Naomi and I went to lunch with my parents at Bertucci’s. Afterwards, I dropped them off for Naomi’s nap and I drove to the Chiropractor. It was my third visit with the pregnancy specialist, Justin Ohm, at 3:30 pm. During the treatment of my right round ligament, Amber shot across my belly. It felt like she was moving away from the Dr. He said that was exactly the response he was looking for. I had just started seeing the chiropractor to figure out what could be done to get Amber lined up correctly. I’d been having daily, if not hourly, contractions for over a month but labor was not coming. I was mentally and physically exhausted and desperately hoping for some relief (either birth or a break in contractions!).

When the appointment was over, I drove directly to my 4:30 pm prenatal appointment at The Birth Center.  First Justine attached me to the stress test to monitor Amber’s movements. I guess this is normal for the 40 week check up. Then Nicole came in to talk to me. We talked about my on again off again contractions. I told her that Christopher and I were worried that I would not stay in labor (or go into “true” labor) and would need to be transferred to the hospital. If that were to happen, I felt certain I would be “doomed” to end up with a c-section. She explained that they would do everything they could to keep me at the birth center, including a round of castor oil and breaking my water on the night before the 42 week. I felt much better knowing this. Then we talked about the membrane stripping. She performed it the week prior and I had 5 hours of contractions, but it abruptly ended leaving me feeling crushed. I had a horrible temper tantrum that night and wished I had never been pregnant and decided I was giving all of her stuff to charity. It was a very bizarre experience! The hormones were overwhelming and I was reluctant to try again. We decided that she would do an exam and if it appeared that I was more ready to have Amber, and then we would try the membrane sweeping again.

When she did the exam, she said I was about 4 maybe 5 cm dilated. The cervix was really stretchy and thin. She also noted that Amber’s position seemed improved. She was more centered on the cervix but still quite high and not applying direct pressure. Nicole did the membrane sweeping and I was on my way. Apparently later she told Sarah to expect my call. Nicole was feeling quite certain the procedure worked.

I drove directly home and began cooking dinner.  By the time I got home, Bridget (7 years old) and my husband, Christopher, were both already home. The cramps started soon after the procedure, so I ignored them. By 6 pm I was increasingly uncomfortable. I took a few breaks from stirring the risotto and sat on the exercise ball.  I decided that was so much better than the chair, so I also ate dinner sitting on the ball! During dinner, the lights, conversation and even the food were taxing my senses. I decided this might mean that labor had started. After I finished my plate, I called Amy, our doula, to let her know how I was feeling. Christopher and I walked around the block three times. I wanted to see if the sensations were regular and if they continued while walking. The contractions were coming as we passed every other house and during the last lap, I had to slow down dramatically during the contraction. This was considerably different than the contractions I had for the entire month prior. Those contractions felt like a wide band around my belly and I could see the tightness. These contractions were warm, started from my pelvis and radiated up to the top of my belly.  After the last lap, we came inside and called the midwife and Amy. We packed up the girls, said good bye to my parents and drove to the Birth Center.

When we arrived, Sarah was already there. Sarah did an exam right away and found I had already dilated to 5 -6 cm.  I asked her to draw the bath right away. While Christopher unloaded the car, I paced the hallway in my tee shirt and under ware and bare feet! It was strange walking through the office and exam areas mostly naked.  It was already difficult to walk through the contractions. As soon as the tub had a few inches of water, I got in. I only got out one time to use the bathroom. The contractions were fast with very short breaks between them. I was not able to rest between the contractions the way I could with the other two labors. For most of the tub labor, I relaxed by sitting with my knees open and feet tucked under, resting my head and arms on the ledge. With each contraction I’d sit up on my calves and hold Christopher’s hands. I think I was instinctively drawing my abdominal muscles toward my back to enhance the contractions and help Amber move down. At about 10:45 pm, Sarah asked how much longer I thought the labor would be. She wanted to know when to call Justine, the nurse. I told her to call her soon, that it might be within a half an hour. Christopher was surprised at my answer and told Sarah it would be longer than that. Sarah looked at me directly and asked again. I told her if she wanted to give her nurse 20 minutes to get here, she should call her now. Shortly after that conversation, the rest periods between contractions dramatically shortened. I was beginning to feel fatigued and overwhelmed. I said this to Amy and she agreed that I wasn’t getting much rest. It was reassuring to have validation to how I was feeling. Amy handed me water and gatoraid frequently, so I didn’t even have to think about drinking. Every so often my daughters would pop into the room to see what was going on. Naomi would climb on someone’s lap and watch. Bridget was just happy to hang back quietly. It was comforting to me to be in the tub. I’m not sure how I would have reacted if I were snuggled while in labor! Near the end, Christopher suggested I try squatting since that had a dramatic effect on my first two labors. During the next contraction I moved into a squat. The feelings were so overwhelming I had to quickly change positions during the contraction. I said it was too intense but maybe that was a good thing. Amy quietly responded that I didn’t need to make it more intense. After that I decided not to squat any more!

