Ashley Van Otterloo
I'll spare you the details of the three day prelabor...suffice it to say, it was emotionally and physically trying, and had I not gotten enough rest, good positioning advice and encouragement, I might still be in labor. Really. But I did get rest and the baby did turn, and so I went into labor on Sunday evening after a day of hip lunges, dinner with dh and a couple of funny movies.
Around 9:3opm or so, it suddenly hit me that my contractions were actually growing more intense. A few minutes later, Robin Hood Men in Tights ceased to be even a tiny bit amusing.
I gripped the bookcase and swayed my hips through the next contraction, and as it eased, I told Nate to call our midwife and heat my rice sock. Through the next pressure wave, I leaned over the arm of the couch and wished my rice sock were already hot.
I retreated into the candlelit bedroom, and leaned forward through the next half hour of rushes, finally settling on my knees with my arms draped over the bed. I mused inwardly at the fact that I could feel the baby rotating downward through my pelvis, and the back pressure was intense! At that point, I realized I'd reached the point of no return. Ready or not, my baby was coming, and I needed to get to a place of release and surrender. A small amount of hesistation and fear crept in for a short while, and I didn't want to accept that I needed to change my physical position. I'd just stay on my knees forever!!
I was vaguely aware of front door opening down the hall, and of my MW calling hello softly, but I didn't look up. I was lost in a celtic drumbeat for the moment, still convincing myself that I could just hang out at the end of the bed forever.
Somewhere in the middle of half an hour in the draped on the bed position, the song "Everyone's got Something To Hide Except for Me and My Monkey" by the Beatles came on my iPod. Dh snorted and teased me for having such a weird song, and it broke my tension. I heard Michelle, the MW's apprentice giggle, too, and that did it. I laughed, and the endorphins from the fast guitar riffs and laughing with Nate saw me easily through that intense contraction.
After my first and only cervical check of that labor, Debi let me know I wasn't ready for the birth pool yet. Four centimeters. I was incredulous. I could feel my body speeding towards transition, and suspected they should fill the tub soon anyway. She suggested a hot shower (I suspect to coax me off my knees!), and I lept at the chance.
I spent 15 or 20 min in the shower, and being on my feet intensified the contractions. (Nate commented later that in the pics of me in the shower, you could tell by the shape of my belly that the baby descended quickly into my pelvis at that point!) Nate leaned halfway into the shower and braced his arm across the end of it for me to grip, and I squeezed his arm with my hands through the powerful waves, puffing a steady stream of air out of my cheeks. The feel of his sturdy, sinewy arm and the hot water pounding my back made standing up much more bearable. In the back of my mind, I knew I'd be complete soon, and got out of the shower sooner than I would have otherwise...I wanted hot water for my birth tub, lol! I shuffled my way back to the bedroom, and Michelle tied a red rebozo around my belly and encouraged me to stay vertical. It was at this point that I surrendered completely to the idea of meeting my baby soon, to opening my body to let my baby out. I became instinctual, and my thoughts were more like a consciousness hovering above my body than my own. My mind became an observer of my most primal instincts, and only interjected enough dialouge to inform my body on a "need to know" basis. :oP
For the next 45min, I gripped dh's hand and stood and swayed my way through powerful waves. I gripped Nate's fingers so hard, his normally pale strong Dutch knuckles turned an even more ghostly white. At one point, I called out, "Someone hold my other hand!!", and the instant I felt a strong, womanly hand in my own swollen left hand, the edgy fear left me.
I could feel my cervix stretching and quivering, and a voice that didn't sound like my own was making low, moaning sounds. My doula brain informed me that those were very "birthy" noises, and I smiled inwardly as I heard my MW chuckling in happy agreement somewhere across the room. She whispered, "Nate, go start up the hoses!" I suspected as much..and the water sounded GOOD. I was ready to meet my baby. I trembled all over, and stated the obvious: "I'm shaking."
I don't remember taking off my lounge pants. I remember feeling the heat of the water slither up my ankles, calves, and around my middle as I sank myself into the water. It took every ounce of courage I had to relax and accept the knowledge (gained from experience with my second birth) that I would soon be doing the hard work of pushing a new child into the light of the room.
My legs were in a weird position, but another rush had already started, and I heard the earthy voice shift from a low moan to a rumbly growl. Was I feeling push-y already? I gripped the handles of the pool, and fought the impulse to tighten my lower body in a fight against birth. I rested and breathed. I knew I'd be pushing with the next contraction.
I never asked for permission; when the next contraction came, I growled and pushed. As it peaked, I pushed HARDER, because pushing was the only relief that was to be found in that intense moment. I vaguely remember hearing Debi call, "That's it, girl, bring that baby down! Reach down and touch your baby!", but by the time I let go of the handle to feel, the rush was over. It made me mad, and it fueled my determination to hold her soon, lol.
With the next contraction, I felt like a strong mother cougar, throwing a screaming growl into the night, fighting to bring my baby into the world. The feeling was so very intense. I could feel the baby crowning, but didn't dare to believe I could get her out this time. I pushed and growled in frustration, not realizing how CLOSE she was.
I did this for another contraction. And one more.
The next contraction, I was so very exausted, using up every last bit of energy I had in a mighty effort to push that little head OUT. I thought it would be stuck there forever. I stopped screaming and grunted and felt my face glowing with the effort, and finally gasped in air and yelled, "Oh, c'mon, get the frick OUT!!!!" (At least that's what I vaguely recall saying...both Nate and Debi have asserted that I actually dropped an F-bomb)
One last angry, determined push, and I heard the amazing words: "Head's out!!" I perked and happily pushed the rest of a slick body easily into the water, and was astounded at the big, healthy GIRL that landed on the top of my now-puffy belly.
Nate's face was streaming tears. I hadn't seen him cry that freely since our wedding. And she was lovely. So very lovely, and I was completely exhausted. She stared at me, stunned and alert, but not wanting to take the first breath. I felt a bit stunned, too. The MW puffed a breath into her mouth and rubbed her back, and she began to cry. I was relieved, and so, so tired. I had to be coaxed to push out the placenta, lol. I was happy to just sit there, grinned dumbly and blissfully, and listening to Nate mumur contently to himself, "I knew she was a girl!"
At 1:16am, Eva Grace was born, 9lbs, and 22inches. And we were in love. ♥