I’ve only shared my birth story with my girlfriends so far. The story I told them was a very abridged version of the full story, mostly because the conversation took place six weeks after Tee was born. Not only had I forgotten a lot of the details, but time had made many aspects that were awful at the time pretty funny to me later. When I think about how I viewed Tee’s birth in my first few weeks postpartum, I traveled along a spectrum from feeling sort of traumatized to gradually feeling a lot acceptance and peace about how my son was born.
Now, at eight weeks postpartum, when I think about how Tee was born (which, these days isn’t anywhere near as often as I thought about it in the first week or two following his arrival), I feel a lot of pride in having gotten through it. And while there were a few times in the early days when the thought of pushing another baby out made me quite certain that Tee was going to be an only child, these days I know we’ll try for another baby, and I’ll definitely want to have a natural birth again.
I wrote Tee’s birth story in the two weeks immediately following Tee’s birth. I typed it on my iPhone and later pasted the whole thing into Word only to find that it was nearly 20 pages long. (If I didn’t already know I have a tendency to be long-winded… So be forewarned now that this story is really long.) During the first week home, I felt raw and emotional and sort of guilty about how his birth gone. Basically, it had not gone the way I thought it would. I’d assumed that I would feel strong and empowered after having a baby, and in those first days, that is definitely not what I felt.
In many ways I actually felt as though I hadn’t prepared enough (despite nearly 21 weeks of diligent study via Hypnobabies) because my experience was nothing like I expected it to be. I spent a lot of time wondering if I should have done something differently. I explained a lot of these fears and feelings of disappointment and even guilt with my midwife and doula after Tee’s birth, and they both helped me to realize and fully believe that his birth took place exactly as it needed to and that I had every reason to feel empowered by that.
I began writing this story while resting in bed at home on the day that Tee was born, and when I started, I felt pretty strongly that childbirth was not an experience that I would ever want to willingly go through again. But as I kept adding to it over the next day, and the next, and especially through the following week when I got around to writing the end, I realized that I would do it all over again, in the exact same way, if given the choice. There is nothing I would have done differently, even with preparation. And assuming that I again have a healthy and uncomplicated pregnancy with our next baby, I will choose natural childbirth again without hesitation. (Well, maybe just a little hesitation. And only if I re-read this birth-story first to refresh my memory.) In hindsight, I think a lot of the negative emotions I initially had about the birth was due to the baby blues — I struggled with a lot of anxiety in those first two weeks postpartum, and it took awhile to feel like myself again.
Note: I used Hypnobabies for childbirth prep, so sometimes I refer to ‘pressure waves’ and sometimes I call them ‘contractions.’ There’s really no rhyme or reason to it – it was just whatever I felt like calling them when I was writing. If you’re using Hypnobabies for birth prep and reading this, remember your BOP.
Another note: Names have been changed for privacy — ours, and that of our doula and midwife. Our doula was also our birth photographer, and I’ve included some of her photos here.
Tee’s Birth Story – written December 7 through December 18, 2012
Dec . 1 –
TH had his last away game for nearly two weeks. The pressure was on to have the baby as soon as possible! I wanted TH to have as much time home with the baby as possible before his next trip which would require him to be away from home for several days.
That evening, beginning around 7, I felt some minor Braxton Hick’s contractions which came off and on for the next few hours. I took a hot shower to stay relaxed, but they fizzled out. I was still pretty excited, and to help move things along, I started listening to the Hypnobabies “Come Out, Baby” track, which I’d ordered and downloaded to my computer earlier that day. Later that night, I played the same track aloud on repeat along with the “Birthing Affirmations” and other assigned tracks for the day. I fell asleep listening to the tracks and waiting for TH to drive home from his game in Virginia. I had high hopes of jump starting my birthing time within the week!
Dec. 2 – 4
After getting so excited to experience some actual Braxton Hicks contractions, the next few days passed uneventfully. I felt completely normal and was a little disappointed that nothing seemed to be happening. But I was determined to stay busy. I went to a few meetings with some local mom groups, cooked, decluttered and cleaned our house, and in general tried not to go stir crazy from being home on maternity leave without a baby. I made a point to really enjoy myself and savor this time with TH, knowing that we were living our last few days as a family of two. I also took my 40 week pregnancy belly photo – it wasn’t exactly 40 weeks on the dot, but I was worried that I might forget to take it on the right day and that our baby would be born before I remembered.
Here are the missing belly photos from weeks 37 through 40:
Dec. 5 – The baby’s due date. I still didn’t feel like anything was happening when I woke up, but I notice egg white cervical fluid when I was in the bathroom first thing in the morning. I still thought I was a few days away from the big event, but this finally felt like progress!
I had a full day of activity planned – a meeting with a second local mom’s group, followed by a luncheon with some of the basketball team booster s and the other coaches’ wives, and my weekly midwife appointment. TH and I also made a date to go on a long walk when he got home from work that night – the weather had been pretty mild so we figured it was a good time to get outside and try to get things moving along in my uterus.
Just before he was due to get home, I used the bathroom and notice pink spotting!! Yes! Finally something was really and truly happening – and on my due date, no less! TH got home at 5 o’clock and I was juiced! I texted both my doula and midwife and I called my mom.
An hour later, TH and I left the house to walk around neighborhood instead of the park, since it had started to sprinkle a little outside and we didn’t want to get caught in downpour. After the walk, I still didn’t feel any contractions, so we decided to go out to dinner just in case this turned out to be out last chance to go out for an evening meal with just the two of us.
We had a great meal out at a local restaurant and took our desserts to go. When we got home, TH watched a ball game while I read a book and bounced on the birth ball. Just before 8 pm, I went to bathroom and discovered that I’d lost my mucus plug! I was ridiculously excited, but tried to remind myself that losing my plug just meant that labor would start soon, but not that it would start tonight. I came out and TH and I settled down, him on the couch and me on the birthing ball, to watch some old James Bond movies (there had been a marathon playing on TV during Thanksgiving and we’d decided to record them all, since I’d never seen them).
While bouncing on the ball, I felt two waves of pressure that were very different than the Braxton Hicks I’d felt a few days earlier. I started using my Hypnobabies techniques for relaxation. I also decided to take my doula’s advice and go to bed early just in case tonight was the night – she said I’d need as much rest as possible beforehand. But first, I asked TH to read the relaxation script to me. While he was reading it, I felt a third wave. It felt a lot less intense than the first two, and I was excited to think that my relaxation techniques were working.
On my way to bed, I told TH that contractions really felt nothing like I’d thought they would or how I’d heard/read them described. To me, it felt like a strong hug on my uterus compounded by an intense feeling that I needed to poop. That last part had me certain that this was the real deal and that our baby would be coming soon – I’d always heard about women who’d gone into labor and accidentally had their babies unassisted because what they’d mistaken for a strong urge to use the bathroom had actually been them going into labor. TH half-joked that this was probably all in my head — I know he was trying to help me stay cool and not be so excited. But I went to bed sure that we’d be having our baby the next day.
