I blame Costco.
Actually, I blame myself for going crazy at Costco….It’s not really their fault I piled 300 pounds worth of groceries into a cart, plus the two kids, and pushed it around for an hour. After coming home and putting away all of those said groceries, I then proceeded to crouch and bend and squat on the floor while photographing an invitation suite.
Nah. It wasn’t just that, but it’s fun to pretend to pinpoint the one thing that threw me into labor.
All day Monday I’d been having the very beginning type of contractions – pulses of discomfort and tightening, feeling like my belly couldn’t expand quite far enough to give me adequate oxygen, no matter how deeply I breathed. At the end of the day, as Adam and I sat side by side in our respective “office chairs,” I casually mentioned that I’d been having a lot of contractions that day, but since they had never become regular or made me stop what I was doing, they didn’t concern me too much. We went to bed that night around 11:15pm. At 12:45am, Tuesday morning, my eyes snapped open.
A contraction. A real contraction. One that was serious enough to wake me from a deep sleep. I breathed my way through it, and closed my eyes again. Not too much longer, my eyes again popped open as another contraction waved through me. I glanced at the clock. 12:52. I decided to stay awake for another 7 minutes, just to see if these would turn into regular contractions.
Seven minutes later, a contraction returned and my heart rate began to rise with excitement. For the next hour, I tried to fall back asleep, knowing I would be more grateful for the rest than to count each contraction. But after an hour, I gave up and went out to the couch where I alternated between timing my contractions, trying to get some sleep, and browsing the web. They stayed consistently 7 to 10 minutes apart, lasting between 30 seconds and 45 seconds. They weren’t overwhelmingly strong, but they did require me to close my eyes and breathe through them. Around 3:30 I texted my mom, whom I knew would need a lot of warning time since she was still four hours away up in Idaho.
“Goooood morning! Sorry to do this to you, but I’ve been having consistent contractions for the past three hours. I don’t think you need to rush down here right away, but wanted to give you a heads up!”
I had a feeling that once I needed to get up for the day – once the boys woke up and needed my care, that the contractions would stop, or at least slow down. I had a scheduled meeting at 12pm that day, and I debated back and forth if I should cancel it or not. I figured I was still functioning, that the contractions were not coming often enough to affect my ability to go about my day. I also knew that if I canceled, stayed home, and nothing ended up happening, I would be kicking myself later. So at 11 o’clock, I loaded up the boys, promised them lots of treats at the restaurant, and started to drive to my meeting. My midwife had called that morning to ask if she could come over for a scheduled home visit, to make sure I had everything I needed for the birth. I told her that she had good timing, and that I had been up all night with contractions, but that things had died down since then. She said, Well we better get this home visit done then, right?
I had three contractions on the 45 minute journey to my meeting, and they were strong enough that I was thinking to myself, I’m so glad I’ve never had to drive myself to the hospital while in labor! This is not fun….and probably not safe….Then I had three more contractions while sitting and chatting with my two ladies I was meeting with, and I did my best to cover up the fact that I could not smile and chitchat for those 45 second increments. Mom had already left Idaho, and was heading my way. We ended up getting back to my house around the same time. Very shortly afterwards, the contractions started coming closer together again. I timed them for awhile, but they were very erratic – a contraction would come, and then 10 minutes later, and then four minutes later, and then 7 minutes later, and then 18 minutes. Sometimes lasting only 30 seconds, sometimes lasting 90 seconds, sometimes strong, and sometimes faint. In my head, this meant I probably wasn’t in “active” labor, because I assumed things should start getting regular and consistent before I started alerting people.
In the next two hours, I tried to continue as “normal” with the boys and cleaning things up before the midwife came, but that ended up looking more like me sitting down on the edge of the couch or my bed every 10 minutes. I much preferred my bed, as the couch was too squishy and sinking low into it made my back ache even more. I would either hold my arms straight to the side of me, lifting myself of the cushion and focusing on the feeling of using my arm muscles – or else I would rub my hands up and down the length of my quads, and focus on that feeling: the heat of the friction, the weight of my hands on my legs. My mom was good about taking care of the boys, but if ever they started screaming or fighting with each other, it totally grated on my nerves. For the most part though, I wasn’t too involved with taking care of them at this point and I was so grateful I didn’t have to be.
At 3:17pm I had texted Adam and told him I had a bit of “bloody show,” and in the next two hours I lost the majority of my mucus plug. At 3:57 Adam texted to say he would be a bit longer at work still, as a few things had just come up. A half hour later, I started to feel instinctively that he should be here now. It’s time he were home. However, I was still trying to sound very casual about it all to him in my text: “Okay. Just curious, I think when you get home I’d like you to start setting up the pool, just to have it ready. I’m going to ask the midwife to check me when she comes tonight.”
