Your Birth Story begins on Monday, June 6. It was a beautiful sunny day. I went to work that morning, went to our little fitness center, had lunch, and took a nap. Looking back, I probably had a moment of ‘nesting’ when I felt compelled to go to Hallmark and spend $40 on cards I would need over the next few months. That evening, Dad and I went out for “date-night.” We were quietly celebrating the 5th anniversary of our very first date, and went out for sushi (which is kind of funny because one of your nicknames while you were in my tummy was ‘Sushi’). I had been having sporadic contractions over the past few days, but that evening they had become stronger and more frequent. Dad suggested we start timing them, this was around 7pm. We noticed that there were definitely more contractions and decided to keep an eye on things, just in case.
Back home, we were comfy and watching T.V when at 8:30, with a pop and a gush, my water broke! We were so excited! Dad called our midwives Stephanie, Caroline and Cassie. Stephanie told us to try and get something to eat, keep to normal activities and get some rest. Someone from our team would call us in a couple of hours to check in, and we should call them if anything came up. I knew there was the possibility of many hours or even days ahead of us, so I tried not to get too excited. Since the waters releasing, the contractions became stronger, and I needed to stop to breathe through them. Dad drew a warm bath for me and the water felt so relaxing. I still felt on top of the contractions, and for some reason, began to worry that we still needed things for your birth: food for the midwives and baby wipes! Although he didn’t want to leave, I shooed your Dad off to the store.
Things started to move along from there…Dad had left some music on in the living room, but I could barely focus on it as I labored in the bathtub. The next contraction felt like I was at the top of a rollercoaster and suddenly I felt the urge to push! This can’t be right, I thought, it hasn’t even been an hour! Thankfully, Dad had left my phone nearby, and after the next contraction, I managed to call Cassie. I told her that I felt like my body wanted to push. Was this normal? She said yes, and waited to listen through my next contraction. She asked if I wanted her to come over, and although I was afraid of calling the midwives over too early in labor, I said Yes! We hung up and I worked through a few more contractions.
I imagined my body working with each surge, telling myself over and over that my body was meant to do this, that it knew what to do. The feelings where physically and emotionally overwhelming. Was it very painful? No. It felt like strong tightening sensations in my core which would nearly take my breath away. When the sensations threatened to become painful, I remembered that it was a signal to change positions, and somehow managed to turn to a different side or shift my hips. And breathe! I focused on making each breath as long as I could, blowing and humming and imagining that you were having a pretty intense time too! I felt and sounded like a beached whale, and probably looked like one too, but I was far from caring. The surges would build and peak and slide down and I could breathe fully again.
I don’t know how long it was since I spoke with Cassie, but Stephanie called back to see how things were coming along. I let her know that the contractions were intense, that I felt my body wanting to push, and asking her if this was even possible?! She reassured me that these were normal sensations, and listened to me work through another contraction. Then she asked me to check to see if I could feel your head. Part of me was thinking ‘Are you crazy?!’ And the other part of me, somehow, had the courage to check. I reached with my fingers, and sure enough, barely two knuckles in, I could feel your head. I’m so sorry, but I was so shocked I forgot exactly what your head felt like. I remember feeling a mixture of excitement and nervousness and surprise that there was actually a baby in there!
I don’t remember hanging up the phone. And then, wonderfully, your Dad was there. I was barely able to tell him that I had called Cassie and Stephanie. Dad squeezed my hand and was very calming. The next time I opened my eyes, Laura, another Alma midwife, was there. She dimmed the lights and introduced herself. She said that Stephanie and our team were on their way. Laura happened to live nearby, and came to be with us until our midwives arrived. She was reassuring and yet her presence somehow reaffirmed that your birth was actually happening!
When I closed and opened my eyes again, Stephanie was there. I felt so relieved to see her, and I apologized for calling her over so late in her evening. It was probably around 10pm. Dad was pouring water over my tummy, squeezing my hand, and putting cool towels on my head. It felt so good, but all I could do to tell him so was to give a tiny ‘thumbs up’ sign. At one point, Dad asked Stephanie if he should start filling our birthing pool, and Stephanie replied with a smile, “It’s not gonna happen.”
It soon became apparent that our dream of a water birth was in fact “not gonna happen.” Although our labor was progressing, it seemed like the positions we were in weren’t helping you descend past my pubic bone. Stephanie asked me if I could move to the bedroom after the next contraction. Some people would say that we were ‘brave’ to have our baby at home, but I have a deep respect for anyone who manages to make it to their car, to their birthplace, up the walkway and to their room to give birth. The walk from the bathroom to our bedroom seemed like miles! Somehow, we made it, and the next surge brought me to a sitting position at the foot of our bed.
From then on, the contractions felt more purposeful, as if you were saying “it’s time for me to come out!” Pushing was hard work! Each surge would bring a rush of energy and strength. I could feel you slowly moving down and out and then the surge would end. There would be a minute or two before the next surge and then I could push again. We worked like this for a long time. Stephanie or Cassie would listen to your heart tones, which remained steady and strong. Caroline brought me orange juice, which never tasted so good! I knew that I was supposed to be “breathing” you out as they taught us in HypnoBirthing, but I wanted you out so badly and it became frustrating to push and push and feel the power of the contraction subside until the next one started again. I said “I think my baby is stuck!” and Stephanie smiled and reassured methat every woman thinks her baby gets stuck, but you were on your way.
On June 7th, at 1:19am, your head was born. Your cord was wrapped around your neck, but Stephanie wasn’t worried at all. She calmly said “I’ll just let it be,” and the next moment you were out! All aches and pain disappeared. You were brought up to my chest and I just couldn’t believe you were actually here! You had a lot of vernix on you, and a strong little voice! I held you close and Dad rubbed your back and we told you “Hello” for the first time. You had lots of dark hair, beautiful dark eyes, and tiny hands which you held close to your chin. I was in love for the first time, all over again.
The next few minutes were a bit fuzzy. Once your cord stopped pulsing, Dad had the honor of cutting it. The placenta was born shortly after, which was a very strange feeling. Stephanie had to give it a little tug and it left a swooping sensation in my tummy. Stephanie checked you over – 7lbs 8oz and 19” long! I needed a few stitches, but you and I got to snuggle and nurse while Stephanie & Caroline made sure I was ok. You lay on my chest and bobbed your head to nurse. You were so alert and amazing to watch as you took in your new world.
The midwives stayed with us for the next hour. They cleaned our home, and made us something to eat. I was so hungry! Dad put on your first diaper, and Stephanie showed him how to wrap you up like a burrito. Once all three of us were tucked into bed, our wonderful midwives said goodbye.
You were already sleeping as the sun began to come up. It felt like a surreal experience. Only a few short hours ago, your Dad and I were having dinner and talking about you…and now you are here! Your birth was the most intense and incredible night of my life. I became whole when I became your mama. I’ve never seen your Dad look so proud and happy as he did when he held you for the first time. You are the most amazing blessing in our lives. We love you, Abigail.