Today my Little Miss Monkey turns two. Holy smokes, where has the time gone?
Since this blog has officially crossed into “mommy blog” territory a time or two, I’m going to share a little bit about my little girl before sharing her birth story (which I have promised to a number of people for today’s post).
At two years old Monkey can identify the letter “O” and sometimes the letter “A”, can climb stairs – up and down – by herself, throws and catches a ball, tries to “play baseball” but can’t usually connect with a ball (her favorite “bat” is whatever’s handy but she connects most frequently with a spatula), draws tiny circles, identifies animals and their “sounds”, speaks short sentences, asks to sing favorite songs, dances adorably and gives the sweetest hugs and kisses ever. She loves her monkeys (a yellow monkey called Reeses and a sockmonkey called Sox… I know, we’re so creative), reading books with us, watching Daniel Tiger and Super Why!, recently discovered Teletubbies (oh no!), asks to call YiaYia, Bumpa and Mya and Granny and Papa and pretends to talk to them on the “phone”. She says “sheehar” (sweetheart) and “Aw, Honey”, “No thank you” and “Yes please”, talks to herself in the mirror and puts her “babies”, our cell phones and my purse down for naps (“Shhhh… is sleeping”).
Today, and for a while now, she is no longer a baby but a little girl.
Two years ago, she was a six pound, two ounce beautiful October 1st surprise.
My labor started at about 5:55am. I was woken by a contraction. I wondered a little bit if I was experiencing baby-bringing labor or the “practice labor” called Braxton-Hicks. Either way, I was completely awake.
So I got in the shower. I was wide awake. Might as well start the day.
Mack came in the bathroom after I’d been in for just a little bit. What was I doing awake? I am never awake at 6am (seriously, I can probably count on two hands how many times in our marriage I’ve been up for the day at 6am).
I said to him, “I’m trying to decide if I’m going to work or I’m going to have a baby today.”
He asked if he should stay home from class and I told him absolutely not. I wasn’t going to have a baby right away and we were living on campus. I’d call him if things changed.
After he left, I had a bowl of Grapenuts for breakfast and timed my contractions. I wish I’d kept the timing but I didn’t. It seemed like they were kind of close together, so I called my midwife, Cathy.
We chatted and she asked, “Are you going to go to work today?”
I said, “That’s what I’m trying to decide.”
She knew I wanted to work until the baby was born because I wanted to be able to take all my maternity leave to be with the baby. So she said, “Well, you can try. If you don’t feel comfortable, come home.
After we talked, I put on the Hypnobabies Fear Clearing track. I made peace with whatever was going to happen – with my fear that things would go terribly wrong and I would end up transferred to the hospital for a c-section, with the possibility of having a baby this day when it was 38 weeks and I was not prepared for that, and anything else that might occur. At this point I wasn’t really experiencing any labor and so I got ready for work.
Mack drove me to work – he was out of class by then – because I didn’t feel like taking the train parking downtown is really expensive (like $12 a day!).
I texted my doula, Valery, and my mom to let them know it looked like I might have a baby soon, maybe still that day (I just couldn’t shake that feeling). As long as I was sitting, everything was pretty much like every other day. I’d have an occasional contraction, but nothing really major. A couple of times I found a quiet place to listen to part of a Hypnobabies track. I was really very comfortable at this point.
About 1:00pm I conducted an interview. At 2:45 or so I called Mack (or he called me; I can’t remember) to check in. I told him to go to work but I’d be ready to come home when he got off work at 5pm.
About 3:30 – in the middle of a conversation with some coworkers – I felt a little gush of wet and realized my water had broke. I thanked heaven I had picked comfortable clothes that didn’t show my wet pants.
I called Mack, passed off the last information I hadn’t to my employees who were covering for me and told my manager I was leaving and wouldn’t be back.
I gathered up and left to wait for Mack. I called my mom, my midwife, and my doula while I waited. Mack seemed to take forever. While I was in the car, I called the housing office to make sure they stayed open so we could get parking passes. I had to argue with the lady at the desk, explaining I knew they closed at 4:30 but I needed those parking passes and I would be there sometime between 4:25 and 4:35 and would they please stay open? I can’t remember if she agreed or not, but it was very stressful.
I assumed my birth team would be at my house for several hours.
At this point I wasn’t using my Hypnobabies tools and things were very intense. I did not enjoy that car ride at all and just wanted to be home. Mack ran in to pick up parking passes and we went home.
