Thursday, April 19, 2007
After a month of prodromal labor, I think I started unconsciously preparing for her birth earlier in the week. Sunday I was crying that I wasn't ready for it to be over, that I didn't want to be done being pregnant - but I just could not imagine being pregnant for another week and a half until my due date! That night, I told the baby I just needed a little more time...but if she needed to, she could come whenever she was ready - I would just really appreciate another week or so. Monday night I was up until 1am cleaning up, doing laundry, organizing stuff, etc. Tuesday morning I lost a huge chunk of my mucus plug - which I've never done before, and wasn't really expecting this time because I'd been losing it slowly for weeks already. I spent the day doing all kinds of errands, including food shopping - I wound up getting two weeks worth of food! I did feel like I was getting ready. I had some pretty strong contractions all day, and told Mike that I'd be really pissed if I finally got to have a "real" labor and I spent it running around all day! Wednesday I stayed home in my pajamas all day, baking muffins and grumping around. My sister came over she did Henna on my belly - which was actually the very last thing to cross off on my List of Things To Do Before the Baby is Born. All I was waiting for was a pair of socks I had special ordered, for Dominic and the baby, to come in the mail. (He and I had read "Welcome with Love" the entire time I was pregnant. There is a page where the mom is in labor and the big brother is helping her get the baby's clothes ready; they have a pair of striped socks for the baby that match the big brothers socks. Dominic decided he needed those socks for him and our baby, so a very sweet momma online knitted me a pair of striped wool socks, which turned out beautiful!) Literally, the only thing on my calendar for the rest of the month was Kate's Homebirth Mom's Meeting at her house, that she has every third Thursday of the month. The kids were looking forward to it all week, and as we were walking out the door to go there, the mailman showed up with the socks! Laughing out loud as I walked out of the house, I sarcastically thought the baby would probably come, now that everything was here.
After hanging out, Kate asked me if she could check my cervix and I was pretty much the same as I was two weeks before - about 3cm, 50%, very soft and stretchy. As we left, I was having contractions, but didn't think anything of them. I do think the exam could have triggered my labor, but I also think there was nothing left to stop it anyway. As I was backing out of the driveway, I had a contraction and looked at the clock - 4:25 (which was really 4:18 because the clock is 7 minutes fast). I was pretty introspective on the way home, thinking about the whole pregnancy and the labor that was to come, I even let myself entertain the idea of her coming earlier than I was planning, but I never expected the contractions that I was having every 5 minutes to mean it would be NOW! They did however, make me think women who got in the car on purpose to go to the hospital while they were in labor, were absolutely insane. And through quite a few of the contractions, I thought about how nice it would be to just pull over - especially if I had to apply pressure to the brake with my foot while having one. Looking back there were so many clues, I don't know how I didn't know I was in labor! Mike knew as soon as he saw me. But I think since I was really just fully expecting to go into labor on my due date, plus it never once ever occurred to me that I could go into labor during the day, I was in denial.
When I got home, I tried to make dinner but it just seemed like too much effort to keep track of everything - boiling water, defrosting eggplant, timing the oven...way too much for a laboring brain, so I asked Mike to finish up. While he did, I called Kate and didn't get an answer at home. I couldn't remember her cell number, so I had to call back twice to get it from her machine. When I got her, I jokingly asked her what she did during that exam, because I'd been having contractions ever since! She wanted to know how far apart, how long they were lasting, etc. When I told her they were every 3 min or so and lasting a minute, she said that's pretty much the definition of active labor and she thought this was it. I told her I knew it sounded like I was in labor, but I'd been having contractions just like these for the past month and it wasn't real those times. I was still able to talk just fine through them and even though they were strong, they weren't uncomfortable. She asked me a couple other things that I don't remember, but couldn't answer anyway and was rather irritated that she was making me think about it. She said she thought she should come, and worse case scenario would be that we'd hang out and the kids could play. I had visions of us watching Dom's birth video and me getting up every once in a while to go in another room when I had a contraction, because I wasn't feeling happy about the idea of being watched while I paced through it. I told her I was going to get something to eat and I'd call her back in half an hour, that I think I'd know if it was for real or not by then. She reminded me that's what I said last time. I told her 15 minutes then. I looked at the clock and we hung up at 6:15, I made a mental note to call her back at 6:30.
