Ethan was born on Tuesday, April 12th at 2:14pm. He was 9.1 pounds and 20 inches long. This is his story.
Before I got pregnant, I knew I wanted a home birth. I’d been reading some crunchy parenting blogs and had no doubt what would be best for my baby and me. However, when I got pregnant and started talking to my husband about a possible home birth, he expressed concerns, particularly in regards to my health. While I ended up being the perfect candidate for a home birth (not only health-wise, but the whole labor was very uneventful), I didn’t want to disregard my husband’s concerns, nor did I want our first parenting decision to be me ignoring what he was concerned about. I offered a compromise: I would hire a midwife to follow us throughout the pregnancy, and when I went into labor, I’d labor at home as long as possible, and then we would all go to the hospital at the last possible minute (which we ended up agreeing would be around 8 centimeters dilated, but would also depend on how fast I was progressing) and the midwife would be at the hospital with us as a doula. I’m so happy that we were able to come to this agreement, because everything worked out better than I could have hoped.
I woke up around 5:15am on Tuesday morning with some cramping. Initially I thought it was menstrual-like cramping, but then it stopped, which was more like a contraction and nothing that I’d had up until that point. I laid in bed trying to go back to sleep when I had another contraction, this time with a definite start and stop. It happened again, probably about 10 minutes later. I decided to get up to go to the bathroom, and felt a gush. I made it to the bathroom before any of my water fell to the floor, but I was pretty sure my water just broke. I called my midwife to tell her what happened, and she encouraged me to try to go back to sleep. I’d already tried to go back to sleep, so I turned on my computer to do a little work.
My husband had an appointment in Sacramento (about 2 hours away) that day, and I encouraged him to go, because when does a first labor happen so quickly that he’d need to be back by noon? I sent him to the store first, though, to get me some diapers, because now I was sure that the gush of water wasn’t me losing control of my bladder but was definitely my water breaking. My husband decided to stay in town and not go to Sacramento, because he said he had more important things to do in the office if the baby was going to be born soon.
I was able to send out a few emails to my business partner and clients to let them know what was going on, but that was it. Contractions were generally 30 seconds long and 5 minutes apart — much closer than I thought they’d be after just a couple of hours of labor. It made it impossible to do anything but wait for each contraction to pass.
I wasn’t sure when to call my MIL because I didn’t want people pestering me about how labor was going. But things seemed to be progressing pretty fast, so I called her around 7:30 or 8:00am.
By 10:00am, I’d called my midwife 3 times after the initial phone call. Once to confirm my water had broken, a second time to ask her if labor progressing this fast was normal (by that time I think contractions were about 2 minutes apart and lasting around 45 seconds), and a third time to tell her that I needed her to come ASAP. I didn’t know it at the time, but another client of hers had her water break at 5:30am that morning as well, so my midwife had to guess who would deliver first. She guessed I would, and boy, was she right!
My husband had returned home around 9:30am and started busying himself around the house. The midwife showed up around 11:00am and she and my husband started working on the birthing pool. I wanted a birthing pool even though we were planning on transporting to the hospital around 8 centimeters. When my midwife first arrived and checked my cervix, she said I was 4-5 centimeters dilated. I was disappointed that I wasn’t farther along, because the pain was getting intense.
The midwife asked how I wanted the labor to progress, whether I wanted it to go faster or slow down. I wanted it over with, so I told her I wanted it to speed up. She had me lie on my left side with my hips angled towards the bed. Sure enough, the contractions got stronger.
It was around 12:30pm that the birthing pool was ready, and I got right in. After one contraction, my midwife wanted to check my cervix again, and said I was 7-8 centimeters and we needed to GO NOW. I waited through one more contraction, practically jumped out of the pool, and we hauled off to the hospital. The drive wasn’t pleasant, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I only had to deal with three contractions in the car.
We arrived at the hospital around 1:00pm and I walked right in to Labor & Delivery. I think they were shocked that I came in so far progressed! At this point, anything anyone wanted me to do made me angry. They wanted a pee sample, and the first thing out of my mouth to the hospital midwife was “F*ck you.” They wanted me on the bed, but it was so painful to move, and even more painful to lay down, that I didn’t get on the bed until I was getting the urge to push. I did, however, let them check my progress when I first got to the hospital, and they let me know I was at 8 centimeters. I got off the bed and stood while the contractions continued.
When I got on the bed after having a few uncontrollable urges to bear down, the hospital midwife checked me and I was 9.5 centimeters dilated. One contraction later I was fully dilated and I started pushing. I pushed for about 15 minutes, and my 9.1 pound, 20 inch long baby boy was delivered! From start to finish, I was in labor for 9 hours. It was such a surreal experience, because nothing that I read and nothing in our class prepared me for the possibility that a first time mom would have such a fast labor (though I know it’s impossible to prepare moms for every eventuality…I just didn’t think labor would happen that first the first time!).
I ended up having a third degree tear. If I’d been in the hospital any sooner than 8 centimeters, I’m sure I would have taken the pain medicine. Maybe not, since I had my midwives/doulas there with me, but a few times at home I said to one of the midwives who’d come to assist my midwife, “I don’t think I can do this.” I’m sure that I was able to do the natural birth because of the team I had around me.
I thought I’d be more interested in my baby when they laid him on my tummy, but I was kind of in another world at that point. One of my midwives told me a few times to talk to my baby, but I didn’t know what to say. I was surprised I didn’t feel that rush from natural birth that people talk about, and I didn’t feel a particular rush of love for this baby laying on my chest. The love has come a little slower than I thought it would, but has manifested itself at times that surprised me. For example, hearing my baby cry after they took him to weigh him, and watching my husband hold our newborn. It’s possible that the rush of love didn’t happen the second he was laid on my chest because I was so exhausted from the whole process. It didn’t take long for me to be completely enamored with him, though!
My birth went pretty much exactly as I hoped and planned, though it went faster than I ever thought possible!
Three weeks after the birth, we’re starting to get into a routine. My husband and I still change diapers together. The baby wakes up twice in the night to feed and have his diaper changed.
The only thing that’s surprised me is how time consuming a baby is. People told me how time consuming he would be, but I didn’t believe that would be my reality. Ah, the ignorance of the uneducated. 🙂
All in all, we’ve been extremely lucky. The pregnancy was (relatively) easy and uncomplicated. The labor and delivery was quick and straight forward. Ethan is a great baby so far — he only cries when he needs a diaper change or is hungry. I’ve treasured this time my husband and I have had together since the baby was born. Seeing him with our baby has made me love him even more.
What do you remember from the first few weeks of your baby’s life?