My first child, Ada was right on time so we expected this baby to be on time or early. My husband, Zeke was able to take off the week before my due date and we had a wonderful time as a family going on hikes and hanging out together at home. Every night we went to sleep wondering if tonight would be the night and every morning I woke up a little disappointed, but excited to spend another fun day with Zeke and Ada. Starting a few days before my due date I began to feel increasingly crampy but nothing too uncomfortable.
My due date came and went, which was coincidentally our wedding anniversary. We decided that maybe the baby wanted to share a birthday with Zeke and that August 24th would certainly be the day. As the day passed I became less sure of this but in the early evening the crampy feeling began to intensify and I started to have very light contractions. The next day, the 25th, was a new moon and I thought that would be a perfect time for a new beginning! I figured this could be it so I did some final gardening I hadn’t gotten to just in case. While putting in a plant I lost my mucus plug and got a little excited.
We had Mexican takeout and ice cream cake on the deck. I put extra hot sauce on for good measure. It was a beautiful night and we had a lovely meal as a family of 3.
That night Ada woke me up around 1:30 to bring her to the bathroom. When I laid back down I felt what seemed to be a real contraction. It was still very mild but the way it wrapped around my uterus and back made me giddy. I laid in bed eagerly awaiting another, which came 20 minutes later. I enjoyed breathing and imagining myself as an ocean. Not because it was particularly painful but more just for the fun of it. I decided to get up and have a glass of red wine to help me get back to sleep. Sitting alone waiting for the next wave was exhilarating, but I knew I needed to stop being so excited and forget about it so I could rest up.
I went back to bed with my birthing meditation on repeat and drifted in and out of sleep for the rest of the night. Around 7:30 Ada and I woke up and we cuddled on the lounge chair outside as she drank her “latte” and I had my coffee. Zeke woke up a little later and we all had breakfast on the deck. It was another beautiful, sunny and clear day and I hoped that this would be the day we would meet our baby.
Around 9 we started to talk about how we should spend our morning. My contractions were still about 20 minutes apart so I figured we should do something to distract ourselves. We talked about going to a nature preserve in town and started to get ready. I decided to call my doula and midwives to let them know that I was in early labor. By 9:30 we hadn’t left for our hike yet and the contractions were starting to get closer together and intensify. I suggested we just go for a walk up our street. By 10 we hadn’t left and I decided I only wanted to sit on my birth ball. By 10:30 I told Zeke no one was going anywhere.
(This is me laboring while Ada eats ice cream cake and goldfish for lunch… Papa was in charge that day! Lol)
We set up the umbrellas on the deck so that we had a big shady area for me to labor with Zeke and Ada playing and hanging out nearby. I decided for this labor to create a playlist mostly of classic rock and indie stuff. Last time I used a meditation album mostly and in retrospect it felt a bit too serious. The music was really nice and kept me relaxed and in good spirits. From 11-1 the contractions were about 4-5 minutes apart, lasting 30 seconds. I spoke to Nancy, the midwives assistant around 12 and she suggested I try to rest. I checked my cervix and guessed I was about 3 cm. I could feel the baby’s head, which was really cool! I laid down in bed but quickly decided that the time for resting had passed as it was very uncomfortable to be in that position and I felt like I needed to be moving my body. I also realized it was much better to have Zeke alternating hot and cold packs on my lower back during contractions. I had myself set up at the edge of the deck with towels as a pillow on the railing while sitting on the ball and staring out into nature. I was drinking lots of labor aid and some fancy Kombucha that Zeke served me out of a champagne glass. That was fun. Between 1:00-2:30 the contractions increased to 3.5 minutes apart and were 45 seconds long. I was texting with my Doula, Kharis and asked her to come over soon.
She got there around 2:30 and I decided to stop tracking contractions. I also immediately lost my focus and with it the intensity of the contractions. I felt like chatting with her upon her arrival and it gave me a break from the intensity but I quickly decided I wanted to return laborland. I realized that I did better when I avoided talking and making eye contact with Kharis and Zeke. Ada didn’t seem to break my focus though surprisingly.
We tried some different positions as I had been on the ball for quite a while. Squatting while hanging from the deck railing was intense in a good way. Kharis suggested I try laboring on the toilet a bit as she said this would intensify things. Doing this made contractions come on fast and hard. I decided to go with it. Also, I took several showers and had super intense contractions while leaning on the window in the shower looking out into nature. Walking around the yard on my own brought them on too. It seemed that being on my own helped me to really get into the zone but I also would start to feel a little lonely if too many contractions passed in solitude. My legs were getting crampy and Zeke massaged them which was really helpful.
