Fair warning: this is the birth story, with as close as I can get to all the gory details. So if you don't like that sort of thing, just skip this post.
I’ve said it jokingly, but I really feel that I was in “early labor” for at least a week. I’d become increasingly uncomfortable; Elijah was sitting low, head engaged. But the first real, painful contractions came on Thursday afternoon. Even after they stopped, I didn’t feel well, and Bob came home early.
Friday morning I had contractions for awhile, but they stopped when I lay down, again. Then things started rumbling again Friday evening. I was busy getting the children to bed and so couldn’t lie down for awhile. I’d just got them settled, and was coming into the living room to rest when I noticed Bob’s computer was on. I asked Taryn who turned it on, and she said, “Daddy.” Then I saw his bags. He’d snuck around to the bathroom when I went through the kitchen for a drink. Home early again! (we hadn’t talked on the phone or anything) He kept trying to talk to me about football pictures, and I just kept trying to not have contractions.
After sending Taryn to bed at 9, I mentioned to Bob that I was feeling things. We decided to watch the latest “Smallville” and then see how I felt. It was a good show, but didn’t stop labor. So about 10:30 I told Bob to go ahead and call Jo, as things were going slowly, but going. I headed into the den and lay down. Jo came, took my vitals, and settled down to watch. She couldn’t tell when I was having contractions by my reactions, so asked me to let her know. The next contraction, I told her, but then didn’t bother. We decided it might be awhile.
Bob got Jo a pillow and blanket; she settled on the couch; he went to the living room; I zoned out as much as possible on the floor. A clicking noise irritated me no end – perhaps the heater coming on and off – I finally ‘woke up’ enough to mention it to Jo, who apparently asked Bob to put on some music. We’d had some on earlier, but it was a “bonus DVD” (iWorship) and only had 3 songs on it – Creator King, Days of Elijah, and All the Earth Will Sing. So I suggested Ginny Owens, knowing where the CD was, and Bob kept them alternating the rest of the night. The tv was our source of light and music; I had the space heater on in the bathroom; everything else was dark and quiet.
Not long after, I went to the bathroom and actually worked a Sudoku puzzle. I lay back down, trying to stay relaxed and let the contractions do their work. I nearly dozed off a couple of times, and thought about everything and nothing, including my virtual farm on Facebook. Contractions were lasting about 90 seconds, and every one brought strong pressure on my pelvis. Finally I had to do something, so tried to use the toilet again. This time it didn’t go so well. When I got up the contractions and the pressure were so intense, I lost nearly all control of myself. I couldn’t sit on the toilet, but squatted over it and cried. Jo was wondering if I was going to deliver there. I noticed I was bleeding a little, and thought Jo should know, but as I was freaked out she thought I was freaked out about the blood. She checked, and reassured me that it was nothing to worry about. While I was in the bathroom, Jo and Bob laid out the shower curtain, sheet, and absorbent pads. Anyway, I managed to stumble back to the room, and came down on my knees in front of the couch. All 3 of us thought I was going to deliver there, and I fussed a while. But after a time of clutching the couch, and crying and sweating on my pillow, things calmed down again.
I lay down again, and Bob and Jo followed suit. Bob actually fell asleep on the floor. When he woke up he stepped out of the room. I was using all my physical and mental power to remain calm. Contractions became shorter, but closer together and more intense, if less painful. I had a couple of “pushy” contractions, but did my best to ignore that. When it came to the end, my stomach decided to push more than my head did. Either way, I gave a bit of a push and my water broke, soaking through all the pads, my gown, the sheet… Jo jumped up and asked if she should check or call Bob. I told her to get Bob.
I became very emotional and out of control again. I was lying on my side, and there was no way I could move. I could feel the head needing to come out, and pushed. I knew I needed to open my legs, but just couldn’t make them move, so spat out, “lift my leg.” Jo and Bob both pulled on it, but my muscles were clenched so tight they couldn’t move it. Finally that contraction ended and I was able to relax enough for them to move my top leg up. It seemed a long time, but was probably only a minute or two before the head was out. I sobbed, “Thank you, Jesus,” expecting to feel a bit of reprieve before the shoulders came. But through all my crying and yelling, I could tell something felt different. My belly kept pushing, so I gave a push and Jo did some things. Then something else came out – I was expecting it to be the shoulder, followed by the plop squish of the rest of him, but the squish didn’t follow. So I pushed again, and this time it all came out. Another, “Thank you, Jesus” as I got to lay my head down and be done.
Bob and Jo exclaimed over how big the baby was, and said he was healthy. I asked if was really a boy, and they said it was. He didn’t cry much as they wiped him down, and then Bob brought him to me and he quietly lay and looked at me. Jo gave me a shot to expedite delivery of the placenta, which came quickly as the weak shakes overtook me. Jo asked Bob if I normally shake so much, and he assured her I do. After I calmed down again, Jo helped me to the shower where I rinsed off while she picked up the mess in the den. And it was all over. I learned later that there was meconum in the water, but as there was nothing one could do about it, Jo didn’t worry about it. I also learned that Elijah’s left hand was up by his head at delivery, known as a compound presentation. This, together with his size, could explain the intensity of labor, and certainly explains the odd-feeling delivery. Elijah was weighed and dressed, and we sat around and waited for morning.
Jo left about 5:30, and by 6:15 the children were waking up. Their reaction was very much like a Christmas morning, as they all straggled in and were overcome with the “new baby.” By 7:30 I was in bed, but couldn’t stay asleep for long, and then Bob had a turn. The children all sat around Elijah all day, just looking at and talking about him.
This isn’t my best piece of writing, as I’m doing it in pieces and have had little sleep this week, but taken together with the notes Jo made I think I have a pretty good record of what happened. And that’s all for now. Maybe I’ll do a note on our impressions of a home birth some other time.