You are beautiful, and I love you to the ends of the earth. I had so much fear upon learning we were pregnant again. Between finances, balancing life, and figuring out how I was bringing you into the world, I was nervous. You were not planned, but you were loved from the minute we found out you existed.
My pregnancy with you was very uncomfortable. Although I was not as sick, I was so tired, and so sore. Chasing after your sisters and learning a new level of heat in Okinawa was brutal. I was exhausted. You were pretty busy yourself! You wiggled and squirmed all day, every day; you even had the ultrasound technicians laughing as you bounced around my uterus. I can only imagine what’s to come from you in the future.
My sweet girl, there was so much I had to come to terms with while I carried you. After I gave birth to Harleigh I swore I’d never give birth in a hospital again, and well, living here, I had no choice. I searched in every crack and crevice I could to find a midwife who could help me. I even looked into a few traveling midwives. I wanted to have you at home.
I was entering my third trimester and decided to stop stressing and start preparing my mind for a hospital birth. I wrote up an extravagant birth plan to ensure I could bring you earth-side as easy and as peacefully as I could. It was against most of the hospitals policies and required my various signatures, but I knew what was best for us, for you.
It was 3:30 AM when I woke up to a strong contraction after almost two weeks of irregular contractions that had lasted hours at a time. I was about to roll over, when I heard Harleigh crying. I went to check on her to find she had awoken and slipped her leg through her crib rail. She was stuck. I thought, what are the odds I am in labor and Harleigh knows? I got her unstuck, calmed her down, and went back to bed. As I lay down, I had another contraction. I shook it off again; then, the next one came. I began timing them to find they were ten minutes apart and strong! I tried to go to sleep again, thinking by the time I woke up they’d be closer together if they were real. I knew I needed as much sleep as I could get. So, off I went, drifting to sleep, holding my big, old belly in my arms. As soon as I began to dream, you punched me so hard. I got the message loud and clear: today was the day I was going to meet you!
I was so fearful that your punch broke my bag of waters. I laid there just waiting for the fluids to soak the space around me. A few more contractions passed, then I nervously got up. When I stood, no water came out, but the rest of my mucous plug presented itself. I knew it was the end because it was quite a bit. After using the bathroom, I decided to stay in our quiet room and time our contractions.
Ten minutes…six minutes…four minutes…they just kept decreasing intervals and fast. I sat, I stood, I breathed. I got excited, cleared my mind, and prepared for my day with you. I went to tell Grandma that I thought today was it! I told her before Daddy, because I knew she would take longer to get ready. I notified our birth team and told them to expect a call soon to come in! Then I jumped in the shower.
As the water flowed down my back, I held you inside me in my arms, and imagined what was to come. I thought about my fear of the hospital, the unknown, a plan, and your name. Yep, that’s right, we still weren’t positive we had a name for you! I got out of the shower, woke your dad, and started getting your sisters ready. I told everyone, despite my original birth plan to labor at home as long as possible, I wanted to go in after we got some breakfast. I was so scared with how fast they were moving that my water would break, and that if it did I wouldn’t know what to expect from myself as far as a timeline. The hospital is usually only 20 to 30 minutes away, but it could be up to an hour or hour and a half, depending on traffic and gate delays or closures. I also figured the sooner I got into the hospital scene, the longer I had to get comfortable being there.
After casually packing all the bags, getting ready, and packing the car, we were out the door about 7:30 AM. We were on our way to Dunkin Donuts when I asked my mom to stop at Harleigh’s swim lessons so I could pay the bill. Your dad thought I was nuts, as my contractions were enough to make me stop and sway at that point, but I’m your crazy mother! Of course it was necessary! Eventually, we got to Dunkin Donuts and I stayed in the car with your sisters while Grandma and Daddy went to get all of our food and Munchkins for the nurses. Sarah, our doula, texted me to let me know she was on her way to the hospital and my photographer was on her way in, too, for another mom who was just admitted. I was so nervous our photographer Kristi would miss the birth due to the other momma!
We got to naval at 9:05. We decided to leave everything in the car until I was admitted. We had plans to hang out in the hospitals lobby until I was ready to go to triage. We all sat around eating breakfast and talking while I rode out my contractions, just waiting for them to get stronger, more consistent, and closer together, but unfortunately, they began to disappear. Your sisters were playing with the peanut ball, running around, and being silly. We all were simply just waiting for things to pick back up.
