38 weeks, 4 days
Wake up from a few hours sleep. POP. Gush. There goes my water. “Honey, throw me a towel, my water is breaking…HONEY, WAKE UP…throw me a towel. No, under my bum, not on my stomach. My water broke.”
BAM. Contraction. Okay, time to get up. That was strong. David is awake now, and this is the real thing, not a practice run. Get birth boxes, change the sheets, call the midwife and photographer.
Text my Birth Without Fear sisters while groaning through a contraction, leaning over the washer. What was I looking for again? Oh, yeah…put the cloth diapers in the dryer so the washer is empty. BAM. Contraction. Never mind about the diapers.
Shower. Water feels nice, wakes me up all the way. Groan through some more contractions. Get out after a few minutes and help make the bed up. Red fitted sheet, flowered flat sheet, plastic protector, blue old fitted sheet on top. Stop about 10 times to moan through contractions.
David has called the midwife, she is on her way – she has a two hour drive ahead of her. Text and called photographer, but no answer yet. We are both thinking we have plenty of time so we don’t worry too much about it.
I’m on the bed, hands and knees. I have to vocalize with each contraction. AAAAAHHHHHH…. OOOOHHHHHH….. AAAAAAHHHHHHH. I am begging baby and body to slow down, this feels so fast and insistent – like transition. My internal dialogue repeats again and again, “Slow Down.”
Thank goodness I have a towel under me and a pail in front of me. Let’s just say my body “empties”.
Our two year old son wakes up with all the noise and peeks out at me from his room. He doesn’t seem too concerned…just closes his door and goes back to his bed for a little bit longer.
Back in the shower. I need something to help me concentrate. These contractions are coming close and hard. Less than 5 minutes apart, lasting a minute or more each.
I’m on hands and knees in the bottom of the shower, I can’t stand through the contractions, so I just stay down there. David puts on the birth playlist…the first song that comes up is Katy Perry’s “Roar”. I start to sing it between and through contractions as much as I can.
“I’ve got the eye of the tiger, a fighter, dancing through the fire. I am a champion, and you’re gonna hear me ROAR.”
Inside, I laugh a little. I had planned another soft and slow birth like my first son’s. Candles, the birth tub, soft music. Instead, I am nailed to the floor of the shower, singing a fight song. I realize that every birth really is different and that I might as well let go of any thought of a slow birth. I just start to ask for the baby to wait for the midwife.
I can’t let David leave my side to do anything. Sometime during all this, our pastor, Mary, comes to watch our son, and then takes him for a walk since he was trying to climb in the shower with me.
I vomit a little more. I sing some more. I flip over to sit on the tub floor, letting the water beat on my belly. My bum falls asleep…but I can’t move. BAM go the contractions. I talk to myself inside and aloud – “Open, open, open.” I don’t want to fight my body or my baby.
Paulette, our midwife, walks in. I break out into a smile and say in an almost childish voice, “I am so glad to see you! Thank you for coming so fast.”
She watches me for a few minutes, asks a few questions. I start to shake – hard. I say again and again, “This is going so fast.”
We decide to get out of the shower and go to the bed to get a better idea of where I am at, if I am shaking from the water being cool or shaking from adrenaline or what. David goes to fill the birth tub…I have a feeling it won’t get used.
I get half way down the hall and fall to my knees. I think David comes back up the stairs. Someone hands me the pail to vomit in, Paulette puts her hands on my lower back and that feels great. BAM, BAM, BAM. Back to back contractions.
Short pause – I get up and almost run to the bed, knowing I don’t want another set of contractions in the hallway. I get on hands and knees at the end of the bed.
GROAN. GRUNT. PANT.
My body pushes.
Paulette turns around at the noise, and asks “Are you pushing?” Yep, I think I am. BAM. Another contraction – totally pushing and can’t help it. I think to myself, “Someone should get David up here.” Paulette calls down the stairs at the same time as that thought, telling him to leave the tub and get up here because the baby is coming.
Erica, our photographer, walks in. My body is pushing, I am grunting. I smile as well as I can, maybe I say “hello”…I think it anyway.
