On Wednesday I went to pick the big girls up from school and stayed to chat with one of the teachers and let the girls play with their friend until 4 when the after care kids go inside to do their homework. Jewel wanted me to clean the school instead of her Daddy so she could go inside and do her homework and for some reason it seemed like a good idea to me. I knew Chris’s job was going to take a long time and if he cleaned the school he’d be doing it in the dark, it would be nice for her to get her homework done so I didn’t have to argue with her over it when we got home and I had the energy and my body felt up to it. So I picked up the trash and got the back pack blower and blew off the school, my giant belly and my bare feet. I had originally intended to just get the girls and go home so I didn’t bother putting shoes on. Apparently I was quite the site and the teacher, Jennifer, lamented the fact that she did not have her camera with her. When I finished the girls were both done with their homework and Juniper was still asleep in the car. Chris ended up working until 10 or 11 so it was a really good thing I did clean the school. That night after I put the kids to bed I started having mild yet steady practice contractions, which is how my labors always start; hours of these. This time I didn’t question is this it, will these stop, etc. I’ve done this and I spent the start of the last 2 pregnancies wondering if everything was going to stop. I figured this was the start of a process that would take between 24-45 hours. I went to bed hoping to get sleep as I knew there would be a lot to do the next day. I contracted gently throughout the night every 6-20 minutes or so.
In the morning the alarm went off at 6:45, time to get the kids ready for school. The contractions stopped until 8am when the big girls headed out the door with Chris and then they slowly geared up again. There was house to clean, food to make, birth pool to clean out, a puppet show to take Juniper and her best friend to and a floor that needed to have the final straps put on the beams and a plywood floor laid down. The floor bit was not part of my job that was Chris and his friend. I cleaned the kitchen and dining room then went to get E (Juniper’s best friend) and took them to the library to see little red riding hood. I continued with my “practice” labor and they enjoyed the show, I visited with some of my mom friends and the girls played with their little friends. I dropped E and Juniper off at E’s house and went home to get some more cleaning and some cooking (which I did not even start as I was tired and decided to nap after cleaning). Chris and his friend were making headway in the back room and it looked like we would really finally have a floor in the back room…and most importantly access to the laundry machines, it had been just over a week without access to them and that’s pretty huge in a family of 5…and an imminent homebirth. By 2:30 I was mostly done and headed to get the girls from school.
As usual when I got there they wanted to stay and play with their friends in after care, so we stayed until 4 when the kids go inside and I told them they would probably have their new sister by that night or the next day. We went to get Juniper, went home and I started making the lentil soup and wheat bread for the birth. My sister came with brown rice per my facebook request after she got off work and Hubs started the over a weeks worth of laundry. I texted my friends; the midwife, Andrea and birth assistant Meli and photographer Patty. Things intensified as I was dicing apples for an apple banana bread so I let Andrea know and she texted back asking how close the contractions where, since I had stopped timing them I texted that I would start timing them and get back to her. I figured I would time them for a half hour. I finished dicing the apples but knew I wasn’t going to be able to make the bread so I covered it all up and Meredith and I went for a walk. Meli texted asking how close the contractions where and I let her know they were about 2 and a half minutes apart, it must have been around 6ish at this point.
As we headed back to the house Andrea texted asking if they were really 2.5 minutes apart and how long where they lasting, I let her know they lasted almost a minute and were intense, then every other one was milder but had a double peak. She was at the birth center with a laboring mom, but she said she’d call Bea in and head over with Meli. As soon as I got back to the house I started preparing a bowl of lentil soup and some of the fresh bread and as I sat down to eat people started to arrive. Patty, Meli, Andrea, my friend Catherine with some of her amazing pork tomatillo chili and a strawberry rhubarb pie. I enlisted Meredith, Catherine and Patty to go on a walk with me and the kids, by this time it was after 8. We started on the walk, but the kids didn’t want to go as far as I did, so Meredith took the older ones back to the house and the rest of us continued on. It was a beautiful evening, all of my kids have been born when the weather is gorgeous and you can hear the birds chirp and this night the smell of Jasmine filled the air. We joked and walked and I rocked a bit with contractions. I found this time around I was more likely to want to stand by myself and let the contraction roll through me. Things were getting more intense and by the time we arrived home I went to find Chris who was in the kitchen doing dishes and for some reason I just started crying in his arms. It was all so much, so many people, so much happening, my body doing so much but it felt safe in his arms, with him reassuring me. Andrea went with us to the bedroom and we all lay in the dark talking and she tried to get to the bottom of my sudden crying. I guess she knew I had worried that something would happen to the baby after she was born and she asked if that was it, it wasn’t. It was all just so much. We talked until things were lighter and then I had my first and only cervical check of the pregnancy. I think I was 6 cm and I was hoping for at least 7, but she reminded me how quickly things moved from this point last time.
I suppose it was around 9 at this point I wanted in the birth tub but the water was too hot, so Chris fixed that and Meredith put the kids to bed with the reassurance that we would wake them up when the baby was coming, but then they put them to bed before I said good night, so I had to get out of the tub and go say good night to them, I always say good night to them. I hung out in the tub for awhile (when I got in the first time I exclaimed “Oh wow, this is awesome we should have done it sooner” this expression was to come out of my mouth quite a few times as the night progressed from sitting on a stool in the shower to rocking in the hammock in the backyard. Mostly it was Chris, Andrea and I as was still sort of shutting myself off from everything after feeling overwhelmed earlier. I loved the people sitting around my dining room table talking and having a good time, I really felt the positive energy just floating around the house and feel that things would have been a bit dreary without them there. The hammock was relaxing and I loved being outdoors and I don’t really know why we went back inside, maybe I had to pee or maybe I was hungry. I went to the dining room with everyone and ate pork and tomatillo chili, I remember it as being light hearted and full of laughter. I rocked with contractions and sometimes needed to hang from Chris or have someone push on my back. Juniper was awake and I held her, had contractions and ate…all at the same time. Maybe after that Meredith took her for the walk that finally put her to sleep. Maybe this was after my shower.
