She came a few days late. But I’ve always thought having a specific due date was kind of silly… so as far as I was concerned she was right on time. I woke up around 12:30 am February 26, 2014 to some practice labor, which by that point I was pretty used to. So I didn’t think much of it. It was also customary to pay a visit to the loo around this time every night so I did that. But the practice labor didn’t subside like it usually would.
My husband, as per usual, was sleeping like a log. Completely impervious to the world outside his dreams. So, I wrapped my legs around my body pillow that had become the intruder to our bed and tried to get comfortable and breathe my way through these surges (as the hypnobirthing method calls contractions). It helped. Then I realized that my husband was still asleep, and this must be labor.
I tried to wake Hummer. It took three tries and over the space of about 10 minutes he finally awoke with a start to “Hummer, I really need you to be awake right now” as I continued to breathe through surges that were now definitely early stages of labor.
We had planned and waited for this moment, and it was as surreal as surreal could be. Part of me thought this day would never come and I would be pregnant forever more. We had rented a birthing tub from our midwives, and I had planned on doing a water birth. So now that Hummer was awake he ran to the main house (we were renting a small house on his parent’s property at the time) and woke up D, our adopted little brother to help him get the tub out and bring it to our house.
The winter air was quiet. Everyone was sleeping. But I remember the life inside me and the turmoil that was beginning inside my body and starting to envelope my entire being.
While we are very grateful for the opportunity we had to live with my husband’s family for a time, there were some quirks about the house that must be explained. First, our water heater was such that you could not take a full 15 minute shower without turning the water off to soap up and scrub down. At least, not if you wanted hot water. The water tub, at this point, was completely empty. And as this was our first experience with real labor we had little idea of gauging how long it would be until the real action began. So, my husband, bless his soul, used what water we had in reserve and then spent most of the wee hours of the morning carrying a 5 gallon bucket to and from hot water spigots to fill up this tub. Little did we know at the time, that the cover was underneath the tub liner. Second, our house was about 600 square feet, 1 bedroom and was packed full, or so it seemed, of birthing supplies and dirty dishes.
So we called the midwives at 1 am and then at 3 am and then at 5 am telling them I was definitely in labor, but it was still pretty early and each time they said okay, well just try and get some rest and call us in a few hours. They had given us a sheet of paper so we could know the signs. I didn’t want to bother them too early so we just kept updating them every few hours. By around 6 am I felt like we ought to tell the midwives to come. Two of them came and checked my progress. I was only dilated to 3 cm, but the surges were regular and long. Until about 9 am.
Then? Nothing. Labor halted after that. It tapered off into quiet land. So the midwives left around 10 am and said to eat and drink normally and sleep as much as possible. I have to admit I was a little frustrated that labor just slowed off into nothingness. I wanted this baby out!
I returned to the uncovered, completely filled birthing tub and a laborless body. So we pulled out the futon, tried to organize the dirty dishes, ate breakfast, and took a nap. Or I tried to anyway.
I still felt surges come and go every 10 minutes or so. But they seemed puny compared to what I had experienced earlier that morning. By mid afternoon I had essentially given up on giving birth today and just decided I would be laboring for awhile.
Well, come 5 pm, the most interesting of hours, and just as quickly as it had stopped, labor began again. This time with an agenda. I’m not really sure why it took us so long to tell the midwives to come back. I guess it must have been a combination of me having no real concept of time, and underestimating the feelings I was feeling. By the time I was in heavy labor, on our bed…because the water tub water was around 80 degrees by then, which was entirely too cold… my husband kept asking me should we call the midwives? I kept saying, I dunno! How silly we were. Suffice it to say, we called the midwives and told them It’s time! My hair was a disaster…it had been clipped up, but the clip was lost in my wild mane of mess. I remember rocking back and forth in the polar bear position for what felt like an eternity. I was so exhausted, and so alive at the same time. Finally the midwives came.
It was probably around 9 pm. All the windows were wide open and the fan was on, it was the middle of winter and I still felt like I was about a million degrees. And I made sounds I didn’t know I could make. And I believe that oxygen makes all the difference to being able to handle the intensity of surges…I recall one that felt like it was about five waves of contractions that didn’t end. During it I thought if it never ended, I might cease to exist. But the beautiful thing about surges is that they always end, and they are cyclical, and every one you have is one closer to meeting your baby.
I had heard that moms in labor often start to say things like I don’t want to do this anymore, when they’re a few surges away from the head coming out. That’s exactly how I felt and what I said too. My waters broke somewhere around this time. And when her head finally came out, there was a relief through my body that no words can adequately explain. It is the practice of these midwives to wait and see, so while Peanut’s head was out they told me I could push the rest of her body out, but I just let the next surge shoot her out. While I was relishing in the brief relief, she moved her head around and started flailing her legs and arms, still half born half in utero. The sensation was the strangest thing I had ever felt…it tickled. And finally her tiny, slimy body slid its way out. She didn’t cry. She just coughed a little and started making these high pitched singing noises. The midwives said they had never heard anything like it before.
I cried. Half from bliss, half from relief. At 11:49 pm it felt as if time stopped. I told our daughter that she was the most beautiful creature I had ever seen, that we had waited so long for her to finally be here, that we were happy she was safe and healthy and strong, and that she smelled like a little slice of heaven pie.Looking back on it…I can’t remember ever feeling more powerful and more raw in my entire existence. And next time, I am definitely making sure the birthing tub is set up right.