Emily’s birth was a whole new ball of wax for me – first time out of the hospital (intentionally, anyway), and my first water birth. I had her at a local freestanding birthing center just a mile or two up the road from our house – a distinct improvement over the 40 minute drive to our previous venue. Though I did find that I missed those drives to my prenatal visits – 40 minutes up and back, all to myself, through a gorgeous canyon…yeah, it was alright.
Anyway. With Emily, as usual I felt like I was in early labor for about the last 4 or 5 weeks of my pregnancy. I spent most evenings in the bathtub, and I also spent a shocking amount of time playing some jewel game that Jonathan has on my Kindle. My body did not want to move, and my mind did not want to think. We were reading Lord of the Rings together as a family at the time, and I am afraid that the final chapters may always remind me of that silly game, as I would so often listen and play at the same time. I hope that memory fades before I read it again!
I don’t really get nervous about labor. I don’t know why, because I worry all the time about everything, really. I just accept that I am blessed with an exception, here. This time around I was worried about one thing, though. I had changed providers due to the move; not only this, but for my entire birthing career, I have been seen by ONE midwife – not the same for every baby, but only one for the pregnancy and birth. She knew me. She knew that my labors can be wacky, and she knew about the elevator birth and why it happened. All I had to say was, “I’m coming,” and she told the nurses to get in gear, pronto. Aw, she was awesome.
Well, at the birthing center, there was a team – large enough that I am not even sure how many there are. I liked most of them quite a lot, they are all caring and competent folks. But there is no way that any of them were going to know who I was when I called in the middle of the night to say that my contractions were completely patternless and not overly close together, but I needed to come in anyway. And, the birthing center isn’t automatically open all night the way a hospital is, so it’s not like I could just show up.
I fretted about that a lot.
In the end, when I called the on call midwife at 2 am with indistinct signs of labor, she was a little confused as to why I thought I needed to come in right away. But I dropped a few terms like “seventh baby,” “history of precipitous birth,” and “elevator,” and she said she’d meet me there. 🙂
It was a good thing, too. We got to the center, they admitted me, administered my IV antibiotics, and removed the IV at my request. Then I hopped (okay, climbed, with some difficulty) into the enomous birthing tub. The water felt wonderful. In the past, I have been in a regular to largish bathtub during labor, which did nothing for me. This thing was like a mini swimming pool, and the water was very warm, just perfect. I had complete freedom of movement, which seemed to make my labor pick up speed. This is where I began to insist to anyone who would listen that I wasn’t going to be able to do this, after all. I always say that. I even always believe it. Labor messes with your head.
Well, I didn’t have long to think of an alternative…Emily was born only 45 minutes after I first arrived at the center. One of my all time favorite birthing memories is when they lifted her out of the water and put her on my chest. She picked up her little head and looked straight in my eyes.