As I sit here with my one-month-old sweet baby, I wonder where the time has gone. In many ways, it seems like just yesterday he was inside me, and in other ways, it seems like many moons ago. Writing this story out has not been easy, but I am unsure exactly why. Perhaps because it feels more intimate than the others (which is strange because there were actually more people present), or because it is the last one and writing the story out is the final chapter, or maybe because it was so wonderful and exactly what I wanted / needed.
On April 14, the kids and I went to our homeschool playgroup as usual. That day it was at a park that has a nice walking trail and my friend, K, graciously agreed to walk with me. It was a lovely day, warm and sunny. We walked for a bit with C in the stroller, and I had several nice contractions during that time. When we returned to the park, the contractions stuck around, although not in a pattern. M came to the park when he got off work, around 2pm, and we spent an hour or so visiting with everyone. I kept having contractions, so we decided to stop at the store before going home because I was afraid we wouldn’t have enough food for everyone if I went into labor.
At the store, the waves seemed to be getting into a pattern. They weren’t yet painful or taking my focus, but I couldn’t ignore them either. M wanted me to call our Midwife, D, and although I resisted at first, I finally gave in. I told her that I thought things might be happening, but I wasn’t totally sure yet. She asked if I wanted her to go ahead and come then (she lives about 2 hours away). I said I didn’t think so, but she might want to get things ready. The store was quite busy and we joked about telling people to get out of our way because we were trying to have a baby. We also saw an old family friend who informed me that her daughter was having a cesarean the following Monday because she was just too little to have a baby, to which I replied, “Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that!” As we left the store, it became clear that I should call D back and ask her to start making her way. While I still wasn’t sure it was the real thing, it had been beaten into my head that it would be better to call everyone on a false alarm than to have them miss the birth. When I called, she was already planning to come and was getting her stuff into the car. I was impressed by that, and actually welled up with tears.
On the way home, I called the other members of the birth team to let them know that things were happening but that I wasn’t ready for them just yet. It was early on and I assumed it would still be a long time before things got intense. We got home and got out the birth supplies, which I arranged on a desk in the kitchen. Because the kitchen has the most open space, it was the room chosen for the pool and general birthing area. It had my prayer flags from the Mother Blessing as well as a few other trinkets. I changed into my super comfortable dress and brought out the birth ball. M and I had been up fairly early that morning, so I was hoping to get a nap in, knowing that I would get tired before too long and that I would need all the energy I could get. Unfortunately, I have trouble sleeping during the day when I’m NOT in labor….so, napping while it’s light outside and my belly is contracting just didn’t work out.
K, friend and photographer, was the first to arrive with her daughter in tow. She wanted to be there as soon as possible to get pictures from start to finish. I took up residence on the birth ball, alternating between trying to rest and piddling on the internet or playing solitaire.
Next to arrive was my aunt, S, with my cousin, J, who were doing the toddler care. I thought the kid’s heads would explode when she got here, they were so excited. She had been here for about five minutes when midwife D arrived. I immediately thought, “Oh no! She’s going to think we’re having a party and that’s a big no-no!!” I’ll admit, that first little while when everyone was getting settled in was a bit overwhelming and I just had to sort of stay in my own little zone. Sometime in all the commotion, Midwife C arrived also. Together, they got what they needed set out on our kitchen table. We spent some time talking politics (both of the Midwives and myself are involved with midwifery and legislation here in MO) and a recent meeting with K and mine’s local legislator , which is always good to get the juices flowing! I laughed inwardly that even in labor I could not escape politics. M was working on the pool, getting everyone else settled, and at some point, playing a video game just to annoy everyone. I began to relax and get into a pattern, with waves every 9 minutes or so. In between them, we laughed and talked, then during a wave I would get quiet and move back & forth with the ball. I remember feeling D rub my back and hips at some point. I think she asked me if I liked it or if it was okay, and I think I said yes but I know I thought “YES! Don’t stop!” She and C both have such a calm, nurturing presence and I was instantly thankful that they were the ones attending me.