Grandma began notifying the family that you were making your grand entrance soon, because everyone on the east coast back home was about to go to sleep. Your great Uncle Joe, my godfather, and Aunt Christine video chatted with us to wish us luck, and remind us how crazy we were for hanging out in the lobby. Everyone was so excited, but not possibly more excited than me.
After two hours of wonky and weak contractions, I feared today was not the day. I was so worried this would turn into a false alarm, but I was confused because my contractions with you were so incredibly strong. My doula suggested I get away from the hospital, that maybe it was in my head.
We all took a break and I sent Sarah home. The rest of us went to Macaroni Grill for lunch. We had to run back home anyway, because we forgot some things at the house!
Sure enough, my contractions picked right back up the second I stepped out of the hospitals doors. My confidence that you were on your way was back, and I decided to stay away from the hospital for quite a while! The contractions I had in the car were the worst, and just my luck they always occurred when we got up to every gate guard of each gate we went through. However, no one seemed to notice.
We got to Macaroni Grill around noon, and I ordered Chicken Alfredo. It was so good, but it took forever to eat because I had to stop for contractions. They were back and six minutes apart, and strong enough that I needed to relax my jaw and breathe. At one point, I got up to use the bathroom and they came on so strong on the toilet that I began to vocalize and prayed no one would walk in! I can’t imagine what a stranger would say or think!
I was in such awe that our waitress didn’t even bat an eye or seem to notice I was in labor. She had great timing around our waves.
We finished up and headed to Fosters BX. Originally, I planned for everyone to get out and come in so I could walk around, but then I decided against it at the last minute. Just me and your dad went in.
Walking into the BX a man stopped me and said, “You look like you’re in a lot of pain.” I laughed. He proceeded to say, “Not too much longer.”
I said, “I’m in labor, the hospitals the next stop!”
He looked like he just saw a ghost and said, “Oh really? Well, good luck!” I stopped to have a contraction and held onto your dad’s arms. After it was done, he left to go to a different store in the center while I went to find ice packs for the cooler that would house our placenta until we could get it home to our freezer. I had three contractions in that aisle waiting for your dad to come back. I was getting nervous, because he was taking so long! Finally, he returned and we checked out and headed to the hospital.
We arrived back at the hospital around 2:30. Again, we left all of our things in the car, but this time I went up to the mother infant care center to get admitted. I figured if I got a room, I could get comfortable with my surroundings and maybe set up the pack and play for Harleigh so she could nap.
I told Sarah I was going to try to get a room and I’d call her when we were ready for her to come back. I got up to triage and they did a 20 minute strip to monitor your heart-rate and our contractions. I was excited because they were finally consistent in the hospital at five minutes apart! I knew we were ready to be admitted. The nurse asked if she could check me and I declined. She tried to persuade me and I caved because if I didn’t get admitted right now, I’d have to sit through another strip when I came back to try to be admitted again. However, there was a catch. I did not wish to know my progress. Daddy and Grandma were told and Daddy told Sarah, who then told me she was on her way in. I figured I was 4cm or 5cm dilated, gauging from the pain I was experiencing. I knew they admitted women at a 4cm, so when my nurse came in and didn’t admit me, I was scared. I thought I was having strong contractions at a 2cm or a 3cm, because they decided not to give me a room. I also heard Daddy talking to Grandma outside triage. “Well, it was a water birth. It’s going to be different,” Grandma said. I was so nervous, I may not have been handling my contractions well!
The nurse told us to walk around for two hours and come back. She went on to tell me this was best for me, because my plan was to have such a hands-off birth that if she admitted me now, they’d want eyes on me and that’d be more of a chance for the providers to want to intervene. So, off I went.
I sat on my birth ball in the lobby of the MICC until Sarah arrived. When she got there, I took her to come walk with me. I knew I needed to get “away” and regain focus on my labor, to zero in on you and my body. I opened up to her about a previous sexual assault, as the cervical check had triggered my memory. I was fearful it would set me back. Opening up to her allowed me to let that go, and made me feel safe again.
