The warm summer days were continuing into September and you were still nestled in close at over 40 weeks. That Thursday I opted out of book club and opted in to sticking close to home and an early bedtime. My feelings of anticipation grew through the following days and on Friday I began to feel like I wanted to eat every delicious food I could think of after weeks of not caring much about food at all. Friday we stocked up at Trader Joes and when asked our plans for the weekend said, “maybe having a baby” with smiles on our faces. Things were certainly feeling more real. The following day we had our now weekly appointment to our midwives office where everything checked out fine for us both, and we left knowing it was likely that the next time we visited this office it would be with you in our arms. That would turn out to be true, for on Sunday night I was up every hour with gentle cramping. Come morning nothing had really changed, but I still felt as if something different was happening and on Monday morning was teary-eyed when trying to send your dad off to work, not really wanting to be alone, but also not wanting him to use up one of his few vacation days before you made your arrival. Much to my relief he decided to stay and while I spent some time rolling my hips on the yoga ball he would time the contractions as I signaled to him their beginning and ends. With this we found them to be pretty regular, but they weren’t causing discomfort so we leashed up the dogs and headed out for a long walk, thinking it may help pick things up, but if not it would at least help the dogs burn off some energy before what could be a long night for them. After the walk things seemed to slow down, if anything, so we went ahead with cleaning up the house, blowing up the birth tub and double making our bed – just in case.
I was feeling a little defeated and restless and your dad suggested we get out of the house for a bit, so we drove to our favorite little falafel spot and got a couple to go, continuing on to Forest Park to enjoy them in the cool car while people watching, a favorite pastime of mine. With arms rested on my big round belly I filled it up even more with every last crumb and we moved on to cap it off with a stop for soy frozen yogurt on the bench out front of the shop, somewhere we’d visited a few times over the summer, my belly a bit bigger with every visit. While your dad drove us home I texted our midwives an update, letting them know we were out and about, but that nothing had changed and we planned to relax at home and wait and see. So, that’s what we did. As the afternoon stretched into evening I was feeling restless and ready and did a bit of sneaky nipple stimulation to see if it would help, but had no such luck, so I thought a relaxing walk with just your dad and I might be nice before returning home and settling in for the evening, so we set out around the neighborhood, breathing in the warm early autumn air and enjoying the late afternoon light unique to those long September days. Still, everything felt the same so I prepared for sleep and we put the dogs to bed. I sent a quick text message to our midwives telling them everything was the same so I was going to get some sleep. After burrowing into bed, your dad quickly joined me. I gave my nipples a couple pinches just to see, but then breathed out and laid back, hoping sleep would take me. Your dad flipped off the light and within a few short moments I bolted up with a contraction that finally felt a bit more substantial and then another, there was no way I was sleeping through these. Retreating to the hall bathroom I used the toilet, but with the next contraction found myself lights out and on my toes, hands resting on the vanity with eyes closed and hips swaying back and forth as I focused on breathing through it. It seems my early labor took it very easy on me, but then things went from zero to sixty in no time at all. I’m sure our midwives were surprised when your dad called to tell them the show was on the road only minutes after my text that nothing was happening. Though I know it was over half an hour, it felt like only minutes before Jennifer arrived and was placing the Doppler on my stomach to check in on you.
Before long I left the hall bathroom and moved to the toilet in the bathroom off our bedroom. The lights were off and there were candles glowing and casting off a warm light. I stayed in the bathroom awhile rocking and swaying before stripping free from my clothing and finding my way to the birthing pool and the comfort of the warm water. As each contraction came I would breathe and moan through it, trying to let it wash over me and taking time to doze in and out of sleep while leaning on the edge of the pool between them. Such intense feelings came over me but I never once thought I couldn’t do it. I did hope you would make your way out quickly and for a bit of relief from that intensity, but all the while I welcomed the contractions with a “yes” and with my mantra, “you can do anything, you are so very strong”. All the while your dad was by my side, solid and strong, offering drinks and bites of food to me on occasion, though I didn’t feel much like eating. I spent a long time in the tub, getting out to use the bathroom once or twice, but quickly returning to that comforting space as soon as I could.
Things weren’t progressing all that much, probably due to just how comfortable the water is for your mama pregnant or not, so Jennifer and Dad helped me to our bed to try to help things along. I pushed on my back for some time with legs pulled back, but the pain in my back was so intense that I couldn’t do it for long and tried hands and knees, on my side and then a bit more on my back. Jennifer helped, massaging with olive oil in hopes of helping you past the cervical lip you were caught on for so very long. Slowly but surely we worked together and soon I could feel your head and with that felt a surge of strength to continue. Not having much luck on the bed we moved me down to a squatting position, with Dad behind me, holding me for support and that is where you and I did the last hard work to get you into my arms. I continued to push with each contraction, pushing through them for as long as I could and soon your head came out, followed not long after by your perfect little body. Suddenly the moment we had waited so long for was here and your blood and vernix covered body was being held tightly to my chest. It was 9:05 in the morning and after a long night of work, tears of happiness and relief filled my eyes. The first things I said were, “that’s a big baby!” and “I love you!” and both were true. We stayed there together in that small nook between our bed and bathroom before being assisted up to the bed where I held you, just me and you for over an hour, waiting for the placenta to come, soaking you in and with everyone else cleaning up around me, something I know happened but have no recollection of. With the placenta yet to be delivered, Jennifer prepared for Daddy to cut your umbilical cord and once he had, I placed you in his arms for the first time so I could be helped to the bathroom. His eyes instantly welled up as he held you close and you found comfort in his arms, resting quietly as I worked to deliver the placenta, something that happened a couple hours after your birth and with a bit of help from a couple drops of herbal tincture beneath my tongue. We looked at the placenta and you had your measurements taken and a little check up to see that you were healthy and strong, which you were, our 10lb 3oz girl at 22 ¼ inches long. Jennifer and Linsey helped get everything cleaned up and us all settled in for some rest and left toward home, leaving me feeling like a superhero and us all together as a family of three for the very first time. Never before in my life had I felt so empowered, so strong, so capable in my own body. Thank you for this gift my sweetest girl.