Friday morning, March 3 – I get up at 7:30 to feed the cats and I
notice a little pink trickle of water runs down my leg. This is
unusual. I call the midwife, and as I wait for her to pick up, I feel
a little crampy.
She says, go on about your business and keep me posted. Go shopping,
eat, have a nap – let me know how it is going.
Meanwhile Tim has begun construction for the day in our bedroom, all
of our clothes from the closet are on the kitchen table, stuff is
piled up willy nilly and there's sawdust and sheetrock dust and nails
and screws and what have you all over the place. I inform him that
the midwife has said, carry on about my business, and he is very calm.
I had plans to attend a La Leche League meeting, but instead I call my
sister to come and get me and take us to Babies R Us to return a
bassinet we did not need, and get some towels and nursing pads and
other miscellaneous stuff that I had meant to lay in before but had
not gotten to, being so very large and slow at the end, with my feet
swollen into balls –
She arrives at my house with roses and chocolate cookies. We take the
cookies and head off for Raleigh, 45 minutes away, to the closest
Babies R Us. In the car, my BH increased and water started to come in
gushes. Of course, I had forgotten to bring more pads. We were
within a block or two of the store when I had a really big gush, and I
panicked a little and told her, maybe we should turn around – and then
I said, No, dammit, we are here, I am going to take that f*ing
bassinet back if it's the last thing I do.
So we pull into the parking lot, I get out of the car and have her
check my butt for huge stains, she says, uh, you can't REALLY see
anything, good enough for me, and we get the stuff out of the car and
into a cart and roll it in and return it. Successfully. While water
is gushing out of me.
So, next stop the bathroom, by a miracle I have quarters for the pad
vendor, and I go in to pee and note I am losing my plug.
I get an extra pad on the way out and we commence to whirlwind shop –
in about 40 minutes we have a cart full of stuff and then head home to
Chapel Hill. We arrive home at 2 pm to find Tim still knee deep in
his project. This causes me some agitation, and I express to him it
is time to stop and clean up. He says, can I just trim out this door.
I then must lose my temper a bit and say, THIS BABY IS COMING, DO YOU
UNDERSTAND. He had not understood. He understands now. Clean up
My sister leaves to rest up and get her farm chores done, and I call
the other half of our support team, who then goes out grocery shopping
for the evening's activities to come. I start ripping into all the
baby gear and washing everything in sight, vacuuming the floors and I
don't remember what all at this point – cleaning the washing machine I
think, and throwing things out of the refrigerator, that sort of
thing, and check in with the midwife who says, keep on, and let me
know when the baby gets your full attention. I am having BH that
segue into menstrual type cramps low in my belly, and I keep having to
remind myself that I am not just getting my period – brains are funny
things. As the cramps become more noticeable, the brain says, oh,
those are just menstrual cramps. Silly brain=
We had received a changing table from my IL's only the night before,
so I clean that up and get it set up – finally sorting the various
sizes of clothes and what not we had received – the changing table
baskets provide the first nursery storage we have, so it is timely
indeed that they had brought it over no later than they did. At some
point in the early evening, I have a contraction so strong I have to
stop and hang on to the side of the washing machine where I am
transferring stuff into the dryer. I call the midwife and she says,
sit down and rest and eat some supper, and call me if things progress.
By 7:30 we are eating supper and I have to stop eating for
contractions. Per midwife's instructions, I keep shoveling it in in
between though. I think it is time to start writing them down, and we
discover that although they are not totally regular, some are coming 5
minutes apart. I call the support team to report, yep, we are going
to have this baby tonight, so come over in an hour or so.
I make raspberry tea, in a teapot, a huge cup, and a pitcher.
Support team arrives with groceries and tequila (what were they
thinking????) and we sit around for a while, shooting the breeze –
writing down the contractions, which is becoming a ridiculous exercise
because they are not stopping – at 10 pm I call the midwife and say,
seriously, the baby is coming. She says, alrighty then, we'll be
The assistant is the first to arrive around 11 pm, and as she takes my
vitals, Tim starts up with record playing, and the atmosphere is
beginning to be set. It is cold out, and he has started a fire in the
woodstove – the house is clean, the friends are here, the baby is
coming, and I am so happy. We have candles lit – we have notified my
blessingway circle of friends to have their candles lit as well, I
have my labor beads in my hand –
The midwife arrives, I begin drinking the tea which is bitter and
nasty unfortunately, others are eating cookies, and Tim takes a
picture of me having a contraction with a big grin on my face. We are
all sitting around the kitchen table and I am laboring in a chair with
arms – it feels good to grip the arms and lift up on one hip when the
pain comes. They are starting to really smart, but I am not feeling
afraid – I feel ready and safe.
The pros go out and get the tub – although I am aware of the commotion
of the logistics of setting up the tub happening right behind me, I
don't ever turn my head to look. They set it up right in front of the
fire- I am drinking tea – I think we are listening to Songs of the
Chain Gang recorded by Josh White at this point – soulful spirituals
and deep strong voices – very appropriate labor music.
The assistant, Wanda, is taking charge of my laboring now as it
becomes more powerful – she suggests I stand up and walk, which I do a
bit, that I try to pee, which I do a bit, but soon I am leaning over
the table and she is moving my hips for me, and stroking my back, it
feels like she is moving energy down across my body to my hips with
the gentlest possible touch, and it feel so amazing, she is telling me
to open, open my body to the baby, the baby is moving down, and I
should open – I believe her, and we continue like this – I am kind of
whimpering softly at this point when the contractions come, and she
encourages me to vocalize, but this feels right at the moment.
