I was getting ready for bed at midnight on November 21 when my water broke. I woke Phil up and told him my water had broken and he started getting things together. After calling Cheryl, our midwife, contractions still hadn't begun so I lay down and listened to my birthing affirmations. Surges began at around 1:30am; I spent the time on the birth ball and walking around the house. It was amazing that with each surge I could feel the baby moving down into my pelvis, and by visualizing these movements I was able to facilitate dilation. It also became quickly apparent that the baby was in a posterior position because at about 3:00 I stopped getting a break in between surges and was feeling a constant intense pressure in my back. I had been in the shower for about an hour and by this time the surges were coming about 2-3 minutes apart. We spoke with the midwife again and headed to the hospital at about 4:00am.
By the time we arrived at the hospital the pain in my back was so intense that I was unable to stay on top of the surges. Even with 28 hours of back labor with Ocean, I was able to deal with it pretty well but this time felt much more intense, and I even cussed Phil out a little. They checked me at 4:30am and I was 4cm dilated. Phil had called Lindsay to let her know we were at the hospital and she arrived soon afterwards.
By the time Lindsay arrived I was completely out of the zone. I wasn't in control of the surges and was unable to cope with the back labor I was experiencing. But when Cheryl got there at 5:00 she checked me again and I was 8cm! Yes, that's right, I dilated 4 centimeters in 30 minutes. Cheryl took control, turned down the lights, started filling up the labor tub and put exactly the right counter-pressure on my back to get me focused again. At one point I had Cheryl, Lindsay and another nurse all massaging my back and encouraging me through each surge and the surges suddenly felt more productive and manageable again.
Once the tub was full I got in and was able to get a little bit of relief of some of the pressure, but before long I was feeling the most excruciating pain in my back. Despite my efforts to go deeper into relaxation I was unable to work through it and asked for an epidural. Cheryl wanted to check me one last time to make sure I wasn't completely open and when she did I was still at 8cm, almost 2 hours later.
At 7:00 the anesthesiologist arrived and I got what my nurse called The Perfect Epidural. My back labor was instantly gone but I could still feel the contractions and was able to move my legs and change positions. At this point it was much easier to use visualization to continue helping my body open and move the baby down.
The midwives also had a shift change at this time and so Cheryl left and Jodi arrived. The next several hours were uneventful from an outsider's perspective. Jodi checked me at 9:00am and I was almost 10cm. Then she checked again when I began feeling a slight urge to push and I still wasn't quite complete. But at about 1:00pm I felt my body bear down and she checked again… sure enough, I was fully open and the baby was ready to be born.
I pushed for about an hour and Iris was born… all 9 pounds, 10 ounces of her! Her head was also really big, which explains the intensity of the back labor that I experienced given the size and shape of my pelvis. But even with all of that baby, I birthed her easily, quickly and painlessly with no damage to my body.
And now my shameless plug for Hypnobirthing. I went into this birth with no fear and with absolute certainty of my body's ability to birth my child, and my ability to help facilitate and control what most would consider an involuntary process… no small feat after the negative associations I carried with me following Ocean's birth. I also connected so deeply with Iris during our birthing time that when I would give her an instruction she followed it ("Turn your head," or "Drop down further.") It was amazing to feel that involved, knowing she and I were working hard together to bring her into this world… I would not have been that aware of the baby's role in birth had it not been for the connection she and I forged during our relaxation sessions. And finally, the fact that a 9 pound 10 ounce baby came through my body so effortlessly… wow. You could say that her brother paved the way but he weighed two pounds less than she did and let's just say my recovery with him was much more difficult. This time my recovery has been easy and relatively painless… no meds needed. Iris has been a calm, alert and sweet baby so far and I also attribute much of that to the peaceful way in which she entered the world.
There is no greater sense of accomplishment than bringing forth life, no matter how it's done. Yes, we were made to do it… but when it actually happens we feel super-human. Or maybe we are simply experiencing the fullness of humanity as God intended, as creators made in the Creator's image.
Thank you, everyone, for your kind words of support and congratulations. We can't wait to introduce Iris to all of the people who have been anxiously awaiting her arrival.