December 22, 2012

Hi Sue!  Sorry that this email is so late in coming - I have been too busy enjoying my little girl to sit down at the computer :)  She is a month old already - time is going by too quickly!  Please share this with the couples from our class and post on your website if you'd like.

Libby Noelle was born December 20th.  My due date was December 22nd and Stefan and I were both convinced I would be late, so it was a lovely surprise that she came before Christmas.  I woke up that morning around 6:30am to use the washroom and while on the toilet I lost my mucous plug and there was a bit of bloody show.  Very soon afterwards contractions started, but they were very light and only about 15-18 minutes apart.  I went back to bed to try to get some more rest, but I think I was too excited to fall asleep, so I patiently waited until Stefan woke up.  It was his first day off of work, so the timing was perfect!  I spent a decent amount of time that morning in the washroom emptying my bowels.  I remember thinking that it was just what Sue told us would happen and that it is amazing how the body knows what to do to prepare itself for labour.  Stefan had an appointment later that morning and then he planned on heading to Costco afterwards to stock up on some food for us to have once the baby came.  We both were thinking that this was only early labour and it could take hours and hours since it was our first baby, so we thought there was some time to finish up some of those tasks we hadn't gotten to yet, and a good way to "ignore, ignore, ignore" the early labour.

My labour started progressing much quicker than I had anticipated though, so by 11:30 am my contractions were only 4-5 minutes apart and much stronger.  I texted Stefan to tell him to come home after his appointment and skip the Costco trip!  Being on my side on my bed was the most comfortable and manageable during my contractions, but I remember thinking that I needed to change my position to something more gravity friendly.  I could hear Sue in the back of my mind telling me to get the courage to get up and change position.  I did try several other positions that I had practiced in the last few weeks of my pregnancy that we learned in class, but being on my side was the best.   I also spent a lot of time in the tub.  Stefan arrived home around 12:30 pm.  It was such a relief to have him there as I was starting to have a hard time handling the contractions and very soon after he arrived home I vomited.  Again, it was just like we had learned in class!  The hardest part of the entire labour was that I had terrible back pain during each contraction.  I tried the pelvic rocking but there was no relief from that.  Counterpressure from Stefan helped ease the pain during contractions.  

I really focussed on keeping my whole body relaxed during each contraction and focussed on my breathing.  In preparing for labour, I thought of a couple of mantras that I would try during labour.  But just like with the different positions, you don't really know what will work for you until you are in the moment of labour.  What helped during the contractions was repeating to myself "they are just doing their job".  I also did a lot of visualization - visualizing my baby descending down and also my cervix opening and "melting like butter". We were waiting for the magic 4-1-1 rule to call the midwives but most of my contractions were only lasting 45 seconds.  I remember thinking that I didn't know how I could possibly handle them being any longer since they felt just barely manageable at the 45 seconds.  Perhaps we were waiting a bit too long for them to become a minute long, because by the time my husband called the midwives' pager, the contractions were coming every 2-3 minutes and it was 4 pm and rush hour traffic (we live in MacKenzie Towne).  The midwife arrived around 5 pm and I was already 8 cm dilated.  It was such a relief to see her arrive as I had just started to feel the urge to push with my last contractions.  By that time the bath no longer seemed to help - the most comfortable was to be sitting on the toilet.  Labour is very glamorous indeed.  Also by that point I needed to make low groaning noises during each contraction.  Making "horsey" sounds on expirations also really helped on the toughest contractions.

Originally we had planned for a hospital birth but in the last few weeks of the pregnancy my husband and I started talking about a home birth if everything was going well.  I am so grateful that we were open minded about a home birth because I could not imagine  getting into a car and heading to the hospital at that point!  We were very fortunate  that the baby was very stable throughout labour so that we could stay at home.  The second midwife arrived just before I started to push.  It took me a few contractions to get the hang of pushing - it was more difficult than I had anticipated.  What worked best for me was to be leaning over the bed facedown in a bit of a squat.  I made a lot of progress in the position, but my back starting hurting again so I moved onto the bed on my side.  After about 45 minutes of pushing our little girl was born just before 7:30 pm.  6 lb, 15 oz and a very full head of hair!  She was so alert it was amazing.  She was a 10 out of 10 on the Apgar score immediately which was a relief.  Stefan was able to cut the cord once it stopped pulsing.  It didn't take long to deliver the placenta and I didn't need the oxytocin injection.   I had a superficial tear that the midwives repaired while I enjoyed some tummy to tummy time with Libby.  I was able to breastfeed Libby very quickly and she latched on really well almost immediately.  Within a couple of hours of her birth the midwives had finished their paperwork, cleaned up, made sure I got up and emptied my bladder, and had tucked the three of us into our bed for the first night together as our new family.

We had some bumps in the road with breastfeeding during the second week, but things are going better these days and she was 8 lb 12 oz at her 4 week check.  My husband and I are very grateful for the care we received from the midwives - it was so reassuring to know that we could call them at any time and so amazing to have such personal care from them throughout the pregnancy and postnatal period.   They came to the house to check on us three times in that first week.

Having a home birth was not the original plan, but the more we learned and educated ourselves about the birthing process, the more sense it made.  It just felt like the most natural thing to do.  We are very thankful that everything went so well which allowed us to be at home and to achieve our goal of a natural birth.  It was everything I could have hoped for and so much more!  We are grateful for the knowledge and confidence we gained from our classes with Sue.

Take care,