I know I am not a writer so please excuse any mistakes. This is just from my perspective!
It all started on the due date, August 29, 2011. Brett and I went to our regular appointment with our midwife, Lisa, at noon. She checked blood pressure, heart rate, measurement, and position as usual and all was well. She asked if she could check to see if I was dilated and I was eager to let her. She told me my cervix was closed and that she was going to do what is called “stripping the membranes” to maybe help things along. I must say, this was not enjoyable, but I was so thankful she did it!
We left Lisa’s house and decided to go eat. We had been talking about a certain restaurant for weeks and decided today was the day. I felt we had to go now or it would be a long time before we had the opportunity again. As we drove to O’Neills, I had a few very easy, very light contractions. At this point, I didn’t think too much of it as Lisa told us to expect some. We sat in a booth right next to a table that seated an old married couple. We sat and talked and just enjoyed being together. After we ate, I wanted to go to Foo’s Fabulous Frozen Custard, which was next door to O’Neills. We both ordered some ice cream with goodies mixed in and we each got a fancy little chocolate treat. We walked to the back to find a seat and the room was filled with older women playing games and laughing. They all noticed me and my big belly instantly. They asked all the usual questions and loved hearing all about it. One joked and said they loved babies because they were all midwives. Turns out they were all grandmothers.
I remember the whole time at the restaurant and ice cream shop, I felt different. I remember telling Brett how strange I felt. I couldn’t describe it to him and I still can’t. I just felt plain weird. As we drove home the contractions were still light and easy and pretty far apart. At this point, I did start thinking “this was it”. We made it home and I honestly do not remember what happened! I do remember the contractions never stopped. They stayed light and easy with quite a bit of time in between. Around 9 pm, things started to change. The contractions seemed a little bit stronger and a tad closer together. We went for a few walks and just rested. Around midnight we decided this really was “it”. We went to get a couple of movies and some snacks to munch on. We debated for hours whether or not to call our Doula and Midwife. We called our Doula, Becky, and she arrived around 4 am. I am not sure if we called Lisa. Brett handled all the phone calls. We had not slept all night because we were anxious. Brett went to take a nap and I sat on the couch with Becky. I dosed off a little between the contractions. At this point they were getting quite a bit stronger. I was focusing and breathing through them quite easily still.
After a few hours, I finally got Brett to wake up. I could no longer just sit and breathe through the contractions. It was time to move around. We tried to walk a little outside, but it was hot and I just wanted to relax. We did call Lisa sometime early Tuesday morning, and she said there was still some time. We set up the birth tub and I got in for a bit and got out. We tried quite a few different positions. My favorite was when I was on my knees leaning over something, the couch, the chair, the ball. I also found that I loved the massages and heated rice/bean bags. I took many hot showers throughout the whole labor. They were amazing.
The day went by pretty fast I breathed through each contraction while Becky and Brett did what they could. We called Lisa again. She and her assistant showed up around 4. I think. I thought it would be over soon, probably a couple of hours. I had no idea what was to come.
Lisa and Jessica came. They were both so wonderful. They joked and made me laugh. They had a way about them that was so calming. They checked me and the baby and all was well.
The rest is kind of a blur, just bits and pieces of what happened. I am looking back at the pictures to see the times everything sort of happened. I remember trying to walk outside again and it was worse than the first time. I took another shower, or maybe more. I got in the tub around 7:20. Brett sat right there letting me squeeze his hand. Around 8, I was leaning over the edge of the tub. Brett was on the outside leaning over holding me. I remember thinking “I hope Becky gets a picture of this. I bet it would look pretty cool.” Then I saw the camera flashing. I was so happy! I remember sitting back at one point and feeling my belly. It was all “squishy” on top. It was the weirdest feeling! I am not sure who, but I remember someone saying that meant he had dropped more. I remember thinking “How could he have dropped any further?!”
I know I was in the pool for at least 2 hours. I am not sure when I got out. I do remember Lisa coming in and asking me if I could get out for a bit to try some other things. I didn’t want to because the water felt so good. I got out and we tried some other things.
Here is where I really don’t remember much. The pieces I have in my mind are: leaning over anything I could in the living room; Lisa telling me everything she could think of to keep my pelvis open; I remember being in the pool again and Jessica brushing my hair and being so sweet; I remember Becky massaging and keeping heated rice bags on me; Lisa telling me to breathe “Ahhhh” in a low voice; Lisa telling me to relax my shoulders; I remember making Brett breathe “Ahhh” with me asking him to push my shoulders down to help me relax.
