“I was under the disillusionment that I would have more control over her birth than I did with Eli’s. Everything I read led me to believe that during a home birth you had total control. Not like in a hospital with nurses whispering drugs in your ear and doctors threatening a cesarean if you didn’t dilate in time. In reality, birth is a complete surrender; whether it’s to your body or to the drugs. It’s a surrender to the most beautiful process of all life.”
I was at my wits end; reading pregnancy books for the third and fourth time, cleaning and reorganizing, sulking about the pain in my ribs or my back, sick of the heartburn and lying on my side to sleep, not being able to lie close enough to my husband, not having any sort of libido, experimenting with every natural labor induction method I read about. The list could go on for miles. At almost 42 weeks pregnant, I had to laugh at myself to stay sane and remember that at 38 weeks I was saying to Michael that I would die if I had to endure another four weeks of pregnancy, and yet there I was, even bigger than I was with Eli; exploding at all my seams.
The weeks and even days before Emery was born, I had been tricked into thinking my labor had started. Sometimes my contractions would get stronger during the day and then to no avail they would subside at night. This depressed me. I literally thought that she would never come out (I knew that she would) or at least that she would be forced out medically and that worried me more. That terrified me. Everyone I knew called or texted me constantly; wondering if she was here yet. “Yes guys, she’s been here for weeks and I just didn’t tell you! Ahahahaha!”….is what I wanted to tell them. More importantly though, to leave me the hell alone. Alas, I am too nice to say buzz off, so politely I say “No, she is a stubborn little girl. Still waiting…”
The night before her birthday, I laid in bed and cried. Thinking of all the what ifs and how comes, I couldn’t hold my face anymore. Earlier that day I had more contractions but nothing to alert the media about. My cup was over full. Michael was at work so I vented to him, did a little more crying and then finally fell asleep.
At 9:30am July 7th, 2015, I sat up in bed, told Eli to come downstairs through his monitor and waited. I went to the restroom and changed my underwear, the same ones I wore when I went into labor with Eli. I sat back in bed, looked at Michael and held Eli in my lap. Fifteen minutes later our routine was broken.
Michael put Eli in his high chair and began cooking breakfast. These contractions stopped me in my tracks. I was using the counter as a standing post, I knew then that today was truly her day. I choked down a protein shake in between contractions. Who knew how long it would be before I ate again? Only my body knew.
I made it from the counter to bathroom. My insides were letting go; bowels included. This was my next signal, diarrhea. The contractions didn’t let up. Instead, they got worse and came fast. Back into the living room I went. My ball was a reprieve; a small one, but for that I was thankful. I rocked on my hands and knees with the ball under my chest, moaning through each contraction. That was signal number three. I could not control the sound of my own voice. I was singing the pain out of my body. Michael was eating breakfast with Eli, letting me do my own thing. Eli was mocking my moans. All I could do was laugh in my head and concentrate on the back of my eyelids. I’m glad that he wasn’t concerned that I was hurting. I didn’t want that worry. Michael knew when he would be needed but after so many false alarms I think he was too relaxed. After all, it could take a while.
I was apprehensive about calling Debbie, our midwife. I didn’t want this to be another false alarm. It seemed as if every time I let her know things were happening, they didn’t and the cycle would start all over. My body was saying something different this time, so I listened. I told Michael he should call my mom and have her come get Eli and let the midwife know we would be having a baby today.
I migrated to the bedroom. I moved my ball next to the bed but quickly found that it was no longer useful. My contractions had kicked it up a notch and were coming every 2-3 minutes. I got onto the bed on my hands and knees and rocked through three more contractions; squatting in downward dog at their peak. My moans grew louder, almost to screams at their highest point, that’s when Michael began checking on me. Without asking, he started to get the pool ready, chamber by chamber. This was sometime between 10:30 and 11am. He had not yet notified the media. I began to panic. I called my mother first as quickly as I could, racing against the contractions. She didn’t answer. I called my younger brother Spencer, he answered, thankfully. In my sternest voice, “Get mom up here now! The baby is coming.” Message received, that was all I had the will power for.
