Just minutes before 3 am I awoke to a burning in my tummy. This happened often, good ole pregnancy induced indigestion. I couldn’t seem to get comfortable.. Then the bathroom called.. About 6 times in the next 45 minutes. I slowly started to get contractions during this time, but this had happened many times in the past week- including the loss of my mucus plug. I didn’t think much of it, but I couldn’t sleep, so I drank Red Raspberry Leaf tea and poked at the fire for a while.
The last couple of times I ran to the toilet I noticed blood. I kept thinking ‘bloody show.. This only happens during the real thing…’ I was in denial. I couldn’t believe this could be it, but all the signs were there. Shortly after 4 am I went to my husband. I rested my head on the side of the bed and watched him sleep for a moment. Stevie sensed me watching him and asked me what was going on. I told him I thought the baby was coming, to which he replied “Oh, really?!?” I calmly told him it would probably be quite a while and to go back to sleep.
I went back to the fire. It is a comforting , peaceful place for me. While I sat there, I began to feel overwhelmed with excitement, and humbled by life in general. I cried a bit. I said aloud that I was not fighting this AT ALL. I relaxed myself and gave my body and soul over to birth. With each wave, I actually felt my cervix opening. It was incredible. I was loving it.
I felt like I was dreaming. I still thought it would all stop at any minute, but the contractions became regular. They were coming every 2 to 3 minutes and building in strength. I paced the house, stopping to sway my hips while holding onto the kitchen table, the bathroom sink, whatever was close by. Occasionally I sat on, or leaned over my birth ball. I heard myself get louder with each rush; I could feel the force of it beginning to take over. I walked around lighting candles and began preparing my Shepherd’s Purse infusion (I never needed it).
I started to get nervous and went to Steve. Aramis was still asleep beside him. I told him how I was feeling and wondered aloud if I should call someone. He told me if I needed to, to go ahead. It was around 5, and I felt guilty waking anyone up. I really wanted some reassurance, though, so I dialed my friend Crystal’s number. She answered and sounded sleepy, but told me she was already awake. I talked to her for a while, stopping here and there to set down the phone to vocalize and rock back and forth through my contractions. Each time I would she would give me a low ‘Oooooh’ before I set the phone down and I tried to copy her pitch.
The rushes kept coming every 2 or 3 minutes, and were getting more and more intense. She later told me I began to sort of babble incoherently. I remember telling her I was scared. At the beginning of the conversation I had told her I didn’t think I wanted company. By this time though, my thoughts were getting jumbled and I couldn’t sit still. Transition was beginning.
I couldn’t decide if I wanted her there, but said I was sure I had some time. I didn’t yet realize transition had begun. She told me she would come, and if at anytime I was uncomfortable then she would just wait outside. I couldn’t imagine making her do that! It was probably around 10 degrees out there! I kept insisting I had time, and she told me I probably only had a couple of hours to go. I simply could not comprehend that! Aramis was born after 2 DAYS of induction. It had been only about 2 hours! I heard her on another phone putting in a call to my favorite crunchy doctor to let him know what was going on.
I got off the phone and called to my husband. This is when it really hit. I became extremely emotional… I paced, I whimpered, I got a little frantic. I asked Stevie to clean the tub and run a bath- I wanted the water badly. I got in and he left the room.. I felt like a crazed animal. I screamed to Steve that I needed him. He was gathering wood for the living room so the baby would come into a warm home. He was still in denial a bit himself, I think, and kept saying that it would be a long while yet. It was my turn to do the convincing. This baby was coming.. Now!
I shifted around in the tub, unable to find the right position. The water wasn’t covering enough of me, and I felt claustrophobic. This is when Aramis came in. He was crying a bit and asking about all of the noise. In between overbearing contractions I explained to him as best I could that this is what I had been telling him about- the baby is coming! I let him know I was fine, but would be in pain and making some strange noises. Whatever I said clicked with him because he was nothing but sweet and helpful from there on out. I hobbled back to the living room and began crawling around on the floor, chanting that I was scared. Of what, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you. The pain was intense, to say the least, but that wasn’t it. It wasn’t being alone that I was scared of, or even complications. I just wanted to crawl out of my own skin. I wanted a break.
This is when Crystal showed up. She came to me and asked me how I was doing. I kept saying I was scared. She asked me if I felt I needed to go to the hospital. I couldn’t answer her. I couldn’t think! My brain was on meltdown. Steve told her I was fine, which is what I had asked him to do.. I told him many times when I was pregnant that I was going to get to a point when I was scared, braindead, and totally nuts. I told him to calmly help me get through those moments, as that meant birth was very close. Turns out I had it very right.
