The evening of July 3rd holds way to a big and beautiful full moon hiding behind overcastting-clouds that threaten the night with thunderstorms. I know it is big and beautiful because the night before was clear and the moon was so close to being full; I spent about an hour standing in my hallway gazing at the silvery glow that peaked through our picture window in the foyer, imagining my labor starting with this magical light shining down in the dark, stars present as witness to my baby’s beginning. This is the moon I have been looking forward to my whole pregnancy, one that I have anticipated for months to throw my body into labor. A close friend of mine had approached her 42 weeks date that day, and low and behold that moon really did kick her labor into gear. Luck be with me if that beauteous moon would do the same for me. I head to bed, hopeful for what the night and that full moon might do for me.
I wake up with a contraction on that day, the Fourth of July, wanting for the firecracker baby that I “felt” for months was coming. “Yes, I knew it,” I thought. I was quickly approaching 40 weeks myself, and I don’t generally get too far from my estimated due date before giving birth, so this was totally possible. I had been having prodromal labor for several weeks at this point, my darling midwife even gave me a false labor remedy to help me out in the “there are too many contractions to stay well rested” department. That elixir really did the trick for me to stop contractions many times in my third trimester, but today I didn’t want annoying contractions to be “annoying,” I wanted them to move this baby out of my body.
I’m pretty sure I jinxed myself.
The day rolls on like any other day; a country fair is in town this week, so we pack the kids up and go despite the heat warnings and it being as hot and muggy as hell. Stepping outside of the air conditioned house was like walking into the mouth of summer, the thick air swallowing you down and the sun’s rays burning deep into your skin as it consumed you. The weather got the best of us, so we decided to head to a movie to beat the heat.
On our way to the theater I decide there are a few things I need to pick up for my impending labor; upon checking out at the register I became immensely satisfied with the deal I got, and went into the movie feeling really good about my purchase, “it IS for my labor after all, why shouldn’t I be excited?” We watch Brave together as a family; our boys’ very first movie theatre experience, one which I owe to them to give my full attention to while they react to the big screen, forgetting my labor intentions for those few hours. As soon as the movie is over, we decide immediately that we deserve dinner out; thinking we probably won’t get another family outing for dinner anytime soon. Soon!! I sort of forgot all about the baby coming, and now, NOW, all those irritating contractions are not exactly doing much. Not doing anything. Whatsoever.
We enjoy the rest of our evening child-free as our kids have fallen asleep earlier than normal. They do a lot of that on these hot summer days. I’m having contractions here and there, but I fear they are achieving nothing short of driving me insane. Contracting like this is physically exhausting, and it is mentally draining to constantly be aware of my uterus and it’s potential intentions. “Could be, should be labor… when will this pick up? Will it pick up? I’m ready for this to happen already…” my mind whips around every thought, scrambling my brain about. These contractions continue throughout the night and well into the next day until I finally cave-in and take the false labor remedy.
I swallow the cool, tasteless drops of clear fluid down, raising a white flag in my head to surrender. I was really hoping for that Fourth of July baby, and despite the contractions, it just wasn’t our time yet. “Not our time yet,” I let the words circle my mind before I wrap my head around the idea that I was wrong for all those months about the full moon putting me into labor. “What else can I be wrong about?” I worry, I put a lot of hope and planning into this baby’s labor and birth and I really want this home birth to be my most amazing birth yet, and I desperately want to know how and when everything will happen and who this baby is. An overwhelming urge to “know more” strikes me dead in my shoes. “Something must have been happening from all those contractions,” I think, “I should check my cervix. I bet you something is happening right under my nose.” An uncomfortable and physically-breathless reach up into my birth canal yields the information I am seeking; I am fully effaced and maybe about a fingertip dilated. Sigh.
Actually, it’s not much change since the last time I had checked the week before, so I decide that seeking knowledge about the state of my cervix is no longer something I want to do to my head, I simply can’t handle the mystery of the cervix, mentally. What will be, will be, with or without my knowledge of how things will play out. That and reaching up inside my body for the hope of a little insight is incredibly uncomfortable. “Let it be, mama, this is out of your hands.” The words ring like the dull strike of a gong through my head, and I decide at this moment to just carry on and soak up the last days of mothering two, however many days that may be. The rest of Thursday comes and goes, and Friday as well. “Relax, embrace,” I chant to myself every time I start feeling like I can’t take the unknown anymore.
