It’s been over one week.
How is that possible?
In the beginning I thought I was going to loose this baby.
Having lost a baby before (my first)… all the signs were there.
My midwife suggested I run over to the hospital to “test my levels”. Turns out my progesterone was low so she put me on a progesterone creme. Progesterone, if I remember correctly is the hormone that helps the placenta connect to the uterine wall. Low levels accounted for the spotting and continued low levels could have meant another miscarriage. I was very upset and prayerful that week and very much relieved when a week or two later my levels registered normal. I continued to rub the creme into my arms and belly thru month six. If you are prone to miscarry I highly recommend use of the creme, it can’t hurt!
Fast forward through another hard, sick all day, “when will it be over” pregnancy…about 33 weeks.
Last Friday I went to my “cousins” house for the day. She’s got a clubhouse with a nice kid’s pool and it was going to be 98 degrees out. Both husbands thought I was overdoing it, driving there, hauling kids in and out, beach towels, snacks, keeping daredevil, fearless Hoolie above water. But I told Joel, “You know me, if I stay home I will work.” I had a handful of things left on my pre-birth to-do list. And so instead of working I spent the day in the company of someone I really enjoy being with, got some wonderful sun and steered clear of kitchen/project duty.
We got home around 4:30 and I was ready to collapse. We got some carry out and there was a hair in my cole slaw that I was craving so much. I thought I was going to breakdown! I got Juliette to bed at 5:10 and told the “big kids” to go play Legos, that I would come and tuck them in in awhile (we had all skipped our naps) and I promptly passed out. An hour later they came in my room, exhausted, in tears, “Can we PLEASE go to bed?” And so, everyone was down by ten after six and of course, I couldn’t go back to sleep. I crashed in front of the computer with my new favorite documentary series, “Victorian Farm.”

Joel usually has Saturdays off and Friday night, while I laid around in a sort of awake/coma he called me during his route to say the company was in a bind for the next morning. If he would take a Saturday a.m. route then they would give him Sunday off. “Do it!” I said, as we rarely get two days in a row together. Sunday and the Monday Holiday would be great!
Saturday I woke up and though I had plenty of energy I thought I’d better take it easy. I went from couch to couch snuggling with each child but around 11:30 I couldn’t take it anymore and dove into another project (I was half way thru clearing out my art/wrapping/storage room at the end of the hall, preparing it to be the coziest nursery ever). What a mess— bins, garbage bags, photographs, fabric scraps, scrapbooking scraps, I think I saw a scrap of my brain laying on the floor… then I just had this feeling to hit the “ladies room” …like something might be up down there. Sure enough, we had action. I called Joel and said, “I’m giving you the heads up, we are having a baby in the next 24 hours.” I began to put everything back as neatly as I could. I needed to be able to pull out the hide-a-bed in there for my Mom. Then I called the kids in, told them the news and we went into what we call, “Team” mode. We got out the Mom Vac (the AWESOME Shop Vac Joel bought me – it’s my new vacuum cleaner and I am obsessed with the fact I can suck up broken glass, food chunks, spilled milk… IT ROCKS!), I gave the kids the mirror spray, they picked up everything off the floor for me, I ran and emptied the dishwasher… we went nuts and within an hour this house was spotless!
When Joel got home we ran to Target for a few more supplies. That night Joel and I watched a movie, set up the midwife’s table with all our birth supplies, I put the shower curtain down under my sheet in case my water broke during the night – we were ready.
I slept terrible.
The plastic, even under my sheet was making me sweat. It was gross.
I woke up Sunday morning with the familiar gnawing in my throat. I usually am ill, or at least gag my brains out in the morning when late in my pregnancy. I get so tired of seeing stars every morning and I laid there dreading the havoc that that violent, morning action made on my body. I had this feeling that I would go in there, gag and BAM! my water would break from the pressure.
That’s exactly what happened!
That was around 7 a.m. (Sunday morning)
We called the midwife around 7:30 a.m. or so and she was here about an hour later. I was not having any contractions before that point and then I had about 4 wussy ones over the next hour. By that point my Mom had arrived and the house was buzzing. The kids were so excited! When I told Amélie my water was breaking she freaked and cried with sheer glee, “THAT MEANS MY BABY BROTHER IS COMING TODAY!” I was feeling the pressure, not from the baby, just the pressure to perform. I was snuggling and interacting with the kids, calling out to brush teeth, where to find shoes… you know, Mom duty. I was so happy that everyone was clean, nails trimmed and hair washed. Between the clean kids and house I felt settled. Midwife Debbie suggested my Mom take the kids to the park so my brain and body could focus on shifting into gear.
Great idea.
At that point in the morning I had been putting off Juliette for her “Morning Milkies”. I have to admit, though I knew what was going to happen over the next few hours, I was a little freaked. Just to KNOW you are going to go thru that kind of pain.
Ugh.
I knew her “Milkies” would get things going. She nursed about five distracted minutes and then left for the park. I then did a little shot of some black and blue Cohash tincture from Debbie and contractions started about ten minutes later.

This time around my contractions seemed so strange. They seemed to be all over the place. Rapidly getting closer together but some were twenty seconds, some were a minute. They would peak in agony and then just stop… not even tapering off. Just stopping. I got pretty frustrated as the pain was intense but they just seemed so weird. I was feeling a bit of pressure too, like Joel, the Midwife and Nurse (Debbie and Jane) were just waiting for things to kick into high, high gear since my previous two births had been so fast. (Two and three hours.) Once I expressed this the nurse and midwife excused themselves to go downstairs so Joel and I could get down to business*.

