There were a few parts of Arlos birth I imagined that came to pass.
One was that my husband would be my sole source of comfort. A birthing partner that would give me strength through each surge and guidance when I started to drift.
Second, is that I would labor during the night. I had prodromal labor for a few nights in a row, always starting at midnight and lasting till 4 am. This was my time of early labor with Arlo, and I’m so glad I had those moments of practice labor to find peace in those quite hours of the night.
Lastly is that I birth my baby in the water and bring him to my chest from the womb. One of these things materialized!
Before heading to bed the evening of September 10, I decided this would be the night I go into labor. Just to be sure it happened, I indulged in a bit of raw chocolate cake. Savoring each creamy bite and letting the oxytocin do its thing. I bounced on my ball in chocolate bliss. Yes. This was the night, I kept thinking. I would meet my baby.
So I wasn’t surprised when I woke up at midnight on September 11 with a surge that was tighter and longer than any prodromal labor I had before.
My husband came in the room, still up from the day before, and saw my elated face. I contracted on my own for a few minutes to verify this was indeed labor. When I felt certain it was I called the midwife.
The next few hours, till 3-4 am, were filled with so much empowerment. I worked through these surges with such confidence and calm. I was birthing without pain or fear.
My husband held me as they came. We worked together so well, so naturally. An intense feeling of oneness fell upon us. I couldn’t have been in better hands during this time.
This is the labor I prepared for– calm with a smile on my face.
I confined myself to the bedroom. Even when my midwife said I could walk around the house I shook my head, that idea wasn’t possible. This was my safe zone.
When the tub became available I entered it hoping to feel a connection to the water. I moved on my knees, than on my side. I hung over the sides, and just sat down with my legs out. During each surge in the water I only wanted to feel my body in my husbands arms. And even though he held my hands as I was in the water, I couldn’t release into its weightlessness.
On land, my body worked hard. I began to really open, and with that came the challenge of remaining in control. Staying in my confident calm state.
When a surge was really hard and I moaned a little louder or maybe winced a bit more, I felt some disappointment.
Well of course I shouldn’t have. Labor is, well, laborious! And my body wanted to birth a baby, and did it the only way it could. And that way caused discomfort and intensity most of the time.
During the last few hours, the sun rose. I thought for a few moments that labor was taking too long. Why wasn’t I holding my baby?
As the contraction toppled on top of each other I looked to my midwife for her calming words, which sometimes were “That’s the way” or “Good job, that was a hard one” She stayed so close to me, and I imagine she drew upon her own births to tap into how I was overcoming the more difficult surges. She might have even felt them herself while telling me “you’re so strong, that one was more intense”
I didn’t want to know how dilated I was. I knew I was in labor, so what else did it matter. Even when it felt like I wouldn’t ever be out of labor, I resisted the desire to know how close I really was to the end.
It wasn’t until I was on the bed, laying on my side that I felt an urge to push down with all my strength. “Please check me,” I finally asked. Very close was her answer. So I pushed and felt instant relief, but unsure why. My midwife looked and said it was indeed my water breaking.
For the next few contractions, as hard as they were, I waited to push. I wanted to feel my baby enter the birth canal, and when he was in position I was going to breath him out as gently as I could.
But this wasn’t what my body was asking. My baby wanted to be born and needed me to be a warrior. I couldn’t let another contraction go waiting for the calmness to birth my son. I was in such an intense stage of labor. I needed to be as intense.
I brought all my energy down. Holding onto my husband, I gave every bit of me into the push that allowed my babies head to be born. I brought my hands down and touched his head. I roared with the next surge because he was so close. It was so tough he seemed to be coming out but needed more. I brought more of myself, all of it, more than I knew I had, more and more until his body fell into my hands.
In one moment I am breaking through the sheer pain of childbirth and in the next I’m filled with the high of receiving my child from the womb.
We welcomed him at 9:37am. Riding the high still, I can’t believe it’s been one month already since we met.
Thank you Arlo Fox. Our family is whole.