Midday Saturday proves to bring some hope for me, or so I think. I wake up feeling like “today is the day,” but as usual, I’m not 100% sure. I start cleaning the house top to bottom, because I feel like I need to do something, I just feel anxious and antsy waiting for something to happen. If history proves right, I should at least be in early labor it’s a Saturday, both of my previous labors started on a Saturday. Dave and Victor make a bank run and return with a bouquet of red roses for me. Dave tells me the story; my sweet first-born son told his daddy that “mommy needs these flowers, today.” He is so right; I think how beautiful they will be in my bedroom as I give birth, so I fetch a green glass vase and fit the roses in. They smell so sweet. With that addition to my birthing atmosphere, ready is an understatement. I’m feeling fierce and ready for this labor to start, on this fine Saturday, but I am quickly robbed of that strong feeling as the uncertainty about when or if I am in labor strikes me down in the following moments.
The urge to pee sends me darting to the toilet to relieve my ever-so-squished bladder and to my surprise I find a decent amount of pink show on the toilet paper. A massive wave of confusion crashes over my body, “there has been no difference in contraction intensity or the way the contractions make me feel, yet I’m having bloody show?” Once upon a time in a different birth story, bloody show let me know I was, for sure, in labor, and contractions continued to bring us a beautiful baby within eight hours of that first “show.”
But on this particular wipe of toilet paper there is bloody show but I don’t know what it means, “how can I?” I’ve only had three contractions so far into the day, which is not how I expect bloody show to appear. Even in my first birth, this much bloody show began to appear around eight centimeters dilated; this volume which I am experiencing right now, happened to appear just before I pushed a baby out– and I am NO WHERE near ready to push a baby out. Confusing? Is it ever!! But I am far more excited to see what it means, and that momentarily drowns out my confusion. “Eek” doesn’t do my excitement justice as I text my midwife and photographer, and of course my best friend Lauren. *Something* is happening, I think.
Hours pass by, with little to no difference in contraction intensity or frequency; one here, one there, and they’re nothing to write home about. I feel defeat as I repeat text messages to my birthing team that nothing actually seems to be happening, except some more bloody show. Random contractions appear at times, ones that I can feel deep and low that tug on my hips but none of them make me stop and cope. This is so bizarre, where is my labor? I desperately want need to know that 1.) I am *for sure* in labor and 2.) if I am not in labor, is this bleeding ok? I quickly answer myself before I let the anxiety of “is my baby ok” take over. “Yes, this bleeding is light and mucousy, trust yourself, Christine. Trust your body. Trust your body. TRUST IT. TRUST.” I breathe in while chanting my affirmation and close out the world, I can feel a contraction coming on and I so very badly want to FEEL it. “Make me need to cope through this, please, I want to have to cope through this one, pleeeease,” I beg my body, beg the Goddess of Labor, beg whoever it is that is pulling on the strings of the universe to bring this baby earthside; “please just let me know this is really happening.”
I will my body as I feel my belly firming with the surge, to open and embrace the depth of my core as it presses my baby against my cervix, I want so badly for this to happen. Yet, when the contraction is over I feel empty handed, and I have been denied once again. “Chin up, this will happen, your baby will come out.” The baby will come out, the words take one more jog through my head, the baby will come out, and suddenly I want to get sick as a wave of butterflies tingles from my head to my toes. Instead, I sit on the toilet and I find my bowels churning in response to anxiety, an anxiety that I’ve been feeling for several weeks now. “I have to give birth to this baby,” the reality sets in as my body is doing its work now, and the butterflies continue to dance across my body at the mere thought of laboring and birthing for some unknown reason. Even with how badly I want to know whether or not I’m in labor, I am having some serious anxiety about giving birth despite having done this twice before and knowing everything will be ok. “Why now? Why feel anxiety about giving birth now?” I can’t answer myself.
