Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
My pregnancy with our third child began exactly the way it ended: unexpected and leaving us in suspense.
The day we got the positive pregnancy test I had a mix of emotions. We had miscarried in August and part of me wanted that baby back, and another part of me knew that we should wait another year. Our daughter Evangélina was just turning one. Was I really ready for one more so soon? Did I want to go through a pregnancy with a toddler?
The evening of November 4, 2011, I held three positive tests in my hand unsure of what was to come next, or if this pregnancy would even stick. A week later I was told my hcg levels were low, too low to be a viable pregnancy and to expect to miscarry soon. I waited almost two long weeks for something to happen as I watched the lines fade on the tests I would take every day. I was watching my baby leaving me, slowly. It was heartbreaking. I would stop and sob while my husband held me. This needed to end soon because waiting was torture.
I called my doctor and we agreed that perhaps a D&C was the best idea. I felt it was the right thing to do for myself, emotionally. To be able to bring closure to this pregnancy. We scheduled the appointment for a monday. The friday before I started feeling odd. Smells were stronger, and I felt dizzy and nauseous. I ran to the store and grabbed four digital tests. I needed to see a clear YES or NO. Half an hour later I stood in my kitchen shocked to see the words PREGNANT staring back up at me. At my appointment that Monday I walked into my doctor's office with a plastic bag holding four positive pregnancy tests. She decided to send me for another blood test before scheduling any sort of procedure to be done.
The day before Thanksgiving I received a call from my doctor : I was pregnant! My hcg levels were up! The pregnancy was thriving! The next day, as I sat around the table and looked at my family I knew that I had a lot to be thankful for. This pregnancy was happening sooner than we had expected, but we didn't care, we were about to grow as a family and that was to be celebrated!
We planned to have another homebirth with the same midwives that delivered our daughter almost two years ago. There were a few things I wanted to do differently this time: I did not want to find out the sex of the baby, and I wanted a water birth.
The next 7 months flew by. I was busy chasing a toddler, working part time as an office assistant at my midwife's office, moving to a new home, gardening, and nesting. July snuck up on us and it was now my due month. We were never sure on a due date because I was nursing my daughter when we found out I was pregnant and I didn't have a normal cycle to go by. We guessed sometime mid to end of July. At the beginning of July I started having nightly contractions right before bed. They would keep me awake for a few hours and then slowly go away. I welcomed these and thought of them as a chance to practice my relaxation techniques and to learn to surrender and trust my body. This practice would come in handy during the actual delivery.
Mid July came and went. No sign of labor. Baby was pretty low, and I was beginning to feel the aches and pains in my pelvis and back associated with the end of a pregnancy. I felt like a ticking time bomb. At any minute labor would start, but we had no idea when. Could be as late as the beginning of August! One of the midwives who delivered Evangelina was going on vacation starting July 29th, and my biggest fear was that she would be gone when this baby came and she wouldn't be here to deliver. She was more than just my midwife, in the past two years she has become a dear friend to me.
Friday, July 28th, at around 1pm I started having pretty strong and regular contractions. They were about 4-5 minutes apart lasting 45 to 60 seconds. As the hours went by I noticed that each contraction required more of my attention. I was home alone with my two children, and I decided it was probably time to call for some help. I called my husband Clement, who was at work, and then called my mother who was planning on being here to help with the kids. Everyone arrived at around 3:00. Clement found me in the room in the rocking chair swaying back and forth with each contraction, knitting a cardigan for the baby. He suggested that maybe it was time to call the midwife to let her know that I was in labor. I called my midwife, but told her that I didn't think it was time yet, and that there no rush to come over. She was worried that since this wasn’t my first baby, that things might progress faster than I expected and she felt better if she sent her assistant over to just assess my labor and see where I was.
The midwife's assistant arrived and checked my progression. I was only about 3-4 cm dilated and the baby was very low. She decided to go back home, but told me to call her as soon as things changed. My husband started filling up my birth pool as I rocked and moaned on our bed through every contraction. The birth pool made my contractions more manageable as the hours went by. I was starting to worry that I wasn't making any progress. My contractions weren’t getting stronger, and they weren't getting closer. There was no visible signs of labor. No mucus, no blood. I was in labor, but something didn’t feel right. At around midnight I decided to try and catch some sleep between the contractions so I laid my head on the side of my birth pool and closed my eyes. I woke up at around 2:00 am to my midwife checking the baby with the doppler and realized that in the past two hours I had not had a single contraction, or at least any that were strong enough to wake me up. The midwife's assistant and I decided that maybe getting me out of the warm water might help. Perhaps I was a little too comfortable in there and labor had stalled. I curled up in my bed with my husband and closed my eyes, waiting for the next big contraction. I woke up at 5:00 am and hadn't had a single contraction for 3 hours. I went downstairs to my living room where the assistant was sleeping on our couch and started sobbing. I wanted this to be over. The pain and the anticipation was just too much. I sat and talked out my emotions to my midwife's assistant and my mother. We decided it was best if she went home and I would stay in touch with her should things change. I wanted time alone at home with my husband to process all these feelings I had and to remind myself to trust this process. There was something in the works that was bigger than me and I had to surrender.
The entire weekend was hard both physically and emotionally. Every hour to every three hours I was having contractions that would bring me to my knees. These felt like transition contractions that didn’t build up slowly, but would come crashing into my body leaving me in a panic as I tried to catch my breath or get into a position quick enough that would help me ride through the wave of pain. By Monday morning I was in tears. One contraction an hour was not only painful, but was shattering all trust I had in my body and my baby to do this naturally. My husband had just started a new job and I wanted him to save all his days off for after the baby came, so I was home alone with two children and feeling miserable.
Later that day I went to the bathroom and I noticed that there was a lot of show. I didn’t get excited because I felt that everything my body did was just crying wolf. This meant nothing to me. My midwife's assistant called me later that day to check on me and see how I was doing. She mentioned to me the possibility of labor going fast if my water breaks. I thought this was just a story, something to motivate me or give me hope that the end was coming soon, and it might happen sooner than I expected. I didn't believe her . I was beyond the hopeful birth stories. I knew this would end soon, but I feared that these contractions were a sign of what was to come: a very long, and extremely painful labor.
Around dinner time that evening I started noticing that my contractions were creeping closer together. Instead of every hour, I was having one about every half hour. This continued on through the night, and left me sobbing in my husbands arms begging for this to just be over. I just wanted these contractions to pick up and get this show back on the road!
As I was getting ready for bed I decided to see if I could check my dilation to see what was happening. I had been checking myself all weekend long and I could feel that I was still 4cm, cervix was really soft, and baby’s head was low. Feeling the baby’s little head reminded me that I would be holding and kissing that tiny head soon. As I checked myself, expecting to feel the same lack of progress I had felt all weekend, I was surprised to feel a bulging bubble! My water was ready to break and I am sure this bubble was the culprit behind my excruciating contractions.
At 10:25pm I crawled into bed and cried again to my husband saying “If only my water would break, I would feel so much better!”. At 10:30 pm...we heard a loud “pop”, and I felt a huge gush of water. My husband laughed excitedly and jumped up to help clean the bed, and I laid there terrified, afraid to move and scared of what was about to happen next. Would these next contractions be ten times worse than what I had experienced already? ...
Birth photo by Lainey Sigler