Hello! Well. Although I’m nine months late to this, my recollection of this incredible day does not grow dim. This girl. Our Kate. Born on a rainy Saturday morning in January.
My feelings toward birth this time around were on a whole, a lot less stressful. Maybe because our we had enough to worry about in our lives at the time? Most likely yes. But across the board, all I wanted was an anxiety, stress, tension free birth. That’s sort of a tall order when you write it out like that–sorry Kate! So stress-free meant that for the first seven months, all I considered in regard to this birth is that James and I would be present. I didn’t really think about too much past that, except signing off on the VBAC agreement and pinning a few hospital bag ideas.
Instead of a hospital, I had talked with my doc about our local birth center. We did a tour about ten days before we returned to give birth and we both really liked it. We sort of gingerly passed the c-section room, noticing how un-used it appeared, and I, at least, excused myself. My doc had reassured me that Luke’s entrance into the world, albeit dramatic, would have been completely handled in the birth center facility.
I didn’t even want to go there in my mind because that was pretty much my main stipulation. I didn’t want to recover from a c-section again! I wanted to enjoy my body and my baby, and quite frankly, with Luke running wild (he was 20 months when she was born), we didn’t have the person-power for it all. The birth rooms were huge, quiet and beautiful, with trees giving lots of privacy to the balconies (yes I said it..balcony). We were quietly nervous but we felt like this is our spot. We’d met with our doula the same day I would go into labor.
The entire day, I’d cleaned my house top to bottom without missing a beat (I even had three helpers!!). It was nuts. I took a break over the lunch hour to have our meeting with James and Corrie, our doula.I felt so clear on the birth process and so at peace. Corrie helped us work out some of our fears from the last time, what to expect and how to move through labor. I was still anxious, but felt like I had a team.
I’d had some contractions through the day but I was waiting for the intensity I remembered last time, and so I marched on, business as usual. That evening we had dinner at a friend’s home, I had around 3-4 platefuls of salad, I was ravenous. We sat around with some tea and chocolate afterwards as I started to realize the contractions coming in more intensity and more regularly. Our friends assured us we’d be having the baby soon. I laughed in sincere disbelief and assured them, our babies are late!
We all headed home and tucked Luke in bed. James was doing something, which I can’t for the life of me remember.. I continued on in my cleaning spree, folding and washing huge loads of laundry and cleaning out the bathroom.. HA. I was timing my contractions at this point and they were intensifying and becoming more regular still. Hmm. I walked over to the living room (we were living on our church campus at the time) and let our friend Gabriella know that we may need her for Luke this evening, but most likely not. I came back, took an amazing, long shower. Sugar scrub, face wash, brush teeth, the works. Sounds obvious but in hindsight, it was one of the most relaxing parts of my laboring at home.
Around 11:45pm, the contractions were too intense to work out at home, I felt like I wanted a second opinion. I was waiting and watching so closely imagining my water would break any moment. We called our doula and then our birth center and packed up. Gabriella came into our apartment and we handed off the monitor. We called our doula back while on the freeway because we realized we’d asked her to come all the way out and for possibly nothing.. d’oh! She heard me in the background and knew better, she was on her way.
We parked and headed to the front door, where I had a major stop-me-in-my-steps contraction. They had to rebuzz us in because I was stopped still, hanging onto a column for dear life. We finally headed in, up the elevator and to the front desk. They took me immediately for evaluation and checked me out when Corrie joined us. Despite our fears, I was dilated to 4 cm! Thank goodness. We were checked in.
The birth center was so quiet, peaceful and ambient. It was the middle of the night, of course, but I couldn’t imagine a more wonderful place to be. We settled into our room and Corrie began to coach James and I through the contractions. What stood out to me about these contractions (as opposed to my Pitocin-induced) was, while painful, they weren’t crippling. I had felt so out of control with Luke’s labor contractions, my body couldn’t keep up with the intensity and timing. When labor had it’s natural start, I could breathe a little more.
Because of my previous birth, there were different things I needed to be monitored for. One was an IV, in case I needed to have drugs administered quickly. The anesthesiologist ended up being a friend of James from the gym. How I’d wished we could’ve skipped all the monitors and tubes, I think it would have made things a lot more comfortable. I ended up laboring in odd positions just to avoid the straps and such (though, still grateful there was an awareness of my history as well).
As my contractions intensified, Corrie and James began to apply opposite pressure and massage in different places. My legs, back, lower back. It helped take the edge off (and felt amazing!). Corrie reminded me of breathing and letting out sound, which felt odd at first, but also so natural to my body. It was between 2am and 4am that things progressed. Through most of it, I was actually sleeping and only waking up for contractions! I remember thinking I probably looked a little weird, but I ended up being in a dream state of sorts, which was heaven. As soon as I’d exert all that energy to make i
t through the contraction, my body would go into full recharge mode.
Between 4am and 5am, I remember the pain began to feel unmanageable. I’d just lost my amazing salad from the night before and was starting to waver. I was around a 7cm (I believe..). I told Corrie that I wasn’t sure if I could do this. All she said was simply, ‘you can’ and that was all I needed, I was ready to keep going. She prayed for me, James continued to massage and I could see in the corner that my mom had arrived. More nurses began to flutter in and out, it felt like they knew it was coming. I was still in my zone, but starting to look around a little more because ‘it’ felt soon. I’d been in one position for a pretty long time and one nurse that was helping keep the IV out of my way, told me to try rolling onto my right side.
As soon as I started to shift my weight as she suggested, I felt the insane urge to push! Just as everyone said. I’d never felt it for myself but there it was. At this point the doc was there and I think it was around 5am. While I wanted to push, she told me that I need to wait (I think so I wouldn’t tear, eek). We worked through a few more contractions, and she noticed Kate’s heart rate began to fluctuate and decided to let me push. Here we go! I don’t actually remember how many times I pushed (it wasn’t a whole lot) but I pushed with every fiber inside of me and then some. And then some more.
And then! Oh baby. A great burst (I’m sorry) and a baby crying and everything, all the terrible cramping and contracting and pushing was done! My water had broken right as Kate was born, which I didn’t realize could happen. The doc checked her watch (5:22am) and immediately placed her in my arms, my squirmy, slimy little angel Kate.
The doctor had unlooped her umbilical cord from off of her, it had wrapped around her arm and chest like a seatbelt. Corrie told me later that the umbilical cord can grow, even in labor, to accommodate the baby’s needs. She thought it explained some of the lull before pushing. To top it off, there was a little fecal matter in the water when it burst and if my water had burst at any other point, Kate would have most likely ingested it. So many small miracles in this whole process.
James and I were beyond amazed at the entire process. The rhythm of labor, the process of working through it, the support and the wonder of it all. We were totally and completely elated. I suppose no one person has ever expressed to so many people that birth was amazing/incredible/astounding. A few people laughed out loud when I’d tell them. Yet it was true! We couldn’t have imagined a more wonderful process.
Luke’s birth was incredible for different reasons, the miracle of life but also the rescue we experienced. We were in a very different mindset after his birth, simply grateful to have made it through in one piece. With this, I felt like we were able to taste the miracle of labor and birth in every aspect. Even more so SANS drugs, which was not necessarily a non negotiable for me, though, I’m so glad it went that way.
I don’t know if there are many more words to describe this process for myself, but this birth gave me the flip side of the coin I so longed to see. Something I’d hoped to do so badly. I am so thankful for the process we [prayerfully] navigated through. Kate has been a true delight in every sense of herself. Her birth was so fitting to me in so many ways. Something I could delight in (in a new way), full of grace, peaceful, and with no shortage of love and support.