Warning: This post will acknowledge the existence of things like poop and toilets. I'm just warning you.
I'm having a hard time writing Amelia's birth story. I keep trying to think of a way to make it heartwarming or sweet, but it really wasn't. The pregnancy was long (42 weeks!), but the labor was crazy fast. So before I delve into the nitty-gritty ugly details, let's pause and look at a picture of this sweet baby girl at 1 day old.
I love having a girl. Ahhhh.
So... here are the events of March 22, 2011 -
1:00 p.m.. - My midwife, Justine, strips my membranes. She warns that I will feel some cramping as a result. She was right. The cramping is immediate and without a start or stop. However, it isn't anything that I can't tolerate, so I just continue about business as usual.
5:30 p.m. - I notice that the cramping isn't going away. I call Justine and she tells me that it isn't real labor until the contractions are each a minute long.
7:00 p.m. - The cramping begins to feel more like contractions, but they aren't lasting very long. I time them during dinner (using my fancy iPhone contraction timing app!) and when we finish eating, I notice that they are consistently 4-5 minutes apart, but not a minute long, so I blow it off as cramping from the membrane stripping.
8:00 p.m. - My mom and Erik look at my contraction log and say, "You're going to have this baby!" I yell, "No, I'm not. You guys are stupid. Stop bothering me." I go into my room to be alone. They are really irritating me.
8:03 p.m. - Erik texts Justine:
"I don't think its full blown labor yet, but Cristin has been having shallow short contractions for the last hour. She thinks they have stopped but judging by her irritability, I think she could easily be in full labor a little bit later tonight."
8:15 p.m. - Erik checks on me. I'm sitting on my big birth ball and watching 30 Rock. I adamantly tell him that the contractions have stopped, so please stop bothering me.
8:45 p.m. - Erik comes into our room and threatens to call Justine if I don't. Reluctantly, I call Justine to tell her that Erik is freaking out, but I am fine. She tells me to lay down. She says that if the cramping doesn't go away, to call her back. I lay on my bed and after about 10 minutes, the "cramping" becomes really intense. In the meantime, Erik starts setting up the Aquadoula (the tub), but I tell him not to fill it with water yet because I'm not sure if this is the real thing.
9:36 p.m. - Erik texts Justine:
"I'm setting up the tub, but not filling it yet, just in case, ya know, the power of positive thinking."
9:45 p.m. - I call Justine to tell her that I think I might be in labor. She says she will come to check.
9:50 p.m. - I start screaming at my Mom and Erik to fill up the tub now. They are trying everything they can to do it, but there isn't any hot water left. Erik starts bringing candles in the room and I tell him he's stupid.
10:00 p.m. - I'm sitting on the edge of my bed, screaming that I want to get into the tub now and moaning about how Justine hasn't arrived yet. (No, I was not handling the pain well. Which isn't shocking since I failed to think about pain management for this labor. I got cocky because I had done this twice before and it came back to bite me. I was a screaming mess and a big jerk.)
10:20 p.m.. - Justine arrives. She checks me and I am dilated to a 9. I am happy for about 2 minutes after hearing that, and then I start screaming again. My mom starts boiling water on the stove to add to the cold water in the tub.
10:35 p.m. - The tub is barely full or warm, but I don't care because I want to get into the water so badly. I strip off my clothes and jump into the tub anyway. The cold water is horrific.
10:45 p.m. - My water breaks and I poop. In the tub. (This is a little secret about childbirth that women don't like to talk about. We poop while we have babies. It is extremely disgusting, but so is childbirth. It is gross, bloody, and yes, almost always, there is poop.) I feel like I have to go some more so everyone tells me to get out of the tub and go sit on the toilet, because who wants to float around in a tub of your own poop? Not me!
10:50 p.m. - Erik helps me over to the toilet. Immediately, I realize that this isn't poop. I manage to grunt, "I think that's the head." The baby flies out of me. Somehow, she does not fall in the toilet. (Thank you, Justine.) I can't believe I am sitting on the toilet and holding a baby. All I can say is, "Wow. That was funny."
So, what do you know? I ended up having a birth on the toilet kind of like all those ladies on I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant after all!
This is Amelia moments after her birth. Although, according to my early ultrasound, she was 2 weeks late, nothing appeared "past due." She weighed 8 lbs 6 oz., and was 21" long. My placenta didn't look like it was falling apart either. I'm really grateful for a midwife and doctor who helped me to feel confident about carrying a baby 2 weeks past my due date, despite all the people telling me that it was crazy dangerous to continue being pregnant.
This birth was different in that it was the first time my mom was able to attend the birth of a grandchild. When asked if it was a spiritual experience, she responded, "No, childbirth is kind of gross. Glad I don't have to go through that again." It probably didn't help that I was clutching on to her arm and screaming into her ear. Sorry, Mom. I really was a big jerk.
Although Amelia's birth wasn't heartwarming and sweet, it did reaffirm my love for home birth. My heart swells when I think about how fortunate I was to not have to get in a car and drive to a hospital while in labor. I received (and continue to receive) excellent care. (With the exception of the visits with my back-up doctor, all the midwifery visits were in my home!) For a low risk mother, I can not think of a better option for child birth than having a baby at home. It's definitely been a leap of faith, because child birth is scary no matter what, but I feel so blessed to have been able to do this twice now at home.
I may not be adventurous or athletic, but the sense of accomplishment that comes from being able to have had three children completely naturally is indescribable. I don't write this story out so that people will say, "Wow, you're amazing," because I believe that all mothers are amazing regardless of how their children enter this world, but instead to explain the reasons for choosing to do the things the way I do.
Besides, I have a feeling that childbirth was the easy part. Raising 3 little kids... that's going to be scary!