The Birth Story of the White Wolf

As written in an email to our birth-classmates:

Hi birth class friends,

We are happy to announce the arrival of our baby girl, The White Wolf.

A**** says she was thinking about all of you and your labor stories when her water broke around midnight on Wednesday the 13th. When it happened, we were surprised and excited. We had been sleeping, and since A**** wasn’t experiencing any contractions we thought we’d just go back to bed. Upon inspection of the sheets, we noticed that the fluid was slightly green.  We googled and that made us nervous (of course) and we called the midwife.  She was concerned that the greenish tint could be meconium caused by fetal distress.  She came over and did a stress test but felt good about it. We made a plan to coax labor along with castor oil if it didn’t happen on its own by the next night. We returned to bed around 3am.

Almost immediately after the midwife left, A**** started having “uterine activity” but not full-on contractions. We spent a lovely day on Thursday, toodling about the house and feeling excited. Around 5pm we decided to go for a walk and shop for materials to bake a cake. On the walk A**** started having real contractions. They were quite intense and we came home as quickly as we could. Around 6pm the contractions became regular, at around 8 minutes apart. By midnight, A****’s pain had become so intense that she vomited and we asked the doula to come over. A**** says that she was unprepared for the amount of pain she experienced during labor. She was expecting there would be breaks in between the contractions wherein we would be cooking or hanging out. But her discomfort between contractions – while lessened – was so intense that all she wanted was to lie in bed, in darkness and quiet.

When the doula arrived she checked the baby’s heart rate and found it a bit fast.  She called over the midwife and we focussed on getting A**** hydrated which succeeded in returning the heart rate to normal. The contractions got closer and more intense.

Because her water broke early we were running a risk of infection and couldn’t use the tub until the pushing stage. Though A**** had expected to want to be massaged or touched to relieve the pain, she found that during the contraction stage she mostly just wanted to be left alone. She felt that shutting everyone else out was how she could best deal with what was happening to her.  She also felt intensely lonely. In the throws of a contraction A**** wondered aloud why we had chosen a home birth.  Were we crazy?  She also assured me that this would be our only child!

A**** found it most comfortable to lie on her side in bed.  I lay behind her and would rub her back during her contractions (with her permission) while the doula coached us from her make-shift bed on the love seat nearby. A**** would regularly go to the bathroom to pee but despite her efforts nothing would come. I think this was the longest night either of us had ever experienced.  A****’s pain and discomfort made her intensely uncomfortable. Vocalization alone made each contraction bearable until the next. This went on for 12 hours.

At around 4:30 am the midwife and doula began urging A**** to go outside and take a walk to help things progress. That felt like the furthest thing from what she wanted, and the idea of descending four flights of stairs and past neighbors’ doors felt near impossible. Nevertheless she got her pants on and prepared to force herself out. As the midwife and doula consulted one another in hushed voices in the living room, A**** came back to the bedroom and had the most intense contraction up to that point. Her vocalization changed and she felt like pushing. The midwife and doula heard the noises she was making and came into the room.

Up until this point we hadn’t measured the cervix dilation for fear of infection because the water had broken so early.  The midwife was pretty sure that we hadn’t reached active labor yet, but she wanted to confirm that.  Upon examination she found A**** to be dilated to 9cm. She kept her fingers inside and during the next contraction and pushed the cervix open the last centimeter.  Now it was really on!

The midwife and doula rushed to inflate and fill the tub.  A**** was no longer comfortable laying down and we all went into the kitchen. A**** stood with her hands on the counter-tops. I asked if this was an appropriate time to take the dog for a walk to get it out of the way before things got to be more serious.  The midwife assured me that it would be fine so long as I wasn’t gone more than 20 minutes, but A**** shouted “Not more than 5!” and I came back as fast as I could.

While I was gone, A**** vomited Gatoraid all over the kitchen floor. I returned to find the proceedings in full swing. The tub was not yet filled, but it was clear that it would be too long to wait. At the midwife’s suggestion, I got on the floor under where A**** was standing and shone a flashlight up.  There, during the next contraction I saw a full head of hair! A**** was pushing and the baby crowned before we knew it. At this stage the midwife told A**** to go slow to prevent tearing.  A**** got up on her tip-toes and felt like she was swallowing the baby back inside. She was extremely motivated not to tear and managed to hold the urge to push back for a few contractions. The baby’s head emerged without a tear and on the next push the baby’s body tumbled out.

A**** sat back into a kitchen chair, holding and greeting her new baby, completely overwhlemed. A**** says that she didn’t feel the rush of love adrenaline that The Business of Being Born had promised. Rather, she was rattled and shaking and wanted nothing more than to lay down with her babe.

Things got a lot better pretty quickly.  Within a few minutes A**** was feeling back to herself, albeit a bit worse for the wear.

All told, it was 31 hours from water breaking to birth.  The official labor lasted about 13 hours and active labor only 40 minutes, which the midwife assures us is very fast for a first time mom. The White Wolf was born at 7:21 on Friday, November 15th as A**** stood in the kitchen.

Though it felt impossible at the time, A**** feels strong and alive for having accomplished what she did. I for one am amazed and in awe of A****. I have never seen anyone go through something that intense and I never thought it would be as hard as it was. I am so proud of A****. We know that in the hospital, she never would have been allowed to labor naturally with her water broken as long as it was. Being at home was ideal for us all. Not only were we able to control the environment, but hanging out with our White Wolf in our own bed all day yesterday was magical. The three of us are all so in love!

Sending you all love, and excited to see you soon.

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