By Kristen, USA
The people mentioned: Curtis, Cassidy, Asher, and me. Charlie- my midwife, Alex – my doula (also a midwife), Lisa – a midwife assisting Charlie (she was also at Cassidy and Asher’s births), Mr. Carl and Mrs. Shirley – our landlord and his wife.
I started having regular, slightly crampy contractions on the 19th, Father’s Day. We’d spent the afternoon with Curtis’ family. I took a nap and then walked their yard several times. It was around then that my braxton-hicks got stronger and more frequent. I stayed up late that night and got Rank 10 Windurst in FFXI. I’d joked the baby was waiting on it. The morning of the 20th, my due date, the contractions were still coming. I was mostly in denial that it might be anything, because I’d had them get strong and frequent a few times before. I was also waiting on a show, since I’d had one with Cassidy and Asher, but I never had one with this baby.
We made a rushed trip to the grocery store before Curtis had to get to work. The contractions came even while out and about. I decided to call Charlie to let her know, just in case. She asked me to time them for a couple of hours. They were not regular, but still frequent and with a crampy edge. I called Charlie back and told her, and she said if this baby were like Cassy and Asher, I’d start labor in earnest tonight and have a baby tomorrow. I was very doubtful.
We laid down for a nap. I was really delighted that the kids slept longer than usual and I had my 45-minute relaxation tape and an hour of napping. When we all woke up I cleaned the house some and then we went outside. Cassy and Asher played while I walked laps around them. Right before going outside Mrs. Shirley had called to check on me and while outside Mr. Carl drove by and stopped to check on us. When we saw them after the baby came they joked that the walking must have worked.
I made baked potatoes for supper, which was very good. At some point in the evening I talked to Alex again, because she’d been in a store when I first called her. She suggested that I take a shower to relax to see what might happen. She also thought things might kick in with the night. I didn’t! But after getting the kids to bed I sat back and read some of my favorite birth stories from Spiritual Midwifery. I had been trying to take a hint from the book and just be really grateful for my pregnancy and everyone around me. At 38 weeks I’d been being grateful and thankful and had been having lots of pre-labor signs, but at 39 weeks I’d gotten uptight and complain-y and things had stopped. I’d realized this Sunday morning, and reflect that on changing my attitude, things began to happen again. If there’s one book from pregnancy and birth, Spiritual Midwifery is it.
When Curtis got home from patrol, I took my shower. In the warm water I prayed. I prayed that if this were it that God would be with Curtis, our birth attendants, our kids, and me. I braided my hair when I got out of the shower because I knew I wouldn’t want it in the way during heavy labor. I read a little in a novel before bed, and then went to try and sleep. I don’t think I really slept. The cramping was worse and I sort of drifted off between them, but I didn’t really sleep. Around midnight I went to the recliner and had the idea to time the contractions. They were around 5 minutes apart and 45 seconds each. I started having the runs and kept having to go to the bathroom. I decided to call Charlie. I had to wake Curtis to dial the number because every time I tried I had to go to the bathroom. Charlie said she was on the way and I called Alex. I spent the time between calling them, around 1:00am, and Alex arriving, going back and forth from the recliner to the bathroom.
Alex arrived around 2:45am, and after that my sense of time is gone. Alex checked my vitals and the baby’s and got Curtis working on the pool. She got clean sheets on the bed – two sets with a plastic sheet between them – and while she did this I prowled around the front of the house holding Chambers. Chambers is a stuffed dog Curtis gave me when we first started dating that normally stays in our bedroom; he’s a comforting object for me. I’d stop and lean on something with each contraction. I liked the bathroom counter the best because it was just the right height to put my hands on and bear down against it. Curtis would stop working on the tub and help me through each contraction. When Alex got the bed done and got the birth supplies ready, I went back to the bed. Some contractions I laid on my side and some I wanted to be sitting upright for. Alex rubbed my legs during some – I really liked that – and Curtis came and held me during some.
Lisa arrived at some point. I had declined an internal before Lisa arrived, but after she got here I had Alex do a check. I was 6-7cm and stretchy. I’m not sure how, but I ended up in the bathroom sometime, laboring on the toilet. Lisa was mainly with me. Curtis was wrangling with the hose hook-up for the tub and for a little while we thought we might not get it, so Alex scrubbed our bathtub. Unlike with Cassidy and Ashers’ labors, I did not like laboring on the toilet and really wanted to be in the water. I was so happy when my man got the hose on the washer hookups and got the tub filled. Asher woke up just before I got in the tub. The water was so nice to get in, the weight of my belly gone immediately.
We had the pool in the kitchen, the only place in the house big enough for it. The light in the kitchen was off, but the bathroom light was on, so it was nice and dark in the kitchen with a little glow from the bathroom. Time was totally gone at this point and I was in a very surreal place. I think between contractions I basically slept leaning forward against the tub and Curtis, who was sitting right outside the tub. I remember telling Curtis “I love you” a time or two and asking him for water a lot. I’d hold his hands and sit up to moan through each contraction. Charlie got here while I was in the tub. She told me that the moon was huge and really low, and red, that it was a good night for a birthing. Cassidy woke up while I was in the tub. Asher has a little doll boy baby named Baby Cal who got dumped in the water, I remember thinking that funny. When the kids started splashing the water with their hands Alex took them to their room to play because I didn’t like the splashing.
Charlie asked to check me and I was still 6-7cm. She thought that was strange and had me lean back while she stayed by my cervix during a contraction – excruciating. But that position let her help the baby’s head drop all the way against my cervix, and like with Asher’s birth I was instantly 10 cm. I don’t know why my babies like to stay way up there! The pushing contractions began immediately. They were not so overwhelming in the water as with Cassidy and Asher, but I still didn’t like pushing. It was very strong, so powerful and irresistible. I held Curtis and just looked at Charlie during the contractions. She talked me through each one, and I’m really so grateful for that. I had 5-6 pushing contractions and then felt a pop as my water broke. I must have looked surprised because Charlie asked if my water broke. She said to lean back and I cried for Curtis to help me because it seemed impossible to lean back. He held me in a squat while I pushed. Alex brought Cassidy and Asher out to watch; they sat on the chair where Curtis had been. The baby’s head was already crowning. There was no sting or “ring of fire,” but there was an intense stretching and I said “it hurts” over and over, but I just said it, like a mantra or something. It felt so slow, but it was really only one minute after my water broke that the head crowned and was born. I had to wait for another contraction to push out his little barrel chest, and I was impatient because I’d thought the rest of him would just slide out. Charlie helped me put my hands on him and pull him up onto my chest. I was so happy to finally hold my baby! Curtis helped me to scoot back some and we just rested and looked at him. Cassidy was saying, “it’s new baby!” So wonderful. We sat for a few minutes while we looked at him and confirmed he was indeed a he.
Curtis took him and the ladies helped me up and to the bed. I held him a little longer then started cramping. I pushed a couple of times but the placenta didn’t want to come, so Curtis held the baby again and I squatted over the bed and delivered the placenta into a bowl. I was relieved to sit back. I took the baby again and we decided to call him Brennan Paul – we couldn’t decide which name should be first, but Curtis thought Brennan sounded right first by looking at him. He dozed on my chest for about an hour and then decided to nurse. I could tell he wanted to because he started licking around, it was so sweet. He latched right on and has been nursing like a champ since then. We got his newborn check done a little later, called family, and then slept the morning away. I’m so happy now; it was really amazing to have a dawn birth, and to welcome our little summer baby, our Brennan Paul.
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