It might seem crazy that I’m here, writing out our birth story just three days since our son was born, but my boys are cuddling in bed and I’m soaking in a very early morning, very hot bubble bath and it’s just the moments I need to begin to process the awesome craziness of the last few days. I can’t think back to Saturday without spilling hot tears, I can’t do much these days without the fat, hot tears, but somehow being alone in my tub, the very place I cried out in labor, feels like the right place for me to tell my sons story.
Saturday morning, I woke up at 3:30am feeling like I had to use the restroom, only to roll over and quickly fall asleep again. It was then that the first gush came. My eyes flew open in the dark, and as my heart began to race, a scared little smile spread across my face. “Honey… Honey, I think my water just broke”, my sweet husband all warm and full of sleep shot up and asked if I was serious. I got up to use the bathroom and well, yes, I was serious. Excitement took over and I began to tremble as I called my midwife from the cool darkness of the bathroom.
We made our way out into the dark and headed to our midwifes office to confirm what I already knew was true. 4:00am. We were having our baby at 35weeks 6 days. After a short discussion about delivering at home a day earlier than the official cut off, we decided to trust our baby and the power of birthing, God had given us this day, and we were to trust in him, in our midwives and in ourselves. One of our very first parenting decisions, it had begun.
Back home we began to ready the house, there were pots and pans to be gathered, a birthing bed to be made and candles to be lit. The power of birthing had already began to swell in my belly and back, so I chose to sit on the birth ball and listen to my Hypnobabies tracks and time the contractions while my hubby slept. 7:00am.
By 7:45am, I was breathing through contractions, smiling through each one and willing my baby down. “Babe, I think I need you now” I whispered to my sleeping husband, again he shot out of bed and began his all day task of digging into my lower back as hard as he could. It wasn’t that I had any back labor, the pressure just seemed to make everything more bearable. I was starting to get more vocal with each contraction, which were now coming around 2-3 minutes apart.
I was on top of each contraction, focusing on staying relaxed and open and I was able to smile after each, comfortable in the knowledge that they were bringing me one step closer to meeting my baby. “Come to me my boy, down sweet boy”, I repeated over and over out loud.
We called our midwife to let her know where we were at. She let herself in an hour later and came to my side at the bed to listen to me through a contraction or two. She checked babies heart rate and my blood pressure as I told her I just wanted to be 3cm. She said this was a reasonable number. I was a 2, 80% thinned and baby was at zero station. She seemed pleased but upset she couldn’t give me my 3. I said out loud that a 2 was better than a 1 and truly felt it. She then left us with the suggestions of walking and of getting off the birthing ball to encourage things along. She mentioned that I still had far too many clothes on, which I thought was odd at the time, but would later make sense.
Rommy and I dressed warmly and leashed the dog, I felt nervous about contracting on the side of the road but I was excited to help baby down. We made our way around the block. I looked up at the early morning blue sky through the golden leaves of our neighborhoods tall trees and thought what a beautiful day for birthing this was, even if it wasn’t at night like I had imagined it would be all pregnancy long. We passed some of our neighbors during a few contractions and I did my best to moan and walk through them, when Rommy was attending to Dexter dog and I had to go through a contraction without him, I’d power walk ahead, flap my arms and say “Down baby”. What a sight. At one point I was down on my knees on the cold side walk as a car pulled up next to us. The woman asked if I was ok all the while staring suspiciously at Rommy, who was quick to shout out that we were having a baby! She told us she was a doula, I told her I was too, she wished us luck! A short while from home I decided I needed to get into the shower, and this thought got me the rest of the way.
I spent an age in the shower, letting the hot hot water rain down on my belly and then my back and so on, turning and turning. I sipped on coconut water and nibbled on dry mango slices that my hubby would feed me through the shower curtain. A while into my shower I moved our large yellow exercise ball right into the tub. I needed to sit and bounce but still have the water on me. My legs had begun to shake a little. At some point in the shower I called my husband in for a kiss. It was long and warm and sweet, I kissed him through tears until a contraction would pull us a part. My sweet love, he handled more than I think he thought he would ever be able to and remained kind and loving even as I barked at him when he would speak or yelled at him from across the house when a contraction would start up.
Soon I was too hot in the shower and decided to move to the bed. I draped myself over the birth ball in a hands and knees position as my sweet hubby ground his elbows into my back. I had become very vocal and no longer smiled after contractions. I asked my hubby to call our midwife back, this was now getting hard and I felt myself getting lost at the very peak of each contraction. They had gone from strong menstrual like cramping with slight pressure to a deep all absorbing ache with immense pressure that I needed to “ahhhh” through. I think this is also where I began to swear. A lot. Midday.
The midwife found me in the bedroom draped over the ball, naked, sweaty, hair up but also half down and out in each direction. I could see that she knew that we were making progress without even checking me but I needed to be checked. I HAD to know where we were. I was 5cm. I could have been more but was happy with and grateful for the progress.
It took 90 minutes of back and forth from the bathroom to the bed to dilate from a 5 to a 10. I would find comfort on the toilet, hubby kneeling in front of me, the midwife seated on the floor taking notes but I began to feel afraid of the enormity of the tightening and pressure. I felt consumed, on fire, terrified, alive. Each breath, sound, movement, my own and others, heightened my pain and all I could do to cope was cry out or whimper my midwives name… Catherine. Help me. Please. And when I felt like the contraction was crashing down on top of me, like I was about to be swept up and taken away, I would beg that Rommy look me in the eyes, I needed to feel like I was still on earth, and looking into his eyes, as I gripped onto him, grounded me. My midwife could sense that I was starting to lose control and suggested that I get into a hot bath. I could have kissed her. I instantly felt relief as the warm water wrapped itself around my swollen body. Rommy sat beside me as I wept in the warm water, he says, and I vaguely recall doing it, that I just kept repeating that I wanted to go home. “You are home my love, just like you wanted”, he would whisper quietly back.
