Beatrice was born 5 days after her due date; this was her giving us a clue, I suppose, that something was different this time (Jameson was born hours before his due date, William hours after.) Everyone who’d been guessing “girl” all along was even more sure, I suppose. I still didn’t have a clue about gender. All I knew was that I was overdue, and there was no telling how long I would be pregnant for. I settled in for the potential long haul.
Tuesday morning Ryan announced that I would have the baby that day. “I can feel it in my bones!” he declared. I don’t know why he thought that, but it was true that there were signs of labor — though I didn’t worry too much about them, knowing it still could be days or weeks away.
We dropped Jameson off for a tent overnight at Papa’s house, then drove to Kevin and Liz’s house for dinner. Somewhere between bites of yummy pork loin and sweet corn, I began having contractions that felt legit — not too intense, and spaced far apart, but worth noting. After walking downtown for ice cream cones, I finally said something. I knew I needed to get home and go to sleep, just in case this was for real.
Mom was already here when we pulled in the driveway, washing dishes and straightening things up and telling us to get to bed. I got to read a bedtime story to William, hugging him tight and enjoying one more “baby” William moment. Then I headed to bed.
And, oddly, my contractions started getting farther apart. I had never experienced that before, and didn’t know what to think of it. Rather than worrying too much about it, I just tried to sleep.
At 11:30, a very intense contraction woke me up completely. Ryan immediately noticed the difference in my breathing. We timed a few (still not very impressive, I thought), and he called Regina to let her know things seemed to be intensifying.
And that’s when time sort of stopped. Just like with both boys, as soon as labor began in earnest, it went into overdrive. I tried to walk around more than I have in the past, though I have no idea how long that lasted for. It seemed that in no time, the contractions were longer than the space in between. I became aware of people arriving, lamps being switched on, candles being lit, and equipment being arranged, but mostly, I was just aware of waves of pressure, Ryan, and my mom.
It was so intense. I know that goes without saying, but then again, what else is there to say? Labor is so much work on so many levels, but for me, the most important work of labor is staying on top of my thoughts and attitude. Relaxing is so important, but it would be impossible without first getting control of my thoughts. This time around, as I’d prepared for the birth by re-reading some favorites, I was impressed by a story of one rather scared first-time mom, who overcame her fears by realizing her body was incredibly capable of making way for this baby. She chanted to herself, over and over, “I’m going to get huge.” I thought of her as waves of tension rolled over me. It feels like everything in you is being squeezed and compressed, but I know that what I need to concentrate on is opening — relaxing completely and willing my body to open stronger, faster, more efficiently. There were a few peaks when I just wanted to lose it — scream and yell and curl up in a ball and be done. And I had to tell myself to just hold on, or I’d waste a perfectly good contraction, and why on earth would I prolong this agony when I could actually help it along?
And so, wave after wave, with Ryan gently touching my jaw, my shoulders, my palms — reminders to me to relax — and my mom pushing so hard on my lower back through the worst of the contractions, I just pictured OPEN.
I could feel the baby moving down, and the pressure on my spine mounted. My third baby, and still, I could not believe how ridiculous that pressure was — but then again, even as I was thinking that and wanting to be a bit angry, I realized a little body was pushing against my spine, trying to make its way out, and you know what? Suddenly the pressure makes sense. (I’m pretty sure that’s when I started moaning “ba-by”, and Ryan thought I’d gone coo-coo.)
Wary of premature pushing, I laid on my bed and just endured as much of that as I could before finally being sure that, yes, it was time. We’d planned on kneeling at the end of the bed, but Regina really wanted me to try laying on my side — a gentler option for someone who has a tendency to bleed too much. She must have seen worry on my face, because she gently reassured me that she didn’t think it would mean more work for me. I trusted her completely, and suddenly there was a little flurry as everyone got ready for the big arrival — and I silently wondered if I could remember how to push. For the first time, Regina took control, coaching me clearly through that climactic and somewhat crazy finale. I utterly amazed myself by being able to not push at her command, something I thought I would never be able to do. My waters broke, the head crowned, a pause, then the head, and finally — oh, the most wonderful feeling in the world! — the last push, and a baby. “A girl!”, Ryan announced.
A girl! I sank into my pillows in utter exhaustion, overwhelmed by a wave of thankfulness for making it through, and wanting to weep with joy over this new wonder — all in the circle of excitement and joy of sisters and friends, mom and midwife, and of course, Ryan. What a welcome to the world Beatrice had!
4:52am. Slivers of pink were lighting the sky outside the bedroom window. She cried immediately, and then nursed like a pro. The birth “party”, who had all watched so quietly, now sprang into action, bringing me Shepherd’s Purse tea, juice, warm towels for my shaking legs, wool socks, a hat for the baby, watching timers for the apgar scoring, massaging my stomach, and cheering me on for that last stage. They were amazing. It was amazing. My body delivered a baby! Isn’t that just amazing?
I couldn’t say enough about my experience with Regina. This delivery was, by far, the most gentle on my body, and it’s all thanks to her. She had me pumping iron-rich foods and Floradix for months to prepare my body for a blood loss, and, between that and her hard work after my delivery, what a difference it made! Twelve hours after giving birth, I was standing in a shower by myself, shampooing my hair. I have never been able to even come close to that before. And thanks to her wisdom regarding delivery positions, and her coaching, I didn’t tear at all. I was amazed by how phenomenal I felt. I was walking back and forth to my living room the very next day!
And of course, I can’t say enough about giving birth at home. I am so thankful to have found Regina. Laboring in my own house, being surrounded by supportive friends and a capable midwife, and feeling no pressure to do anything other than follow my body’s cues — it’s just so amazing. No cakewalk, of course, but amazing.
A healthy delivery, a healthy baby — blessing on blessing. I am so thankful.