I know that every pregnancy and birth is different; still it was hard not to look for patterns with my third.
Andrew came three weeks early, when my water broke during the bar exam. After finishing the exam and driving to the hospital he was making his arrival before I knew what was going on. Unfortunately the wrong end was arriving and due to hospital policy had to be delivered via c/s.
Sophie went past her due date, which messed with my head because I expected her early too. My midwife understood and agreed to break my water. She was born less than two hours later. The very first contraction turned into the last with no breaks.
So with Joseph I tried to have no expectations and just enjoy whatever happened. I gave myself a window of Christmas to Valentine’s Day to go into labor. This is our last baby so I really want to experience a labor where my waters didn’t break first. The good thing about having your water break before labor is you “know” you are in labor. If it didn’t break I was going to have to figure it out.
As my due date approached I was so anxious mentally to have baby Joseph. Physically I was still feeling good, but I was living each day like it was going to be “the day.” Once his due date came and went though I found that I was totally okay with him being post date. I was picking up enough clues to know that things were progressing. I knew the more my body did to prepare, the less work during labor.
I half expected to start labor on Thursday because I had a busy day at work and I had a flat tire on the way there. Later at work I got a call saying the mechanic had crashed my truck. But, Friday morning I woke up still pregnant and had too busy of a day to have to have a baby. There was dance, teacher conference, volunteering at school, a midwife appointment, and gymnastics. I called my midwife to confirm our appointment, because I felt like I was really progressing and wanted to make sure I saw her.
At 10:10 am Sophie and I were dressed for the gym; she in her ballet outfit and me in my running clothes. As I was walking down the stairs I had a cramp that made me sit down. I asked Steve to take her to dance so I could lie down and see if this progressed or fizzled out. Just in case, I started picking up the house. I made the beds and scrubbed the bath tub while trying to time contractions. They seemed irregular because it was hard to tell when they were starting and stopping. I called the midwife and said “I think I’m in labor, but it is still early.” She asked why I thought it was early and I said, “because it just started.” She replied, “yeah but you have fast labors. I am in the shower but I will be right over.” I texted Steve and asked him to come home from ballet. I wrote “not sure if this is it but I need morale support.”
It was about 11:00 when Steve and Sophie got back. Steve suggested I get in the tub. Sophie brought in toys and we were playing ‘my little pony.’ The midwife arrived and I told her I had been trying to time contractions but couldn’t see a pattern. I was really worried I was wasting her time and that this wasn’t labor. She touched my lower back and said “your sacrum is way out. You are totally in labor.” I asked if I still had to time them and she said no. Aunt Liz arrived to take Sophie in the other room to play as the midwife and her assistant began unpacking. The contractions were totally manageable and I was resting in between them. The more they set-up it became real to me that I was in fact in labor. This was about noon. The contractions picked up and became more difficult but I could still handle it. The midwife suggested I get out and try another position to help things progress. As I walked into the bedroom a big contraction hit me and I had work through it there on the floor. When it was over I climbed in bed on my side. Steve laid down too and put his forehead against mine and held my hand. He told me he was happy I was allowing this baby to come into the world this way. This was my favorite moment of labor. The contractions were coming stronger and I wanted to get back in the tub.
I got up and walked back to the tub. We added hot water which felt good, but the contractions were getting closer. I wanted a break so bad. I thought to myself if I were in a hospital this is when I would ask for drugs. Steve was outside the tub but I could tell he wanted to come in. I really wanted him to come in but I couldn’t speak. The midwife suggested he climb in and I was so happy. I started to get nauseous and the midwife assistant waved some peppermint oil under my nose which seemed to clear my mind. My toes were going numb from squatting but I could not move. I told Steve and he turned me around. I was cognizant that I had regained the ability to communicate as I was making these complaints. My back was against Steve’s chest and I had one hand on each side of the tub. With each contraction I was able to open my eyes and look out the window and imagine Joseph in this world. I was getting a break now and knew I was nearing the end. I didn’t feel like pushing but I felt the baby getting lower and started breathing down through contractions. At one point during a contraction I told the midwife, “I can’t do this…I mean I will do this…but I want you to know right now I feel like I can’t.”
At this point I was resting well, almost sleeping, between contractions. The midwife suggested I get out again and I told her I could push. It took me a couple contractions but I climbed out and onto the birthing stool. Without the water the pain hit me and I said I couldn’t do it “for real.” The midwife checked me and I was fully dilated. She asked to break my water. I said, “go for it.” Another contraction later I was getting ready to complain again but the midwife took my hand and put it on the baby’s head. This next part amazes me because I was able to tune everyone and everything out and visualize the baby’s descent. I wanted it be slow. Steve was holding me up as I pushed. The head was out but the shoulders needed another push. I said I needed to wait for the next contraction. I put my hands on my belly and I could still feel the baby’s feet getting ready to jump off. Steve said, “hold on, my legs are going to sleep.” I said, “suck it up” and started pushing the shoulders out. He was out a second later and cradled in my arms. It was 2:58 p.m.
I called for Sophia who rushed in so happy with Aunt Liz. The look on Sophie’s face was priceless. I also called my neighbors Angel and Diane from my cell phone. Joseph’s eyes were open and he was looking around. I kissed his head and told him how much I loved him. I was just so joyful I could have stayed like that forever. My midwife wanted me to lie down to deliver the placenta so I carried Joseph to my bed. Diane helped me change into a dry top. Sophia stayed by me watching the baby. He immediately started eating.
Steve cut the cord. Sophia said it was gross. The midwives were busy with this and that. There was a party going on in the living room. I kept watching the clock and yelling someone go get Andrew, his bus is coming. Steve and Sophie went to greet him and he ran straight upstairs. He took one look at the baby, then spotted the placenta in the bowl next to me. “That’s cool…is that blood?” he asked. I had to pass the baby over for his newborn exam and used the time to get dressed. I was shocked to learn he was 8lbs 9 oz and 20 inches long, my biggest baby yet. The baby wanted to eat again so as I fed him the midwife assistant fed me leftover spaghetti and mushrooms. Then everything was packed up and cleaned up and the midwives said goodbye. They gave instructions to Steve to not let me go downstairs for three days. Steve looked at me smirking knowing how hard that rule would be (I went down for a midnight snack). Aunt Liz took Andrew and Sophia to gymnastics. Angel and Niki came over to see the baby. I felt so good, not at all like I just had a baby.
Joseph slept through the night. I was up staring at him all night. The second night he was up all night and I was tired. By the third night we had a nice routine. He gets up once or twice a night, eats, and goes back to sleep. He is like Steve in that he likes to be warm, which is a great excuse to snuggle.
His birth was completely different from his siblings. Andrew’s birth was an adventure. Sophia’s birth was healing. Joseph’s birth was powerful. He completes our family perfectly.