August 13, 2012
11:07 PM – I can’t sleep through these contractions. Take note of the time. Could this be it?
For two solid weeks I’ve been experiencing “show” (which is why midwives refer to show as “a whole lot of nothing”). For a couple of weeks, cramping that kept me awake at night.
I start documents on my computer and fill random slips of paper with every little sign, little details about my day, anything that felt relevant.
August 14, 2012
12:09 AM – I get back up. Can’t sleep through these. Relocate to the couch where it feels cool. Prop myself up with pillows and begin to breathe and repeat the mantra I adopt: “Warmth, pressure, ooooopen….” . Remember to keep my lips loose.
Wake up to a balmy late summer morning, discouraged and heavy. 13 days past my due date.
All my other babies came early.
As illogical as it sounds, I feel that I will NEVER have this baby.
Glance at the bassinet beside my bed with longing and sadness. It feels almost like a grieving, as if I had been cheated.
I should be holding my little one by now.
6:30 AM – Take a bath. Musn’t be smelly if this is the real thing. Contractions slow. Take a nap (a “nap”? At 7 AM?).
Go for a walk with hubby, who has stayed home from work. I’ve been hauling my enormous belly around the neighborhood, feeling like a freak show, 2 miles a day, hoping it will loosen something up. Try not to think nasty thoughts about my neighbor, a woman who was due two weeks after me but who had her baby 5 days ago. Fake a smile when she tells me to “walk up that hill, that’ll put you into labor“.
Maybe if the only exercise you get is going from the TV to the fridge, I mutter to my husband through gritted teeth later. I hug him and cry a little bit, tired and discouraged. Contractions have petered out.
11:15 AM – Call the midwife back, and tell her NOT to come. Nothing’s been happening for hours. I feel foolish, like a little girl whose hand is caught in the cookie jar before dinner.
Use the bathroom…four times. Feel a tiny bit hopeful, as this is a sure sign for me, always.
11:45 – My husband takes Zoe to school. He had kept her home thinking that today would be the day. (She missed Ruby’s birth and we really wanted her around this time.) He goes to work. I feel relieved, not having people around waiting for me to go into labor, like a watched pot that never boils.
12:30 – Napping (again) with Ruby, woke up with a strong contraction. Get up, putz around. Nothing….
3:00 PM – Thankfully Ruby is napping too, as I need to concentrate now. My other children are with my Mom, so it’s just me in the house alone, for which I’m thankful.
I take a moment to write down 3 scriptures: Philippians 4:13 – “…for all things I have the strength by virtue of him who imparts power to me.” – 1 John 4:18 – “There is no fear in love.” – Jeremiah 1:8 – “Do not be afraid, for I am with you to deliver you.”
Put the piece of paper on my dresser so I can read it over and over.
Contractions begin again suddenly and take everything I have to manage.
Ruby wakes up, and I’m almost thankful because her presence forces me to act calm. I feel intense back pressure. It’s hard to stand up, I lean over my dresser and halfway squat a lot. Something powerful is pulling me, hard, towards the ground.
I grab the baby doll and look at it intently during contractions, reminding myself, often out loud, that “it’s a baby. That’s what this is. That’s why I’m doing this. That pressure is the baby coming.”
At this point I begin calling out to God, out loud, over and over. The contractions are coming right on top of one another and I can’t move or wrap my head around them.
Jehovah. Jehovah. Jehovah. Jehovah help meeee!! Hearing my own voice out loud seems to bring me back to reality.
4:30 – Somehow I manage to get my phone and call my husband. I breathlessly tell him to HURRY home. He calls the midwives and gives them the same message.
4:45 – Hubby is home and brings the pool, which was blown up weeks ago, upstairs to the kitchen. The contractions and pressure are so strong that I cannot use my legs. I pick up one leg and then the other, over and over, as if I were stepping on hot coals.
“…warmth…pressure…ooooopen….” I repeat at each contraction.
“… the baby’s coming… toooooo fast!…” I say to my husband, who comes in and out of the room to check on me. I grab him firmly by the shoulders and tell him, “Please remind me what I’m doing. Please keep telling me the baby is coming! And please don’t look scared.”
He reemerges and informs me the pool is full if I want to get in.
“I would love to… but I can’t walk!”
“Would you like me to carry you?”
The thought of him chivalrously carrying me to the kitchen, as ungainly and awkward as I am at my current weight, makes a funny image pop into my head and we laugh together for a minute. I’m thankful for the comic relief.
With his help I somehow crawl to the kitchen. The pressure is so intense, I cannot stand upright.
Rocking from side to side, gripping the sides of the pool seems to help. I know I’m wiggling the baby down.
A particularly strong contraction hits me. I lean forward and plant a long kiss on my husband, which seems to make things open up on the other end of my body and give me a little relief. (Must’ve been a good one, judging by the smile on his face.)
I know it’s only minutes away.
I’m vaguely aware of the fact that one of the midwives has arrived. They haven’t touched me yet, only standing back to let it unfold. I hear my parents and the kids. I don’t want the kids watching just yet. It’s taking everything I’ve got to keep it together, and I’m afraid I will lose it if they talk to me or touch me.
I hear this loud, undulating howl come from deep inside my throat. I can’t control it, and I’m not even sure it’s me. (My mom said later that it sounded like a Native American war cry.)
I reach inside and feel something soft and slimy … for some reason I don’t really understand, I crook my finger like a crochet hook and break it. I feel the baby’s head just past the waters as they rush out.
“Did you just break your water?“, asks my midwife with a raised eyebrow.
“Umm… yes… is that ok?“, I feel like that naughty girl again.
“Of course! It’s your birth, you can do what you want!” was the reply (or something like that).
My body curves into a “C” shape. Briefly, the image of our neighbor’s dog squatting on my lawn pops into my head, and I realize that must be what I look like right now. Again I laugh at myself and am thankful for a little levity.
5:30 PM -
Victoria Helen Willard, born August 14, 2012
I’m not exactly sure.
Perhaps because it took me 2 months to recover from the birth. Moms say they want a fast birth, but I would prefer to labor for 8 hours than 2.5! A fast labor compresses all the work into a short period of time and is more painful and intense. It was wonderful, but hard on me.
It was so short that it was hard to make any memories. I’m so thankful that I had the presence of mind to jot down brief notes on paper. For weeks after V’s birth, I would look down at her and think, “Oh… that’s right, you’re here!“. It was surreal.