Note: the word p**n is in here once or twice – though I don’t think I really felt any besides the crowning moment (and that was pretty brief).  What I felt is better described as intense pressure or force, rather than p**n.  Just a heads up for you.
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I’m finally getting around to writing up Ari’s birth story.

Wednesday, after a fantastical day roaming the mall and chowing down at Olive Garden with my husband Dave and our son, I came home and put DS down for a much needed nap. After he was settled, I utilized some private time to take care of some personal needs in the restroom. Ummmm, there was what is termed “bloody show”.

I started to get kind of excited. I had bloody show with DS, but that was at 3:00 a.m. the day before he was born – so I wasn’t wanting to get too excited. Calmly dialing my midwife I tried to relax so that whatever progress was coming wouldn’t get reversed by an exorbitant amount of adrenaline.

When Heather answered I told her what was going on and she asked a few questions and I hung up, relieved and convinced that this baby was coming, but it could be within a few hours or even a few days. That helped me relax even more.

Then I called my doula, Amber, to share the info as well. She was excited for me and said she was at the zoo with her kids, but would go home to get some sleep so she could be ready whenever I needed her to come.

After that, I called Dave. Now, don’t start thinking my husband is lower in my priorities than these other ladies. That is hugely not true. The fact is that I know my husband, and I know he likes answers and I knew that unless I talked with Heather and Amber about what I was seeing, that I wouldn’t have any answers for him. So there.

We had a good talk and I told him things were fine, and I expected progress, but not at too swift a rate. I told him I thought I could manage things at home fine, but would let him know if I needed him home earlier than usual.

After talking with him, I called my sister and my mom as they wanted to come to help me, even though they knew they wouldn’t be present in the room for the actual birth. As they live more than ten minutes away, I wanted to give them adequate notice and enough time to pack up and make it to our home before Ari was born.

Ok, at this point I was really having a hard time not getting enormously excited. I could feel the adrenaline threatening to surge through every part of my body. She really was coming! I might not be pregnant until the 20th after all! It was getting to be too much to handle.

So I took a shower to settle my nerves and then laid down to listen to some Hypnobabies scripts. And that’s when DS woke up.

Nothing else happened for the rest of the day, in the way of pressure surges or discomfort. I felt fantastic and just went about our routine. DS and I played and teased and chased each other and laughed and hugged and enjoyed our special one-on-one time, knowing that I might not get these moments with him for a few weeks at least. It was fabulous.

Around 2 p.m. I started to get really, really tired and called Dave to ask him to come home early, which he did. We took DS to the local pond to see the ducks and get him some time outside so he would sleep really well. He loved it! Mostly he loved chasing us and laughing at himself. He is such a comedian.

After our walk we came home, had some dinner, put DS to sleep, sat down to watch some TV and fold some laundry. That was when regular pressure waves started to come. They weren’t intense, just enough that I would notice them and be able to tell Dave, “ok here’s another”, so he could note the time between each.

They were coming at regular 15 minute intervals around 8:30 p.m. so I called Heather and told her how things were progressing. That’s when she told me that another of her clients (who was a week away from her due date, while I was a week past mine) was at the same stage.

What?!?

Yup. Same stage, except this other lady’s water had already broken so she was fairly certain her baby would come before mine. I told Heather I was fine to wait, as I couldn’t see anything really happening until around 2 a.m. She said ok, but to keep her posted on my progress – especially if things started changing quickly. Jokingly, she said the other lady could have her baby at midnight, and I could have mine at 6 a.m. The funny thing is, I don’t know if she knew how spot-on her words would turn out to be.

“Great!”, I said. “I’m good with that!” and went to take a bath in our jetted tub to relax further.

Dave came up soon after to see how I was doing and to let me know that the chick on Deal or No Deal had just opened up the case with the only large amount left and had lost the huge offer from the banker. Silly.

Anyway, I stayed in the tub, listening to the birthing day affirmations while Dave made me some red raspberry and peppermint herbal tea to sip. What a guy!

He stayed in the bathroom talking with me about different things; he was drinking cocoa, I was drinking my tea, and it was just overall a good time. I’m not kidding. The surges were consistent, but not unbearable and I was just happy knowing that Ari was coming.

Haul out the holly and throw a party, fellas! This baby was on her way.

