On November 8, 2004 (the due date I calculated) around quarter after 4 in the morning (our clock is 17 minutes fast and it said 4:32), I had a contraction that woke me up. I knew right away this time was for real! Although it wasn't really any different than the ones I'd been having, other than that feeling of it being time...finally! (I started noticing my body preparing for labor about 5+ weeks before his birth day, and had intense prodromal labor for 3.5 weeks...very frustrating at times, but not so bad at others.)
I got up and went to the bathroom. There was a little bit of bloody show. Then I went downstairs and got a banana and some orange juice. I went back upstairs to wake Mike up and take a shower. I said, "I'm in labor." He says, "How do you know?" I said, "I don't know how I know. I just know!" He then asks, ever-so-sweetly, if he should get up with me or go back to sleep so he can be well rested, in case it takes a while!
The contractions were spaced and irregular, they also weren't that strong. Mike got up and stayed with me while I showered. I called my best friend, Shannon, at 5:30 and talked to her while Mike was doing some stuff around the house (I asked him to find my black stretchy sports bra so I could wear it in the tub, I didn't want to wear a white one cause what would be the point?! I just wore my black one the day before, of course, so Mike did a load of wash for me).
I didn't want anyone rushing over, I thought I still had at least a few good hours before anything really started happening and I wanted to labor alone. Like I said, the contractions were totally manageable and still pretty far apart. I called my mom sometime before 6 am to let her know she didn't have to get ready for work. At this point I was sitting on the couch with a chux under me. I told her I had wished the baby would be born sometime during the night, while it was still dark. (Although, as I was saying that, I decided I liked being in labor as the sun was coming up.) She asked me if I was sure it was today, that she really didn't have to go to work. I told her I was sure, I guess she didn't believe me because she said she wanted to stay on the phone with me while I was having a contraction. I kind of used that as a test, I wanted to see if she could tell when I had one, so with the next contraction, I kept talking and didn't mention that I was having one. She didn't notice a difference so I thought "Okay, she didn't even know, I can still talk through them, I'm not that far." After I hung up with her, I went upstairs. I noticed just a little bit more blood on the chux as I got up.
I called Kate right before 6:30 and told her the contractions were about 10 minutes apart and totally manageable, that I was just calling to give her a heads up and I'd call back when something "real" started happening. She told me she'd be heading in my direction (she's about 45 minutes away), maybe she'd hang out at Ambers (her assistant) house and for me to have something with some protein to snack on since you never know how long labor will be. I remember being slightly annoyed, yet relieved at the same time that she was going to come right away.
I talked to my sisters - Keri and Nicole - next, I told them today was the day and wanted to know what their schedules looked like. Keri was staying home from school and I asked her to watch my 2.5yo, Christopher, at Shannon's. (At this point I was still thinking we had a few hours, and wanted to labor alone.) Sometime after this, I don't know when, we asked Shannon to make the kids lunches and for Keri to come as soon as possible (my bil, Hink, was going to drop her off on the way to taking, my nephew, Patrick to his babysitters).
Around 6:45, I was on the phone with Shannon again, while I went to the bathroom. I talked to her about how unprepared I really was. I had all my supplies; oil and lavendar for massages, finally able to use my birth ball roll on, even knee pads to be comfortable in hands and knees position. But no real plan on how to actually get through the contractions! I started to panic. I thought about one section on a video I show in my Labor and Birth Classes where the mom's contractions never get closer than 10 minutes. That was one of those "ah-ha!" moments, realizing I might never get to that “contractions 5 minutes apart for an hour" point! (Although this was my fourth birth, I had my first three in the hospital and was either induced or augmented, so in a way it was *my* first real labor.)
In the hall, on my way back to the bedroom I had the first contraction that I needed to stop and focus through. I told Shannon to hold on while I leaned on the banister with my eyes shut and my left foot tensed in the air, mid-step! I had a thought to squat, but just thinking it made me feel like a Barbie doll having both legs ripped off at the same time!
I was kind of able to control the contractions. They were more uncomfortable laying or standing, so my position of choice was sitting in the glider. The older kids were starting to wake up and gather in my bed with Mike and Christopher; Victoria first, then Nick. We told them the baby would be coming today!
At the height of the next contraction (still about 10 minutes from the last one), I threw my protein bar and the phone I was holding and stepped into the pool. And OMGosh! did that feel good! (Even though the water wasn't as hot as I would have liked it.) I didn’t let Mike turn the water off, even when the water started pouring over the side. It just felt too good spraying warm water from the hose over my belly. Christopher came in the pool with me for a minute, but decided to get out real fast.
