Oh not the night our baby was conceived... this was the night he was born.
I'm finally sifting through the blurry montage of partial moments and memories of Everett's arrival. There are few pictures and no video to go by. There are images and sound clips pinned all out of order in my mind and new ones pop up as I sort... certainly nothing like any of our other births, but that's one reason we keep doing this... it's always an adventure!
We never planned to take this pregnancy to 40 weeks, but a GBS positive diagnosis, my first one, stayed our plan to nudge this birth along at 38 weeks. I had gestational diabetes for the fourth time and had previously birthed my babies at 41, 38, and over 42 weeks. Our sons were 10 pounds 3 ounces, 8 pounds, and 11 pounds 5 ounces. Only our second son was born naturally and without complications. I worked out almost every day of my pregnancy until the end. I didn't fear another big baby, but we were planning a home birth and I wanted to avoid any possible complication. My only fear was having to transfer after the birth.
Our estimated due date was Thursday, December 18th. I never felt "done" with this pregnancy. I loved this pregnancy, but I could feel baby dropping lower and lower... and little feet reaching higher and higher. That week I stayed calm, but booked a labor encouragement massage, acupuncture appointment, and asked my midwife, Jacqueline, to do a cervical stimulation (stretch, sweep, strip... whatever you like to call it). I went to prenatal yoga on my due date... keeping relaxed but active. On the recommendation of a doula friend, on Sunday morning I went to Ribera beach in Carmel to climb the stairs and stand by the ocean. I felt great, but I also felt like this baby needed to be born.
I got up to go to the bathroom again probably an hour later, maybe less. I was spotting. I called my midwife. For me, spotting usually means baby is coming. I was having contractions, but they weren't regular and they felt a lot like the prodromal labor I had been experiencing for weeks. Sometimes I was shaking and nauseated, even dry heaving into the toilet... sometimes I couldn't tell if I was even having contractions. I think she offered to come, or said she would, or I asked... I don't know. She was on her way and I tried to go back to bed.
Then the contractions were gone. I called and told Jacqueline that she probably didn't need to come, but she was on her way. I think I probably sounded like I was in labor... I think I was tired and confused sounding. I would have come too.
Eric blew up the tub and I tweeted a picture of the room at 11:45pm. I have no idea where I was or what I was doing while Eric set up the tub. I remember waves of "omg just get this tub up hurry hurry hurry" followed by periods of not even knowing if I was in labor.
My midwife decided to try to sleep on the couch. I would have these pretty long periods of no contractions and total clarity. No one knew if I was in labor. I was probably having the baby soon, but maybe it would be the next day, the next evening. I was tired of getting in and out of bed so I propped pillows up on the other couch and tried to sleep leaning over them.
Eric was in bed and I don't know if he was sleeping either. At some point I got him up and told him to make up the bed with the plastic and extra sheets. I labored in the doorway, holding onto the door frame when contractions hit. Sometimes I'd call Eric over to press on my back, but I wanted to let him get everything done so I didn't every time. I alternated between leaning on the kitchen island, the bedroom door frame, and the bathroom door frame. I wish we had done the bed up sooner, I missed laboring with my husband.
At one point when I went in the bathroom I decided to check my cervix, just to see if I could feel it, or baby's head. I put my leg on my bathroom counter and got about half a finger in before hitting a bulging bag of waters and I think a head. In my fog I didn't think "Oh shit, the baby's coming... maybe I should tell someone." I just... don't remember thinking anything... it didn't register. I'm sure this is information that my midwife would have found helpful.
For some reason around 4am we started really preparing for the birth... I think... I really don't know if we all thought this was it. I should have known... but I had proven to be pretty worthless in the communication department at this point. I remember telling Eric to call the birth team at 4:11am... I think contractions were just getting really close... but I wasn't totally convinced that they wouldn't stop again. Eric began calling, and also working with Jacqueline to fill the tub. No one answered except my doula, Brittany, who was soon on her way, along with the assisting midwife Caroline. We couldn't get a hold of our birth photographer, my cousin, or my sister-in-law. It was frustrating, but I also couldn't concentrate on that.
I labored on my own as Jacqueline and Eric tried to fill the tub. There wasn't enough hot water because I had asked Eric to start a load of laundry, not realizing that we were going to need to fill the tub so soon. I remained pretty unaware as they boiled pots of water on the stove. I wanted in the tub so I didn't want to take Eric away from preparing it.
Brittany arrived and asked me what I needed. I told her I didn't know... that's all I remember..
I remember pulling off my shirt and it's like when I close my eyes to pull it over my head I never open them again. I don't remember seeing anything from the hallway to the tub. I keep trying to remember. I don't know when my underwear came off, I don't know if Eric was close, I know Jacqueline was. Every time I try to remember I go back to when I was 19 and at this party and drank Tequila Rose and held onto the kitchen wall trying to make it to another room... and I don't remember seeing anything, just feeling... and then not feeling... and then just being somewhere new like in a dream where all the transitions are cut out.
I think my hands are on the side of the birth pool. I think my eyes are closed because there's still no visual to accompany this part of the story. Another really hard contraction. No visual or audio for this part, I just know that it was hard, my body pushed so so so hard... and gave way. 5:13am. I heard my midwife say "there's the water" and all I could feel was a big hard head, and then like I was going to pass out. I said so and Eric caught me and leaned me on the seat of the couch behind me just in time for my body to bear down again.
I was along for the ride, the baby was coming now, here, just a couple feet from the pool. I put a foot up on my midwife's leg and pushed.
It hurts and it sucks. It doesn't burn... it's just this massive force trying to come out, and my body holding it back and I decide, once again, that I'll never do this again. But before I never do this again I have to get this one done. I push and the head is born. No wriggle out. Fuck. I NEVER get a wriggle out! I push again for the shoulders, maybe twice... too many times as far as I'm concerned... and the baby is here! December 22nd at 5:14am. On my chest, so warm! Freshly born babies are the best warm.
Leaning back on the couch (I'm not exactly laying on it) is getting uncomfortable as we wait for the placenta. It hasn't been long. I ask if I can just push it out and my midwife says sure. I push it out and Brittany holds it in a bowl (thanks Brittany). The cord is done pulsing so Eric cuts it. I didn't want to linger on this, I wanted to get up and in bed.
You are so welcome here Everett Levi, thank you for the amazing story.