Twice I have endured the slow, stretching, sleepless, process we call pregnancy. Twice I have planned, prepared, hoped, dared. Twice I have given birth. Twice I have been able to look back and say “I got everything I wanted.” I am grateful to be able to say that, because I know how lucky I am.
Below is my retelling of the birth of my daughter. I type it as she grunts and wiggles in my lap, the joyful result of the story I’m about to tell. During my pregnancies I longed to hear the birth stories of the women in my family. I don’t want to wait until my daughter is blooming with a little life of her own to tell this story, to trust my faulty memory to truly communicate how transcendent the experience was for me. Even now my written word can’t do it justice. My heart is full.
I listened to far too many women say their second, third, fourth, etc, babies came “sooner” and I thought that meant that I would deliver at an earlier gestational date than I did with T1. He came at 40 weeks 2 days, and I was convinced that I would be delivering before the 10 month mark. My mom came down, I had everything prepped and ready to go, and we waited. And waited. And waited.
On the night before my due date, February 1st, I was convinced that this would be my last night without a baby in my arms. I lost my mucous plug that day, my due date. The 1st was a Friday, the weekend of the Superbowl, and it felt like time had stopped. I was bored, anxious, tired, sick, swollen, and ready. What was baby waiting for? On the night of the 5th my mom told me “My nurse friend said that if you really want to get this baby out, try the same method that you used to get it inside of you. And lift up your hips at the end to help the sperm get to your cervix.” I would have tried anything recommended by a medical professional at that point, and so we did… it.
Two hours later, just after 12:00am on the 6th of February, I woke up to a pop. 40 weeks, 5 days. My water didn’t break with T1 (the midwife did it manually when I was around 8 cm), and I had really wanted to experience labor initiating with the breaking of the bag of waters. Even though I had read many, many birth stories where women described what it was like to have your water break spontaneously, and even though I had huge amounts of fluid gushing out of me every time I moved, I still called our midwife and said “I’m pretty sure that my water just broke. I don’t think I’m peeing my pants? The fluid is clear. I’m probably in labor.” She told me to go back to bed and get some sleep if I could. We cleaned up the bed (easy to do, I’d been sleeping on a shower curtain for weeks!) and I tried to go back to sleep. I had learned my lesson with my first birth, that even though I was uncomfortable and sore and excited, there is never enough sleep to be had right before a baby comes.
Contractions started shortly after I climbed into bed, 5 minute apart, and I could tell things were moving along fast enough that sleep wasn’t an option. That Husband rolled over and offered to help me, but I told him go to back to sleep. Before things got really hard I wanted some time to myself. I went down to the kitchen and tried to eat and drink, thinking I might have a 12+ hour labor like last time. I paced the floor, practiced breathing through the contractions, pushed my backside against the fridge to try to relieve some of the pain in my back, drank water, ate a banana, and played Candy Crush. I hated sitting with T1′s labor, but this time it felt so good to labor on the toilet. There’s something so wonderful about being able to completely relax your bottom half when you’re contracting.
At 3:30am I called my doula, Jen, and asked her advice. I told her contractions were 30 seconds long, about 2 minutes apart while walking around. I initially told her to go back to sleep and that I wouldn’t need her until the sun was up, but less than 2 hours later I called her and told her to come help me. I hadn’t been sure that a doula was really necessary for me, as I knew That Husband would be home, and it felt silly to have so many people present at my birth (husband, mother, doula, midwife, midwife’s assistant, photographer) but I’m so glad I decided to hire Jen. She was so flexible, willing to do whatever I asked, and told me she would come at any time, no matter how early it was in my labor, if that’s what I needed.
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