On Wednesday, I spent the day doing some serious nesting. I scrubbed the bathroom, washed the windows, ironed the curtains, organized the cupboard underneath the kitchen sink and finished the part of our room that is your nursery. Your dad did his own “nesting” that day, and bought a digital camera. As your dad and I sat down to dinner I told him, “Even though there are still things I’ve got to do, if the baby came now, I wouldn’t have any anxiety over the things I need to finish.” We ate our dinner and discussed that tomorrow was really JULY- the month we had been waiting for anxiously.
At 11:00, we went to bed. At 11:30 I woke up with what I thought was indigestion- back pain and lower abdominal cramping that I’d had off and on all week- and a full bladder. I went downstairs used the bathroom and then went back to bed. This happened three more times; each time I groggily trudged down the stairs and quickly fell back asleep when I returned to bed. But, on the fourth time, when I realized it was still dark and I’d already been up four times I decided to check the clock. It was only about 1:30! I noticed that my backache and cramping was coming back and it hit me- these were probably contractions!
I decided to watch the clock and see if I had another contraction before I could fall asleep again. Sure enough, at 1:37 I had one, and then another at 1:42. I woke your dad up and told him that I was pretty sure I was having contractions, we lay there and talked about it until the next contraction came at 1:47. He grabbed the Birthing From Within book from the nightstand to see what it said about when to call the midwife or head to your birthing space. We laughed because it recommended that I start a labor project- fat chance at 2 am! We went downstairs to see if any of our other books had more definitive advice. By this time I had to use the bathroom again and I noticed some bloody mucous.
After consulting with the book and each other, we paged my midwife. The contractions during the time we waited became stronger- there was no longer any question in my mind about what they were. Your dad packed himself a bag. We talked and were teary eyed and excited- we were finally here, and soon you would be with us!
It took about 20 minutes for my midwife to call back; she was delivering a baby girl when I had called. I described to her my contractions and the “bloody show”. She said that I was in early labor and it could last for 24 or more hours. She advised me to draw a bath, try to relax and go back to bed if I could. If, my labor did not slow down when taking a bath and relaxing, she said I should call back when my contractions were 2-3 minutes apart and I was no longer laughing and conversational between contractions.
I told your dad what she had said and we went to the bathroom to get the bath ready. I said, “I’m so glad I washed the bathtub today.” Your daddy laughed and said, “This is so like you. You got everything ready and now you can go into labor- you’re such a planner!” We put lavendar in the bath and I lay there in the tub as he sat and talked with me.
At this point my contractions got stronger, and I started a “counting” technique to help myself get through them. When I got to the point in a contraction where it was very intense I would start counting backwards from an arbitrary number, like 40. For some reason it helped me remember that the contraction would end, eventually. At first, my contractions ended before I would get to zero. Later, I started getting to zero and then counting back up. After about an hour in the tub, daddy suggested that we try to go back to bed. I was dubious about the possibility of sleeping through the pains I was having, but agreed to try.
Of course, daddy fell asleep within a few minutes of being in bed. I tried, but I was not able to relax enough to fall asleep between contractions. After about 20 minutes of laying in bed, I could not take laying down through the contractions anymore and decided to quietly go downstairs and give your dad some time to get rested for the coming day.
During my time alone, I walked around our house, laid in tub for a while more, and laid on the couch in baby pose to help you get into position. I kept imagining my body opening up for you to come out and smiled each time I felt you moving, preparing for your big journey. After my time on the couch I got back in the tub for a while. I lay down and had a couple of contractions within a very short time. I decided I’d better start getting ready soon. After a contraction ended, I got up and dried off. I pulled out my comb and started combing through my hair, but before I could finish I had another contraction. When the contraction was finished, I started brushing my teeth, but before I could finish, I was having another contraction! I made my way up the stairs to find some clothes and wake up your father. I headed to my closet first and started looking for my clothes. As I found them, your dad’s alarm went off. It was 6 am. The alarm was set to radio and as it turned on it played a Paul Simon song: the first words that came blasting out were “I’m gonna watch you shine, gonna watch you grow” and the song was about a father’s love for his child. How perfect! I said to your dad, “I think it’s time to go, my contractions are really close and strong.” At this time I fell to my knees with a contraction and your dad came around the corner and saw me. He said that he’d page the midwife while I got dressed.
