When I hit my 41 week mark I started doing daily belly maps to determine foetal positioning and then did some yoga stretches and techniques to help baby get into the optimal LOA position. She remained in this position for the most part but because of the separation of my abs, the SPD, and the mild uterine prolapse I was also dealing with, my muscle were so lax that she still had room to move around even this late in pregnancy. These issues could prevent enough pressure from being consistent on my cervix for it to dilate efficiently, which would explain the drawn out prodromal labour. However, she would only alternate between the LOA and LOT positions which were both fine for birthing easily at least, when it would begin. I had noticed that when I would do my birthing exercises in the evening that my contractions would increase but by midnight I was too tired to continue and would just go to bed and they would cease until morning.
On February 7th I booked myself an acupuncture session to help stimulate labour and at least alleviate some of the SPD pain I was also dealing with. I had hoped that I would go into labour that night but it would not be though the session was relaxing. Previously I was becoming really anxious about birthing soon because of the level of pain and discomfort I was living with daily which was wearing on my sanity. I had hoped to encourage labour by toying with Murphy’s law by booking a maternity shoot, playdates, shopping trips, activities, etc but they all passed by without any fuss. I had to accept then the reality that I might gestate closer to 42 weeks like I did with my son whose labour patterns were also similar. I had decided that if I would reach 42 weeks and I have not birthed yet, I would book an ultrasound to ensure that the baby was healthy and then meet with one of the obstetricians from the transfer hospital I chose to explore my options from that point on. I then felt my consciousness turning inwards and felt at peace with just enjoying this last stretch of pregnancy.
The next day was a beautiful and warm day and so I took Leo out for a nice stroll during which I decided it would be a nice day to have a baby. I felt a tingling premonition but decided not to focus on it in case I would be disappointed yet again, however I did proceed to consume a copious amount of pineapple juice mixed with coconut water along with fresh slices of pineapple throughout the day. There is an enzyme called bromelain in pineapple that acts as a prostaglandin, ripening and softening the cervix. Browsing birthing forums online showed that many women have gone into labour after eating this fruit when they were post-dates, even within a few days of beginning to consume them. I was not comfortable with using induction methods, even those considered more natural as even they had side-effects that I was not interested in dealing with. I also did not want to prematurely eject this baby despite being what is considered post-dates in case she really was not ready. I felt strongly about allowing babies to choose their own birthdays. Since my husband was not present to provide the prostaglandins himself and I worried that my muscle issues prevented my body from dilating without aid, this seemed like a safe alternative. I also made plans to go to my favorite Asian grill Lan’s for their spiciest curry dish, another option many women swear by to encourage labour.
At the restaurant I joked with my companions who took us to dinner as well with the owners of the establishment that I might birth that night with how spicy my dish was since I was crying while eating it. It is a family owned business and the father came out and intuitively shared with me how I was carrying a girl child (he determined my son’s gender when pregnant with him as well and was correct) and asked if Leo had been born born after 12 sometime, which confused me because my son was born in the early morning but thought not much on it and just assumed his intuition was off. It was a pleasant evening out overall and we went home sated regardless.
After putting Leo to bed, I did my usual routine of coming downstairs and doing my exercises while browsing the internet and just relaxing, also sipping on more pineapple mixture. It wasn’t until about 9:30pm that I noticed that my usual contractions were getting increasingly more intense and I felt ‘otherworldy’ and detached to everything and it occurred to me that perhaps this would be it. So I gathered my homebirthing supplies and laid them out in the living room, lit my beeswax labour candles, and sat down to write out some birthing affirmations in a mandala. I figured at the worse, if it wasn’t really labour everything would already be set up anyways. When I used the washroom then, my mucus plug fell out and I knew it really was time and allowed myself to get excited. I hadn’t even opened the first colored marker when I received a phone call from a close friend who was also the woman who did my maternity shoot and wanted to discuss the shots and just chat between friends. It provided an excellent distraction and I did not even notice just how intense the surges were becoming until about 10:30 when I could no longer concentrate on our conversation and had to let her go to focus on labouring and call my birthing team. At that point swaying my hips while leaning on my birthing ball felt the best, especially with the increase in pelvic pressure. I had to meditate and breathe through a series of contractions that were very close together before attempting to reach my birthkeepers. It was around 11:00pm by this point.
