written by Dohiyi Mama
I perpetually hear my little girl crying when she's not. Isn't that weird? I'm pretty sure she's not right now, so I'm taking a trip down memory lane and writing about her beautiful entrance into the world. I feel the need to share this with the world, as no one ever really asked me about my labor, since no one in my family or family in law (except for my mother) has any inkling about natural labor and birth. This hurt my feelings badly, especially when my cousin in law came to visit, and my sister-in-law, who barely spoke to me about my birthing experience, nearly drowned her in questions. "You were induced? Who was your doctor? You had an episiotomy, right?" So, this is to some one who cares. I want some one to hear my story.
For the entire evening of February 17th, 2010, I was in labor. I didn't know it, but the contractions I was having were the real deal. It was my father-in-law's birthday, so I remember my husband calling me from work and begging me to go to the store and pick up things to make a cake. My reply? "HAHAHA. I'm not getting out of this tub, buddy. I sure hope when I'm really in labor you don't need me to make a stupid cake!"
I got absolutely no sleep that night, and therefore was exhausted for my 10 am appointment with my midwife. I was tempted to cancel, but was partly curious to know if I was dilated any at all.
So on the 18th, off we went. My checkup results were not good- ketones in my urine (from apparently not eating enough, even though I had eaten that morning before we left), high blood pressure, and gained eight pounds in a week (I was retaining fluid at this point in my ankles and legs). My midwife urged me to go home, eat a healthy meal and get some sleep. Right before we left, my husband reminded me to ask her to check me (this was the first time I'd had to 'drop my bottoms,' and I was nearly 39 weeks pregnant- just one of the things I loved about my midwife). I was indeed dilated 2-3 cm and 50% effaced. I started to get excited, but my midwife quietly reminded me that it still could be weeks before the action started. She encouraged me to go home and rest, since I hadn't gotten any sleep the night before, and "if I went into labor that night with no rest it could be bad." So we left, still excited.
We got home, and lo and behold, the stupid fight about the birthday cake commenced again. My husband was again begging me to make a cake, and I was vehemently refusing and insisting that I take a nap. We ended up having a huge yelling match about it in the kitchen, and I finally stomped to the bedroom and tried to sleep. It was about an hour before I got up after hearing various sounds of frustration coming from the kitchen. My husband had tried to make a cake himself... I felt bad for him, but this was truly hilarious. He had made two round layers. One had come out of the pan alright, but one had stuck badly. He tried to piece it back together, without cooling it at all, and then tried to cover it all up with cream cheese frosting. The frosting was melting, and had chunks of cream cheese sticking out where he hadn't mixed it properly... My husband was SO upset about it, as he was overtired too, so I tried to comfort him while hopping up and down since I had to pee so bad. Finally I said "wait just one second!" and ran to the bathroom. It was there I discovered my mucus plug. I screamed, half grossed out and half excited. My husband immediately called the midwife 20,000 times until she called back. She instructed me to go back to napping, and reminded me that it still could be days before it was time.
I reluctantly got back into bed, and naturally couldn't sleep. I gave my husband a list of things to do around the house just in case it was time, and tried to relax. Thirty minutes later, my water broke. I went to screaming again in excitement, and even managed to quote Juno when her water broke! "Baby! Either I just peed my pants, or THUNDERCATS ARE GOOOOO!" I went running for the tub, trying not to get the bed or floor wet. I was squealing "we're gonna have a baaaaby!" and my husband was saying, "I could be a dad tonight? I could be a dad before midnight?! But I didn't do anything on the list!"
I started waddling around getting stuff together while hubby called the midwife. While all this was going on, I never had a single contraction. I called my mother and said, "Mom, my water broke!" She said, "It's time! Come on over!"
I cannot describe to you how excited we were.
We got to my mom's around 6pm. I had my first contraction as we pulled up. It was easy, no problems there. I ate some toast with my mom, got on Facebook, and just chilled. Things started getting harder around 7:30. I remember falling to my knees, and staying on all fours and breathing through the pain. It was around this time when I made my final facebook update before disappearing from cyberspace for 9 hours.
My husband and mother prepared the bedroom. Plastic sheet, plastic on the floor, ect. They talked with me, and kept the mood light.
By the time my midwife arrived, I was in real pain. My mom had suggested I get in the tub, and that's where I was when my midwife walked in. I was laid back with my head on an inflatable pillow, ensconced in warm deliciousness. My midwife asked me "How are you doing, Christa?"