*This is where things start to get hazy for me. From this point on, time is irrelevant to me and I remember bits and pieces….probably not all in chronological order.*
I came out of the bathroom, for the millionth time, and said something smelled funny. M said he was boiling some more water for the pool, and that was probably what I smelled. The next thing we heard was one of the Midwives saying, “The stove is on fire.” She was very calm about it. I think I mumbled some kind of smart-aleck response, like “Not again!” Then another wave hit and I resumed my position on the ball while everyone else went to tend to the stove. I thought to myself that it was a good thing I wasn’t doing anything, like trying to have a baby! They got the fire taken care of pretty quickly and we all went back to our roles. No, the photographer didn’t get a picture of the fire. 😉
At some point in the night, when everyone was getting tired, the Midwives left for a bit to give us room for settling in. They were just a phone call away, and it helped me get relaxed enough to really get things going. We got the majority of the kids to sleep, S left to check on my grandma, and the other helpers got a (very) quick snooze in. I tried to lay down and sleep, but as soon as I had a contraction, I knew laying down was NOT going to work. I got up, came into the living room, and tried laying over the birth ball again. I found this position incredibly soothing and restful, in between contractions and going to the bathroom. Things started picking up and I found myself having to stop during a wave to hold onto something and/or sway. Sometimes I had to really focus on breathing, and that’s when I decided it was time to get everyone back up. The Midwives made it back in record time (or at least it seemed so to me).
I decided to get into the pool when nothing I did was helping me be comfortable. Oh, did it feel good. I spent the majority of my time in the pool on my knees, leaning over the side into Mike. I tried a few times to sit on my bottom instead, but I had a hard time relaxing in that position so I inevitably wound up back the other way.
C brought me a cool washcloth for my neck, which I LOVED! She also fanned me, and we had a laugh about the fan being from when they worked the polls for Senate hopeful Gina Loudon. M spent a lot of time holding my hands, rubbing my back & shoulders, and smoothing out my face while reminding me to stay relaxed. Once or twice, I tried to get out but didn’t make it very far because the movement would bring on some super-intense contractions that nearly brought me to my knees. It was all I could do to hang from M during those ones. I kept worrying about hurting his shoulder, but if he was hurting I didn’t really notice.
During many waves, it took all three of them to help. M would be at my front, talking to me and rubbing me, D and C would be at my back, pushing against my hips and providing counter pressure on my bottom. I made lots of noise and tried to keep it low. My pelvis felt like it was being ripped apart and I could swear my butt was going to explode as well. I kept saying “Oh my goodness” and much to my surprise, no curse words came out of my mouth. I prepared everyone on the team for that as I tend to sound like a sailor while in labor, but it never happened.
D asked if I still wanted my 12 hour labor, as we were at 10 1/2. I said no, I would gladly take 10 1/2 and that I was ready to meet my baby NOW!
I started feeling “pushy” and even pushed involuntarily a few times. I kept feeling inside myself trying to feel something different from the time before, but I kept getting nothing. I was discouraged by this, even though I knew I was making progress, even if I couldn’t tell with my fingers. We discussed before labor about not pushing baby out, but instead trying to breathe him out as much as possible. Boy am I glad we did!
Finally, I started to feel a head! It was slick and I was so excited to feel it. Then it slipped back inside and I said “Oh no! Why does it keep going back in?!! Stay out!” A few more contractions and it stayed poking out. As it moved down a little more, I kept feeling and I noticed a large ridge on top…all I could think was cord, so I quickly told D I thought I felt the cord on baby’s head. Panic for me!! She felt and assured me that it was only the parts of the skull laying on each other. Whew. I was terrified for a few minutes (probably really only about 20 seconds or so). The head kept coming out, very slowly, and I kept feeling different parts. D told me the face was pink and healthy. I felt a full head and face, little chubby cheeks.
It seemed like forever that I sat there, feeling baby’s head and face sticking out of me. I kept waiting for baby to come flying out, as all the others had done, but that didn’t happen. Why not? Why is this baby taking so long? “Come on baby, we want to meet you.” What’s wrong? Another contraction and still no baby? Are the shoulders stuck? Oh no, the shoulders are stuck and no one’s saying anything because they don’t want me to worry. That’s what is taking so long! This baby is never coming out! “Come on baby, come out now.” “Why isn’t the baby coming out?” Slowly, I felt more of baby come out…the neck, the shoulders, the belly….still not all the way. What the heck?! Get this kid out of me before I break! What in the world is taking so long??? And then, baby was out. I felt something give and then D said (I think) to pull baby up, which I did. Ahh…sweet baby.
I lifted baby to me and as soon as I got the cord I looked to see what kind of parts…a penis. I said “BOY!” and then looked one more time just to be sure. Yep, definitely a penis.
What a moment that was, feeling my baby come out, “catching” him and lifting him up to me. I was so relieved to have him here with us. He hollered like a true child of ours and then pooped. 🙂
Stay tuned for part 2, the after birth time and postpartum period.