Sometime when I was in the living room someone had decided to take this sheet and wrap it around me and pull to hold my belly up. I remember thinking just get this stupid thing off me. I asked them over and over (at least in my head, not sure if I said it out loud) to please just take it off. I remember as soon as they did, I wanted to it back. I had no idea how much it helped.
When I got back in the pool, I remember someone had Brett get in with me. I did not like this. I didn’t want him in there. But he sat right next to me. I held his hand and made him breathe with me. He has no idea how much that helped me focus. I remember he fell asleep. As a contraction began I asked him to breathe with me. He didn’t respond. I tried to yell at him but it came out as a whimpering cry. He woke up and breathed me through it and dosed back off.
Another thing I remember in the living room is when they made me stand. I was holding onto Brett. I remember looking into his eyes begging him to make it stop. He just stared at me, drained of all energy. I thought to myself “Please, just take me to the hospital. Let them put me to sleep and I will wake up and have my baby. I do not want to do this anymore.” I wanted him to read my mind. I did not want to say it out loud.
At one point I was laying in bed, at Lisa’s request, in some weird position on my side. I hated it. I remember crying and squeezing Brett’s hand. I wanted to be leaning over my ball or anything. She checked me again. She said one part of my cervix wouldn’t let go and she was going to try to “massage” it to help it release. This was definitely not enjoyable. I remember crying it hurt so badly. I looked at Lisa and begged her to stop. I remember as soon as I looked at her, I could see in her face she did not want to do it either. My water finally broke while she did this.
At some point Lisa told me we should take down the pool. It was not working out and we should prepare for another way. I remember I was not devastated, I was almost happy. That meant it was almost over.
I remember sitting on the toilet (just another position, better than a chair because it was open). Brett was right there with me. As I would have a contraction I would tense up and Brett would tell me to relax. I was having trouble relaxing because I was shaking from lack of food. They made me drink this nasty horrible raspberry tea with cinnamon honey. Oh I remember thinking it was torture! While I was still on the toilet, Lisa came in and asked if I had urges to push. I told her no. She said if you do let me know; I have not had a toilet baby yet and I don’t plan to. This made me laugh.
I was back in the living room, leaning over my ball and drinking that nasty tea. Then they decided we should go to the birth room. I remember I was on my hands and knees and they took forever to get my ball to me. I got into my comfortable position. I think I had to go to that bathroom or something so I got up with some help. I came back and I had the feelings to push. I remember being so thirsty and before I could have water I had to drink that disgusting tea, but trust me, I needed it. As I began to push I felt relief and joy. He was almost here! I remember them holding a warm towel with olive oil to help me from tearing. Oh boy did that feel good.
As his head crowned, Lisa told me to reach down and feel it. This is something I cannot even begin to describe. I will never forget the feeling of his soft head covered with hair. After what seemed like a few short minutes, his head was out. I couldn’t believe I did it! I remember Brett saying “Steph, You were right. He looks just like me.” I remember smiling. I remember thinking “Oh I hope they get a picture!” Then the flash came. It only took, what seemed like, one or two more pushes and he was out. I heard is sweet cry immediately. Brett had caught him and I felt a weird tugging and Lisa said “No, he is still attached!” I pictured Brett picking him and running for the door with excitement to show the world his little boy.
As I awkwardly turned around, trying not to rip the cord, I saw him for the first time. He was handed to me and I just stared. I remember thinking “There is no way you came from inside me. This whole thing was a dream.” I remember tears building but I never actually cried. The cord stopped pulsing and Brett got to cut it. I don’t remember if the placenta was delivered before or after the cord was cut. As I was leaning back on Brett, Lisa stitched me up. As I held him he just cried and cried. At some point he stopped and he looked straight into my eyes. We just stared at each other. He was perfect.
We made our way to bed and I lay down with Tyler. He had not latched on yet, but Lisa decided she should go ahead and weigh and measure him. He was 21 inches and 8 pounds 2.5 ounces born August 31, 2011 at 5:15 am.
This experience was life changing. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. I was so blessed to have Becky, Lisa, and her assistant. They made an awesome team. And of course Brett. I love him now more than ever. He stuck it out with me and supported me. He is amazing.
I never knew how strong I was. My body did something I wasn’t sure I was capable of. I now see myself differently. I was empowered by his birth. I now see beauty in a different way. The pregnant woman or the nursing mother with stretch marks is just as beautiful as the super model walking down the street. I am beautiful. I have never been more beautiful than I am now. How amazing.