Disclaimer: There is no way to put the experience of giving birth into words. It's indescribable. However, I think it is very important to try to put the memory into words to preserve it. Every detail sticks out to me- that's why this is so long. :)
Lovely. If there was one word to describe Maggie’s birth experience, that’s the word I would choose. Granted, there were moments of great intensity (more on that later), but now, nearly 2 weeks later, when I reflect on the experience, the overwhelming feeling is just how lovely and enjoyable the whole thing was!
Wednesday, January 9, 2013 I went to bed pretty early and slept well for hours. At 2:30am I woke up to go to the bathroom and was too uncomfortable to go back to sleep. Afraid this was just another in a long series of false alarms, I decided not to wake my husband, Jonny, but tried to rest on the couch, distracting myself by watching a show. At 4:30am, the contractions started to get more intense than they had in the days before. Instead of just pressure and tightening, they actually felt like they were creating change in my body. I was thrilled, but tried not to get myself over-excited in case they stopped again. I woke Jonny and he helped me work through contractions as I swayed on the birth ball while he reviewed laboring position videos from ibirth. We lit candles and went back to relaxing on the couch. At that point, the contractions seemed to slow a bit, and I was so scared they would stop. At ten days past my due date, I was ready for real labor! The contractions didn’t stop, and I tried to embrace each one, welcome the intensity and ask for more. As I had been with my first labor, I was in complete awe of what my body was doing on its own.
At 6:30am, our two year old little girl, Molly, woke up, hours before she would usually wake up! She wanted “milk-side” (morning nursing), which turned out to be very effective in increasing the consistency and intensity of my contractions. We then stayed in bed with her for almost an hour, cuddling and enjoying what we realized might be our last time with her as our only little girl. Finally, I decided I needed to get out of bed to cope with the contractions and we got up to make breakfast.
Around 7:30am we sent Molly across the street to our wonderful neighbors’ house to play with her friends. She was so excited to get to go play with them that she wasn’t sad to leave us at all, but I remember giving her a big hug and thinking about how grown-up she was getting.
Molly stayed at their house for about two hours until we decided that these contractions were probably turning into real labor. The pattern wasn’t always consistent, but they weren’t stopping. In between, I would doubt that it was actual labor, but then a contraction would knock my socks off! We called Molly’s grandparents to come pick her up for the rest of the day (or however long labor took). They brought us food and took Molly home with them.
We continued to enjoy laboring together, using the birth ball, the bed, the bathroom, the kitchen counters (loved the height and stability of the kitchen counter- it was ideal!), etc. Around noon we let the midwife know that we thought we’d need her to come, but not for a little while still. We ended up having her come around 2:45pm, which was when the snowstorm really started. It was so nice not to have to worry about driving anywhere as the snow came down harder and harder.
When Rebecca, our midwife, arrived, she set up her supplies, took my vitals, listened to the baby, and helped fill our birth pool. The contractions were still manageable, but felt very productive. In between contractions I was able to enjoy chatting with Jonny and Rebecca. I was still excited to be in labor, but had to work a bit more to relax through contractions. At some point, Rebecca offered to give me an herbal mixture (cohosh)or break my water to encourage things along faster, but I felt like everything was happening at just the right speed and I wanted to let my body do what it was going to do as long as things were going well. In the end, I was able to birth my baby with no interventions- I didn’t even have vaginal exams because everything was going well and I didn’t feel like it would be helpful/necessary. I felt so fortunate to be supported by Jonny and Rebecca, who both trusted my body, the birth process, and kept a watchful eye on us for safety. I knew in their hands I didn’t have to worry but could totally give in to what my body was doing.
Around 4:30 or 5pm, I got in the birth pool and the warm water felt amazing. The contractions seemed to spread out just a little bit, but were very intense when they came on. I started to feel pressure and knew that before too long I’d be ready to push. After one more trip to the bathroom, I settled again into the tub and started to feel a bit “pushy” through contractions. I started talking aloud to my baby, letting her know that I was ready to meet her, and I was ready to be DONE…done with pregnancy and done with labor, that I just wanted to hold her and be done. This is where I got pretty pathetic..and pretty noisy J.
I was so overwhelmed as I went to pick her up I didn’t realize I was kneeling on her cord, so I had to reposition myself and I sat back as I lifted her out of the water to my chest. Her cord was pretty short, so she just barely reached my chest. I held her in the water with a warm towel and her daddy and I just admired her and told her how happy we were to meet her. It was just such a lovely, perfect moment. Her eyes were closed, so we turned off the lights and she opened them to look up at us. She snuggled right into my chest and immediately attempted to latch on.