I knew labor was imminent yet I still managed to be in absolute denial that she was on her way. I was thirty-nine weeks and two days pregnant and had been contracting painlessly for over five weeks. Things had changed the day before however, and a few of those contractions came with intense pains in my side. I knew exactly what that meant. I just didn't think that after five weeks, it was finally time to meet our baby.
I slept well the night before, through nearly all the contractions, which was typical. Upon waking I had some serious contractions that took my breath away. My plug had fallen out days before and now there was blood stained toilet tissue. Within minutes of finding this out, contractions kicked into high gear and started coming every thirty seconds. I decided to take a bath to make it stop, because, after all, I wasn't in labor. The bath did make contractions stop, but after getting out, contractions resumed to every thirty seconds for about fifteen minutes. Then there was nothing.
I spent the morning playing with great big puzzles, while snacking on grapes and veggie chips on the living room floor with Julian. Hours went by and only three or so intense painful contractions, or any contractions at all, came and they left as quickly as they appeared. Around 11am, Nathan headed off to his longest class of the week, but only after asking me a million times if he should stick around (he doesn't have a cell phone). "Absolutely not," I'd say "go to class but hurry back." There was no way we were meeting our baby today.
Lunch time came around and I made Julian some food, all while contracting the entire time. And not the painless kind, but the kind that changes your breathing and makes little three-year-olds mimic you with a serious face. I let him eat his lunch in peace and went to my room where I leaned on my office chair with my head on the backrest and my knees on the cushion. The contractions ended there and I nearly slept for thirty minutes. After Julian's lunch, I put him down for nap and had a nice long contraction while giving him a hug. He said "Mom, are you having the baby today? Can I go to Papa and Resa's house now?" "Yes," I told him, "we're having a baby soon, but I don't know if it's today." I'm still in denial.
After putting him down for a nap, I decide to take one myself and head directly to my bed, snuggling up to my enormous pillow that Nathan grimly refers to as "Bob". Another contraction comes and it's almost unbearable. I grit my teeth and clench my fist as I'm completely unprepared for it. When it's done, I look at the clock; 1:13 p.m. And within seconds, there's a popping noise and a warm gush. But do I get up? No. That wasn't my water breaking. As a matter of fact, I lie there contemplating what that was through the next contraction, because I know I didn't pee myself. But that contraction was just as intense as the one before and I decide I better move to the bathroom.
I pull off my pants and sit on the toilet, contracting and thinking in between that, indeed, THAT was my watering breaking, and I'm nearly in tears because I don't know what to do with my wet underwear and pants (by the way, the bed stayed dry). Eventually, I picked up my dirty laundry between contractions and managed to put them in the laundry hamper, get new pants and underwear on, and put a panty liner on, too. Yes, a panty liner. I'm so far into labor at this point and I recognize after the birth how little I was using my brain. I remember thinking that I wasn't ready to be naked and make a mess, and I didn't want to be uncomfortable in a period pad, so this was the easiest solution I could come up with.
Now with clean dry clothes, I spend my time contracting by standing and leaning over my bed, shoving my face and fists into "Bob", while moaning and grunting loudly. I hear Julian in the next room mimicking me and so I decide to call my parents, Papa and Resa, to come pick him up, and for my mom to be at the birth. I'm not sure when would be a good time to call them as my contractions were so irregular, and I definitely didn't want to have one while on the phone. They seemed to be coming anywhere between 15 seconds to 2 minutes apart, and lasting anywhere between 30 seconds to 60 seconds. I wasn't in my right mind to time them, and I was completely alone in the house outside of Julian, but I did know they weren't patterned. I braved the call at 1:45 p.m., and barely made it through two sentences "I'm in labor. Come get Julian NOW."
Shortly afterward, my clean underwear and pants are soaked again, and I manage a tear because of it. This was my last pair of clean sweat pants and I have no idea what to wear now. So I continue laboring in them, moving between a standing/leaning position to a squat (over the old red floor rug, of course), and cursing followed by praising Jesus.
Nathan makes it home and I manage to communicate to him that my water broke, my parents were on their way, I haven't called the midwife to tell her my water broke, and to get the birth pool ready (whew!). He calls the midwife and I'm pissed that she's on her way. I just wanted him to tell her about my water breaking. Now she's going to sit here forever waiting for this baby.
I move to the bathroom, laboring between sitting on the toilet and leaning over the sink. For a brief moment, I feel nauseous and drink some cold water from the faucet. The nausea disappears and I continue on, all while Nathan is scrambling to get the pre-blown birth pool filled with water, while occasionally running in to see if I was okay, and to help me through a contraction before zooming off again. In the meantime, I devise a plan get out of my wet clothes; a shower! Purely for the sake of not having to figure out what to wear (not for the comfort), I maneuver myself into a hands and knees position under the hot shower.
I remember thinking in between contractions how letting go and opening up felt so much different. That the opening up part felt like added pressure and gave more to the overall discomfort, although holding back may slow labor and cause more pain in the end. I remember thinking that only my lower belly was having contractions, rather than my entire abdomen as it was with Julian (whom is still playing in his room). Thinking this thought lead to the thinking that if it only hurts on the lower part, then I must not be very far along. If that's true, then I better shush up and work through these contractions better because groaning and yelling (in a low voice) was not going to do much. This thought was further confirmed by the red streak of blood I saw moving to the drain. "Shit. I'm probably only at four [centimeters]." With that, I managed to relax deeply for the next two contractions, not being vocal or even feeling like I needed to be. It's amazing how much of a role the mind can play during labor.
Nathan came in to check on me again and to tell me the pool was ready. His arrival with the news felt perfect because in that moment, the shower got cold. I asked for my robe which Nathan threw over my back, and I slowly made my way to the toilet where I wanted to have a few contractions before heading to the birth pool in the living room. I had a few and Nathan gently rubbed my shoulder through them. I wanted him to stop, however, because it was taking away my focus and concentration. Little did we know what was coming next.
Nathan goes to grab something from the bedroom and I need to poop. Really, I had to. And I did. But moments after, the urge came again full force and I started yelling loudly, "Pushing pushing pushing!!!" Through a deep pushing kind of voice. Nathan ran back as I was jumping off the toilet. I could feel her body barreling through and as I'm getting onto my knees, her head emerged. I used my hand to slip my perineum behind it. And we sat there, waiting...as my parents walked through the front entrance. Nathan shut the bathroom door, and my parents and Julian were joyously greeting each other. All while I had a baby's head between my legs on the bathroom floor. I waited, feeling her kick inside me. I felt her move and turn within me, and simultaneously, her shoulders twisted and the urge to push came again. I caught her and had to set her on the bath mat while Nathan helped unravel the cord from her neck and foot. I pulled her to my chest and she started to cry. I looked and confirmed that I was right all along, it's a girl.