My first contraction was at 5:30pm.
The day you were born we were at Mary's house. All the kiddos were running around screaming - she was chatting with me while she and her husband were making dinner.
They didn't let me help. They made me sit there and relax. They told me they wanted to serve the girls and me dinner and that I wasn't to do a lick of work.
So, I put my feet up. I sat back. Relaxed.
Then it came. The contraction.
And my heart skipped.
When I had Siena, my first contraction was at 6am, and she was born six hours later.
I thought you'd be just like your sissy and come quickly. (You had me fooled.)
I told Mary and her hubby that I was feeling contractions. I was trying to downplay my excitement, for fear that you wouldn't come soon and now I just had my hopes up.
But, damn, was I excited.
They were so gracious to the girls and me - they cleaned up dinner and helped us load into the car to head home. It was my "last supper" before you came. And it couldn't have been more blessed and lovely and everything wrapped up that I could have needed before seeing you.
I texted your Dad on the way home - "Come home." He left football practice and raced home to see what was going on.
When he got home, I went on a walk. The picture above is the picture I took on the walk, similar to the picture I took of my walk when I was trying to get labor going with Siena. I wanted the contractions to come, so I wanted to walk and work out to make them stronger and faster.
It was working.
It was my last walk with you in my belly. I could imagine you stirring inside of me, and my excitement was so overwhelming - the idea of you being out of my womb soon - to see your family and your beautiful sisters and this beautiful world. I walked quickly and hard.
I called Janice, my midwife, while on my walk - I just wanted to see what she thought and have her calm me down. She did just that. She said to get home and rest and see how far apart and how hard the contractions were. She told me to take my time, no need to rush.
I went home and sat on the couch and the contractions that were about 3 min apart and a good minute long, were now dwindling. The resting was making the contractions slow down. I was frustrated. I don't want the contractions to stop! I want to have her now!
Patience, Janice had told me, no need to rush.
I decided to try to sleep, and I slept for a good couple of hours before waking up to Lia crying in her room. When I got up to check on her, the contractions seemed strong again. I paced around the house, timing them on my phone with high hopes that these would be stronger and more real. I called my mom and asked her to come down to take care of your sissies. She came right away.
I called Janice and told her I was going to the hospital. She told me she was at a different hospital, but she would come check on me once I got there and they checked to see how dilated I was. I was bummed she wouldn't be there right away, but I understood (kind of).
I knew that I wanted to labor in the tub, and the hospital that I was going to had a huge tub that they hook up in the delivery room for women to labor in. I couldn't wait to get to the hospital and labor in it. I wanted to feel the sweet relief of the water take over the pain.
Except when we got there, they told me their tub wasn't working. The damn pump was broken. Argh!
I was sooo angry! That's all I wanted - that's the only way I thought I would survive the natural labor that I wanted - to have the tub relieve some of the pain! But, alas, no tub.
Janice was pissed, by the way, and told them to go to Home Depot and get a new pump to fix it.
At 1am. It was hilarious.
They checked me, and I was 5cm dilated. I was relieved I was past 4cm. I was cool, calm and collected since I was sitting and the contractions seemed to slow down when I sat.
But I wanted to get moving, and move this labor along. I started pacing the halls, reading Chambanachik and Carrots for Michaelmas and (in)courage and Lisa-Jo Baker on my phone... just passing the time. (And they make the time pass so beautifully.)
The contractions felt good.
Then - poof! Janice appeared in hallway. "Janice!" I was so excited! She told me she would be here to stay and that she didn't have to worry about the women laboring at the other hospital... I assumed another midwife was going to take care of them. Janice said she was going to find somewhere to hang out and to call when I needed her.
She gave me space.
Your dad was sleeping in the delivery room, so I decided that I should probably try to rest too, since it was around 2am.