Soon I am on the floor. Squatting at first, feels really good, and
she gets down there with me. I try hands and knees = yoga mats and
exercise balls are brought, and I tell her she needs a pillow for her
knees as well. Someone brings her a pillow. I find myself still
laboring next to my good old kitchen chair, and now I am headed under
the table for some reason – we laugh about that, in between – I say, I
guess I would get down in the basement right now if I could. Which is
particularly funny because our basement is essentially an earthen
crawl space – very primitive. Cat like. I am feeling the cave woman
in me really coming out. The raspberry tea is very bitter. I puke.
They encourage me to puke – I want to reassure them I don't need to be
encouraged – puking takes my mind off the contractions momentarily.
Finally the tub is filled and I hop in, and it is bliss. I lean back
with my arms across the back, hot tub style, facing the stove, and I
say, this is great. We totally have to get one of these!! For right
here in the living room! My body relaxes, I am feeling way optimistic
about this turn of events, smiling, and then I get another damn
contraction and I realize, oh hell, it's still going to hurt!!!! Shit!
Anyway, labor continues. At some point it feels really good and right
to vocalize – I have been saying, okay, okay, okay, okay, through each
one, but now I am saying okay, okay, oooohh,OOOOOHHHHHHHoooooohhhhh
okay okay okay. The contractions are starting to not totally let go
in between any more, which is a drag. I am on my knees holding on to
the side of the tub when the roaring commences. They encourage me to
keep my voice in the low register, to save my throat I suppose. I am
feeling the baby very low, occasionally feeling a wiggle down there as
well, and I think, even in the haze of pain, how cute. Tim is dabbing
me with cold compresses and then we run out of ice. I have certainly
lost track of the support team but someone rouses my sister and my
brother in law to go out to find ice – it is 4 am. They go.
The midwives have been monitoring the baby with the fetal monitor all
along, and now they ask me to reach down and put a finger into my
vagina to see if I can feel the baby's head. I do, and they say, can
you feel something hard? I say, not really. I feel something soft
though, and they say, well, have you ever felt anything like that
before now? And it dawns on me, duh, no, that's my baby's head !!
Wow!! And they ask me to show them how far on my finger I had to go
up, and I do, and unfortunately it's the middle finger, and I
apologize to them for that. I tell them, it hurts, I'm scared. They
reassure me. I blubber my lips, thinking loose bottom thoughts.
Here is where we begin pushing for real. They instruct me to grab my
knees, and curl my chin down , let the next contraction build and then
take a deep breath and push three times. They are excellent coaches,
and I have them repeat instructions the next few times until I get the
hang of it. Ice has arrived – we have fresh compresses and I am eating
little chips in between. Sometimes, just to prove a point, I push
four times. They are pleased.
Suddenly, they change things up on me – They ask me to get out of the
tub and go sit on the toilet to push. I tell them, I don't know if I
can get out. They help me out – I grab Tim around the waist, and they
half walk half drag me to the commode. I push maybe twice, and then
I feel the ring of fire. Wanda asks me to check, I say yes the head
is coming, she yells Nancy get your gloves, and we are off to the bed.
I push on hands and knees maybe twice more, they roll me on my left
side, I push and the head is born. I hear Tim say, oh wow, oh wow oh
wow, and the commotion of the support team coming to see, and Wanda
makes me look in her eyes and tells me not to push, so they can
suction the baby's mouth and nose – I don't push, just getting the
head out is such a relief I am quite willing to comply, but then, the
urge comes again, and they say go ahead, and I say get it out, and by
golly they do, and there's a baby on my belly, and hands putting a
tiny hat on it's head, and I am overwhelmed with joy and relief – I
can feel the cord between my legs, and my vagina is really smarting,
and I note that it is still dark outside – they say, 5:26 am. Tim is
at my side, and we are looking at our baby, and I am saying Hello,
hello, hello- the baby's eyes are open and looking at me, and I say
hello, you, you, what are you? We didn't even check right away – they
say, Tim, look! And he looks, and I see too, she is a girl! And I put
her to my breast, and in a minute or two, she is nursing, looking like
a little alien in her hat, all covered in vernix (a lot of vernix,
they say) and somewhere in there they check the cord, and when it has
finished pulsing Tim cuts it, and I deliver the placenta without
further ado, and they admire my placenta as being particularly large
and robust (I bet they say that to all the mommies) and they get her
Apgar scores, which are 7 and 9, and the order of operations is a
little murky here – shortly hereafter Tim has conked out face down
beside me and is snoring, to everyone's disbelief (someone said, he
can sleep through ANYTHING!) and then the babe is sleeping, and the
midwife stitches me up (for which I gratefully accept the lidocaine
shot – five stitches total) and then they get me up to take me to the
bathroom, since I could not pee in the bed as instructed ( I said, I
do have some pride! They laughed) – upon returning they had changed
the sheets and brought me a t-shirt to put on, and the sun came up,
and I ate toast with my babe under my arm and then we slept.
Beatrice Abigail ("bringer of joy" and "father's joy" respectively),
born Saturday March 4, 2006, 5:26 am, 6 lbs 11 oz, 19.5 inches long.
Pisces Sun and Taurus Moon. Looks like Tim in the eyes, she has my
mouth and hands, beautiful and utterly good natured jolly little
Buddha spirit. Belly button like a cinnamon bun. Loves to eat.
Records played during her birth, not in exact order:
Bob Dylan – Bringing it All Back Home
Josh White – Chain Gang Songs
Traffic – Low Spark of High Heeled Boys
Beatles – Hey Jude
Beatles – Abbey Road
Junior Wells' Chicago Blues Band – Hoo Doo Man Blues
Kingdom of the Sun – Peru's Inca Heritage
Tibetan Buddhism Tantras of Gyuto: Mahakala
The Genius of Ravi Shankar
And then…silence….and roaring…..and silence.