As told by Jessica:
My due date had come and gone. I was afraid I was going to be 42 weeks pregnant before labor started like it did with my daughter. Late Saturday night, December 7, I started having mild contractions. I went outside to speed walk to see if I could keep things coming but they slowed down. I continued to have them throughout the night but was able to sleep through them. They eventually stopped but I knew it had to be soon! We enjoyed our Saturday as a family.
Sunday morning, the 8th, it was snowing! We were expected to get a few inches and some ice. I was excited that maybe today was the day I was going to meet my baby! I kept having contractions on and off throughout the whole day and started to lose my plug. I knew he was going to be come either that night or the next day. I couldn’t decide if I should go to the store, go for a walk to get things going or just stay at home. I decided to stay home because of the snow. I made some soup that I wanted to have after birth, had a dance party with Juliana through my contractions and waited. Juliana and I went out and played in the snow later in the day, it’s a fun memory of being in early labor while making snowangels and forts with her.
Because an ice storm was supposed to hit Sunday night, my Mom came to stay with us. She didn’t want to miss the birth! I put Juliana to bed and I knew it would be the last time before the baby came. I tried to sleep but couldn’t, everything stalled and I got discouraged. I bounced on the yoga ball and ate ice cream (Ben walked up to the store to get me some in the snow and ice!) I went back to bed soon after and the contractions came back stronger after I had slept for about 3 hours. Around midnight, Juliana came over to our bed. Since Juliana has a trundle bed, my Mom was staying in there with her. I said if she wants me then just let her come to my room. I am so glad that she did. It was our last night as a family of three and it seemed fitting and nice to all be together. It was getting difficult to lay still during the contractions and at one point Ben said “are you okay?” or “contractions?” I said yes, they were getting stronger and it was hard to be still. I kept getting onto my hands and knees. Juliana piped up and said “mama, shhh! You woke me up with your talking!” Ben and I laughed, the girl who never sleeps is only disturbed this one time!
I finally decided to get up around 3am. I paced the house and laid down on the couch between contractions trying to get comfortable. They were 10 minutes apart and my midwife Zaina asked me to call her when they were. We chatted on the phone a bit about how I was feeling and she decided to make her way over. It had been sleeting freezing rain for a while at this point so we were a little worried about her making it. She was about 1.5 hours from our house. In the meantime I swayed, paced or tried to rest on the couch. I didn’t want to eat anything but knew that I needed to keep my energy up. I made some peanut butter toast and drank coconut water. It was peaceful laboring in the dim light of my family room, while the rest of the family slept. Zaina got to our house around 5:30 am. We hugged. She checked heart tones and we were just quiet together. I got up and swayed through some of the contractions, tried to rest and Zaina got some rest, too.
Juliana woke up at 6 am. My contractions spaced out a bit after she woke up. I knew that it was common for that to happen so I expected it. Everyone started to wake up, make coffee and breakfast. It was such a relaxed environment of everyone in the kitchen, chatting, excited that we were all going to meet Joshua soon. I had more toast and even tried to drink a cup of coffee because I was afraid if I didn’t I would get a caffeine withdrawal headache while laboring – seems so silly to me now!
Around 9:30 am I retreated to my bedroom and I had Zaina check me. I was hesitant about this at first. I was so afraid she was going to tell me I was at a 2. I also remember being checked in the hospital with Juliana and it being so painful. This wasn’t at all and was easy and fast. Much to my surprise Zaina announced that I could get into the birth pool if I wanted and that I was most defiantly in active labor. She asked if I really wanted to know where I was at and I said yes! Only because she was so enthusiastic I knew I had to be progressing well. I was 6cm. I was excited, I was doing it and almost there! It didn’t even seem hard yet! She also said she felt Joshua’s head and asked if my water had broken already, I said not that I was aware of and she said maybe the bags were just tight around him. Zaina went out to tell Ben to start filling the pool and my Mom called my sister, Amy to tell her to come and she arrived within 30 minutes or so. Amy came into my room and we chatted as I worked though some more contractions. We laughed as I mentioned my plan was to wear my newly bought waterproof mascara, put my hair in a pretty bun and wear my cute labor outfit. My tank top with sweatpants was comfy. I wore no makeup, my hair was down and I had my glasses on.
The pool was ready within 40 min or so and I waited about an hour to get in. I like laboring on land; I had a system down for contractions. I liked standing over my dresser, breathing and swaying through them. Sometimes I would tap my fingers in a rhythm and concentrate on that instead of the waves. I also read my birth affirmations over and over. I finally got in the pool. It felt so nice to have that weight shift off of me for a little bit. My sister brought me cold wash cloths for my head and neck because I started to feel a bit dizzy. I think from the breathing that I was doing to get through the contractions. I was on my knees, just rocking with them. I remember my sister saying, “oh another one already!?” They were getting pretty close.
