On the night of the 30th of March Billy and I had just laid down to sleep, when my water broke at 9:30 pm. Within a few minutes mild contractions had started. I planned to go back to sleep knowing it would be a long process.
So I texted my friend Katja a doula on Oahu and my midwife to let them know updates, changed the bedsheets, and tucked back in bed. By 10 pm I was texting my midwife to let her know contractions were 2-3 minutes apart and I was unable to speak any non 4 letter words thru them. It looked like Cosmo was in a hurry.
My midwife was on the way and arrived within an hour, naturally of course things started to spread out a little and I apologized and tried to send her home. She refused and said I was in active labor and we had a lot going on, she was committed to being there for it all. I’m so grateful she refused to leave because the night was extremely painful and having so many options for positions to labor, suggestions for how to move to process it kept me calm thru the pain. She also had great Hawaiian chanting music & a flute playlist that really helped distract me when all of the hours of playlists I had planned left me with disinterest within a few seconds.
Unfortunately, my bodies reaction to the pain was nonstop vomiting. So that was exhausting to be in pain, trying to hydrate, coping with alternating pouring sweat and shivering within 2 minutes of each other, and then also vomiting nonstop. However, Billy was amazing and really good at picking up my nonverbal cues so all I had to do was ride each wave, try not to break his hand or wrist squeezing them in the process and hope I didn’t give him a burst eardrum from the screams. Ironically, I had told my midwife when I coped with pain I was usually very withdrawn and silent, but as birthing would have it, it was an adventure into finding a new side of myself.
As the sun rose, I began to find a rhythm or really a new level of handling the pains. I stopped having any concerns about Billy or Roxanne’s well-being and tapped into survival mode, I knew that the average first time labor was about 12 hours so I was holding hope to “just be average” for once in my life. As 9 then 10 am passed I started to feel the urge to push, and I remained hopeful that things were progressing quickly. I became almost completely nonverbal, minus the uncontrollable screams and a few questions to Roxanne if she thought I should go to the hospital. At this point, if I had been at a hospital I would have easily caved for any drug offered. Instead, like a good ultrarunning coach or a damn good midwife, she offered me some CBD cream, gave me some black & blue cohosh to help soften and told me to try to not vomit it (at this point I was only sipping bubbly water then vomiting it shortly after), and told me I was strong and capable and she believed in me. Essentially leaving me with no excuses, if she was convinced Cosmo was safe I knew I would have major regrets for hospital interventions and the trauma that system causes to mom and baby. She also offered to give me a cervical check in the birthing pool, she had tried in earlier labor and one other time but both times I had felt uncomfortable with anyone but Billy touching me so as soon as she went to start I denied it and she obviously honored that. She never made me feel any pressure to do any traditional “medical” other than consistently checking Cosmo heart rate to make sure it was both doing fluctuations and consistently within a healthy range. It was around this mid morning when I regretfully realized I hadn’t started my Garmin. I wanted to log the labor as a workout and see what kind of data I came out with, I believe I was mid contraction and glanced at my watch realizing they were lasting over five minutes and less than a minute apart, and my heart rate was close to 190 from the pain. What cool data that could have been. Regrettably, I didn’t start my watch then, because I believe another contraction hit and my urge to push was beginning to take over my body.
By half past 11 am, I was uncontrollably and unconsciously pushing with every contraction. It was completely wild to witness, which is what I felt like I was doing, it was almost an out of body experience of which I am so grateful. If I had been in control of my body, I don’t think I would have possessed the willpower to push as hard as I was, my body had completely taken charge of the process and my mental and emotional side were just along for the ride.
At this point, I was still frantically trying to find the best location to labor, the birthing pool had seemed ideal in planning, but in reality for me it felt too distanced from Billy. In retrospect, I could have asked him to hop in with me, but again I wasn’t in control of anything that was occurring it was a wild trip that I can only guess it could compare to a heavy dosing of psychedelics (I personally have never done a heroic dose of psychedelics to confirm this assumption). I for some reason preferred the couch lying on my side or standing holding onto his neck it was the positions that enabled me to feel closest to Billy, therefore safest I didn’t have it in me to explain my needs but I think he unconsciously knew my dependence on him and wouldn’t even go to the bathroom without checking to see if I could be alone for 30 seconds.
My midwife, commented only a runner would want to birth on her feet after being awake and in pain for so long. If I had had the capability of speaking I would have commented that I wished it was my feet that hurt this time after the all nighter… Ultimately, after primarily pushing from the couch for over 3 hours I asked Roxanne if she thought a position change would speed things up. I was scared that I’d go beyond the 30 minutes to 4 hour range she told me was the average for pushing, and as I was well past the 12 hour first labor average I was plenty ready to settle for average at something. I knew from my doula education and basic common sense to push while lying down forces the baby to go up against gravity, one of the main reasons I didn’t want to be trapped in a hospital for this experience. We agreed the birthing stool was probably the best location, the pool having become cold by this time with my many hours of intense labor. So somehow with never ceasing contractions I made the longest 3 foot journey of my life from the couch to the stool in our living room. A never ending streams of screams, was broken by a brief smile when Roxanne told me to touch his head. It was all I could do to unclamp my fingers from the edge of the wooden stool, but the most gratifying experience. Billy, knew I needed his touch and probably quite painfully resigned to his fingers being clamped between my palm and the wooden stool. As I pushed almost without ceasing Roxanne warned me the ring of fire would begin, but at this point the idea of more pain was a mute point my body had exceeded any capacity to distinguish more pain from where I had been for what seems like eternity.
I confirmed with her that he would arrive soon, I knew my body was going to shut down I had been trembling uncontrollably for at least 6 hours and pushing over 3 hours. That’s when she realized his hand was next to his head, he had been sucking his thumb in the womb and it had delayed his process coming. A few more warrior screams and his head and hand were out, a brief moment to untangle the cord from his shoulder and his body tumbled into Roxanne’s hands and he was instantly on my chest. His time of birth was 3:03 pm March 31st. Within a moment he was pink, and we were settled in a more comfortable position on the couch while we awaited the placenta. Roxanne’s assistant who had arrived the last hour to help with the final stages brought me orange juice, I called my mother to tell her the surprise, and then passed the phone off to Billy as I felt a small few contractions (can they even be called that after the lower lever of discomfort they caused??) and the placenta was out, with only one small lingering piece Roxanne carefully extracted.
Within a few moments, Billy was next to me on the couch we were eating oatmeal and honey kindly prepared for us. Then he was cutting the cord, and having a moment with Cosmo, while Roxanne escorted me to the shower and then tucked me in bed as gently as a newborn baby myself. Billy and Cosmo joined us, she did his newborn exam to beat all of our bets he was 8.1 pounds larger than we all guessed, and he passed all reflexes with flying colors. His only flaws were some bruising on the skull from his long time of playing tag with my cervix.
Then, like magic our entire house looked like a professional cleaning team had come thru, every linen was washed, dishes were done, the house was spotless and we were both tucked in bed before 5 pm. Roxanne, let us know the house was ours and with a hug from my new fairy godmother she flitted out of the house leaving us to our dream.