Your due date came and went. I knew better than to set my hopes on Feb 13 being the day of your arrival…but still I felt a measure of disappointment not having you here that day. It wasn’t until The 16th that I felt a contraction. I always wondered if I would know when I was actually having contractions…but you know. It is a wave. Starts small and builds and then comes back down again. They started in the morning and at one point they were lasting about a minute and were 6mins apart. I didn’t want to get too excited (but I was and so was your dad). We called the midwives just to give them a heads up and we called your Grandma Thurston. We knew we weren’t in active labor yet but we were close…and because of how fast your gmas labors were and all of my friends labors were I just thought yours would happen fast and I wanted everyone to be on the ready. By about noon the contractions started slowing down and getting farther and farther apart. Bummer!!! I was ready for you to come and getting mentally ready and then they just got weak. Every once in awhile I would get a strongish one but they some of them were just weak. Wah! In our birth prep class they told us early labor can be long and to come up with activities so we went to the movies.
We saw Justin Bieber in Never Say Never..which is hilarious since neither of us care much for some be-bopper singer. I was sitting in the dark theater still having sporadic contractions. At this point they were intense enough that talking through them was annoying and they did kind of take my breath away but they were still light enough that once they were done I felt a total release. At one point in the movie, after a contraction, my eyes welled up with tears. I felt SO good. Each time a contraction ended I felt almost euphoric. Like I was floating. I know it was a magic mix of hormones and emotions and I am sure it is all part of the plan to make you WANT to work through what is to come. I was watching a movie about a young child achieving their goals and dreams and I couldn’t help thinking non stop about you. What you would want to achieve and dream and devote your time to. I felt so inspired by the life you were about to live and that I was going to be privileged to be a part of. I just felt the greatness of you AND I was a hormonal miracle..so there I was crying while watching Justin Bieber.
By the time we left the movie my contractions had decreased even more and by the time we went to bed I hadn’t had one for hours. WHAT? What a tease. Your grandma had come over to sleep in case it was time..and it was hard for me to feel like everyone was waiting watching and looming over us. I knew you had a plan and would come when it was time for you to come..and I didn’t want others to make us feel pressure.
I slept through that entire night and woke up in the morning realizing I hadn’t had one single contraction all night. It was now Feb 17. Time to get serious.
Your dad and I went curb walking. Where you walk with one foot on the curb and the other on the road trying to jiggle you out. It was pretty hard work being 40+ weeks pregnant. But I was determined. At some point near the end of our walk your dad and I got in an argument. I can’t even really remember what it was about. Great. I was already feeling so much with you about to arrive and now this? I just needed to feel super close to your dad and and I know he needed it to. We decided to go out to lunch for Indian. Spicy food to kick you out of there. We went to a great palace down in Belmont Shores. On the drive home things got heated and once I got out of the car I was crying and I grabbed headphones and stormed out of the house. What was happening? So much emotion. So much I wanted. So much NOT happening. My patience was thin and I was more fragile than usual. I listened to Jesca Hoop and Diana Krall. I also listened to yoga mantras I had on my iphone. I walked and cried and dragged my huge body all over the neighborhood. Once I got home I had made an appointment to see an acupuncturist. I was on a mission to get you here. I can’t remember how it happened but your dad wanted to come with me to my appt. I went and she poked me and rubbed me. I couldn’t tell if it was doing anything but I knew it couldn’t hurt. Once I was home I jumped in the shower and I remember your dad peaking his head in and telling me he was sorry. He went for a walk and when he got back he had written me a little poem and brought me a citrus blossom to smell. It was around 9pm and I remember sitting in the big blue ball leaning over onto our bed reading the poem and smelling the blossom as I was starting to have contractions again. Your Dad noticed there was a full moon. I walked out our bedroom door with my camera to look at the sky and make a wish on a star.
Around 10pm we were both in bed and they started and grew. I knew this time was different than yesterdays contractions. They were growing more and more intense. I remember at one point while I was pregnant thinking it was so strange how no one could describe to you what a contraction felt like and I promised myself that once I was feeling them I would take a mental note of how to describe it. For me they started in my back and felt like a intense period cramp that wrapped from my lower back around to my uterus and then grew until it peaked. It felt like a period cramp that got REALLY strong and tight right in the front of my uterus and then it slowly crept back down. I know you are supposed to relax and not fight the contractions but it was hard not to hold my breath or clinch my fists. It was hard to keep my body loose when everything wanted to tighten up along with my uterus. Your dad was timing the contractions on his iphone and I was still having to tell him when they were starting because they were “mild” enough that he couldn’t tell when they were starting on his own. Honestly the next 6-7hours were comprised of contraction after contraction growing in intensity and length and me asking your Dad every two seconds how far apart they were. I knew that once we were having contractions that lasted one minute and they were coming every five minutes for at least an hour we could call the midwives. Calling the midwives meant I was REALLY in labor, active labor and it also meant that there was an end in site.
