“Oh, we have plenty of time! Neither of my girls came before her due date and I am sure this one will be no different. Actually, I am amazed at how great I feel. God’s design is really perfect. 40 weeks is just the right length for pregnancy. By this time last time, I was ready to give the baby an eviction notice! Barring any great unforeseen surprise, I’d say we have at least 3 weeks until we meet this little one.”
I hung up from the phone call with the midwife and headed to the calendar to write down “home visit” on the following day.
That night as I was falling asleep, a fleeting thought crossed my mind. What if my water broke tonight?
Don’t be ridiculous, I immediately scolded myself. Like that would ever happen!
The following morning, at around 6, I awoke needing to go to the bathroom. I noticed my shorts were pretty wet.
Oh, my gosh! I peed myself! I thought as I walked to the bathroom. How embarrassing! I sat down on the toilet and peed. When I stood up, more liquid poured out. Uh, that’s not pee, I thought. My water had broken!
I knew what I had to do. I had to go back to sleep and get some rest! There was no telling how long this would take. It was possible that I wouldn’t have a baby until the next day. I told my husband what had happened and that he should sleep in as long as he could and I texted my midwife the update. Then, I lay back down. I had a hard time getting comfortable, my back felt so achy. So, I told my body to rest and I told my mind to rest. But, it just didn’t happen. All I could think about were the things that needed to be done, to be bought, etc. So, at 7:30, I got up and started doing. I made a large nutritious breakfast and ate, I sent Vince to the store for diapers, towels and other necessary supplies, I got the girls ready for the day and made calls to the people who needed to know that today was the day.
By 8:30, I had started to make my labor drink. When I bent down to get a pitcher, I felt the baby shift. Immediately, my back cramping and aching stopped and I felt a contraction in my lower belly. Finally, I thought. This babe is finally anterior. What a relief! The contractions continued in my lower abdomen and were regular, but I didn’t time them. By 10, things were picking up and taking care of the girls became difficult. I told Vince to call his mom and tell her to come get the kids whenever she could. She arrived and the girls left by 11.
At 11:45, things were more intense, still. The contractions, however, were only felt in my lower belly (in my past labors, I felt “all over the belly” contractions). I called the midwife and talked to her. She listened to me through a contraction and mentioned that I sounded the same as I did last time she listened in a couple hours before.
“I am a really quiet birther,” I said. “No one ever thinks I am as far along as I am. Things are more intense, but this just feels so different. I don’t feel any pressure like I usually do. Maybe it’s because my water broke first and I have never experienced labor in that way.”
“Well, I have a few errands to run,” she said. “Why don’t I start to make my way over and run some errands along the way. That way, if you feel a shift in your labor, you can call me and I will already be on my way.”
“Alright. That’s a good idea. I guess I would rather you get here too early than not get here at all.”
I spent the next span of time moving from the bedroom laboring on all fours to the bathroom (where I would go to the bathroom or labor resting on the towel bar.) I hummed my way through contractions. Vince would check on me every so often, asking if there was anything I needed. Sometimes I would ask him to grab something for me or to rub my back (which just didn’t feel good this time), but most of the time, I would say no and he would busy himself with “nesting,” prepping the house, cleaning and generally distracting himself.
At around 1:00 (best guess I have to time… It was a little while before the midwife came), while in the bathroom, I remember thinking to myself, This birth story is going to be so, so boring. Water breaks, labor, baby… Oh, well. Sometimes, boring is better. (Boy, was I in for a surprise!)
When Nicole (the mw) arrived at 1:30, I was laboring in my bedroom. The humming had turned to low-pitched moaning. I could see her setting up her things and talking to Vince, but I couldn’t really make out what she was doing or saying. Their voices sounded muffled and my view of their movement was blurry. Soon, Nicole was a few feet away from me. She sat, silently. She had her Doppler in her hand. “You can listen,” I said. She did and the heartbeat was in the 140s.
“Part of me wants you to check me, but I don’t want you to tell me I am 4 centimeters,” I said.
“I don’t have to check you,” she replied. “I don’t have to ever check you. And you are not at 4. You are well passed that.”
“I just don’t feel any pressure,” I said.
A few moments passed and I decided to get up again and go to the bathroom again. As I wiped, I felt something knobby.
“Uh! I am going to have you check me,” I said. “I feel something weird.”
“Weird? Like what?”
“You just better check.”
