Friday, June 25, 2010

The Birth of Daniel Olen, Part II

So, when we left off, my contractions had slowed down to about one an hour, Jaymz and I had gone out to dinner and come home, and I had taken a sleeping pill to help me get some rest.

Well, that night I went to sleep only to wake up again to the snapping sensation of my water breaking around 10:45. At first I ignored it, thinking maybe I dreamed the whole thing, but I eventually had to get up to pee and when I did, I felt the first gush of amniotic fluid. I grabbed some towels to put in the bed and I tried to go back to sleep since I anticipated a long active labor, but strong contractions started up a few minutes after I got back into bed. Very quickly, they were only 3 minutes apart lasting 1-2 minutes, and very intense.

I asked Jaymz to call the midwife and let her know that my water had broken and active labor had finally begun!

(This is the part where the timing of things gets fuzzy.)

One of my midwives, Regina, arrived about two hours after my water broke with her student/apprentice, Andrea, and I had my cervix checked. I was dilated to 4! This was such a relief after being at 2 for so many days, I think I was able to really surrender to the power of labor and let the contractions do their job. Shortly after my cervical check, Regina and Andrea started the process of inflating and filling the birthing tub in our spare bedroom, which took several hours.

Trying to labor on the birth ball around 2:40AM
so I could rest on the bed in between (this did
not last for long).
I labored mostly in the bathroom, leaning on the counter and rocking during contractions and sitting on the toilet for rest in between. Jaymz was supporting me with verbal encouragement and physical presence, although I hated being touched. I tried listening to the ocean waves mp3 that I had enjoyed so much during the last days of my pre-labor, but I found that it just irritated me. I knew then that I wouldn't be able to use my Hypnobabies tracks either, as I was at my limit for stimulation with all the physical sensations of birthing.

When the pool was ready, it took me several tries to walk from the bathroom to the bedroom where it was set up, because each time I would reach the tub a contraction would begin and I would go back to my familiar spot in the bathroom to ride it out. But once I finally got in the tub I had immense relief from the referred pain and pressure I was having in my back, hips, and thighs. I quickly figured out a new routine for being in the water: I would lean onto or over the side of the pool while holding on to Jaymz and vocalizing during a contraction, and when it ended I would roll over so I was semi-reclining in the water with my head on the side of the pool for my resting times. One of the wonderful moments during this part of the labor was when I realized that Regina, Andrea, and Jaymz were all vocalizing with me during contractions to keep the moans low and earthy.

Not long after I got in the water (less than an hour) I asked to have another cervical check, and I was dilated to 6. I don't know if it was the water or my determination not to be in labor for any longer or what, but about half an hour or so later I began to have the urge to push. I remember bearing down and grunting that first time, and then asking Regina if it was ok for me to start pushing. She told me to wait until I couldn't resist the urge any longer, and then to go with that urge. It was maybe 15 or 20 minutes later that I knew what she meant and I let my body take over and push.

Pushing was the most intense part of the whole birth, and I was definitely "roaring" at the end of each push. (I wondered later if the neighbors had heard me giving birth, since the window was wide open throughout.) I pushed in that same kneeling position I was in during contractions while I leaned over the side of the pool and clung to Jaymz by the waistband of his pants. At one point Catherine told me that I should try to hold my pushes a bit longer for them to be more effective. I remember asking her if I didn't hold them longer, would the baby still come out? She told me that it would, only it would take longer. That was all the motivation I needed to take her advice! I only pushed for 26 minutes before my sweet baby was born into Regina's hands, and she passed him through my legs from behind to me so I could lift him out of the water. I discovered that we had a son! He weighed 7 pounds 12 ounces, and was 20 inches long. He latched on to nurse for the first time while we were still attached to each other, even before the cord had stopped pulsing. (I found out later that he had been born with the cord wrapped loosely TWICE around his neck, but it didn't cause any heart rate issues during labor.) He was born at 6:07 am on the 31st, less than 7.5 hours after my water broke!

I birthed the placenta after the cord had gone completely flaccid and Catherine and Regina had determined that it had detached, and then I cut the cord. Jaymz, our (at that point still unnamed) baby boy and I got to know each other for a little while, and then Jaymz took our son to the bedroom while I was helped out of the tub and to the bed for cuddling and more skin-to-skin time. After a while, Regina brought us some food and Catherine did the newborn exam right on our bed. It took us until the next morning to settle on a name for our little boy, Daniel Olen.