During the middle of the night while you Dad and I were laboring alone, we moved from the bedroom out to the family room once I really didn’t want to be lying down anymore. I stood in the family room or sat on the couch and during contractions your Dad would stay close until he knew I could relax. I had him light a fire..which was nice to watch. It was dark outside and quiet but I had a fire inside of me. Something big was happening. At one point while we were still alone, I was starting to get emotional and tired from the intensity of the contractions. I was crying wondering how much longer this would last? When were you coming? Your Dad soothed me by saying “You are going to be holding her in the morning”. We both really believed that. Once the time was right you Dad called the midwives and my Mom. I talked to Molly once on the phone and she wanted to be on the phone with me while I was going through a contraction so she could hear me. You can tell a lot by how a laboring woman sounds. Sometimes all the midwives need is to hear you in order to know what stage you are at. Your midwives, Molly, Debbie and Juli arrived around 5:30am with your Grandma Thurston arriving right after them. They all arrived in a sacred hush…only talking in whispers. Molly came over and hugged me and I cried on her shoulder. When Grandma got there we locked eyes and she gave me a knowing look as we both welled with tears. The space was filled with so much energy and in a weird way so much calm. We all had a job (including you) and we were doing them.
(a photo I took in between contractions!)
I know they checked me not soon after they got there and although I didn’t want to know the exact number I was dilated to I wanted to know if I was indeed in active labor (dilated to at least a 5) and progressing. I was in active labor!! Good thing. It didn’t feel like early labor anymore. While they were filling up the birthing tub in our bedroom I labored all around….on the toilet, in the guest bath, in the family room. I was getting up from sitting the guest bath tub and had to throw up in the sink. Debbie thought it meant I was in transition! Transition meant you would be here soon! To be honest the next 12hrs were a blur. Time existed but was hard to grasp. At one point I had everyone cover up the clocks in the house. I didn’t want to obsess about how much time had passed or not passed. I was already crazy in my head that I wasn’t holding you and it was past morning! Your Dad promised! One of the issues that was causing everything to last longer was your position. You were posterior, with your back against mine. Not only does it cause more pain for me as you drop but it also adds time because you need to move into a favorable position before you will deliver. I have no idea what a “non” posterior birth feels like (and supposedly a posterior birth is the most painful kind) but once the contractions were intense enough, I had to have someone give me back pressure during the peak of every contraction. Your dad pretty much held a rolling pin into my lower back for 15hrs strait. Yep, a rolling pin and I would beg for him to push harder and harder. I pretty much felt everything in my lower back. It felt like burning, splitting and sharpness. It felt like nothing I knew could exist.
Because of your position, we wanted to try and get you to move. The midwives had me try a lot of different positions…none of which were very comfortable for me. I did a runners lunge on top of the bed and contracted while throwing up in a bowl. I squatted while hanging on to a sheet that was thrown over a door. I contracted standing. They put a sheet around my back and tried jostling you around. I had been naked since the moment the midwives arrived. Clothes were a bother and unnecessary. I would get cold getting out of the tub and would wear my bathrobe until I got too hot. Once while squatting off the back of the couch I was in tears and the midwives reminded me to talk to you. (I needed to remind myself of the prize). Your dad and I were both in tears as we sang you your lullaby. I just wanted you here so bad.
They tried to get me to eat and drink to keep my energy up but it was hard. I had no appetite. They fed me some fruit, little cut up pieces of cinnamon toast. I drank gatorade, water and coconut juice…all given to me with a straw. I’m not sure I held a straw once. They fed and watered me like a baby. At one point I know my Dad had landed and my Mom asked him to pick up some more coconut juice at the store and bring it over. I guess he didn’t know what to get so he got one of every coconut item in the store. Coconut water, brown coconut etc…I didn’t find this out until after but I thought it was pretty adorable. When he came to drop off the goods he wanted to come in. My mom tried to explain to him that he really didn’t want to come in. My mom said he was sad and frustrated but he really didn’t realize I was laboring all over the house. We weren’t all in there watching a movie while I excused myself to the restroom. We were working hard. Cute Grandpa.
