Need a sure-fire way to go into labor? You will have to put off: 1) clean floors, 2) scheduling postpartum care, and 3) preparing newborn clothing to the absolute last minute. In just a few hours, you will then have a baby. On the evening of February 4th, a day after my due date, I finally got out my mop and cleaned the floors as I planned to labor in the bathroom instead of renting a birth pool. After that, I called my mom and it was finally confirmed that yes, she would be coming and asked how past due I was with Humnoy. I said nine days; she guessed I’d go into labor around the 10th. The finishing procrastinator touch was getting out baby clothes from storage to realize you gave away every piece of newborn clothing away right before finding out you’re (surprise) pregnant again.
In the early hours of February 5th, 2013 I went to bed normally like I did every other night as a pregnant mom to a spirited toddler. I showered at 1:00 am, tweeted this at 2:40 am and then went to bed. In just a couple hours, I would wake up to the all-knowing cramping from years’ past that I’d forgotten felt like ‘the worst period cramp of your life.’ That’s how I knew but I was still in denial. I doubted it could be so soon. My due date was just two days ago and Humnoy was nine days past. I downloaded a contraction timer app at a quarter after 5 and went from there. My contractions were definitely on a wave so I rolled outta bed quietly as quiet can be at 9.5 months pregnant and headed to the bathroom.
I put up my hair and stripped down. I labored on the toilet as the bath tub was filling up. If my mom were here, she would tell me to poop now before an audience shows up. I get in the tub, still running with hot water, and the contractions are still playful and doable. Around 5:45, Gym Hottie strolls in all groggy-like and notices me then asks, “Babe? Is it time?” I breathlessly answer, “I think so- I dunno? Let’s just wait.” I was still clearly doubting myself but he called the doula at 6:08 am after my request and he sat on the toilet waiting for more instruction. All I needed from him was peace and quiet, help with my bikini, and figure out how to turn up that water heater. Mama likes it hot.
After the doula call, GH called the midwife pager and lo and behold, the midwife and student midwife that I saw the least of during prenatal visits were attending my birth. Thankfully, I like all of them so I wasn’t birth-zilla. The midwife asked to speak to me on the phone and she asked how I was doing and I again expressed doubt. She asked how strong my contractions were and I played a hero and said they’re not bad. Once that phone clicked, I swear the contractions got even stronger.
Photo courtesy Gym Hottie
At 6:53 am, Humnoy woke up and sees me in the tub. “MOM! Hi! Hiii!” in between splashing the water and all up in my face through contractions. He’s lucky he’s cute. He was so sweet and was very concerned as to why Mama was taking a bath before breakfast – ‘this woman usually stays in bed until Dada leaves for work.’ Dada is now strictly on Humnoy duty so Mama can focus, which meant GH turned on Curious George.
Photo courtesy Gym Hottie
The hazy part: Midwife arrived; soon after, she called for backup (aka the student midwife) because I’m ‘going pretty fast.’ GH also asked what I want for take-out breakfast and the midwife suggested to stay close because ‘you’re gonna miss something.’ The doula showed up at 7:45 am and provides the rest of the details:
Her contractions were about 90 seconds long! I thought to myself that “when I walk through that door, she’s going to be going through transition!” When I got there, she was in her bath tub with the shower on her back. She was extremely focused and in tune with her body. While she was experiencing a contraction she would rock and roll her hips, and lightly breathe. A couple contractions later, the shower water went cold so the midwife turned it off.
At about 8am I noticed that her contractions seemed to have gotten a little more intense. She now had to vocally get through them. At this point she was going through transition. She made higher pitch vocal sounds and I told her to groan lower, which seemed to help. Humnoy showed up at the entrance to the bathroom and started exclaiming, “Hi! Mommy! Hi! Mommy! Mommy!” In between contractions, she looked up and said, “Hi baby” and immediately returned to focus on another contraction.
My water broke at 8:07 am and that’s when things got real. The student midwife offered perineum compression as I started to feel like pushing my baby out around 8:15. After a push or two, the midwife said, “I can feel your baby’s cheeks,” which threw me into crying hysterics as I felt for my baby’s sweet face. In between crying, “Oh, my baby; my baby,” the midwife noted she kept referring to Bébé as a girl and Gym Hottie saw the head and cried. He noticed the hair and said, “It’s a girl probably” in between his sobs. Our Bébé was coming and we will soon be a family of four. I gave one more gentle push and slid my baby onto my chest as I shrieked with tears and Bébé was born at 8:23 am. I immediately wanted the gender reveal and the midwife checked and GH said something excitedly but I was still dazed and needed confirmation from my midwife. I asked her again and cried and cried from the surprise of a baby girl. Humnoy eventually joined us in the bathroom to meet his little sister and he kissed her.
We transferred to our family bed, where I had to be administered Pitocin just like for Humnoy’s birth for the bleeding. The cord was cut by Gym Hottie about 10 minutes after birth. Around 8:55, she latched on for the first time and nursed like she was born to do so. The midwife waited to assess her after she finished feeding and she weighed in at 7 pounds, 4 ounces and was 19.5 inches long. She was absolutely perfect. After every non-family member made their departure, we took in the new presence in our humble abode and, as a family of four now, took our very first nap together.
For our very first home birth experience, her labor was less than half of her brother’s 8-hour labor. GH told me, “Babe, you kicked that labor’s ass!” Before, I was very worried that I was setting myself up for poor performance by forgoing the birth pool. Our standard bathtub in our apartment was actually perfect for my size and stature and especially for my coping needs. For a gentle birth experience, any water is better than no water. Using my resources in my home and support from my birth team, I was able to achieve a gentle birth with my second child, who was and is surrounded by loved ones in a place we call our home.
*Unless otherwise noted, all photos courtesy Katie Pumphrey of Mamaearth Doula
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