I had my Hypnobabies tracks for that day playing aloud on repeat in the bedroom, just as they’d been for nearly a month now, and I fell asleep listening to them and practicing the techniques. I woke up quite a lot during the night to use the bathroom – my bladder was all but the size of a pea by this point it seemed – and each time I noticed that I was still having very manageable waves.
When I woke up the next morning at 7, everything seemed to have fizzled out. I had a few contractions every half hour or so, but they were so minor that I thought they might have been Braxton Hicks again. I called our midwife (whom I’ll call Lee moving forward) a few hours later to update her. She told that while contractions 20 minutes apart weren’t considered to be active labor, I was definitely making progress.
I’d been wondering if maybe my water might have broken since I’d been seeing a lot more cervical fluid over the past two days — she’d discussed with me a few weeks ago that in some cases, the water could break due to a small tear, which meant that amniotic fluid might leak out rather than gush and to just be aware of the possibility over the next few weeks. But she assured me that even a trickle of amniotic fluid was a lot more than a general increase in cervical discharge – unless I noticed that my underwear was soaked, I had nothing to worry about.
Before we ended the call, she ordered me to try to nap and sleep as much as I could that day since I’d woken up so much the night before, and to make sure I was eating well and getting a lot of water into my system. After hanging up, I sent a quick text to our doula to let her know what was happening, too.
I decided to stay home the entire day and relax as much as possible.
I read a book, finished up a craft project I’d been putting off (framing the key to our new place to go along with our other framed keys from prior moves), and went out to lunch. When I chatted with TH on the phone, we made plans to go on a two-mile walk around the park as soon as he got home, since the walk we’d taken yesterday seemed to have helped. Then I settled down on the couch and listened to a few Hypnobabies tracks – “Fear Clearing,” “Come Out, Baby,” and “Birthing Day Affirmations.”
Around mid-afternoon, I started to notice pressure waves again, and again they seemed to be coming every 20 minutes. As the hours passed, they began to come every 10 minutes or so, but they never lasted longer than a few seconds each. About a month ago, during one of my regular appointments, Lee had discussed the plan for when to call her about possible labor, as well as when we should leave home to go to birth center. The rules were 5-1-1 and 3-1-1: when I noticed contractions coming every five minutes, each lasting one minute long, and for at least an hour, I should call Lee and let her know so she could talk to me and assess how things were going at that point. Once I noticed contracts coming every three minutes, each lasting one minute long, for at least an hour, TH and I should plan to drive to the birth center together. I’d been keeping track of the time between contractions on my iPhone while awake since the day before, and I was so excited to see the waves progressing from 20 to 10 minutes apart. But even seeing the proof on my phone, it was sort of hard to believe that this was finally it and I was actually progressing into labor.
TH got home at 5:30, and as planned, we leashed Lucy and went for a long walk in the park in hopes to moving things along. We’d planned to do four laps around the park and soccer fields – the equivalent of about two miles, but decided to stop at three since it had gotten pretty cold over the course of the afternoon. After the walk, we stopped at Moe’s for dinner – I had a craving for their veggie nachos with extra cilantro (little did I know I’d be losing those nachos in a few more hours) – and then headed home to continue our old James Bond movie marathon.
Around 7:30, I noticed that my contractions had gone from coming at about every 10 minutes to every five minutes. I immediately thought of the 5-1-1 rule our midwife had told us about and got excited. The contractions were still nowhere near a minute long, but I knew we were getting close! The contractions were also very manageable – I could definitely tell that something was happening but at the same time, I was not in any kind of pain. I was mostly just excited to be making actual progress.
Just before 9, while TH and I were on his laptop looking at this year’s HGTV dream home (we enter the drawings to win the dream home, green home, and DIY blog cabin every year – it’s like one of our hobbies, since the rules allow you to enter every day during the duration of the contest), I saw that my waves were getting even closer together.
At this point, I was sort of confused and started to panic a little.
The entire time that TH and I had been watching movies and surfing the web, I knew that I was technically probably in labor, but it didn’t quite seem real. In fact, we were pretty much joking around every time I told him I was feeling a contraction. Even though I felt them, I definitely wasn’t feeling what I thought I’d be feeling at the stage of the game. And I definitely didn’t feel like I need to call Lee to tell her we were coming in. In fact, the day before, I’d spent time neatening up our house because I’d assumed that well before I got to 5-1-1, and most certainly before I got to 3-1-1, I would have called our doula to come over for support. She was also going to be our birth photographer, and in addition to getting her support for labor, I had visions of photos of her taking photos of TH and me in our living room, him standing behind me massaging my shoulders or something while I bounced on my birthing ball with a serious but not quite pained look on my face. And even though I felt stupid for thinking it, I was a little upset that we’d probably gone past the point of having the doula come over for labor support (which I didn’t really feel that I needed since I was doing okay on my own up until this point) and to take photos (which, however silly, I still really wanted).
I was having 30-49 second long pressure waves every five minutes, but rather than each one beginning to last longer, they started getting closer together. They also started to feel stronger. I settled in beside TH on the couch and began closing my eyes and using the Hypnobabies techniques for each wave. I switched my mental light switch from center to off with each wave, back to center and then to on when a wave passed, but it was hard to concentrate, mostly because of my nerves . I just couldn’t tell if this was it or not. Yes, the waves were coming closer together, but I just didn’t really feel the way I thought I’d feel once I was in active labor and ready to have our baby.
I started to get a little frustrated, both with myself and with TH, because we’d spent the past several hours joking around, and watching movies, and entering contests to win houses when maybe I should have been concentrating a little more on what was happening to my body. And I was worried that maybe we’d missed the 5-1-1 checkpoint entirely.
I decided to go upstairs and try to lie in bed and listen to the Hypnobabies birthing day tracks. I left TH downstairs on the couch thinking that I should be alone for a bit to concentrate better. I think he was a little disappointed that I didn’t want to just hang out with him as we’d been doing, and I also think he may have been wondering if I was being a bit melodramatic about this whole thing and that maybe I wasn’t actually in labor.
I don’t blame him if he was thinking this, because I was wondering the exact same thing. I think we both just didn’t really know whether or not this was it, and it just didn’t feel like we were really about to have a baby soon. I mean shouldn’t I be feeling waves that stopped me in my tracks, or made me moan and groan, or at least gasp out loud a little? Even though I’d chosen the Hypnobabies course to prepare for childbirth, with the plan that I’d be able to be relaxed during my birthing time, I hadn’t expected the start of labor to come and go so quickly without me really noticing or realizing how close we were to needing to go to the birth center.
