I convinced myself you were going to come early, (bad idea, btw!) and so by the time I had reached 37 weeks, the house had been cleaned from top to bottom and I filled vases with tulips and hydrangea and put them all throughout the house. (flowers make me happy. :-)) And of course, a week would pass with you still warm and cozy in my belly and once again I would fill the vases and sweep and scrub, keeping everything as clean as possible. Your due date came and went and my waddling got worse and worse. We wanted to meet you so badly!! Your daddy was getting quite stir crazy because he was too afraid to leave me alone, lest I go into labor and deliver you unassisted. You see, we also believed that when you came you would come very quickly. Your sister was born in under 6 hours and since second babies tend to come quicker, we were prepared for 2/ 3 hour labor or possibly even faster! But you had different plans, my little one.
Six days past my due date, I woke up in the morning and discovered my birth plug in my underwear. I have never been so excited to see something so gross! I knew you would be coming that night and I was very relieved because I did not like the idea of going later than 41 weeks, especially since your sister was born right around her due date. Around 10 in the morning we all got bundled up and went for nice, long winter walk. Your dad was overly worried about me but I insisted that I was fine and we needed to keep. on. going. I waddled so slowly down that long, windy, country road and I could tell that your head had become engaged in my pelvis. Right before we reached back home, some neighbors waved at us and I yelled out to them, "I'm walking this baby out!" And they laughed and told us good luck.
That night, as I had done so many nights before, I prepared everything for your arrival. I wiped up any smudge on the kitchen floor, fluffed up pillows, swept, vacuumed and checked for dust. The nesting was strong in me, let me tell you! I fell asleep, giddy and anxious to feel those first contractions. And sure enough, at some point in the night, I felt some deep cramps as I slept. I was able to sleep through them but was aware that they were coming fairly consistently. I finally decided it was time to wake up and pay more attention to what I was feeling. I got up and went to the bathroom quite a bit( a sign of impending labor) and realized that the cramps were real labor contractions. I felt them right on my cervix as they vibrated slowly out. They weren't painful, so I was unsure if I should try to go back to sleep or wake everyone up and get everything ready to go. I decided to walk around the kitchen for a minute and sure enough, a wave came that made me lean across the kitchen counter and let out a soft moan. This is it..... this has got to be it.. I thought.
Now, I have to remind you that when your sister came, I went into immediate active labor and was vomiting within an hour of waking up. I was expecting intensity, nausea, laying on the ground unable to move, but that was not what was happening. However, the midwives did tell me that the minute I felt my first contraction I should call them and your father had said the same.. "Wake me up right away!" He had said to me many times throughout my pregnancy. And so, at 4:00 am, I went in and woke your dad up and said, "I'm pretty sure this is it!" We called K and again a wave hit that was strong enough that I had the need to quietly moan again. She reminded me that all labors are different and even if things didn't seem that intense, she was calling the midwives and coming anyway.
At this point, I went into the bedroom, turned on the mexican starlight ( which gave a really nice, soft glow to the room) and lay down on a little bed I had made on the floor. Your dad began filling up the birth tub, which was in our bedroom, and I lay on the floor, softly moaning through the waves and enjoying this easy, early labor! The waves were coming every few minutes but they weren't painful or intense and I felt absolutely great in-between them. It was so enjoyable to experience labor this way! I was relaxed and happy, and my excitement was growing with each wave.
As I lay there with my eyes closed, relaxing through each contraction, I heard this very loud THUMP and immediately thought your dad had tripped and hurt himself! But when I opened my eyes, I saw your sister standing above me with her wild, blonde hair, all messy from sleep. She had slid off the bed, probably woken up by the light. " Hi mama!" She said cheerily, giving me a big hug. Your dad came over and knelt beside her and said, "Mommy's having a baby!"To which she replied, in a hilariously funny voice, "Whhaaaaaaatt??" We both got a very good laugh out of that response! It was right around 4:45 am at this point, which was good because I knew if your sister woke up anytime around five, she could have a late morning nap and be fine for the rest of the day.
