I am going to attempt to write my birth story, though I feel like so much of what happened is a blur in my memory now. On Sunday, February 8, I began having contractions that I knew were more than just Braxton Hicks, but they were very irregular all day and into the night. They were uncomfortable, but I was able to just continue on with my day. On Monday I began to feel like I may be able to time them, and sure enough, they were about 6-10 minutes apart. I called my midwife, Connie, around 1pm to let her know what was going on. They became more and more uncomfortable all day. We went to a park with Manny's parents to walk in the late afternoon, and though I wasn't completely aware of it at the time, looking back I know that I was in early labor then. Every so often when a contraction would come I had to stop walking and wait for it to pass. Monday night I could no longer sleep through them because of how much they hurt. I would wake up every ten minutes after barely drifting off, and try to get in a position that would make them more bearable- usually on my hands and knees in bed, rocking. I was hoping this was it, but trying not too get too excited, knowing it could go on like this for days. Tuesday morning I felt like they were getting closer together, but tried to keep going about my day the best I could. Manny was home that day anyway, and we spent the morning doing things around the house. I got the point where I had to completely stop what I was doing with each contraction, and we decided to time them again- six minutes apart, and sometimes as little as four, lasting about a minute. When I talked to Connie, she said to stop timing them and ignore as much as possible that they were happening. It was difficult to ignore them, as soon I could no longer talk through them, and soon after that each one had me on my hands and knees or the birthing ball on the floor. I walked and bounced on the ball in between- tried to keep moving.
Once when I got up to go to the bathroom, Connie put clary sage essential oil in the water, and the scent seemed to sort of intoxicate me (in a good way). I was in such a deeply focused mental state- I was completely unaware of everything going on around me- I was in another world in which the only focus was birthing my baby. I remember feeling a few times like I just couldn’t do it anymore, and like it would just never be over. It is very hard work- they certainly don't call it labor for nothing. I began to feel the urge to push during the contractions, and had already thrown up (which I’d heard might happen in transition). I knew it was getting really close (or at least I was praying that it was!). Connie’s assistant, Judith, had come, and I reached the point where I had to push, and it was a relief that I could. At some point I could feel the baby’s head, and Connie encouraged me to put my hand there during contractions, while I was pushing. Apparently I pushed for 45 minutes, and with one last contraction- the last two pushes as I remember it- Seth was born, at 8:22pm. Immediately Connie handed him to me, and I sat there in the water rubbing his back and talking to him as he began to breathe and then cry. After a few minutes (I guess?) They helped me get out of the tub and sit on a birth stool. Manny cut the umbilical cord and it was clamped- I was just staring at this amazing little person in my arms. They encouraged me to try to nurse him, and I remember pushing the placenta out, and then I was helped into my bedroom and into bed, where I nursed the baby, with Manny in bed next to me, and we got the chance to admire our son together. I had some tearing during the birth, and while Connie stitched me up, Manny and my mom got some bonding time with Seth.
Judith helped me rinse off briefly in the shower and get dressed, and I lied down and watched while Connie examined Seth at the foot of the bed. I was really surprised when he weighed only 5 pounds 11 ounces- I never imagined I’d have such a tiny baby. But he was perfect and very healthy, and honestly the most beautiful thing I had ever laid eyes on. She did all the checks, gave him his vitamin k shot, took his footprints, and then went over all kinds of instructions for caring for myself and the baby postpartum. I tried to listen and comprehend through the haze of sheer exhaustion (thankfully she gave us written instructions too!)
Before we went to sleep that night, Manny and I stared in awe at our amazing, beautiful little guy, knowing we’d never be the same. I feel like childbirth was the strongest time of my life- I have never been pushed so far, physically and emotionally, and I feel that the experience has made me stronger and more confident, and as motherhood presents its various challenges, as I know it will, I can look back and remind myself of what I did, and know that I’ll be able to get through anything. I am so happy that I chose to have my baby at home- I look back on Seth's birth as such a good experience, and I attribute that to the fact that I was in a comfortable environment and had control over what happened during my labor, and my birth was attended by an amazing midwife who made that possible.