This is the birth story of Robert Wallace, my second son. He was born on April 15, 2015 at 8:05 a.m. He was 20.5 inches long and 7 lbs. 12 oz., our heaviest baby yet.
I was nervous to give birth again, unmedicated, so I halfway convinced myself that I’d be pregnant forever. Due to months of awful Braxton Hicks contractions, I worried that I wouldn’t know when labor was starting.
Early Tuesday morning, I was awoken by what I thought were contractions, but I quickly fell back to sleep. I was going to be pregnant forever, remember? I had my 40 week appointment a few hours later. It was the first appointment I’d attended without Clara and Seven in tow, thanks to the kindness of a ward member. It was nice to have a real conversation with the midwife. Thankfully, all was well with baby and me. I had to set up my 41 week appointments, including extra monitoring for being overdue. For the first time, I thought it might be a good idea for the baby to make their entrance.
Around 4:30 that afternoon, I had another clue that labor was approaching: bloody show. I informed my mom, but had to convince her to stay in Globe – I didn’t want the pressure to perform. I decided to go teach ballet, which Anson thought was insane. I was just happy to have a distraction! When I walked into the studio, everyone was shocked to see me. Apparently there had been a rumor started the day before that my baby had been born! I was amused, but sorry to disappoint. The rest of the night went normally. Anson finished building the cosleeper, my brother-in-law came over to give me a blessing, and I went to bed early, all just in case I went into labor that night.
Sometime after midnight, I lost the battle of sleeping through possible contractions. It was almost unbelievable that contractions could be so strong, yet still 15-20 minutes apart. I tried to stay in bed, to rest, but I soon found myself jumping to my feet as a wave would start, eager to walk through the pain. I was definitely confused; it couldn’t be labor!
At 3:03 a.m., I decided to time the pains. I thought I could prove that I was being a huge wimp. The pains were 10-12 minutes apart, plus the occasional 6-8 apart. No way it could be real labor, right?
Finally, at 4:20 a.m., I decided to experiment. What would happen if I didn’t get back in bed? Would labor pick up or die out? When the next five contractions were 4-6 minutes apart, I was shocked. How did that happen?! I decided to call my mom. I reluctantly updated her on my situation and told her we could just “hang out” if nothing happened. That was at 4:45 a.m. Half an hour later, I was on the phone with Amy, the midwife. She said we should meet at the birth center around 6:15-6:30 a.m. At that point, I was still unconvinced that I was in labor, but part of me hoped that 6:30 wouldn’t be too late.
My mother-in-law soon arrived to watch the kids. By that time, contractions were 3-4 minutes apart, and I could tell that my mother-in-law was worried. I started to worry, too, and headed towards the car, knowing full well that we would beat the midwife, but feeling a very strong desire to be at the birth center, regardless.
During the car ride, I focused on counting all of my body parts during contractions. When we arrived, I exited the car and noticed my feet were soaked with sweat. I also started shivering and my teeth were chattering. It was about this time that I finally started to believe that I might really be in labor. Anson took over the contraction timer, while I paced the parking lot, with a towel draped over my shoulders. The 20 minutes it took for Amy to arrive seemed like an eternity. I felt vulnerable and unable to progress. I suddenly realized that my mom probably wouldn’t make it in time for the birth.
I was feeling a lot of downward pressure during contractions outside the birth center. I both wanted to keep my legs together to stop progress and open them up by a foot it get it over with. Once inside, Amy checked me and said I was almost at the end of transition (translation from the future: 9cm). The tub was filling SO SLOWLY, so I walked in circles, pants-less, with my eyes closed, desperately willing it to be full.
FINALLY! I was able to enter the tub and it was a huge relief, both mentally and physically. Then, things got weird. My contractions spaced out and got much less intense. My mom showed up (yay!), so I thought maybe things would pick up. Nope. I was very present and alert at this time. I began questioning Amy about what was taking so long. She said my waters were still intact and “helping” the baby to descend slowly. OH HECK NO! I started to get very impatient. The only thought in my head was that I needed to break my own water, to get the baby out.
That strange period lasted for 1-1.5 hours. Contractions spaced out and lessened in intensity. I was just kneeling in the tub, waiting for something to happen. I was so annoyed with everything, especially when people tried to remind me of my birth plan (“let my body push, don’t interfere”) and how I believed in “natural”. I’ll admit that I did try to break my own water, every time I thought someone wouldn’t notice! (For this online birth story, I’ll leave out the details of that endeavor!) Time dragged on, my feet fell asleep, I tried different positions, I did a lot of complaining, but nothing happened.
And then, all on its own, IT BROKE! I was so happy and announced it proudly. Yay! (7:57 a.m.) The downward pressure immediately increased. The contractions intensified and quickened. I gave small pushes during the surges to help baby drop. With each inhale and exhale I would tilt my head from right to left. Suddenly, I felt the head bulging and almost crowning. My left hand quickly and instinctively dove down to lend support. The midwife and nurse heard the splash of my hand and rushed into the room.
With each inhale, I imagined lava and fire, but with each exhale, I imagined blowing snow onto the painful burn, extinguishing it. The first crowning push (8:03 a.m.) didn’t seem to stretch me enough, so I tried to hold back. It was extremely painful, much more than I remember with Steven, so I found it difficult to control myself. As much as it hurt to do so, I tried my best to keep the head crowning until the next contraction. Then, in the next surge or two, the head finally emerged. What an amazing relief!! The midwife instructed me to grab the head and I vividly remember feeling a tiny ear with my left hand. It was magical! I asked Amy if I could wait for another contraction to birth the shoulders. She was hesitant and asked for “grunty pushes” while she checked the neck for a cord. Amy then told me to lean a different direction (very hard to do!) and to push. Then – I pushed! My baby was born and lifted out of the water, onto my chest, at 8:05 a.m.
The baby was silent at first, but I saw his eyes moving. For a split second, I thought (and asked aloud) that something might be wrong. While Amy rubbed his back, he let out his first cry. Hallelujah! I peeked between baby’s legs and then subtly showed Anson. Another boy! I knew it!
Everything from that moment on went smoothly. Only the after-pains gave me any bother. Robert was a perfect blessing. Breastfeeding was amazing (well, at least until my milk came in!). I escaped without any injuries. Anson and I were able to take a nap while my mom and Mimi loved on the new baby. The day was wonderful, magical, and sacred in every way.
Usually, the birth story would end there, but I have to add this gem:
On the way home from the birth center, a few hours later, Anson drove me through a cute neighborhood. In actuality, he was checking up on a job site! His brother walked up to the truck and said, surprised, “Oh my heck! Is that your wife in there?” We all laughed. I’m not sure how many husbands take their wives and hours-old babies to work with them! I don’t think I’ll ever let Anson live that story down.