I wobbled to the bedroom and sat on the bed. Nicole checked and looked up at me. “What you feel is a foot,” she said. She checked more thoroughly. Pain shot through my body. I cried out. “There are two feet in here.” (We were shocked. He had been head down since 20 weeks. He had been head down the night before! So much for a boring birth!)
She looked at me with a calm confidence in her eyes. “Don’t worry. I have done this before."
I looked at her. “I am not worried,” I said. “My body was made for this.”
Nicole told me that she was going to go back in and untangle the feet and she did. She told Vince to wet a towel with warm water and bring it to her. He did. “Get a camera! We have a foot coming out. It’s so cute. You should take a picture.” Vince managed to take a picture. He stood in the doorway, wide-eyed.
At this point, I discovered that it felt soo very good when I pushed gently with a contraction, so I did. Soon his legs and bottom were out. The contraction ended.
Nicole discovered the sex and said, “It’s a...” She fell silent and looked at Vin.
“I know,” he said.
“Don’t tell me!” I exclaimed.
The next contraction came. Again, it felt amazing if I pushed with it. “You are doing a great job. He’s moving down. He’s making a lot of progress.”
“It’s a boy?!!!” Anyone who knew me knew I had wanted a girl. An awesome, completely overwhelming sense of love washed over me. All of my fear about having a boy disappeared. There is no such thing as gender disappointment when you find out this way. I looked at Vince. “We are having a boy!” Vince moved over to the bed and took my hand.
Suddenly, I felt a very large fullness in the birth canal. It felt good as I pushed. Then, I felt a huge amount of stretching as his chest came out. “I think I am tearing,” I said. I reached down.
“You are not tearing,” Nicole said. (And, I didn't.)
I felt a slight lessening of pressure as the contraction ended. “His chest is out, I need you to keep pushing even though you are not having a contraction,” Nicole said.
Vince squeezed my hand as I continued pushing. I felt another sensation of fullness in the birth canal. When that sensation passed, I saw my son being placed on my chest. Another sensation of fullness now came over me. He had left my body and somehow filled my heart. It was 2:14 p.m.
I cooed at him and spoke sweetly to him as I saw him open his eyes and take his first look at me. More fullness, more love. He cried out a little bit and started pinking up and then closed his eyes and took a little nap. Apparently, being born is hard work! I took my shirt off so he could warm up skin to skin. Within 10 minutes, he was awake again trying to figure out how to nurse.
As he lay there on my chest, I thanked God for my rainbow baby and just gazed at him as he learned how to eat. He was so handsome. “He looks like a little old man,” I said. “He is just so perfect.”
My mom showed up shortly after and was filled in on the events leading up to the moment he arrived. She took pictures and happily looked on as he learned to nurse. For nearly two hours, I held him and cuddled him. Vince snuggled us both. The placenta came out during this time and I needed to do that, but basically, we were left undisturbed to bond and snuggle our new little boy.
One week later, I still feel like I am living on a cloud. I enjoy reliving the birth over and over again in my mind and I am not lying when I say if I could do it all over again today, I totally would. After having a baby in the past, I spent a few weeks going through moments of complete euphoria mixed with moments of complete, unexplained despair. I don’t have a hint of those baby blues that I had after my last births (I attribute this to having a sense of control over my environment and care). The closest I get to sadness is when I think about what would have happened to us had we been in a hospital and he was found to be a footling breech.
The birth was everything I had hoped it would be and more. Graham is everything I had hoped for and more. Each day, my love for him grows exponentially greater than it was the day before. I had no idea that there was someone so amazing who was missing from my life until now. And I am so very happy I get to raise a son.
Sewing, gardening, home birthing, co-sleeping, extended nursing, cloth diapering, baby-wearing, home schooling, attachment parenting busy mommy to dd1 (7), dd2 (4), ds (1) and two in heaven.
Aw, what a beautiful story! Brought tears to my eyes. You are amazing, mama! And your new baby is beautiful. Enjoy. :)
SAHM to 6.5yo DS and 4yo DD. PCOS with two early m/cs. Married 8 yrs. Certified birth doula, writer, editor.
Some stuff I like:
Laotian girl, who went from heavy partying to peaceful parenting, to 'Humnoy' (3/13/2011) and 'Lanoi' (2/05/2013)
Mama behind the Breastfeeding Toddler Positions meme and blogging about non-mainstream ideas of parenting at TheLaotianCommotion.com