Christine's Birth Story: Part II
I went and brushed my teeth, put in my contacts, asked Jake to find a brush… ya know, all those basic precautions just in case people were going to be coming over. After the next real contraction (we are up to five now) I texted the midwife again and said “Definitely think you should come over”. The time was now 3:26am.
I also texted our other two people, one is a friend who is considering becoming a midwife who I invited to the birth. The second was a dear sister in Christ and my unofficial doula. After that I told Iakabos to start filling the birth tub. There wasn’t much more time for me to set anything else up or get more ready. I got into my birthing dress (Yes I do have a dedicated birth wardrobe!) and concentrated on concentrating.
At some point earlier I had asked Iakabos to turn on some liturgical music but it was pretty difficult to hear over the running water. I figured it’d still be there to listen to after the tub was done filling (insert laugh here).
My friend who was thinking about midwifery arrived first. I was thrilled that she lived so close by! She had the least experience of anyone (it was her first birth) but I was so glad she was there. Iakabos had a lot of things he was trying to juggle to get everything ready in time and I was definitely needing his presence during contractions. I was having a bit of back labor and he was giving counter pressure.
The back labor only lasted three or four contractions before they changed again and I had to wave Iakabos away and tell him to stop touching me during contractions. This is the first time I ever remember feeling really anti-touchy during labor. We weren’t sure what temperature the water should be at so I told him to call Lisa and ask. He called at 3:55am.
After he hung up I asked if she had mentioned where she was, as it dawned on me that the shift in my contractions were also coming with an increase in pain. Gauging it by my other labors I knew I was starting to transition. I told him to call her back and ask where she was and to let her know I thought I was going into transition.
She was only five minutes from her house, which is half an hour away. As my next contraction started I told Iakabos “She’s not going to make it.” I was hoping her assistant midwife could be there more quickly, as she lived closer, but mentally prepared myself for the reality that we could be having an unassisted birth.
At some point in between contractions I also told everyone we needed to wake up Evangeline and Stephen. They wanted to be there for the birth. Iakabos said “You want to wake them up now??” And I said “Evie will be very upset if she misses it!” Mom went and got them. Evie ended up staying in the room the entire birth, Stephen was in and out (mostly out watching the Magic School Bus). Jacob had specifically requested to not be woken up if I had the baby at night and that he'd rather just meet his new sibling in the morning, so he stayed in bed.
While Iakabos was on the phone with the midwife I climbed into the birth tub. I think I recall him asking when I could get in the tub and then telling her “Oh she’s climbing in the tub now.” I laughed on the inside, but just on the inside. I remember being able to smile and talk and laugh in between contractions right up until I started pushing with Kyrie, but this labor was more intense and I was pretty uncomfortable and in “the zone” for the entirety of the transition and pushing stages.
The temperature in the birth tub was too hot, but I didn’t care. I needed my water, and I knew they were working on getting it cooler. The water took a tiny bit of edge off the contractions, but mostly was there to help me relax and move the way I needed to.
I don’t remember much happening around me at this point. I have a few snapshots. Evie was sitting on the floor near the tub watching; someone sent her for a straw for my drink at one point. She loved being able to help. I did ask for water once or twice; I was really thirsty. I remember asking if we could turn the music up, still couldn’t hear it over the water running, but then I don’t remember hearing it at all after that. And since the water never really stopped running... no music. I survived without it! Go me!
Iakabos was asking someone to turn the dryer on, and I was confused as to why he wanted to do laundry at this point in time. (He was warming up towels for Baby, very smart man. I was just not really with it at that point.) And I also remember my mom coming in and out of the room. She came over while I was holding on to the side of the tub between contractions and put her hand on mine. It was so encouraging and one of my favorite memories of the whole thing.
All of this happened in the span of about ten minutes before I started feeling pushy; I told Iakabos that my body had started pushing on its own. He called the midwife at 4:07am to let her know.
From that point on he must have asked me four or five times if he should get in the water to help deliver the baby. I kept waving him off. I was still feeling like I wanted my space, and the Baby hadn’t entered the birth canal yet. It only takes a few seconds to hop in the tub right?
I didn’t know how close the midwife was, nor did I ask… I was not planning on breathing through my contractions until she showed up. And kudos, by the way, to all the women who can do that!! I am too grumpy and in too much pain at that point to do anything but what my body is telling me to do.
I did try to start off slowly, though, because the truth was I didn’t know if I was totally dilated or if there was anything in the way of Baby. I tried to push more cautiously and really pay attention to make sure nothing felt wrong or out of place. Once she passed into the birth canal I somehow communicated to Iakabos that it was time to get in with me and got more aggressive in getting Baby out.
One push later and Baby was crowning along with an intact bag of waters. I told Iakabos that Baby was crowning and he said that he was there and had Baby. The water broke with the following push and one or two more pushes she was born.
Iakabos immediately announced that she was a girl and I turned around to hold her. She was born at 4:17am after only about an hour and a half of labor. My mom had the presence of mind to take pictures and check the time for us!
Sweet girl cried just a couple of seconds after coming up out of the water. That was a huge relief for me knowing that the birth was unassisted. The midwives and our other friend came just a couple of minutes after that. I thought to myself, if only I had texted her with the first contraction like I said I would…
And yet God is merciful.
The rest of the morning went swimmingly. She latched within fifteen minutes of being born, I had a piece of toast (after telling everyone I didn’t feel like breakfast food in the middle of the night and had to be reminded that it was now five in the morning) and Baby and I went to bed for a bit while my super-hero husband stayed up to feed the other children breakfast and occupy them until the adrenaline wore off (which turned out to be never).
Baby girl got her name the following evening, which also has a lovely story behind it that I’ll share soon.