I tried to eat my dinner and it tasted SO good. But after a couple bites, the thought crossed my mind if I was in labor that was something I definitely did not want to throw up (not that I've ever thrown up before, but I certainly didn't want this to be what I ate if I did this time). Plus, as I was sitting on the couch, I realized that it felt much better to be up walking around. I pretty much paced the entire length of the first floor, saying "I am NOT in labor! This isn't happening now! I am not ready! I am not in labor! It's going to stop, it's not real." Then I'd have a contraction and I'd say (read: whine), "It's not stopping!" While I was walking, I had to step over a pile of crap I had swept up earlier, and it bothered me so much. I starting to ask someone to get the dust pan and brush a couple times, but would get distracted. During one contraction , I leaned on the counter at the sink and did some kind of stepping motion, even still saying I wasn't in labor and that the contractions didn't feel any different than the ones I'd been having for the past month. Mike looked at me and said he never saw me do that before and I laughed. He told me for the 5th time he was going to fill the tub, I still thought he was over reacting and told him not yet. I said I just KNEW with Dominic and I didn't have that feeling this time. He said the difference was I was ready with Dominic and I thought that was really insightful of him. Christopher heard me ranting "I do NOT want to have this baby tonight! I am not in labor!" and he said to me "Why don't you want to have the baby now? Then you don't have to be crabby and yell and screaming." (I had been apologizing a couple times a day for being grumpy and yelling for the last couple weeks. I told the kids I wouldn't be like that forever, that it would be better after I had the baby and I would go back to normal, so he was probably thinking I was crazy for not wanting to have the baby as soon as possible! Poor guy!)
I looked at the clock and it was 6:40 - I told Mike to call Kate to come, but to tell her to please don't be mad at me if she has to go home. I went into the dining room and knelt down on the bottom step during a contraction, but that didn't feel good. Mike went upstairs at that point and started the water for the tub. I felt a drawn to my bedroom, but thinking of Dominic's birth and the last time I walked up the steps not knowing it was the last time, I said out loud "I will be back down here before the baby is born. This is not the last time I am walking up the steps pregnant!" I could hear Mike laughing in front of me. I took my jacket off and hung it on the banister. I had to pee so I went to the bathroom, chanting "No blood, please, no blood!" - meaning I didn't want to see any bloody show because then it would be for real. There was no blood. I had another contraction and started whining/crying, telling Mike that I didn't want to have the baby today. It's not how I thought it would be, it was day time and the kids were all running around - it was supposed to be night time and quiet and the kids should be asleep until the end. I said again I wasn't ready, it wasn't how I was expecting it. He just held me and rubbed me and told me it was okay, that I just needed to relax. I think that was when I finally let go of how I thought it would be, allowing me to finally accept what it actually was going to be.
I went into our bedroom and looked around. I wanted the birth ball, so Mike went into Victoria's room to get it. Dominic stayed with me. With the next contraction, I noticed I was holding my pants away from my body. I said out loud "Hey, I should just take them off!" And thought I was a genius for thinking to do that! I got a chux pad to lay on the birth ball - I was still waiting for some bloody show! It felt good to sit on the ball, I was on it for a couple contractions, leaning on my bed and would get up after each one to check for blood. During one contraction, the words to our favorite song on the Birth Chants cd we'd been listening to for the last two weeks popped into my head: "I am opening up in sweet surrender for this beautiful baby in my womb". It was neat because I hadn't thought of it consciously, it just came to me, and made me smile. That was the point where I FINALLY accepted that this was really it. I looked at the clock, it said 6:50.
I looked over at the tub and saw steam coming up because the water was so hot. Last time it was too cold, so Mike turned the water heater all the way up to avoid that this time. I worried about chemicals from the plastic cover leaching into the water and asked him to turn it down because if I did want to get in anytime soon it would be too hot! As soon as he turned it down, I stood in there and with the cooler water pouring over my feet to be able to stand the temperature. The water just about covered my feet at that point. Dominic came in the tub shortly after me and Christopher showed up, all excited, with his suit on to hop in, too. I was able to tell Christopher he couldn't come in, but Dominic wasn't having it so it was easier to just let him. I felt so bad telling Christopher he couldn't come in because it was getting difficult to get words to come out, so I'm sure I was short with him and didn't explain why. He was fine with it. I just couldn't bear the thought of both of them playing and splashing around me in the tub. Dominic kept talking and asking me things. He told me he was going to catch the baby, I said yeah because he was the only one with me!
I don't know what Mike was doing or where he was. I did remember to ask him to set up the video camera, and was surprised to realize we needed to call Marilyn to take pictures, so I told Mike to do that. There was no answer so he left a message for her to just come over when she got home. When a contraction would start, I say "Shut up!" I tried to explain between contractions that when I say "shhhh!" that means no one talks, not wait for quiet then start talking again. That I'd let everyone know when it was over and not to talk until then. Well, that's what I wanted to say but I don't know what of that actually made it out in words. At some point, Nicholas came running down the steps from his room that leads pretty much right into our bedroom, asking me where his shirt was. Of course, it was at the start of a contraction and I growled "I...AM...HAVING...A...BABY!". After it was over, I felt horrible because all he wanted was to wear the shirt he wore when Dominic was born. He was just trying to get ready in his own way and I yelled at him.
