On Monday. March 2 I was eating lunch when I started having mild contractions. I lay down to nap before work and when I awoke an hour later, I was still having contractions, but not strong or consistent. I decided to go ahead and go to work, but as the afternoon progressed, my discomfort increased. I ended up leaving work early, and went back to bed when I got home. The contractions ended up stopping shortly after. I didn't think much about it, as I had been having Braxton Hicks for a few days on and off and knew they could go for weeks before labor began.
The next morning, Tuesday March 3, I awoke a little before 8:00 am and I already had the feeling that today could be the day. I went into the bathroom to take a shower and while standing waiting for the water to warm up I felt a distinct "pop" followed by a little gush of water. I instantly knew my water had broken. I ran to get my phone and then returned to the bathroom where I could stand on some towels and I tried to decide who to call first. I called my mom, who decided to go ahead and leave work and come home, and then I called my midwife, Amy, followed by my doula, Amanda. Amy had some appointments to take, but said she'd be by later to check on me. She warned that my labor would be a bit more intense since my water had broken but to take it easy, rest and eat lightly and drink as much water as I could. Amanda stopped by right after my mom arrived home, around 9:00 am, to check on me since she was in the area. My contractions had just begun and weren't bad at all, so she returned home to take care of some things with the instructions to call when I was ready.
My mom made me a light breakfast of toast and eggs, and then we decided to begin setting up the birthing pool. Looking back now, I think we both intuitively knew to do this first thing. During this time my contractions began to intensify quickly, and were about five minutes apart by 10:00 am. My mom began to realize that my labor was progressing much faster than we had anticipated, so she decided to call Amy back. Amy decided to turn around and come back over just to check me, that way she could decide what to do from there about the rest of her appointments. We also called Amanda and had her go ahead and come over when she was ready.
Once Amy and Amanda arrived, around 10:15 - 10:30, Amy checked me and found I was at 3 cm dialted and 90% effaced. She also noticed that the head that she was supposed to be feeling felt more like a butt, and although it was still early and too hard to tell for sure, she did want to call Kathy, my other midwife, and let her know. She must have also told Kathy to start heading over to my house at that point, because my labor was progressing much faster than anyone had guessed. During this time, Amanda and my mom were helping me through my contractions by rubbing my back and putting cool towels on my forehead and neck. It made so much of a difference to have them there helping me. It also felt great to sit on the birthing ball and to lean against someone while I was breathing through the contractions. They were intense and it seemed like they were coming so close together, sometimes with one beginning right after another had just ended. However all of the love and support in the room made me feel empowered and I just took them one at a time.
Things begin to get blurry time-wise after this point, but I know my sister showed up with the video camera and Kathy was not far behind her. This must have been around 12:00 noon or so. Kathy checked me and found I had dialated to 8, almost 9 cm by that point! She also confirmed our fears: baby MJ was breech, with her butt presenting instead of her head. We decided to take a few minutes to pray about what to do, as if I had decided to transfer to the hospital I would have definitely had a Cesarean section. I was in so much pain with the contractions that for a moment the thought of having pain medication and not having to go through any more labor was quite tempting. However, I knew that it was not the birth that I had wanted, and I also knew that I did not want my baby to have to go through such a traumatic experience in her first moments out of the womb. Both Kathy and Amy were very encouraging and supportive, but were also honest about what we needed to be expect and made sure that I knew all of the risks of birthing a breech baby so I could make an informed decision. After Amanda and I prayed together, I decided to stay at home and birth my baby the way we had planned.
Once that had been decided, Kathy told me that once I dialated to 10 cm, I would have to wait one hour before pushing. This was to ensure that the cervix had fully opened so that the baby's head would be able to pass quickly through once I began pushing. I got into the pool and it immediately helped to ease the pain of the contractions. Amanda poured water on my back as I leaned against the side and that really helped too. I drank tons of water and just tried to focus on getting through each contraction. Finally, my body decided it was time to push, but I was not dialated enough to do so yet, so I had to breathe through it. It was the hardest thing I've ever had to do. The pain was incredible, and trying to keep my body from pushing was almost impossible, but everyone just kept encouraging me that I could do it. Without that encouragement, I would not have been able to make it through that pain. Each contraction that came over me was more intense than the last, and it seemed like they went on forever. I knew I had an hour of this breathing to go through before I could push and it seemed like an eternity. Amanda reminded me, one contraction at a time. I kept telling her I couldn't do it, and she would look me right in the eyes and say, "Yes, you can do this Laura." It gave me the confidence I needed to stay strong and on top of the pain. My mom, after each one, would say "You did it! Great job!" and it really made me feel like I was progressing. I really can't stress enough how much love and support I had in that room, because I couldn't have done it without each one of those people being there for me.
I remember at some point my dad came home from work, it must have been around 1:30 pm, and my mom inviting him down into the room. I didn't think he would want to be there for the birth, but I'm so glad he ended up staying because it was so wonderful to have my mom, dad and my sister there for it. I think they all took something away from the experience that was more than they expected.
After about forty minutes of breathing through the pushy contractions, Kathy checked me again and told me it was OK to start pushing. I said "Thank you!" and almost cried from the relief I felt at knowing I could work with my body and finally get to see my baby! On the next contraction, I pushed and it was the worst and best pain I have ever felt. The contractions had slowed way down, which Amy told me later was a sign that my body was getting ready for the delivery, so I just rested in between so that I would have the energy to push as hard as I could at the end, since she was breech and I knew I had to get her out fast. I pushed for a few contractions in the pool, and then Kathy, Amy, Amanda and I went to the bathroom where I sat on the toilet and pushed a few times. This really seemed to help, and after about four or so pushes, we went back to the pool. That was really hard because the baby had moved down so much from the pushing and I thought I wouldn't be able to walk! Once I got back into the pool, I had about three more contractions and on the last one, I pushed with everything I had. I heard my mom saying something about "There's the baby! Laura, she's coming!" and that was all it took for me to just give it my all and push her out. She came out so fast and then I was holding her in my arms in a matter of seconds! I couldn't believe it! I felt so relieved and so happy and emotional all at the same time. I could not believe I was holding my beautiful baby girl in my arms after only less than seven hours of labor. She was born at 3:03 pm on 3/03. How amazing!
It's hard to express just how fully I felt the Lord's presence at MaryJane's birth. Not only in the miracle of my daughter being born, but in the love I felt from and for the people who were there with me, and the peaceful, beautiful nature of the birth. I trusted fully in Him to provide, and He did. I could not have imagined a more incredible experience.
ETA: I can't believe I forgot to add that it was my midwife, Amy's birthday too! How amazing is that?!?
born 3:03 pm on 3/03
6 lbs. 14 oz.