Note: This is kind of patchy, because I gathered from Twitter, Facebook, and my journal and threw it all together after she was born. I made a few minor edits here, but mostly I’ve left it the way I originally wrote it.
We found out we were having a baby (specifically, I found out) on April Fool’s Day, but I didn’t tell Mr Pine Nut until the next day.
I always had known when time came to have a baby I wanted to go with a midwife and a homebirth. As my pregnancy progressed, and I educated myself by reading lots of books and websites, I began to believe in natural birth for more reasons than just the lower-than-hospital cost (paying out of pocket; Mr Pine Nut being self-employed, we don’t have insurance). Emotionally and physically I came to understand it to be the best way. I felt that the typical experience of being at the hospital would be dehumanising for me. I didn’t want to have my feet in stirrups, be offered drugs, pressured into pitocin or an epidural, or end up with an unnecaesarean. I wanted my baby to come into the world the way it was meant to (barring, of course, some unforeseen legitimate need for intervention—and I was confident my midwife would never suggest intervention unless the need *was* legitimate).
I started going in at 10 weeks for my appointments, and all throughout the pregnancy everything went well. We liked having the option to decline any tests we didn’t deem necessary.
My estimated due date was the 6th of December, but my midwife was pretty confident baby would arrive maybe a week early because of its size and position. It was getting pretty low in my cervix. On the 23rd of November I was 50% effaced, very soft cervix, and 1cm dilated. I was so achy the last couple of weeks and so miserable and ready to be done! But the days kept passing…
On the 3rd of December, as we were going to bed, I went to the bathroom and noticed a dark clot of blood in the toilet when I got up, and I was bleeding very pinkly. When it didn’t stop after about an hour, I called my midwife and she said she thought I probably lost my plug, and she would come out and check. I had, and she said I should expect to probably be going into labour in the next 24 hours.
She listened to the baby’s heart while she was at the house, too, and we had a scare. The heartrate sounded really, really strange. It had been pretty much in the 130-150 range and very regular all the way through up to this point, but as she was listening to it that night, it was really low and skipping beats. She checked to see if maybe the cord was pinched under the baby’s head. It wasn’t. So she said we might need to go to the hospital to monitor for a little while. I woke Mr Pine Nut up so we could discuss what to do. She continued to monitor the baby for a while and called another midwife for a second opinion while Mr Pine Nut and I were praying in our heads.
In the end, the heart rate went back up. It was still skipping a little, but according to a couple of perinatologists she knew that was not the concern—the low rate was. She said she would come back the next day and check again. She did and it was perfect—not a single skip at all. We were so thankful.
After that, though, nothing happened. I kept waiting for contractions to kick in or something to indicate I was going to have this baby. No such luck. On the 4th in desperation I lugged a heavy vacuum around the entire house vacuuming and walked to RiteAid for a gallon of milk, and still nothing happened.
6 AM, 5 December 2009: Well… I haven’t got much longer to wait now. Since my water broke (exploded would be a better word for it) a little more than an hour ago [4.41 am], the contractions have been coming pretty regularly, though still not very long and just barely perceptible pain-wise (but they do twinge, unlike the ones I was having previously, so we’re getting there).
Okay… this [contraction] hurts.
And I’m starving, so I’m going to go eat while I still can and want to.
6.14 AM: GooGoo wiggles defiantly against the forces that will propel him into this world! But even he cannot long resist the power of Super Squeeze! [“Him” here is a generic pronoun; we did not know what we were having.]
8.12 AM: [Mrs Pine Nut] is watching Mr Pine Nut rearrange the furniture while she times her contractions some more. Cat doesn’t seem to know what to think. Cat’s trying to help Mr Pine Nut spread the drop cloth on the dining room floor. Mr Pine Nut is going to bring in the tub so it can warm up. 25 degrees outside.
10:12: Cat actually sat on my LAP. Voluntarily. Then I had to pee. Poor Cat. He was so cosy. It’s very misty outside and there is still frost on the ground. 27 degrees outside. Cat is perched on the edge of the tub, suspicious like a fox.
10:27: There is a huge flock of birds outside that is driving Cat crazy! Contractions starting to make themselves felt. Nice. I will survive.
11:18: [Mrs Pine Nut] just got back from a frosty walk with Mr Pine Nut, wherein she had to pause for contractions every few minutes, and he wouldn’t permit walking too far away from the house. She actually wore shoes instead of Tevas. Time to watch Sacramento Central’s service.
6 December 2009: While we were watching the SacCentral service online since we were not at church, the contractions started to get more painful. It was like my bad period days where I had to run to the toilet feeling like I’d explode with diarrhoea any minute, except this time I actually did have diarrhoea and it was horrible because I was so focused on breathing through each contraction and a new one would set in before I could get myself wiped and off the toilet and the whole process started over again. Right around noon is when I called the midwife to come and as soon as she got there she and Mr Pine Nut filled the tub and I got in.