Adam got home about an hour later, just before 5:30. At this point I had stopped trying to track my contractions, and honestly had no idea how often they were coming. I was also starting to think to myself, “They’ll [meaning the midwives] will be here at six. They’re coming at six. Just make it to six.” I no longer wanted to sit – and definitely not lay down – during contractions. Standing and swaying or supporting my weight on the counter or the wall provided the most relief. Which was the complete opposite of my labor with Rhenner – all I did with him was lay on my side in bed. Now that Adam was home, he started blowing up our birth pool, and he was distracted with having a job to do. But at one point we both were in the kitchen at the same point. Perhaps this was “transition” or perhaps it was just all of it feeling real, but I suddenly got emotional. Not quite thoughts of “I can’t do this” but definitely feelings of uncertainty, of reality hitting hard. I also had thoughts of, “I don’t want to do this by myself anymore” – as both Adam and my mom were preoccupied with the pool and the kids. My body was shaky and I felt tears well up in my eyes and then Adam wrapped his arms around me and I leaned into him and we went through that contraction together and I gained the strength I needed.
The pressure was starting to mount during contractions, but I felt the pressure very differently. It wasn’t focused in the back/butt like I’d come to expect, but it was focused in the front/on my bladder and I told Adam it felt like if I pushed at all, I would pee all over the kitchen floor. His response? “Well that’s okay. Go ahead! Just not, you know, on the carpet…”
After having that moment with Adam I decided to stop pretending to be casual about things and start getting serious. I sent a text to my birth photographer: “Midwife isn’t here yet, but I think you should start making your way.” And then a text to my sister in law, whom I had asked to come as a backup photographer and extra hand with the kids, “You can come anytime. I’m definitely in full-on labor.”
6:00 came and the midwives arrived. They asked if I wanted them to check me and I said, yes! I felt like they were moving slower than they should be, but again I had been “playing things cool,” – it was like I wasn’t vocalizing what my internal clock was telling me, because I didn’t want others to be waiting on me, and I didn’t want to be wrong. So they checked my vitals, and as they did I said out loud, mostly to myself, “I do not like sitting down.” I was still handling my contractions standing up so much better. It took a long time for them to find baby’s heartbeat, which of course gave me anxiety, and the student midwife, Lauren, wondered out loud if it was because baby was lower than she was expecting her to be. But once the head midwife came over, she found baby’s heartbeat right away.
Finally they had me undress to check my progress. Lauren raised her eyebrows high, and, sounding surprised, said, “Wow. You’re doing really good! You’re an 8 and 100% effaced.” I leaned back into my pillow, feeling a huge relief, and said, “That is so awesome!” My photographer had called earlier to ask how far dilated I was, and so I immediately texted her my stats. “I’m on my way!” she wrote. “Keep that baby in!” – a text I didn’t see until later.
It was then that I started asking about the pool, I was ready to get in. But apparently we had run out of hot water! The head midwife, Carol, told me I couldn’t get in until it was about 100 degrees as the lukewarm water would shock baby when she came out. Adam asked me if I wanted him to start boiling water on the stove and I said yes. He once again became busy with a “job” to do, and again I was left to my contractions by myself. The next time Adam came back to check on me I told him I wanted my mom to come up (she had been downstairs with the boys the whole time). For the next few contractions, I leaned against the doorframe of my closet, and felt the pressure rising with each one. My mom stood beside me and I asked her to rub my lower back – that was all I needed. Someone beside me, a hand on my back. It wasn’t much longer before I asked about the pool again. “Adam, how’s that water coming? Ready anytime soon?”
I was really fighting the growing urge to push – which I had begun to feel equally in the front and back now. I was so afraid of pushing her out while not in the pool, I thought it would mean I would tear or that it would hurt worse. Those last 4-5 contractions my sounds grew from deep breathing to louder vocalizations, to all out “woo!” ‘s that sounded like I was riding a roller coaster. I couldn’t say anything else. I wasn’t telling anyone about the pressure I felt, what I knew it meant. I still thought I’d be getting into that pool to push her out!
My mom was next to me, concentrating on talking me through my contractions. Adam was beside her, and Lauren was on the other side of me with Carol behind me, when, at 7:00pm, during one contraction, my water broke. I gave a little scream and said, “My water!” That was the last and only thing I said. Water and blood splashed to the towel beneath me. Immediately following my water bursting, she had crowned. I heard Carol say, “Take her underwear off!” So Lauren, who was now kneeling in front of me, helped me step out of my underwear.
Still I said nothing. But what I did instead was I gave Adam that same. Exact. Stare. That I had given him when I was crowning with Rhenner. The look where my eyes were so wide and so bulged out of my head that they just might pop out of my skull. In that moment, the moment of pure pain and feeling ripped apart – it was really just one second, one fast moment in time – it was my husband I sought out. It was him that needed to know. Inside my head I was screaming, Adam! She’s coming!