I had quite a bit of dizziness and a couple of near-fainting episodes in the hours after the birth when I would try to stand up. I was probably pretty dehydrated because even though I was drinking as much as I wanted during labor, I was very nauseated and wasn't able to keep anything down for very long. One of the nurses who works with our midwives, Rachel, came over later in the day to start an IV and give me a bag of IV fluids. That helped a lot and I felt really good after that except for the sore tailbone, which I believe I broke during pushing (I felt and heard a pop).

The labor and birth was such an empowering experience—I feel fierce, and like I could do anything! I am so proud of what my body can do. I hope every birthing momma is able to feel the satisfaction and joy that I have when reflecting on my birthing time. I'm really glad I took prenatal yoga classes, as I believe that practice helped me so much to be able to stay in my body instead of my head and to do what I needed to do to birth my baby. I also felt very connected to my voice, and I vocalized a lot throughout the process. And even though I didn't use Hypnobabies during this part of my birthing time, I believe it was definitely a helpful tool to have during my pregnancy and early labor.

All the hard work of labor and birth was so worth it for this perfect little person! I feel so blessed to have been allowed to nurture this little soul on his journey in this big world.


  1. This is such a great story, Amy! Even though I've already heard, getting to read it all written out was just magical, especially knowing how much blood, sweat and tears (literally) went into such a long and drawn-out labor.

    Your body really CAN do anything, and this is such a testament to that.

    I'm glad you finally posted it. :)

    I'll be reading this again (and again) for motivation, you can believe that!

  2. This was so wonderful to read. Each labor and delivery is like a fingerprint, isn't it? Wow. Yours was certainly unique. It took a lot of confidence to stick to your plan, since, as you mentioned, we don't hear much about long labors or other natural phenomenons any more.

    Also, way to get your story written down right away! I imagine it would be so fun for somebody to read the details of their birth, years later.

  3. It must be so hard to go through days of contractions like that! I had a homebirth with my second daughter after a hospital birth with the first one and it was a night and day difference. I had the baby in my whirlpool tub, but for the baby I am pregnant with now I'd like to get a La Bassine tub. My friend had one and it sounded dreamy, and it also looks, as you can see in your picture, like the partner gets to be a lot more involved with an inflatable tub. I want to do Hypnobabies but with my two girls, I honestly don't know when I'd listen to the scripts! Things went so well last time that I'd probably be fine without the class, but I've heard it's amazing and I did want to try it.

  4. great story, thanks for sharing! i too experienced an extended prodromal labor. it sounds like you did GREAT!

  5. @Jenny, it was very hard, but it was obviously SO worth it. I'm very happy with my birth experience and will definitely have more home births for any future children. Good luck with your upcoming birth!

    @the grumbles, thanks for your comment! I'm glad you enjoyed my story. I like hearing from people who have also had long prodromal labors--it's so much more common than I ever knew!

  6. Wow, what a great story! I thought I had it bad with just a 3-day labor. :) Silly babies, not knowing to come out right away so we can meet them. I've heard prodromal labors are more common with subsequent babies, so maybe I'll get to experience something like what you did this next time around. Yipes. I'm so glad you were able to stay home and trust in your body, and that you had people supporting you through that. We're going to try for a home birth with a birthing tub again this time around, and I can't wait. We ended up transferring to the hospital with Mikko's birth, but I'm trusting/hoping this second labor will be faster so there won't be as many concerns with the dehydration and lack of progress, etc.

    I think it's really interesting that you did Hypnobabies, too, and yet also didn't really do it during the most active labor. I thought I would but just couldn't concentrate on it at all and was too focused elsewhere to care. Afterwards, I felt kind of bad, like maybe I'd "failed" Hypnobabies — but then I remembered how everyone told me how calm I was throughout the long labor, and remembered how much rest I'd been able to get between contractions, and I realized it was all part of the preparation.

  7. Lauren and Amy,
    I had a similar experience in that I did all the classes and preparation (with Hypnobirthing) for both babies and really didnt use it much during active labor. Yet, it was instrumental in keeping me calm throughout the process. I feel I achieved the unmedicated labor I wanted; and with #2 I even got my water birth --in the hospital! I feel lucky and proud and fierce just like you said!

    Loved reading both Daniel and Mikko's birth stories. Anxiously awaiting your newest birth story Lauren!


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