Janice came in a while later, and she asked me how I was doing. I told her I just wanted to have you. A part of me felt SO guilty for making Janice be there when you weren't coming yet. I wanted her to be in her warm bed instead of at the hospital staring at me doing nothing. I told her I felt bad. She of course reassured me that this is exactly where she wanted to be, and that you would come before she left in the afternoon.
I crossed my fingers.
This time turns into a blur - from the nurse coming to check your heart rate before and during a contraction (every hour she did this with a doppler), or from me drifting in and out of sleep, it all seems hazy (as I assume most women's labors do).
I kept asking Janice why it wasn't happening. "I want the hard labor to be here! I want her to come!" She told me that as long as I was saying that, that meant that I wasn't there yet. But I would get there, she assured me.
She told me to ask you to come out. She told me to will it.
So, as I sat on a birthing ball with your dad behind me and Janice sitting across from me, we just hummed together through every contraction. She watched me as I moaned at the peak, and she told me that was good. She showed your dad how to put pressure on my back to help me as I moved around the room.
She told me That's right. Good job. Come out, little baby. as I rocked back and forth, slow dancing with your dad, verbalizing my pain during each and every contraction.
Soon, she left us alone to labor. I was in my own place, I was okay with that.
But then a little while later, I asked your dad to go get her. I said I wanted her and I felt like it was soon.
She came and asked me what was going on and I asked her to check me, that I felt like the contractions were stronger. She checked me, and I was at 8cm. She knew it would happen quickly, so she started prepping the room for labor with the nurses.
She got me a squat bar, and I used that while lying on the bed. She just waited.
She gave me space. I asked when it would happen. She said Soon.
I then wanted to move around. I was in transition. I was over it. I was done. I asked for - no, demanded - an epidural. I said I wasn't going to have this baby. I wasn't going to do this any more. It hurt, and I wanted it to stop.
She told me that in order to have you, I would have to go through it. There's no way around it, the only way is through it.
She said, Bring it on, sister.
I moaned - well, more, yelled - in pain. She said Mmm-hmm. Mmmm-hmmmm. Bring it on.
I told her I wanted to leave. I ran to the bathroom to escape my body. I told her to get me the epidural. Now. She said that she would do that - they would need to hook me up and give me fluids and then call anesthesia to give it to me.
She was a big liar. And I knew she was lying.
I told her I needed to go to the bathroom. Mmmm-hmmm.
She told the nurses to "nest" the bathroom. That's where they have everything ready for when the baby comes out. They laid mats on the floor for when you came, they moved everything that they needed from the delivery bed over to the bathroom. And she just watched me.
She gave me space.
She told me that I was where I wanted to be - this is what I needed to feel to see you and to have you. I told her I didn't want it any more.
She said Mmmm-hmmm.
I tried to bear down. But the pain was too intense. I hated every second of being in my body at that moment. I didn't know what to do - I felt so lost and saw nothing but pain.
I screamed and I sprang up from the toilet with such force as I pushed your dad into the sink.
Janice told me your head was out as she knelt in front of me, holding your head. I told her she was lying.
I grabbed Janice's hair and pulled, screamed and pushed simultaneously.
Janice handed me your body. She gave me you. I sat back down on the toilet, and I cried.
I looked at Janice and apologized. "Sorry for all my screaming and cussing. And I'm sorry I pulled your hair."
She didn't give a rat's ass what I did to her, what I said or how I acted.
She said Mmm-hmmmm. She was proud.
You were here. And you were all mine.
You and I were still attached as Janice and your dad walked me back to the bed. They left us that way for a good while. Still connected, you and me, as you nursed and your dad and I just stared in awe of your glorious beauty.
Janice looked at me and told me I was strong. She told me I did it, and that I was strong.
She told me. I didn't go around it, I went through it. And I was strong.
Such is this thing... this life.
We can't go around it. We have to go through it. We are strong.
In between tweeting, reading books to my daughters, and [not] burning mac n cheese, I am the Founder + Creative Director of Blessed is She women's ministry + community.