By Leah Reichardt-Osterkatz
Born December 7, 2015 at 6:47am
For several days, I had been telling friends and family that something different was happening in my uterus. Saturday evening I started to feel discrete contractions, but they did not feel painful. After going to bed, I was up with a contraction every 10 minutes through the night. They were not so intense that I needed to wake anyone up (wanting my support people to be rested for what was to come!), but they were intense enough that I got up out of bed with each one to lean over the counter and wiggle my hips around. They continued like that until mid-day Sunday. Once Nils, my husband, was awake, I was able to stay lying down through the contractions, because holding on to him made the pain less intense.
The contractions started to come closer together in the afternoon, but were not progressing in a consistent pattern. This, in combination with the fact that I was feeling a lot of pain in my back, was a clue that his head was not in an ideal position (which my midwife Maureen had predicted a few weeks earlier). I spent a lot of time in my parents’ hot tub, which made the contractions almost painless at that point. My husband and I took a long, slow walk around the property. While we were walking the contractions were coming about every two minutes. With each one we would either hug with me kind of hanging from his shoulders, or he would hold me from behind and lift my belly up, or I would lean forward and he would rub my back. We went back to the house and spoke with Maureen on the phone. The contractions had then slowed down again, so she suggested that I try to rest however possible and we would check back in soon. I went into the bedroom, but didn’t like the idea of lying down because I always felt the need to get up during contractions. I tried resting in child’s pose for quite a while, scooting off the end of the bed with each contraction, sometimes holding onto Nils and sometimes leaning over the bed with my mom and my friend stroking my back while I swayed my hips back and forth. I also tried sitting on the birth ball. Somewhere in there, in the early evening, we spoke to Maureen again and decided thing were getting serious enough to head to the birth center. My dad drove one car with Nils and me in the back. My mom, Svea, and Rachel followed behind. My brother stayed back to get a bit of sleep before coming later.
We arrived at the birth center around 7 or 8 PM. I was about 4 centimeters dilated, and Kaspar’s head was transverse. I wanted to get into the tub right away, as the water had helped so much earlier. For whatever reason, I did not like it at that point and got out after trying several different positions. Soon after that I decided to get a short acting pain medication with hopes of getting a little bit of rest, as I hadn’t really slept the night before. I was given half a dose, as it seemed possible that things could progress quickly after that (we were optimistic!). I lay down with Nils and everyone else left the room for a couple hours. Maureen rubbed my lower back for a long time. The contractions still felt quite intense during that time, but I was able to stay lying down the whole time and the massage felt very nice!
When the medication started wear off, the pain started ramping back up and my other support people came back into the room. I was then lying down between each contraction, and sometimes even falling asleep for a minute, as I was so tired. With each contraction I would jump out of bed and hang from Nils while various other people stroked my back and arms. For much of the time I was unaware of who was doing what! My mom made sure that I was constantly drinking. I drank a lot of coconut water, a calcium drink and a special labor tea that my sister-in-law had made.
Maureen checked me again and discovered that he was posterior — he had turned the wrong way! At that point Maureen started pulling out all of her tricks to get him to turn all the way back around. I was in and out of the shower several times, doing the “hoochie coochie” dance. I did hip circles on the birth ball. Maureen then suggested a saline injections in my back. She said that it would hurt a lot, but would hopefully help with the back labor and get him to turn around. When she gave me a towel to bite on, I knew I was not going to like it! I kneeled on the bed, leaning on the birth ball, bit my towel and screamed. After that, or maybe it was before, Maureen stood over me on the bed holding two ends of a big sheet that went under my belly. She clamped my hips with her legs, lifted my belly with the sheet and moved it side to side. There was still a ways to go after that. I tried some more hip circles on the ball and was back in the shower for a while. My mom said she was worried that my contractions would peter out from exhaustion, but they just kept getting stronger. Around 4:30 AM or so, I was finally fully dilated, and he had turned all the way around!
Throughout that two hours of pushing, even though he had turned to anterior position, I was still having a lot of back pain. We think it might have been that he had his hand up near his chin, because that is what he was doing right after coming out. I tried pushing in many different position — squatting, hands and knees, on my back and side lying. It took every ounce of energy and strength that I could muster at that point. Maureen, our nurse Mariah, and my whole team of support people were there cheering me on.
I was still very resistant to being lying down, but Maureen kept encouraging me into the side-lying position, because that it where I was making the most progress. I remember thinking that I couldn’t imagine how he was ever going to come out. The crown of his head was peeking out for quite a while, making slow progress. At some point, still thinking it was never going to happen, Maureen called to me to look down. His head and shoulders were out. With a little help, I reached down and pulled to him up to my chest. I suddenly felt so good to have him there against my skin. It was the biggest sense of relief I’ve ever experienced. After 20 minutes or so, he started rooting and latched on to nurse. Things have been pretty smooth sailing ever since!