As I lay in bed listening to my tracks and timing waves that seemed to be getting even closer together, I was getting more and more weirded out by the fact that this was probably it. And ‘it’ still wasn’t going anything like I thought it would, so I still wasn’t sure. I don’t handle uncertainty well.
For months, I’d imagined labor happening like this: I would go into labor and this fact would be very obvious to both me and TH. I would call our doula, and she would come over, and then I would labor at home for several hours with TH’s and the doula’s support. At some point, when it was obvious to us all that the baby was going to come very soon, the three of us would pile into the car together to drive over the birth center where we’d meet our midwife and have ourselves a baby.
Instead I was apparently in labor – maybe – and I was experiencing said labor all by myself alone in bed and everything was happening so fast! I started to feel a little scared and a lot sorry for myself, and I picked up my cell phone and called TH (yes, even though he was just downstairs). I told him that I didn’t want to be alone anymore and asked if he would come upstairs and just lay with me for a while. He obliged, and brought his laptop to do some things for work, and also his cell phone so that he could use its built in stop watch to time my contractions (because we never did get around to downloading one of those contraction apps I’d been telling him about).
The pressure waves stayed the same in terms of intensity – not all that bad — but they were getting closer to three minutes apart and 30 seconds long. Not sure what to do, I called our doula. She suggested I take a warm bath which would help regulate my contractions a bit and steady things so I could be sure of a pattern.
TH ran hot water in the tub and dimmed the lights upstairs and in the bathroom for me while I rode out a couple more pressure waves in bed, being certain to use my Hypnobabies techniques. While I waited for the tub to fill, I called our midwife to let her know what was happening. I explained that I’d apparently skipped right over 5-1-1 and was getting closer to 3-1-1, although without the minute-long contractions. She agreed that I should get into the tub but she also said that she would head over to the birth center to start getting things ready for our arrival. If the waves got any closer together, she wanted us to call and then get in the car to meet her at the birth center so that she could check me. I called our doula to let her know what Lee had said. She told me to let her know if we decided to go to the birth center for checking, or to call her if I decided I wanted her to come over to help TH and me at home.
I got into the bathtub, leaning over the side on top of a rolled up bath towel, and listening to the Hypnobabies tracks playing on the laptop that I’d perched on the countertop. TH went back downstairs and I lay in the tub, trying to concentrate. Concentrating began to get harder and harder as the pressure waves started to get more intense. When I’d first lain down in the tub, they had slowed down, going from three minutes apart to seven, nine, and then closer to ten, and I texted my doula to let her know that things were slowing down. But then, they’d gotten a lot stronger in intensity. It was also hard to get totally comfortable in the bathtub, so it wasn’t easy to completely relax. Sitting and leaning back didn’t feel as nice as lying in my side and leaning over the edge of the tub. But it was hard to steady myself in the tub while leaning over the side. And besides, I was starting to get hot. (Little did I know that all of this was foreshadowing of the water birth I’d had planned out for years.)
I got out of the bath to go lay in bed again. (I forgot to drain the water, and the bath towel I’d been leaning on fell into the water as I got out. It would be three days before I’d remember to drain the tub and wring out that towel.)
Now that I was out of the tub, the waves began getting closer together again, and soon I was back to waves about three minutes apart. But then, rather than a steady 3-1-1 pattern that I’d been waiting for, I started heading towards contractions coming 2 minutes apart, and then less! Each one was still fairly short around 30 or 40 seconds but they were getting pretty intense.
I called Lee again and told her what was happening. She gave us the official word to come in so that she could check things out. I texted our doula (whom I’ll call Laura in this story) to give her the heads up, and even though we didn’t know if we’d be staying at the birth center once we arrived. Laura decided that she would come out to meet us as well. It was just after midnight.
I got out of bed, took a shower, brushed my teeth, twisted my hair back, and got dressed. Then, TH and I went downstairs to lock doors, turn out lights, and load our bags into the car. Lucy had been acting nervously — probably because she was tuning into our energy over the course of the evening — and when we opened the door to go out to the car she dashed outside, too. We got her back inside and continued loading the car. Then we locked up the house and left. I put in my earplugs and set my iPhone to play Hypnobabies tracks during the drive.
But not even halfway there, I realized that I wasn’t entirely sure that Lucy has been inside the house when we locked! I asked TH, and even he had to admit that he didn’t actually see Lucy in the doorway when we locked up. But he wasn’t worried since he was pretty sure that she was in there. I on the other hand felt awful – I wasn’t sure that the dog hadn’t been out in the middle of the driveway when we pulled out. Our kid wasn’t even born yet and already Lucy had been relegated to a second thought. I wanted to call my parents right then to tell them to go over the our place and check on the dog, but TH was certain that she was indeed in the house and also that we shouldn’t call my parents to come over just yet, especially since we didn’t know if we’d need to turn around and go home shortly after getting to the birth center.
We arrived at the center just after 1:00 in the morning. During the drive, I had three fairly intense contractions, and dutifully turned off my light switch for each one. We pulled up to birth center, and I opened the door to step out. Just then, another contraction came over me and I crouched down beside the car to ride it out. When I stood up, Lee and TH were both standing behind me talking quietly. Once I was steady again, they helped me up, we all trooped into the birth center and Lee led us into an exam room. As I got undressed from the waist down, I was worried that she’d check me and discover that I was only one centimeter dilated or something, and we’d be sent back home.
But after Lee checked me, she announced that I was already 5 to 5 1/2 centimeters dilated! I was so excited and so relieved. Yes, this was definitely it and I hadn’t been imagining things, and not only had I been in real, actual labor, but I had successfully progressed to 5 centimeters. Our baby was on the way!
TH and I had the birth center to ourselves, so we had our choice of birthing room. Even though I’d spent months imagining myself giving birth in the ‘green’ room, one of the older birth rooms in the center, TH and Lee convinced me that I might like one of the newer rooms better. They both knew I was hoping for a water birth and the new rooms that had been added to the birth center over the summer and fall came with jetted whirlpool tubs. I thought that those jets might come in handy later, so we checked out the two new rooms, and TH and I chose the larger one and got settled in. Then, I called my mom and dad to tell them we were at the birth center and that they were free to go over to our place whenever they wanted to wait things out. (I also asked them to check on Lucy for us. They called TH back a while later to let us know that Lucy had indeed been inside our house the whole time.)
Laura arrived shortly after and while she got settled in with us, Lee went to another room to sleep. Laura suggested a few different positions I could try for contractions – on the birthing ball, lying down on the bed, in the tub. Time gets a bit blurry for me here. What I remember most is that the contractions got stronger and stronger in intensity, although I don’t know if they got any closer together. I worked on staying focused and going limp and turning my light switch off for the waves. By this time, I was having a really hard time going complete limp. Instead, I found myself counting my breathes in and out (Still in Hypnobabies mode, and it was natural to count one deep breath in to the count of four and one long breath out to eight) and I kept tap my feet against each other to each count.
