Welcome to the world, Steven Edward. This is your story.
It was Mother's Day, the day after my due date. I spent the morning in church, listening to men, women, and children tell stories about their mothers. It made me wonder what memories you might share about me someday. I wondered about the long road that lay ahead of us, the journey that would begin with a labor and a birth, so special to me, yet so normal in the span of Man's existence.
I didn't know when you would be coming, but I assumed that the time was close. I couldn't help being nervous. Was I strong enough to do this again?
After church we watched a movie together, crossing our fingers that your sister would fall asleep for a nap. Finally, she dozed off and your father and I snuck out to the living room to finish our movie. It was 3:10 pm and I had just finished an otter pop when I shifted my hips and my water broke!! Water started pooling between my legs while your father ran for a towel. There was so much that it spilled over onto the carpet while he was on his second run. Once everything was under control, we just stared at each other. I don't think either one of us had ever expected my water to break without any contractions.
I was extremely nervous. All I could think about were the stories I'd heard of how much worse contractions felt without your water bag. Yikes. I chewed on my nails and googled while I sat on a towel. Your father texted Dianne, the doula. I called my mom. Eventually my father-in-law came over to help give me a blessing. I cried at first, but was soon overcome with comfort and reassurance.
We grabbed some Arby's and headed over to my your Aunt Becca's house. I couldn't eat much, not even the delicious peanut butter bars that she made for me. I wasn't in any pain yet and I was unsure if I was even having contractions. We left their house around 7:30 to get Clara and the house prepped for what we expected to be a long night.
The midwife, Wendi, stopped by to check me at 8:30 pm. My mom and grandma arrived a few minutes before her. She listened to baby's heartbeat and checked positioning. She gave me some herbs to take if contractions didn't start, but she was positive that she would hear from us before 3:00 am.
We put Clara to bed and everyone tried their best to rest. I closed my eyes around 10:00 pm, but I couldn't sleep. At 11:00 pm I started to wonder if I had had a few contractions. They felt like braxton hicks and only came every 15-30 minutes. I then started to worry that I would never go into labor and became much too anxious to fall asleep. Sometime amidst all this wondering and worrying, I noticed that I was having contractions!
At 12:45 am I started timing contractions. They were all 0:50-1:30 in length and 4 minutes apart. Dianne, who must have great intuition, texted me at 1:00 am. I was unsure when I should head in to the birth center, as I didn't want to arrive too early. I did most of my laboring in my bedroom, on the birth ball or walking around. I had to move my hips and breathe deeply through each contraction. Your father and Grandma were with me at this point. Anson was totally calm and playing on his computer. Your grandma was worrying that I would have you right then and there!
I did really well handling the contractions, though every third or so contraction hurt much worse than the others. At one point my doula told me to try to rest on my side in between contractions. This caused a 9 minute gap in contractions and then when one hit, I was writhing on the ground in pain. Needless to say, I didn't lay down again!
At 3:19 am I texted Dianne that I thought I was ready to head in. The contractions were still 4 minutes apart, but were getting stronger. As soon as I had a contraction with a double peak (2:30 long!), I knew I shouldn't wait much longer.
We woke up your grandma and loaded into the car. I was shivering as I got inside. (I wondered if this meant transition, but I told myself it was just nerves!) Your father was driving like a mad man, so fast that Grandma was getting sick and had to ask him to slow down. I was taking the contractions one at a time, moving my hips with each one and focusing on keeping my hands totally relaxed.
We beat the midwife to the birth center by a few minutes. When she parked I was pacing the parking lot, in the middle of a contraction. By now they were 3 minutes apart. She opened the door and we said hello. At this point I still felt pretty normal between contractions.
Once in the room, I got the shivers again. I stopped timing contractions at 4:03 am. Wendi started to fill the tub. She then checked the baby's heartbeat and my vitals. I walked and danced with my contractions. With each one I would take inventory of all of my body parts that weren't in pain, especially my feet that somehow continued to move my body along. In between contractions I would run my fingers along different pieces of furniture. (Everyone laughed about it afterward, but in the moment it really helped to keep me grounded!)
At 4:30 am Wendi asked if she could check me. I consented after she promised me that I would be "far enough along." I was afraid to lay down (and take a contraction in that position), but she was quick and announced, "8 cm!" I was relieved!
After that, I got into the tub. I wasn't sure if it eased the pain, but I felt okay, so I decided to stay and give it a shot. I sat on my knees during the contractions while Anson put a cool cloth on my neck. I also started to move my head in circles during contractions. My mom switched with your father and started tickling my back. Suddenly I felt a downward pressure/motion within me and I said quietly, "Oh my gosh." I didn't say or do anything else, because I thought I might have imagined/wished it. With the next contraction or two, I started to feel a bulge. I could also feel that I was slightly open. I stayed on my knees, put my left arm along the back of the tub, and felt down below with my right. The next contraction had me crowning involuntarily (4:58 am). I gave a little test push and felt a lot of stretching, so I backed off and waited. I started talking (in my head) to you at this point, telling you to work with me to not damage my perineum. The next contraction, I almost had you out, but again, I just let myself stretch and took my time. The next contraction, I heard the midwife say something about backing off, so I started whispering, "back off, back off, back off," but it was too late, because your head popped out!! (Your father and grandma had no idea that you were that close, until they saw your head appear!) I spulled my right leg forward into a kneeling lunge to wait for the rest of your body. At that point I felt great and was able to look up at everyone and ask if you were okay underwater. They said, "Yes," so I sat back a little bit and waited for the next contraction. (I also asked if your eyes were open underwater. Haha! I remember thinking that it was so weird to feel so good with a baby's head hanging out of me!) The last contraction came and I was momentarily surprised that I needed to push a little bit to get your shoulders out. I gave a tiny push and you emerged, born into my hands at 5:02 am.
Everything was so clear and calm. I didn't cry. I just looked down into your beautiful eyes and tried to memorize the moment. My mom was crying. I eventually moved your towel aside and let Daddy see and announce your gender (a boy!) and he began to cry (he wanted a boy so bad!). I felt amazing, so confident, so powerful, so much older. I hung out in that position for a little while and was able to examine the cord and feel it pulsing. I remember being surprised at how clear the tub water was.
The midwife cut the cord and I eventually asked to get out of the tub. Your daddy held you for the first time and I was helped to the bed. I was so happy, but so exhausted; I just wanted to lay on the bed for a few minutes while everyone took turns meeting you. Eventually the placenta was expelled and my stomach was massaged, which was not pleasant! Thanks to our patience in the tub, I escaped without even a scratch. (Awesome!) They brought you back to me and I was able to try breastfeeding. You latched on the right side and nursed for about 20 minutes.
I was cleaned up by the nurses and the midwife showed me my placenta. Then the three of us were left alone to spend some time together. After pains were horrible and I asked for ibuprofen. The cramps were so strong that I couldn't think straight enough to figure out your middle name! Daddy was pretty set on his choice, though, and I was happy, because I always knew your first name would be Steven.
I tried to take a nap, but the room was way too hot and I couldn't relax, anyway, so I called you all back into the room. We had our vitals checked a few times, weighed (6 lbs. 10 oz.) and measured (20.5 inches), and we were discharged at 10:00 am. I didn't feel like I'd just given birth. My back and hips were a bit sore, but that was it!
I felt (and feel!) so lucky and so blessed to have had a perfect birth and a perfect son. I was scared to give birth again, but it was even better the second time around. With your sister I felt pure ecstasy and relief. With you, my son, I felt a confidence and a power in myself that I had never before felt. You changed my life by showing me that I really do have the strength and love of a mother.