I was cautiously excited and trying not to get my hopes up for real labor since there were three previous times that week that I thought I had been in labor. I called my homebirth midwife, Tara Kenny. We called our parents and my husband’s sister around 4pm and told them that I “might” be in labor and that we’d keep them posted. We returned home and started organizing the last details for our homebirth. My husband (D) set up the tub, but Tara had cautioned us not to fill it till I was in active labor and I still wasn’t totally sure I was in labor. We finished making some playlists. We turned on “In the Line of Fire” which we had started the previous evening. The contractions were getting stronger and were about 6 minutes apart. I needed to focus during the contractions but between them I was normal and chatting.
By 6:30pm we decided that this was most likely labor and started organizing childcare for our son and calling D’s sister- who was going to be present to take photographs and help out with anything else. I was feeling a little nervous that this was not labor and that we were going to get all these people organized and then have to tell them that it wasn’t the real thing. I asked my husband to call Tara to see if we should fill up the tub. I didn’t feel like talking on the phone.
After the various calls, we decided to turn off the movie and listen to some of the music. Fatboy Slim’s “Praise You” came on and we danced together in the dark living room. This was one of the best parts of the whole labor! I was starting to realize that it was the real thing – we were really going to have this baby – really soon – really now. I felt a huge gush of love flow out of me for my husband, for my son, for Mojo (baby on the way) and for our family. I felt very lucky and thankful to be there in the dark living room so full of love.
Not long after this I started to feel like I really needed to concentrate between the contractions as well. I asked my husband to move the rocking chair into the birth room (our second bedroom). We moved there, turned on the crystal salt lamp that we borrowed from our yoga teacher and I rocked. I didn’t want D to touch me but I wanted him close by. I think this was around 8pm although time starts to get very fuzzy here. In between contractions I was half-heartedly helping D fill the birth tub, but knew I wouldn’t be able to do this for too much longer.
At 8:30 Tara arrived and came in to say hello and monitor the baby’s heart rate. I said “hi” between contractions, but immediately went back to concentrating and rocking. My sister in law arrived shortly thereafter. I labored in the rocking chair until about 10pm (which I only know because of looking at the timestamp on the photos) and then Tara suggested that I get in the tub.
I was very hot so it felt nice to take off my clothes and get in the tub. It felt great to be in the tub water and to feel somewhat floaty. I labored there for awhile and Tara asked me if I felt pressure or wanted to push. I said maybe, but maybe not. I really wasn’t sure and definitely felt like there was no way I was at the pushing stage yet. In retrospect, I guess I was psyching myself up for a marathon labor like my first one with my son, so during the experience I was sure I needed 4-5 more hours to get totally dilated.
Somewhere in here D got in the tub with me and held me or pressed on my back during contractions. This was great to have him so close. I was acutely aware of his presence throughout the labor and didn’t want him to leave my side.
Somewhere around 10:30/11, Tara’s partner Audra Karp arrived with Catherine Stamatos, a student midwife.
At a certain point, Tara said she thought I was holding back and I told her I was scared to push because I didn’t think I was ready. She said she could check me (they had not done any checks up to that point) and Dave said he thought it was a good idea. He knew I was not convinced that I could be ready to have the baby yet. So I said yes, let’s check, but then Tara said it would be best to get out of the tub to pee and then be checked. This was a terrible thought to me and I couldn’t think of moving to the other room and getting on our bed, so I said I would stay in the tub.
After a couple more contractions, I decided I would try and get out of the tub to pee. I thought to myself that there is no way that any pee is coming out of me but I got out to try. She suggested pushing while on the toilet. I started and gave a couple of real pushes – whoa! It felt good and it felt right to push. I started feeling elated! The baby really WAS going to come much faster than my first. Here I was already pushing – amazing! I started really going for it and Tara said “OK if you want to have a water birth…get back in the tub.”
I somehow maneuvered back to the tub and got on my knees with my hands on the edge of the tub. I gave a couple of giant pushes over the next few contractions and was so excited to feel the head coming down and out. It was almost out. So on the next contraction I gave several huge pushes (they really ARE pushes, not “breathing the baby down”) and felt the head come out. Someone said that he was being born in the bag of waters and to reach down and feel it. I did and it felt very bizarre – gelatinous and sort of alien.
I asked “Is the head out?” and the midwives said “Not quite”. Arg! I was sure it was out! So I decided that now the head would REALLY come out and gave a huge push and Mojo’s whole body shot into the water. D said later he was so stunned that he couldn’t catch the baby. Luckily Tara was ready and caught him. Tara handed me my baby and we didn’t even look to see if it was a boy or girl. I held him and cried “My baby, my baby” and felt the hugest sense of relief and elation and wonder and everything all at once. I couldn’t believe how smoothly and quickly this birth had gone! It was amazing and perfect!! In retrospect, from the midwives’ notes, I only pushed for 15 minutes.
After a couple minutes of catching my breath and holding little Mojo against my chest I said “oh we better see if this is a boy or girl”. We looked and although I had bet on girl this baby was definitely a boy. I said something like “Oh My Boy!!! Well, we have to have a girl next!” D told me later he was amazed that I was talking about having another about 5 minutes after giving birth.
From there, everything was cake. They got me out of the tub to deliver the placenta, baby Mojo started nursing almost immediately, and everyone went about cleaning up and celebrating and chatting. D cut the umbilical cord. We did the newborn exam in the bed. They got me up to pee a couple times (which felt like amazing relief). And I snuggled with my brand new baby . Somewhere around 4am I ate the rest of the turkey sandwich that I had at lunch (the best sandwich ever, from Hi-Rise Bakery) and felt really thankful that I was at home, in my bed, with my new baby, awesome husband, loving sister-in-law and best-ever-turkey-sandwich. YUM!