Eventually, though, it just got harder and harder to stay focused on Hypnobabies. The best I could seem to do was counting my breaths through each wave, regardless of whether my light switch was off or on or in center. Laura reminded me to breathe deeply rather than shallowly, and it wasn’t until she said that, that I’d realized I was practically hyperventilating due to the intensity of some of the contractions.
During this time it began to dawn on that every contraction I was experiencing feeling almost identical to the one before. I would feel a ton of pressure in the left side of my lower back and in my hips and bottom. Quite frankly, it felt like I was the most constipated I had ever been in my entire life, and it was awful. In addition, immediately after every contraction, I had an intense urge to pee. I had noticed this earlier when I’d been laboring at home, and at the time it had seemed funny to me that I’d feel a pressure wave, and after it passed, I’d feel the need to dart into the hall bathroom to pee.
But it wasn’t so funny anymore. It was confusing because I’d never heard of people needing to pee constantly while in labor – it just seemed so bizarre. But mostly, it was a little brutal – I would have a contraction in the room, and after it was over, I’d have to rush to the adjoining bathroom to pee. But eventually the contractions were coming so close together that before I could even get up from the toilet, I’d feel another contraction come and would have to endure on the commode. (In the beginning, I was at least able to physically void my bladder, but near the end, as hard as I tried, I couldn’t pee at all. So in addition to feeling as though I was incredibly constipated, I also felt like I had a raging urinary tract infection with the increasing sensation that my bladder was going to explode.)
It occurred to me that I was experiencing back labor. I didn’t ask for confirmation, and neither Lee nor Laura referred to it as such. But because every contraction seemed to originate and radiate from my lower back, I knew that this had to be what was happening. To start helping me relieve the pressure in my back, Laura would apply counter pressure to my hips or massage up and down my back. For some waves this felt amazing but for others it felt like torture and just made the pressure in my back feel worse.
After I had passed a lot of time switching between laboring on the ball or in bed lying beside TH, Laura suggested that I try resting in the tub. I was really reluctant to do this. I felt like it was too early to get in the tub for some reason, and I was worried that if the tub didn’t make things better, I would have run out of options for finding relief. But I got in anyway.
At first the warm water felt nice and being in the tub was soothing. But just as I’d found in my tub at home earlier, it was hard for me to find a position in this tub the felt good to stay in for long. I first tried sitting back normally, and then I tried slouching down with as much of my body under the water as I could manage. But even though resting in the water while leaning back didn’t feel all that great, it was the only position that gave me enough leverage in the water to feel stable.
TH came and sat beside the tub next to me and I leaned out of the tub and rested my arms on his shoulders with contractions. I was still so uncomfortable and being in the tub seemed to be making things worse instead of better. The tub was so large that whenever I tried to completely relax and go limp in the water, I felt as though I was floating away. All the open space was simply too unsettling.
This is when I began to give up on the idea of a water birth. This was also the point where I started giving up in the whole natural birth thing itself.
In my head, I started to question whether it would be better to just give up and go to the hospital. I couldn’t get comfortable on the ball, bed or in the bathtub. I started thinking about how an epidural would get rid of the awful back pain. And yes, it was pain. I was in a lot of pain, no matter how much I tried to think of it as ‘discomfort’ and to imagine the contractions as ‘strong hugs’ or ‘pressure waves.’ I wondered how I ever thought that I could do this. I wondered if I would really be all that upset if I just had a hospital birth rather than the natural birth in a freestanding birth center that I’d always dreamed about.
By this time the pain in my back was nearly unbearable. But something kept me from just flat out saying out loud that I was done and so over this and just wanted to leave and go to a hospital and get the drugs. Maybe I was afraid of disappointing Lee and Laura and most especially TH, who had been so good and so supportive of all my baby and birth-related ideas so years. Maybe I was just too proud to be the first one to say uncle and admit defeat.
So instead, I started fishing.
I leaned over the edge of the tub and turned to my right to look at TH and asked him, “What if I can’t do this?” I wanted him to say something, “It’s okay if you can’t do this. You don’t have anything to prove. We can leave and go to the hospital if you want to.” But instead of taking the bait and asking if I wanted drugs or an ambulance, he just said “But, you are doing it.”
So, I gave up on him and I turned to Laura who was sitting on the floor beside the tub to my left. I gave her what I can only call the most plaintive, sad, and desperate look I have ever given anyone. I was begging her with my eyes to see that I was not coping well and that I was desperately in need of help. I still couldn’t bring myself to ask to leave that room, but I was hoping with all the experience she had attending births that she’d be able to read the resignation in my face. But, she just looked at me and said, “I know, sweetheart. I know it’s hard.” She didn’t ask me if I wanted to leave. And I just couldn’t make myself say the words.
I switched from leaning on TH with contractions to just leaning forward over the edge of the tub on a rolled towel to keep as much of my body immersed in the water as possible. After a while, both TH and Laura went away to lie down and try to sleep a little while I continued to hang out in the tub. I hung out in the tub for a while, but then the water started to cool. I added more hot water, but by then I had resigned myself to the fact that my dream water birth was definitely not going to happen. I simply did not feel comfortable in the water and there was no way I was going to able to fully relax in labor, and definitely not while pushing a baby out – assuming I could ever get to the part of pushing the baby out.
I got out of the tub to pee for what felt like the millionth time since we’d gotten there and afterwards endured another awful contraction on the toilet. I came back out, walked past the tub, and went to lie on the bed beside TH.
I scrolled through my iPhone to find a Hypnobabies track in my playlist that would help me focus. Even though I had lost a little faith in the program’s ability to help with back labor by this time, I’d been listening to the tracks since we’d gotten there. Now, I was determined to rededicate myself to using the techniques and what I’d learned about relaxation. I was hoping that doubling my efforts would make a difference. But it was no use. I still couldn’t switch off during a contraction, and staying in center didn’t seem to help much either. Hearing the tracks was still soothing though and I never felt like I wanted to turn them off. Throughout my labor those tracks had been playing on a loop — mostly “Easy first stage” and “Comfortable childbirth” with a few others when I thought about it.
I got up again to go pee, but on my way to the bathroom, I got hit by a contraction that made me drop to my knees, and then I couldn’t get back up because that contraction was followed by three more with no pauses in between. With the first one, I tried to breathe and think of my cervix opening but then I lost control. I had sunk down beside the tub for the first wave and then couldn’t move or get back up until they all had passed. When the last one went away I just started crying and the crying turned into sobbing. I had given up and I just let it out. I was just so scared and felt utterly defeated – I couldn’t believe I had ever wanted to do this.
TH and Laura came over to me and just held me while I cried. Right then Lee came back in, and Laura told her that I had just had several contractions in a row with no breaks in between.
