Our apartment: Friday, January 18, 2013. 2:33am
Matt is blissfully snoring, Justin is crashed out in our recliner in the living room, and I am simply dreaming – of what exactly I don’t remember.
Like a clap of thunder when lightning strikes – CRACK-A-POW!!
I was out of bed and bracing myself against the pack’n’play bassinet next to our bed. I grab my phone to check the time and open the “contraction tracker” app. Somehow I know that I won’t have the wherewithal to keep using it. I tell myself to breathe and climb carefully back into bed.
6 minutes pass and POW! Again, I’m out of bed with sharp, wrenching pain – almost stabbing. This time I feel what I can only describe as the painless tear of a taut plastic bag. I feel a slight drip, cross my legs and haul to the bathroom. I try to sit but have to settle for a hover because I’m hit with another contraction. By about 2:55am, I make it back to the bedroom where I wake Matt and tell him that THIS IS indeed IT! I call our doula at the end of the next contraction and tell her in as few words as possible. She asks if I think she has time for a quick shower before she heads to our place – I tell her sure. I mean, Justin’s labor was a medicated 16 hours! I ride through another knife-twisting contraction and then call the midwife and order Matt to start setting up the birth tub. Another contraction comes – closer now. I realize the sink is full with an unsightly number of dishes.
And now evidence that “laborland” is fast calling and I’m losing my grip with reality: I asked Matt to focus on doing the dishes THEN think that we should maybe get a hold of our pre-arranged babysitter for Justin. I’ve now found myself “roaring” lowly through a couple of contractions at a chair by our dining room table, and worked my way to the bathroom sink.
It’s now about 3:50am. Our friends have had an extenuating circumstance make it so they cannot come from Everson to pick up Justin, and the birth photographer has not responded to either texts or phone calls (we found out later that her ringer somehow got muted). I am completely losing my cool in the bathroom where contractions are rolling up so close together that I’m not able to relax in between them at all. I know I’m getting loud, but try to focus on relaxing – visualizing a star-field opening (watching a flower open in my mind’s eye wouldn’t stick – it wasn’t “loud” enough). I had Matt come in and put some pressure on my hips and my back in time with a couple of contractions. In no time I found myself shouting out to Matt, “Where ARE they?! Where IS everybody! I can’t do this! I need HELP!!” Matt (recognizing my words as characteristic of “transition” – the phase right before pushing) has at this point called and texted both the midwife and the doula. They are on their way but the roads are dangerously icy and they have to take their time.
Around 4:10am, I realize that I’m not just riding through contractions any more but finding myself in a supported squat hanging on to the edge of the bathroom sink starting to bear down. 4:15 and I’ve now woken Justin with my noise. Matt goes to tend to him and, in his brilliance, tells Justin that “Momma’s a lion. She’s roaring like a lion! Can YOU roar like a lion with Momma?!” In a moment of lucidity I realize that not only have none of my birth attendants arrived but I’m now actively pushing – and cannot stop. I yelled at Matt to call them and tell them that I’m pushing – he called, but didn’t get through.
4:20am – My amazing doula comes in the front door. Matt directs her to the bathroom where she finds me bearing down, still in my underwear – which she helps me with and immediately sees the baby’s head. She quickly built a nest of towels under me and directed me to a position closer to the floor (I ended up on all fours but with one arm up toward the sink). She coached me to flap my lips to diffuse the urge to push so fast and helped me find reality and focus (yet another place for me to remind the world to, no matter what kind of birth you have planned, NEVER BIRTH WITHOUT A DOULA!!). At about 4:30 my midwife came in and used her wicked midwifery skills to transform some olive oil into a massage oil/lubricant for the delicate areas being pushed apart by my daughter’s head and ease the burning. With the coaching and support of my doula and midwife, at 4:48am this little girl was born and immediately passed into my arms, goo and all:
It was at that moment, as I held my daughter for the first time – soaking up her beauty, the sound of her first cry, and the wonder of what had just happened and what I’d just done that I noticed that Justin was standing in the doorway and had been for some time. He immediately jumped into the room, got close to us and said, “Look at that BABY!”, and smiling I said, “Justin! Where did this baby come from?!” His response? “Baby making goat sounds!” (his commentary on her first cries). So sweet.
After the cord stopped pulsating, I passed my baby to our doula who cut the cord (SO not Matt’s thing). After the placenta was delivered, I got helped to bed to curl up with my baby and get some rest. When all was said and done, these were the raw numbers:
Georgia Seraphina Owen
Born at 4:48am on Friday, January 18, 2013 in our little apartment bathroom
Weighing 8lbs 14oz
21 inches long
14 inches head circumference
after exactly 2 hours and 14 minutes of labor.
I came out decidedly unscathed: no tearing, no difficulties nursing, and entirely happy with how the birth went – even if it was a little different than we’d planned.
After the physical and emotional trauma of Justin’s medically managed birth, Georgia’s birth has instilled in me a sense that God made my body to be able to do amazing things. I’m already seeing benefits beyond words of what an empowering birth experience can do to mend a wounded heart.
And while I still need time to heal physically (swelling anyone?!), I already feel SO much better than I did at even 3 weeks postpartum with Justin (I’m writing this at 3 days postpartum). I really can say that a couple of hours in an apartment bathroom were some of the most rewarding of my entire life.