In one of my early midwife visits last Fall, I was asked by my primary midwife what I wanted to find in this pregnancy and birth. At first I thought it an odd question, but my answer then and throughout the rest of my pregnancy was "calm". Gone were the detailed birth plans I'd constructed for my first two births and in their place was only a desire for simplicity and peace. If I could have that, I'd be able to cope with any curve balls that might come my way during the labor and birth. I felt if we could maintain calmness throughout my experience this time that it would go a long way toward helping me let go of my feelings surrounding my last pregnancy and birth, and help me regain some self-confidence that rightly or wrongly seemed lost after #2 was born. I wanted it to be quiet, intimate, and at home and it was all of those things and more.
Boy #3 was born at home this past Saturday, shortly after midnight, and we absolutely achieved that calmness for which I hoped. It was a beautiful birth, following a wonderful labor experience and the least eventful pregnancy I've had thus far. I wouldn't change one single thing about it and even now, 5 days later, am still riding that "good birth" high.
I went into early labor around 4am on Saturday. I had trouble sleeping, so I got up, had something to eat and drink and had a bath to see if the contractions would go away. They persisted, growing somewhat stronger as time passed, but nothing unmanageable. Around 6am, I woke my husband to let him know so that we could do a bit of tidying and preparations beforehand.
Things chugged along nice and slow throughout the morning. Around 10:30am, the family and I walked down the the Market to buy some gerbera daisies for the bedroom window box to brighten the room where I'd be birthing. I puttered about in the bedroom for awhile, making sure that we had all the supplies for our homebirth and making sure that everything was "just so". Around noon, I laid down and had a nap for an hour and a half.
Throughout this I was tweeting, joking about "livetweeting" the birth, and wondering if our friend Rae would make it in time for the birth. She had kindly offered to hang out at the house in case we needed to transfer or the boys needed to leave, but had been called out of town for a family emergency. Given that she was in Fredericton when my labor started, I wasn't holding out a lot of hope, but joked around about waiting for her to get here before I'd birth.
Things proceeded on a slow and steady pace until early evening, when contractions were consistently 4-5 minutes apart and I called my midwife. She offered to come and check me, as she was heading into town to check on another client, but I declined. I knew things weren't going to happen anytime soon and was enjoying the bubble of silence I'd created for myself in our master bedroom.
I spent a few more hours laboring on my own in the bedroom, listening to Crowded House (great mellow birthing music, btw) by candlelight, tweeting about my labor thus far, and eating a light supper. We got notification from our friend Rae that she'd be at our house shortly -- she was going to make it after all! Around 9:30pm, my water broke. I called my midwife back to let her know -- around the same time my contractions became more uncomfortable, but were still manageable.
Rae and the midwives showed up around 10pm. I was checked and was only a stretchy 3-4cm. The midwives asked me if I'd like them to stay and within about 15 minutes of me saying yes, things started moving along a lot more quickly. Rae took over tweeting for me, as I was clearly preoccupied at that point(!), and we all hung out in the bedroom. The boys had long since fallen asleep on the couch downstairs, and DH and Rae escaped the room from time to time to check on them.
By 11pm, contractions were coming swift and strong. I can remember chatting for a few seconds between each one but pretty much not caring about anything other than the waves of the contractions rolling over me. By 11:40pm, standing to labor was causing significant pain in my lower back so I shifted position to kneeling, followed not long after by side-lying on the bed. I remember telling my husband to shut up a few times and being amused for feeling I had to say "please".
By 12:10pm, #3 was starting to crown. I recall thinking "*this* is that burning ring of fire" while yelling for hot compresses (thanks for those, Rae!), but also thinking that it wasn't quite as bad as I'd expected. I was feeling far more pain in my tailbone than from the crowning and the counter-pressure wasn't really helping as much as I wanted. I suspect a lot of this was a result of him being stubbornly posterior for the previous few weeks, as I'd been having lower back pain before labor started.
At 12:24pm, #3 made his way into the world, into a room softly illuminated by candlelight with soft strains of moody New Zealand pop music playing in the background. A few moments after that, boys #1 and #2 had been woken up to come and meet their baby brother. They were enthralled. #1 was disappointed to have missed the birth, but quickly got over it. #2 was enthralled with the placenta (which cracked me up) and then exclaimed, "Wow! He's got BIG BALLS!", which cracked everyone else up. ;) The length of my "active labor" was deemed to be a mere 2hrs -- I agree with this, because everything up to that point was very manageable.
He showed a strong instinct to suck from the very beginning, and took to nursing pretty quickly. I was surprised to see he had hair -- a first for my boys -- and only somewhat surprised to see how tiny he was. I've been joking all along that this one might be my "dainty" baby, as the other two weren't. ;)
Shortly after the birth, the bed was changed and I was tucked in with the baby. The boys were settled into their own beds and we all tried to get some sleep before morning. The comfort of being in my own bed with my own bathroom at the end of the hall was really great. Knowing I'd be getting my own food from my own kitchen in the morning was also a wonderful thing to contemplate. Not having to leave my house and travel while in labor or immediately postpartum to come home (because I'll never willingly do a hospital stay again) was *awesome*.
Claudia (our primary) and Paula (whom I hadn't met before, but ended up being our secondary and was really wonderful -- loved her) were amazing. Very quiet and unobtrusive, helpful when needed but very respectful of the "calm" and "quiet" I had been seeking with this birth -- I would absolutely have either of them at another birth. Rae was wonderful -- gave me great peace of mind to know we had someone there if the boys needed her, but was also awesome in helping with the birth itself. DH was very respectful of my need to just not have him in the room sometimes, and was better support in this birth than in the other two -- there, but not in my face (well, except for a few times, like when I had to tell him to shut up and once when I declared he was "stealing my air" by breathing in my face ;)).
We're at Day 5 now and just had our last "at home" midwife visit. #3 is back to his birth weight of 7lb6oz (19.5" long at birth) and I'm still amazed at how tiny his head is (14") compared to the melons his older brothers were born with. He's a great sleeper and utterly enchanting.
Like I said, I wouldn't change a thing. This was truly a perfect birth.