Ediza Louise, you are here :: a home birth
|In her papa's moccasins & mama's hat|
The night before Ediza was born, I was stripped down to bra and panties, up on a ladder, tucked in a closet painting trim - the most horrid of all painting tasks. I must have been a sight to see, trying to avoid getting paint on my big round belly. I didn't want to risk ruining one of the few things I had left to wear. The due date was just days away, but even though the midwife had a gut feeling the baby would be early, I could still be pregnant for a couple weeks. Both Lukas's mom and my dad had let us know they thought Sunday the 14th would be the day. So we were working on holding on a little longer, at least until the next day, to avoid the "I told you sos".
We settled in to watch some TV and I started having contractions. They were noticeable enough that I opened up the timing app on the iPod, but irregular so I wasn't getting excited just yet. I decided to see what would happen if I took a shower and they seemed to peter out so we headed to bed. As I lay in the dark and Lukas fell promptly asleep the contractions came back. This time they were more intense. I waited to see what would happen and then I heard an internal "pop, pop, pop". For a moment, time felt like it slowed down as I processed the following distinct thoughts. Hmm, I wonder what that was. Oh, I wonder if that was my water breaking. That could be my water breaking. I shouldn't get it on the bed if that was my water breaking. And then I rolled off the bed - easy to do when "the bed" is just a mattress on the floor - and I successfully managed to avoid getting the bed dirty.
"Dude," I called to Lukas to wake him up. "My water just broke." That got me a groggy response of "What should we do?" I requested some towels and the phone to call the midwife, Michelle. Since the contractions seemed to have stopped at this point, Michelle suggested starting to fill the birth tub, having something to eat, and trying to go back to sleep. We were to call her back when the contractions were 1 minute long, 4 minutes apart, for 1 hour. Lukas worked on filling the tub while I timed the contractions that started back up. The tub was full and the contractions were irregular but sometimes close together at 3 minutes apart. It had only been half an hour or so, so Lukas headed back to bed.
"If it's still like this in 30 minutes," I told Lukas, "we'll be calling Michelle back." Infamous last words? Just 15 minutes later I was hollering to Lukas, "I think we need to call Michelle." Lukas got back up and we timed things for a little bit longer before calling her. At this point, the contractions were only two minutes apart.
"Did you say two or three minutes?" Michelle asked when Lukas reported my status to her. And when he confirmed he had said two she responded with, "I'll be right there." I set up our free week of Pandora so I wouldn't have to listen to annoying commercials while in labor and then we waited for Michelle to get there. By the time she was there, the contractions were coming fast and hard and I had just thrown up for the first time - the little bit of food I had managed to eat earlier. I needed to pause for each contraction, making our conversation disjointed. I was glued to my spot on the couch and when Michelle asked me to go pee, as it might help things along, I told her I didn't want to because it might bring on more contractions. Oh, the insane logic of a laboring woman.
When I was finally convinced to go to the bathroom, instead of walking - because that would be too hard if a contraction came - I crawled from the couch all the way there. This had Michelle laughing.
At some point, Michelle checked my dilation and we learned that while I was laboring hard I wasn't nearly as far along as we thought. With this information in hand she headed back out into the night to get her full kit. It turns out she had thought it was all in the car, but left so quickly that this wasn't the case. It felt light ages before she returned and Lukas reported later that he started to fall asleep as we waited and I labored. I had no knowledge of that by this point though.
My memory of everything that comes next is just in snapshots.
I labored in the shower. Oh the warm water felt so good. I let it hit my side as I stood with my head resting on my arms on the tiled wall. I swayed my hips side to side and hummed/sung to myself. Some times I would need to pause for a contraction, but I challenged myself to see if I could keep humming through them and that seemed to help.
I worried, irrationally, that I wouldn't have the opportunity to use the tub.
Through everything, I was surprised at my ability to give direction when they needed to find something. I would just call out the location of things.
I labored on the bed while Lukas worked at lowering the temperature of the water in the birth tub. I would later learn that the hose from the shower, running through the house to the dining room, had hopped out of the tub while Lukas was trying to add cold water. The floor got soaked and that was the reason we ran out of the towels I had set aside earlier. At the time I couldn't understand how we had gone through so many towels. When Lukas couldn't get cold water to come from the shower, he resorted to the spigot out front. All the while, I labored in the bedroom completely oblivious to this except to know that I was waiting to get into the tub.
I couldn't be bothered to wear my robe from the bed to the tub when it was finally ready. Instead, I walked there buck naked while Michelle trailing me with the robe. Oh, the warm water felt so good. I closed my eyes, hardly opening them again. I moaned and groaned and Lukas tells me I made the most annoying sound in the world - per the movie Dumb & Dumber. He also let me know - later - that during a contraction Michelle came to check on me just as I was wiping water from my face. I flung the water off my hand, right into her face. She wiped her face and just rolled with it.
My sounds must have changed because at some point Michelle was asking me, "Are you pushing?" I could only respond with, "I don't know." "Because it sounds like you're pushing." And she told me it wasn't time yet and that if I felt like I had to push then I should blow air between my lips instead. And I became the queen of blowing raspberries in the air.
Then she was telling me I could push if I wanted and so I did. And I should hold my breath and push and put all energy towards pushing with each contraction. And so I did and for a little while things were quiet as I couldn't moan while holding my breath and pushing at the same time.
Then Michelle was telling me that I had been pushing for an hour and wasn't making more progress so they wanted to move me from the tub. I had no concept of time and was truly surprised to hear it had been an hour. As we moved from the tub to the bed I noticed, through my half open eyes, it was starting to get light outside.
And then the baby was crowning. I was told to stop pushing, wait for things to stretch, just breath. But oh it hurt so bad. I whimpered, "owie, owie". And then I screamed at the top of my lungs. "Ok, a little push." But at this point I had no concept of little. "She'll be born with the next one or the one after that." I screamed and her head was born. Then her body, all arms and legs, wriggled out. She let out her first cry, just a momentary startle and then she was quiet, just looking around. Michelle helped me bring her up to my chest and I instantly forgot about all the pain and only had eyes for our baby.
All night, Michelle was trying to get me to drink some water. I could only tolerate the barest sips and tiniest chips of ice. But once Ediza arrived, I wanted to drink everything that was offered to me. And suddenly I realized I was hungry too. The best sounding thing - an ice cream sandwich for my horse throat.
Ediza Louise was born at 9:35 in the morning August 15th, with her hand up by her face - just as she seemed to be in every ultrasound picture we saw of her. She was bright eyed with a cone shaped head and a little tongue that darted in and out, in and out. She was perfect.