I was ravenous. The day had sort of gotten away from me. With three appointments down, I decided to finally stop to eat before my next acupuncture session and enjoy a gyro at the Greek Corner in Porter Square. I sat at a small two-top and locked eyes with a nearby stranger who smiled at me and my blatantly pregnant belly. As we shared smirks across the room, I realized how nice it was for someone to not know how pregnant I actually was – people smile less when you say you’re 42 weeks, 5 days pregnant.
I finished my meal and headed to Acupuncture Together for my 4th treatment in two days. This time, Jess worked on specific pressure points to stimulate my uterine muscles. Each time she twisted the needles throughout my body, baby waves swept across my belly – she said it was the most activity she had ever seen from performing this technique. But there I was, still pregnant, and unknowingly, enjoying Marin’s final inutero movements. (Side note: I miss those kicks terribly…)
At 7:30 pm, I had enough pricking and poking for one day and decided to head home for the evening. When I went to get out of my chair I felt (what I later realized was) my first rush. I headed back to Porter Square where a jazz musician played ‘Smile’ on his saxophone and I waited for the next train to Alewife. That song deeply resonated with all the sadness I felt from carrying our child post-term – hearing the word ‘induction’ too many times to count, sending Mike to work another day he expected to be home, and taking the time to just let myself cry from it all. So I heeded the advice, and did in fact, smile. I smiled knowing that that day’s biophysical profile ultrasound confirmed our daughter was alive and well, I smiled feeling this strange cramping sensation more regularly, and I smiled knowing that without any doubt, I was in early labor.
Mike and I spent our last night as ‘just us’ together over a simple home-cooked meal watching Arrested Development and timing my rushes. I tried to be subtle in using the Full Term ap on my iPhone as we chatted; I didn’t want to get Mike excited incase it really wasn’t ‘time’. By 11 o’clock we headed to bed and one of us drifted to sleep. My rushes were 30 seconds long and no more than 5 minutes apart so I decided to head to the living room and call Tara, one of our midwives, to let her know that things were finally happening around 1 a.m.. Once we hung up, I sat and cried as reality set in. As ridiculous as this may sound, in that moment, I grieved the end of my pregnancy. Even though everyone else was ready, I wasn’t prepared for it all to be over. I felt Marin’s kicks between rushes, and tears streamed down my face; I treasured my unique experience with her till the very end. I couldn’t help but feel incredibly blessed to carry her to term and to be in labor with her naturally. After holding my breath at every non-stress test and ultrasound, praying that she would be ok and that we’d be able to have her without any intervention, this moment was an emotional climax of thanksgiving. I couldn’t believe I was actually in labor and about to have our daughter.
But Tara suggested I eat, drink, and get as much rest as possible so I got a snack and headed back to bed. I couldn’t sleep. I laid in darkness just thinking of how excited I was to tell Mike he wouldn’t have to go in that day, call our families and tell them I was in labor, and finally post my baby’s picture all over Facebook and Instagram. I continued to record my rushes and let Mike sleep till 7 a.m.. I woke him up to get the video camera ready and call our family members to record the announcement with each one of them. We first called Sarafina, our other midwife, to tell her to hold off on today’s scheduled appointment; we decided to wait till active labor before having her head over. We continued down our call list and by 8:30 a.m., I was less than chatty. I continued to pace around the apartment till roughly 10 a.m. when we decided it was time to invite our midwives over and get checked on.
When our midwives came, I greeted them with much excitement. I remember Sarafina telling me I was too happy with a smirk across her face – she must have known better than me that there was still a long labor road ahead. I laid down for a ‘nap’ and nodded off between rushes. I got ‘up’ around noon and was directed to do laps with Kelsey and Mike in the parking lot to move things along while the midwives went to lunch. This is when I can remember my back labor beginning. I’d have Mike run upstairs to reheat my hot pack after every rush while Kelsey and I continued in circles. Things were still relatively playful as we laughed at how silly we must look to each passerby walking at almost 10-months-pregnant and in labor to the tune of ‘Walk It Out’. When a contraction came, I’d force myself to continue moving and began to focus on my breathing – I knew that both would make a difference in how I progressed.
We all headed back upstairs once the midwives returned. I remember how proud I was that I went fifteen minutes longer than they suggested – a full hour, no less! We started to talk about filling the tub since I was in active labor [my rushes were a few minutes apart and each lasting at least a minute] and decided to go ahead and do so. In the meantime, I would take a hot shower. Just as I was about to step in, I felt a gush of water come from between my legs and spill all over the bath mat beneath them. I looked at Mike smiling ear-to-ear – I had always looked forward to my waters releasing, and they had! I continued on into the shower and waited to get out till the tub was ready.
(From this point forward, my memory begins to get fuzzy…)
Oh that tub, it was like having a jacuzzi in my living room. So warm and cozy, but difficult to feel weightless in. I suppose if I had shorter legs it would have been easier to just float, but mine touched the rim no matter how I laid and it was hard to not push against the sides when a rush came. At some point, I remember saying I had to pee and Tara telling me I could pee in the tub or…I had already peed and I couldn’t care less! I was so sleepy and so present. I was there yet everything around me was a blur. Time, space, people – I didn’t notice them. (Around now is when Kelsey headed home – I just remember waving goodbye to her as she left.)
The midwives constantly kept me hydrated and filled. I remember thinking, ‘how do women do this without food or water?’. I ate the entire time – peanut butter on toast, bananas, and yogurts with lots of Gatorade and water – down to the final push, literally. I was pretty happy I had thought about what I wouldn’t mind throwing up (even though I never did) and stocking my fridge with those items. I felt recharged after every sip and bite; they physically sustained me. But as women who’ve enjoyed childbirth know, the battle is much more mental and arguably, spiritual, than anything else as you’ll soon see in my own story.
Large posters filled with inspirational quotes, words, and verses lined our living room walls. I didn’t know ahead of time which would speak to me the most, but my favorite quote was ‘The Creator is not a careless mechanic’ [I’ll elaborate more on why later] going into the experience. At this point, I clung to the verse 2 of Hebrews 12 – ‘Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.’. I constantly fixed my mind on the ‘joy set before me’ and reminded myself why I was doing what I was doing – I truly believed, with prayer throughout our entire pregnancy journey, that this was God’s perfect plan for welcoming our daughter into our family (Although, I was completely submitted had things turned out differently and I needed to be transferred to a hospital.). Right where I was, many hours later, she would be born in that exact same spot.