My waves were not too intense that I couldn't help your dad, so we took your sister down to the living room with a pillow, a blanket and a sippy cup of milk, got her all nice and cozy and put on Nemo. Your oldest sister was with her mom, so we didn't have to worry about her, although she would have certainly helped to keep your sister occupied. We also turned on the drop cam so that we could check on "sissy" while I labored, and then we returned to the bedroom. It was only a few minutes after this that the midwives and your Auntie L arrived. Auntie L went down to be with your sis and the midwives came in to check on me and you.
The tub was way too cold, so your daddy and two of the midwives began to boil hot water while K, our third midwife, stayed with me. Of course your dad, the caretaker, had made vanilla cappuccinos for all the midwives, and handed out cups the minute they walked through the door. The energy of this birth was so different from my first and I was loving it. I couldn't stop telling K how great this was and how wonderful I felt. This is how all those women in those birth stories labor! I kept telling everyone. At this point I was lying in our very cozy bed with my midwives filling up the tub, and your dad alternating between helping fill the tub, and laying beside me and kissing my cheeks and forehead.
The contractions were so easy and I felt great! Everything was so peaceful and warm. I set the tone for the labor by being happy and silly, and we were all laughing and talking, just having a good time. I felt safe, protected and loved. I felt like I was surrounded by a group of wise women who were there to keep you and me safe and healthy. Your dad was amazing as well and I could feel how excited he was to experience your arrival.
Eventually the tub reached about 98 degrees and your dad was all about us getting in. I didn't feel ready actually, because the waves were so easy and I wasn't really experiencing pain yet. I asked K to check me so I would have a better idea how far along as I was and, as I suspected, I was only four centimeters dilated. But, perhaps the water would help things along, I thought, so your dad and I both got in. It was right around this time that my midwife, R had to check on another mama who's water had broken, so she left and told us she would be back if everything was ok with her. I was sad to see R go, but I knew that the other mother needed help too and I already had two midwives with me. Also, since R was leaving, K called another midwife, who was already on her way. I had met this other midwife a few times before and she was actually the same midwife who was our childbirth education teacher with your sister's birth. I had always liked her and I knew she had been a midwife for a really long time too, so I was actually excited she was coming. And this meant that if R came back, I would have four midwives at my birth! A team of midwives I joked!
So, we, your papa and I, got into the water and I wrapped my arms around his neck and moaned through the waves. The sunlight was coming in through the windows by this time, especially with the reflection off the snow, and I felt like I had been laboring for so long. (in actuality, i had only been laboring for about 3 or 4 hours) The waves did not intensify in the water at all, if anything they seemed less intense, and I knew I had to get out if I wanted to move things along. So, out of the tub and back into bed it went. As soon as I crawled back into bed, I was hit with a long and painful contraction, and I knew things were starting!
I stayed very focused through the contractions; making sure that my body was loose and relaxed. K had an amazing bit of advice for me that I had never heard before and it helped me so much, it was unbelievable. She taught me this very simple technique of wiggling my fingers through each contraction. It sounds so basic, but it's amazing! This technique gives you something to focus on and also helps you remain loose, because you want to clench your fists and make yourself tight, but wiggling your fingers reminds you not to. Your daddy was laying beside me the entire time at this point. He was being so sweet and tender with me; rubbing my back and arm, kissing me gently, telling me how amazing I was.
Things were definitely picking up at this point. I'd say, at this time, the only similarity between your birth and your sister's, was my desire to lay very, very still on my left side. I am not a move-around and swing your hips-kind of mama when I'm in labor. I'm a-don't make me move inch or I'll kill you kinda mama when I'm in labor. ;-) The thought of getting up and moving at all was anything but enticing. But I did have to use the bathroom a couple of times, so I had no choice but to face those hardcore contractions while walking and being out of bed, and it was not fun. I needed to be as relaxed as possible to handle the pain and that was very difficult for me to do unless I was laying down, staying loose and moaning loudly. The moaning was a HUGE help. Huge. If someone had told that me I would not be able to make a sound, I would not have been able to deal with the pain. It was a release, a focus.. it just came naturally to want to moan.
At nine am I finally knew that things were intense enough that I needed to get in the water to handle it. I had been in labor for exactly five hours and up until around 8:00 am things had been awesome and pretty easy. Now I was reaching the hard part. A really strong wave hit as I was walking towards the tub and I grabbed onto your father, my arms draped around his neck. K helped me to sway my hips through the wave as I moaned and leaned all my weight into your papa. When the wave was over, we both got into the tub with our three midwives sitting around us, offering me words of encouragement.
