Your “due date” (which you couldn’t have possibly known, so I wasn’t holding you accountable to it) was March 16th, 2011. It just so happens that my very first contractions started that morning at 6am. Now I hadn’t had any Braxton Hicks up to this point so I was pretty sure this was the start of my “practice labor,” so I wasn’t getting all too excited about anything yet…I stayed in bed and for the next 3 hours the contractions were steady at 10 minutes apart. At 9 I wake up because I was still working at this point (my plan was to work thru til that Saturday the 19th then stop) and start to get ready for work…the contractions start to space out to about 20 minutes so that tells me my thoughts that it wasn’t true labor yet were accurate.
So, I go into work and throughout the day have a few contractions in which I have to ask the client I’m working on to give me a sec, but nothing unbearable at this point. I go home for lunch to take a nap and when I wake up to use the restroom I see I have lost my mucous plug…this is good news- everything is moving forward- I’m one step closer to meeting you! I go back to work and decide to send the maternity leave email I had prepared out telling everyone I would be taking the rest of the week off. I finish out my work day and Daddy and I decide to go to church because I didn’t want to just sit around and wait for things to start- I wanted to be DOING things. At church we were timing my contractions on an app on the Iphone and they were varying from 6-10 minutes apart which is the closest they’ve been up to this point. We go home and go to bed and then the fun starts…
Like a good ole Cinderella story- the contractions start picking up at midnight and are getting more intense and closer together. (about every 5 minutes) I try to sleep thru them because I know you and I are going to be working really hard here soon and I want to be well rested, but by 2:30am I can’t sleep. I decide to get into the bathtub to make sure this is the real thing and see if things slow down or stay the same. The noise of the tub woke your Daddy up and he came to check on me...after relaying to him I think this is the real thing he decides to stay up in case I need him. We called my doula Jamie Hinton and my midwife Donnellyn Dominguez to let them know things had started and that we’d keep in touch with them as we progressed.
I stayed in the tub for awhile, while Daddy starts getting things prepared for the birth. Every contraction he would come in and rub my feet or hands to help distract me from the contraction. Once he was done setting up everything for the birth he wanders into the kitchen. A little while later I start smelling this awful smell making its way back to me…I yell at him and ask what could he possibly be doing at 3am to be making that smell?! Well, your Daddy was playing true to form and since he can’t just sit around and do NOTHING he decided to make all the chicken breasts we had in the fridge…NOT something a laboring mom wants to smell for the record. So what do I do?! I proceed to throw up in the trash can while in the tub. Nice! I usually hate throwing up but often times when a laboring mom throws up she dilates a centimeter- so in my head I’m like BRING IT ON!! He finishes cooking and I decide to get out of the tub and try some different positions. I walk around for a bit, get on my hands and knees, try the birth ball, etc. I decided I liked to be on my hands and knees. I’m drinking a lot of water and juice and ate an apple and about 10-15 minutes later my stomach decides it doesn’t need any food or juice for energy and you guessed it- I throw up again! (This happens one more time before Jamie gets here) At about 5:30am Aaron asks if I want him to call Jamie yet, I felt okay at that point but she lives about an hour away and so I told him to go ahead and call her because I would probably need her soon.
All throughout my pregnancy I saw myself switching from the toilet to the shower during contractions…I don’t know why this is what I pictured but I ended up liking to be on the toilet a lot too…it probably has something to do with the fact that at the end of my pregnancy I was peeing every 5 minutes or so, so it was like a second home to me and I was comfortable there. That’s where Jamie finds me when she gets to the house. My contractions are ranging from 2-5 minutes apart and lasting from 45 seconds to 1 minute and 15 seconds. I start wanting counter pressure and massage on my low back and sacrum area every contraction. Your Daddy and Jamie were there for me every time and helped me get thru each contraction as they came.
At some point I decide I want some soup but we don’t have any in the house and I also realize I haven’t gotten the food for the midwife team yet so I have Aaron go up and get me some chicken noodle soup, and get a fruit and veggie tray and some other finger foods for the birth team. He comes home and makes me the soup and after 2 bites I’m tasting pure salt (no offense babe but that was the worst chicken noodle soup ever!) and so my stomach rebels once again and up it comes. I’m getting pretty efficient at puking in a trash can by this point.
I’m not really aware of the time at this point and am moving around the living room for awhile…I end up back on the toilet and I hear a lot of noise coming from the front. I guess Jamie had called in my birth team a while back and all of them arrived at the exact same time. So I make my way up front to say hello to Donnellyn, Sue and Melissa (her assistants), Cindy and her 3 month old Ellington, (my chiropractic friend) and Lynsey Stone (my birth photographer).