Paulette feels that baby is in the birth canal. Good, I’m not pushing against a lip of cervix or anything. Knowing that now, I say “No fingers” and she backs away and just watches me. David, Paulette, and Erica just watch me. Erica notices that my Birth Without Fear necklace is hanging on my birth votive and asks if I want it on – I do! She and I had many conversations about how much that necklace means to me. David and Erica help me put it on between contractions.
I have my hand on my vulva…just waiting for that first feeling of the head in my hands. I think to myself many things at once:
“Just go with your body. Give in. Surrender. This baby is coming now. It’s fast, but that is okay.”
A head suddenly fills my hand. Wow. This is fast. I feel the sting and stretch. Paulette grabs one leg and David the other since my body really wants to clamp my legs shut. That won’t really help, they have to stay open! I don’t say anything aloud, but I continue my pep talk internally. Everyone in the room is quiet and just watches as I work with my body.
“Just breathe. It stings, but that is okay. Give your body time to stretch. You don’t want to tear. Just go slow. It’s okay. Just breathe and wait for the next contraction.”
I feel the next contraction build. Suddenly, the head pulls back. Then I feel feet push inside me and POP, the head is out. Wow, that was weird. It was like this baby needed to back up and get a running start.
Head is out, I wait for the next contraction. I feel that baby didn’t totally rotate after his head come out…I find it odd. I remember feeling that rotation with my older child’s birth. The next contraction builds, I notice that Paulette is looking at something and trying to help with something. It’s just sort of a passing observation, I feel almost “out of body.”
I think about baby not rotating all the way and consider for a moment…then I just PUSH. It feels right. Suddenly I feel the “release” of the body and a huge wave of fluid. My baby is out!
I reach down and Paulette helps me lift the slippery little baby to my chest. David yells out “It’s a boy!”
I say a few things, though my internal and external words are mixing up. I am rather sure I say “That was fast” more than a few times.
Over the next hour, we cuddle our newest little boy – Archer. His brother comes to meet him and exclaims “Cool baby!” and sings “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” to him because he is crying. Archer cries for a good 30 minutes after his birth. I think he is just as shocked as I was at the speed of the birth. Perhaps he was planning a slow birth with music and candles too.
I learn that Archer had a nuchal hand – his right hand came out next to his face. This is why I didn’t feel him rotate all the way after his head was out, and Paulette was noticing that his top shoulder did not release. She was going to pull his hand up and out, but I pushed and his shoulder popped free. She is surprised I didn’t tear given the nuchal hand and quickness of the birth. I’m just glad for a second tear-free birth!
About an hour after the birth the placenta releases and I push it out. We planned to do cord burning this time around and give it a go for about 5 minutes. We picked a bulky spot in the cord, and it was taking a while and Archer wanted to nurse again, so we stop and do the regular clamp and cut. I was still glad of the experience of cord burning and the feeling of a spiritual release from the placenta. David had made the burning box, and I had covered it in Bible verses.
I quickly showered. The bed was stripped of the blue sheet and the plastic protector – our clean set of sheets were already under there. I get on my robe and climb into bed. We take more photos and enjoy some smoothies. Three hours after the birth, everyone says their goodbyes and we settle in for nap time.
I muse that our little Archer was born in fitting style. His head retracting and then shooting out was like an archer pulling back the bow string to lose the arrow. His hand by his head was like the stance an archer takes when he pulls back the string. The whole birth was fast and precise.
Archer is our rainbow baby and my second HG baby (Hyperemesis Gravidarium). His pregnancy was hard in many ways, but his birth was a joy. Shocking with its quickness, but there was so much joy in the room and in my heart. The surrender made me feel powerful. The energy coursed through me, and I followed it. My pushing phase was 100% self-directed and I was 100% present in the moment.
Given the choice between my two births – one slow and soft, the other fast and insistent – I don’t know that I would pick one over the other. I feel truly blessed to have gotten to experience both sides of the coin, and I simply marvel at the wondrous creation that is the female body.