The next contractions willed me from my knees and onto my feet. I rocked standing hunched over the bed. Michael came to me and rubbed my lower back, asking if that felt good. I complied. Tiny shots of pain relief with each stroke; I could have kissed him then if not for the relentless pulsing in my abdomen and lower groin making my knees weak. Once he stopped to continue working on the pool, they pulsed on with a vengeance. I paced up and down the end of the bed as if I could run off the pain. Michael reminded me to breathe, I reminded him to shut up. Another race to the toilet, maybe it was puke this time, maybe both. I grabbed the trash can and sat on the toilet, Michael left to check on Eli.
I placed my head over the trash can, no such luck. Another contraction, this time I wailed, deep and long. It carried me through. Michael came back. I asked if he had called the midwife. He said that he told her that the baby was coming today and she told him to time the contractions. I removed myself from the toilet and that’s when I saw the blood on my underwear. Another contraction, I made it to the bed still standing up, but leaning against the end. I realized I wasn’t getting breaks anymore. I told Michael to call her back and tell her to get up here now. The first call was made at 11:12 and the second call at 11:22.
Michael went back to the pool and I squatted on the stair of our jacuzzi tub. Another contraction, but this time my abdomen pulled itself inward, I was pushing. I grunted and it felt so good. I pushed because I couldn’t help it. My body had taken over and I was not trying to stop it. I remember telling Michael I was pushing. The midwife called back and Michael answered. He told her what was happening. I remembered the horsey lip, something Debbie had taught me upon our first meeting. I forced air through my relaxed lips, just as a horse would do when sighing. This shifted my focus from pushing to my mouth, slowing my progress but introducing the pain again. Debbie was on speaker phone. She said, “Get her to lie on her side.” So I did.
There I was next to the tub on the floor, listening to Debbie. Through a few contractions I couldn’t help but push. She reminded me to horsey lip and to breathe. She asked Michael to check for her head. Not yet, no head. I was slightly relieved. I needed her to be here to help me catch her, better yet to help me not to tear. That’s what I was worried about. Call me selfish or maybe just confident. I knew I could catch her, I knew Michael could.
Flying 80 down the highway, Debbie made it; along with Shannon and Rachel, my birth attendants. It was 12. Michael had been massaging my back again. Debbie took Michael’s place behind me. I didn’t want him to leave. He left to grab the hose from outside. I asked if she would rub my back. It wasn’t the same and it was too hard to vocalize what I wanted her to do. She was not Michael. Eli? Is he still in his chair? Then I asked it out loud. I was told my mother was here too and that they were outside. More relief.
Commotion began, I went inside myself. I could see her head, in my mind, slowly making its way down; I could feel her moving each time I pushed and wasn’t suppose to. Debbie checked my progress. Yep her head was right there! Motivation flooded my body; Michael told me how well I was doing. Debbie checked her heart rate. She was perfect. My leg was propped up on Debbie’s legs as she sat on the jacuzzi stair. This was bearable, almost comfortable. She asked me to grab my bottom. All I could feel was the soaked outer parts of myself, gushy and exposed. Nothing mattered except her, getting her out and into my arms. I continued to hold my bottom, never letting go.
Everyone was still trying to set the pool up and then decided there was no time. We tried the jacuzzi, no time. Move to the bed? Can’t. Shannon was at my bottom and Rachel was at my head. Michael slid his fingers into my hands and I squeezed, like a child who will never let go. He wiped my forehead with a warm towel and whispered in my ear, “She’s almost here.”
With each new pull of my abdomen I could feel her head slowly bulge. I had a miniature panic. Panic for my vagina. Panic for my perineum. There was no going back now. What will happen, will happen. Briskly and without much fuss, my water broke. A small gush among all the other gushes. “I think my water just broke,” I told Debbie and it had. “Clear fluid,” was all she replied. It was 12:10pm. Debbie checked her heart rate once more. Still perfect. It wouldn’t be much longer now.
