Now that Aaron's six months old, maybe I should write about how he got here! If I can remember everything, in the right chronological order, anyway!
One day in early to mid May, I thought for sure my water broke. Turns out, embarrassingly enough, it wasn't my water...just a baby head on my bladder. I can't tell you how funny my husband thought that was! I was significantly less amused. This was about three weeks before I ended up having Aaron, and that's when I had my first exam from the midwife. She said then that I was 3cm dilated, 80% effaced, and she could feel the baby's head, and since we all thought it was my water breaking, she told me I'd probably be having the baby soon! (We realized it wasn't my water when a couple days went by and absolutely nothing happened...we weren't worried because you continually produce more amniotic fluid, so there was no chance of the baby running out, and we were careful to prevent infection, while we thought it was broken water!)
So anyway, that got me on a major high, because I really thought I was having a baby any day. Any stinkin' day. Aaaaannnnyyy day now...for three weeks! I went on like that for two weeks, and I'd have a few painless cramps every evening when I went to bed, but nothing serious. After two weeks of that, I started having crampy feelings one morning and got really excited! THIS is it! Well...out came the midwife again, she checked me again, and I was 5cm, 90% effaced, baby's head was RIGHT there and engaged....but then nothing else. The cramps went away again. They came and went for days and days. I had dilated all the way to 5cm without really having any painful contractions at all! Some of them were a little uncomfortable and they'd keep me awake sometimes, but nothing I'd consider really painful. (We decided later I have a high pain tolerance, I guess.)
At almost a week past my due date (which was May 29th,) I started some natural labor getter-goings. I took fenugreek, evening primrose oil, and ended up taking castor oil a couple days before I actually went into labor. I've heard horror stories about the castor oil, but it didn't really do anything to me...I'm so weird! I don't think any of that really did much.... I also walked. And walked. Not a mile or anything...more like four. For a few days. And nothing happened! The good thing (and somewhat frustrating, at that point,) is that natural things to get labor started just won't work if you're not ready to go into labor yet. It's not like medically inducing at all.
So, after weeks of dilation and cramps and impatient waiting, I woke up June 5th with something different. The midwife had told me that if I woke up with "contractions" that wouldn't go away, to take a shower and see if they went away then. I got up around 4am and got in the shower and had four of them in the 20 minutes I was in the shower. (Yes, I've been told I take long showers.) I went back to bed and laid there for a while and I was still having contractions but they weren't really timeable, because they weren't regular and I couldn't feel any kind of peak really. I was a little bit hesitant to call my midwife again, because I'd called her with false alarms a few times and I really thought this would be like the other times...they would eventually go away. In the meantime, Jacob had gotten up and went on to work...he asked if he needed to stay home, but I really didn't want him to stay home and then it be nothing again! (At the time he was working over an hour away.) I laid around til 9am or so and finally did call the midwife, after I'd had contractions every 5 minutes for an hour. She was surprised and said they (I had two midwives...the main one and an assistant) would be on their way soon. Since I wasn't going about this "right" (no textbook labor for me! I'd been in labor for 3 weeks already!) we had no idea what I'd do next...if I'd go really fast since I was already halfway there, or what! I was just sure that once they got there and checked me, I'd be all the way dilated and ready to go...the contractions I'd had for the past few hours were definitely different and more uncomfortable, though I still wouldn't call them really painful.
Well, once the midwives got there, got settled and moved in, and checked me, I was all the way to....SIX stinkin' centimeters! And then once everyone got there (midwives, mother-in-law, mom, and one of Jacob's cousin's wives) my contractions pretty much stopped. I'd have one every 30 minutes, if I was lucky. I kept on like that for a couple more hours...very irregular if anything. We were just having a party sitting around and talking and laughing and eating. After a little while of that, the midwife checked again and I was 8cm and my water broke for real then. So we called Jacob and told him to hurry on home...now! (It had to be soon, right?!) That was around 1pm, June 5th. (He said he told his boss I was 8cm and my water broke and his boss said "you better hurry!") I guess he got home around 2pm (times are kinda fuzzy...) and still nothing. I was walking and going up and down porch steps and doing a little bit of everything to try to get this thing going...and nothing was happening! I still wasn't having regular contractions at all!
In the meantime, Jacob went and got some pizzas and we still just sat around having a big party, laughing and cutting up. I would have a contraction every now and then, and they were more uncomfortable, but still not horrid labor pains like I'd heard about. My midwife would watch me and could see when I was having one, but other than that, there weren't a lot of indicators to everyone else. I mean, I wasn't screaming or anything!