The videographer we had hired to come flaked. Yup. Flaked. Your dad emailed her but she never showed. I had my camera out set to auto and everyone there did a great job taking shots when they could. Between my 5D, iphones a canon elf and one HD video camera, we actually ended up getting some decent photos. It was important to me..but the fact that the person we hired didn’t show up, bugged me for about 5secs and then I was over it. I was busy with other things.
My favorite place to be was in the tub. It was immediate relief as soon as my belly hit the water. I probably got in and out of the tub 5 times. Most of the time Grant was behind me and he would press that beloved rolling pin into me as I pressed into him. Dad pretty much never left my side. Before going into labor I wasn’t sure how I would react. Would I want to be alone? Would touch bug me? Would Grant drive me nutzos? Turns out I wanted Grant clued to my side the entire time. He was my rock. He was confident, calming and sweet. When we would lock eyes I never once saw fear or sadness. He was fiercely committed to me, to you and being the strength I needed him to be. On the rare occasion he had to leave me to eat or use the restroom, I would cry. “Where are you going?!” The midwives reassured me they would give me back support when needed and he would be right back. I needed him more than I’ve ever needed him and he didn’t disappoint. He was amazing. I felt so bonded to him. More than ever he felt like my husband.
Once day started turning to night again…it got hard. Really hard. I had no idea what time it was..my only clue was the light. I was panicked. I had been up for nearly 48hrs strait. I had been laboring for 24hrs of that 16 of which were active labor. I didn’t know if I had it in me to labor through another night. My body was doing what it needed to do and I never felt like there was anything “wrong” but mentally everything was getting jumbled. I was exhausted. Starting around what I would guess was 8pm or so…my contractions got to the point when I pretty much had no break. They flowed one after another. The build was less and they felt like immediate peaks one after another. I felt like I had held a fairly calm exterior the entire time (considering) and in between contractions I would joke around and maybe even laugh. I felt like I had it all in perspective. Once night came, something changed for me. I cried and moaned and kept asking what my “options” were. Her heartbeat was OK, I was OK but why wasn’t she coming? Why couldn’t I feel her lower down? Would she ever be able to come? I didn’t ever ask for pain medication but I did wonder if the whole thing would work. It felt like no end was in site and that I had lost control over my body.
Before going in to labor I had ideas. I never really thought of labor as painful..and contractions weren’t contractions but “waves”. I believed that labor was natural, doable and something I didn’t need to be hospitalized for. I wasn’t sick. I was pregnant. I knew it would be intense but I also knew it would be temporary..and what couldn’t I do for 24hrs? I had chosen not to concentrate on the what if’s of pain and labor sensations. I mean what could I really do about them anyway? I knew I had very little control over what labor would actually feel like and I had chosen to concentrate more on the after. What the first days of being with you would look like and feel like. I did some hypnotherapy sessions and really loved listening and meditating to the recorded sessions. It gave me so much relaxation during early labor and I assumed it would in labor as well. Truth be told most of what I thought would help me during labor didn’t even cross my mind. I only listened to a little music (I specifically remember listening to Empire State of Mind while lunging on the bed), I chanted a yoga mantra for a few minutes but never listened to my hypno. I wasn’t that interested in aromatherapy; I don’t think a single candle was ever lite. I was really in my head and my body for the whole process. It helped to concentrate on key words I concentrated on during hypnotherapy like “trust”…and this more than anything filled my thoughts. The word “Trust” was at the front of my mind the entire time. Trusting myself and trusting, you, my baby. No matter how intense the process got, I always felt connected to you and I always trusted you. I knew you would come when the time was right. I knew you were working hard as well and had been working hard with me the entire pregnancy. The pain and discomfort I was feeling seemed separate from my thoughts of you. I knew you were OK and understood more than I did. Your wisdom and insight helped calm me.