“Hold right there. She’s stretching you so well.” The sound of my prayers. I held still, the only control I had. My abdomen let go, ready when I was to try again. This was us working together; my body and my mind. Michael kissed my forehead, letting me know he was right there with me. I worked with my body. The next contraction Debbie told me to hold my front and Shannon would hold the back. The stretching was not a ring of fire. It was a ring of passion. A pain that was so satisfying because I knew its ultimate purpose. It would bring me my baby. At the end of that push the pain subsided. Her head was out. I let go of my bottom and remember a feeling of fullness around my privates. No easier way to describe it than a child between your thighs. Even at this point, I felt successful. I had completed what they say is the hardest part of child birth.
The rest is easy and relaxing. I welcomed another contraction. It rolled in with ease, no pain. I allowed my body to take over again. Then I felt the emptiness; the rest of her body escaping mine. I opened my arms to claim her; all 8 pounds 14 ounces of her. The world disappeared for those fifteen seconds of the purest joy I’ve ever been lucky enough to experience. I cried at the sight of her. She was beautiful. Her puffy cheeks, wide open almond eyes and full head of slimy hair (so I was told about when she was crowning); was all I could see. Her purple body quickly turned to white and then to pink. She cried out the sweetest little cry and then she was calm. She was finally here. I was in love all over again. I never wanted to move. I wanted to look at her for the rest of my life. I held her and Michael held me; the perfect sphere of love.
Her heart and lungs were briefly checked as we waited for the placenta and the cord to stop pulsing. Michael held the cord while it pulsed. He said it pulsed like a major artery; a very cool experience. Then I looked up to watch him cut the cord. It looked thick and difficult to cut. I had a moment of victory for him. He finally got to cut the cord. Third time is really the charm. Shortly after, I had a small, almost unnoticeable contraction that expulsed the placenta. It was a strange and relieving sensation; a warm and emptying feeling. Almost as though I didn’t feel its presents until it was gone.
I was back in real time. I could hear full conversations. The girls helped me up off of the floor after I passed Emery off to Michael. I asked if I could get into the tub, because warm water sounded so nice. They began to draw the water and help me out of my sports bra. I got in, but gravity immediately took over and I started to bleed, a lot. I clogged the tub and made the water look like a horror movie scene. We decided to go to the bed instead.
What followed was all a beautiful mess. Conversation flowed; I let Emery begin to nurse while Debbie told my blood pressure. Perfect. She asked what I wanted to eat and I told her there was stuff to make biscuits and gravy in the kitchen. She came back with juice and she left Michael and I to soak up the presents of our brand new daughter. My mom asked Debbie questions and asked when I wanted Eli to see her. I requested some alone time. After a while the ladies came back into the room bearing plates of delicious biscuits and gravy. It was amazing. I ate the leftovers for three days it was that good. Eli came in and met Emery once we were finished eating. He exclaimed, “Oh baby!” upon seeing her and climbed onto the bed to shower her in kisses. He also touched her eyes and mouth and hair. That’s what two year olds do. My mom helped him hold her. I got some sweet pictures and then he was off, ready to go bounce off of some more walls. He stayed with my mom our first night, which was a small blessing. I still missed him and called to check on him before we turned in for the night.
Emery had her newborn screening after Eli had his chance to meet her. Shannon weighed her once we all made our guesses. Debbie was spot on. I was way off. She also checked her reflexes and cleaned her bottom. She had her second meconium bowel movement (the first was shortly after birth.) She took the rest of her measurements and then gave her back to me. Debbie went over the basics and certain things to look for that are cause for concern. Then she packed up to leave, gave me a hug and congratulated me. Her, Shannon and Rachel were all standing at my bedroom door when Rachel said something that I will never forget. She said, “Congratulations, you’ve had the birth everyone wants.”