Now my midwife is the best in my area, and has been delivering babies before a licensing program for midwives ever existed. That being said, she has the sweetest, softest and most comforting voice I have ever heard. When she asked me that, I almost burst into tears and said something like, "It hurts."
Everything is kind of a blur after that. I got in and out of the tub many times. I always said I would NOT give birth naked, but after about the 5th time of getting out of the tub, I said the hell with clothes. We used a heating pad briefly, which helped a little with the pain, and put my husband to sleep next to me promptly. I remember, not long after my midwife arrived, asking my husband for my music, a CD titled Swimming with Dolphins. He was almost scared to tell me that he couldn't find it on his iPhone, and called his dad to get it and bring it.
By the time my father in law arrived, I was past the point where any music could help. I really, really wish I had had it though for those few moments where it could have helped. As soon as FIL got there, my husband disappeared into the kitchen. I could hear them talking and laughing noisily, and then heard a very loud voicemail blaring from a cellphone. My midwife looked distressed at this, and I nearly screamed to the hall for them to "freaking be quiet, I'm having a BABY!" My midwife quietly agreed with me, and my husband quickly returned.
As things got worse, I was trying every position I could think of. I know it sounds silly, but I kept thinking over and over again that there must be some position that I was missing that would relieve the pain. All fours helped the most. The tub helped too. It was so nice that I was almost falling asleep between contractions, but when they came roaring back, I was starting to get vocal... okay, I was yelling. A lot.
3 am rolled around, and I was almost afraid to ask my midwife to check me. She had checked me once before when she had first arrived, and I was only 4 cm. This fact had about crushed me, since I thought I was doing so well. It took us a long, long time to find a point between contractions for her to check me, but when she did, I was 99.9% dilated and 100% effaced. Just a lip of the cervix remained over the baby's head (later I was told that the baby was not in the right position to be born, and this was why I could not fully dilate, and also why my labor was one continuous contraction towards the end). I went and sat on the toilet, hoping that the baby's head bearing down would help. Let me tell you this: sitting was AGONY. The contractions were so powerful I had to get up. I climbed back on the bed, while mumbling something to my mother about "look how low the baby is now." I laid down on my right side, which was a horrible idea, and got stuck. The contractions were so bad I literally could not move. All I could do was lay there and moan with pain. My midwife sat down next to me and rubbed my back, and said softly, "Christa, this is a very difficult position..." I almost yelled, "I know! I can't move!" She asked quietly again, "Do you feel like you need to push?" And she checked me again. I really didn't, and I told her so. She then informed me that the lip of the cervix was still there, and I announced loudly that I didn't care, I was pushing. I didn't know it then, but she manually pushed the cervix back, and my two hours of pushing began.
Now the pushing was my favorite part. It made me feel like I had some measure of control over the pain, and like I was getting somewhere with all of this. They didn't tell me at the time, but my husband and mother said later that much of my pushing did not yield any results, and they all were terrified that I was going to be too tired to go on. Kudos to them. I never picked up on that, even when my mother started feeding me honey in hopes of giving me more energy from the sugar rush. I remember my midwife trying to get me to drink some water (all I could think was who the hell wants food and drink at this time???), checking the baby's heartbeat (she was fine), and checking my blood pressure, which was an alarming 190 over something (alarming to me, anyway). My midwife was in full action now, holding warm cloths on me and applying olive oil, both of which felt wonderful and helped the baby come down more.
I pushed pretty much non stop for those two hours, because I had no choice. I never got a break from the contractions, and I had no choice but to push when I felt them. I remember getting through a contraction with my mom and my husband holding back my legs as I sat up and pushed. They'd let go as soon as I started to breath again, and I'd freak out screaming, "No no no don't let go here it comes again!" My poor mom was so sore the next day from having to hold onto me for two hours.
I kept asking repeatedly, "Can you see the head? Can you?" Neither my mom nor my midwife would answer, so my husband lied to me, bless his heart. "Yeah, yeah I can see the head, baby." And of course I had to press my luck and blurted out, "Does it have hair?" He looked confused, looked at my mom, and said, "Uh, I can't tell yet." I still bought it. Maybe half an hour later, my husband looked excited and said, "It does have hair, baby!"
I was getting so tired, and my midwife was helping me press on, telling me when to take a break, when to push, when to breath. Once I looked at her and said, "Miss Tavish, how much longer is it going to be?" She smiled and said quietly, "I don't know, Christa..." "Lie to me!" I begged, "Say five minutes!" She never would lie to me though. As we neared the end and the baby began to crown, I kept incessantly asking if I was tearing. I guess this was a fear of mine, though I had never thought of it before then. My midwife, mother and husband reassured me I was completely intact.
