Awaiting 2 babies this month as a doula and just attended a birth last week. All this new life has gotten me feeling a bit nostalgic. Here is a story a wrote a few years ago that chronicles my last birth.
Margalit's birth story. October 30, 2013. 38 weeks 6 days pregnant.
Labor was relatively short, sweet, and to the point. Nothing complicated.
4:23 Wake up from a deep sleep to "run" to the bathroom. This is my early morning ritual at 38 + weeks pregnant. Wait, am I feeling a contraction? Tightening? Yes. Cramping? Yes. Could be?
4:33 More tightening and cramping. I want to run back to the bathroom. Is this labor now?
4:43 Oh, my. More tightening and cramping. That's some strong cramping. 10 minutes apart. This is it! Now, 10 minutes-- this is early labor, right? But, these kind of hurt, so .... ???
Another? Now, it hasn't been 10 minutes already. Has it? What's going on?
4:53 More? Are we at 5 minutes now? Uh oh. Better wake Ricky and call the midwife (she's about 45 minutes away).
4:57 Another contraction? These are coming fast. 4 mins apart? Waiting for Charlotte, our midwife, to return my call. Ricky's up. I'm sleepy but start putting my stuff by the front door and running up and down stairs to add a few last minute items to my bag.
5:01 Break for a contraction. Yes, these hurt, but I don't want to stop moving the family toward the car. Nothing like racing up and down stairs to keep labor going. Although, actually, I don't need to keep anything going at this point. It's taking off. And the contractions I'm feeling are centered in my sacrum and bum. Really! Midwife said she thought baby was riding low at about a -1 yesterday. I could so use a booty massage, but there's nooooo time.
5:04 Another one? That was only 3 minutes since the last. Oh, sh***.
And the contractions keep coming. Very close together. How do I handle them? I proceed to throw some snacks in a bag for my kids to eat at the birth center. They'll need breakfast. I grab apple sauce, cookies, pretzels, whatever I can get already packaged from the pantry. No time to make sandwiches now. Charlotte finally calls. I tell her how quickly things are moving. I hope we can make it. This labor is not giving us a 14 hour early labor phase like the last one to ease into things and methodically get all our ducks in a row. Fortunately, this is #5, and I have some idea what to do. Regardless, I must be acting a little frazzled, so my faithful labor partner, Ricky, just tells me "don't panic." I'm trying not to.
5:36 These contractions are still every 3 minutes. Ricky, grandma, 4 kids, and I are in the van headed to Marshall, TX about 45 minutes away. Some of us are dressed, some still in PJ's. Grandma is telling us to just stay home and have the baby at the house because we'll never make it. She's anxious about this whole out of hospital birth thing anyway, so that's quite a statement coming from her. I have my doubts, but the midwife is on her way to the birth center, and we have the car loaded up. And, unlike with #3, we have my seat draped with a shower curtain just in case baby comes in the car. There are also chux pads and a towel on the floor board. We're going. By about 5 miles down the highway I really do wonder if we shouldn't turn around. I can deal with the contractions, but they are sooo strong. How will baby stay put 40 more miles? I really don't want to have the baby on the state line, 20 minutes from home and about 20 minutes from the birth center or a hospital or anything, though I could probably handle it if necessary. We keep going! My three year old is happily squealing "wheeee" as we drive down the highway. I'm not quite as happy-excited as she at this moment, though she does make me laugh.
5:58 Contraction ended. I call my sister to tell her we're in labor and read some Facebook posts. Odd but calming somehow. In between contractions I post my FB status (On our way to Marshall. Ctx 2 minutes apart!) and quickly email my other sister.
6:11 We get to Marshall. Only about 5 minutes to the birth center now. Contractions are now consistently 2 minutes apart and have been for about 15 minutes. Yikes! Finally, we arrive at the birth center, but I'm slow to leave the car as I have one whopping contraction that must have been at least 90 seconds long. Water hasn't broken yet, though, so I guess we're good.
