(photography by Calla Evans)
(the best doula services by Nicole Angela)
June 15, 2015.
It’s noon. My Osteopath gives hopeful news. “Your body is soft and ready. I’d be surprised if you don’t birth in the next 48 hours.”
FINALLY. ‘Cause I don’t know how I’d wait any longer. I don’t feel confident about caring for a newborn yet so I’d be lying if I said my only motivation was to meet her. That was there, yes, but really, I wanted to be done with being pregnant.
It’s 1:30ish. We stop at a park to eat lunch. I don’t feel like eating but I try. I should be hungry. I feel hazy and super relaxed. In fact, I feel a little horny.
(I remember this park time as the moment I began to discover labour. I was so happy to sit under a tree and watch the tall grass sway while I discovered contractions.)
I text my girls; “Guys these are actually time-able. A clear start and clear end!”
Contractions are 5-6 minutes apart for the hour at the park. Really?! But I’m totally dealing…
It’s 2:30 and we’re at our scheduled midwife appointment. I’m 80-90% effaced and only a fingertip dilated.
“We’ll likely see you in the morning!”
It’s 4:30ish - I’m in the bedroom trying to nap. Caio is making our planned birth meal of lentil soup while he sets up the birth pool. It feels like 5 minutes go by before I start having contractions that wake me the eff up.
I don’t tell Caio what’s happening because I need that lentil soup and I need the birth pool. I don’t think to call my doula because I’m sure I have a long way to go.
So I labour alone.
It feels like strong pressure in my sacrum and tailbone. When a contraction hits I swing my fist back and try to get my knuckle in the spot that’s hurting. But I can’t find the spot because it’s all over. I end up rubbing with my knuckles as hard as I can while I hold myself up and breathe. I’m totally dealing but I’m on all fours, pounding the bed and moaning thru.
Caio can’t hear me because he’s got the stove fan on and the air pump going. He’s singing away.
I text my girls:
At some point I poke my head out of the bedroom to let Caio know it’s time; “This is so intense.”
I text my girls one last time:
I shake all over. However, I’m still not convinced I’m far along. I’m having back labour and I know back labour can be the most intense. I’m sure what I’m feeling can’t be a reflection of where I’m at. I do however, feel as though things are moving quickly.
My friend offers to come and help. Yes yes yes. I figure I’m not far enough to call the doula and well, this is intense. She arrives and feeds me a bowl of soup. We figure we should start timing.
3 minutes apart, for one minute each and for one whole hour. 3-1-1! This is when to call the midwife! I can’t remember who called but it wasn’t me.
My midwife says “But I just saw you! Take a bath and see if labour stays.”
7:00pm -ish: I’m in the bath laying on my side. Another hour has gone by. Contractions are still 3 minutes apart. We call again and while doing so, I feel pressure in my bottom. What a feeling! It feels very grounding but at the same time like my structure is being rocked. It also feels much nicer than just the back pain I’m having.
The midwife is in slight disbelief. She says she’ll make her way over in an hour to check on me. My doula says she’ll be here in 30 minutes.
7:17pm - Contractions are about 2.5 minutes apart. My doula has just arrived. I hear her coming into the bathroom because she’s wearing jingly bracelets. Ugh. And then I stop hearing them - another contraction.
I’m laying in cold water. She tries to heat it up and I state rather annoyed that I’m already hot.
“Let’s walk” she says.
My first contraction standing I feel a little panicked. Where do I go? What do I do? I knew what to do in the bath but not in the kitchen. It was overwhelming to think about how to deal. She feels this; “Just find a wall, a table or a chair, widen your legs and breathe.” I think I remember during that first contraction, her foot swinging between the inside of my ankles to encourage me to widen my legs.
No words, just energy.
We pace the house like this. But not for long. I wanted to sit down. I try the birth ball for one contraction and that brought pain I didn’t want to deal with. I stand up and kick it; “I hate this thing!”
And I need to pee. My water breaks on the toilet. She calls the midwife.
I have another contraction and use the wall for help. She asks me after if it felt more intense and I have no idea. I really don’t. I’m just in it.