I believe it’s about noon at this point and Donnellyn asks how I’ve been doing…we’ve told her about me throwing up 5 times and let her watch me contract for a while. Cindy sets me up on the couch to adjust me and of course I can’t just be a laboring mom- the doctor in me is telling her to check the left side of my sacrum and make sure she gets my round ligaments because they’re bothering me a bit- then I proceed to ask if my sacrum is bulging yet to try to get an idea of how far I’m progressed. Sometimes Chiropractors make the worst patients. My body didn’t like laying on my side so after the adjustment I reach for the trash can again and unsubluxate my stomach. Hey, by this point I’m at least 6cm judging by how many times I’ve thrown up if there’s any truth to the vomiting bit!!
Your daddy had filled up the birth pool sometime earlier and I had been getting in and out of that for awhile. I was in the birth pool when Donnellyn comes in and asks to check how far I’m dilated. I really didn’t want her to check me because I didn’t want to be disappointed if I wasn’t as far along as I THOUGHT I felt. But she convinced me to let her and she just wouldn’t tell me. So I get out of the pool and into the bed and she goes about her business checking me but we have to stop because I start having a contraction in the middle of the process. She gets back to it and when she’s done I hop back in the pool and continue with laboring. About 10-15 minutes go by (I think that’s accurate- I really have no clue at this point but I know it hasn’t been long) I feel like I’m in transition. I’ve been grunting and my moaning is getting deeper and longer and I feel like I have the shakes. So in my head I’m thinking sweet! Since I’m having these thoughts I decide to ask Donnellyn if my dilation was good, something I’d be happy with. She smiles and says “Oh yes sweetie, it’s really good.” So I’m thinking I’m at a 9 or complete so I ask her to tell me.
She says I’m at a 7 almost an 8 and I’ve got to admit I was a little disappointed but I’ve known births to go from an 8 to a 10 in 10 minutes so I didn’t let it get me upset. Little did I know, YOU weren’t ready to come out in 10 minutes….I’ve dozed off a couple of times between contractions the next couple hours and am still not pushing. A couple of times when I dozed off my face fell into the water and I remember looking around to see if anyone saw and was laughing at me. The things I worried about were funny looking back now. About 2 and a half to 3 hours later Donnellyn wanted me to get out of the pool and let gravity do a little work and try some different positions. They strapped a diaper on me and we went into the living room…No sooner did I get in there I drop to my hands and knees and have a contraction. After the contraction was over I turn and look over my shoulder and say “I’m going to need another diaper…” Yes I know you will probably laugh and make fun of me when you’re older but I messed my diaper while giving birth to you. As a matter of fact that wasn’t the only time someone from my midwife team had to clean up after me…later in the birth pool the fish net pooper scooper had to be used several times…I’m only telling you this to give this some comedic value and let you know birthing you had its funny parts too.
Back to the labor. I hang from your Daddy for a few contractions, then climb about 4 stairs a few times and then resort back to old faithful and get back on my hands and knees. Cindy was a dear and went and got me some non salty chicken noodle soup and I had a few bites of that before she adjusted me again. After the last adjustment Donnellyn wanted to check me again because she thought I might be complete because for the past few contractions I’ve been involuntarily bearing down and pushing and she wanted to make sure there was no cervical lip or something in the way. So I lay down in the middle of the living room floor and get checked for the 2nd time to hear Donnellyn say “Alright sweetie you’re at a 10 and complete! We can go start pushing whenever you’re ready!”
In my head I’m thinking “Sweet, lets get this party started.” I also couldn’t wait to get back in the pool…it was sooo much better than being outside of it having contractions. It’s about 4:55 or 5pm at this point and we head back to the bedroom. I hop in the pool and when I feel the urge to push I go for it. I ask Donnellyn to put counter pressure on my perineum, which she does every contraction. She tells me to take a deep breath and push while holding my breath and then another quick breath and push as hard as I can. There are several contractions where I feel like I have to push 4 or 5 times in a row. I started out pushing on my hands and knees and was LOVING it…until I hear a soft click click in the background and realize Lynsey is taking pictures. In my head I’m thinking, THIS is not my best angle and I don’t really want my birth slideshow to have an up close and personal to my derrière, so I hurry up and flip around so my pictures won’t be ruined. Looking back I have no clue how I was worrying about pictures at this point but I’m glad I was so you will be saved from seeing your Mommy’s tush swaying in the breeze!