I felt inside myself, and two knuckles in.. there was the baby’s sack- bulging! I couldn’t fathom being that far along already! It was relieving and nerve-racking at the same time. This is when the pushing began. It was only partly a conscious decision. I just sort of relaxed, gave in, and my body started it’s work. It was truly amazing.
I (at Crystal’s suggestion) went back to try the tub, but it really wasn’t working for me. I felt the need to have space to move, mostly crawl, and it didn’t allow me that. Being in any other position than on my knees was excruciating. In the tub, though, is where I discovered how relieving it was to have Steve push VERY HARD inward on my hips during contractions. It is also where I broke my water. My body kept pushing, and I kept feeling for his head. During a particularly difficult contraction I scratched hard on the surface of the bag with my fingernail and felt the fluid splash against my hand. I gasped and my body went full force into a push unlike any before it!
I will never forget kneeling in the tub and asking Steve if he would be mad if I never wanted to do this again. I clearly remember looking at the wall and thinking to myself ‘You are so damn stupid! Why did you do this to yourself?’ It’s kind of funny to think about now.. I felt inside again. At first I was nervous, as I thought a wrinkle in his scalp was his cord. I couldn’t take the tub any longer and REALLY hobbled back into the living room.
I am sure this is the point when I gave myself some serious rug burn! I was crawling around and roaring like a lion with each contraction. I later joked to Steve that our neighbors must have thought we were having an exorcism. I had a terribly sore throat later that day! I got nervous a couple of times and we listened to his little heartbeat. It was as it should be. I remember that with each contraction I had two pushes. It was nothing I did on purpose- just what my body needed to do.. In fact, the whole birth was all on instinct, so primal.. The first push was always strong, but the second had the strength and overwhelming power of a tsunami. I rode it; felt it rush through me and out like nothing I had ever felt.
Being on my knees felt most comfortable, but it was not the way I would be for his birth. I ended up assuming the position I so craved with my first son. It was around this time that Crystal asked me if I felt safe. I told her yes, and stopped chanting my ode to fear. I was ready. While I was lost in labor land they had laid out blankets, towels, and chux pads and I prowled around on top of them. Aramis kept feeding me water through a bendy straw, Crystal was giving me cold, wet washcloths, and Steve pushed on my hips. There was a shift in things.. And the next thing I knew, Crystal was behind me, arms under my armpits. I was squatting, and the little one started to come fast.
I remember doing my best to breathe hard at the end of contractions. I didn’t want to tear. I could feel a bit of burning and was trying to stretch things slowly. Stevie tried to do some perineal massage for me, but I didn’t want anyone’s hands there but my own. Aramis’ little flashlight was helping everyone see everything, though! I could feel the little guy begin to crown, and I was trying to take it easy. No such luck, though! On the last of those second force-of-nature pushes, my body decided enough was enough and I shook with the power of it. His head kept coming, as I tried in vain to slow it. Out he popped! Steve recalls holding a little head in his hands and after a very short pause, his entire body. He says he should have removed his watch- he got covered in amniotic fluid! Crystal told me she will never forget the way he corkscrewed out of me, all purple, face all scrunched. It was 7:24 am.
I will always remember looking down to that face.. And Steve fumbling as he unwrapped the cord from his body. I can still feel his warm, wet, little body against me.. I was whimpering and saying “Oh, my god..” over and over again. He cried out, then stopped and opened his eyes wide. Immediately he shut them again and cried for a minute more. Then, didn’t cry for the rest of the day. He was so peaceful, so content. I was in complete awe.
The placenta came just a few minutes later, intact. It was much bigger than Aramis’. My bleeding has quickly slowed, and nursing is going just as it should. We are very healthy… and I can no longer imagine birthing any other way.. Shorty before and after the birth, Crystal called to let my doctor know what was going on (I had told him I WANTED to birth at home and would just stay there as long as possible..). After Phoenix arrived he said to simply come in the next day to have a little check-up. When I saw him, he seemed rather amused and coyly wondered aloud if I ever meant to go to the hospital.
Every time I see the sun rising now, I think of Phoenix. I think to myself ‘he rose with the sun..‘ Beautiful doesn’t even begin to explain it.
The part where your son was giving you water through a straw... I cried!
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