I’m not in this world.
I’m fed chia pudding and drinks throughout. At one point I drink too fast and gag but nothing comes. This pulls me back into the room for a moment and I open my eyes to see my dear doula’s hands ready to catch what might’ve come up; “Can I get a bowl please?” Bless her.
8:30pm-ish: The midwife arrives.
“Fuck yea!” (I can’t even tell you how satisfying swearing during labour was.)
Shortly after, my body pushes. Yes my body. My mind didn’t have anything to do with those first pushes - they just happened.
“Caio, fill the pool!”
“Let’s move into the pool Mama.”
“Can someone help me get my supplies out of my car? I need to call the other midwives!”
“Call the photographer - she’s 40 minutes away!”
9pm-ish: I labour on my knees in the birth pool. The water feels good, I think. I’m so far along I don’t quite notice. Caio is behind me; his help is so loving and seamless - he’s right with my groove.
Our midwives trickle in while I feel and learn how to push. It’s really hard work.
I’m told to push into my bottom, as if taking a poo. So I do. And I do poo. I have no idea until the air doesn’t seem so fresh. And since fresh air is all I have to work with, I get pretty loud.
It swiftly gets removed.
My photographer arrives! She made it! I open my eyes, I think I say hi, and I remember my friend is still there because I see her in the corner. She’s staying out of the way - she wasn’t part of the original birth plan, but there she is, watching, loving and humming my birth song. I didn’t know I was using her hums until I saw her again and what she may not know is that I’m so glad she’s there.
Again, I’m labouring in cool water. They try to warm it up and I’m too hot to have any of it.
“Donna, you can’t bring a baby into cool water. Let’s labour on the bed for awhile and we’ll change the water and then come back.”
I see the daunting task of getting out of the pool and walking to the bedroom. That pool is up to my thighs and I’ve got a baby head pushing my structure apart.
10pm -ish: I’m on the bed pushing harder than before. I’m tired of the whole process and at this point give it all I’ve got.
11:11pm - ish: I don’t even think about crowning…until it happens.
This. Is. Birth.
For the first time I’m not dealing well. I shake my head and weep “I can’t. I can’t. I can’t.” I look at Caio - his eyes are holding all kinds of emotion.
I hear my midwife sternly say: “Donna! Gather yourself! You need to push into the pain!”
I hear her. I know this. But the last thing I want to do is make it worse. It burns, it stretches, I’m totally maxed out. So I push.
11:14pm. And it’s out. It’s OUT! SHE’S OUT!
I feel relief, shock, surprise, and a weight no longer in my belly but on top of it. She’s slimy, covered in olive oil, water, and all things nature intended.
“You’re real!” is what comes out of my mouth. I’m still, somehow, in slight disbelief.
I hear her taking deep breaths. Then a whimper and a small cry. It’s so pure, so fresh, so amazing!
“Donna, can you respond? Are you with us?”
I grunt. I can’t move. I’m bleeding. My mind is scared. Really scared.
I feel my body and it’s so heavy, so relaxed. The most relaxed I’ve ever felt in fact - I feel like I’m inside the mattress.
I hear voices and they’re not of this world. I can’t decipher what they’re saying but I hear them and in my mind, I let them know I’m listening. One is whispering in my right ear and another by my left foot. They are circling the bed. I kind of want to stay here.
I can still hear the midwives too.
I’m between worlds.
I remember my baby.
Sometime between midnight and 5am:
I’m stable. I’m weak. I’ve got an IV. I’m still at home. I’m being fed soup.
It’s after 5am. Everyone has left but I ask Caio if they’re still here because I’m still hearing voices. I’m in and out of sleep. My baby is on my belly.
I can only lift my head.
It’s noon the next day and the midwives are back - we’re all doing well. I’m weak and haven’t gotten out of bed since before the birth. The midwives encourage it. It takes me a long time to sit up. My heart is racing from the work. I stand and feel my feet in a whole new way. I’m using furniture to help balance. I feel like I’m learning to walk all over again, because I am.
These are my first steps as a Mother.
We’re going to be okay.
In fact, we’re going to be amazing.