Lee decided to check me again, and they got me back to the bed. Lee wanted to know if I had dilated any further but she said she also wanted to see what my cervix was doing during a contraction. Lying flat on my back for this was awful but it didn’t last for long. When she was done I said, “How far along am I now? Wait – don’t tell me if I haven’t gone anywhere.” So, obviously, there was silence. And so I told her to go ahead and tell me since I now knew the news wasn’t good.
It turned out that after hours and hours at the birth center, I was still only at five centimeters. I was stunned. After all that I’d been through, I hadn’t made any progress at all. If I had gone through all of that only to basically maintain the status quo, how was I going to ever make it to ten centimeters? I just lay there holding TH’s hand.
Lee suggested that she break my water. She said she recommended it in my case because it might bring the baby’s head down on my cervix more and that added pressure might help me progress. I knew breaking my water would put me on the clock to get the baby out, and I wasn’t sure if I should say yes. I’d also heard of people having their waters broken and then having their cervixes regresses in diameter. TH and I discussed if for a few minutes and then we agreed – it wasn’t like I had any better ideas, and besides, I trusted that Lee wouldn’t have suggested it if she didn’t think it would work.
The procedure itself turned out to be totally painless – had it not been for the actual feeling of warm fluid spreading out on the pad underneath me, I wouldn’t have known anything had happened. After she broke my water and had checked my cervix again, Lee said I should start laboring in different positions right away. Laura recommended a method she called the “rotisserie.” I was supposed to lay on one side for four contractions, on the other side for four, in the downward dog position for four, and on my hands and knees for four. This was supposed to help in case the baby was somehow malpositioned, and while it made sense, it sounded like torture. It was so hard working my way through the rotisserie, especially since no position seemed to make any difference in how the contractions felt. The downward dog and all fours was especially hard because it made everything feel even worse.
Again I was at the end of my rope. I was begging everyone to just help me. I remember telling them that the back pain that came with the contractions was like Groundhog Day – the exact same horrible feeling every single time for hours and hours.
At this point Lee suggested I try sterile water injections in my lower back. The idea behind it is that the pain from having water injected under the skin in my lower back would counteract the pain of the contractions. She told me that it would be very uncomfortable but at this point I was willing to try anything including what sounded to me like a poor man’s epidural. I had to get on top of the bed on my hands and knees and try not to move during contractions while she injected the water in four places in my lower back. When it was over, Lee said that out of all the women she’d ever given water injections to counteract the pain of back labor, I was the first one to not scream while she administered the shots. The only time I yelled at all was during the very last shot when I started shouting for Lee to hurry. I could feel another contraction coming and was terrified that I’d be writhing in pain and would cause the needle to break off in my back.
The difference I felt in my lower back almost from the moment Lee withdrew the needle was amazing. The injection sites burned for several minutes afterwards (and I would still have raised welts there four days later), but it was nowhere near as bad as what I’d been feeling before. I stood up and literally felt the cramps leaving my upper and lower back. Until then, it had been hard to even stand up straight because the muscles in my back were so tight.
Lee suggested that I take advantage of the pain relief and immediately start trying other positions to get things moving. The first was to take a walk. I got dressed and laced up my shoes, and TH and I left the room to walk a few laps around the inside of the birth center and then once around the outside. The sun was up but the birth center didn’t appear to be open for business yet. I guessed that it was around 8 or 9 in the morning. Thinking about the time made me think about how long we’d been there with, in my view, not much to show for it. Thinking about what might be a long day stretched out before us was exhausting.
While we walked, I tried to use the technique Lee showed TH and me before we left the room. I put my arms over TH’s shoulders and leaned into his chest, keeping my feet flat and pushing my heels into the ground to anchor myself. I endured a few waves like this, including during a walk outside around the birth center. In between waves, it was nice being outside. I almost felt normal, but then more contraction came to remind me that this was not a normal day. One lap outside was more than enough for me so we headed back to the room. The effect of the water injections seemed to be wearing off a little, but at least walking around had showed me that standing for contractions felt marginally better than other positions I’d tried.
When we got back to our room, Lee insisted that I eat something. I’d packed snacks that I’d thought I wouldn’t mind eating during labor, but none of them were very appealing now that the day had come – nuts, granola bars, energy drinks. In fact, I’d taken a few sips of Gatorade when TH and I first put down our bags in the room hours and hours ago, and had thrown up immediately. (So much for those veggie nachos.) I’d been running pretty much on water alone up until now and I really just wanted an apple but I hadn’t thought of that when packing my bags for the birth center. By now the birth center was open for business and Lee sent someone out to the grocery store across the street to pick up some honey crisp apples for me so TH wouldn’t have to leave. They were back within minutes and that first apple was like the best meal I’d ever eaten in my life.
Shortly after I’d eaten, the back pain returned in full effect and I was back to where I started. Groundhog Day again.
But then the turning point: Lee and Laura suggested I get into the shower. Two weeks later, thinking about the moment when I stepped into that hot shower is still the highlight of labor. I don’t know how long I spent in there exactly, but I do know that it had to have been close to four or five hours. That shower, with its high pressure spray and the tankless water heater I later learned about, was everything that I’d hoped the jetted whirlpool tub would be and more. Hot water had never felt so good, especially on my back.
I had twisted my hair back in a bun before leaving the house, but when I got in the shower I had the presence of mind to worry that the water would leave me with a tangled mess later. So I pulled out the bobby pins and pulled my hair back in a puff. Lee poked her head in and asked if I wanted any of my toiletries like shampoo and body wash, but I was good. And I definitely didn’t want to risk getting soap or shampoo in my eyes because of a contraction.
The pressure of the shower head was great in between waves, but just like when Laura had tried to massage my back earlier, even light pressure was too intense during a contraction. In between contractions, I would face away from the shower head to get a pseudo back massage. Then I would have to turn to face the spray or turn the water off entirely during a wave.
There was a white plastic chair in the shower, and after a while I started using it to stabilize myself during contractions. I would put one foot on the seat and lean forward, resting my hands on the back of the chair or flat against the shower walls. Then I would take deep breathes in and blow them out forcefully. I remember thinking that someone standing on the other side of the curtain would probably say I sounded like a wild bull or some other animal breathing like that, but I was way beyond feeling self-conscious.
I eventually found myself rhythmically breathing with each contraction – I would breathe in and out hard with each, and by the time I got to ten breathes, it was over. It helped me knowing that I had nine eight seven breathes to go before I’d get a break, even while knowing that the next contraction would only be a couple minutes away.
While I was in the shower, TH and Laura and sometimes Lee alternated sitting beside on the other side of the curtain. TH would talk to me, or ask me if I needed anything, but mostly he was just a calming presence there on the other side. He sat in a chair so I could see him through a part in the curtain. (He even took some videos of me in there which were interesting to see later.)
