|Fred and me at 39 weeks. Love those cell phone shots!|
The night before you were born I did a very silly thing. Your dad and I were watching a show, (Downton Abbey, in case you're interested), and decided to watch one more episode. The episode was entitled "Christmas at Downton", and so I thought it would be a regular Christmas special, about 20 minutes long... It turned out to be almost an hour and a half long, and we didn't get into bed until after 1 am.
I took the risk of staying up that late because I had been having timable contractions for about a month, and you hadn't decided to come. So I had declared to myself that I wouldn't anticipate it anymore, I would pretend we were going to be bosom buddies forever!
I fell asleep quickly, but slept very fitfully. I kept semi-waking, feeling uncomfortable. I assumed in my drowsy brain that I needed to use the bathroom, but I kept slipping into sleep again. Finally I got up. It took only a few minutes before I realized why I'd been so uncomfortable: I was having some very motivating contractions. I sat there through a few powerful ones trying to decide if I was hallucinating. I think I was there for half an hour before I decided to come out and wake up your father.
I realized at that time it had only been and hour and a half since we gotten to bed. I felt so alive and energetic, though. I woke your dad, and we laid in bed and smooched for a while. We were thrilled we would be meeting you soon.
Pretty soon the contractions were a little too uncomfortable to be lying down, so we got up and called Richelle.
Katy, Richelle's assistant, got here first. Richelle and Sharla, Richelle's other assistant, arrived a little later. I just need to express how much I love these women. They each did specific small things that really stand out as making this journey so lovely to look back on. They are wonderful!
My contractions were about 4 or 5 minutes apart, and were easy enough to integrate at first. It was a real change being able to have conversation during labor. (My water broke first with George's, and so it was quite intense from the start really.) I was able to joke and laugh, it was really nice.
I spent that time walking around the kitchen, pausing here and there to hold a chair during a contraction. Little by little my energy began to fade, and it became a little harder for me to be around the people who were present to give support. I retreated to the bathroom, turned on the fan to drown out any noise, and leaned over the sink. Sometimes I held onto the towel rack.
I had gotten into a rhythm of swaying my hips from side to side, and that released some of the intensity of the contractions. And I even found myself dozing off as I leaned over the sink. After some time I ventured out, but the buzz of conversation was too much for me on some mental level. I walked into a bedroom nearby and found a bar in the closet that was just the right height for me to hang from. It was so relieving! So for a while I went back and forth from leaning over the sink in the bathroom, to hanging in the closet of the room next to it.
After having so little sleep, my energy was waning, and it was becoming harder to integrate the contractions. I began to pray for more strength. And soon I was praying more earnestly that the time to push would come.
My midwife and I had discussed before hand that I did not want to be told how and when to push. I believe so strongly that the body knows instinctively when this should happen -- a woman does not need to be told, save in very rare circumstances, when she should push. It is so empowering and much easier on the body to allow the body to take control at that point.
After saying those prayers, I strayed out of the bathroom into the kitchen. Your dad walked in and just smiled at me. I love him so much! We kissed during a few contractions, which was so nice and grounding. I cried a little as I told him it was getting a little difficult. The contractions were so strong at this point. He told me that Richelle had mentioned she could check my dilation, and if it was alright, break that bag of waters you were in. It could help speed things up. I felt instinctively that was the answer to my prayers that I would be able to push soon.
I came into the front room, where everything was set up, and Richelle asked me to lean over our yoga ball as she made her assessment. I was dilated 7cm, and our bag of waters was sagging through my cervix, (I intentionally call it 'our bag of waters', since it was part of both he and me). I'm not sure how it works, but Richelle told us that can slow dilation. I'm so grateful for a loving God who heard my prayers, and for a midwife who was the conduit through which he was able to answer.
Richelle ruptured the bag of waters, and the contractions came on strong. I have heard, and truly believe, that having a grateful heart makes labor and birth a nicer and faster experience. So I stood holding Richelle's hand on one side, and your dad's hand on the other, swaying and chanting all of the things I was grateful for.
Richelle sang you a nice song at one point. "Come baby. Come.", were the words. It was so soothing to me.
I am much more comfortable standing in labor, but something came over me to kneel. I knelt leaning over the yoga ball, and asked if we could say a prayer. Your father offered a lovely and short prayer for me, for strength, and again that I would be able to push soon. I was so tired by this point.
Directly after that prayer I recognized changes in the contraction -- slowly I realized my body was preparing to push.
I didn't say say anything to alert anyone it was happening. I remember thinking to myself that Richelle would know, because she is so good at reading a laboring mother's energy. And she did. She quietly knelt near me, and had your dad come to where he could catch you.
It had only been a half hour from the time Richelle had ruptured the waters, to the time you came. It was so nice, and actually felt good to allow my body to just push with each contraction. I didn't really even have to bear down, as they say, my body was just doing this amazing thing!
I could feel you making your way down slowly. I was praying, and praying the whole time. (God is really with a laboring woman.) Your dad proudly announced that you had lots of hair -- we now had two babies born with so much hair, you and your brother George. It was so good to hear about you as you were emerging!
Then your head was out, but you had such broad shoulders, you didn't rotate so the rest of you could slide out. I needed to stand. That moment is so intense, I thought that I couldn't. Katy and Sharla came to each arm and helped me stand, and move my legs to give you more room. And then again, they helped me to kneel. And with a mighty push, and some great warrior noises, you were born! Your father caught you, and told me that we had another son.
And then, to steal a phrase from another mother's story, I was joy. It was so beautiful. You cried, which surprised me, because my first babe had been so quiet when he was born. But it was so wonderful to hear you as we met face to face.
Your face was blue, even for a newborn, from our experience of you having such broad shoulders. So I called you my little blue man.