By about 10pm, I was all the way dilated and still didn't feel like pushing at all, but they had me start pushing some, to try to stimulate pushing contractions, I guess. (If I had it to do over, I'd have waited until the real thing...seeing as I still had so long to go. It really wore me out.) It wasn't too long before I was pushing my guts out about every 2 minutes...I did eventually start having regular pushing contractions. It started hurting more then, and that didn't go away! I pushed and pushed and pushed...and not much was happening. The midwife said I had an issue with a cervical lip, so she had to hold that back while I pushed. Ow. Like super ow. Once that was out of the way, Aaron got stuck behind my pubic bone. She couldn't really do much about that, so I changed positions a lot trying to get him under that. We finally got past that and I pushed and pushed and there still wasn't anything happening. She said there was some muscle in there that wasn't stretching like it was supposed to and they tried to stretch it while I pushed. Super Super Ow!
This whole time I was pushing my guts out, I was sitting up in our bed, with someone holding my legs up for me to push against. By the end, I was pulling on my mom, who was sitting in front of me, and Jacob's mom, his cousin's wife, Jacob, and the midwife were all rotating who would push against my legs. (The Amish assistant midwife was in the living room watching a movie and crocheting..LOL!) Apparently, I'm like super strong, and everyone was sore after my labor...my mom had marks on her hands from me grabbing her to pull! My wrists were hurting a LOT, because every time I pushed (every 2 minutes, if I was lucky) I would slide down, so I'd have to push myself back up. At some point, Jacob sat behind me for a long time and I'd sit back against him, so he'd pull me back up after every push. He was really sore the next day too! I'd read a lot about the advantages of different positions in labor, and I knew that sitting up in the bed wasn't ideal, but I couldn't really do much else. I tried hands and knees but that was excruciating and I absolutely could not push in that position. I also had to be in a position that offered the midwife easy-ish access, because she was trying to hold that muscle back while I pushed.
After pushing like this for so long (by now it was 3am or so) without getting anywhere, the Amish assistant midwife mentioned something about the hospital. I knew without a doubt that I did NOT want to go to the hospital and I think the first time she said it because she thought I wasn't giving it everything I had. She was wrong about that, for sure. Someone asked her if she was serious and she said something about "well, if she can't have it..." My main midwife didn't feel there was any need to consider a hospital...no one was in any danger (she kept monitoring the baby the whole time,) I was just exhausted! I knew what would happen if we showed up in the ER after I'd already been pushing for 4 or 5 hours and my water had been broken for 18 hours! I would have had a c-section for sure. At that point, everyone but my main midwife started to get a little concerned...I'd been at this for a long time, I was beat, and nothing was happening. She put me on oxygen to revive me a bit then. Everyone left my room and started praying and calling everyone we knew to start praying. While everyone was still out of the room, I was still pushing and my midwife called everyone and said they might want to come on in there now....she was seeing the head! It took about 20 or 30 more minutes (I think...?) before I got him out. Jacob caught him and it was so amazing...he was really excited! He'd been really concerned and just about couldn't handle seeing me like I was. Aaron was born at 4:54am, Thursday morning, June 6th. I tore a tiny bit and didn't need stitches...I just stretched too fast at the last minute... Turns out, Aaron had his hand up by his head the whole time, which is what made everything so slow and hard! Somehow, his elbow was sticking up too, because the back of his hand was up against his temple...figure that out! (Put the back of your hand by your head and see where that leaves your elbow. Yeah.)
Aaron didn't want to nurse much right away but he hasn't hardly stopped since. He was 7lb 13oz and 21 inches long.
I am so happy I had Aaron at home. As slow as I was progressing, I know I would have had "intervention" had I been in a hospital. Even though there was a time when I was beyond exhausted and couldn't see progression at all, I knew I didn't need intervention...I knew that I could do this. A woman's body was designed for this very thing, so I knew it was possible. I wouldn't give anything for the relaxed atmosphere we had here all day while we waited for my body to do it's thing. There was no tension to stall things (like I needed anything to stall anything!) and we had a lot of fun, just hanging around! With the exception of the last few, tough hours, we all laughed and cut up more than anything. Maybe this is TMI (but isn't that the definition of a birth story?) but during one of the checks to see about the cervical lip, someone said something really funny and I just laughed and laughed and the midwife said "oh, that helped!" It was just so low-key and happy and exciting! I am so thankful for my midwife and how she kept cool even when things went slow...we'd ask her how I was doing and she'd say "oh, there's progress..." Now maybe she couldn't see any progress and was just trying to make us feel better, but it worked! :) They ended up being at our house for about 20 hours or so.
So, labor was hard and long and hurt like crazy (at least the last few hours!) but I'd do it again in a heartbeat. Here at home, of course! :)