Valentine’s Day 2017: Micheal and I decided to celebrate by taking a baby moon day trip to St Augustine before our sweet Violet arrived. We spent the day touring the Old Time Jail, exploring The Alligator Farm, and walking the St George Pedestrian Street Mall. We explored many shops, bakeries, and restaurants; eating everything our hearts desired. We enjoyed homemade chia tea, gourmet popsicles, tapas, and creme brule’d banana split for dessert. We had a great time spoiling ourselves before becoming parents.
Valentine’s Day night 10pm: On the drive back home, my stomach began cramping, but I quickly dismissed it, thinking it was due to all the food we had eaten. Once at home and in bed, I was not able to get much sleep. The cramps stayed consistent, letting me sleep no longer than 20 minutes at a time.
February 15th: Still in denial, we went to Public in the morning for some groceries. I couldn’t stand for long periods at a time so I got a motorized shopping cart. I decided maybe it was a good time to call my mother to let her know what was happening and to give her enough time to plan her 2 hour drive to us, just in case this was it- even though I told her I really didn’t think it was. She decided to stop working immediately and drive up anyways.
I happened to have three separate doctors appointments that day, two of which, I realized needed to be canceled. A meet and greet with Violet’s pediatrician and a quick chiropractic visit for me. Both nurses on the phone said it sounded like today would be the day. But I was still in denial.
The third appointment was with my midwives, Mary and Hailey. Since my mom was on her way, Micheal went to work and promised to be on guard in case my labor progressed significantly. My mom arrived at our house with just enough time to say hi to Micheal before he left for work, and take me to my appointment.
At my request, Hailey checked my cervix, told me I was 50% effaced, and that this baby could very well be on her way. Mary had plans to be out of town that week since before I became her patient and she was set to leave very early the next day.
After my appointment my mom and I met with my Douala for a dinner we already had planned. We went to a favorite restaurant of mine but I could barely eat 2 bites. Then we decided to surprise Micheal and visit him at his job for some dessert. His face when I came in said it all. I think he half expected me to tell him it was time! But I was just there for the key lime pie. And to see him of course.
Back at home, we blew up my labor ball and relaxed upstairs while I timed my contractions and we waited for Micheal. My contractions stayed between 6-10 minutes apart with no real pattern. Even though I was still in denial, my mom decided to stay the night just in case. She slept downstairs on the futon.
February 16th: At about 5 am I got up to use the bathroom and noticed red clumps. It was alarming at first until I realized it was my bloody show. At that point I came to terms with the reality that I was indeed in labor.
At 6 am my contractions reached a steady 5 minutes apart and that’s when I made the call to have my birth team come over. Micheal was all too eager to begin setting up the birth pool so while he worked on that I moved back and forth between the toilet and the labor ball. He played me birth affirmations while I labored.
By the time my birth team started to arrive I was already in my zone and had barely noticed them but as I look at my chart after the fact, I can see Hailey arrived at 7 while I was laboring on the toilet with Micheal. She checked me and noted I was 5-6 cm dilated and 100% effaced. Kerry, Haileys birth assistant (and coincidentally enough, my hypnobirth teacher), arrived at 8 along with my Douala. Who knows when my birth photographer showed up, she was just there all of a sudden. She’s a fairy.
8 am the birth pool was hot and ready. My mom boiled what seemed like an endless amount of water so I stayed warm and comfortable in the tub. I kept being asked to eat something to keep up my energy. Food and drink were the last thing on my mind but I managed to alternate between small amounts of water, apple juice, honey and pistachios. Which had been shelled for me. (After my birth when I wanted more, I was disappointed to find them in shell. Someone went through all that trouble to give me a bowl of shelled pistachios and I ate maybe 2 of them. Thank you whoever that was.)
I stayed in the water till 10-10:30 am then I moved to the bed and laid down with Micheal. By this point I felt so exhausted. I was falling asleep in between contractions, attempting to minimize the pain. Which wasn’t for very long at a time because they were running at about 4-5 minutes apart.
At about 11:15 am I asked to be checked again. Hailey wouldn’t tell me how dilated I was and I didn’t ask much but according to my chart, I was at 7 cm with contractions 3 minutes apart and lasting 70 seconds.
11:45 am I moved to the toilet again and by 12:15 pm the pressure was so intense in my back, I started to need constant pressure applied to my hips and lower back. Micheals hands felt the best at this so I didn’t let the poor guy leave my side. He was so wonderful the whole time.
1:15 pm I moved myself back into the water. My body began pushing on its own during contractions but I was recommended to refrain. My amniotic sack hadn’t broken yet but I could still feel her head through it.
2 pm I moved to the bed again alternating sides between contractions. I was checked again and it was noted I was still at 7 cm. I moved to the toilet once more before making a trip up and down the stairs with Micheal and my moms help. They thought it would help speed things along although it was the last thing I wanted to do. Remembering back now, I think I heard someone suggest we go across the street to the beach for a walk and at that moment I wanted to tell that person that THEY could go for a walk if they so choose but my butt was staying right here.
4:30 pm I was beyond exhausted.
5 pm, I had my water broken by Hailey in an effort to speed things along. After that, each contraction grew with intensity. There were many times where I felt like I could no longer keep going. But I kept telling myself I had no other choice but to keep going. I promised myself a home water birth free of intervention because that is what my baby and body deserved and I was going to be the last person to stop myself from getting just that.
6 pm I started pushing when my contractions measured 2 minutes apart. 15 minutes later I could see and feel her little head. It felt so smooth I thought she was bald until I was handed a mirror to see better. I remember the water being too cloudy to see much of anything but I caught a glimpse of her head crowning and I knew I just had to give the next push all my might so we could hurry up and meet our daughter.
The contractions that followed were the strongest ones yet. The sensation of pushing her out was such a relief in comparison. 10 minutes after first seeing her head, it was completely out. Her shoulders and body quickly followed the other and she was born into her daddy’s arms at 6:27pm. All 6 pounds and 2 ounces of her. Her cord was shorter than anticipated so I had to keep her super close to me. She came out so quiet and with the biggest, brightest eyes we’d ever seen. After a few seconds Hailey turned her over and patted her back which made her let out her first cry then back into our arms she went.
Micheal couldn’t take his eyes off her and wanted to hold her so badly. We delayed her cord clamping which took a whole 13 minutes. While still in the tub Micheal cut her cord with the biggest smile I’ve ever seen draped across his face. I watched him fall in love the moment he saw her and I fell in love with him all over again.
Once the cord was cut, we all got out of the tub and onto the bed. I was very eager to breastfeed and got her to quickly latch onto my right breast within half an hour after meeting her. She eagerly fed for about 3 minutes then went straight into her daddy’s bare chest and arms. Micheal was the first to enjoy extended skin to skin time with our precious little newborn.
During that time, I rinsed off and took care of myself. Standing in the shower with shaky legs and no baby in my belly was unreal. I couldn’t believe I did it. All those years of hearing I had PCOS and that I wouldn’t be able to conceive without fertility drugs were all forgotten. I did it! And I did it naturally and at home and surrounded by so much love. Just like I always envisioned it.