“Lovely controlled birth; hands and knees in tub.”
Those are the words that my midwife wrote on my birth records under “Delivery Comments.”
I’m not sure I would use the word “controlled” to describe my labor experience. After all, it involved plenty of screaming and moaning (and singing, incidentally…). But I WOULD describe it as fast and furious and…overwhelmingly positive. I really couldn’t have asked for a more pleasant experience (as far as labors go, that is).
Here’s how the day played out:
Friday, March 13, 2009
10:00 a.m. I am sitting out in the backyard in the sunshine - watching our 2-year-old play in her playhouse and drawing smiley faces with sidewalk chalk on the wall. I tell my husband rather nonchalantly, “I’m feeling some pressure down below, almost like the head descending. No, not like Braxton Hicks. But it really could be nothing…”
Noon. My husband and daughter go grocery shopping. I post on my blog and do some work. We eat lunch and discuss everyday things.
3:00 p.m. We decide to head downtown to take care of some business at the Secretary of State office. In the elevator, I stop and say, “Hold on. Just a minute. I’m feeling a little pressure. Okay, I’m fine.” After that, we drive to Walgreens to buy a birthday present for our next door neighbor’s daughter. The contractions are coming regularly now, but I don’t want to jump to conclusions too soon.
4-something. We arrive home. I tell my husband to put our bags in the car and suggest that we clean the house…”just in case.” He busies himself with laundry and dishes and vacuuming (in a frenzy, I might add), while I make enchiladas and build block towers with our 2-year-old in her room. At one point, I get on my hands and knees.
5-something. The intensity of the contractions begins to heighten (I would later tell the midwife that my labor began at 5:00 p.m.) We sit down to eat dinner and I jump out of my seat every 5 or 6 minutes to lean against the wall. My daughter asks, “Are you okay, mommy?” “Yes,” I say, “mommy’s okay.”
My husband and I have a conversation kind of like this:
- Husband: Should I call my parents?
- Me: No, not yet. I’m not sure this is it.
- Five minutes later…
- Me: Call your parents. We have to go…NOW.
6:30 p.m. We meet Tim’s parents in-town (they were out eating dinner) to drop off our daughter. “Do you think you’re close?” my father-in-law asks through the car window. “It’s hard to say,” I answer back.
7:00 p.m. We arrive at the birth center. It’s quiet and peaceful there. The nurse greets us kindly and tells us that she’s getting the room ready. I walk around the main area, stopping to lean against the wall with each contraction. When the contractions come, I sing. Not words. Just notes. “You’re a singer,” the nurse says gently, “Your voice is beautiful.” “Actually, no,” I smile in between pains, “only in labor.” Somehow it seems to help.
7:30 p.m. The nurse asks if I would like to try to get in the tub. I say, “yes.” The warm water feels surprisingly good. I sit. When the contractions come, I always say, “here comes another” and lean forward on my hands and knees while Tim massages my lower back and caresses me gently with his fingertips.
8:00 p.m. The contractions intensify. My singing turns to screaming, panting. In between, I pray aloud, “Lord, help me. Lord, you are good to me. Help me to trust you.” And I talk to the baby: “I love you, baby. I can’t wait to meet you.” And I say, “I’m scared, Tim. I’m so scared. I don’t know if I can do this.” But I know I can. I know the baby will be here soon.
8:15 p.m. My water breaks during one of my contractions. Blood oozes slowly into the bath water, tinting it red. I am on my hands and knees. The urge to push consumes my body. I give in because it is the only thing that I can do. I feel like I might explode or pass out. “Pant. Quick pants,” the midwife guides me. I try to breathe…and then I push. I feel the baby’s head, then the body…then a cry. I am in immediate euphoria.
8:30 p.m. My husband is holding her. He passes her through my legs, umbilical cord still attached. I hold her, mesmerized by the miracle. “She’s beautiful,” I say. “She’s here.”