The evening passes slowly and I stop trying to embrace contractions. Nighttime falls upon the house, and after the kids are off to bed I start getting things together for the seemingly imminent birth, even though my midwife is in no hurry to come over. “Call me if anything happens,” she responds. I’m glad she’s relaxed about it, she knows birth is normal and that I am not in real labor. I wish that *I knew that*, sure all the signs seem to point to “no” but I still feel like something is up. My fear is that this birth will happen without her here; I just want her nearby if I need her, or worse, if the baby needs her after birth. Going up to our bedroom to settle in feels disappointing, but I try to keep my head in a good space, reminding myself that this WILL happen.
“I’m having a shower,” I inform Dave like there is some magical power in those words, a magical power that will make my contractions pick up. He is busy watching YouTube videos on his iPod, giggling like an immature teenage boy, “enjoy it!” he says through his chuckles. I roll my eyes and undress in front of our bathroom mirror. My hands caress my large belly, “who are you, little one?” I ask as I gaze at my gigantic midsection and then close my eyes, imagining the moment that I first lay eyes on my baby, wet on my chest. I can feel tears well-up in my eyes; I love this baby no matter who they are, but I so desperately want to know, now.
A moment passes and as I exhale I open my eyes and see my shower is ready, the steam is beginning to pour out of the door. “Ahhhhhh,” the warmth of the water immediately relaxes me as I let the hot water hit my lower back, my shoulders, my hair as I step backwards towards the jet. It feels like a warm blanket around my body, tingling as the constant stream of water droplets strike and run down my skin. My inner monologue takes over and I think to myself that the most difficult part of the day is admitting I haven’t been in labor; I really thought today was it and, well, here I am still pregnant sliding my soapy fingertips over my still-gestating belly. Sigh…
There is only so much heat I can take in the shower before I start feeling thirsty, my body’s sign that it is time to get out, so I listen and pat myself dry. The towel doesn’t quite make it around my body anymore these days, “I miss wrapping a towel around me and wearing it around the bedroom as I cool off,” I think to myself; as much as I love love love being pregnant, I’m ready for all the little advantages of not having a giant belly to return with this birth. A few minutes pass after I dress in a non-fitting night gown; it’s time for bed so I text Aimee, our photographer, and Lauren to let them know that if anything happens through the night they will be the first to know to come over. I don’t bother texting Laura, the midwife; because she knows that I won’t have her miss anything either, no need for me to admit defeat to her as well.
I’m surprised at how well I sleep, I have a few contractions throughout the night, but I feel incredibly well rested. I decide to text Lauren when I wake up. It’s about 5:45 in the morning, and she’s obviously been sleeping with one ear open because she responds right away. I invite her to come over whenever she gets ready. I am determined that I will need her support today, that this baby is coming TODAY…
…but I wish I knew that for sure; “I don’t.” I joke with her, because if this IS labor, it is nothing like I have experienced before, and it feels like a “joke” compared to my other labors. I text Aimee to let her know she didn’t miss the birth, I know she is waiting anxiously as well. Lauren and I are able to spend some time together chatting in the morning; it is so nice having a quiet house and her there with me to fill the space with while the rest of the house is asleep. “I miss this kind of us time.”
A trip to the bathroom rewards me with losing a lot more bloody show, which I excitedly make Lauren look at; good thing this is her third time experiencing labor with me, I don’t know how many child-less girlfriends you could make come look at your findings on toilet paper. I text Laura, I’m very excited about this bloody show even though I have only had a few contractions since the last time we exchanged texts, despite this being exactly how the day before started. She tells me that everything sounds good, that I sound really good, and to let her know when I feel active.
“I really like her language.” *When* I feel active,” she must believe I am in labor today, YES! Now, where are my contractions…? I can’t have a baby without contractions.” All I can think of is that I need to get in the zone. I can’t start laboring until I get in the zone. “Everyone must leave, I can’t do this with three kids running around, my brother saying dumb things to me all day and distracting my husband from his role as my birth partner.”
I call my dad to come take the boys away, because I can’t focus on laboring, he thinks there is some rush to it even though I tell him to take his time. I tell my brother he has to go with my dad also, and take Chloe with him, if not, they need to be calm and quiet so I can focus on finding my zone and getting in it. I don’t know how far along I am but, I am starting to feel certain that our baby is going to be born today, and that my contractions will start at some point and, yes, today is the day. I think.
