Labor has no clock and it is impossible to know when you are going to have a baby. Liz had called me earlier in the evening to ask if she should go out dancing or if I was going to have a baby (since I had proclaimed it was coming Wednesday night). I thought by morning, but.... And later I had no idea when to call Karen. When Karen Carr, my midwife, asked me to call her back once contractions were under 8 minutes a part, I had no idea if that would be in 10 minutes, an hour, more? I don't like to call too early because I like to labor by myself as long as possible. I ended up being surprised by how quickly labor rolled along and pulled me into its vortex. By midnight, less then thirty minutes after calling Karen, contractions were regularly 4-5 minutes apart and sometimes less. I waited a good 30 minutes to confirm I had reached the point of no return and then called Karen the second time. I love Karen's voice. It is calm, and confident and full of trust in birth. I am on my way! I called Liz and Corbin to report Karen was on her way and then called my sister who had the shortest distance to travel. As the phone was ringing, I passed it to Matt. There would be no more talking on the phone for me, I had a baby that was ready to be born. I continued to labor standing up, feeling more comfortable upright, even between contractions.
My mom lay on the futon in our office/guest bed room as I labored, not asleep, she labored with my in the middle of the night as well.
Labor land. The doorbell rang, and rang again, and there were knocks and footsteps. Someone was in the hall, where was my sister? Matt said Liz or Luz (I wasn't sure whose name he spoke) was here and wanted to come in, of course. I was very restless but was in transition and shaky on my feet so decided I should move to a squatting position to conserve energy. And through it all my music played, carrying me through the pain.
I glimpsed Corbin setting up camera equipment outside and felt Luz and later Liz and Karen enter the room. By 1:30am, everyone who had been called was at the birth. Karen asked if I wanted to be checked and I said yes though I needed some time to negotiate putting my body in a position that would make a vaginal exam possible. I decided upon a semi side-lying position and Karen speedily checked me so that I could return to a more comfortable position. I was nine centimeters at 1:55am with a bulging bag of water. I wasn't surprised by the bulging bag, I sensed something was in the way and had an overwhelming desire for my water to break.
I labored on, all fours, supporting my upper body by draping it over Matt's shoulder. Matt reminded me that I had been in a similar position, on our first night out together (the perfect thing to say at the time). He had given me a piggyback ride home, my head buried in his hair.
Shortly after 2am I felt pushy but wasn't sure what position I needed to be in to really start pushing. I had a few contractions where I was just hanging out, hoping my body would be inspired to find a new position sooner rather then later, I felt a lull.
I looked around as if someone in the room might offer a solution and for one brief moment thought "won't someone break my water?," before remembering this was my job. Maybe it was because there were so many people in the room (while I sensed their loving energy and support, I never fully noticed they were there until the lull before pushing) but all of the sudden I said to myself, I'm going to go to the bathroom, announced that I had to pee and walked out of the room. Karen later remarked that at births with many attendants, the mom usually heads off to the bathroom to have her baby.
Ah, the bathroom, I couldn't have made a better choice! When we first bought this house I dreamed of having a baby in the claw foot tub that we would restore. I was a bit off, I didn't have the baby in the tub, but the tub and sink provided the perfect squatting bar, with the toilet for back-up if my legs gave out. I dangled my self, supported by tub on the left and sink on the right, and let my pelvis open, making full use of gravity. In this self-supported upright squat, I found the strength to give a huge push and my waters blissfully released (2:25am). As soon as my bag broke, I felt Nettie's head move down to my perineum and I eagerly began pushing. I would have forcefully pushed Nettie out, impatient to have my baby in my arms, but Karen and I had talked about my need to have someone slow me down while pushing and she gently encouraged me to stop pushing and just breath her out. Since I didn't have to focus on pushing, I had a heightened awareness of Nettie's descent from my body, it was wild! At some point I stopped dangling, supported my weight with my legs, and reached over to hold onto her as she reaching the end of her journey into this world. I pulled her up to my body (2:30am) and collapsed exhausted onto the toilet seat, letting the waves of exquisite birthing hormones roll over and through our bodies.
I felt for a moment that I was about to push the placenta out into the toilet and someone asked if I wanted to move back to my bed and slowly we made our way back down the long hallway to our bedroom. Nettie latched on immediately, a nursing pro minutes after birth, and I caught my breath as I waited to birth the placenta.
So that is our story. I promise to add pictures soon. As with all spiritual, awesome events, words try to capture the essence of the story, but slip. Perhaps when I am better rested and have a thesaurus at hand, I will rewrite. Many thanks to my amazing midwife, Karen Carr, and her two beautiful assistants who were at the birth (I feel blessed to have discovered midwifery in this corner of the world, with so many strong and loving women on the journey and with such a dedicated guide), to my mom and sister, the closest women in my life, to Corbin who took beautiful photos and to my strongly loving and supporting other half, Matt.
Oh, I forgot to mention that my "BIG" week and 1/2 "late" baby was a mere 7 pounds and 3 ounces. Smaller than her brother who was born two days "early."