I woke up on Friday morning at about 4:00. Of course, it was because I had to use the bathroom, but something was a little more urgent. There was a bit of trickle other than just the usual business. I tried not to think about it too much, since it stopped and it was still the middle of the night, really. I had a hard time going back to sleep, but somehow, I managed. M had come into our bed because he was a little stuffed up from allergies and just needed some cuddles. I can’t help but wonder if he somehow knew it would be our last night as a family of three.
In the morning, I woke at about 7:00 to the same sensation. I showered and told James that I thought my water might be breaking. I said, “Don’t freak out,” and told him I was going to call the midwife to see what to do.
The midwife had appointments all day at the birth center, so though she said that nine times out of ten, the sensation is something other than amniotic fluid, it would probably be best to come in and get the swab to check for sure.
So just in case we were about to have a baby, we packed the rest of our things and headed over to the birth center. James had been scheduled to close, and I called out of work at the diaper store so we all went over to see what was going on, if anything.
We got there and barely had to wait before doing the test, and since I’ve foreshadowed a bit here, obviously, my water had indeed broken. It was about 11:30 when we were told Baby X’s arrival was imminent. Twelve days earlier than anticipated. Our midwife suggested we go have some lunch and walk around for a little while in the afternoon to see if contractions started picking up on their own. She recommended coming back by 4:00 at the latest so that if they hadn’t, we could start some natural methods to get things going.
We went to lunch nearby at Red Robin, made some phone calls and sent some text messages. We went to Target to pick up some snacks and food and walk around a bit, and by about 2:00, the three of us were all pretty tired, so we decided to head back to the birth center and rest for awhile.
We put on Return of the Jedi and tried to get some rest. I was having a few mild cramps at fairly regular, though rather long, intervals at that point, but we were just trying to get through the day and figure out what would come next. My friend met us at the birth center, after graciously leaving work early (on a Friday afternoon, I’m sure it was heartbreaking for her to have to do that, ha!). We hung out for a little while, but James was fairly stressed out having to try to keep him in line but also wanting to help and support me. So after awhile, we sent M and my friend on their way, and he ended up spending the night at their place, just a few miles down the road from the birth center.
After the day’s prenatal appointments were through, we started the procedures for kicking labor into gear. Because my membranes had ruptured, there was a risk, though small (due to the midwives’ precautions and minimally invasive procedures) of infection the more time that passes before baby is born. So they brought in all these bottles and lined them up in a certain way, a breast pump and a heating pad. The midwife checked me and did a membrane sweep. I was at two centimeters.
We started with castor oil. Which sounds horrible if you are familiar with its consistency and what it will do to your insides when ingested. But you know what? The castor oil was nothing compared to the two other homeopathic things I had to take in a rotation with some other stuff. At least I only had to take the castor oil once.
So every fifteen minutes, we’d do something different. Contractions started picking up and definitely were feeling more intense and effective by 9:30 or so, but when I was checked again, I was found to be a whole three centimeters. That’s when the midwife had to “be a good midwife” and inform me again of the risk of prolonged rupture of membranes and ask if I wanted to go to the hospital to get pitocin. That’s the part that totally freaked me out. That’s the last thing I wanted.
So instead, we started filling up the birth tub. Which they suggested could relax me enough to speed things along and get the baby moving in the right direction. And the tub was indeed awesome. The midwife and trainees left us alone for a bit to connect and relax, but the water cooled relatively quickly, and I broke down in tears expressing my fear to James how I wasn’t progressing and I didn’t want to go to the hospital. He didn’t know what to say or do, so he warmed up the water for me and went to speak to the midwives.
The three of them came back into the room and managed to assure me that the tub was actually doing what it was supposed to, and so was my body. The shivers and shakes I had were partially hormonal and my emotions were definitely a good sign of progress. They all told me what a great job I was doing and how they knew we’d have a baby soon.
I had no idea how right they were.
The tub felt nice, but the contractions were getting ridiculously painful. Maybe because of all the stimulation we’d gone through, or maybe because as it turned out, there was a baby hand hindering the baby head’s progress. It was hard work. It was extremely intense and very difficult to let go and ride the waves of the pains like I had when M was born. But no one told me what to do, where to sit, how to lie or when to push. And you know what happened? That baby still came out of me.
I can’t even describe the pain, though. I actually felt the baby moving with the later contractions, heading down and down. My body pushed and I just had to get out of the way. I pooped in the tub a little bit. I had to get over that. I asked James if he wanted to take over. I said I didn’t want to do it anymore. All the things that we say when we’re that overwhelmed. And then I pushed four or five times, which lasted about fifteen minutes. The first few pushes, I was reclined on my bottom leaning my back against the side of the tub, but for the last two pushes, I turned over to my hands and knees. That totally did it. With the second to last push, I got the baby’s head all the way out, only because it hurt so much I couldn’t stop until I’d just done it. The last push brought the shoulders and the rest of the body out.
I reached through my legs and pulled baby up out of the water and onto my chest. I checked out between the wrinkly, vernix-covered legs and was surprised (and delighted) to see we had another boy.
We got out of the tub and moved to the bed, where we waited for the cord to stop pulsing so I could cut it. We snuggled skin to skin for a long time. I looked in his face and James looked into his face and we looked at each other and we were so happy. He is so small and beautiful and perfect, and as it turned out, he was really only eleven days early, since he decided to be born four minutes after midnight on the fourteenth instead of just before midnight on Friday, the thirteenth.
We didn’t know his name or weight or length for awhile, but by the time we got a little cleaned up and rested, we spread the news of our new baby Andrew James, and in the morning, he got to meet his big brother, who totally adores him.
So, welcome to our family, baby A. You are a strong and surprising little person, and I’m really looking forward to getting to know you as you grow. We didn’t expect to meet you so soon, but we’re very glad you’ve come to meet us when you did. I’m proud of my family and I’m very proud of myself and my role as your mommy.