This is where things get kind of jumbled... I don't think that contraction ever ended. I couldn't get comfortable, but it was never what I would call painful...intense, perhaps. For a little bit I was pacing the pool on my hands and knees like a caged lion. I remember asking God to be with me during this time. I just couldn't keep still. I bit the side of the pool a few times and Mike asked me if I wanted him to get me a washcloth to put over it so I didn't have to chew on plastic. I know I had Mike apply some pressure on my tailbone sometime, it felt good for a little bit but not for long. At one point, I had to go to the bathroom so I tried to stand up, but it felt awful; I think that if I were on dry land at this point, I would've been in pain. Mike called Marilyn (the photographer), I'm guessing a little after 7 am, and even then I still said for her to take her time. I don't know what I was thinking! For some reason, I didn't let myself believe I was as close as I was. I had conscience thoughts like "Oh, I feel nauseas. Is this transition?!?" and I even said out loud to Mike, "I don't know why I'm shaking and my teeth are chattering...it's too soon for transition." I heard what my body was telling me, I just didn't believe it. With the "peaks" of that constant contraction I felt pressure from the baby's head, and I kept thinking "I would be much more comfortable if I could just get out and poop!" I had the fleeting thought it could be the baby's head, but didn't let myself focus on it long enough to entertain the idea...and what that would mean! Actually, I think focusing on when Kate would be there helped distract me, kind of as if I could let go and things could “really” happen once she got there.
Kate said Mike called her around 7 and told her she should come now. I remember Mike coming in and out of the room, being on the phone, talking to the kids downstairs and helping me with the hose in the pool. At one point I asked him if she (Kate or Amber, either of them would've been fine!) were here yet. He said she wasn't and I was like "She needs to be here NOW!"
I remember hearing Marilyn come in the house and chat with the kids, wondering who came over. I also had thoughts of (possibly saying out loud) "I don't know what's going on...it's too fast! It's just too fast!", "HELP ME!" and "What was I thinking!?!" when Marilyn was in the room. This intense pressure kept coming and going. I screamed through these "rushes" because I didn't want to push through them, I wasn't ready. The pool was overflowing (the warm water from the hose being sprayed on my belly felt too good to turn it off!), the kids were downstairs, Kate wasn't even close and I was in shock. I felt disconnected from myself, kind of like an out of body experience. Things happened really fast, Marilyn got there first (she lives around the corner). Mike was on the phone trying to see where Amber was (she lives much closer than Kate) and after he hung up he said "Amber will be here in a minute...not a real minute, but she'll be here really soon." I remember thinking it doesn't matter, a minute will be too late, real or not. I said, "Well, so will the baby!" and I screamed through the pressure again.
Marilyn, who is also a doula, asked me if I wanted to wait for Kate or to call 911...I remember being irritated with those choices, I thought "No! I don't need an ambulance, if they even make it, they'll want to take me to the hospital and I CAN'T wait for Kate!" She told me if I didn't want to push, to put my head up and pant...I tried. Then I kept screaming.
Then she gave me her hand and I grabbed the side of the pool, I needed something to be anchored to. I just let go of my body and floated to the top. I screamed with every surge to get rid of all that energy (I was afraid if I pushed with the contractions, I'd tear horribly!), then I felt what I can only describe as an explosion inside my body. I saw a "puff" in the pool (kind of like in a cartoon where the fumes are coming out of the exhaust of a car) and realized that explosion must've been my water! It felt like much more time had passed between the explosion and the "puff", before I put it together what it was and that the two were related! I didn’t even think it before I said it out loud, like I was telling myself. Mike was on the other side of the pool; he offered to hold my hand, but I couldn't get myself together enough to let go and find his hand. I told him I couldn't hold his hand, I felt bad that I would be holding Marilyn's and not his, when our baby was being born. She was such a good photographer, I saw her reach for the camera, then change her mind, because I needed to hold on to her! I guess Marilyn knew I was panicking - right before the baby came out, she said to me "Your having a baby. You have everything you need, your husband is here, I'm here. It's a beautiful day, the sun is shining." I can't express how helpful those words were to me, how much I needed to be brought back to the reality of what was happening. I was lost in the sensations my body was experiencing, and very much needed to reconnect my mind with my body, somehow they seperated. There was never any pain, I just all of a sudden had an intense sense of urgency...it started with that one contraction that never really ended.
The next thing I knew, I saw the baby's head coming out (while both of my legs were just floating on the water!) and Marilyn said "Here's the head, somebody has to catch the baby!" So Mike put his hand on the baby's head as he was coming out. She said "Now the shoulders will come, one at a time." It was beyond amazing to me because as she was saying it, I actually FELT it happening! I watched my baby be born into his fathers hands. He put the baby on my chest and called the kids into the room. (We originally planned to have them there, but during one of those surges Christopher was chatting and I yelled "get them out!", I just couldn't take the extra noise. That's the only thing about this birth I wish I could change.)
