at home. Since he was born before bedtime, his big brother along with his Grandma Marsha were able to make it over to say hi right after he was born.
It became real to me when Magnus said "Hi Gavin." And I cried smooshy, mooshy mama tears. I just love this baby stuff.