Grayson’s birth was a sandwich of a really awful experience in the middle of really good experiences.
The day before my due date I was fully effaced and 4cm dilated. My midwife came to the house and did a stretch and sweep at 3pm and got me to 6cm. I was crampy after that and just kept walking around, up and down stairs, and bouncing on the yoga ball. I started having very mild, regular contractions that night, and when my midwife arrived, she stretched my cervix again to 8cm. So I got through nearly the entire dilation and effacement process barely feeling a thing!
It was 9pm on the day before his due date that I started getting regular contractions – they were only about a 3 on the 10-point pain scale. By 11pm they were getting to be just 2-3 min apart, so despite not hurting too much, that’s when I paged my midwife to come over. She arrived at midnight, and then the pain started to ramp up.
We filled up the birthing pool, and as soon as I got in the pain reduced by almost 50%. The best part of labouring at home was having Avery present. We woke her up when pushing started hoping she’d be able to be present for the birth, and she was an AMAZING little midwife. She held cool compresses on my head, gave me kisses, and even coached me to push along with the midwives.
I laboured in the pool for a couple of hours and then, after being fully dilated for a bit, I got out to have my water broken and then ran right back into the pool for some relief. I got to the point of pushing in the pool, but I couldn’t get good strong pushes going in the pool. Probably due to a combination of being too relaxed and feeling like I was slipping on the slippery pool bottom. So unfortunately after an hour of initial pushing, I had to get out and push on the bed. The midwife kept saying that his head was sunny side up (face first). Avery was also sunny side up, so I thought I could do it, but this baby was bigger and they think he just got stuck. Pushing for a second baby should not take that long.
Then I was in for a really stressful and painful time on my bed listening to the midwives and student midwives talking about how he wasn’t descending past a pelvic spine (or something like that). Between contractions they were giving me an IV, a catheter, and talking to me about calling an ambulance. The stress of all of that made the pain unbearable. So different from the calm, quiet and dark of the pool. So after 2 more hours of this hectic pushing experience out of water, I got transferred to the hospital. It was 4:30am, and wearing nothing but a skimpy little lace nighty that my wife hastily threw over my head, I headed out the driveway to the ambulance, crying and screaming for all the neighbours to see 😂
At the hospital the OB insisted I get an epidural so she could manually turn him. The experience of fear-worsened contraction pain (pushing contractions that I wasn’t allowed to push through) and getting an epidural while sitting through these contractions was one of the hardest moments of my life, physically. But once it was done, and once the OB reached in and turned the baby, I was peaceful and relaxed again and actually breathed him down the birth canal (thanks hypnobirthing J breathing!) with just my wife and I in the room. When the midwife came to check on us I said I could feel his head in the birth canal, and I was right. With just the midwife, a nurse, and my wife and I in the room, I calmly and peacefully pushed him out in 3 contractions.
Interestingly, even though the OB turned him so he could descend, he still came out face first. Apparently my birth canal is insistent on twisting babies into a face-up position! Grayson had the same little unicorn bump on his forehead that Avery had, but his went down almost right away because he ended up spending so little time in the actual birth canal.
Despite the hairy middle part of this labour experience, I’m thankful that I got to experience two new kinds of labour in one birth. With my first birth experience I had a hospital bed birth with pitocin induction and no pain meds. It was intense but rather quick and overall a good experience. With this birth experience I got to have a lovely home water labour, and an epidural delivery which allowed me to be really present for the sensations and emotions of his emergence into the world.
At the time of writing, our new little boy is 6 days old and thriving. I’m healing so much quicker than last time (although FUCK it’s still hard!). Now that I’ve finally written the birth story, I have a lot to write about in reflection, but somehow I don’t really have time to write… 😉