We walked and walked and walked, stopping every five minutes for contractions where I held onto the handrail and she placed her hand on my lower back with hardly any pressure at all. For some reason that made a world of difference. After an hour and a half, I went to empty my bladder and have toilet contractions, because they’re so effective. I rode out the last 20 minutes of our walk there. In-between them, I talked with Sarah. I asked her what my cervical check revealed, even though I told her not to tell me earlier. She was reluctant to say, but I told her that I really meant it. I wanted to know, because I knew I had made progress by now, as I could feel transition was near. I was confident and comfortable with where I stood in that moment. “5cm,” she said. I was so happy to hear it. I told her that is exactly where I thought I was, but explained why I became nervous. Now, I was very confident in knowing exactly where I was at, just like with Harleigh’s birth.
I also began to become deep and filled with those loving and warm feelings that come with natural labor. I told her how I wished women would hang on to this feeling, the feeling in-between waves: the ecstasy that is in those moments, and knowing that they’re that much closer to meeting their babies. If women held onto those feelings and looked forward to those moments of such relief, they would see that they could do it and they wouldn’t be so afraid. I could not wait to see you, my dear, and I knew every amount of pain I was going through was worth the ride.
We walked back to the MICC, because I knew transition was rearing its ugly head. I told the triage nurse I was ready to get a room. He told me to go into triage and wait to be checked. I was immediately angered. I was not going to be checked again. The nurse I had two hours ago was gone.
A new nurse came in and told me, “Ok, we’re going to go ahead and get a check.” As she was reaching for gloves, I declined, and she left to speak with my provider. A new nurse came in and said she was going to check me. Now, I was even more upset, because it was over 20 minutes since the first nurse left. Things were moving quickly, and they obviously weren’t communicating.
I said, “No. I just told the last nurse that wasn’t happening and the nurse on earlier told me that I didn’t need one. I was checked two hours ago and I was 5cm with consistent contractions on my strip. I know I was able to be admitted then, so just get me a room.” Your nice mommy was turning into Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Now, this nurse told me she was leaving to speak to my provider.
Another 30 minutes went by. I was telling your dad, “I need to get in the shower. They need to get me a room.” “They’re so strong.” “I’m so close Travis.” “Please get me a room.”
Daddy asked Sarah to get them to move things along because the contractions were on top of each other. I couldn’t stand any longer and got up on the gurney on my hands and knees in downward dog.
Ten more minutes and I asked for my birth ball to lean over.
Two minutes and our provider finally came in and told me I needed to be checked. She said they could not admit me without one. I explained I had one, and she said she needs to make sure I’m making progress. I promised her I was, and then, I had the worst contraction of all of my labor with you. While I was slowly riding to the peak of that wave I thought, Oh my god I need an epidural. Fuck it. And then, POP! Water flooded my sweatpants. I shouted, “Oh fuck, my water just broke, oh my god, oh my god!” “Its ok Megan, calm down. This is a good thing,” Sarah reassured me. I was freaking out, and heard Dr. Lee in the background asking if it was a trickle or a gush. I broke down, and began to cry and beg for a room. Dr. Lee was still pushing for a check to make sure it was my bag of waters. I couldn’t believe in one of the most vulnerable moments of my life a doctor was still pressuring me to do something I did not want done. I calmed down and I told them I was wearing a pad, to just take it and test it, but that I needed to get into a room, now. Not even two contractions later, and I felt the pushy sensations that are about to prepare me for your descent into the world. I tried to breathe through them and control my body.
“I’m feeling pushy. I need a room, get me a room.” Sarah relayed the information and apparently that set a complete panic amongst the nurses. A cart was rushed to triage and waiting for me to deliver you right then and there.
“Megan, there’s a shift change.”
“Are you fucking kidding me? I need to get in the shower. Where’s Kristi? Sarah, go find Kristi (photographer)!”
Soon enough, a nurse came in named Katie and saved my life. She got everyone out of my triage area, and told me they were getting me a room. It was now 7 PM.
By the grace of god, I was able to get up and walk to the room. As I walked down the hallway, my photographer and another doula came out of the room in front of me. I locked eyes with Amanda (the other doula) and we just had this mutual understanding of where I was at in my labor. It meant so much that someone who wasn’t even fully aware of all that was going on could see and understand exactly where I was at.
Oh no, I felt a contraction coming on. I paused and looked at the blurry hall of nurses surrounding me. I’m not even sure who said it, but someone told me to turn around and hold onto the cart. Thank god for them! I held on to the cart that was sent to triage to assist in delivering you. Pushing through the contraction, I prayed I didn’t feel your head pop in my soaking wet sweatpants.
