Grace Naomi was born on August 3rd just after 8 in the morning after only 3 hours of labor. My labor and delivery of her was amazing because of how different it was from my first birth. If we have any more children, I would be very thankful for a similar birth experience. I think the experience of labor and birth is a miracle. No doctor in the world can tell you when a baby is going to be born. God just designed the body to know when the baby needs to come out and it’s a mystery to us all.
My first doctor gave me a due date of August 3rd, but the midwife re-calculated it to August 4th for some reason, so Grace came right on time. I took some notes when labor started, but just like last time, it wasn’t possible to document everything so hopefully I can remember some details.
On Sunday, 8/3, I woke up at 5am with painful cramps. They were immediately painful and immediately consistent every few minutes. The pain started in my back and moved around to the front, so I immediately thought, great… back labor already. (If you have not experienced back labor, there is no way to describe it. I had it with Eva’s labor and it was horrible. It feels like your body is breaking in half.) I was told that I had back labor with Eva because she was “sunny side up” or in a posterior position. But, this baby was in a perfect position, so why did I have back labor? I guess that’s just how my uterus likes to do it.
Around 5:30am I got in the shower thinking this was the start of a long labor process and I wanted to try to relax while I still had breaks between contractions. Not that it is possible to “relax” during labor, but the goal is to let your body do what it is doing and not get in the way. I also wanted to test out the ability of water to help ease pain since my thoughts were to have a natural “water birth” at the hospital in their birthing tub. I had read that immersion in water during labor could reduce pain by 50%, so I was all for that. After a shower, I took my time getting dressed and getting things ready for the hospital. Danail had awoken by then and I told him I was probably in labor, but he could just relax or sleep some more, because I was expecting it to be a while. I had hoped to labor at home for many hours before going in which was advised by the midwives also.
6am: I started timing my contractions using this free contraction timer that I had used last time and they were about 20 sec long and about 3 min apart. I also had fluid leaking which I guessed was amniotic fluid, but with my previous birth, my amniotic sac never ruptured until close to the end so I didn’t know what that was like. The pain really increased and I was surprised because I had only been in labor 1 hour and I was blown away by the increase of pain and had a lot of doubts about how it could get any worse. I tried to not think about the pain but just count and breath until the “break” where I could then act normally and continue getting things ready. The entire time I was walking around, eating grapes, drinking coconut water (I wanted to make sure I was hydrated) and being active. When the contraction would start, I’d press the start button on the timer, then get into whatever position felt comfortable to deal with the pain, then stop the timer. I was pretty good about timing them until about 7am, then there was no way I could time anything.
7am: The pain was really intense and I got a little worried about how it could intensify so quickly. I was expecting to labor for hours before thinking about calling the midwife, but there was no way I was waiting now. I called and told her my contractions were 3 min apart and 30-40 sec long. She said that the frequency of them was fast (3 min apart) but that the length of them should be longer and I should wait until they were 60-80 sec long before coming in. At that time, we had called my parents and my mom was on her way to our place so she could watch Eva while we went to the hospital. I told the midwife that I would wait until my mom got here, then I’d call her again with my progress since we couldn’t leave until someone was here with Eva anyways. I felt for sure that we’d have plenty of time, no way I’d make that much progress before she got here.
7:30am: My contractions very quickly kept getting longer and closer together. The last note I wrote was that they were 1.5 min long and 2 min apart. I told Danail to call my mom again and see what was taking so long because I felt that we had to go to the hospital now. He called her and found out that she was lost! There was road construction and the one exit to our place was closed, so she had taken the next exit and went the wrong way. He was on the phone with her giving her directions. Eva had woken up by this time and was worried about me as she could tell I was in pain. I tried to assure her between contractions that I was fine, but baby sister was coming and it hurt sometimes. Danail fed her breakfast and other things, so she would stay in the kitchen and not be scared. I remember thinking that I didn’t know how I could ride in a car at this stage of labor and I really wished we had left earlier.
7:45am (maybe): I don’t know the timing of the next few events but I’ll just guess. During pregnancy, I had done a lot of exercises with squatting and being on the floor on hands and knees as preparation for labor, and I found that those were the positions I instinctively went into in order to deal with the pain. I was up walking around being active between contractions, but the moment one started, I had to get on my hands and knees and put my head almost to the floor with my butt higher up which slightly took pressure off my back and just felt like a productive position to be in. My mom finally got there around 7:50am (12 min before Grace was born). We only know that because Danail was on the phone with her and reviewed the phone time long. She was trying to be with Eva and out of the way so that Eva would not be scared. I don’t remember anything about her arrival. I do remember feeling like I should go in the bathroom and sit on the toilet. I sat for a moment, but when the next contraction came, I thought I’d try squatting to see if that relieved some pressure. The moment I did that, I felt a huge pop and my water broke. That was surreal since I had never experienced that during my first birth. I said to Danail that my water broke. I can’t remember if I said that I thought the baby was coming now or what… but something made him decide to call 911. My mom came over a minute later and said what should she do, and I said to call 911 and she said Danail already is on the phone with them.
