It’s 5am, the birds are just beginning to chirp, and I’m holding my gorgeous rainbow boy finally. He’s asleep at the breast after nursing and just looking at him takes my breath away. Today is his due date but, instead of being in labor, tomorrow my son will be a week old. I told everyone he would come early, I always knew he was enough like me to be impatient.
I started having contractions on Tuesday after a gush of fluid everyone thought was my water breaking. We ended up in L&D triage to see if that was the case since I’d tested strep group B positive and I had to have antibiotics during labor. My water hadn’t broken and I was still 3cm dilated and not effaced yet. I continued to contract on and off on Wednesday and Thursday, but they were stronger and more consistent on Thursday. If drank 4 mugs of red raspberry leaf tea my doula brought me Wednesday evening, and I woke up contracting more on Thursday. I will forever preach the power of that tea! I told the midwife at my appointment that day that I didn’t want to do a membrane sweep because I hadn’t slept well the night before due to contractions waking me up. She agreed that was smart and that we could discuss it again at my appointment on Monday if I hadn’t already had the baby. She said she had a feeling she’d be seeing me that weekend.
I went home, contracting the entire drive, and tried to get a short nap in. When I woke up, the contractions felt different snd they never let up. Starting around 7:30pm I was contracting regularly enough to time them and they were stronger as the night wore on. I slept as much as I could, often waking to get on my hands and knees and rock/moan through the pain. I was scared. Not of the pain really, but because I knew it’d get worse and I was alone. My husband was at work and I told him I wasn’t close enough for the hospital yet so finish his shift then come home. I texted my doula with updates regularly, even after she went to sleep. Around 3am, after my husband was home my doula woke up randomly and checked her phone. She asked if she could call me so she could hear what I sounded like because that would tell her if she needed to come out or not. After about 5 or so minutes and two contractions, she said she needed to come out if I was okay with it because I was really in labor and getting closer.
I took a hot shower, washed my hair because I knew it’d be awhile before I could again, and let the water abs heat help with my back labor. Once my doula arrived, she helped get me settled as comfortably as possible so I could sleep a little more. Around 5:30am I couldn’t ignore the contractions at all anymore and got up to labor in different positions. Victoria helped provide counter pressure while I bent over the bed, helped me breathe while I rocked on the birth ball, and kept putting my water to my lips so I’d drink. She made sure I ate and rested between surges. i wanted to wait until dawn to leave for the hospital, didn’t want to go in the dark. I’d lived through so much darkness already that I needed the light. I asked her to read the Book of Ruth to me while we waited for the sun to rise, it’s my favorite book in the Torah. My grandmother was named Ruth and I gave it to my youngest daughter as her middle name. I watched the hills start to glow with early morning light as I rocked through contractions and listened to Victoria read. It was a frosty early spring morning, so we bundled up and Victoria walked with me down to the creek. Birds sang their dawn chorus as we slowly made our way to where I know the dwarf irises grow. I’d been waiting to see them bloom because I love them and I’d had a deep feeling my baby would come when the purple blooms finally appeared. We neared the spot where the blades of their leaves were and I spotted purple buds ready to explode open. They were blooming and so was I. Three perfect buds, one for each baby I’d never been able to hold. Victoria held me as I cried and then we made our way back to the house, calling the midwife on the way to let her know I was ready to go to the hospital now.
Thomas was a nervous mess driving us there, but we made it. The hospital is so big they have a shuttle that takes people from the parking structure elevators to the opening of the wing they’re going to. The cart lady that morning remembered me from when my stepdad was in the hospital for 9 months before he died. I did my best to breathe through contractions as I attempted small town and answered screening questions at the covid checkpoint. I never thought I’d be arriving to the L& D ward wearing a mask and being checked for a negative covid test on file, but I did. I couldn’t sit once we got to L&D, the contractions were too close together and sitting made them worse. I stood in the sitting area and hung on to Thomas each time a contraction rolled through me until, finally, they called us back to triage. I’d dilated to 4cm and they said they wanted to check me again in two hours to see if I’d progressed any, then they’d admit me. So, Victoria made another cup of red raspberry leaf tea and I started doing movements that would work my baby down further. After a set of captain Morgan’s, a contraction rolled in abs I felt a sharp pain in my pelvis. My moan during that wave was different and Victoria and my nurse shared a look because they knew the sound of progress. When they checked me again I was 5cm dilated and was admitted to L&D: we were officially birthing a baby that day.