Inside the birth center Charlotte checks me out. FHT's are good, so I can get into the jacuzzi. AHHHHHH. Now that's the way to have a contraction. Submerged in water. I figured this would be really good, but I never had access to a big, deep tub in previous labors.
Well, I labor in the tub for about the next hour. Everything is pretty calm, though Ricky and I notice that the contractions are getting longer. He times them at 90 seconds. I keep laboring-- breathing in through the nose and out forcefully through the mouth to keep my composure. I hear my kiddos all playing with their sitters, Lynn and Kevin, in the background. Occasionally, one comes to check on me and make conversation. They're showing me their Halloween coloring pages. Ana likes splashing water on my head. I love that my family is all about and that we are really free to do as we please. I believe that everyone knows and trusts me to just do my thing. Miranda and Charlotte (midwives) chart quietly and check the baby's heart beat from time to time. They also keep running back and forth with water buckets to get the tub water warmer. It's fine, but I could definitely use it a few degrees warmer.
7:30 ish The water is feeling a little cold for my taste. Should I stay in? Charlotte turns on the jets to keep the hot water circulating. I had recently started to feel some pushing sensations creeping up at the peak of the last couple contractions. I can't explain it, really; it just felt good to bear down lightly as the contraction got stronger. No one is telling me what to do; it's just pure instinct at this point. With the jets running full force and making quite a loud hum I start moving very deeply into my own space. My eyes stay closed now even between contractions. I sink into the water and move from hands and knees onto my side and kind of picture myself as a mermaid floating in the sea. I am soon feeling pushy. Minutes pass, and the pushing urges get stronger with each contraction wave. I suddenly feel something escape my body, but it isn't big enough to be the baby. I say something, and Charlotte says that my water bag has broken. Here we go!
Sure enough, the next contraction wave builds, and I bear down hard ... just a few times and out pops baby's head. A little relief but not total. Ricky is apparently serenading us with Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire." Very funny, but I am completely oblivious at that moment. The burning and stretching I feel are extremely intense, like I'm going to just split open. I don't like it, but I know the baby is right there, about to be fully born. I can so do this. The shoulders release with my final grunt, and then I relax as Charlotte catches the baby in the water and passes me my baby girl, Margalit. She feels divine.
7:47 She's beautiful. She's really perfect, and she has such very dark hair--she even has fuzzy shoulders! Surprise. What a miracle yet again. And before long her placenta is born. Alexander (7) asks about it. He remarks how it looks like a stomach. Others agree. The kids have been standing around the tub with their papa and grandma the whole time, watching everything unfold and capturing it on video. My oldest, Milena (9), agrees to cut the baby's cord, and Alexander (7) helps Charlotte place a ring on her umbilical cord. Everyone is talking and animated. I make my way to bed to get acquainted with baby and start nursing her. We get cozy under blankets and have a hot water bottle to help us warm up even more. Papa Ricky says a Hebrew blessing for our newest family member. All want to hold baby sister, especially Milena and Talya. Eventually, they and grandma all get their turn. It's hard to be patient.
My mom isn't with us or on her way this birth, but I look at the ceiling and wonder if she is watching from above. I don't feel anything dramatic at this moment, but a few tears do trickle easily down my face. The baby who is named after her really does look like her-- dark hair and olive skin. My mom's spirit must be here somewhere. Baby also looks like my husband, of course, so very different from my other 4 babies who all got my coloring.
I am perfectly well (absolutely no sign of hemorrhage and no stitching needed), and so is Margalit. She weighs in at 7 lbs 1 oz and measures 19 inches. Good size considering I never look more than 6-7 mos. pregnant by most standards. I'm enjoying her company, but after a couple hours my crew is ready to get back home.
11:00 We leave the birth center just a few hours after baby Margalit's amazing water birth-- only fitting of a Scorpio baby.
12 Noon Safe at home. Ready for a big blueberry pancake birthday brunch from my husband, Ricky. Labor really leaves me famished!