3:00 am on the morning of September 30th, I awoke to some uncomfortable cramping. I was at the breaking point in my pregnancy. I felt that I couldn’t possibly get any bigger, or any more emotional. I had disconnected with the world because I could not handle one more, “You haven’t had the baby yet?”
3:30 am: I’ll go to the bathroom and go back to bed. I can’t possibly be in labor because it’s never going to happen. So back to bed I went. But this time it was different. I couldn’t sleep. The heavy cramping feeling wasn’t going away.
4:00 am: I realized I better get up and time the contractions. They were every 8-10 minutes. Everything felt like water. If you close your eyes here and picture yourself in the ocean floating on your back in gentle waves. That is the feeling. It was deep within my gut. It wasn’t painful. It was primal.
4:30 am: I had my bloody show. Some of you are going ewww, but I felt like the heavens opened and angels were singing. HA! I was waiting for this sign! I knew this was it! I was so excited! I sent a text message to my midwife, Heather, and my doula, Gena. Once I had that bloody show, it felt like something clicked in my mind. I tried to lay back down for a while, but my body said get up and move. After laboring quietly for a while on the toilet, I decided to wake Justin around 6 and tell him it was GO time. I got in the shower and let him get everything in the car and get himself ready. The contractions were coming stronger and harder. Now picture yourself still in the ocean but the waves start to envelop you.
6:30 am: Contractions were 2 minutes apart. Baby and I were working really well together. I had called my midwife and told her I needed to come in to the center. I also called my doula and let her know. Off we went to the birth center. Having contractions in the car is not fun, I am very glad we don’t live far. By this point I was having to make some vocalizations to cope with the contractions. I remember saying to Justin, “Hey if they continue like this, I can totally do this. I don’t think they can get much worse.” Ha! Early labor nonsense. I have to admit, there wasn’t a single point in my labor I felt helpless, or unable to continue. I felt as if the baby and I were working together towards the birth.
7:30 am: We arrived at the birth center and it took me a while to get back into the moment. I felt a little distracted by the new faces and environment. However, I’m sure none of them could tell because I b-lined for the bathroom, sat down on the toilet, put on my hypnobirthing crap and continued laboring. Heather suggested that we call Gena again and tell her to hurry. So Gena was texted, called again.
I believe she arrived around 8 maybe 8:30 am: Any time frame from the minute I walked into the center until the time Jo was born is completely warped. I didn’t care what time it was or how long I was in labor for.
When Gena arrived I felt relieved. Justin was doing an amazing job so far supporting me. Anything I needed he was giving, but I needed for him to be guided. I needed my doula. She was the steady voice in the background, telling him good job when I couldn’t. Showing him where to place his hands. She was the most valuable asset in that moment. It made the moment more tender for us because he was able to be so supportive and there for me, because someone was there for him. I could cry thinking about how wonderful he was. We labored together as a family. Weaving in and out of this elaborate time continuum. I knew HE was tired, he knew I was tired. And there was such a respect and love between the two of us. I felt so powerful and so vunerable at the same time. This sense of being is what matters. It is like an alternate state in which you exist in as husband and wife. Those last moments in time, before your family changes forever, are sacred.
I can’t separate the details of my labor in my memory, so I am going to place them all down in a mess of a paragraph. Isn’t that what birth feels like after? A mess of details?
So I labored on through the morning, I ate an ungodly amount of honey during labor and threw up at some point. I moved from the bathroom, to the bedroom tub, to the side of the bed. I got naked at some point. I remember getting in the tub and loving every second of pain relief, but being too hot for clothes or caring. Gena massaged my back with this amazing oxygen infused oil. Jocelyn provided cold washcloths for my forehead with amazing timing once one was too warm. My midwives moved in and out monitoring Jo’s heart rate. Everyone treated my space with such respect and reverence.
I made deep sounds from my gut with every contraction. I had imagined myself being a groaner, and I sure was. My bag of waters was bulging and I was able to reach down and feel it several times which gave me a sense of progression. As my labor progressed I went to the side of the bed. I was definitely pushing at this point but still only getting a bulging bag. I had an urge to get back in the tub.
12:02 pm: As soon as I stood up- splash! My bag of waters finally broke! I thought from here till the end took 2 hrs but it was 18mins!!! I got back in the tub. This last part remains my favorite, most vivid memory of birth. I had Justin in front of me supporting me with the rebozo, my doula behind me doing hip squeezes and my midwive’s hands waiting to catch and supporting my perineum. I bore down on the rebozo and gave a great push. I could feel her descending. I yelled, “This hurts so bad! She’s almost here!”. The women in the room and Justin joined in my pain and excitement at that point. Justin was able to let go the rebozo and go around behind me to see JoElla being born. Heather reassured me during this time and helped me not to push between contractions.
12:20 pm: Then with one more contraction, one more good push and she was out. In those first few moments my whole body possessed this great feeling of shaking power. Heather handed me my baby and for the first time we looked at each other. I didn’t need to count her fingers or toes to know she was perfect.
I kept telling her, “We did it baby! It was hard, but we did it, and now you’re here! You did such a good job!” She kept looking over when Justin would talk or laugh. She knew her daddy’s voice. About ten minutes later we finally looked and saw she was indeed a girl. We were so in awe of this beautiful new family member we didn’t even think to look, until reminded.
The placenta was delivered while I was on the bed nursing for the first time about 30 minutes after she was born. It was a beautiful heart shaped placenta that nourished us for an additional 6 weeks after birth in capsule form.
I am very grateful for an amazing, supportive birth team that helped me have the birth I could only dream of.
Four hours after the birth, going home.
For more pictures, visit Katie’s blog: A Conception to Birth Story