Everyone leaves after almost two hours of putzing around and me dropping hints to just leave. A few moments pass by, and suddenly I don’t know what to do with all this quiet time, so I paint my nails a fresh clear coat. Lauren and I decide to go for a walk, but first I want to get ready. I straighten my hair and put my labor hair band on, I find a fuchsia colored tank top and black shorts so at the very least I look put together. I even layer on a quick coat of mascara, and at the last second we decide I need to paint my toenails as well, we laugh through the whole thought that “this” is my labor. It seems like a joke, “this must be a joke, who spends their labor painting their nails and getting ready like they’re going out on a date?” We laugh it off as Lauren and I go down the stairs and tell Dave we are heading outside to go for a walk. As soon as I set foot in the garage I decide that I need to install the baby’s carseat, then we can go for our walk. “All these little things that I need to do to prepare for the baby… here I am doing them the day I am going to have the baby.”
We don’t get far before Lauren has a coughing fit from allergies that sends us home for water, we laugh at the irony at who has to quit the walk first. Instead of heading back out and hiking the hill behind the house like I joked on our way back to the house, I send Dave out for a bagel, it’s all that I really want right then and there, he does what I ask and returns to find me sewing baby wipes from old onesies at the table. I happily eat my bagel, and save the second one for later; every time I eat I go running for the bathroom to empty my insides, so I am trying not to eat too much at a time, but I’m pretty hungry throughout the day.
Normally I quit eating after things “get real” in labor, and I just don’t know if it’s getting real or not, so I eat when I need to. Suddenly I have a contraction that I have to stand for; I can’t sit through it on my chair sewing, clearly seen by the edging of the now-crooked wipe I was sewing when the contraction came on. “This is really low, and long, come to think of it.” After talking it through with Lauren and noting that the last contraction was nearly 90 seconds long followed by a good swipe of bloody show on the toilet paper, that I should call the midwife.
Our conversation is satisfying to me; I tell her that even though I don’t really have active labor contractions, I’m afraid that if I wait to feel active before calling her that she won’t make it. Laura reassures me that I know my body and that if I think it’s time for her to come she will come, and if I’m not very dilated then we’ll worry about that later; she did mention that the false labor remedy also has an ingredient in it that will help promote labor if my body is IN labor (it’s funny how homeopathics work like that) and that I could take several drops under my tongue to try to help bring on contractions. There isn’t a rush for her to leave, so she told me she’d see me in about two hours, given her distance, and I was pleased to hear it. I take the remedy with satisfaction; the last time I took it was to stop annoying contractions, this time is different, to help labor come. Bring.it.on.
I decide to try and rest, but I’m too excited for that so I quickly change my mind and decide on a warm bath with my new aromatherapy bath foam, purchased the other day before our movie. I take a good long look in the mirror for the first time today, and realize that my nose looks kind of funny. It looks like it has spread, and kind of elongated a bit. It feels really “loose” and squishy instead of firm at the tip. “How odd.” I shrug it off, because even if it means something, that “something” is not worth the energy of figuring out what it is. I draw the bath and change into a bathing suit top; it matches my headband, I hadn’t planned on this top but it was nice to have something to hold my breasts up instead of remaining entirely naked and hanging. I turn on my meditation music and light my candles, one is surrounded by my blessing way beads and one is a candle for energy, orange ginger.
My roses look lovely and welcoming to my birthing space, they are more open today than yesterday, of course. “Of course, they are more open today, how fitting,” I think. Everything is ready in the room, in my birthing space; “now I’m ready, for this labor to start.” I text Aimee, leaving the situation so that she knows she may wind up going home without shooting the birth. She arrives about an hour later and starts snapping pics. All we can do is laugh until Laura comes to provide me with some insight on what is going on with my body.
Why is this so funny? All the jokes are on me, if this really is labor, WHAT THE HECK!? Who has no real labor as their labor!? We joke, and just laugh. I get my friend Kate on FaceTime; I want her “here” with me as the baby is born, so I tell her to be on standby.