My hypnodoula, Amber, came over at eleven, and worked with Dave and I through more surges. I am now a fan of doulas. I think every woman deserves to have one – especially first time mothers…and, well… all mothers really. She was fabulous! She would suggest comfort measures to Dave that he could do for me, i.e. foot massages – mmmmmmm, as well as being there to help me remember my Hypnobabies techniques and cues.  She supplied so many comfort measures that I hadn’t even thought about and really made me feel catered to and pampered.

For the next two hours I laid on my bed, on my left side, just relaxing. Whenever another wave of pressure would begin, I would say, “here comes another one,” and then Dave or Amber would use the verbal cues and phrases to help me relax into each one. They would firmly press down on my shoulder and then softly run their hand down my arm once while repeating the phrases.

There were a few other positions I tried during the waves, standing against Dave, leaning back into him while he did what’s called a belly lift, sitting on the birth/exercise ball. Not a fan of those for this birth.  I quickly returned to laying on my side in bed. Much better.

Heather and her assistant, Fara, came over at about 2:00 or 2:30 a.m. after finishing their work at the other birth – the birth of the baby belonging to the lady who was at the same stage as I was, at 8:30 p.m. Crazy, huh?

They took my temperature, checked my blood pressure, listened to Ari’s heartbeat, and then observed me for a few minutes before asking me how I felt things were going. I told her I wanted to kick this thing into gear and wondered what I could do to move things along.

She gave several options, and I chose to take a warm shower. I think I was in there for about 30 minutes. It was lovely. Every time another wave of pressure would come, I’d just flip on the Hypnobabies techniques in my brain and relax into them. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying the pressure was relaxing and equivalent to a Swedish massage on a Mediterranean cruise. Good grief no. It was pressure. Pressure you can’t ignore, but it was not something that threw me into convulsions of agony and screaming terror. I don’t do Hollywood, thanks. Those waves were just surges of intensity that I had to focus on – deep focus.

Note: for some reason, I equated a painless birth with a silent birth. Don’t ask me why. No one ever presented the one to be the same as the other.  I thought it could only be “pain free” if I kept my mouth shut.  Turns out that wasn’t the case for me. I felt free to walk, move, talk, command, joke, laugh, etc. And I did.

Anyway, after the shower, I sat on my birth ball, a.k.a. exercise/yoga ball, through a few surges before deciding to get into the tub.

HEAVEN!
The tub was a small kiddy-type pool that was deep enough for me to sit in and have water cover me up to my chest. I like my water hot. Otherwise, it’s not relaxing – it’s annoying. Dave had filled it prior to Heather’s arrival, but I had no interest in it until about 3:00 or 3:30 a.m., but man, oh man! Did it ever feel good!  I didn’t listen to any of my scripts while in the tub, I had Amber there and she supplied me with the focus and verbal cues from Hypnobabies to help deepen my relaxation and focus.

I went through two pressure waves in the tub, while it was just Dave, Amber, and I in the room. My mom and sister and niece had arrived before Heather and Fara, but I’d asked that they not come in until after the birth. Some people like to make it a big family reunion at birth time, others want to do it unassisted. I wanted it to just be Dave, the midwife, her assistant, and Amber. I didn’t want any pressure to act a certain way, or do or not do something. I wanted the freedom to just do whatever the heck I felt like doing in the way I felt like doing it. Strong minded little gal, aren’t I? None of this was a surprise to my mom or sister. As I mentioned earlier, they both knew early on in my pregnancy that this was the plan and had no problem heading off to bed in our spare room.

Starting at around 4-ish (I think – after all I wasn’t really focusing on a clock at this time), the pressure started becoming more intense. I started to cry. I couldn’t not cry. Every part of me just wanted to sob and sob and sob. So I did.

I was blubbering to Amber that I couldn’t do it. That this pressure would never go away and I was going to be experiencing these waves forevermore and Ari was never going to come. Amber just told me that this was a good sign that it was almost over. My hormones were kicking in to a different gear to get my body prepped for the final part of this birth.

Amber then asked Dave to go and get Heather and Fara, who were downstairs. Sometimes having a midwife in the room – or a doctor – will halt things, as the woman feels some sort of pressure to show progress. This can, in some cases, lead to things backing up – so they had gone out of the room to let me do what I needed to do. Heather was just making notes in my file, and Fara was catching a power nap. I didn’t give them much time to do either.

I don’t really have a timeline of what came next. More pressure, more intensity, more breathing into each wave, more periods of rest. Yes, rest. The body is amazing. In between each amazingly intense period of pressure, there were minutes of rest – enough to give me the energy to last through the next wave. Honestly, there were a few of those rest/breaks where I almost fell asleep.