And then a contraction came, and then another and then another and the water was no longer useful. I felt like I couldn’t find a comfortable position, I began to shake and sweat. Back to the toilet. Again the fear climbed its way up from the depths of my belly, up into my throat, I moaned and cussed and begged for Rommy to look me in the eyes and pleaded for Catherine to help me. I said at this point what I had been thinking inside for quite some time. I couldn’t stay on top of the intensity anymore. Catherine looked me in the eyes and smiled, “Don’t, just give into it.” I closed my eyes, leaned back on the toilet and rested my head into the palm of my husband’s hands. Give in. Give in. The pressure welled up again, but this time I would give in, open myself up to it, and I stayed still and quiet. I heard whispers, “Is she sleeping?”… I was not sleeping, I was giving in, all the while allowing my body every ounce of energy it needed to open, open. Come down baby, come. 3 contractions like that, 3 contractions that looked like sleep but felt like Hell and I again needed to move.
Back on the bed, I begged the midwife to check me again… She said I was a stretchy 6-7cm. Hallelujah. Maybe, just maybe I could do this? Little did I know that she, my incredible angel of a midwife, was lying. I was a 5, but her experience had taught her that in order to be more, I needed to feel like I was more. I was draped over my big yellow birthing ball now, knees on the bed. It was at this point I believe that I became solely dependent on Rommy “wobbling” my back and hips to get through a contraction. Wobbling? Don’t ask. I’m not quite sure, but he knew what it was and knew that I depended on it and he did it with all his might. But soon his body was telling him he could shake me no more, and he told me so, I said once, with desperate panic and half seriousness, “If you can’t wobble me, I need an epidural. I don’t think I can do this.” He kept on wobbling. Rommy told me with as much conviction as he could that wanting an epidural was a good thing, that if I now needed it, if I now felt I couldn’t do it, then I must be close, I believed him. I believed him because I had told him this myself many many times in the weeks before our birthing time began .
Dear Lord Jesus, help me Lord Jesus.
And then the downward pressure came, only at the very peak of a contraction at first but then slowly more and more. “Goooood.” my midwife would whisper. My breaths became shorter and ended with a long Wooooo, and then I grunted a bit at the end of one. Was that a push? Back to the toilet we went, and back to the bed again when the toilet made the pressure worse. It was on all fours on the bed, again, draped over the big yellow ball that I began to push. I wasn’t checked, I was encouraged to do what my body said to do. I was struck with disbelief. Seriously? I’m almost done? We did it?! And then a contraction came and all thought melted away and I was again just a passenger on this runaway freight train. With each wave of pressure, I felt my body bare down in opening, deep down at first, in a place I couldn’t quite pin point, and then I could feel the stretching of bones, not painful, just happening whether I agreed or not. My boy, my love, he was almost home. I was not of myself, I was crying, drenched in sweat, a mess, I was not myself but everything I needed to be at that moment. The animal they always speak of when birthing was now lose and had taken over. It was at this point that my sweet doula arrived, I barely noticed her slip into the fray, but I do remember asking, no, telling everyone to be very very quiet. Chatter opened me up to the outside world and allowed it to seep into my birth experience, it separated my mind from my body, my mind from my baby and I wasn’t having it. The room went quiet and the waves took me under again. When the feeling of all the World was between my hips, I knew my baby was close. The midwife told me to reach down and feel his head, just an inch or two separating his warm, wet head of soft hair from me. Right there, he is right there. A wave of strength swept over me and I knew the time to push with every fiber of my being, to hold back nothing, was now and so I pushed with everything I had, and I felt the World move down, closer, closer… I felt myself become wide and I was not scared. A slight burn, I welcomed it. I knew that this was the Sun rising, the waves crashing, the birds chirping, this was Life and I opened myself up to it. It was a very conscious decision I had to make, I had to again give in to the intensity and not try to move away from it, and so a pushed down, no regard for anything but bring my boy into this world. His head was out they said, I couldn’t believe I had done it, and with a push or two more my son was born, and so was I. In the sunset and candle flickered light of our bedroom, we became what we were always meant to be. Father, Mother, Son.
I reached between my legs and took hold of his wet, slippery body, and lay back as I gripped him to my chest. I cried and kissed and cried, I looked around the room surprised, it was every hope and dream I ever had come true. My gaze landed upon my husband, who was looking at me in the most peculiar way. I am coming to understand with every passing day of this new motherhood, what that very look means, and I feel so honored to have a man that feels all those things for me, and can convey them with just a glance.
There is so much more to tell, so much more that filled the hours between 4:12PM on Saturday the 15th of December when our son was born on the same bed he was made, and the time we lay down our heads, our son between us, as a family that night…. But that is the beginning of a whole other story…
Walk through this world with me,
Go where I go
Share all my dreams with you
I needed you so
In life we search
And some of us find
I looked for you
A long, long time
And now that I’ve found you
New horizons I’ve seen
Come take my hand
And walk through this world with me
- The Seldom Scene