But it just doesn’t feel real, none of it does, “be on standby for what? This is the most absurd labor ever, it can’t be happening,” I laugh to myself after I hang up with Kate. Laura arrives shortly after that and suddenly I find myself dreading the vaginal exam that I have been waiting on for the past two hours. “Here it comes, time to face the music.” I glance at the clock; it’s about 4:15 pm, while I watch Laura’s face as we awkwardly meet for the exam of my cervix, the first time this pregnancy. Her expression seems unsettling, and not so much confused as wanting to be sure of herself as she asks me to sit my butt up on my fists so she can get a better “feel” for what she is thinking, and then she gently removes her gloved hand and tells me confidently with a chuckle in her voice… that I am fully dilated.
We can’t stop laughing, and I am in total shock. “I don’t feel ready to have a baby,” my heart races at the mere thought. I can’t get over this. I JOKED about this; all these phony baloney contractions actually doing something and then I’d just slide a baby out. God, I am so glad we decided to call Laura to come. But… now what? “What is the baby’s station,” I ask Laura hoping to hear there is at least some work for me to do, and she tells me the baby is sitting at a zero. That makes sense because I haven’t been feeling diddly-squat other than low sensations, and not full on pressure like you would if you labored to a 10.
“This is insane,” and I can’t stop laughing, and now, I’m cursing! “What a fu*king joke! Now what am I supposed to do? How long have I been fully dilated for? WHEN did that happen? WHAT THE FU*K!? What the actual fu*k just happened with my body?” I’m absolutely blown away. And now I have to have a baby, some “zone” to get into… The only question in my mind is how do I do this when I didn’t do anything to get to a 10? I had no labor to prepare me for pushing life out of my body, no work to earn a reward.
And for the first time in three pregnancies I genuinely don’t know what to do, and my mind scrambles to try and figure this out. I text Kate with the news and she laughs, a lot. Inner monologue takes over and I need to zone out the party that is happening in the bedroom. I need to move this baby down, let’s do this baby, come down, think: “open, down, embrace this baby into the world.” It sounds like a good plan, but all I can do is keep laughing, and saying “how the hell did this happen.” I feel pretty foggy about it all.
We have a few more laughs, I have a few more contractions, ones that seem to be giving me pressure, but still, they don’t feel like active labor contractions. All of this, the whole situation, leads me to feeling emotionally wiped out and physically exhausted, so I do what I know is right and lay down for a rest. I can’t fully grasp how much time goes by, but it feels like forever, even though I know it’s not. The contractions start to intensify as my baby is moving down little by little, and I need to get into better positions to get more comfortable during them.
I don’t really know how much time has gone by, but I do know I NEED to pee, so I get up and go, my napping time is over. I am frustrated with all of this. I’m not feeling any type of “zone,” I feel like labor sprung up on me, and I’m not finding any of my prior knowledge to birthing helpful in the least. The only thing I know for certain is that I just want this to be over; the emotional exhaustion of all the wondering, feeling like my body mocked my brain with going against everything I knew about laboring before, laughing hysterically with my room full of people, then napping… none of this is what I genuinely pictured for my first home birth; now I just want it to be over.
There’s a voice in my head that tells me to ‘lose the attitude; this birth is going perfectly, stop being a brat about it, and embrace your baby’s worldly entrance.” This voice of reason is right. I need to get a grip and just let this be what it will be. Not long after this moment of clarity do I find myself finally feeling active, I have a contraction that lets me know for sure that this baby is leaving my body TODAY, finally, I need to cope through a contraction. I let out a long, low groan from the bottom of my lungs. “This baby feels big,” I note to myself as it feels like my pubic bone is being separated a greater distance than I felt before, slowly. Another contraction comes quickly, I try different positions to get comfortable for it, and I know for sure that I can’t use the birthing stool for this birth; we laugh about the fact that my butt hurts from the pressure, and no other part of me feels any discomfort from this baby nearly ready to make their appearance. “I’ve got this,” I think to myself after having a laugh with my party.