This was officially it. Now I had to really focus and really work to get through the pain. The waves were lasting longer and longer and I was gripping onto your father for dear life. He was leaning against the inside of the tub with his legs spread and I was inbetween them, facing him, my arms around his neck and my head resting on his shoulder. He was stroking my back and telling me how strong I was, how amazing I was. I must admit, I had let the fear of pain creep in at this point. I hadn't even begun the pushing phase yet- which I knew was the hardest part of all, and yet I was already overwhelmed with the intensity and the pain. Again, your labor was so different from sissy's birth. With your sissy's, there was no transition-none. I simply felt my cervix open completely and I was ready to push. That's it. Now, with your labor, transition was as difficult as pushing because it all felt the same.
I could feel you moving down and it felt just like the pushing phase with your sister, except it wasn't. I could feel your head moving through my pelvis... and the pressure. The pressure. Wow, was I holding your dad tight. I'm surprised that I didn't break one of his bones! I was leaning and pulling on him so hard and I would not let him move one inch. I knew that I was hurting him, especially with his bad back, bad shoulder and bad knee but I could not help myself. He was my rock. Your dad was the one who got me through this, my boy. The midwives were right there the entire time and they checked your heart many, many times to make sure you were safe and handling labor ok, but your daddy was the one who got me through. I fell into a deeper love with your father that day than I could have ever imagined. He has always been the love of my life, but after this experience, our connection deepened more that I could ever explain.. more than he could ever explain either.
My moans were almost gentle still at this point and still one of the most helpful pain management tools. The intensity grew and grew and I finally said out loud, "I'm scared."
The midwives reminded me that I could do this, that I had been really strong with my last birth, and that it was almost over. Almost over: the most beautiful words in the world.
I remember one calm, clear moment when I looked up at them and said, "Please remind me that you all have done this before. I need to hear that women have done this before!" I know this sounds weird or silly but at that moment, I needed to be reminded that millions of women had given birth before me. I was not the only one and if they could get through it, I could get through it. I had to remember.. I was not alone. Now, after your dad heard me say that, he got a little bit scared. A momentary fear that I'd be too exhausted to push. But that thought never crossed my mind, actually. I started to think about all the women I knew who had given birth.. the birth stories, the birth videos, the unassisted births and cesarean births, the hospital births. I thought of all of it. It was amazing how many women and birth stories popped into my head during that time. And it helped. Thinking of all those strong women helped.
The pain was unbelievable. It was the most profoundly overwhelming and intense experience of my life. I was actually in more pain than I was with your sister's birth, which I thought was a bit strange. Looking back on it now, I attribute that to a few different things: not studying/practicing my hypnobabies like I did with my first birth, allowing the fear of pushing to to take over because I now knew how much it hurt, or maybe your head was bigger than your sisters..? lol
It was right around this time that i began to vomit and your dad held my hair and a plastic bag for me to throw up in. Throwing up while intensely contracting is very hardcore, let me tell you. But I knew that it was opening me up and for that I was happy. I could not wait to meet you, and this only meant that I was closer. I became a bit weak after throwing up, but I swear, I gathered strength right out of your dad. It's like I pulled it out of him. He was squeezing my hips so hard and telling me over and over again that I was almost done. Man, did I need to be reminded that! Just please tell me this won't last forever!
And then I felt my body begin to push and once again, I knew, as I did with your sister, that I was going to have to make this happen. I knew that I was going to have to really work to get you out and I was afraid and I just wanted this pain to end.
"Oh god, it huuurts!!"I was beginning to get really whiny now. K came and checked me and told me I was complete and that I should put my hand down and feel you because you were right there. I said no. I knew the worst was coming, the part where your head comes out and I did not want to be reminded that I had not accomplished that yet. I was not putting my hand down there until your head was out and the worst was officially over! No reminders that the worst was yet to come. No thank you!
