Just the birth — I’ll share my thoughts on the “home” part in another post!
My mom arrived around midnight on the 13th. As she and Ryan walked in the back door, Ryan sighed a relieved sigh and said, “Okay. Now you can have the baby.”
Well, I didn’t. Instead, we took walks, did laundry, chatted over long breakfasts, napped (that was me!), and watched news and movies. I felt refreshed at last, after weeks of exhaustion. Mom is the best.
The 20th was my due date. For days, everywhere we went, women stopped me and asked if I was going to have that baby right there, in the store. Old wives’ tales predicted that I’d go early, since my first was born so punctually. But no. The 20th came, and I woke feeling no different than the previous day. It was Ryan’s birthday, so at the last minute, we invited friends over for dinner and a “party” and went on with our day.
Party having ended, Jameson was prepped for bed. I pulled him up next to me in our armchair, having long abandoned our nighttime tradition of sitting on Mama’s lap. We read a Little Richard story, I kissed him, and he was tucked under the covers.
And I quietly noted that the contractions I’d had while reading felt remarkably… real.
At 10:00 I went to bed, and let my thoughts drift, all the while unable to ignore that I was definitely having contractions that were doing far more than just a little toning. And they were a bit on the regular side. How regular, I wondered?, and so I watched for about 45 minutes.
When Ry came to bed, I mentioned that I thought maybe this was it. I was so hesitant to say so because a.) I kinda had been hoping I’d start out with an obvious bang (or, rather, splash) and b.) I was worried everyone would get there expecting a 45 minute labor, and end up going home because it was all some cruel hoax.
So I started walking. And they kept coming. I sat on the couch, intending to watch TV and distract myself, but just like with Jameson, within minutes I couldn’t even talk during a contraction. And just like with Jameson, I had myself worried that maybe I was just a real wimp, and maybe this was the lamest contraction ever, and here I was, already closing my eyes and breathing deep and all that.
Regardless, it was starting to get uncomfortable.
Ronnie, my midwife, arrived by 11:45. Our friend Andrea, having been informed of the event, decided to come and watch. Ronnie’s assistant came, introduced herself during one of my respites, and completed the party.
We all settled into a quiet, hushed anticipation.
Mom slipped around the house, lighting candles and beautifying little corners. Ryan stayed near me and held my hand while timing contractions. Everyone else was… huh. I have no idea. All I cared about for the next 4 1/2 hours was having Ryan holding my hand and knowing where my Mom was. Always.
Ryan was phenomenal. Through the night, he kept holding my hand, talking me through every contraction. He’s a quick study, I guess, and having watched Mom once, he was ready to take a shot at it. Twice, Jameson stirred, and Ryan had to go cuddle with him; otherwise, he never left my side.
So I sat on the couch, laid on the couch, and wandered now and then to the bathroom for hours. I tried to not notice that this was clearly not going to be as speedy as labor with Jameson, and tried not to start worrying that maybe I was really in for it. At around 3am, they ushered me onto my bed, which was all prepared and surrounded by candles. Did I mention how pretty and calm everything was? Well, it was.
Soon thereafter, I had the first contraction that brought with it a pushing sensation. However, I was determined that this labor was going to involve far less pushing than Jameson’s, and that I was going to stay on top of the contractions and not go into reactionary mode. Special Delivery talked about not pushing until absolutely carried away by the need to, and I wanted to know what that was all about. So there I lay, on my side, moaning. Ryan held my hands, and my mom laid on the bed behind me, pushing on my back with every contraction. (I have no idea how she kept that up for so long. We’re not talking about a girly massage!)
It was awful. Can I say that? Well, it was. I just kept doing my best to feel what my body was doing, and concentrate on the pressure of my mother’s hands. As long as she was there, I could picture the sensation starting at my head, pushing down through my uterus, and out to where my mom was applying so much pressure. A couple of times she had to get up to help with something, and I felt lost at sea when the pain came. It rode over me, and there was no focal point, no spot for me to relax against. But when she returned, pushing and praying and soothing me, I could do it.
At long last, the midwife suggested I get up and use the bathroom. I’ll confess, these trips to the bathroom in the middle of labor can seem awfully irritating and thoughtless. But then I thought about the reasoning behind it, and knew I had to cooperate. While in the bathroom, I heard my mother and Ronnie conspiring. “She needs to stay upright. She’s ready, but we’ve gotta get her off that bed.” Apparently, my low moaning had given away the baby’s position. Ryan helped me into our bedroom, which is about 3 steps from the bathroom. In that time, I had two contractions while hanging from Ryan’s neck. I’m sure he loved that. ;)
They had arranged a pillow and the necessary floor coverings at the foot of my bed. I had one more contraction standing up, and suddenly I knew what Rahima had been describing. I quickly knelt on the pillow, flopping my upper body on the bed. One more contraction and WHOOSH! — my water broke in a huge gush. It was a strange sensation, to say the least. I rested on the bed, my body in total relaxation, and I heard my mom whisper, “It’s the calm before the storm.” Seconds later, another contraction washed over me, and the head crowned. Intense would be a good word for the following minute, while my body went into adrenaline mode, the midwife and my mother cried, “Stop pushing! Don’t push!”, and the ring of fire blew my mind. Another contraction, and (a little late, I confess) I asked, “Can I push now?”. And his head came. Another, and his whole body. And I collapsed on my knees, head on the bed, completely and utterly drained.
“It’s a boy!”, I heard Ryan jubilantly say. I knew it, I thought. And then he was passed up to me, and quivering, I gripped the slippery body of a new son.
The next morning, waking in my own bed with my new baby asleep beside me, I was flooded with thanksgiving. I’d prayed for a short and safe labor; for Jameson to sleep through it; for effective pushing; for little to no tearing; to feel less like a truck had hit me; and for a faster recovery. All of those things happened. And above all, a sweet and healthy baby (who already weighs 9 lbs! The boy nursed like a pro from the get-go!)
I am blessed, blessed, blessed.