Our “due date” (3/12) came and went – we waited, anxiously, excitedly, and felt every emotion in between. It is the ultimate waiting game after all.
I continued eating my dates daily and taking evening primrose oil but now that we were past due, we started regular acupressure which I think ultimately worked it’s magic..
Because we officially past 40 weeks, we were told we’d need to schedule a BPP ultrasound to monitor our babe more thoroughly, make sure everything was measuring okay, and that I would need to pass a stress test. After months of prenatal care from Shar and Carol (Midwifery Care NYC) on our couch in the comforts of our own home, the last thing I wanted to do was go to a foreign, sterile medical office and be strapped to machines for hours or be potentially told things were not good and I should “move things along”. I think my babe (we were still unsure what the sex was at this point) knew this – I mean, we were that connected.
Early St. Patrick’s Day (3/17) morning – and the day before our scheduled BPP ultrasound – about 3:30AM, I went to the bathroom to find my mucus plug had vacated the premises. I almost skipped back to the bedroom like a schoolgirl and whispered to my husband that I think we were finally starting this show. My midwives urged me to try and rest as much as I could now because I’d ultimately need my strength and energy later – this could not have been more true but also so hard to do. My surges stayed pretty consistent throughout the day at about 10 minutes apart. We carried on as usual; went for walks, practiced my breathing exercises, napped, ate, listened to my affirmations. At about 10PM I felt I hit a mental and physical wall, I needed the support of our doula, Yael (BBirth NYC) – I needed some fresh energy and guidance. This is also where my sense of time starts to get completely fuzzy. Yael came over and started working with me immediately, helping me breathe through surges, applying counter pressure, allowing my husband take a nap, etc. She really helped me zone in on the task at hand. My mind started to wonder in and out, worrying about non-important issues – she saw where I was headed and was able to reel my thoughts and focus back in.
At some point the next morning and afternoon when active labor started, it was time to get in the water. Thankfully, we had the space to keep our pool mostly inflated so when it was go time, we were ready. I didn’t have any expectations of using water therapy but knowing how much water (beaches, swimming, etc.) soothes my soul, I knew that I wanted to at least labor in it. This was so, SO helpful. The warm water really allowed me to relax as much as possible – my husband sat in with me and poured water over my belly with each surge. At this point too, my surges started to move into my back and again, the water helped ease the pressure. Around this time while in the pool is when Carol arrived; she examined me and confirmed my cervix was paper-thin (thanks to the dates, I believe!) but that I wasn’t quite ready to push.
Over the course of my active labor stage, while in and out of the pool and shower, I was also really taking advantage of the birth ball – all easing the serious pressure I was feeling in my lower half, front and back. During active labor is where my hypnobirthing practices (Hypnobirthing NY) really came into play. Between all the visual and breathing exercises and affirmations, I was able to completely fall into my own zone. My birth team can confirm this as well – I really went into my own world and was able to work through surges and pressure productively. I could hear and see what was happening around me, was able to communicate with my birth team throughout but I’d like to believe I stayed in my own very calm place, moving along naturally and listening to the cues of my body and my babe.
At this point though – and 30ish hours in – I was physically tired (here’s where Carol’s advice to rest in the early pre-labor stage was totally accurate). My doula suggested I lie down, close my eyes and try and rest. We moved to the bed and because I was so in my own hynobirthing zone, I was actually able to fall into deep, extremely restful periods of sleep in between surges – which were 2-3 minutes apart at this point. Laying on my side, breathing through a surge, I would fall asleep as soon as one would end, wake up as the next was starting and roll over to ask Yael how long I had been asleep for (thinking for sure an hour at least) only for her to tell me two minutes.
After a couple more rounds of shower therapy and birth ball exercises, it was time to push this babe out – which still hadn’t really hit me that I had to get this babe out until it was push time. Because my back pressure was pretty strong at this point, we headed to our bed to push. I can still visualize my team around me; our doula on my left, my husband and Carol coaching from below and our birth assistant on my right – and our dog patiently waiting next to our bed. With each surge, I’d close my eyes, listen to my team coach my pushes and visually see my babe coming down and out. After an hour of pushing – on March 18 at 9PM – we heard the first cry and my husband was able to catch and place our baby on me. Being so wrapped up in the moment, we forgot to ask what the sex was until our team announced, “It’s a girl!” – a complete shock! I had been referring to my belly as a boy pretty much throughout the duration of my pregnancy. Surprise!
While I’m still processing the details of our birth (and I’m sure I missed some here), I am beyond thankful that we were able to have the exact birth experience we wanted; in the comforts of our own home, free of time constraints, free of unnecessary interventions, the freedom to move about and explore various labor techniques as they worked for me, and with my rock star team (dog included). I went into this pregnancy slightly anxious hearing other’s hospital birth nightmares and quickly figured out what I did and did not want. It also was a challenge at times to receives people’s reactions that didn’t completely understand, or were against, the home birth experience. I used all of this as labor ammo and 40 weeks, 6 days and 37-hours of labor later, Ivey Simone graced our lives. She’s an absolute gift and we’re thankful for her every single moment.