[Fair warning: This is a birth story. If that sort of thing grosses you out, you may want to stop reading here.]
With less than a month to go until Austin’s first birthday, I think it’s time to officially tell the story of his eventful birth. For those of you that don’t know, Austin was supposed to be born in a nearby hospital, but he surprised us by being born at home with only my husband there to catch him!
When you tell people you had an unplanned home birth, the reactions you get are quite entertaining. Many males are alarmed by the story and remark that they don’t think they could have handled delivering a child on their own. After explaining that my labor with Austin was only 4.5 hours, I’ve also been asked, “Couldn’t you make it to the hospital in 4.5 hours?” Sure, if I knew it was only going to be 4.5 hours. Now may be a good time to mention that my labor with Parker (my now 3 year old son) lasted 27 hours (you can read that story here). People often ask if I was scared. The truth is, it happened so fast that there wasn’t time for being scared. I was focused on birthing my baby. There were no resources available to devote to anything else. Another common question is, “Were you planning to have an epidural?” No, I was not. I didn’t have an epidural the first time around, and I wanted this birth to be as natural as possible too. If a natural birth experience was what I wanted, then I guess I got it, huh? 😉
So do you want to know how it all went down? Of course you do! Because after all, the number one question is, “How did that happen?” Well, let’s start at the beginning, shall we? After my experience with Parker, I realized I could not expect to work until the last minute, so I stopped working a week before my due date. I was expecting to have time to relax and get a few things done. Since Parker was born several days after his due date and both my brother and I were born late, my assumption was that Austin would also come after his due date of March 18th. However, five days before my due date I noticed some slight bleeding, which I assumed was from my mucous plug, although it was not obvious like it had been with Parker. Last time I lost my mucous plug in the morning and then went into labor that night. This time I did not go into labor, but at my doctor’s appointment the next day I discovered that I was already 1 cm dilated. It took me 5 hours of labor with Parker to dilate 1 cm! The combination of the bleeding and the dilation made me start to think that perhaps Austin would be coming early. This thought quickly turned into me expecting labor each day, but each day nothing happened. I started to feel like a ticking time bomb, which unfortunately made it hard for me to relax and enjoy my last few days of pregnancy.
Finally on Saturday the 16th about 7:30 at night, as I was putting Parker to bed I noticed what I thought might be a contraction. My husband Clint was grabbing a few items from the grocery store at the time, but fortunately he wasn’t gone long. When he returned I asked him to take over and read to Parker (I sat on the bed with them but was not up to reading myself). Then I decided that in case it was really labor I should take a shower. You would think that the second time around I would be even better at recognizing labor (it only took me half an hour last time to conclude I was in labor), but apparently I was not. Every time I had a contraction I was sure that I was in labor, but in between contractions I felt so normal that I would second guess myself. My only explanation for this silliness is that I had been expecting to be in labor for so long that when it finally happened I was afraid that I was imagining it.
My mom was supposed to be my second birth coach again (in addition to my husband), and my Dad and brother were supposed to babysit Parker while we went to the hospital. Due to my second guessing nature that night, I didn’t even contact my mom until I had been in labor for almost an hour, and even then I just texted her, “Seem to be having some contractions. Will keep you posted.” An hour after that (two hours into labor), I finally confirmed for her that I was actually in labor and suggested that she, “come up when it’s convenient” and specifically said, “no rush.” I knew my parents were attending an event that night, and I thought we had plenty of time. The doctor had told me that the second labor is generally about half the time of the first labor. My first labor was 27 hours, so I was figuring I would be giving birth the next morning, maybe 6ish if you factored out the five hour stall of my last labor. I didn’t want my family to get to our house too early because I wanted to labor at home as long as possible. Since we live in a relatively small place, and I could just picture my dad and brother cracking inappropriate jokes, I was afraid I would be forced to go to the hospital early just to have personal space (I love you guys, but you can imagine why I might be concerned). Anyway, my parents started to wrap up at their event, but even then they were a half hour away from their house, they still needed to pack their stuff, and it’s over an hour drive to our house.
Even though I was in denial, the contractions started off somewhat intense and were relatively close together (we weren’t timing the contractions in the beginning, but I’m guessing they were 7-8 minutes apart on average). However, I was still functional in between contractions, so after my shower I decided we needed to straighten up the house. It wasn’t a big mess, but I wanted to take care of a few chores. When a contraction would come, I would get into a “comfortable” position and try to work with it, and afterward I would return to my tasks. As the contractions increased in intensity I began doing less and directing my husband more (sorry about that babe). Fortunately he’s a very patient man and did his best to roll with the crazy.
Eventually I hit a point where I couldn’t do anything other than focus on the labor though. I still wanted to style my hair (all wavy and frizzy from my shower) and touch up my toe nail polish, but that wasn’t going to happen. I barely managed to pull my hair back, and that was the end of accomplishing things (other than that little task of birthing a child). I’m guessing this was about 10:30, which is when we finally started timing contractions. Earlier I didn’t want to time contractions for some reason– I just wanted to do my thing. As labor started to get more intense though, we really needed to know what was going on. It turns out I was having contractions every 4-5 minutes now, and they were lasting about 45 seconds. It wasn’t too long after this that I really needed Clint’s help to get through the contractions. I mean really, really. The contractions seemed more painful than I had remembered them being, but I assumed that I had just remembered wrong.
By 11:00 the contractions were coming pretty consistently every 4 minutes and began increasing in length. I texted my mom at this point saying that contractions were picking up intensity fast, and then at 11:20 Clint texted them to find out where they were at. By 11:30 the contractions were lasting a minute and were coming every 2.5 minutes. Clint now called my parents. They were on their way, but they were not very close. I remember one of my parents told a joke on the phone. Clint had to explain to them that I was not in a joking place. It seems so obvious what was happening now looking back, but at the time all we thought was that we were going to need to head into the hospital as soon as they arrived.
Around 11:45 I was laying down on our bed when I noticed that I felt nauseous and my legs were shaky. I knew those were signs of transition (the last stage of labor). I shouldn’t be in transition yet! I went to the toilet but did not throw up. I told my husband that we could not wait for my parents to get here anymore– we had to call my friends. So he called my best friend Lisa and her husband Tim who live locally. They were already in bed for the night, but they were happy to come over to watch Parker for us. They quickly threw on clothes and rushed over. They estimate they were here in 15 minutes. It wasn’t fast enough.
To be continued…
Part 2 now available here.