The kids came up and stood around the pool, Victoria did get to announce the baby's sex to everyone. Even though I don’t remember looking, I must’ve saw it was a boy before they came in. I didn’t think it in words, though, I just already knew when I showed her. I was surprised Mike remembered to call the kids in, I forgot all about them.
I felt like the water was too cold, I kept saying he's too cold. I asked Marilyn if she thought he was blue. He sounded fine, though. He was crying, I didn't want him to though. I wanted him to be born gently, not being upset, but I think the tremendously fast way he shot out of me was upsetting to him. I tried to nurse him but I couldn't keep his face above the water. Someone, I guess Mike, got a towel to cover him with to keep him warm. Marilyn suggested Mike hold the baby for his body heat, but the baby was still connected to me by the cord. I stood up against the inside of the pool, Mike stood up against the outside, right in front of me and he held the baby to his chest.
Kerianne was the first one to get here. When she walked in the kids told her the baby was here, and it was a boy. She thought they were kidding - until she walked in the room and saw him. Marilyn took a picture, and I remember thinking it would be a good one, and how glad I was I didn’t have to hold on to that memory because Marilyn was taking pictures for me.
I don't know how much time elapsed before Amber got here. I think I told her the baby was cold. Her presence was grounding and steady, I was relieved she was there. She looked at the baby first, then told Mike how to help me out of the pool. Kate got there and did his baby exam.
All these people started coming, I don't know who got there in what order but Shannon, Mom & Dad, Nicole and (my brother) Luke were all there at some point. I could sense people were there, but didn't really focus on who specifically, they were just a presence on the side of the room. (If I could do that part over, I wouldn’t have had anyone come.) I watched the video Shannon took and I was surprised how much I didn't remember. I was there physically, but didn't feel the experience as it was happening. So surreal. Everything was very fast; jumbled and hectic...my mind just couldn’t keep up. The midwives left so fast. Why didn’t anyone tell me the kids could stay home from school, why did they rush to get them there? (Kate later said because things happened so fast, my mind was where it normally would be that time of morning - taking care of the other kids, getting them lunch and getting them to school.) Why didn’t someone get me a shirt - Keri said she would’ve but she was afraid to talk to me because I looked scary - I think I was in shock.
I remember thinking I will never do that again, and I certainly wouldn't do it for someone else! I felt like I got run over by a truck for a long time after Dominic was born, this was the first time I ever felt that way after having a baby. He just rocketed out of me, pushing my bones out of his way. Right after all the other kids were born I felt like I could do it all over again right away! Not this time, I think about it even now and I can't imagine being ready. Nicholas said something about now I just need to have one more baby, next time it will be a girl, then we'll be done - and has since said that once she’s born, all his brothers and sisters will be here...since he was just about two years old, he’s always said there would be five kids). I cried all day at three days postpartum. I felt awful, but it felt good to cry. I’m glad I didn’t keep it in, whatever I was crying about. That, and Mike letting me stay in bed for a whole week, really helped with how well I felt overall postpartum, I think. The afterbirth pains were unbearable, I was writhing in pain while he nursed for the first few days. I don’t remember feeling “connected” to him after he was born, until about the fourth day, that’s when I had that overwhelming rush of emotion towards him wash over me - until then I really liked him and he was the only thing on my mind, it just took some time for my emotions to catch up with me. I tore a little on the inside when he was coming out, and I opted to get stitched up. The numbing medicine worked a little bit for the first stitch, but I felt the last two. I screamed during that, too. I screamed so much that morning, my throat was sore for two days. I asked all the neighbors if they heard me, but everyone said no. I think they were just being polite. The sitz baths felt really good, but not as good as I remembered with Nicholas. But I did LOVE that Mother’s Milk tea, it just tasted sooo good! It doesn't taste the same way anymore. It's still good but not the same way. The placenta was in the placenta bowl right next to me. We waited a while to cut it. I think I would've waited even longer, I don't know why. Christopher was interested in the umbilical cord. I expected it to be thicker than it was. (When I said that to Kate, she said it was on the thinner side of normal.) She gave us a "tour" of the placenta. It was neat, I never saw any of the other kids. Now it's in the freezer. Nicholas cut the cord. I'm so glad it worked out that way. He was so proud! Although, now - and I don’t know why - I wish we would’ve waited a little bit longer to cut it. I hadn’t thought it then, or I would’ve asked Kate to wait. The stump had a hole in it, between the clamp and his body. Kate came back that night and checked it. She gave him a vit. K shot and I took him to the doctor the next day. It was fine and it fell off on the fourth day. It took 6 days to name him. I love his name. I just woke up on Saturday morning and knew it was Dominic Xavier. I had fun telling Nicole, her reaction made me smile.
7 pounds, 15 ounces
born on his "due date"
Nov. 8, 2004
around 7:30 am