At some point, for a fleeting second, I felt a quick wave of nausea and the thought of doing it again without an epidural crossed my mind. Not that I wanted one, just that I didn't have one. I remember Mike telling me it would be soon, I was in transition. I asked him if he was having de ja vu, because things were happening just as fast as Dominic's birth. I used that time frame as a reference - I went into labor with him at the same time, but in the am. I thought to myself, I only have 20 minutes left. I can get through 20 minutes. Even though that was the part I wasn't looking forward to. The contractions were awesome - very strong and powerful, but not painful. It was just the pressure of the baby moving down that I had a hard time thinking about doing. I knew it was getting close, I told Mike it was going to be very soon. I kept saying "I am going to have this baby very soon. It's going to come out really soon." I started getting prepared mentally.
I realized that Kate wasn't here, and told Mike to call and see where she was. It wasn't like last time, where I was kind of waiting for her to get there before things could really happen. I didn't feel like I needed her there for the birth - I was totally prepared to have this baby by ourselves, it was more like I didn't want to disappoint her. Plus, her kids were looking forward to seeing a birth and I really wanted them to be there, too. (I realize some people wouldn't want their own kids at their birth, let alone someone else's kids, but I did. It started out so Kate didn't have to waste time getting them to a sitter, but the more I thought about it the more I liked the idea of them coming. After all the birthdays and holidays and everything else they miss with their mom because she had to go to a birth, I thought it would be so cool for them to see it firsthand. Plus, knowing how I have babies, it wasn't like they were going to intrude on my calm, romantic birth! Perhaps if I had a chance for a birth like that, I might have felt differently.) Mike called her on speaker and I heard her say "okay" when he told her she wasn't going to make it. The thought that crossed my mind when I heard her was she was giving up...giving up what I don't know. I felt bad, so I told Mike to tell her to hurry up anyway.
During contractions, I'd try to get into a comfortable position. I wanted to relax and just let go of my body. I said "I just want to float!" (That's actually how I gave birth to Dominic, my arms hanging over the side of the tub, my body and legs just floating on the water.) The thought of not being able to get my belly under the water sent me into a panic. I wondered if I would have time to fill up the tub and deliver there, but realized there was no way there was time for that either. I tried to lean into the water, but that wasn't good at all. I tried to lean on my side and that was no good either. I wound up sitting on my calves. I got through the contractions by rocking, having the water run from the hose over my belly and rolling my head around. Mike came behind me and rubbed my shoulders, helping me to relax. It felt good to lean into him. I was hot and asked him to open a window and get me a drink.
As soon as he left, I felt the baby moving down and screamed. That screaming is involuntary. I couldn't stop if I tried, but it doesn't even occur to me to try to stop because I just screamed, there was no thinking about it. With that first wave of pressure, the baby's head cleaned out whatever was left in my bowels and I think that plus my screaming scared Dominic, who was still in the tub with me. He tried to get out as fast as he could, and fell out of the tub. I was leaning over the side of the tub, holding the hose, trying to tell him it was okay and I was sorry for screaming.
Then, it happened again and I felt the baby's head coming out with my hand. I didn't even think to reach down, I just realized I had when I felt her head crowning. I remember some part of my brain being happy that I got to feel that, having always wanting to. I could hear Dominic crying for Mike to "Hold me, Daddy! Please, hold me!" I let go of the hose and Mike was yelling for Nick to hold it in the tub. I was irritated that there was so much noise and commotion as she was being born, but knew there wasn't really anything I could do about it, especially when I labor so quickly and the baby comes out so fast.
Mike thought I was going to fall out of the tub from the way I was leaning against it, and kind of held me down with one arm and the side of the his body and Dominic in the other, which is really a good thing considering the rest of her body flew out so fast it actually pushed my hand out of the way and she shot into the water and hit the bottom and the side of the tub. I immediately felt relief, until I looked down and saw what came out of me. A few things went through my mind when I saw that blue-ish/grey-ish ball - one was I should have had an ultra-sound, because then I would have had some notice that it wasn't a baby I was growing, but I knew it really was a baby so that must've been what she was moving around in there! (It was a joke - when she was really active I'd ask her "What, are you moving furniture around in there?!?") I scooped the ball up and realized it really was the baby - she was born in the caul! I held her with her legs in my left hand and head in my right, kind of upside and turned her around. Then I noticed the cord was around her neck - not tight, just draped over her shoulders - like a boa, and I thought that was cool. I slid it over her head and noticed it was a nice thick , swirly, purple cord. By that point, I already knew she was a girl, she had her legs open and I saw...I guess when I was turning her over. (Although, since I kind of already knew she was a girl the whole time I was pregnant, I didn't even feel any surprise of finding out. It just felt right, instead.) She cried right away. Christopher said in the sweetest, most awestruck voice that I will never forget, "It's a girl! Tori, you got your sister! It's a girl!" (he had been standing right next to the tub, holding the hose so he had the same view I did). The baby gurgled and I put my mouth to hers to suck out whatever mucus she had in her mouth, but stopped as soon as I started because it didn't feel right - she was fine. I immediately stood up and got out of the tub and went to my bed.
