Emilia Kay Pattavina entered this world Sun., March 12 at 1:01 a.m., two days before her due date. We were truly blessed with a smooth (though not easy!) labor and delivery and she was safely born at home as we had been planning. Below is her full birth story. It is long and may be too descriptive for some so a fair warning.
Early Friday morning around 2 a.m. I woke up to go to the bathroom and when I went back to bed I started having mild contractions. They were spaced about 10 minutes apart and were uncomfortable but not too painful. I was so tired I just kept trying to fall back asleep. I got up for a little bit, ate a snack and was able to sleep through some of it but by 6 a.m. they had completely stopped. I went and saw my midwife that morning and she said it was normal to have false labor contractions with a second baby and didn’t necessarily think I’d have the baby that day or even over the weekend. By that night around 5 p.m. I started having the same type of contractions that were uncomfortable but didn’t completely stop me in my tracks. They lasted off and on until about 10 p.m. and some throughout the night.
I woke up again around 2 a.m. Saturday morning with the same thing but I was able to mostly sleep through these ones. I just kept telling baby I was too tired to go into labor right then. I wanted to sleep! Around 7 a.m. that morning I lost my mucous plug but still wasn’t confident that things were for sure happening. Joe and I had planned on going to see a movie Saturday early afternoon and I was really determined to take advantage of our date since we knew it wouldn’t be too much longer before baby arrived. I was still having contractions all morning long but they were so sporadic and still not very intense. We decided to go see the movie (Logan – which was actually really disappointing though it was nice to get out). My contractions pretty much stopped though I had a few during the movie.
We got home that afternoon and they were still happening at the same intensity. It was getting somewhat frustrating because I either wanted it to be the real thing or for the contractions to stop…it was getting exhausting. I was talking with my midwife throughout this time and she had me try walking the neighborhood (Enzo and I got poured on!), take a bath, take a nap and eat to see if they would pick up. They still hadn’t and she said I could either try using the breastpump or wait until the sun went down to see what happened. I opted for waiting.
By 6-7 p.m. my contractions were starting to get more intense and I wasn’t able to really ignore them and felt I had to start focusing/working through them. Enzo was home and I decided it would probably be a good idea for him to go to our neighbors for the night just in case. Good decision on our part! By around 8 p.m. or so the contractions were closer to 5-6 minutes apart and the intensity had increased some. My midwife decided to start heading over though it was still early. From about the time she arrived until around 11 p.m., the intensity of my contractions had increased but they were still not that close together.
The pain (or sensations as my midwife kept calling it) was shooting across my lower abdomen and low back. I was trying lots of different positions (yoga ball, squats, leaning over the bed or on a wall) and Joe was there every time I needed him massaging my back and reminding me to relax as I was having trouble not tensing up during each one. The birth pool was ready around 10 p.m. or so and I hung out in there for a while. Again, intensity still strong but not close together. My midwife had me start tracking them again and at one point they were 8 minutes apart. She decided to check to see how far dilated I was and said the baby was really low which was why my contractions were so intense. She was about to tell me my dilation and I wouldn’t let her. I knew if I found out I was still really far, that it would get in my head. She thought it would be a good idea for me to lay down for a while and try to rest/sleep between contractions to see if that would get things moving. She gave me some herbs to relax and Joe and I laid down for an hour or so. The contractions were getting more frequent and more intense during this time.
She came back to check on me around midnight and tried to remind me to relax and surrender during the contractions and imagine things moving down and opening up. I’m pretty confident the reason I was “stuck” and not progressing as quickly earlier was because I was scared to let go. With Enzo, I had an epidural around 4 cm dilated and I never experienced what full labor felt like. I was scared, and though I wanted to be done, I didn’t want to go through it.
My midwife then suggested trying to sit in the shower on a birthing chair with the water hitting my back. I think that position, being alone and focusing on relaxing through contractions (so counter-intuitive!) truly helped move things along very quickly. The contractions were getting much closer together, lasting longer and were the most intense they’d been. After I got out of the shower (not sure how long I was in there) I was alternating between sitting on the yoga ball and kneeling on the floor over the side of the bed. At this point, my midwife and midwife’s assistant were in the room with Joe and I (previously they had really been leaving us alone except for a few checks here and there). I was really out of it at this point but I knew if they were all in the room, I had to be getting closer.
For the last few contractions I was still kneeling on the floor leaning over the bed and I honestly think it was the worst pain I’ve ever felt. They were so intense and just kept going and I couldn’t catch a break. The last full one before I was ready to push caused my lower back to spasm and that was almost worse than the contractions themselves. My back just wouldn’t release and my midwife had Joe squeeze my hips together from behind which was really helpful. All of a sudden I knew I needed to push and I wanted the baby out right then.
I told them it was happening and they quickly covered the floor and got ready to catch baby. I started pushing as hard as I could but my midwife kept telling me to slow down and wait for the contractions. I did not want to listen and just wanted it out. Very quickly I felt what people have described as the “ring of fire” when the baby’s head passes through and that’s basically what it felt like. My water never broke during labor and my midwife broke it while I was pushing. Within 5-6 minutes Emilia was out and laying on a pillow in front of me (I’m still on my knees on the floor at this point). It is crazy to me that you can go from screaming in terrible pain to feeling a complete release and satisfaction when it’s finally over. As soon as she was out the pain was gone. They were going to try and get me up onto the bed with her still attached but the cord was pretty short. As we were moving, the placenta just came out on it’s own and I didn’t have to deliver it separately.
I managed to get up on the bed with Emilia on my chest but I ended up having more cramping/pain that I couldn’t relax through. Joe took her for a bit so I could sit in the bath to try and calm everything down. I was really sore and felt a lot of throbbing/cramps that took a while to fully subside. I also ended up needing about 7 stitches from tearing which was my least favorite part. Once the stitches were done I could finally rest with Emilia and try to latch her on for the first time. They did her newborn exam and cleaned her up all at the foot of the bed. The midwife and assistant cleaned up everything, prepared my placenta and went over postpartum instructions for me and baby. They were gone around 4 a.m. and it was just us. I was still on an adrenaline high and in shock and I didn’t fall asleep until 6:30 a.m. or so.
I’m so incredibly happy with how everything went. I’ve been praying about the birth for a long time and God fully came through for us. Early on in my labor I went to the Bible app on my phone for some verse or inspiration that might help me and the verse of the day was Psalm 16:8 – “I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” I kept picturing Jesus literally at my right hand and supporting me. With that verse, Joe’s support and prayers, prayers from family and friends and my midwife, I felt lifted up and supported throughout. Joe also paused to pray with me periodically throughout which was amazing. Though it took me a little while to get over my mental block of letting labor fully happen, I feel that everything went so smoothly.
I think I’m still on a high and emotionally am feeling really good though I know with sleep deprivation and changing hormones, that can change very soon. Enzo is also with Joe’s sister for the week so we’re able to take this time to really get to know our little one and relax. I feel pretty confident that if I had given birth in the hospital I would have gotten an epidural. I’m not suggesting there’s anything wrong with it. I had one with Enzo and it helped me relax and get my labor to progress. But I was hoping for a different experience this time. In the hospital, knowing I had an option of taking the pain away, I probably would have done it. But being at home gave me no option in that moment and I was able to work through it.
I’m so thankful to everyone who has prayed and lifted us up during this pregnancy and specifically for labor and delivery. Also, very thankful for those who I know will continue to support us during the postpartum period as we adjust to being a family of four. Welcome to the world our little rainbow! 🙂