1.12 PM: Mrs Pine Nut is having contractions and is getting close to having the baby. The midwife is here and Cat is running around looking at everything. – Mr Pine Nut, on Facebook
The water was a lifesaver. Labour wasn’t as bad, pain-wise, as some people make it out to be and it’s nice that there are breaks in between (though, for me, they sure were short ones). Still, it wasn’t pleasant at all. I was SO glad I read up on breathing because that along with the water seemed to be all I could focus on to get through each one. I discarded my entire morning’s worth of dried cranberries at one point too. I never knew how absolutely wonderful throwing up could feel before. I kept getting hiccups and after having puked once they all thought my hiccups meant it was about to happen again. I had the bowl shoved in my face countless times, but I only needed it that once. But I did keep hiccuping. It was really funny.
1.55: We are still doing good. Not much has changed. She is having regular contractions. – Mr Pine Nut, on Facebook
I’m also really super thankful for a waterbirth video I watched because I felt like all I needed to do was think about what she did and do the same. So empowering.
Anyway, so I have no idea when everything happened really outside of Mr Pine Nut’s status updates. There came this point where the pain was getting out of control and somewhere through the haze of my mind it occurred to me that maybe my body was telling me this was transition, it wouldn’t get any worse, and was time to push. So I had the midwife check and she said I was completely dilated. If she had said I wasn’t, I think I would have cried.
2.24pm: Mrs Pine Nut is starting to push. Her back is hurting her a lot. – Mr Pine Nut, on Facebook
Pushing was by far the easier part to handle, because there were long breaks in between the contractions and about every other one was a small contraction that wasn’t very effective but a nice break from the ones where I had to push like four times to get anything done and get the contraction over with. Took a while to figure out exactly how to push effectively and it seemed to take forever to get the head out beyond the crowning stage.
2.58: We are seeing part of the baby’s head now. – Mr Pine Nut, on Facebook
It felt so, so weird though. My midwife wanted me to reach down and touch the head as it started to be visible and so I did, but it felt like a mutant raisin, which kind of weirded me out and I didn’t want to do it again. I changed positions a couple times pushing because my back was really, really hurting. But nothing really helped
3.23: Still slow coming. Just barely see the top of head. – Mr Pine Nut, on Facebook
Finally GooGoo’s head got enough out that on the next push or two I was able to squeeze her through, and then I had to get her shoulders out. Kind of blurry on all that part but it wasn’t long before she popped out then, purple and tangled in her cord, which was around her neck, over her shoulder, and around her waist. My midwife had her undone in a snap though and then they had to help me move longways in the tub because my legs above the knees were cramped so much from straining I couldn’t move them! Mr Pine Nut and the midwife rubbed them for a while so that I could stand up and get out of the tub. It was a few minutes before we looked to see what the baby was. Mr Pine Nut thought it was a boy just from the way the face looked, but nope. :-p (Sorry, GooGoo!)
The midwife had me lie on the floor to push the placenta out so she could better gauge how much blood I was losing. That felt really weird, too. Expelling this gooshy blob… ew. Then she checked for tears—I had four, I think—and we went upstairs so I could lie on the bed to be stitched up.
Ended up that GooGoo’s chest is actually what tore me. It was 15″ around and her head only 13.75″! I found this fascinating.
Mr Pine Nut’s mom came about 6.30 and spent the night so we could get some sleep, which was really nice of her.
7.10: All right, everyone. Ready for this? 20.5″ long, 8lb 8oz! Oh… and IT A GRIL. [/cake wrecks fangirl moment] Welcome GooGoo Pine Nut to the world.
8.27: Resting in bed eating peanut butter toast and milk. I AM SO GLAD THIS IS OVER.
My stomach felt like a blob of goo and I had a couple little stretch marks on the side where GooGoo’d been pushing with her back for the last week or so. It also felt pretty swollen where I got stitched, so I pretty much had to lie down if I wanted to be comfortable. Recovery was terrible. It was at minimum 6 weeks before I felt like that area was somewhat back to normal, and it was several months before it really was. Breastfeeding also took a while to get the hang of for both GooGoo and me, but we never had to give her any formula! We just kept at it until she figured it out.
I have felt sometimes that I am abnormal for, oh, thinking my child looked like a purple monkey at birth rather than “OH BABY I LOVE YOU”. It takes time for me to form bonds with people, and my little girl was no exception, but she is the joy of my life now and always will be. It was a grand birth experience and I look forward to doing it again someday.