My first words were "What the #@$& was that?!?" and Mike and I laughed. Someone gave me a towel to put around the baby and Mike put some chux under me, in case the placenta came. The baby settled quickly, but she was just a bit blue-ish still so I kept rubbing her and telling her to breath, I remember telling myself she was the same color Dom was when he was born, and he was fine, so I wasn't worried. I talked to her and said how scared she must've been, coming so quickly. I also told her I was so glad she was finally here, that I've been waiting for her for so long. I tried to remember how her little body felt, being so new.
The kids were all around us and very excited. Dominic was still very upset (in reality, it was probably only about 2 minutes since I first felt her moving down and he fell out of the tub) and wouldn't come anywhere near me. He stayed at the bottom of the bed, wiping his eyes and covering his mouth. I felt horribly, terribly guilty...he was so excited about the baby coming and how he was going to catch her and I ruined it for him. I felt like I traumatized him. He was very well prepared - we watched tons of births and looked at countless pictures on line. We read "Welcome with Love" every day and I always pointed out how the mommas scream really loud, because I knew that's what I would do, and that the big brothers and sisters covered their ears it was so loud. The first two days, he would randomly say "There was poop in the tub and it was your fault. And you screamed and scared me!" And I would just validate that I scared him and say "Yes, I screamed really loud. Just like the other mommas we saw and read about. Remember? That's what mommas do when they are getting babies out." And even though in the moment it was scary for him, having all that preparation helped him reconcile the birth in his memory because he only has good things to say about it now. I am sure that if Mike was there to talk him through it, he wouldn't have been scared at all, poor little guy.
My only regrets are that I didn't get pictures of the labor and birth (I did get video, though, which is awesome and hopefully soon, I will get it transfered to dvd so I can take still shots from that). Early in my pregnancy, I had a dream I'd have the baby before I was ready; it was my fear throughout the whole pregnancy.
Initially, I was sad because there was no closure - in the moment, I didn't process this was the end of my pregnancy. I spent most of my labor fighting it and really wish I hadn't taken so long to accept the fact I actually was in labor. And I'll probably always wonder if getting checked triggered labor. But, I know the baby was ready and waiting to come, and I was as ready as I was ever going to be - those last few days were just reserved for the "it could happen anytime" mindset.
Long before I was pregnant for Katelyn, I accepted the fact that my labors are just super fast and chaotic, that there is a slim to none chance of it being one of those calm, serene births where you can take your time and soak it all up in the moment. Because of that (being prepared), and because of how it all actually happened, her birth was the best! It kind of feels like her birth was a gift from her to me; I got to experience everything I'd always wanted to - feeling the baby's head crown, catching her - or in this case, picking her up! - but either way, being the very first person ever to touch her, having her born in the caul and even looping the cord over her shoulders - weird, I know.
Now that she's here, I realized that I focused so much on being pregnant that I kind of forgot to look forward to a new baby at the end. And she is just the most wonderful surprise ever! It feels surreal to me when I think of the connection we have with each other, the journey we've been on together, before we ever even met. Standing over her, watching her sleep, it made me sad to realize my body doesn't feel *magical* anymore, the way it does when I am pregnant. My recovery has been so easy this time, that even though I am only 2w postpartum, I don't even have that just had a baby feeling anymore. I am excited to get back into real life, and finding a new normal with her. Immediately after she was born, I can only explain it as feeling a sense of relief...probably because I've felt like someone has been "missing" for so long. It's almost like my best friend has been away and is finally home. She definately brings me a sense of completion; it's exciting to think she is my last baby. And as time goes on, its even getting easier to accept I won't be pregnant again - I see it differently now, I am at peace with it. That season of my life is over and its time to move to the next one (even though, I think having my babies will always be my favorite time of my life). It's kind of like a new starting point - this is how my life is supposed to be and now that everyone is here I can get on with it, with them - I'm not waiting for anyone anymore.