When my baby's head slowly emerged, I screamed like I've never screamed before, and it was like I had no control over it, but I was so happy because my midwife kept saying "Yes, yes, yes, Christa, that's it!" I remember going "ooooooooooh... FUCK!" I was so embarrassed afterwards, because my midwife is pretty well-to-do, but no one judged me, thank goodness. My mom didn't even slap me. :)
Once my baby girl's head came out, I gasped, "Oh my god, Miss Tavish, just pull it out!" She quietly replied, "Christa, I can't..." Then, all at once, I felt her little squirmy body come slipping out, with a little kick of her foot, as if she had self-propelled herself into my midwife's hands, at 3:45 am, on February 19th, 2010.
I cannot describe to you how wonderful it felt for that baby to be out. I fell back on my pillows. All I could think was, oh god, it's over. It's over. It's finally over. I almost forgot there was a baby for a moment, I was so relieved. A second later, I sat back up, and caught my first glimpse of my darling girl.
She was tiny, and dark, and beautiful. My husband looked confused, and later told me since her little parts were so swollen he couldn't tell if it was a boy or a girl. My mom couldn't hold it in anymore and exclaimed, "Oh, it's a girl!" I knew it had to be, since the one little cry she had made had sounded so very feminine.
Even so, I was surprised, and all I could say was, "Look how dark she is..." My midwife asked me what her name was. "Oh, it's Anna!" I murmured. My husband and I had argued over what name we would give a girl, but I was in no mood to argue now and promptly chose the name he had wanted. "Talk to her!" My midwife urged us, and I began quietly speaking to my baby. My husband is a huge jokester and can't hardly take anything seriously, and everything he does is usually funny, just like this. He stuck his face next to hers and, in a comical tone, simply said, "Hello."
My midwife asked if she could lay the baby on my tummy, and I exclaimed, "Oh yes please!" Anna, covered in a receiving blanket with a little hat on, lay on my stomach, eyes wide, with her hand in her mouth. I have a picture of this, and it is so adorable.
I could hear my mom sharing the news with my father and father in law in the hall, and then heard my dad say, "We wanna see the baby! We're not calling anybody until we see the baby!" My midwife said no visitors until the placenta is birthed, and thankfully, I pushed once, and out it came.
After this, I started shaking uncontrollably. My mom said my muscles had run out of glucose, and started feeding me honey again. My dad came in and expressed concern over how white and shaky I was, so my mom gave me some soup. It was the most delicious soup ever. :)
Anna latched on easily with some instruction from my midwife, and I was so happy she was able to eat. I just lay there, looking adoringly at my daughter. Then I noticed my husband looking less than happy. He said quietly, "I wanna hold her." Once she finished, her daddy gathered her up into his arms and rocked her in the recliner next to us. One time she started to fuss, so my husband stood up and announced, "I'll be right back, I gotta go calm her down." It was so cute and so... fatherly. :)
By this time I was feeling afterbirth pain, and said almost fearfully, "Is it still supposed to be hurting?" My mom assured me it was normal, and offered me an herbal pain reliever, but I denied it. "Oh, I just had a baby, this is nothing."
My midwife soon weighed my little girl and dressed her, ect. She was only 4 lbs, 12 ounces, and 18 inches long. I still don't remember her Apgar scores, because my midwife never said them aloud. I think she didn't want me to put much stock in them, or want me to worry if they weren't maxed out. I have the paperwork somewhere... The whole time was was being dressing, Anna kept gagging, so I asked what was wrong. My midwife laughed and said she kept trying to suck her fingers and kept getting choked.
My midwife checked me out next, and nope, no tears, to my relief. I was fine and completely intact. She stayed until 7:30 am, talking with us and giving us instructions and making sure everything was okay. She left us while both Anna and my husband were sleeping. I was too excited to sleep. I just sat there and looked at my gorgeous family. I took some pictures, send some text messages, made a facebook update, ate some more soup and eventually slept, all on my own time, and nobody bothered me unless I wanted them to.
What a beautiful, liberating experience my birth was. One would think I would dread giving birth again because of the pain and the exhaustion, but to tell you the truth, I can't remember the pain now. Unbelievably, I can't wait to give birth again. Never had I felt so happy, so strong, so confident, or so alive. I remember, minutes after giving birth, saying to my mom so assuredly, "I think I could do that again."
My little girl is now almost 5 months old, nursing like a pro, and the absolute apple of my eye. Her entrance into this world is my most favorite memory. :)