Once we got into our birthing suite, Victoria set to work making it as homey as possible. I immediately requested to use the labor tub…only to be told something had happened the night before and they’d had an issue with its drainage and now no one could find the pump or backup pump. My midwife said they were looking everywhere and she’d bring it as soon as it was found. In the mean time, Victoria put fairy lights in the bathroom and I went into the shower to labor. I had the water as hot as it would go and understood how people could do unmedicated births because it truly did almost erase the pain from the contractions. I’d been telling the midwives I didn’t want my IV of antibiotics for the Strep Group B treatment yet, I just needed to have it at least 4 hours before he was born and I knew I had a ways still. But I did have to be hooked up to an NST machine for 20 minutes every 40 minutes and, because Finnegan kept moving and getting out from underneath his monitor, I had to lay as still as possible. Contractions were worse laying down but all I could do was hold onto the bed rails and thrash my head.
I made the decision that, once I reached 7cm, I’d like an epidural. I was so tired from prodromal labor the days leading up to birth that I was starting to fight the contractions. All I wanted was to sleep. Once I was checked and the midwives said I was an extremely loose 6 “basically a 7”, I called periwinkle (my code word so everyone would know I was serious about the epidural). The doctor came in roughly 10 minutes later, wheeling his cart of goodies, and said “it’s just anesthesia” when everyone turned to look. I told him “you should have confetti to toss when you enter a room, because there’s nothing ‘just’ about anesthesia”. I couldn’t tell if he’d smiled or not because of the mask, but he told us his name was Logan and I wouldn’t be feeling those contractions in a bit. Dr. Logan is a good among men because he gave me my epidural painlessly in under 10 minutes while we joked. I could still feel the waves, but they weren’t painful anymore and only one leg went completely numb. We named her Debbie Dead Leg.
Armed with me epidural pump button and lime jello, I let the midwives break my waters (nothing came out because Finn’s head was so well engaged that he created a seal). Then I took a fat nap. Three hours later, the midwives came back and asked to check me. I was at 10cm with no cervix left…time to push!!!!! as they wheeled everything closer and set the bed up, I got my playlist ready. A mix of Hamilton songs, Salt N Peppa, and others played on loop. Simone, the student midwife, told me to do a test push to get used to it and it turns out that I’m a natural pusher. They were all very surprised since Finn was my first living birth and my first time pushing. I could feel the contractions and knew when to push, telling them when it was time. I could also feel Finn as he came lower and lower, closer to finally being in my arms. I kept asking if this was really happening, if I was finally having a living baby. Everyone, with tender looks in their eyes, assured me that it was. Victoria held my water to my mouth in between every push and the nurses helped me hold me legs up while Thomas put a cool washcloth over my forehead. Then Simone told me I could feel his head, so I reached down abs felt my son’s head. I still kiss that spot now, knowing that was where he first felt my touch on the outside. Then Simone told me to push very gently when the next contraction hit. But I felt Finn start moving out again and, with surprise, Simone said he was pushing himself out so it was go time. My boy was in a hurry, but he still went slow as he helped birth himself. Then he was out and I was crying.
They laid him right on my chest and my first thought was “please don’t suffocate on my boobs”. He turned his head and looked at me mewling. Our eyes met and I said “hi, honey”. I held him close as one of the nurses rubbed him with a blanket to get him to cry, he was making noises and moving but they wanted a big cry. He let one loose, almost impatiently, then snuggled in closer to me to watch me. We stayed like that for over an hour while I delivered the placenta, while the midwives found a tiny tear that needed a stitch,
My 6lb 11oz perfect boy pushed his way into the world while Hamilton’s “Wait For It” played, nurses had tears in their eyes, our doula sang along with me, and I cried. He’s 4 months old now and so amazing it breaks my heart. There are no words I can say to encompass the love on my soul for this baby. Everything I am…it’s all for him. I don’t know if I’ll ever get to carry or birth another baby, but my mother’s heart is full with my three babies who watch over us and the one I get to hold in my arms.
I am a mother. Finally.