7:50am: After that I just knew the baby was coming at any moment, so I grabbed every towel in the closet and spread them all over the bathroom floor. I was already on the floor on my knees so it was easy to just open the door and grab everything and spread it around. For some reason I wasn’t scared because I felt like everything was okay. For some reason, even in the horrifying pain of childbirth alone in a bathroom (and it is the most horrifying pain that no man will every understand), it felt like my body was doing the right things, nothing felt wrong. I could feel the baby coming and that was all. I had been praying most of the time, but probably not at the end because there was no room in my mind for thought, so perhaps God was just giving me peace and I went with it.
8am: Danail was on the phone with 911 and they were telling him to tell me to get on the bed on my back and look to see if he sees the baby coming. He said this to me and I said “no way, I am not moving.” First of all, I could not move because my body was not going to let me, and secondly, that was a ridiculous idea, EMTs do not know how to deliver babies and the worse position is on your back with your feet up in the air. They just read that in a book or something and thought they’d suggest that. I knew I had to be in this position, it just felt right and I felt that everything was okay so I wasn’t moving. Danail had come in the bathroom then and was trying to see if he saw the baby coming. He said he couldn’t see anything, but then just moments later Grace was born. There was no moment of “pushing” or seeing her head come out then waiting for the body like normally happens. It was just, “I don’t see anything” and then she was out. I don’t remember consciously pushing. My body was doing everything and it was so quick that I just had to let it happen.
8:02am: Grace was born. Danail was behind me and said he put his one hand out and she sorta slid from his hand to the floor. I have no memory of him even being there, but I guess he was the first to see her. He didn’t really catch her, but maybe shortened her fall. I was already on the floor and so close to the floor and there were towels everywhere, so I don’t think it would have been a problem if she just dropped onto a towel, but I wasn’t thinking about that at that moment. She immediately cried and looked perfect. She had a really long umbilical cord and it was just draped over her foot. I know it would have been terrifying if the cord was wrapped around her neck or something like I’ve heard stories about. I’m so thankful that everything was perfect. We sat about 5 minutes and just looked at her while she screamed and the EMTs arrived a few minutes later. I actually had a bulb syringe in a drawer close by and I got it out thinking I would suction out her throat/nose and I started to but realized I didn’t need to, she was breathing just fine. When I first saw her I thought she looked exactly how Eva looked when she came out. I could not believe this had just happened and thought for sure I was dreaming.
8:15am (or so): The EMTs arrived. I think a fire department team was there too. There were maybe 5 very large men and 1 very nice lady. They were very kind and said I did a great job. There was no rush since baby looked perfect and was screaming and very pink and alive. It is amazing how after the moment she came out, immediately all the pain was gone and I was a normal person again. The uterus is an amazingly strong organ. The placenta came after another mild contraction and then they transferred us to the hospital to check us out and make sure everything was okay. I road in the ambulance and held Grace and Danail followed us in the car and Grandma stayed with Eva at home.
They asked us to stay at the hospital for 48 hours because I had been GBS positive and normally if I delivered in the hospital I would have been given antibiotics during labor, but since we delivered at home that didn’t happen, so they wanted to watch the baby. She was fine and I thought I would go crazy being in the hospital that long. I was so bored. It was impossible to sleep because someone was always coming in and out checking on me or the baby. If there is a next time, perhaps I will plan a home birth since it worked out so well this time unintentionally.
Grace has been a very sleepy baby from the beginning and so I have been blessed with our first few days together and have been able to rest much more than I did with Eva in the beginning. I love the newborn stage. My milk came in on day 3 instead of day 5 like with Eva. I have been having cramping every time Grace nurses, which is a new thing with baby 2. I was told this could be more painful with each pregnancy but is beneficial to help the uterus contract back to normal size. Everyone at the hospital was wonderful and we had to retell the birth story many times since the midwives and nurses were confused about how we got there with a baby but didn’t deliver there. Even though it was unplanned, it was the best birth experience I could have imagined and I thank God that everything was so fast and perfect.