I’m just writing this stream of consciousness style, so it’s likely to be incredibly long and potentially uninteresting, unless you like birth stories, in which case you’ll probably love it.
I spent the week leading up to my due date in a state of heightened emotion, deeply disappointed each morning I woke up not in labor, very on edge with the kids, despairing of ever having a baby, and occasionally completely okay with never having a baby. It was all very exhausting, so I was pleasantly surprised when the due date came and went, with no sign of baby, and found me in a better place emotionally than I’d been all week, if not longer. I told Matthew as we went to bed that I felt really good about everything, and not anxious at all. Just very at peace.
I woke up Sunday morning having mild contractions. Nothing regular or painful, just consistent enough to know they were there. I was excited, because I had never had contractions in the morning before and it seemed like that might be a hopeful sign, but determined to play it cool rather than be disappointed if things didn’t progress. Also, my level of superstition was out the roof at this point (I didn’t pack the kids’ bag until the due date because for some reason I was convinced that would just postpone labor indefinitely) so I didn’t want to jinx anything with premature hopefulness. Whatever, pregnancy is weird, okay?
So we proceeded with our morning by hastily eating breakfast and hustling out the door to make the early service at church. As per my aforementioned superstitions, I felt very strongly that I needed to act like nothing out of the ordinary was happening, so that what I was pretty sure was actually happening would continue to happen. And that’s the last I’ll delve into the darkness of my pregnancy logic, lest you become convinced of my mental instability. Church was fine, I continued to have irregular contractions throughout the service and tried to good-naturedly ward off any lengthy conversations about my continued state of pregnancy.
We came home, ate lunch and put the kids down for naps. My contractions were happening about every five minutes now, but still mild enough for the most part that I didn’t even need to try breathe through them, but about one in five would be intense enough to make me think things were progressing. I called my mom to talk it over, the plan was for my parents to come get the kids but I wanted to make sure we didn’t send them if it wasn’t the real deal. After talking with her about the contractions and a few other signs of labor, we determined this was the real deal and that I was moving toward active labor. They would get the kids within a couple hours.
We made it through the next two hours, and watched a Winnie the Pooh movie when it became clear that I was too on edge to really deal with the kids. Still not much pain, but just over all I knew we were going to have a baby soon and I really needed the kids to be taken care of. When my parents arrived, literally as they walked in the door at 5, my contractions jumped to a different level. I had to focus to breathe, and not move or talk. Pretty sure active labor started as soon as I knew I didn’t have to take care of my kids anymore. I got teary when I saw my mom and told her I didn’t want to do this. She prayed for me, and they quickly packed up the kids and were on their way. I was on the verge of tears watching the kids leave, especially Wyatt, knowing that when I saw him next he wouldn’t be my baby anymore. But when I turned around to go back in the house all I felt was relief that that was all squared away.
And it’s like my body knew it was okay to go into labor then, because things immediately intensified. Within a half hour of them leaving, I was fighting tears every few contractions, although there were still mild ones in between. I kept asking Matthew when I would know it was time to go to the hospital, because I felt like things were getting intense but I felt so much calmer than I had with Wyatt. By 6pm, almost every contraction was really hard. By 6:30 I had allowed myself to admit that each one was about as hard as I remembered them being with Wyatt before I went into transition, even though I was still not panicking. Matthew even said, “you seem pretty calm, I don’t know if it’s time yet…” By 6:37 I texted my doula that I was freaking out a little so we were going to go to the hospital. At first I thought maybe we’d just let her know when I needed her once we got there, but something made me ask her to meet us at triage. Something like maybe divine providence.
As we were driving I kept vacillating from saying we had left too soon and I would probably get an epidural because we’d be at the hospital long enough, and then when a contraction would hit and I’d feel occasional pressure to push I’d say we might not make it in time. Even at the time, it was pretty funny how all over the place I was. When we got to the hospital, Matthew dropped me off and had to go park the truck. I was a weepy wreck when he left but I wanted him back with me as soon as possible so made him park right away rather than walk in with me. I could hardly walk into the hospital, the few yards between the entrance and the main desk seemed to take forever. The lady at the welcome desk got a wheelchair and took me up to triage. As we rolled in I blurted “I signed up for a water birth!” to the first nurse I saw. She kind of laughed at me, handed me something which I signed but don’t remember, and they took me in to have the midwife check me.
At this point I was in a ton of pain but still thought there was no way things could have progressed this fast (even though they did with Wyatt), and I’m pretty sure the staff thought so too because we were all very surprised to find out that I was 8cm dilated. Emily, our doula, got there right then, swooped in and hugged me and told me I was going to have this baby so soon, I’d done most of the work already, I could do this…which was good because I still was in denial and all I could think was how much I didn’t want to do this. One nurse said “she’s about to push out this baby!” and they wheeled me out to the labor and delivery room where they were filling up a tub for me. I got there so late in the game that they didn’t have time to check me in, put in an IV port, monitor the baby, any of the normal procedures.
In between contractions, the nurse would attempt to get a heartbeat from Mavis. It was a marvel to me how calm I was…I was still able to breathe through all the contractions, and I felt like those cheesy birth videos where the mom just moans quietly and everything is calm and beautiful and you wouldn’t know she’s in the worst pain of her entire life.
After maybe fifteen minutes in the tub, though, I was struggling to stay calm, and would panic a little each time, but mostly in my head I think. By 7:30 probably, I was 10cm dilated but my water still hadn’t broken and Mavis was at a -1 which as far as I understand means she was still kind of high up so I had a little ways to go.
I felt really confused, like what am I supposed to do with that? I’m 10cm why am I not pushing out a baby right now?! But Emily told me each contraction was moving the baby down, and I just needed to “breathe her out” which somehow made perfect sense to me and I tried to breathe out very calmly with each contraction. I was also feeling like I needed to push now so I did during the contractions. At some point they had me switch positions so that I was no longer on my knees but sitting up, sort of, and I began to push in earnest.
It felt like a million years, seriously…I couldn’t quite get control of my breathing and pushing and it hurt so much worse than I remember with Wyatt, who came out in one push. But Matthew says I probably only pushed three times before my water broke and then Mavis came out all at once. It was crazy! And then just…over. At 7:52, just under 3 hours from the point active labor began.
Once again, my favorite part of the all natural birth was feeling my baby come out. That’s such a release because all the pain just leaves and you feel your baby for the first time. They laid her on me and I just stared at her while my legs shook and I couldn’t believe it was over. She had so much dark hair and chubby cheeks, just like I’d seen in one of my dreams about her. She was perfect and somehow like and not like my other babies, all at once.
And that’s how Mavis Nadine was born.