Here's a guest post by my wife, about our most recent birth (November '08). I thought it would be interesting to share because, well, I think it was an interesting birth, plus our 'little' baby was 11 pounds and 6 ounces. I'm sure, given the size of the baby and the position my wife had to assume (standing up!) to birth her, in a hospital we would've just ended up with a c-section. As it was, well...you can read on to find out!
Update March 2010: I submitted this to the 5th Science and Sensibility Healthy Birth Blog Carnival, because the topic is avoiding giving birth on your back.
This story begins about 12:30 AM the morning of November 7. I got up to go to the bathroom, and lost a huge chunk of mucous plug. I thought, I'll call the midwife in the morning to report, and I went back to bed. around 2:30 I again woke up to potty, and again lost some plug. this time I held it up to the light and squinted a bit and.. it was streaked with blood! yay! dilation! I went back to bed, assuming I'd be going back to sleep, but I had what I thought was an uncomfortable BH contraction. laid down, had another... and another. after a while I sat up, more comfortable that way. my husband woke and saw me sitting, asked what I was doing. I told him I was trying to figure out if I was in labor or not. by 4 am I was convinced, and I called my midwife, reported the lost plug and the contractions about 12 minutes apart at that time. she said to call back at 5:30, and get some sleep in that time.
sleep didn't happen, and by the time I called back, contractions were 4-5 minutes apart. she said she'd pack her bag and call when she was on her way (she lives just over an hour away). I laid in bed a while longer, breathing through contractions, then decided to take a hot shower. I squatted on the floor of the tub, hot water running over me, breathing through contractions. my plan was to use up all the hot water this way, but it got hard to breath the hot stuffy air, so I turned off the shower, got dressed in between contractions, and curled up into a ball on one corner of the couch. clutching the arm and breathing through contractions. my husband brought me a bagel, but I hardly got in more than 3 or 4 bites.
the midwife showed up after 7, maybe 7:10. her apprentice showed up shortly after. our plan was to have my mom take the other kids for the day, but as I was already contracting hardcore, and the kids were all asleep still, my husband called her and told her not to come get them. the midwife told me to go pee one last time before the birth, and I suggested setting up the floor and couch with plastic and sheets while I was in the bathroom. I knew I would want to come back without my pants on. I knelt before the couch and rested my arms and head on the seat. this was my preferred position. the position I birthed my last son in, and assumed I would push this one out in as well. the contractions began to hurt more and more, and I knew it would be soon. but I didn't know how soon, and I didn't even know what time it was anymore. I completely lost track.
someone suggested using gravity to help things along, so I stood up against my husband and he held me as I bore down with each contraction. three things happened while I was standing: 1) my water broke. the midwife looked at what came out onto the white sheet and said it looked very clear. 2) my kids woke up, and they all came downstairs. the apprentice was very good about telling them before they came into the room that the baby was going to be born that day. my 3-year old son was the most interested, and got right there to watch. the older daughter and younger son hung back a bit, very quiet. and... 3) I puked up everything I ate. my husband held my barf bowl in one hand while holding me in the other,. he's such a great multi-tasker. after I'd puked up everything that would have given me any nutrition for the event, I decided I didn't want to stand anymore. I got into my kneeling position before the couch, and began to push.
of course I couldn't see anything going on, but the midwife said I could touch the head if I wanted. really? already? I reached down and didn't feel it right there. she said I could feel it during a contraction if I wanted, but I couldn't concentrate during the contractions. they hurt. a lot. I won't lie. but I think I was also having flashbacks of my previous birth, which was making it seem like I'd been doing this for longer than I had. it felt like forever.
finally the head began to emerge. I heard everyone else's commentary: my husband, "there's lots of dark hair." my 3-year-old son, "there's the baby's face!" and finally my midwife freaking out and telling me to bear down. like, yelling at me. I knew something must be wrong, but I had nothing else left to push with. I'm not very strong at the moment of birth, I've learned this with all my previous births. I couldn't push any more, so they decided for me that gravity would pick up where I left off. I was literally hoisted up back into my husband's arms, and continued to push with everything I had left, mostly standing, half squatting. finally, out came my daughter. white, then faintly purple, not breathing... and huge. apparently there was cord compression, and since she wasn't breathing either, she wasn't getting any oxygen until she was out and the cord could pulsate again. this was the cause of the yelling at me to push her out faster. the midwife picked her up and patted and rubbed her to get her breathing. the apprentice brought over the oxygen, but it wasn't used. I sat down on the floor next to them. finally, a little gurgle.. I took her into my arms and assured my older daughter that she did indeed get the little sister she wanted.
her breathing was still not great, though, it was very congested sounding, so the midwife bulb-suctioned her out. :P she needed it though. when her breathing sounded good, I attempted to nurse, but she wasn't interested just yet. I birthed the placenta onto the sheet on the floor, then moved up to the couch with my new daughter. we tried and tried again to latch, while my husband tied off and cut the cord, and the midwife and apprentice examined the placenta. there was a tiny spot of calcification, but the MW said it was one of the biggest placentas she'd ever seen, and that the cord was thicker than most she'd seen, too. I had to agree about the cord, my other kids didn't have cords quite so thick. I hadn't seen their placentas very closely, though.
[editor's note: seriously, that placenta was as big as an extra-large pizza!!]
this whole time, I was waiting anxiously for the weigh-in. I knew she'd be bigger than my last (and so far, biggest) baby, 10 pounds even. I expected something like 10 pounds and some ounces... but the midwife said... "eleven pounds and... six ounces." I didn't believe her. she weighed her again. and it was the same. I still didn't believe it. no way. I just pushed out a nearly eleven and a half pound baby!
oh yeah and I don't remember when but someone finally asked what the time of birth was, which the apprentice had apparently noted as 8:33 am. I couldn't believe that either! as I said before, I had lost track of time, but I never would have expected a six hour labor from first contraction to birth. this event was just full of surprises.
and the midwife said if I wanted, she could check for tearing. I'd never torn with any of my previous births, so I figured I hadn't, but then, I never pushed out a baby quite so big before, so I decided, why not? and I didn't have any tearing. not even a little nick. which I could've figured out later when I finally peed for the first time, because it didn't even hurt. normally it stings like crazy after birth, but not this time! I wasn't even raw.
the rest of the day was basically trying to get some sleep, watching my baby sleep, and getting her to nurse. my husband wanted some sleep, too, as he'd been up since about 3:30 as well, so he called my mom to pick up the kids then, and the 3 of us fell asleep together.
11 pounds, 6 ounces
[My wife doesn't mention this, but the midwife estimated the baby to be at 43 weeks gestation. We weren't really sure of our conception date, but she went to 41/4 with the prior kid, so I guess it's possible!]