Still I said nothing. I assumed because I had given Adam “the look,” and because Lauren was kneeling down in front of me and had just taken my underwear off…..I assumed they knew, and were ready.
Plus, it really hurt and I just wanted it over with.
With Rhenner, pushing him out had by FAR been the worst part of his whole delivery and in the months leading up to this labor, it was that moment that I had dreaded the most – pushing her out. So now that we were here, I told myself, “You’re in control Meghan. Don’t make it last longer than it has to. Just get her out!”
I pushed. I pushed hard and felt her head coming out and still I pushed and the rest of her followed.
And while I had assumed everyone was ready, I was the only one who actually was. I was the only one who knew what was going on.
So out she came, with no hands out to catch her – not even my own …..why hadn’t I put my own hands down there to catch her?? Then everyone would have known! – Her fall was so quick that her umbilical cord snapped on the way down. I stood over her in 100% shock, my mouth open just as wide as my eyes had been moments earlier and I couldn’t move or say anything. I stared down at her on the floor and then I heard Carol shouting, “Clamp her cord! Clamp her cord,” and Lauren was grabbing for the cord that was spraying blood and then she was telling me, “Take your baby! Take your baby!” and that’s when I finally snapped out of it. That’s when I realized my baby had fallen on the floor, and that could be a bad thing.
So I took her in my arms and sat on the edge of my bed and held her tight and kissed her head. “Should I take my shirt off?” I asked, as I was still in my tee shirt. “No, just hold her.”
“Can she have a blanket? Is she okay? She’s not crying. Is she hurt?”
At the same time I sat there worrying about her, I also was thinking, “You know, I probably shouldn’t have done that.” I was referring to pushing her out so fast, and now I was worried about the potential damage I just did to myself. I was feeling warm liquid coming out of me, and I feared it was blood. Turns out, I was only feeling the rest of my amniotic fluid leaking, and that I had no tearing to worry about!
Within 5 minutes of Mirabelle being born, Keola had arrived at the house, and, just a few minutes after her, my birth photographer Raegan. This probably would have been a pretty tricky birth for anyone to photograph properly, so perhaps it was a good thing it was missed! However, I’m forever grateful to Raegan that I didn’t have to worry about trying to take pictures of Mira being weighed, measured, and meeting her big brothers!
Mira was checked, and checked, and checked again for any bumps or bruises from her landing on the floor, and we were all so happy that she seemed to be doing just fine, despite her fall. My mom went downstairs and brought the boys up to meet her. They were excited, gave a quick hug and kiss, and then asked if they could watch another movie….their response was just as I expected it to be!
By 10 o’clock that night, after a shower, food, and some ibuprofen, the midwives were gone, the boys were in bed, and I settled in to a night with a brand new baby….
In the days to follow, as I reflected on Mirabelle’s arrival, I’ve come to realize that the Lord truly was involved in the intricate details of everything that brought her here. From her coming early (hallelujah!), to my labor stalling just long enough for my mom to get here, to the midwives having an APPOINTED hour to show up at my house, to keeping her safe as she rocketed out of me and landed on the floor….I’m not sure why, but my midwife also said to me, “I’m so glad you didn’t have that delivery in the pool. The Lord has a way of looking out for us, and I don’t think you were meant to have her in the pool.” Again, I’m not exactly sure her reasons for that, but she clearly felt strong enough to tell me it and I thought it was interesting.
Afterwards, we all laughed (while deep down were horrified) that none of us caught her, and we relived each moment, wondering what we could have done differently. Adam also apologized to me about the pool and the lack of hot water — “I know you were really hoping for that water birth again. I wanted to give you what you wanted.”
But really? I didn’t care one bit! She was here and it was quick, and she was safe. I felt great and I no longer had attachments to a water birth.
Waking up to this little peanut is heaven! Tomorrow is one week with her, and I don’t want this babymoon to end!! My mom has been here, and Adam had a few days of paternity leave, so I’ve just been enjoying snuggles on the couch as much as I can! As “easy” as her labor & delivery was, I am still sore and feel like I got hit by a truck when I’m not doped up on ibuprofen….especially with those postpartum cramps! Ouch. It really does get worse with each kid…I had to breathe through these cramps just like I did contractions. Talk about intense. But recovery is really going great.
It’s so fun having Mirabelle here already. I really thought she’d be hiding out in me until the 20th or something absurdly late like her brothers did. It’s also fun to have a small baby! It’s fun to have a girl! Mostly, though, it’s just fun having HER, specifically, here. Having Mira in the family. I can already tell she’s going to be such a sweet addition to our crew. With my boys, I was sentimental about them being “Mama’s Boys” and being wrapped around their finger that way, but with Mirabelle I’m already all, “Can we just be best friends forever??” We love her!!