However, your dad decided to feel what was going on and it got him SO excited and filled with energy!! That's when he told me that you were only a fingertip away from being born. " Come on, babe, he is almost here. We are going to meet our son!" I loved hearing that. I love hearing that I was going to be holding you soon, that you were almost here. I couldn't talk but I wanted your dad and the midwives to tell me that over, and over and over again because it is so easy to forget that all this pain is so worth it because it brings your baby to you! I was beginning to get determined to get this over with. I remember your dad's excitement when he was squeezing my hips and he said he could literally feel you moving through my body!Wow. That was so cool. Your daddy and I were one at this point. I know it sounds cheesy but it is absolutely true. It was like I didn't know where he stopped and I began. We were so close and I was holding him so tight. I was also screaming with each wave at this point in a very shrill soprano type voice. (although it's funny because your auntie said she couldn't believe how quiet I was and only heard me say, "Oww. it hurts". lol So maybe it seemed worse to me.) K reminded me to keep my voice low because a low voice helps you push your baby out. I wanted to scream but I knew that wasn't going to help me. I needed to grunt and get primal. I had to lose my inhibitions. I had to throw being "ladylike"out the window. If I was going to get you out, I could not give a damn about how I looked or what anyone thought.
So, with the next contraction, I grunted and bit your dad and pushed hard, praying that this was almost over. "Get him out! Pull him out!!" I yelled, desperately. I honestly wanted to yell, "Why the fuck can't you just pull him out of me?!" K was very calm and said, "You have to get him out, honey. Two more pushes and you are going to be holding your baby in your arms." That was it. That was the thing I needed to hear to finish this. I wanted to hold you so badly. I pushed HARD one last time, felt that intense burn and stretching, and your father, with his hands already there, already holding your head as it came out slowly, put his hands around your tiny body and lifted you up out of the water and put you on my chest.
(these are the very first photos ever taken of you..)
Now this is when I have to stop and tell you about one of the most magical, beautiful moments of my entire life. The moment that I felt you for the first time. The moment that it all became real. Here you were, my boy, my sweet son, with your soft, warm body against mine and I looked down and saw you and heard your beautiful cry. It was pure bliss. Your dad was crying and kissing me, and I just kept on saying, "Hi baby.." You were SO tiny, just like your sister was, and SO perfect. And it was over! The pain was completely gone. And the most miraculous thing.. instantly, I mean, in one second, the memory of what the pain felt like was gone. All I felt was joy and relief. I delivered my placenta quickly and we got out of the tub, changed into some clean clothes and laid in bed together, admiring how perfect and beautiful you were. You were born at 11:04 am, after exactly seven hours of labor.
Now, here is another beautiful moment for me. The room was so warm and cozy and the energy was just incredible; really joyful. You could see the thick layer of snow outside the windows. Your daddy took a picture of us at that moment, as we lay in bed, and my face was glowing, like I had just finished getting a facial. We looked so happy. And your dad, your dad was on a serious birth high. He kept crying and kissing me and kissing you. He was so, so proud. I could tell that you wanted to nurse and you latched instantly and nursed beautifully! I was so relieved! What a perfect moment in time. Joy. That is the word that I keep thinking of: joy.
As you nursed, the exhaustion began to hit and I fell asleep. I vaguely remember your dad cutting the cord, and you being weighed and measured. You were 8 lbs 4oz and 21 inches long. The midwives woke me up a few times to make me drink and to check on my bleeding and to see if I tore. My bleeding was really minimal and NO tears! Yes! After some more napping, I woke feeling great and ate a little food. The midwives left once everything was clean and put away and they had given us hugs and words of congratulations. We stayed in bed and snuggled some more, relishing in our happiness. The rest of the day continued to be filled with joy as we celebrated your birth with friends and family. Your dad and I even sat in bed later on in the afternoon and watched the birth video! We wanted to relive it over and over again because it was all so awesome.
One of the best and most amazing things about this birth was my recovery. I had no tears, no swelling, and no pain whatsoever. Nothing. It was unreal. I didn't even need to use my peri bottle because I felt zero pain in my perineum. It was like I hadn't even given birth and I am still a bit confused why my recovery was almost miraculous. I barely even bled. The bleeding had completely stopped by three weeks PP. It seemed that I suffered through two hours of excruciating pain so that I wouldn't have to suffer from any pain after the birth. The pain was worth it. It was worth it for you, for the bliss I felt afterwards and for the quickest recovery I could have ever imagined or asked for. I didn't suffer from any baby blues, even mild ones, I felt euphoric and amazing. I still do.
taking our herbal bath together the day after your birth..