I wasn't attached to the idea of giving birth in a tub. I actually pictured giving birth on my bed. My team filled the tub and I got inside. HEAVEN! My feet, knees and whole body were tired from the positions I was in before. Once I got in the tub, I was relaxed and could relieve the pressure from my tired limbs. I'm pregnant again and the tub is a requirement for me now!
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My estimated due date was 12/27/15. Being my second pregnancy, I was sure my baby girl was going to arrive early. My pregnancy had been great, the complete opposite of my first pregnancy. This time around, I didn't suffer from gestational diabetes that needed to be controlled with insulin, I didn't gain too much weight, and didn't need to be induced. It was everything I could ask for!
Because my pregnancy was coming along so smoothly, I chose to do something I never thought I'd get to do... I chose to have a home birth. I attempted to have a home birth with my first pregnancy but was considered high risk and couldn't follow through. I finally had the opportunity to get the birth experience I always wanted. I met with a team of midwives from a practice called Birth Matters Midwifery Care. They were great! All my prenatal appointments were about an hour long. We would sit, talk about the pregnancy, how I was feeling, they would check my BP, fundal height, check baby's heart rate, and palpate me to see where baby was located.
So my due date came and went with no impending signs of labor aside from the occasional contraction here and there. The day I turned 41 weeks, I woke up feeling rested and followed my normal morning routine. I sat up in bed after my three year old daughter came into my room greeting me with her traditional "Good morning Mommy". After sitting up for a few minutes, I suddenly felt a gush of fluid. It wasn't like they show you in the movies and to be honest, I wasn't totally convinced my water had broken. So I put on a pad, went back to sleep. When I woke up again, I noticed more fluid and some bloody show. This was a sure sign baby was on her way!
I called my midwives to give them the heads up. They kept checking in on me every few hours. I went about my normal routine (and maybe walked a few extra miles that day). As the day continued, there were no signs of labor. I felt disappointed. I figured I'd get as much rest as I could, while I could.
The next day the midwives dropped by to check in on me and baby. Everything seemed to be going well. They recommended trying some things to get labor started, one of those things being castor oil. So later that day, I took castor oil with a homemade pina colada smoothie. I noticed an increase in some contractions. As the evening went on, my contractions picked up. They weren't very intense to begin with, lasting about 30 seconds every 10 minutes. Once the contractions picked up some more and I found myself breathing through them, my three midwives came over.
My husband, Woody, had already set up the tub. I began by laboring on the birth ball and moved in and out of the tub throughout the night. Sometime in the wee hours of the morning, I noticed my contractions slowing down. The midwives recommended I try to lay down and get some sleep. I did just that! I knew I'd have quite the journey ahead of me. So I went to bed thinking I'd wake up to more contractions. To my surprise, I slept through the night and woke up late morning.
The midwives had stayed with us overnight. After speaking to them, they decided to check me and see if I had made any progress overnight, see if my water bag was still in fact ruptured, and check on baby. Before going into labor I was already 3cm dilated and 70% effected. When they checked me again, I had made no progress. My water bag seemed to be intact. The midwives explained that the bag has layers and the first layer was probably what ruptured. The other thing they realized was that baby had some rotating to do. She was in a posterior (sunny side up) position. They recommended I rest up during the day and eventually labor would pick up again. I felt a little discouraged; after hours of contractions, my labor had stalled. But I listened to the midwives and rested as much as I could that day and attempted to turn the baby with exercises and a chiropractic treatment.
That evening labor had picked up again. This time labor was fast and swift. I didn't want to call the midwives until I was sure it was true labor. I spent the first few hours laboring on the birth ball and enjoying the time I had with my husband before we brought our little girl into this world. At one point, I wanted to go into the birth tub and made my transition there. I knew this meant that things were progressing.
The water felt amazing and I was able to relax between rushes. Contractions sped up and lasted longer... I pulled out all the stops to get through them. I remembered reading how doing "horse lips" helps keep your body loose as things intensify and that kissing releases oxytocin and endorphins. So between doing horse lips and kissing my husband during contractions, I was able to get through them. I told my husband to text the midwives, my mother, and sister. I was sure transition phase was right around the corner.