Around 4 my sister Lauren arrived to help out with Ada. This was a big relief as things were intensifying and I wanted to make sure Ada was taken care of and having a good time. Plus I wanted Zeke all to myself! Nancy came over to check on things and again the arrival pulled me a bit out of the zone. She didn’t seem to think I was too far along, which was somewhat discouraging. I didn’t completely believe her though as I knew what I was experiencing was much more intense that what I had experienced during my last labor, when I had ended up getting an epidural at 5 cm.
Zeke and I went for a walk around the yard for a few contractions. Ada and Lauren were having a picnic on a blanket in the yard and seeing them happy and enjoying themselves was great. I decided to sit down in the grass as the coolness of it felt so good. Things were getting intense. I remember thinking about what a relief the epidural was last time but then quickly reminding myself that that wasn’t what I wanted. I also took a moment to reflect upon how amazing it was that I got to labor outside, just as I had hoped I would. I had been looking forward to that since finding out I was pregnant and then that we were moving to the country.
Deep breathing during contractions had been so helpful but it was starting to get harder and harder to keep my breathing under control. I was also starting to feel overwhelmed in general and unsure where I wanted to labor and in what position. Around 6 Ada and Lauren went out to get dinner.
Zeke, Kharis and I moved into the den where we tried various positions for laboring. The best for contractions was me on the birth ball with Kharis behind me pressing ice into my lower back while I burrowed my head into Zeke. I asked Zeke to do the low vocalization with me and for Kharis to verbalize what was happening with the contraction, saying it was about to peak and then that it would subside. I started to feel nauseas and they brought a bowl, although I never actually vomited. The contractions were now going to a peak that made me feel like my body was jumping away from the pain at the top of it. I felt myself screaming in the middle, although Zeke and Kharis say I sounded the same as I had for the past few hours and wasn’t actually screaming. They didn’t realize my labor was moving as fast as it was. At some point during this I realized that I really needed to concentrate on relaxing and that the only way to escape the pain would be to push into it. I imagined myself opening with each contraction and in between reminded myself that soon this would all be a distant memory and I would have my baby.
After about an hour of laboring in the den I felt like I needed to go to the bathroom. I also wanted to check my cervix again. I went into the bathroom and when I reached inside myself I felt a strange bulge which I guessed was the bag of waters pushing out of my cervix. That was pretty cool and made me realize that I was close to having this baby and the pain wouldn’t last much longer! I sat down and immediately had crazy feeling! It was like my whole body was bucking and I made some loud, gutteral sounds. Kharis came in then and told me to stop pushing. I didn’t even realize that “pushing” was what had been happening. My body had totally taken over! She immediately had Zeke call the closer of the two midwives, Susan, and told her to come right then.
Kharis and Zeke helped me out of the bathroom and into the birth pool on the deck. It was around 7pm now and the sun was setting. Kharis helped me to breath quick breaths during contractions to hold the baby in until Susan got there. I felt so hot so they helped me to pull off my dress and gave me a cold washcloth for my forehead. I told Zeke to get Ada back from dinner as I really wanted her present at the birth. I had a few crazy pushing contractions in the tub that I had to hold back before Susan arrived.
As soon as I saw Susan I felt so much relief. I knew that meant I could stop holding back as that was even harder than breathing through contractions. Susan only managed to get one glove on before the next contraction came. The baby’s head pushed right out. I reached down to touch it and I told Susan the baby was coming out now! She asked me to hold on as the cord was wrapped around the neck and she wanted to move it aside. As soon as she said ok I pushed the rest of the body out and we both pulled the baby up. It was amazing! I pulled that little blue bundle right up to me. They gave me towels to dip in the warm water and put over the baby. We were in a state of bliss just like that for a few minutes as the baby began to cry and pink up. Then I realized we hadn’t seen the sex of the baby yet. I unwrapped the towels and saw that we had a little baby boy, Ezra.
Susan, Kharis and Zeke helped me out of the pool and into the bedroom where they had set up wee-wee pads over the bed. They laid me and Ezra down and covered us with warm dry towels. During this time Ada and my sister returned from dinner, shocked to see that the baby had already come! Ada was so sweet and excited. She loved meeting her baby brother and was so gentle with him. The other midwife, Cathy and Nancy arrived at some point during this as well. I birthed the placenta and Susan examined me. I was so happy to hear that even though Ezra shot out so quickly in just a few pushes I didn’t have any vaginal tears!
Everyone helped to clean up and to settle me into bed with Zeke, Ada and Ezra. It was just like I had always imagined and so perfect. Giving birth on the deck while the sun was setting is about as good as it gets! That night we cuddled into our cozy nest as a family of four.
Ada and Ezra the day after he was born…