I’m up, I’m down. I am trying to find out where to reside as I birth, what position I need; I’m answering something that feels very instinctual as I wind up on my elbows and knees, forehead to the ground. I get up on my hands and find myself rolling my hips back and forth, to and fro, head hanging loosely as I’m facing the ground. Something primal emerges from me; minutes go by as my body does this rolling and rocking. It feels like an out of body experience; this isn’t “me” coping, this is my body doing something as age-old as mankind. Dave places his warm hands on my hips, giving me all of the strength he can into my pelvis as he counteracts the pressure he knows I am feeling. “Lower,” I grunt. He obliges without saying anything. He doesn’t want to disturb my zone, the one that I have been looking for all day.
I can hear, feel, a low growl from my throat, my eyes are open yet out of focus, gazing at something yet looking at nothing but the blue sheet my body is straddling over. I feel sweat start to drip from my forehead finding their way to the ground. A cool, wet bead draws a piercing-cold line on my sweltering skin as it slowly trickles from the back of my neck to the front, landing on my hand as my body continues to sway from side to side. The shock of that single droplet brings me back to reality; I find myself on the floor of my bedroom at the foot of the bed, there in front of the mirror with everyone watching my reflection intently. My eyes focus back into my surroundings, the people in my room quietly and lovingly watching me in amazement. They all know something miraculous is about to happen. “I feel ‘pushy,’” I announce to everyone as if they didn’t already know. Suddenly, my body is moving this baby down and out.
The warm squishy bag of waters that has been protecting my baby through this whole ordeal is now stretching my birth canal, stretching it so fast that it starts to burn a little. My body is pushing this baby out, NOW. I am ready, but I need Kate. I need her there. “Please, can I have the iPad;” someone hands it to me, I don’t know who, but I do know everyone is looking at me with laugh in their eyes, like “is she serious?” I am, very serious, but I can’t focus enough to find the call button. A contraction comes, my body is pushing and this baby isn’t moving much more than a few centimeters as my uterus clamps down. I pause and breathe in deep when it’s over as I come to my senses and think back of where I found the call button when I called her earlier. “Ok,” I say, “I’ve got this.”
It starts ringing, thank GOD and she answers. I feel so relieved to see her face pop up, although I’m not sure she was fully prepared to see my vulva as soon as she answered. I tell her “it’s time to push,” but then I announce to everyone that I can’t do this on my feet, I can’t squat through this, my ass hurts too much, there is just too much pressure. “This is so intense, this baby is big. This baby is big. I know it, I can feel it. This baby is COMING NOW,” the thoughts race through my mind as I watch my expanding vulva in the mirror.
But this baby isn’t coming right now, I know I have to get on my back, or my butt might just fall out of itself. I chuckle to myself as I think of the irony that has played out throughout the day. Dave and Laura help me get adjusted on my back, spread eagle in front of this giant mirror. “Finally, I am ready, let’s do this baby.” I glance around my space. My candle is getting low, dripping wax now off of the dish it’s standing on, I am surrounded by my friends’ love and wishes through the beautiful array of beads they sent. They are symbolically surrounding me as I prepare to finish this labor with the birth of my baby.
My legs start shaking uncontrollably, “I need to push this baby out, I need to PUSH, my body can’t do this alone.” There in the mirror I see the baby’s bag starting to bulge out of my body, I can feel the friction of the bag inside of me so I push with the surge of power my body is providing. The bulging bag bursts water all over the bottom of the mirror and takes us all by surprise, but my face does not change. I watch intently and pause as my body takes a break, but resume rather quickly with the next contraction, I raise my butt off the ground to relieve the pressure off of my tail bone. “Gosh this baby feels big.”
“Look at that,” I think to myself, watching as my baby slowly begins to emerge is completely breath taking; I am in utter awe of my body. I can’t take my eyes off of my baby’s head, slowly (actually, not slowly at all) coming into this world. In just one contraction I see a beautiful round head take shape after the head bones fall back into place. My body desperately needs help to eject this baby; all I can do is answer it with another push.
