It seems pretty likely that I’ll be having a baby today, July 4th.
3 AM – Contractions about 7-10 minutes apart for a few hours since I went to bed. They’re strong enough to keep me awake. Eventually I just get out of bed and did some laundry.
4 AM – Big Z wakes up. My getting up every 20 minutes to pee had awakened him. I don’t want him getting excited and losing sleep too early, so I tell him the best thing for him to do was to try to go back to sleep.
6 AM – We get up and go for a walk. It was cool out, there was a nice breeze. I have strong contractions and pressure, feeling the baby move lower and lower.
9:30 AM – My ex came by to pick up the kids for a few hours. It felt nice to have some quiet.
Big Z and I go to breakfast together. The place, Flying Biscuit Cafe, was full of people refueling after having run the Peachtree Road Race this morning. I was hoping to be fueling up for the marathon ahead.
11:00 – We decide to run to IKEA to buy a loveseat on sale.
1 PM – Back at home, I start timing the contractions. They’re 4-7 minutes apart, but only about a 3 on an intensity scale. They feel like strong menstrual cramps.
2:30 – Contractions coming 3 minutes apart. My mom and big Z are suggesting I call my midwife, but I want to make sure the contractions are regular first.
I put on my labor outfit: a Weezer t-shirt and a short maternity skirt that allows for plenty of movement but just covers my bottom when I drop to the floor during contractions. Zeke and I strip the bed and put the plastic sheet on it and the pillows and remake it. Zeke notices that some of the contractions are only 2 minutes apart.
3:00 – I call my midwife to put her on the alert. At this point I told my husband that it would probably be around 8 o clock when we would see a baby. He starts filling the birth pool with water.
It feels good to drop to the floor in a deep squat, rocking from side to side during contractions. Or I lean over and hold on to a chair to let my belly hang down.
It’s too bright in the room. I’ve never labored in bright light like this. It feels a little strange. I ask my husband to get some dark sheets and tape them over the windows.
Ah. That’s better.
5:10 – I call my midwife and ask her to come. According to my cell phone, the conversation lasted 14 seconds. I said breathlessly “They’re…. 3 …. minutes ….. apart” and that’s it.
Some of the contractions come one on top of the other. I don’t have time to recuperate from one before another comes. No time for conversation.
I hug my husband’s neck and hang from his shoulders during contractions. I can’t stand for anyone to touch my back, when earlier I wanted him or my mom to put pressure on my lower back. I’m vaguely aware that my Dad has arrived on the scene.
I’m beginning to feel like I’m in transition. A few tears come. The contractions are intense and I can’t get on top of them. I feel a little out of control.
I’m afraid of the pain that’s ahead. In my mind I’m wondering why this has to hurt so damn badly?
I tell my mom I’m scared. She reminds me that I’m strong and that I’m halfway there (I was actually way more than halfway!) She convinces me to get in the pool. I’ve been trying to wait until my water breaks, scared to get in too soon lest my contractions slow down, but at this point I would welcome that very thing.
My 7 year old daughter Ilana is lying on the sofa, moaning and complaining that her belly hurts. Later, when I’m pushing, I hear her making loud grunt pushing sounds. I think she’s trying to transfer some of the pain from me onto herself. The moment the baby is born, she makes an instant recovery.
I somehow find a quick second to lean down and kiss her and offer some comfort. Maybe her uterus is hurting like mine.
5:40 – I step in the pool. The water feels good but it doesn’t bring the relief I remember from my other births. Big Z kneels in front of me and I grab his hands and squeeze during contractions.
I am sitting upright. Being on my hands and knees, leaning over the side of the pool, crawling like a crab – none of those things feels good like in my previous births. I can only sit upright and push up on the side of the pool with my arms, like I’m trying to push away from the pain. I worry that I’m not relaxing, but I’m resisting the pain too much. But later I would find that it doesn’t matter. I’m moments away from giving birth.
6:00 – My midwife arrives. She tries to listen to the baby’s heartbeat. I don’t know if she ever did manage to hear it. I kept having contractions and couldn’t keep still. I realize her apprentice has also arrived.
I hear myself calling out to God for help. Zeke hears me and says a prayer with me. A few minutes later my dad comes over and does the same. I kiss my husband. I hear myself telling him, “I love you a lot you know. More than I let on.” More tears. From both of us.
Labor is so weird. You hear yourself saying corny things and making crazy sounds and you have no control over it. It just overcomes you. You’re aware of it remotely, as if you’re hovering above your body watching it. The pain keeps coming, centering you in the experience.
I want a nap. I say over and over, “Baby please come. Baby please hurry up. Come on, baby.”
I reach inside and feel something very soft and round. It’s the amniotic sack. I’ve never reached inside to feel for things during a birth before. I don’t know why I did that.
Debbie must notice me doing that. She asks if I feel the bag of waters bulging.
A moment later I feel a pop and a surge of water rush out of me.
“My water just broke.”
I feel tremendous pressure in my rectum, like the world’s biggest poop. I’m scared to start pushing. How can I be ready this soon? I just started. I don’t want to poop in the water. I feel embarrassed.I don’t want to poop in front of my new husband. I’ve never even peed in front of him.
I tell someone that I need to push. Or poop. Or something. Someone answers me.
It will be ok, go ahead and poop, remember how it was when Julien was born? We just cleaned it out of the water. I think it’s my mother talking.
I hear myself making those elephant noises that come from somewhere deep inside that only comes out when there is the intense power of a baby coming out of you. My throat opens up like the baby is coming out of there. It must be helping the other end open up.
A few seconds later I feel burning and stinging. Can I be crowning already? No way. I feel frantic. I see Debbie’s face. I tell her “The baby’s cooooming… It’s happening too faaaaast!”
She reassures me that it’s ok. That I’m doing great.
My Mom asks if I want the kids to come around to watch. They were on the other side of a screen we set up separating the pool from the rest of the living room.
“No!” I said. Everything was happening so fast and was so intense. I was afraid that I would lose my cool if they were watching.
I can’t be crowning already.
It doesn’t hurt bad enough. Maybe this baby’s small or has a small head. A little burning and stinging, then a little relief.
“Is the head out?” I ask someone.
“Yes” comes the answer.
Thank you God. The worst is over.
I didn’t even have time to get out of the water. I’ve never given birth in the water. My body always told me to get out during transition. This time, transition was over before I got in.
Her head hangs there for a moment between my legs. I hear Zeke making funny noises. He can see his baby and I can’t yet. I think he’s starting to lose it a little. The midwife asks him if he wants to catch the baby. He puts his hands on her but loses his cool. He asks her to do it. She talks to him for a minute which seems to reassure him. My mom sees the baby hanging there and comes closer. My midwife asks her if she wants to catch the baby.
I want to say, “Will SOMEONE please catch the baby?!” but don’t. I know she’s fine.
Zeke regains his composure and puts his hands back on our daughter as she comes out of my body. Somehow she gets into my arms.