Phew! We made it. I swiftly moved into the room, and Dr. Lee was running down all the protocol things she needed to tell me. Then told me I needed a hep lock. It was at that moment that I lost my marbles completely with her. I told her I wasn’t allowing a hep lock, I was pushing already! What’s the point now? She was asking me if I had allergies, my birthday, my blood type, everything they should’ve asked me in triage, instead of pressuring me for a check, and I just wanted her to shut up.
We were in the room and I was so “out of body” I couldn’t figure out where the bathroom was immediately. I did a circle, spotted the door, walked up to it, and while she was still speaking said, “I’m going in the shower. See ya!”
Daddy, Sarah, Kristi, and Katie followed me in and Dr. Lee watched from the doorway. Dad got the water on and it was an immediate change. I was relaxed, happy, and ready to bring you into the world. Then, Dr. Lee said, “Tell us when you have to push, so we can move you to the bed.”
I laughed and said, “That’s what you think,” and then I shouted back, “Hernandez (another provider) told me I could deliver in the shower dependent upon the provider.”
Katie said, “I can tell you right now, this provider isn’t comfortable with that.”
I looked Dr. Lee right in the eyes and told her, “This isn’t her birth, so I don’t really care what she’s comfortable with.”
The mood shifted, again. Everyone knew I was not backing down from getting the birth I desired. Dr. Lee left and asked to be notified when I was pushing. “At least tell me when you’re pushing, so I can get my gloves on.” Katie said.
She laughed, but was unsure what to say, because I was pushing already. I got inside my head and thought about my cervix. I knew if I wasn’t 10cm that pushing would be really bad and I could hurt myself. I told Katie, “You can check me now if you want, but it needs to be right now, and fast”. I was in-between contractions. While she was in the process, I felt another one surface and exclaimed, “What am I? Get out!” “You’re complete.” My lioness roar began, “UHGHHH I’M PUSHINGGG… No, I’m not. I am not pushing. You did not hear that.” The room was in hysterics.
“We got you Megan, we didn’t hear a thing.”
I could feel you moving while you were crowning. It was the weirdest sensation I’ve ever felt. I even said, “Stop moving in my vagina. It’s weird.” That made everyone chuckle, too. I could feel your head about to deliver and then you slide back up. “Wait, where is she going?” I asked. The disappointment in my voice sparked my doula to reassure me it was fine, and normal.
Pushing felt so good. I couldn’t feel my contractions anymore and the relief of pressure while I pushed was unexplainable. I held my bottom to support your descent, hoping I wouldn’t tear. I could feel your beautiful head bulging. It was surreal. I tried my best to breathe you down. I would say it was successful, but I did let out a breathy, slight scream when your head entered the world.
Once your head was out, I began pushing with all my might to deliver your body. Swoosh! At 7:28 PM, on August 5th, 2015, fluids poured from me and your cry filled the room. Katie handed you to me between my legs. I grabbed you and placed you on my chest. I sat there, admiring your squished up face, your beautiful features, in awe of you. My beautiful girl, you were here, and you were perfect. I sat on the bench in the shower for my first five minutes with you, then, we were moved to the bed to initiate breastfeeding, cut your cord, and to deliver the placenta. Your latch was terrible, but I wasn’t worried. They massaged my uterus, and tugged on the cord even though I asked them not to, but the placenta was taking its sweet time. Forty-five some minutes later, it finally arrived. I gave you to Daddy and they took your measurements: 8lbs 10oz, 20.5 inches long.
Soon after, I hopped in the shower, where I laughed at the day. I gleamed from our birth and I cried, because you were no longer occupying that space inside of me. This was the beginning of your life and your adventure. I can’t wait to watch you grow.
After the shower, we brought Grandma in so you could meet her, and your sisters. They were so excited to see you. You are so loved; don’t you ever forget that, my girl.
About an hour later I signed AMA after AMA, and my consent form for your delivery. Ironic right, being that it was over and done!
Your birth was chaotic, but beautiful. I would do it again tomorrow if I could. I brought you earth-side the best way I knew how, and my goodness, do we have a great story. I love you Raegan, and I always will.
All photos were taken by Kristi James Photography.
Thank you thank you thank you for this gift of your writing. What an amazing story. So inspired by you.
Sending love from Minnesota,