The last couple of hours were life changing. Truth be told, I never knew those feelings existed. I never knew it was possible for my body to feel the way it did. I didn’t want certain words to be a part of my experience but they were! I felt pain. I felt like my body was ripping in two. I wondered how my heart wasn’t exploding. It was an out of body experience. My body was doing what it needed to do and I felt like I was just a passenger. Everything else going on was faint and in the background. I knew who was in the room at any given time, but didn’t really care. Everyone spoke in hushed tones and whispers. The windows were fogged with steam from the tub and rain. I could hear the clinking of bowls as people ate in the kitchen. I knew they were filling the tub with more water. I could feel my hair piled on top of my head in an elastic falling to one side. I noticed it all but just barely. Nothing mattered except you and my body trying to bring you to me. I would cry during and after contractions and I really felt like maybe I couldn’t do it anymore. I remember one hard moment leaning on the side of the tub with Juli looking into my eyes. She reminded me of my own strength. That I was doing this and had been doing it. She reminded me I DID have control and to breath. To breath for me and my baby. It helped but I still worried I would let everyone down every time I contracted because I was having a harder time controlling myself. I had let go. (This is probably when I was in transition)
During one break I remember leaning my head on the edge of the tub and staring at the window. It had been raining on and off all day and little raindrops dotted the window. I reached my hand and touched the glass wondering if it would feel cool. It did, but not as cool as I had expected. I felt like I came out of laborland for a minute and showed myself. I felt like I was between two worlds.
Sometime during this “transition” your Dad gave me a little gift. He was out of the tub and I was leaning over the edge as I opened the little box with the most beautiful ring. The ring I wanted from the OK store. I loved it…but remember thinking I didn’t deserve it since you weren’t here yet. But everyone quickly disagreed. I did deserve it!!
Around 9:30ish we all had a little conversation. After each contraction I kept asking what my options were? How much longer? Was I at a 10 yet? Why wasn’t she coming? I need this to be over. I can’t do this anymore!! Because of my extreme exhaustion from being awake for over two days, one of the options was to transfer to a hospital. If we transferred now me and baby might have a enough strength to still deliver vaginally….if we wanted to transfer and our exhaustion grew it might increase the chance of having to deliver cesarean. I didn’t want to transfer!! And knew I didn’t have to BUT I also wondered if you would ever come..ever drop. How much longer could I go? I cried that I didn’t want to go to the hospital. I didn’t want to deliver than have them take my baby to a nursery. I was beside myself. What should I do. It was pitch black outside and my body was in a million pieces. I looked up from the tub to my sweet Mom standing in the doorway. I asked what I should do and she said , “You aren’t the only one deciding, she might have another plan”. I agreed with her. It seemed like the situation was unsolvable. You were stable. They were checking your heartbeat a lot with a little waterproof monitor. You weren’t upset…what should I do? What did you need me to do?
Molly said she would check me one more time (which was getting more and more uncomfortable since I was pretty much in a constant contraction with no breaks) and depending on how dilated I was we would make our decision. I was in the tub and leaned back on your dad so my belly was pointing towards the ceiling. She checked me and I was fully dilated! Ready to push! I hadn’t had the sensation to really push on my own yet or least I never really noticed it. They said lets try pushing and see what happens. I asked how long we would try for (at this point I was all about stuff not lasting very long). I said you needed to come before midnight. The midwives said if they could tell me or guarantee a time you would get here, they would be the richest midwives in the world. They had me switch positions on to my knees with my upper body leaning on the side of the tub. I started pushing with each contraction and tried concentrating on putting all of my energy into a downward motion. I had to think deep, breath deep and go deep. Grant was with me in the tub and Molly’s upper body was half in feeling and helping to guide you out. Everyone else was gathered around.
Pushing felt a lot like the burning sensation I felt while during the perineum stretching before labor…just more intense. I could feel you in my vaginal opening. I knew you were close. I could feel pressure and stretching with each contraction and I knew my body was getting ready. There wasn’t a thought in my head at the time about tearing. I just needed you to be here. I needed to be done laboring. It felt like 15mins…but 45mins after I started pushing you were here. One big push and then another. Whoosh! Relief! I turned over into a sitting position and Molly removed the cord from around your neck, passed you under my leg and up out of the water onto my chest!!! My baby!!! It worked you were here. Miracle!!!! I cried. 10:27pm. My eyes were fixed on you. You had hair, dark hair and chubby checks with multiple chins. Your eyes were closed and wide and you were quiet…and little too quiet. You made small movements and little coughs but no big cry. I wasn’t too worried…you were still connected to the placenta so you were getting blood and oxygen from that. I felt pretty calm but I did want you to belt. They gave your lungs a few suctions and a little oxygen by your nose. I kept asking if you were ok and they kept telling me yes and to keep talking to you. I kissed you and your dad and I rubbed your body, flicked the soles of your feet and sang you your lullaby. You were here!!! I was in shock. They thought it would help to clear your lungs to get me and you out of the hot tub. I’m not sure how I did it with you still attached to the umbilical cord, but I stood holding you and stepped out of the tub and on to the bed with you. They covered us with towels, I shook and you started to cry. Heaven to my ears. I felt some nothingness contractions since my placenta wanted to come out. We left it connected to you until it finished pulsing (which your dad and I got to feel. SO COOL)…which was about 40mins after you were born. I delivered the placenta with one small grunt. Easy peicy. I hadn’t had a REAL contraction for almost an hour! Heaven. It was amazing how one intensity..the physical turned to another, happiness and joy as soon as you were here.
