Ada’s Birth Story
My lovely daughter Ada Violet was born on November 15, 2013. She came six days later than her due date, which was fine by me as I had final exams the weekend of her due date and was praying that she’d hold on a little longer! My husband and I had decided before she was even conceived that we would like to have a home birth if possible, so that was the plan. We couldn’t have been happier with the whole process. I’ve never liked going to the doctor, and here was an entire pregnancy where I wouldn’t have to see one doctor or go anywhere further than my living room for prenatal care!
My labor started slowly and gradually. Over the last few weeks I could feel my body preparing for the big event, and a few days before the birth I started having lots of Braxton Hicks contractions, some quite lengthy and uncomfortable. The evening before Ada was born, I could tell there was a change, as the contractions started to become more painful and deliberate. I went to sleep as usual but woke up around midnight to contractions that I couldn’t sleep through. I figured this was probably the early stages of labor, but knew that it might last a while, even days, so I tried my best to rest. I managed to sleep a little between contractions, but by 5 am or so it wasn’t really working anymore. I got up and went downstairs. I didn’t want to wake my husband up because I knew he had work to do that day and also knew that I could manage things by myself at that time but might really need his support later on and wanted him to be well-rested just in case!
I emailed my mother-in-law and texted my mom to let them know I thought labor had started. My mom was planning on being with us for the birth and she and my stepdad were in the car on their way down from Connecticut within what seemed like a few minutes! I just hoped they weren’t going to arrive several days early…
At that point the contractions were still manageable. They weren’t very far apart (every 2 minutes or so), but they would only last 10-20 seconds (where I really had to stop everything and focus). I decided to try to keep myself busy while I could so I made some muffins for breakfast. Fortunately, I managed to eat a couple muffins that morning, as that was the last time I was able to eat until many hours later.
I texted my midwife to give her an update. I told her not to come yet as I was still OK. By mid-morning the contractions were more intense and I was having a hard time doing anything else but focusing on getting through them and resting during the breaks. I went up to the bed and tried to rest while doing my best to time the contractions with the clock (and having a really hard time – later on I learned that they have apps for that!). I was a bit stressed out because my husband had a work deadline that morning and we still hadn’t set up the birth pool yet, and by then I couldn’t do it by myself. Fortunately, he managed to finish his work and set it up before I needed it, but of course you never know what is going to happen until it happens!
By early afternoon I was really focused on getting through the contractions and everything else became a bit fuzzy. My midwife arrived and checked on me, then retreated to a chair and quietly let me labor on my own, which was really nice for me (I think being constantly checked on would have stressed me out and that’s one of the main reasons why I wanted a homebirth). My husband was with me quite a bit in the afternoon, helping me, holding my hand, playing peaceful music on the piano and generally taking care things. I labored in the tub for a while but got out after an hour or so because the contractions were getting really intense with not much space in between and I was started to get tired. At some point my mom and stepdad arrived. I couldn’t greet them properly. It was hurting so bad. I was so happy my mom could be there though. Sometimes you just want your mom, and this was one of those times. She was so great, doing whatever she could to help and putting my mind at ease.
The midwife’s assistant and partner also came at some point, although I have to admit it was all a bit blurry by then. I remember my midwife asking me now and again if I wanted her to check me internally, but I kept refusing. The contractions hurt a lot, but I never felt like I was “making progress” or “opening up” or whatever other terminology they use. I was so afraid I was barely dilated and didn’t want to get hung up on the numbers. At some point she suggested that I drink a small glass of wine and go lie down on the bed to try to rest a bit. I couldn’t accept the wine – I could barely even drink water, I was so nauseated. I did go upstairs to lie down though, and my husband came with me. I was getting so very tired…
The contractions were a bit further apart for a while, so I would start to drift off, only to be brutally awoken by the most intense back pain I’ve ever felt. After a while, I couldn’t take it anymore. I went back downstairs and tried various positions while people took turns pressing on my back during contractions. During the pauses, I sometimes heard the birth team talking quietly together and was afraid they were saying things weren’t going well and that I’d have to go to the hospital. I started getting scared, as our insurance wouldn’t cover the birth and I was starting to think there was no other way but hospitalization, which would leave me traumatized and indebted for life (of course, I’m exaggerating, but this is how I felt!). At the same time, I’m pretty sure at that point that if drugs had been offered, I would have seized the opportunity, despite all prior decisions and thoughts on the matter. I just didn’t know how I was going to go on like this.
I remember seeing the sun set and thinking to myself, “there goes the day.” One whole day gone and I hadn’t even been outside or done anything! At one point I went to the bathroom and I felt some pressure, a new sensation. I decided that my midwife should probably check me. They helped me upstairs to the bed. I’m so glad she only checked me once because it was terribly uncomfortable. She announced “I don’t feel any cervix at all.” “Oh no,” I thought. “I haven’t even started dilating yet and my cervix is so high she can’t even feel it!!” Of course, that’s not at all what she meant. She actually meant that I was fully dilated and could start pushing the baby out. Yay! I wasn’t sure if I had it in me, but at the same time I was so very ready for it to be over.
They helped me into the tub. I tried pushing during contractions but didn’t really know what I was doing. My midwife coached me a bit and at some point I let go of whatever was holding me back and understood what to do. Soon thereafter, my body completely took over and pushed all by itself. It was incredible. I knew I was using the very last of my strength, but I was so close, I just kept going. I pushed until the midwife said she could feel the baby’s head. She told me to feel it too. Then I pushed so hard that I could feel the burning and the sudden relief as the baby’s head came through. Once I knew the head was through my motivation skyrocketed. I didn’t like the thought of the baby’s head in the water for very long (even though I knew there was no risk). With the next push the body popped out and floated up through a cloud of blood and then there she was, my darling baby girl, as beautiful and bright-eyed as could be. I was in shock. It took me several minutes to process what had just happened. After working so hard for so many hours (months really, as the pregnancy wasn’t exactly a cup of tea!), it was all over.
My entourage helped me and Ada out of the pool and onto the couch, where she breastfed for the first time and I held her for half an hour or so until the cord stopped pulsing. I was really uncomfortable because my uterus was cramping and contracting. I went to the bathroom to deliver the placenta over the toilet. I was so surprised when my midwife said I had to push again. I thought I was done! But no, here we go again, and out came the huge placenta and what seemed like gallons of blood (of course it wasn’t really).
After the birth, it took my body a couple of weeks to recover (something I wasn’t expecting), and it took me a couple of months to get used to breastfeeding and living on very little sleep. However, in that time I went from being stunned over the birth of my daughter to totally head-over-heels in love with this little baby girl. Now I can’t imagine my life without her and of course it was all completely worth it. I never knew how much love my heart could contain until Miss Ada was born. I love her to pieces and love being a mom!
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