The midwives arrived first. By the time they came my contractions had intensified. I wasn't able to talk through them and I had my eyes closed the majority of the time. I barely noticed their presence. I was in, what I realize now, was my primal state. My sister arrived shortly after that. I didn't care who was there or what was going on around me. I continued laboring in the tub, kissing my husband, and doing what I could to get through it. The midwives would intermittently check baby's heart rate and gave me encouragement as things progressed.
Then I reached the apex of my labor. I believed I had already been in transition for the last hour plus and had reached that moment every mother has... The moment you doubt wether you can continue on. I was still in the tub and asked the midwives if they could check me to see how I've progressed. I feared that after all this laboring, I might not have progressed, like what had happened the night before. They explained that in order to check me, I'd have to get out of the tub and lay flat on my back (a position no laboring mother really cares for). I agreed and waited for the next contraction to pass. I knew once it passed, I'd have about 2 minutes before the start of the next on.
I stood up out of the tub and suddenly felt like I weighed 100lbs more. The gravity tugged on every muscle in my body. I could barely walk and yet somehow managed to make it to the bed and lay down. I hated being on my back, but I NEEDED to know what progress I had made. They checked me and said I was 8cm dilated and baby was in a good position. Immediately I thought, "Only 8cm?!" This was great progress but I was just starting the transition phase, the quickest but hardest part of labor. I had never made it this far in my first pregnancy with no pain relief. So in my naivety, I thought that the intensity I was feeling was going to last until the baby arrived. So my body went into flight mode.
I begged my husband to go to the hospital. He kept reminding me that this wasn't going to last and that I was strong and could do this. I continued to beg to go to the hospital. My sister also encouraged me by saying, "If anyone could do this, you could". I was not hearing their words. The midwives explained that if I truly wanted to leave, I could, but I would be risking a car birth and that this was the quickest part of labor. The thought of making a trip in the car, never mind possibly giving birth in it, was daunting. They suggested I get in the shower. I agreed and the hot water felt wonderful on my lower back. I was feeling all the pressure in my lower back and pelvis (not surprising, seeing as how there was a baby in there). I could barely stand or walk, so I got out of the shower and went into the tub where I could be in the weightless water.
The tub was amazing! I felt so much lighter while in there. The contractions continued to intensify lasting for over 3 minutes every couple of seconds. I got on all fours in the tub and asked Woody to come in the water with me and apply pressure to my back and hips. He would apply a strong hip squeeze while I was having contractions. Then suddenly, the most amazing thing happened.
It was as if someone flipped a switch. Suddenly the contractions slowed down. I was able to open my eyes and observe everything going on around me for the first time in hours. I thought it was too good to be true and braced myself for the contractions to pick up again, but they didn't. Now was the time for pushing. I slowly felt the urge to push. The pressure was increasing, but I felt calm. My body submit and I found a zen space. I continued to push on all fours in the water. The midwives asked if I wanted to stay in the water, to which I replied "YES". It suddenly dawned on me that I was going to have a water birth.
The midwives prepped Woody on how to catch the baby. Within minutes of pushing, I could feel her head appear. Only a few minutes later, her shoulders came out and she entered the world! I turned my body around and saw my husband catch our baby girl and all the emotions flooded me. I reached out for her and laid her on my chest and began to cry. I was made to be a mother for the second time with her arrival. THIS was what I waited for! This was the experience I wanted.
My little girl arrived 8lbs even, all 21.5" of her, on January 6, 2016 (at 41 weeks and 3 days). We named her Siti-Khalisah Yasmin. Siti is a title in Malaysia meaning Lady and Khalisah means pure or sincere. Yasmin is the Arabic word for the Jasmine flower. Her name suited her so perfectly. The first few minutes were spent holding her in the warm water, allowing for the cord from the placenta to finish pulsating. She nursed in the first 15 minutes and just like that, I was in love all over again.
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