As soon as I got in the house, I went to jump back in the shower. All my Hypnobabies training had been completely abandoned in the hecticness of getting home and contractions were one on top of each other. I was experiencing pain I didn’t plan for and some fear I wasn’t expecting. I just wanted a second to catch my breath.
Poor Mack didn’t know what to do as I paced back and forth – jumping in the shower only to jump back out and pace between the bedroom and the kitchen/living room.
I recognize now this was transition and I believe firmly if I had been able to keep up my Hypnobabies tracks I wouldn’t have any pain.
During this time I found myself in the bedroom, squatting at the foot of the bed, trying to catch a breath. Mack came in and crouched next to me. I said to him, “I can’t do this.” His response was fierce and firm: “Yes, youcan.”
I believed him. And what else was I going to do? Get back in the car and drive to the hospital? Not an option.
Looking back, this time period feels like a few minutes at most. All told, transition probably lasted about 45 minutes, active labor probably 45 minutes before that. In exactly 12 hours of labor, I experienced some pain and/or discomfort for about an hour and mostly due to feeling rushed and out of control.
As soon as I got my wits about me again I got back in the shower – this time on hands and knees. Mack gave me a blessing. When I got tired, he grabbed the birth ball and put it in the shower so I could lean on it. Childbirth is exhausting.
The midwife’s backup, Melanie, called to tell me she was on her way. My midwife was also coming, but it was rush hour and she was in traffic so she’d asked Melanie to come over.
Melanie and I had met at a prenatal visit but she’d never been to our new apartment. The apartment wasn’t really easy to get to your first time and she needed to be talked in. Cell phone service in our apartment was nonexistent so Mack left to talk her in.
It seemed like he was gone again for forever. I remember thinking that he’d better not miss the birth!
At some point – either before or after Melanie called – I told him “You’re going to have to catch this baby because I don’t think anyone else is going to make it in time.”
I was completely calm with that idea. In fact, despite the franticness and facing an unassisted birth (which I felt could be dangerous), the only thing I was concerned about was that my doula/photographer wasn’t there because I wanted photos of Mack and I. I was just sad I wouldn’t have photos of his head against mine or his hand on my back. I wanted to preserve those moments.
Melanie arrived while I was pushing. Baby’s head was crowning. She jumped right in, checked the fetal heart rate and talked to me about where baby was. After a few minutes she explained we needed to turn the shower off so the baby wouldn’t accidentally breathe in water when s/he was born.
As I pushed with my contractions, I felt SO much energy coursing through my body. I am amazingly powerful and strong. I didn’t know just how much until childbirth. I’m still incredibly amazed by it.
Melanie asked if I was going to catch the baby myself. I hadn’t planned on it and Mack said he didn’t want to so she did. Just a few minutes after she arrived – no more than 10 or 15 and probably more like 5 – little M was born. It was 5:55pm, 12 hours exactly from when early labor started.
I rolled over and leaned against the birth ball and she was brought up against my chest. Melanie called the baby “her” and I asked “It’s a girl?” And then “We didn’t know. We didn’t know.” Except I had known all along, we’d just never had an ultrasound to confirm.
Right about that time Valery arrived and started snapping photos. Cathy arrived moments later, having missed most of the birth.
I felt fabulous. So good, in fact, that I said to Mack “Let’s do that again!” And then, “I mean, not right away, but soon.”
Too soon the midwives were moving me from the bath tub (they didn’t want me getting tired; I was perfectly comfortable where I was) to the bed. After a little bit, I let them do the baby exam and Valery found us some dinner. When my mom showed up we finally had diapers (we were really prepared) and we all went to bed with a precious, tiny little human next to us.
Our lives have never been the same.
If you’ve read this far, thank you. I would love to hear your birth stories. Please share them in the comments below.
I want every mom to know that virtually painless, strong and empowering childbirths are completely possible. Childbirth, even in it’s most hectic, is not (for the majority of women) the life-or-death situations we see on TV.
For all the craziness I would change (like heading home at 2 instead of at 4, or not going into work at all!), childbirth was the most amazing thing I’ve ever done.
However, if you haven’t had a childbirth which leaves you excited to do it again, that’s ok. I strongly believe we have the births we need.
Even amazing births like mine can leave with sadness, regrets and “I wish” moments.
Two years ago I had one of the craziest and most empowering days of my life. It’s her happy birthday, but it’s also a sort of re-birth-day day for me.
Childbirth is about getting babies earthside, but it’s also about giving women a chance to be reborn and reinvent themselves.
It was for me.
Happy birthday, Little Monkey! Thanks for giving me so much.