At first I wasn't sure if I wanted to write about my daughter's birth. I didn't take many pictures while I was pregnant. I didn't want video of the birth. I wasn't even sure if I wanted pictures of the delivery.
Pregnancy is such a vulnerable experience. I loved being pregnant but I felt like seeing pictures of what I looked like at that time could never come close to capturing how peaceful, excited, and anticipatory I felt inside.
In hindsight, I have some regrets. I wish I had taken more pictures of that darling, growing bump. I wish I had video of my birth so I could, if not see what I acted like, at least hear my labor song. I am so glad that I at least decided to have pictures taken. (Thank you so much, Diana!)
Before I regret anything more, or forget any more details, I am going to record my experience of Little Owl's birth.
Woke up with contractions around seven that morning. They were stronger than I had felt before but my due date was still a week out and it was my first birth so most likely I was (according to the average) at least two weeks out from labor.
I was excited. I had a relaxed morning planned--shopping, my favorite farmer's market, reading Harry Potter, just taking it easy until I had to go in that afternoon for what was supposed to be my bittersweet last day of work.
Got up, got dressed, went about my day. Went to the farmers market, had trouble parking. I thought something might be different because this really made me angry. I found myself being very irritable in my head with anyone who was around me. Went grocery shopping and without even thinking about it when a kind gentleman asked me something like "when's the baby coming?" I answered "Today". Feeling very uncomfortable he mumbled something like "Oh, that's nice" and proceeded to walk quickly away.
I decided maybe I needed to take a chill pill so I didn't snap at any more well meaning people (particularly before I had to serve people at work). I stopped at a coffee shop where I could sit in the sun and read--hanging out, just me and Harry Potter. Or at least that's what I wanted.
I must have had a look of desperation or the like on my face because everyone wanted to be my best friend that day. That's one of the wonderful, yet sometimes annoying, things about being pregnant. Everyone becomes excited for you and wants to talk to you. Having had so much fun with the last response I got from the guy at the grocery store, when anyone asked me when the baby was coming I answered "today". (Interestingy enough people didn't ask when I was due... all of them asked "when is the baby coming?").
But despite my interruptions I really enjoyed sitting in the sun, reading, and sipping herbal tea. It dawned on me that this might be the last time for a very long time when I would get to do something like this. Maybe, after all, the baby really was coming today.
Went home to get ready for work. The contractions became stronger. They were about every ten-fifteen minutes apart. I decided maybe it would't be a good idea to go into work afterall. Just in case. Texted my boss, saying "not sure if this is it or not but I don't think I should come in today". Her response? "!!!"
Continued to read Harry Potter with much enjoyment.
My midwife, Colleen, happened to call me (don't remember about what now) and after our brief conversation I told her "Just to give you a heads up, I've been having contractions since around seven this morning." It was now around twelve. She said "Great, ok, well give me a call anytime you want to come check on you. Otherwise we will check in around five". We didn't make it that far.
The contractions began to get stronger and closer together. I called my husband who was at school to see if he could pick up the birthing tub. (Just in case, you know-- I still didn't believe it would happen that day). He came home and I was planning on having him go back to school. By the time he arrived I said "I think maybe you should stay".
At this point I had to put dear Harry down. Everything from this point on is a bit of blur. I remember walking outside and being (for the first time) overwhelmed by a contraction. I told Brian, "Can you call Colleen to come check on me?"
When Colleen arrived I remember I was at the edge of my bed, moaning. I remember her saying "I'm going to call my assistant". The tone in her voice. I knew it was time. The intensity of the contractions. This was it. The moment that I had been waiting for. Nine months of anticipation, wondering, worrying, reading, researching, exercising, eating well. This was it. The end. The beginning.
They filled up the tub. I got in.
The water felt comforting. Warm. I liked the pressure around my body. The contractions felt like work. Hard work. I guess that;s why they call it labor. I was making sounds I hadn't learned or even heard before but they were working. I needed to make them. I could't not make them. (Weeks after the labor Brian told me I was "SO loud" he felt his ears were going to break.)
I remember I didn't want anyone touching me during the contractions. I needed Brian there beside me. But that was it. No touching. Touching made me think about things outside my body. I couldn't. I needed to believe that the only things that existed in the universe at that moment were me, my body and this hard, hard work.
I don't have any idea how long I was in the water for. I remember feeling an intense change inside and hearing my voice respond. I think I whispered something like "I feel like pushing, is that ok?" to my midwife. I couldn't believe it. It didn't seem right. It hadn't even been that long. She said that if my body was telling me to push I should push. A little later I remember hearing her say "It's ok, Jackie. Breathe." She knew me so well. She didn't say much but she knew exactly what to say and when and how to say it. She knew that I needed permission to go slower than my body was cue-ing. And my body was cue-ing fast.
She asked if I wanted to move from the tub. She helped me into the bathroom and I sat on the toilet. I remember this overwhelming need to be alone. I asked for everyone to leave besides the midwives and Brian (my mom and best friend had been in the room as well).
It burned. (This couldn't be crowning?? Already?). Colleen asked if I thought my water had broken. I didn't know. She thought it had. I told her it burned. Colleen knew if she didn't move me that my baby was going to be born into the toilet. I don't know how I moved onto the birthing stool but I did. I do know I couldn't have done it without her.
I heard Colleen say she could see the babies head. I could not believe it. I had thought before the labor about wanting to catch my own baby or at least having Brian catch it but at that moment all I could do was tell my self to calm down. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.
My baby was born at 6:17.
May 29th, 2012
A beautiful baby girl- Athena Mae
Strong, beautiful, vibrant, aware.
8 lbs. 6 oz.
And I will never be the same.
My labor was fast. Around 2.5 hours active labor with 20 minutes of pushing. Very fast for a primigravida with no tearing. If it weren't for the presence of my midwife it would have been too fast. My mind would not have been able to catch up with my body.
I loved giving birth. I loved giving birth with a midwife. I loved giving birth at home. It was the most wonderful thing in the world to snuggle into bed moments after with my fresh baby girl and my wonderful husband. Life will never be the same
On the night you were born,
the moon smiled with such wonder
that the stars peeked in to see you
and the night wind whispered,
"Life will never be the same"
-Nancy Tillman, "On the Night You Were Born"