I started out in the shower standing up and sometimes leaning over the chair. But eventually it was hard to stand in the position with my foot on the chair as I’d gotten used to. I would find myself moaning in a totally different way and involuntarily crouching down on the tile floor. I heard Lee on the other side of the curtain ask me if the contractions were feeling differently. I told her I didn’t know – they still were just as intense but it was just hard to stand. I then stopped trying to stand completely and instead knelt on the floor in front of the chair. Lee passed me a plastic cushion to kneel on instead of the tiles. In between contractions I let the hot water wash over my back while I faced the chair. Then I would reach back and turn off the water (or ask TH to) when a wave started. I know I must have wasted a ton of water, but that shower was amazing in helping to relieve some of my back pain. I will be forever grateful for the birth center’s tankless water heater, because the water never once got cool.
After a while, it was obvious even to me that the sounds I was making and the positions I found most comfortable meant that something was different. Then I heard Lee on the other side of the curtain say to someone “They don’t call it transition for nothing.”
The word transition was like hearing a magic word. I’d had Hypnobabies tracks playing in the bathroom as background and now I asked TH to pull up the “Easy second stage” track. I didn’t how much the other tracks had helped me so far, but I wanted to hear something new and specific for transition. Laura switched places with TH on the other side of the curtain, and noticed that I was playing the track for second stage. She asked me if I thought I was close to having the baby. I still didn’t know, but I knew that if the baby was coming soon, I wanted to try to get my mind right as best as I could for what was to come.
A little while later, Laura told me that Lee wanted to check me again. I reluctantly stepped out of the shower and TH, Laura and Lee helped me to dry off. Thinking back I realize I spent a lot of time totally naked at my birth. Since getting into the tub, I’d only gotten fully dressed once to go walk around after the sterile water injections, and after the walk, it was only a little while before I got undressed again to hang out in the shower. I’m not exhibitionist, but being naked didn’t bother me at the time, and it doesn’t now. I honestly don’t even remember thinking about it while I was in labor, and now it’s just funny to me. I remember spending a lot of time trying to find a supportive sport or nursing bra to wear for labor so that I wouldn’t be flashing my boobs in photos and all that went right out the window when I was actually there. Both Lee and Laura had warned me that I’d probably end up naked at some point, and that it wouldn’t faze me when it happened, and they were right.
I had to endure a few more waves on my way to the bed but I leaned on TH for each one, and eventually we made it. Lee had me lie down and TH sat beside me on the bed to my left and I leaned against him. Once again, Lee told me that she wanted to see what my cervix was doing during a contraction and so she kept her hand inside me while one came over me. I was so uncomfortable, but I kept up with my ten count breathing to get me through. Lying on my back again felt terrible after being in the shower but finally the contraction passed.
Then I heard Lee say that I was 8 to 9 centimeters. I can only describe what I felt then as the purest relief imaginable. I started sobbing. I was so happy I was almost delirious. I had finally made it to nearly 9 and we were almost there. This was almost over and I could only cry and cry and say thank you over and over again. Even now, I still tear up when I think about the joy I felt at that moment. After being told that I was still at 5 centimeters hours earlier, I know a part of me had been afraid I’d never get to ten.
Lee asked me if I wanted to get back in the shower since it was obvious to everyone that the shower had been doing wonders for me so far. They all helped me get out of bed and back to the bathroom. Even though the bathroom was less than ten feet from the bed, it was slow going because I had to stop every time a contraction came over me. I leaned on TH the whole way, totally naked and still not giving a crap. Once in the shower, I got back on my knees in front of the chair as I’d been before.
By this time, to say that the contractions were intense is an understatement. But in writing this part of the story nearly a week out, the memory of what exactly the contractions felt like at this point (and honestly, during the entire time I was in labor) isn’t quite fresh enough for me to recall. I know that eventually, even squatting or kneeling in front of the chair was too much for me. I kept moving around trying to find a new position that worked to give me any relief and it was impossible.
Lee could tell that something had changed and she asked me if I was feeling the pressure differently. I told her that I didn’t know if I should be trying push or not. She told me to do what my body told me to do. So with the next few contractions I tested out how it felt to bear down some against the pressure. I remember trying to push while squatting but eventually settling on my hands and knees in the shower. By now, I was all out wailing in that shower – there was just no holding back vocally. I also remember being so grateful that I’d chosen one of the newer rooms to give birth in because at least that meant that not too many other people had been in this practically brand new shower.
Finally I did start to feel something different and I found myself bearing down even harder during waves. I guess the sounds I was making by then alerted everyone else that something was happening. They helped me out if the shower again, got me to the bed, and Lee checked me.
I was expecting to hear that I was finally at 10 centimeters. But Lee told me that I was right at 9 and that I still had a little lip of cervix that she was able to manually push away. She told TH and me that we had a choice. I could keep laboring on my own in hopes that this last bit of cervix moved away on its own. Or she could hold the lip back so I could start pushing around it.
I remember thinking that this part was a bit surreal. It just didn’t feel like I’d made it to the end. I knew that there was no way I wanted to get back in that shower for some indefinite amount of time to wait things out. I wanted to be done. But I didn’t get what ‘done’ meant exactly. I was lying on my back on the bed – the one position I’d always said I never wanted to push a baby out in. I also didn’t want to try to get in the tub since that hadn’t gone so well earlier. Besides, I knew it wasn’t really an option since Lee would need to hold back my cervix during contractions. But I was still not sure what to do.
Then I heard TH in my ear telling me that this was it and that I had done it and now it was time to push and meet our baby and that I could go this. It was as though he went into total coaching mode and it was just what I needed. I trusted him and said okay and asked Lee what I was supposed to do.
TH was still leaning behind me on the bed next to my left side, and Lee had him reach forward to hold my left leg back. She told me to push with the next wave. She showed me how I should look and breathe while pushing – to keep my eyes open and look at her. To keep my mouth open, and while breathing out, to curl myself around my stomach. Basically like doing a crunch while breathing out “Hrrrhhh!” With each contraction, I was to try to push three times, catching my breath in between. With the third push, the key was to push myself as hard as I could and go past the point where I could feel myself start to hesitate. That was so incredibly hard to do. Each time, I could feel myself getting to a point and involuntarily backing away before anything could happen. It was like tapping the brake in a car because I knew if I didn’t, I’d slam into a brick wall.
Then, I heard Lee say, “She’s right here, just keep going!” I thought, “’She?’ Is our baby a girl?” TH told me later that he heard Lee say this, too. We had both wondered silently if, after nearly an entire pregnancy of our not knowing, Lee had accidentally slipped up and told us the baby’s sex!
