Birth Story: Athena Rajah

August 6, 2011 {Christy & Ed: A beautiful baby girl waterborn and caught by dad.}

Friday evening, I started having contractions that were more intense than normal, but very irregular. Although they went away when I went to bed, I had a feeling labor was coming soon. Saturday, they started again as soon as I woke, but continued to be irregular in both length and intensity. Around 3, they were coming every two minutes, but were only kind of strong sometimes, and short and weak most of the time. I didn’t really feel like I was in active labor, but my husband insisted on calling the midwife to let her know anyway.  I knew my baby would be coming that day, but didn’t want to rush things or get too excited.  I had no problem talking to Christina (the midwife) during most of the contractions, although occasionally I would have to pause for a few seconds to ride one out. Christina asked if there was a pattern to how often the stronger ones were. I responded that I hadn’t really noticed, but figured it was about every third or fourth one. She said I could come in if I wanted to, but I said I didn’t feel ready yet, and I would keep her updated.

After calling Christina, my husband and I decided that we should probably rent a hotel room near the birth center so I could labor in private nearby. (The birth center is about 40-50 minutes away from my house, and I certainly didn’t want to give birth on the road.) I went to take a shower, and my husband started prepping things for us to go. Around 7pm, the contractions were getting more intense, I couldn’t time them anymore. (where did those 4 hours between 3 and 7 go? It only seemed like an hour…) I noticed that I was withdrawing from the world, and had a hard time focusing on my surroundings. I let my husband know, and he kept asking me questions. (I don’t recall what he was asking.) My responses to nearly all questions were “I don’t care”. The only two questions I had an answer for were that I wanted to skip the hotel, and no, he couldn’t make a stop on the way. He must have called the midwives to let them know, but I don’t remember him making the call. We slowly walked to the car, pausing during contractions. I had him squeeze my hands during contractions, because the pressure felt good, and having him squeeze instead of squeezing myself allowed me to focus on relaxing through them. He continued squeezing my hand on the drive there, quite a feat considering he was driving stick shift.

We headed straight to the birth center. The rest is kind of a blur. I lost all sense of time, but I know my labor continued to progress steadily, since I was getting a bit louder with each contraction. I know I labored a bit on the toilet (backwards!), and did some gripping the handrail at the foot of the bed. I know I refused to be checked for dilation, and only grudgingly allowed them to check the baby’s heartbeat and my blood pressure.  Most of the labor was spent in the tub, on my knees, with me bent forward and my husband pushing on my lower back (something he’d been doing non-stop since arriving at the birth center). I was pretty insistent that no-one talk during my contractions, and at absolutely no point in time was my husband to relax the pressure on my back. If he so much as moved a muscle, I snapped at him not to, poor guy. He was a trooper though. I really preferred privacy, so for much of the labor it was just he and I.  We called the midwives in when I started feeling like pushing. I refused to change position, be examined, or even touch my baby’s head while she was crowning. I had work to do, and I wasn’t going to stop until I was done. The pushing stage was really intense, and the only truly painful part of the whole process. It felt like it went on forever, and at the end of each contraction I started to feel like I couldn’t do it anymore. But I got really determined, and started pushing hard through the contractions. Finally Athena was born and I could relax (11:06pm). I was so tired I could barely hold her. (I only had 4 hours of sleep the night before due to heartburn). They helped me out of the tub, and put her on my chest, and waited for me to birth the placenta. That hurt a bit more than I expected, but nothing like pushing her out.

Because of my position, my husband got to catch her in the tub. It turns out she had her hand in her mouth when she was born, which is why it seemed so hard to push. I had several tears, and it seemed like the midwife took hours to sew me back up. I tried to breastfeed, but felt like I was failing miserably. I couldn’t concentrate on Athena with my legs spread and someone sewing up my lady parts. My husband helped by holding both her head and my breast. My uterus had stopped contracting, so they gave me some pitocin to get that started. The shot hurt like hell, but I never really felt the effects of the drug. Finally the midwife finished sewing me up, and left me alone to be with my husband and baby. I called my mom in too, and we all just oohed and ahhed over her. She barely cried at all when she was born,  was easy to soothe when she got fussy, and is a pretty quiet baby overall. She slept all the way home, but stopped sleeping as soon as we decided to go to bed, around 6:30 am. Although I’ve had very little sleep, I’m very happy. Athena was born at 11:06 pm after 8 hours of labor. She weighs 7 lbs 6 oz, measures 19 inches, and is perfect in every way. :) <3

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