I’m not really sure; the end of labor always gets confusing. Time is different and I always have trouble sequencing the events that took place. It’s like the night sort of blurs into itself and there are moments that stand out. Life isn’t linear anymore and I can’t tell the story like that. Laughing about Andrea thinking she finally looks like a midwife because of her amethyst earrings and us hamming it up with overly dramatic faces for Meli and Patty, really playing up caring midwife and in pain laboring mother, or the way a contraction hit mid laugh, or the way one started when I kicked Andrea in the butt. Friends around a table, talking and laughing, the feeling of being wrapped in my husband’s arms while a contraction rolled through me, the uncomfortable feeling of the baby descending into my pelvic bones and how I imagined my stomach as see through so I could picture my baby’s body moving down, how that made it bearable. Not caring that you are completely naked, the feel of hot water hitting your back or the way it feels to sink into the birth tub, my husband’s hand in mine, my forehead pushed into his chest or into his arm. My sister sitting there growing her own baby in her womb. The comfort of my living room, the kid’s toys, knowing they are sleeping in the next room. Thinking, soon I will have another baby. Walking around my house as the baby moved lower and lower. Informing Chris of this new form of male birth control. Telling everyone I don’t know how anyone could go through this for another woman and not even get to keep the kid. Snippets. Laughs. Moments in time. Good friends and one amazing, life changing experience.
Transition-Scared to push. I walk circles in the house, not sure if I want to go forward. I walk into my bedroom and grab the envelope with the birth affirmations and quotes that came with my beads and I begin to once again read through them. I find 3 that reallyspeak to me and tape them to a sheet of paper and hang it near the birth pool. I climb in the in the tub. I read them and know I can go on. Suddenly I stand up and proclaim “I don’t want to do this anymore!” I grab Chris around the shoulders and hang into him, practically begging with my body language to make it end. Then I ask, beg, plead for more water, that’s what it felt like anyway, I NEEDED water. And then “I have to puke!” and they find a pot and I vomit, which I have never done before in labor and then her head is in the birth canal and I announce “her head is in my vagina.” And there is a bit of panic in me while there is elation that it will soon be over, she will soon be here. I might have said “she’s almost here” but I’m not sure. I reach down and feel her head and I tell everyone I feel her head and it’s a surprised gasp, an excitement. Andrea wants me to decide where I am going to have her, if it’s in the water I have to be all the way in the water and I think about it, and I start to squat down towards the water but movement is so hard with a head in your birth canal and do I want to get in the water or do I want to go to the bed and how would I EVER step over the edge of this tub and am I being strong enough for my sister who will have a baby soon, I don’t want to scare her and should I go in the water and can I just stand in the water, and so much goes through my mind and finally I decide no, I cannot step out of the tub that would be too hard so I’ll just go into the water since Andrea won’t let me just stand in the water. All of that take seconds but it seemed like more time. Chris and Andrea help lower me to the water and Chris heads between the tub and the wall, which is really rather cramped, so he can support my body and I don’t think I was really pushing she was just coming and I was feeling her head lower and as she crowned I tried to breath through because it burned and I wondered what Meredith was thinking and I wondered how she would do when she birthed her baby and I was thinking of my baby almost here and I tried to not let my body push yet because it burned and then she was out and I was pulling her up to me and I was crying and ecstatic and she was amazing and tiny and I felt that same amazement I felt when I saw the other girls and I checked to make sure she was a girl and she was. I have no idea what I said, I just know I kissed her and I kissed her and I kissed her. Time was frozen and speeding ahead and completely, entirely wrapped up in this little human being who just entered the world, and I might have said “welcome to the world”, but I don’t know. And then the girls, the big sisters, it all happened so fast we didn’t wake them up, so Meredith got them and the dog had his head on the edge of the birth pool. Watching, watching and the girls were excited and Chris was excited, and it was a moment in time.
She cried and I thought she may be cold so we moved to the bed and the placenta was birthed and Meredith went to get my mom and she was born after midnight like I wanted, like we had been waiting for, counting down for, joking about. At 45 minutes until midnight I was in the dining room. 15 minutes until I was in the shower and they joked about falsifying the records. At 15 after I was in the tub and at 33 minutes after midnight she was born. 45 minutes after we were in my bedroom, the placenta was out, she was nursing like a champ. She had her own birthday. The night moves on and becomes sleepy, time is linear again and I just want to sleep. Andrea and Meli want to watch the baby’s breathing a bit more. Mom and Meredith are gone. Patty and the Doula are gone. The girls are back asleep. Andrea and Meli nap together on the couch. Chris and I lay in bed with Coraline so tired yet adoring our new sweet baby. I think around 3 they leave and we drift into sleep and wake up and it’s still Friday and we have four girls. He’s cleaning up from the birth and he walks in and I say “Do you want to hear the most amazing sentence ever?” and he does and I say “We have four daughters.” And the impact of that sentence is so strong it sends chills of excitement through me and makes my heart cry with happiness and he says “I know, I have been saying it.”
9 days later when I say that sentence it still makes my heart swell and my eyes water with happiness.
Edited by Thursday Girl - 4/10/12 at 5:52am