I kept pushing, but I could feel that I was afraid to keep going because I was afraid of what it would feel like to hit the gas instead of the brake when I saw the wall ahead. I was also afraid because I still felt completely and utterly constipated, like I’d felt the entire time I’d been in labor so far, and I felt like I was pooping every time I pushed. And apparently I was! After two or three pushes like this Lee told me that she wanted me to try pushing on the toilet because and she thought it might help me to try to get anything out of the way so I could then focus on just getting the baby out. For hours, I had been going to toilet to pee nearly every five minutes after a contraction (although even Lee gave me permission to pee in the shower), and as constipated as I had felt, I’d never been able to go number 2 in addition to 1. And I definitely doubted that I was going to be able to poop on command now.
But I gamely let them lead me back to the bathroom. I sat on the toilet and Lee sat on a chair in front of me and Laura and TH stood behind her. I leaned forward onto Lee with one hand on her knee and the other around her shoulder. And there we all waited for the next contraction that I was going to use to finally have the bowel movement I had felt like my body was holding in like a vice ever since I went into labor.
Well, it worked. I used the same technique for pushing through a contraction that Lee had shown me for pushing out the baby and finally I pooped. And goodness, it was such a relief. If a bowel movement can be described as amazing, it was the most amazing poop I’d ever had. I still had horrible back pain, and I still felt horribly constipated with the contraction, but there was just the tiniest bit of relief in pressure, and that tiny bit was simply amazing. I wasn’t even all that embarrassed. In fact, I pretty much pooped and laughed. And just for a little comic relief in addition to my other relief, I said, “God, I can’t believe I just pooped in front of three people.” And everyone laughed with me and assured me that it was not a big deal.
Some more contractions came over me and Lee coached me through pushing while I was still in a seated position. By now her second midwife, whom I’ll call Dee, had arrived, and Dee passed Lee a flashlight so that she could see what was going on when I pushed – as she said, “We don’t want you to end up with a poor man’s water birth.” And that was funny, too.
I might have had another two or three more contractions this way before Lee passed the flashlight back to Dee and told me that I had to go back to the bed. I told her that I didn’t think I could move right now, but she said I had to. They helped me up and out of the bathroom, and they led me back to the bed but I didn’t quite reach it. A wave hit me just as I got beside the side of the bed closes to me, and stopped me in my tracks. I crouched down with it, resting my arms and head onto the mattress. TH was behind me and Lee was by my side coaching me to push through it and to push past the point where previously I’d stopped and so I did.
On this wave or maybe the very next one, our baby was born. I felt the point where I wanted to stopped pushing out of fear and I just pushed past it (or maybe my body pushed past it for me) and I felt the baby moving through my birth canal in a rush. It was indescribable. It happened so quickly and so slowly at the same time. One second I was bearing down and screaming and the next second I felt a rip (and vaguely recognized that I was tearing), heard a splash, and looked down between my knees to see a bluish reddish cone-headed baby below me on a pad covered in blood on the floor.
Just so beautiful.
I heard TH shout, “It’s T-!” And I looked down again and saw that the baby was a boy. Our little boy.
Lee told me to pick up my baby and I reached down for him as she lifted him to me and together we placed him on my chest. He was making little mewing sounds and I was laughing and crying and TH was shouting for joy over my shoulder that I had done it, I had done it, Tee was here, Tee was here. Then we were both laughing and saying hello to him.
Meanwhile Lee and Dee were checking him over and I heard them saying things like “Keep stimulating him.” And they had a cloth and were rubbing him vigorously, I guess to get him to cry instead of make the whimpering sounds. But I was never worried because although he wasn’t crying, he was making sounds and moving and just I knew he would be fine. And eventually they were able to get him to squawk and then everyone relaxed. I was still sitting up on the floor but Lee had me lay back. It was hard for me to lie down, since I was still clutching Tee, and plus I didn’t feel that I had any real control over my body at that point. But TH cradled me in his arms and assured me that he had me and that I could just fall. So I did, and once I was lying down, TH and I went back to just gazing at our little boy.
And now in the background, I heard Lee and Dee checking me. Lee was checking the umbilical cord and when she saw that it had stopped pulsating she asked TH if he wanted to cut the cord. After months of telling me that he didn’t think he’d want to cut the cord, he didn’t even hesitate and came right over to do it. After that, Lee gave a slight tug on the cord and out popped the placenta. I’d always heard that delivering the placenta was no fun but I barely felt anything and that was nice. I was still mostly focused entirely on Tee but the part of my brain that wasn’t admiring on our new family member heard Lee tell Dee to get a syringe of pitocin ready. That is when I realized that something might be wrong and that I may have been losing a little too much blood since I knew pitocin is used post-birth to help contract the uterus. But it turns out that they didn’t need it because the blood flow slowed on its own.
Someone held Tee so that I could be helped up and onto the bed. Then Tee was placed on my chest again and Lee helped me position him to nurse. And he was a pro right out of the womb. Laura and Lee noted how well he was nursing and told me that I shouldn’t have any problems with feeding him. (And so far they’ve been right. While I’ve definitely had moments of feeling unsure about whether my boobs were doing their job, my milk came in two days after Tee was born, and he was back up to his birth weight within six days).
Tee nursed for a while and then Lee took him to check him over some more. When she was done she asked TH if he wanted to hold the baby. I reminded TH about how we’d learned about skin-to-skin contact in our breastfeeding class and TH didn’t hesitate to take off his shirt and then Lee passed Tee to him and he held our little baby to his chest. It was beautiful, and is still one of my favorite mental images from Tee’s birth.
Meanwhile Lee was checking me out down below. She wanted to get a closer look at the tear which I though must have been pretty bad because I’d felt happening –it had happened very quickly, but I’d felt where it started and I’d felt where it stopped, and I didn’t have to look at it to know that it had to be a long one, and I assumed that it had to be pretty bad. But it turns out that while it was long, it was shallow. Lee thought it could be repaired with glue instead of stitches, but she wanted a second opinion to be sure.
Dee had let the room by then, but Lee waited until she returned to get her thoughts. She agreed and they both told me that the glue would be a good option for me but that I would have to walk with my legs together for a week, and with the exception of going upstairs to our bedroom when we got home, I was to completely avoid stairs for at least two days. I asked what my options for repair would be if I accidentally messed up the glue and they told me that it was the same as for people who messed up their stitches. You get one shot for healing with either stitches or glue and a tear can’t be re-glued or re-stitched a few days later if things go wrong. After six weeks would be when they would know how I’d healed, and I needed to be careful to follow instructions for the first week.
Dee glued me up and then Lee helped me up to the bathroom so that I could pee (and practice the shuffle walk I’d be doing for the next seven days). I also took a quick shower. When I got back to the bed, TH lay down beside me and I held Tee in my arms. TH showed me the pictures he’d taken (I’m so happy that he had the presence of mind to take some pictures. Even though Laura took tons of photos, the ones TH got are very special to us.) Then we lay in bed and just cuddled with a baby, and he used our cell phones to send text messages to our family and friends about Tee’s arrival.