It felt as though my surges were right on top of one another, making it difficult to breathe through and the pelvic pressure was very intense. I recall my birthkeepers arriving one after the other between 11:15-30 and although their presence was relieving, I could not bring myself to focus on them because labouring took all my concentration. I felt as though my pelvic bones were trying to split open though it felt like an intense tickling sensation, like when someone over-stimulates you and it seems intolerable. I moved from being on hands and knees to leaning on my birthing ball for the most part because any other position hurt my hips too much. I did try to lay on my side for a while because it seemed to help for a little while but I soon wanted to be back on all fours because it aggravated the SPD. I needed to be moved from one position to another because I could not do so on my own while contracting.
Emotionally I soon felt like I could not go on because the pressure was so intense and I was tired of experiencing it. Vocalizing in a deep voice helped me cope somewhat but by this point I felt like nothing was working to alleviate the pressure and it was difficult to remain calm. I was alternating between needing to pee and needing to vomit and wondered whether I should get up and relieve my bladder but the thought of moving seemed impossible so decided against it in the end. My attendants did place a bowl underneath me in case I wanted to relieve my bladder right there but then my bag of waters was bulging out and that burst into it instead. Then I could feel the bulge of her head emerging and made the conscious choice to gently push a little to help ease it out and that’s when my body just took over. Suddenly my body was trying to expel her out with three consecutive pushes while I supported my perineum and I breathed through them to slow them down a bit to prevent tearing. In between the next contraction and the pause from my body pushing I clenched my pelvic muscles to prevent her head from sliding back in, as I have read sometimes happen in other women’s birth stories, because I was determined that she would be born NOW. I believe I actually said: “Get the *bleep* out of me right NOW!”. So during the rest period I pushed gently and out popped her head! I then took a few breaths in this in-between time that felt like eternity and then pushed again; birthing her slippery body onto the towel close beneath me and into my waiting hands. I immediately sat on my hunches and brought her up to my chest to cradle her against me. It was roughly five after midnight then.
Lydia Faye Murphy was born February 9th 2013, the birthday of her namesake; my husband’s grandmother on his mother’s side. A mystical occurrence surely.
She gained her color quickly but was quiet so I blew onto her face to stimulate her to breathe noticeably and she cried a powerful sound. She was not interested in nursing immediately so I just sat there and held her while in complete awe in what just transpired. I did it! I birthed her unhindered and so smoothly. My body wasn’t broken after-all and I felt myself finally heal from my son’s traumatic forceps birth. This is how birth should be, I kept thinking. I did it; I birthed my own baby.
After about ten minutes or so more contractions came on and I felt the intense need to relieve my bladder so we all went to the washroom and I attempted to do so but instead birthed my placenta first, crouched over a bowl on the floor. I then relieved myself and returned to the living room and sat on the couch covered in warm towels. I tried latching Lydia again but she was content just nestling in my arms. The after-pains were worse than the labour contractions and when she did finally breastfeed, they came on more powerfully and I had to meditate through them they were so strong. The placenta which was in a bowl by my side was then inspected and confirmed whole before a piece was taken and blended into a hemorrhaging-prevention smoothie. It tasted divine and I was also fed some scrambled eggs to replete my energy. We attempted cord burning to sever the umbilical but it was taking too long and the now limp cord was cold against me so we tied it off with floss and cut it instead. I then just sat there admiring my little miracle while my attendants cleaned up the birth space.
It wasn’t until about two hours after I birthed my little Lydia into the world that I figured she should be dressed (after passing a massive bowel movement) and I slid down to the floor to do so when our post-partum adventure began...