The events of this day will forever be etched into my memory…that is how powerful this day was. I can’t even begin to express the amount of gratitude that I have to the people in my life that made this birth experience possible. I can tell you with 100% honesty that this birth was everything I wanted it to be and I would not have had it any other way.
So…here it goes. The very long birth story.
On March 9th (my birthday) I was due to have a baby. Now we know that babies rarely ever come when they are due; my daughter Olivia was eight days late. But I never thought I’d make it to March 9th. I thought this baby was coming early…I was wrong. When March 9th came and went I was a little bummed but, hey, this was nothing new for me. Luckily, my sister was already here for her visit so at least I had some company during the day to keep my spirits up.
On March 11th I went in to see my midwife; I already had an appointment scheduled for that day should I go past the due date. Everything was business as usual at my check up. She did all the usual things, but this time checked my cervix for the first time over the course of my pregnancy. I was 2cm dilated…nothing to write home about as any woman that has had a baby knows, you can be dilated for days before any labor signs show up. However, she poked around a little bit, did some stretching and eagerly told me that she was pretty certain this baby was coming by the weekend. So I went home.
An hour later I was feeling pretty crampy but having no pain. 2pm…these felt more like contractions, but still not painful at all even though they were very close together. 3pm…getting stronger…definitely real contractions. I texted my husband and told him that I was pretty sure we were having a baby tonight. No response. Typical. 😉 😉 By 4pm I was leaning up against the wall to brace myself; this was the real deal. I text Josh again. “Come home now.” He was on his way. When he arrived home at 4:45 I had the bag ready to go, Olivia was all set with my sister, we snapped a quick final family photo of the three of us and by 5 we were out the door. I told my midwife that the contractions were 2-3 min apart. Actual text message from my midwife:
Cathy: You need to get here now.
Anne: Don’t worry. We’re on our way. I’m not having this baby in my brand new car.
Cathy: LOL! see you soon. (Thumbs up)
Josh looked at me in the car and said, “did your midwife just LOL?” “Yes,” I said. That’s how cool she is.
We arrived at our birthing center and the tub was already filled and ready to go. Cathy checked me and I was 7cm dilated!! That was amazing! I did all that good work at home and now it was go time. They got me into the warm tub at 5:45pm. This was the fun part. Getting in that tub was so relaxing. Amanda, my birth assistant, was massaging my back with lavender oil…heaven!! And before you knew it the hard contractions were coming on fast and strong. Time to put the hair up and start doing the hard work.
I’d really like to tell you that this was an excruciating experience for me because isn’t that what birth is supposed to be? Painful? But I’m going to be 110% honest. It was not that bad. Did it hurt? Yeah…a bit. Was it manageable? ABSOLUTELY! And thanks to my vocal training and my classically trained musician husband coaching me all the way, I kept breathing deep and using my low register voice to power through the contractions. There was only one time toward the very end that my voice got a little shrieky and Josh said to me, “use your low voice, Anne. Remember your lower singing register.” He’s the best. And he brought me frozen grapes to eat. Score!
In between contractions I did not have that much time to rest because they were coming one right after the other, but I did crack a few jokes with Josh and apparently had time to give a few camera instructions to him and Amanda who were in charge of documenting all this. Yes…the professional photographer was giving shooting tips in between stage 2 labor contractions. It was hilarious.
At around 7:15 I knew it was time to push, I could feel it. And this stage came hard and fast. I can’t even believe how quickly it went. I remember reaching up into the birth canal and feeling for my child’s head…and there it was. I was so excited! I even said to everyone, “Oh my gosh, I felt the head!!” Cathy asked me if the baby was still in the water sack and it was. This. was. so. cool. I propped myself up on one leg, kind of like in a runners position getting into the blocks. One push…second push…third…(I think this is where I shrieked). One more push…baby’s head was out….under the water. My midwife turned the baby just slightly to maneuver the shoulders out. I reached down and with one fell swoop I pulled my baby out of my body and up out the water. Holy crap. I had done it. At 7:33pm this beautiful baby was born. I was filled with happy adrenaline. I laughed, I cheered and then I cried. It was such an emotional moment. Josh gave me a kiss and I just sat for many more minutes before anyone even touched the baby. I got to enjoy this time, which was not the experience I had with Olivia in the hospital. Then Cathy asked, “well, what is it??” I hadn’t even looked yet! I looked down and said, “it’s a girl!!” At which point Josh said, “I knew it!” He was convinced all along that it was a girl. Then we were asked what her name was going to be. We only had one girl name picked out!! But it was one that we both loved and, actually, Olivia loved the name the best so we went with it. We named her Vada. Yes, I named my baby after a character in the 1991 movie My Girl. What can I say, I’m an Anna Chlumsky fan.
Now the staff started doing their part of the work. They let the chord do it’s thing, my placenta floating in a bowl in front of me. Once it was ready to be cut, Josh got to cut the chord. My placenta was put on ice and it would be picked up later by a woman who would encapsulate it for me and put it into vitamin form. Yes people…I am eating my placenta. It is the most amazing thing. It’s like a happy pill I get to take everyday. If anyone wants to know more about that, don’t hesitate in the slightest to ask me.
Anyway, once all that was done they got us both out of the tub and into bed to relax. By this time my sister had arrived with Olivia so that she could meet her new baby sister. Olivia was a little shy about the whole experience and wasn’t too quick to embrace the situation. It was also getting past her bed time and she was tired. Vada had all her vitals done, feet inked and printed, and Josh went out to get me dinner. Twenty minutes later I was eating Chinese food in bed and nursing a baby. After a full belly of food, they got me and the baby back in the tub for one more bath. This was the most relaxing experience ever! They made an herbal bath of various things like camomile, lavender and tons of other stuff. The herbs were steeped in a pot of water and then strained off so that all that remained was a pot of brown water…like tea! The tea water was poured into the bath tub and the baby and I got in for a soothing soak. The purpose behind the herbal bath is to reduce swelling, help with healing for me and it also helps to dry out the baby’s chord. I held Vada’s head and she just floated in the water, so calm and relaxed.
After the bath we all rested for a few hours and by 10:30 I was getting ready to go home. We packed up all our stuff, got the baby into her car seat, gave hugs to everyone and were out the door by 11. Cathy walked us to our car and that was it. We were done. We were on our way home with a baby. And that is when Josh said the funniest thing that I’ll never forget. He looked at me and said, “I feel like we just went out on a dinner date and came back with a baby. It took us longer to buy your car than it did for you to have that kid!” We had a good laugh and we were on our way home. By midnight I was in my own bed, snuggling with this perfect little person and soon would fall asleep.
And that’s it. The story of how Vada came into this world. I cannot say enough about the power of the human body and how strong women can be when they are given the support and the space to be just that. We are amazing creatures that can do amazing things. If your curious and want to know more, don’t hesitate to ask. I love talking about this stuff and hope you all enjoyed reading about my experience.