After throwing on some clothes and making my way down the stairs (with several more contractions going on), the midwife called. She said to come on in. Your dad had the car loaded up and he helped me to make my way to it. The car ride to the hospital is a blur for me. Your daddy drove quickly but safely. I was going through transition at this time and this was the hardest part of my labor, not a great time to be strapped into a seat and going over bumps. We pulled into The Birthing Inn at 6:30.
Palmer greeted us at the door, she was our childbirth educator and she was a doula at your birth. She hugged me and then helped me to lean over a couch as I breathed through a doozy of a contraction. We walked back to the room where you were born. It was the same room where your daddy had given me a footbath a few weeks earlier. I laid on the bed and your midwife, Kay, checked my cervix. She said that I was 7 centimeters dilated and had gotten there at the perfect time. I asked Palmer to fill the bathtub for me and she got it ready quickly, while I leaned forward on the bed and your dad rubbed my lower back.
When the tub was ready, I stripped my clothes off as I walked for it. The hot water felt so good- I realized that my entire body had been contracting when I had contractions before I got into the water. The water helped me to focus my energy on you and my labor.
As I labored, your dad put cold rags to my forehead and held a glass of water to my mouth for me to drink. Palmer and Kay, and a doula in training named Erin, who sat in on your birth, sat around the tub and encouraged me. They told me that I was doing a good job and to keep working with the contractions the way I was. We had brought the unity candle from our wedding and your dad lit it. When my eyes were open, I would look at the candle or look out the sliding glass doors at the sky and the trees. You were born on a beautiful day!
Shortly after 7:30 I felt like pushing. When I told Kay, she said to try and see how it felt. It seemed to relieve pressure, and I thought I was practicing pushing. Your dad was concerned that I might hurt myself if I wasn’t fully dilated yet. Kay said that she thought I was ready if I felt like I was. On my next push, my bag of waters ruptured and came shooting out like a squid’s ink. Your dad voiced his concern again and after a contraction, Kay asked if I would let her check me, so that he could be sure it was okay. I said sure. When she checked she said, “All right, there’s his head.” I couldn’t believe it! I didn’t know I was really pushing! Your dad reached and felt the top of your head, and then I did too. I was so excited I yelled out, “I’m going to have a baby!” Kay suggested that I pull one leg out of the water to give you more room to come out. Then she reminded me to relax my legs when I pushed. With my next few pushes I got serious. And, voila, out came your head. As I pushed, I felt an incredible surge of energy and amazing strength flow through my body. Another contraction and the rest of your body followed. At 8:15 a.m. on Thursday, July 1st, 2004 you emerged into this world in a warm, watery entrance and were promptly delivered into your mama’s loving arms. You weighed 8 pounds, 2 ounces and were 20 inches long.
Palmer and Kay rubbed you with a towel and suctioned you nose and you began your first cry. Then your dad cut your umbilical cord and took his shirt off so that he could hold you skin to skin while I got out of the tub and got a few stitches. When daddy brought you to bed, you nursed for the first time. I asked him who he thought you were. He said that as he held you he was thinking that you were Caiden. Then he suggested that your middle name was my maiden name. It took us several hours to be sure, but we decided he was right. We spent hours holding you and staring at you as we lay in bed. You were, and are, so perfect.
Your birth was an incredible and beautiful miracle, and the best experience of my life. The day you were born, a part of me was born. I can’t believe that I got to be your mama- I am so blessed. Thank you for being mine!