I’ve been pushing for a while now and look around and ask no one in particular if they are sure I’m going to have this baby today or if it could be the next day…everyone said definitely today, but to me it felt like pushing you out was taking a crazy long time. Don’t get me wrong, I welcomed the pushing in comparison to the contractions…they were like a breath of fresh air. I also remember asking how in the world my friend Rachel, who just birthed Ezra a few weeks earlier, pushed for only 20 minutes and then had the baby?! It seemed impossible to me that it was that quick whereas I was going on about an hour and a half so far with you. A short while later Donnellynn tells me my water just broke…I didn’t feel a thing so I just kept going about my business trying to birth you. You were getting closer and closer to being here and Sue started to hold a mirror under water so your Daddy (who was helping hold me up behind me) could see the head start to come out. It happened very slowly in stages and when the time came to where I could feel the top of your head and hair I reached down and touched you for the first time. This is it, I tell myself. I’m about to be a Mommy to a little baby boy or girl. The feeling inside me is indescribable. I’m so looking forward to meeting you. Your head is coming out more and more with each push and I feel the “ring of fire” coming on when you are crowning. Even in that moment my head is extremely clear and I remember thinking that a couple of weeks before your Daddy and I joked that when I was crowning we’d start singing “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash.
I was also surprised that it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Everyone says it burns really bad and is extremely painful but it was just a little uncomfortable, especially since I knew in a couple of more pushes you’d be in my arms. Your Daddy went around to the other side of the pool to catch you when you came out and after the next big push I look down to see your head delivered. I was in awe. Donnellyn told me to breathe a few quick short breaths before I pushed again. The next push came and your shoulders and body slid from me into your Daddy’s waiting arms. It was a beautiful sight. The time was 7:18pm. Your Daddy held you under water for about 20 seconds to let you get accustomed to being outside my womb and then lifted you up and put you in my arms. I brought you to my chest and you pushed off of it and looked me in the eyes. My head falls back and I have the biggest grin on my face from seeing your precious little face and looking at how alert you are. You knew I was your mommy and we just worked together for 19 hours so we could meet and you pushing off of my chest to look me in my eyes was the perfect ending to such a long birth process.
I hear the midwives ask your Daddy what the sex of the baby was and listen to his reply “I don’t know, I didn’t look.” He was so excited to have you here he forgot to see what you were. So I then flip you over and the midwives announce “It’s a BOY!!” I knew you were a boy all along so it was no big surprise to me, but looking up and seeing the emotion on your Daddy’s face made me realize there are now 2 boys in this world that I can’t live without. Your Daddy is an amazing man. He was with me the entire time encouraging me and helping me bring you into the world. You are so lucky to have a Daddy like him.
I then get out of the pool with you so we can deliver my placenta which when I stood up I already felt bulging out. So I got into the bed and in 2 pushes the placenta was out (12 minutes after I had you) and I was officially unpregnant. As the midwives are getting the herbal bath ready your Daddy and I get to know you a little better and your Daddy cuts your umbilical cord. You are making some of the cutest faces already. You came out really wrinkly and kind of looked like an old man. You didn’t have any vernix left on you and your skin was peeling off your body especially your hands and feet. I asked Sue how my placenta looked because you can tell how healthy a mom was throughout her pregnancy by the look of the placenta and I wanted to make sure mine was good. She said it actually looked like it had a little calcification in it which that mixed with how wrinkly you were told us that we more then likely had our “due date” wrong and you were probably about 2 weeks “past due.”
You and I go and get in our herbal bath while Lynsey takes some more pictures of you. At this point I hold have you floating in the water and I look down and exclaim “Oh my goodness, his balls are HUGE!!” This got a laugh out of everyone from the birth team and Donnellyn said it was normal for your testicles to be a little swollen right after birth. We finished up our herbal bath and went back out to have you measured and weighed. You were 8 pounds 15 ounces and 21 and a half inches long. Your head and chest were 14 and a half inches around. No wonder it took me 2 hours and 5 minutes to push you out…you got your Dad’s big peanut head!! After all the measurements and reflexes were tested your Daddy put your first diaper on and dressed you in the clothes we had laid out. Sue went through all of our post pregnancy information and the midwives cleaned up and we all said a prayer together and then they left and it was just you, me and Daddy ready to start our lives together as a family of three.
Looking back now, (you are 1 month old as I write this) I wouldn’t have changed a thing. The whole experience…from pregnancy thru the actual birth was absolutely amazing and unforgettable. Knowing that you came on your own terms and when you were ready and that you were just as much of an active participant in the birth as I was and getting to have you at home in our bedroom was the perfect birth experience. Your Daddy and I love you so much Addox, and I hope one day when you read this it will be just as special to you as it was for me to write it and experience it.