That being said, every braxton hicks contraction from March on I felt concerned; I wondered - is this it? Is this how labor starts? How will I know? I remember several different nights mid-March when I would awake about once an hour due to a contraction that woke me up, use the restroom and then be able to go back to sleep until the next one hit… how many days would these continue before I would awake and truly be in labor? I was hypersensitive to every little movement of my uterus and trying to figure out what would happen next. Hypersensitivity is not a fun way to live for a day, let alone a month. On March 18th I even thought labor was beginning enough to use the ipod to time four contractions that were all closer than ten minutes apart; and that, too, was just more nothing but nothing. On March 22nd, I tried to stimulate labor with clary sage, and a few other things, which got contractions going every 10 minutes for about 2 hours; and then it all died away...
At this point I decided to get my hair and makeup done (this was one of my top priorities if there was any chance I was in labor - I wanted to look good in my birth photos!) and texted with my photographer Allie White to let her know that something might be going on. I set up a play date for my four year old daughter to go up the street and play for a few hours.
1:47 p.m. Seventh timed contraction lasting 1:28 minutes.
In between contractions I gave my daughters preparation instructions including "glove up," "open the ambubag," and "get on the stethascope." I also assessed how each of my daughters and husband were handling the birth - particularly their emotions and perceptions of my behavior.
During contractions I was consumed by the powers of birth; shaking almost violently, breathing, and trying to give up all resistance. I was aware that I was groaning, making deep, throaty, appropriate birthing type noises, which I would have shut off immediately if I perceived that anyone in the room was really bothered by them. It was so freeing to feel that I could express the birth energy however I wanted, and everyone present was comfortable and trusted that all was well.
There was no longer any doubts in my mind, this was pushing stage, and I could feel the baby descending-but I was not ready to really push yet! I remembered that pushing is not necessary and the baby will come with or without my conscious efforts (as I learned from my previous birth) and so determined that I would 'breathe' my baby out.
For the next contraction I declared "I'm climbing away from this one." As that is exactly what I was doing, and I wanted my girls to note what that looks like when a mother does that during pushing stage. (Chin up, arched back, rising up and away from the core).
During the next contraction I felt with my hand as crowning and burning occurred, cradling the head every so gently as it began to slowly emerge. I did not push anymore at this point, but let the contractions ease the baby out on their own (they were plenty powerful enough).
For the last contraction I felt with my hand as the crowning grew, widened, filled my palm and then my whole hand. "Head" I said. "Head is out." But the moment I knew it, the moment it filled my whole hand and I felt the soft contours of the baby's face, I had to let go, the sensations I was feeling were plenty without also having the sensation in my hand, but I knew that my baby was beginning to rotate, and I didn't want to stick a finger in its' face, etc.
I immediately began the move I had "practiced" before, moving from forward leaning over the side of the tub, lifting my right leg, and sitting back. This is when the birth occurred, and though I was not touching the baby during it, I easily and smoothly brought the baby up out of the water all in the same movement.
I did make a lot of noise while in the tub, the sensations of a baby moving through ones pelvis is hardly pleasant, nor is that easily definable feeling of crowning the head and the burning stretch of tissue that you just cannot escape.
Each of my daughters seemed calm and fairly confident. I am excitedly awaiting the professional birth photography pictures which will hopefully be available towards the end of this month.