Laura attempts to have me slow down to remove the baby’s nuchal cord, but I simply can’t. There is too much pressure and my body is really trying to move this baby out. I shriek, “I can’t!!” and push along with my body as the baby is turning to continue being born. “It’s ok, keep going then,” she says. “Good,” I think, “there was no way I was stopping.” And just like a giant exhale, my body releases the baby’s shoulders with a massive sigh of “Oh, thank God” from me as I feel the pressure immediately lighten from my thinly-stretched perineum.
I notice that Laura is sort of giggling; she tells me that it looks like I need one more push. “What!? The baby didn’t just slide out?” I think to myself. So I give one more push for the now-obvious chubby hips of my baby to be born. Just like that, Dave hands me a big wet slippery baby, smiling away. It felt like such a long, long process, in actuality it was a mere five minutes since I announced feeling pushy. And then I see in the mirror, the answer to what I’ve been curious about since the first faint pink line appeared on my pregnancy test.
”Oh, you ARE a boy,” I whisper to my new son, “and you are so BIG!” I tell him, as if he knew any different.
Emotions overcome me; this baby is stunning, and so chubby. I am so in love with him. I can’t help it, my eyes well-up. This is the child I prayed for, he is here, he is screaming a loud shriek worthy of only a third-child’s lungs, he is whole and perfect in one thousand ways. He is US, he smells like “us,” like our scent when we make love. “Why hadn’t I ever smelled this before? Is it because the other two weren’t born in our home, the smell of the birth center interfering with the smell of us??” All these thoughts are running through my head. I don’t know, it doesn’t matter. All that matters is soaking it all in right now. “Hi Bennett!!” I say to him. My perfect third baby, a son. No, I’m not surprised; a true surprise would have been a girl; it seems to be that boys are what Dave and I make. Here he is; he is here, I am so relieved. I look at Dave, he is crying, I look over at Kate on the iPad screen and she, too, is crying. We all just witnessed this completely amazing thing… even me, for the first time, in front of the mirror. I can’t believe my own eyes, what I just saw my body do.
Lauren has to leave rather quickly; staying for the birth made her late for work, and she must go. I am ever-grateful to her; her presence is, as usual, something supportive. But my work is not done; I still have to deliver a placenta that I know is large. Bennett and I shift around trying to get comfortable, waiting for the placenta to arrive, I try out the birth stool to see if that helps take pressure off of my bum. I feel fierce, I am high, I just did this amazing awesome thing and have this breathtaking child in my arms as a result.
We find comfort once again on the ground and the placenta is born with a small push, a wave of warmth overcomes me as it leaves my body. It’s time to cut Bennett’s cord; “you’re on your own now,” Dave tells his newest son as he pinches the limp, white rope of vessels between the blades of the scissors.
The rest of the evening whizzes by; I shower and change while Dave holds our baby. There is something amazing about watching a father become him, this man I love, even for the third time. I smile at him, gazing at the brand new face to discover and memorize. I check myself out in the bathroom mirror; standing is quite a feat as my organs try to reorganize themselves with their re-found space now that there isn’t a giant baby in the way. I dress quickly and get myself situated while Bennett is checked out; I’m anxious to get to his measurements. Picking up my phone, I see my father wants to know what time to bring the boys back. “Crap! I haven’t told him I was actually having a baby! The way I was when he left, he’ll never believe that I had the baby!”
“Hi dad,” I say to him with excitement in my voice, “I just had a baby boy, Bennett Marco, yes, everything went fine, we are both well. Tell them they have a new baby brother! Can you bring them back around 9:30? Ok see you then,” I have a brief conversation with my dad. “Now, back to business.”
I find glee in knowing already that he is a brute, but I want to know how much of a brute he really is. We all take guesses, but none of us are right. He is a whopping 9 pounds and 4 ounces of pure delicious chubby boy. He was born a full 18 ounces heavier than our other two babies, and I felt every ounce of difference. I managed no tears or damage whatsoever, less a sore bottom.
I thank Laura and her student Amy as they pack up and leave, spewing instructions and tips as they scan the room for anything they might have missed. Aimee spends a few more minutes with us for some pictures, then leaves. I know already that she did an amazing job; I can’t wait to see our pictures. We eat while we wait for our older children to return; my dad brings the big brothers back, fast asleep. Tomorrow we start the day as a family of five.