And we did. Joel comforting but cracking jokes in between contractions to keep my spirits up…
“You know when I’m down to just my socks that it’s business time baby…”

Awhile later I heard myself begin that slight grunting sound at the end of my “relaxing exhales”. I knew that sound. I wanted to believe I was getting closer. Debbie and Jane heard it too and came back upstairs. Now the pain was here in all it’s fullness. And I was so tired from the terrible sleep the night before. I began to cry. With each contraction I just broke down and cried, so desperate for it to be over. Debbie assured me the baby would be here by lunch time but my mind was skeptical, wondering if she was just cheering me on. I wanted no cheerleading. I needed it to be over. Strange thoughts were going thru my mind. I wondered HOW IN THE WOLRD I had done this three times before. My first lasting 28 unbelievable hours. I vividly saw every woman over the millennia that had ever birthed without drugs (no offense to you pain relief girls!) but I saw the slaves in the fields, the Jewish women, whose bodies, in sheer stress went into labor in the box cars, crammed with people. It was crazy.
I felt for all of us.

Contractions must have been about every 30 seconds to a minute and this point and Joel and I were doing our thing… the way we do. Rocking. “Slow dancing.”
Poor guy, “Just breathe, just breathe.” was all he could seem to get out to encourage me. During a contraction I snarled, “WOULD YOU STOP SAYING THAT?!! What the frick do you think I am doing!!!” and then in the few seconds before the next contractions I began to laugh and so did Joel, then Debbie and Jane. “Wow. You’ve never yelled at me during labor before.”


I continued to cry. Crying that I just wanted to push. That I loved to push. At least that is something you can DO instead of just standing or sitting there being racked with pain.

A little more time passed and I decided to let her check me. I had still had that grunting urge… she didn’t want me to push too soon. Don’t they always say that? She checked, which was horrible and made me break down in sobs again but she said I was almost there. Within minutes she was telling me to listen to my body and do what it said to do. I could totally tell the babies head was ready to pass thru the cervix… there is no feeling like that. It’s funny, cause I swear Joel and I could deliver on our own (and have!) but there is something so encouraging about the verbal affirmation of my midwife telling me to go for it.

I began to talk to the baby. “Come on baby. Come on baby. Momma wants to hold you.”

He must have heard me.

Oh, and then to think that I had WANTED to push. I laughed out loud and verbally mimicked myself, “I just want to push!”

I grabbed Joel’s forearms to prepare for our little dance for the oncoming contraction and that’s when my legs said, “We’re done!” and began to buckle. I have never passed out before but I could stand up no more. I shouted that I was going to faint and Debbie and Jane jumped over to have Joel help me get on the bed. With the next contraction I pushed with all I had. I felt the head come, FLYING down and out… then a shoulder…

“Stop! Stop!” I heard.

What?

I had to stop my giant push half way.

“Cord!”
said the midwife and for what seemed like an eternity but was probably a second she unlooped the cord from around his neck. I had paused my push and finished it off without starting all over on another one and “poof”. It was over. I had been laying on my side and now was on my back with relief and thump suddenly there was a warm mass laying on my chest. I opened my eyes to see my beautiful baby. Totally COVERED in thick vernix, whimpering slightly.
It was over.
I was in love.

As I cried those first moments, hysterical, “It’s over”s and “Isn’t he beautiful”‘s Debbie and Jane seemed quiet and rubbed on him. They didn’t think he was quite pink enough. Deb just wanted him to cry a bit. Poor thing came flying out in one shot, I wouldn’t have the energy to cry either. She got her little oxygen tank out and waved the hose blowing oxygen in his face for a minute. That made him mad and they got the result they were looking for.

There is nothing like pushing out a baby. It’s horrible and AWESOME at the same time, and to have him in my arms. From in, to out. Well, no matter how they arrive, it’s just a miracle isn’t it?

A minute or two later Joel called downstairs for the kids to come up. That was awesome too. To present your children with another sibling to love. What a privilege.

Everything went so well.
Three hours total. Joel was home, not out driving his truck in Chicago. It went fast. The kids were good. The sun was shining.

Within five minutes of being born Julien James (who was not named until an hour or two later) was surrounded by the people that hold him dearest. Midwife Debbie said, “Let’s sing a song. Let’s sing the Doxology.”
My throat began to collapse with the urge to cry. How could Debbie have ever guessed that the Doxology is such an important song to our family? My dear, dear Grampa leads us in that vocal prayer before every meal down on the farm, this summer all two hundred guests sang it as the blessing before my sisters wedding dinner… our entire family harmonizes… three and four generations… it’s very special to us.
So there we were, me with a wet baby, husband at my side. Four beautiful blessings from the Lord. My dear Mom who is my best friend and two women, Debbie and Jane passionate about a woman’s moment in time – being delivered of a baby.


“Praise God from whom all blessings flow.
Praise Him all creatures here below.
Praise Him above ye heavenly host.
Praise Father,
Son
and
Holy Ghost.


Amen.”



(*Not “business” but simply focusing on the contractions and relaxing during them! I had to add this post script because of my friend A-la-Parisienne’s hilarious comment aluding that we actually got down to “business”. TOO FUNNY but unterstandable considering the next original sentence where Joel sings “Business Time” to me by Flight of the Concords.)

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