On the morning of December 4, 2009, I was awakened at 5am with an uncomfortable contraction and the need to pee. We were 6 days past our estimated due date, and I was beginning to think that the baby would never show up. I fumbled out of bed to the bathroom. After returning to bed, I lamented to myself about the lack of any real contractions. I dozed off, and was twice awakened by 2 more annoying yet mild contractions over the course of the next 30 minutes. Around 6am, after drifting in and out of sleep, I started to have contractions that, while somewhat mild, had more of a rhythm to them. After 2 or 3 of these contractions, Mindi noticed that I was tossing and turning. I decided to get up and walk around the bedroom to see if the contractions would change or stay the same. After I got up, I decided to time my contractions. They were noticeable but not painful, coming every 4 minutes or so, and lasting 30- 60 seconds in length. Mindi and I decided together that we should call our “birth team” (Midwife, Doula, and good friend) to alert them that “today may be the day”. It was 6:45am when I picked up the phone to page the midwife and call the doula and my friend. I mentioned my contractions casually to the midwife, I told the doula to have a “head’s up”, and told my friend to “take your time, eat, shower, and come when you are ready”. Luckily for me, my friend, who lives 1 hour away (with traffic), was too excited to take it slow, and my midwife had the foresight to come straight over. At 7:30am, I called the doula back to tell her to aim for 8am. My contractions were not intense enough to require assistance at that point, but they were moving steadily along. While waiting for the labor to progress, Mindi made Harris and I breakfast, then she hopped in the shower. I wandered around the house, setting up the pool and bed for labor. The contractions were about 3 minutes apart, and still completely manageable. I talked to Harris during my contractions, asking if he could blow air out like me. He seemed to enjoy my playful requests.
The Midwife showed up at about 8am. When she came to the door, I offered to help her carry in her bags of supplies. She gave me a funny side glance, stating that “typically the laboring mother doesn’t usually help the midwife with the equipment…” What can I say, I am a nice person. We set her bags in the bedroom, and she quickly got to work setting out her supplies and taking my vitals, as well as listening to the baby. The contractions were steady but not too intense. She checked me and I was about 5cm dilated. She said that she could also feel the bag of waters bulging at the opening of the cervix. “Oh yay” was my jolly response, and off I went to walk around during some more contractions.
At about 8:15am, both my doula and my friend showed up. I was not ready to be touched by the doula at that point, so she casually and unobtrusively followed me around awaiting direction from me. My friend got straight to work entertaining and snuggling with Harris. He absolutely loves her, and so it was very easy for her to distract him with books and giggling.
At about 8:25am, the contractions kicked it up a notch and I asked for my doula’s help in the form of counter-pressure on my lower back. She obliged and worked with me for about 3 intense contractions. In between contractions, we talked and joked casually. In the other room, I could hear the midwife on the telephone with another midwife at a birth across town. She told her my status, and stated that she felt that the baby would be born within the hour. I phased the comment out in my head because I did not agree with her presumption. I was too calm and happy to be birthing a baby within the hour.
At about 8:35am, I decided to try to use the toilet one last time. I was one foot outside of my bathroom door, when *GUSH* my water broke theatrically. “Oh WOW!” was my response. I proceeded to take off my soaked lounge pants while Mindi threw a towel down on the puddle. Mindi asked me if I wanted some new pants and I figured ‘why bother’. Instead, I asked Mindi to go into the living room and shut the shades so that I could walk around the house uninhibited. She left the room as the midwife walked in, and I was hit by a huge and intense contraction. The doula ran behind me to apply counter-pressure. I was barely able to catch my breath, and I reached down between my legs. I could feel her head about 3 inches inside the opening. “Oh my God- I feel her head!” The midwife rushed to my side and got down on her knees to make sure the baby wasn’t going to be born onto the floor. She urged me to get onto the bed on my side. I resisted. I could not fathom lying down at the moment, but she insisted. I did as she suggested. I was shaking and sweating. I let out a loud moan, and Mindi came running back into the room. The contraction ended and I rested. Mindi got a washcloth for my head. Another contraction began and I pushed gently while the midwife helped ease the baby’s head with her fingers. I rested again, held Mindi’s hand, and pushed gently one more time. The baby’s head was born, followed immediately by her little body. All of a sudden, she was on my chest, crying. The second she was out, I called for my friend. I could hear Harris’ little feet padding down the hallway ahead of her. Harris had the most beautiful look of surprise and contemplation on his face. After a few minutes, he got up the courage to climb into Mindi’s lap near my head.
Everyone was amazed by how fast the whole labor went. It felt as if it was over before it even started. While the very first signs of labor started with a short, mild contraction at 5am, the uncomfortable contractions didn’t start until about 8:25am, resulting in her birth, a mere 20 minutes later.
Stella Ruth, born at home with an assisted, unmedicated, home birth at 40 weeks, 6 days. 1 Midwife, 1 doula, 1 close friend, our 2 year old son Harris, and partner Mindi present. Active labor began at 7:30am, water broke at 8:35am, and Stella was born at 8:45am, weighing 6lbs.