Sarah asked for my attention between contractions. She said that I could not continue to be in the position I was using. If I raised my bottom out of the water while Amber emerged, she would be exposed to air and then fall into the water. That would cause her to attempt to breathe the water. So I needed to decide to be out of the water (standing) or in the water (on all fours). I quickly decided that if I stood up, there was a good change I would instinctively drop to my knees like I did with the previous births. So I changed into a supported hand and knees position. I had to pay attention to keep my bottom in the water during the very next contraction. As it turned out, Sarah gave me this information and immediately after I started pushing! Just like Naomi’s birth, the water broke first. I felt a small pop and looked down to see a bit of a current. The next push and her entire head came out. I could feel Sarah’s hands and it was very irritating. I told myself she was feeling for Amber’s shoulders and I was able to stay calm. Sarah instructed me to push again without a contraction to dislodge her shoulders. I tried but was not able to budge her. When I did this with Naomi, a contraction started right away and she slid out. Instead, we waited for the next contraction, which fortunately was only a few more seconds. Ambers entire body then slid out into the tub. At that time I had tunnel vision and didn’t quite know what was going on. I remember hearing Sarah say “ok mama pick up your baby” in a stern voice. I reached down and grabbed Amber. I thought Sarah was holding her, but Christopher told me that Sarah couldn’t reach her and Amber was just swimming in the water between my legs. I scooped her up and right away noticed the cord around her neck. Sarah very quickly came around the side of the tub and slide the cord out. I gently pulled Amber up more but felt her cord pulling on my pelvis. I knew right away she had a short cord, just like Naomi did. Sarah told me about both the cord around her neck & the cord being short just seconds after I observed them for myself. I was feeling like quite the pro!

Sarah and Christopher helped me out the tub. I was scared since I knew my legs were shaking. They were very firm on my arms, which was good because one of my feet slipped and I would have surly fallen otherwise!

I climbed into bed and Bridget and Naomi ran around the bed to the other side. While we were looking at her, Justine and Sarah brought a baby blanket, popped a hat on Amber’s head and checked her vitals. She was so tiny! We thought for sure she would be over 9 lbs. The cord continued to pulse for quite a long time, so Sarah delayed cutting the cord. Then the placenta came out pretty easily. I did have tears again, so she gave me a few stiches. That was shockingly painful. I don’t remember feeling that at all with the first two! While Sarah examined and stitched me, Naomi was right next to her. I was surprised at how interested Naomi was (and not scared by the blood!).  Around 1 am, Christopher took the girls home and put them to bed. Since my parents were there, he returned to pick me up. Amy stayed with me during this time.  We were discharged exactly 4 hours after Amber’s birth!

During Amber’s birth, I didn’t go through the crazy feelings of transition. It felt like the contractions gradually increased intensity until I started pushing. The labor was otherwise very similar to Naomi’s, just over 5 hours with 3 pushes.  All three of my girls were born between 10:30 pm and 11:45 pm!

Amber Jane Kollman 8 lbs 3 oz, 21 inches
04/18/11 11:30 pm