The next few hours consisted of me and your dad being completely consumed and awe struck that you where here, with us, in our arms. We got to examine the placenta..AMAZING…you feed within the first 45mins..just little sucks but it felt super normal and I felt all this desire to feed you. I wanted to feed you and care for you and protect you the moment you were here. It was all I wanted. It was such a dream NOT being in labor and having you in my arms and SEEING you.
I went to the bathroom soon after you were born which was kind of weird but not that big of a deal. While I was out of the bed the midwives changed the sheets and completely remade the bed (which felt more comfortable than any bed I had ever climbed into). Grandma made me and and Dad scrambled eggs with toast. We drank some of the Germany grape juice that Jenni gave us and toasted. The doctor had to come to stitch me up and I was just full of love for everyone there helping and caring for us. OXYTOCIN!! They gave you an exam and you weighted 8lbs 10oz and were 21 1/4 inches long.
I felt so bonded to everyone there. Truth be told the birth team that showed up weren’t the midwives I knew best from the birth center..but they were the right ones for your birth. I have never felt so cared for in my entire life. The way the looked at me, touched me, the words they used to soothe and strengthen me were all perfect. There was such a sisterhood surrounding your labor and birth. I needed what they were there to give and they gave freely and with no reservations. They held the space with so much protection and acceptance. I fell in love with each one of them.
After they cleaned up and we took photos and I was stitched up, everyone left at about 5am and we were tucked into bed for our first few hours of sleep as a family. I felt like I was floating.
It did take me a few days to get over the initial shock of labor and delivery. I struggled at first coming to terms with what I considered a more traumatic birth than I had anticipated. It was longer and much more challenging than I had imagined it being. I was worried that maybe it was somehow more out of control than other births…that I could have been stronger. That the intensity was something I let take over me. I was worried that I maybe somehow stressed you out…I think the memories and feelings were still so recent that part of me felt fear. Fear that I would have to go through it again!! Obviously I was not ready to birth a second child and joked with you that you would be an only child. I remember feeling all of these things and then a few days after your birth I was taking a sitz bath in the bath tub and your Dad was chatting with me. I realized that I had done the most challenging thing I would EVER have to do. I had pushed the physical limits of my body and survived…and not only survived but thrived! It was amazing. You were born and my body instantly started healing itself. I could walk and talk and laugh and hold and eat and smile and even take you the pediatrician only days after. I was a living miracle…and so were you. I knew I had tested emotional and mental boundaries during my divorce and now I had done the same physically. I felt so empowered!!! I was amazing. My body was a wonder. It worked it all worked. It was then that I started giving myself credit for the feat it just surpassed and started putting the “trauma” in check. It was normal and not something I had to fear..because I had conquered it! I did what I set out to do and had NO regrets. I never wanted to leave home or medicate myself. My body never needed medication, never. I started giving myself credit for delivering with special circumstances, posterior and you were born with your arm by the side of your head. No wonder it took longer and felt the way it did. And even with those circumstances we did it. I wanted to give you a birth you could be proud of. I wanted to give you everything…or at least try. If I could survive that labor, what couldn’t I survive? I now know I am capable of surviving any challenge. Physical, emotional or mental. I have proven that to myself. What a gift.
It is hands down the thing I am proudest of. It is my greatest accomplishment. I made you and delivered you. And you are perfect. My little Super Nova.
I waited almost 5weeks before I was ready to watch the video your Grandma taped of your delivery and you know what? I didn’t look nearly as hard as it was to feel. What was the big deal anyway? ☺ Maybe you won’t have to be an only child after all.
Obviously this story was posted mainly for family and friends, so if you read the whole thing consider yourself part of the crew. xxoo.
(despite the imperfection of a lot of the photos…they are some of my greatest treasures. What a miracle photography is!)