The most vivid memory of the rest periods was the one immediately preceeding the urge to push. I remember it was long, and I felt like I was zoning out and into a dream. Then the pressure started to kick in. I had been “aaahhh”-ing, in my deepest voice through the last six or seven waves, but this one was even more all-encompassing than I could breathe into. I had no idea a muscle in my body – the body that I don’t exercise on a regular basis – could do anything with that amount of force.

Suddenly I had to push, hard. And I felt my water break. There was a bit of relief, but then I started to feel a stinging – what I’ve heard referred to as the “ring of fire”. Hmmm, this may be too much information, but I think it’s more like what it might feel like to have a really nasty bout of diarrhea passing over a new scratch. Yup. I think that would be the closest approximation to how it felt.

Then I thought Ari had crowned. She hadn’t but I thought she had. By this time I was shouting. Yup. Shouting with all my captain-of-the-world intimidation factor. “Please! Please! Take her out…please!”

I was yelling because I thought her head was there and everyone was just sitting around looking at it. Nothing could be further from the truth. Heather was monitoring my progress and making sure that everything went as it needed to, Fara and Dave were applying counter pressure to my hips, one on each side (neither of them alone could do it strongly enough for me), and Amber was up by my right shoulder helping to soothe me, and letting me squeeze her hand to a pulp (she denies I squeezed it that hard).

A few minutes later, Heather told me she had crowned and asked if I wanted to feel her head.

“No! Just get her out!” This was not a moment, in my mind for emotional milestone memories. This party had gone on long enough. The girl had stayed inside me for a week longer than I had planned, and I was done being a human hotel.

Ari had other plans. Heather told me to stop pushing (which actually felt good) as Ari had her arm up under her neck, with her elbow under her chin. She wanted to come out head and shoulders above the rest – literally. Silly girl. So I rested, and stopped pushing while Heather gently worked with Ari to move her elbow so I wouldn’t tear as she came out.

Soon after, I was pushing Ari out. Man! I don’t remember ever feeling something so wonderful and freeing as that moment. It was so nice to just release her. Heather caught her and brought her up to my chest for me to hold and cuddle.

Everyone helped me sit back against the tub (I’d been kneeling down, leaning over the tub the entire time), while Heather used that little bulb syringe-thing to clear Ari’s airway for her first breaths.

Amazing. I just sat there, in the water, holding this little girl to whom I’d just given birth. She looked just like DS had looked when he was first born – only not as puffy, and much more alert. Dave was leaning over the tub from the outside with his arm around me, crying and kissing Ari and me.

After a few seconds, I asked someone to get my mom and sister. The words were barely out of my mouth before they were in the room. They had been standing outside the door once I started shouting. My sister had been ready to cart me off to the hospital, as she didn’t know how far along I was at that point.

It was those last three surges that I would have been ready for the hospital too, except there was no way on earth I was going to have those surges out of the tub, and there was no way I wanted anyone else touching me except Heather and Dave, and there was no way I wanted to have this baby in a hospital. Not a chance. I knew then that it was almost over, and even if I might have been doubting my ability to finish this birth, I knew that no one else in that room did.

The thought process during birth was very interesting. Every time doubt would creep in, encouragement would beat it out; from Heather, Fara, Amber, Dave, and from some source that I know was heaven-sent.  I read somewhere that hospitals have convinced courts that women in birth are in so much pain that they don’t know their own minds – and therefore can’t make wise choices.  I disagree.  I don’t think I’ve ever known my own mind as completely as I did during Ari’s birth. There is some additional power God must give to women in labor, and I am grateful.

And DS slept through the whole thing! What a kid.

Do women know their own minds during labor? Heck yes! I knew exactly what was going on and how I felt and what I wanted and what I didn’t want. I’ve rarely been so uninhibited in voicing my opinions – and that’s saying a lot.

Was it painful? That stinging part before she crowned was and that only lasted enough time for me to recognize it, mention it, and then my focus shifted and I don’t remember it continuing beyond that. The rest of the experience was just more pressure/force than I’ve ever felt in my life.

Would I have a homebirth/waterbirth again? Absolutely.

Is a homebirth/waterbirth for everyone?  Nope.  Where and how to have your baby is a very intimate and personal decision into which I believe you should put a lot of thought, research, and prayer.  Every baby is different.

Is there more to the story than what is here? Yes, but I’m hungry and so is Ari, and memories come back in context of other conversations, so I hope this will do.  🙂

Jill
p.s. thanks to my doula, Amber for the picture!
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