Juliana came in while I was in the pool and held my hand through some contractions. I cried just because it was the sweetest moment with her. She came in and out of our room throughout the whole labor, danced with me as I swayed, brought me pictures that she colored and just checked on me. I love that girl so very much and can’t imagine her not being present as I labored. I’m so glad that my sister captured some of those moments on our camera.
I decided to get out after about an hour, go to the bathroom and labor on land some more. I liked being able to stand up, sway and wrap my arms around Ben for comfort. I went to the bathroom, stood up and began having contractions on top of each other. I told Ben the contractions just wouldn’t stop coming and I started feeling like I didn’t know what to do or what I wanted or how I wanted to move. Hello transition!! I wrapped my hands around Ben’s neck and just let my body hang, I cried saying I felt pushy and remember feeling scared for a moment. I had an epidural at 7cm when I was in labor with Juliana so the “unknown” frightened me. I knew what it was like to labor, but I didn’t know what pushing or transition would be like. Pushing was automatic and I think the lack of control made me panic. I remember telling Zaina that it “wasn’t the baby, it just HURT” and that I “just needed to go to the bathroom”. But she said ever so calmly, “yeah…., you are going to have your baby”. I thought I was supposed to have this crazy feeling of the baby’s head being “right there!” but I never did – just awesome pressure.
I changed my positions quickly from hanging on Ben, to hands and knees on the bathroom floor, to squatting on the bathroom floor, to on the bed and to finally on the floor, on my knees with my arms wrapped around Ben who was sitting on the yoga ball. I started to push and the baby was having a hard time coming under my pubic bone. Zaina suggested I put one leg up while pushing and I did. I felt him move under the bone and right on down where he needed to be. The immense pressure and POWER of pushing was really intense for me. I screamed for a second, stated I wanted the baby out NOW and even bit Ben’s pants once. I have never felt anything so amazing and overwhelming before. I could hear my sister in the background talking to Juliana telling her that Joshua’s head would come out first; Juliana said she didn’t want to watch but she stayed in the room with the IPAD happily playing a game while I pushed.
The only time I ever thought about an epidural was when I started to push, even before his head was coming out and his shoulders, it was just hard work. I started to wonder why I had even chose this and if I was strong enough. I told myself this is what I wanted, this was the last part and I was done! I heard a “pop” right before he crowned as my water broke. Such a weird sensation! I had my water broken with Juliana’s birth so it was new for me. Zaina was talking to me throughout the whole pushing phase, telling me how great I was doing and when to lower my birthy moans. She told me when the largest part of his head was coming out. I couldn’t even tell! It all felt the same to me; I didn’t have the ring of fire! His head came out in one long push. He made the tiniest cry with just his head being out – so crazy! Ben almost shouted “he cried, did you hear him!?” I think I said again to get the baby out NOW. I was sweating and felt like I was going to pass out from working so hard and that frightened me but I kept telling myself to just breathe. Ben was putting cold wash cloths on my back but soon I didn’t want anything or anyone touching me.
Seven contractions and Joshua was out. Feeling his whole body slip out was the best feeling in the entire world. I had done it, ME!! Little ol’ ME! All I kept saying was “I have a baby!!” and “I can’t believe I actually did it”. Zaina caught him, he started to cry immediately and so did Ben. My mom said “oh Jessica he is perfect!” as soon as he was out, before I even saw him. I flipped myself around and sat down. Zaina handed him to me. After about 2 minutes I realized I took my glasses off when pushing. I asked for them so I could see clearly J. Juliana came quickly over to see him and asked if she could touch him. She grabbed his hand and said “hi baby”. She was so excited to finally meet him. She also went to her room and grabbed her first year picture frame. It has a progression of pictures from her first year. She gave it to me and said ”see, mama , *I* was your baby!!.” She said it as a matter of fact.
It seemed like seconds went by but it has been 10 minutes or so and then Ben cut the cord. At first Zaina asked if Ben wanted to do it and he said no, then Amy grabbed the scissors and was going to do it. It was such a funny conversation of who was going to do it, but in the end Ben cut the cord. I was helped into bed, cleaned up and got all snuggled in while we weighed and measured Joshua. Joshua was 8lbs 6 ounces and 20 inches. He had an apgar score of 9. He latched on right away and has been a nursing champ! I kept shaking for a little but it soon stopped after some coconut water and that yummy soup I made for after birth. Zaina checked me over and I didn’t tear! I was so relieved! Tearing was a big fear of mine. Being home and in my own bed right after birth was the best. So glad that I never had to go anywhere, but stayed in the comfort of our home with my supporting family. I made the right choice for this birth. We all rested and admired our sweet new baby boy.
Throughout labor, I kept waiting for the big contractions. The ones that knock you to the floor, but they never came. I stayed on top of them and in control the entire time. Labor honestly wasn’t that bad or dare I say it, hard. Pushing was the most intense part. It was such a crazy out of this world experience. This birth was amazing, healing from a hard first labor/birth with my daughter and life changing.
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