So it was over. TH left for a few minutes to get me a sandwich and a drink from a restaurant across the street and then while he was gone, and once he’d returned so I could eat, Lee, Laura and I talked for a long time about how the birth had gone. I thought it had been pretty rough and said it was nothing like what I expected. And that’s when Lee told me about the scar tissue on my cervix. And I remembered the conversation she and I had had months ago where we talked about the colposcopy I’d had after an abnormal pap result. She’d told me back then that cervical biopsies could leave scar tissue and that she would have to check my cervix often during the birth to see how my cervix was responding. She’s made a note in my chart then, but not in the usual place that she typically made such notes and we both forgotten about the conversation. Fast forward to earlier today when Lee noted to Laura that I was laboring like someone who’d had a procedure done on my cervix and that was what reminded her about the colposcopy. It was just as well that we both forgot. My body hit a wall during labor and that wall was the scar tissue on my cervix. My body fought against it on its own and eventually I got through it. Had Lee remembered the note in my chart sooner, she would have suggested I let her manually removed the scar tissue, and she admitted that this would have been excruciating.
Lee told me that had I been in a hospital with an OB, the scar tissue probably would have lead to me having a cesarean rather than a vaginal birth. She didn’t believe than an OB would have chosen to manually remove scar tissue or to allow me to labor my way through it. (Two weeks later, when Laura came over to take Tee’s newborn photos, she agreed that the difficulty of my labor was likely due entirely to that scar tissue. As she put it, I went through a very difficult time because of it, but my doing so naturally at the birth center rather than in a hospital, gave Tee the best chance he had to enter the world gently. Rather than being taken from my body via c-section, he was born naturally and his mother was the first person to hold him and his father was the second after our midwife. After the initial bit of work it took to perk him up after birth, he was very alert and nursed enthusiastically and for a long time, and that would likely not have been the case if he’d been whisked away from TH and me after a c-section.)
Then I asked Lee something that I’d been afraid to hear an answer to earlier: “Did I ever lose any ground after my water broke?” Lee confirmed that my suspicions had been correct and that I had gone from 5 centimeters dilated to only 3 centimeters after she broke my water. I’d had a feeling something was up, but I hadn’t wanted to ask at the time. After hearing that I was still at 5 centimeters after so many hours, I’d figured the less I knew about what was going on with my cervix, the better for my mental state.
TH, Tee and I stayed at the birth center for almost four hours exactly before going home. I felt like we’d been there forever, but Tee was born at 1 pm, only about 13 hours after Lee told us to drive to the birth center. It was all the time we needed and I was looking forward to being back in my own bed again. Lee helped me pack up while TH went outside to get the car seat. Then Lee helped us get Tee strapped in for the first time, being careful to get the straps secure and tight enough. She told us that most parents leave the straps too loose and don’t realize their kids aren’t properly secured in their car seats. (Her technique for making sure the straps are tight enough that they can’t be pinched is still the rule TH and I go by when we strap Tee in for a car ride.)
Then we went out and through the lobby. The sun was shining through the windows and there were a few people at the front desk and in the lobby who came over to look at the little baby. When we got to the door, I saw that a sign had been taped to the glass telling people to please be quiet in respect of a birth in progress. It was a little funny imagining people sitting in the little lobby all morning while we were in the room in back waiting for Tee to come. I wondered if I’d frightened anyone off with the all the sounds I’d been making – I made a mental note to ask Lee if the walls were sound proofed but then I forgot. Lee helped us make sure that the car seat was properly installed, and then we were off and driving home. I sat in the back seat with Tee, and at first he was quiet and sleeping, but then when we were about a mile from home, he started crying and I just felt terrible hearing him cry. But we were home and inside pretty quickly.
My mom, dad, and my brother met us at the back door with Lucy and they were so excited to see Tee. I went upstairs and stayed there for almost three days, coming down first time the evening Jay, the placenta lady, came for the encapsulation. The initial week was very hard. Whether due to hormones or the anxiety related to being a new mom, I spent a lot of time being really afraid and scared that I wasn’t doing something right or that I might accidentally hurt Tee. But I also spent a lot of time simply holding him and looking at him and loving him and just plain marveling at what TH and I created together. He is a beautiful little boy.
Things I don’t want to forget:
How incredible TH was as a birth partner. He was so encouraging and loving and strong. It brings tears to my eyes still when I remember him on my left side helping to support me on the bed as I tried to push our baby out, and the cheering and encouraging he did to let me know he was there and knew I could do it. I don’t want to forget how joyous and excited he was when he saw our son for the first time and how he shouted his name, and how eager he was to cut the cord after months of saying that wasn’t his thing, and how he held our little boy to his chest skin to skin, and how, after years of being the guy I had to force to hold a camera to take a picture of something, between the two of us, he was the only one with the presence of mind to take pictures of our son on his birth day and those shots will always be the ones I cherish most.
I don’t want to forget how much I bonded with my mom in the two weeks plus that she stayed with me and Tee and TH. Her support has been amazing and she is already an awesome grandmother to our son. I don’t want to forget the support of our family. My youngest brother and my dad cooking meals and babysitting Lucy. My other brother holding Tee like a pro for the first time even though newborns make him nervous. My sister coming to stay with me for a week when TH had to go to Ohio and my mom had to go back to work for a few days. Talking about new parenthood and postpartum and childbirth and breastfeeding with TH’s sisters and finally getting what it all meant. Learning TH’s mom’s baby bath technique and TH’s dad taking pictures and video of Tee with their iPad. Lucy trying to lick the baby every now and then but mostly just bring really sweet and attentive to the new ‘puppy’ – watching her run into whatever room Tee was in when he started to cry will always be a special memory of my first baby and her immediate love for the newest member of the family.
My sweet, sweet baby boy. His soft cheeks, his widow’s peak, the birthmark on his hand, the crazy funny faces he makes in his sleep, the big smiles that at two weeks old probably aren’t, the way he nuzzles when he’s hungry, how he stretches his arms so dramatically when he’s sleeping and you pick him up, and how he sucks his own tongue really loudly when he’s trying to nurse but has closed his mouth too soon before reaching the boob, how he pooches out his lower lip when I try to get him to nurse a bit more but he’s fallen asleep. The cute faces he makes when he’s nursing – flashing his bright eyes and sometimes seeming to smile. How I’ve watched his eyelashes grow during the last two weeks of looking down at his face while nursing him.
I don’t want to forget watching TH become a father. So proud and in love with our son. Trying to figure out together who he looks like, and whether he’ll ever be browner or have curlier hair. Sheepish but mostly marveling over how much our baby looks like him – even down to his hairline. His perfecting the knee drop soothing technique that never fails to calm Tee. Changing diapers and bouncing on the birth ball. Being my rock and staying so calm and steadfast when I am not. There is no one else I’d rather parent with. I am so lucky to have him, and so glad he is our child’s father.
Sent from my iPhone