Max’s kindergarten class has a “Star of the Week” where one student is showcased throughout the week. The weekend before their week, a big poster is brought home with them. They fill out their favorite color, food, and the like. They color in boxes explaining what they want to be when they grow up (Max: a doctor), what they would wish for if they could have any wish (Max: all the K’nexs in the world), and a photo of their family. On Monday, they bring their poster and show it to the class.
On Tuesday, they read their favorite book to the class (Max: a random you-can-read Transformer book that yes, we have read a bazillion times, but this is really your favorite book, buddy? Ok.)
And on Wednesday, the teacher reads the class a letter from the child’s parents. The letter is suppose to share how they are special. Admittedly, I wasn’t sure what to write. Not because Max isn’t special to me. But it is going to be shared with his class. It’s a difficult audience to cater to. I don’t want to embarrass him. But I also don’t want his letter to be boring and unauthentic.
I finished the letter Tuesday night-naturally right before the deadline. And I wanted to remember it so that in later years, I can look back to when my Maxie was a little boy.
So here is our letter to Maxie: (note–this is going to be read to him on December 14th-the day before his birthday)
Our little Maxie: Tomorrow you will be six! It feels surreal that six years ago, it was the coldest day of the year, and you showed up, on your due date, almost being born in the car because you couldn’t wait any longer.
And for six years, you have filled our family with love, silliness, a love of Legos and K’nexs, licks, dances, cuddles, and more happiness that we could ever capture into words. There are so many ways to describe you. Forever a mama’s boy. A Lego Master. A Cub Scout. The most task-oriented helper. A hard worker. Tenaciously determined. But ultimately there is one word that truly encompasses Max Cremona: Fearless.
You have always been fearless. Being the little brother to a brother who is only a year older tends to foster a desire to push yourself. If your brother jumped off the couch, you wouldn’t just jump off the couch. You’d jump off the sofa table that stood a foot higher. No heights could scare you. No food was too squishy or mushy to try. There isn’t a challenge you won’t take on.
And this past year, you’ve learned to leverage your fearlessness with your unrelenting perseverance. Over the summer, we spent a weekend at the Cub Scout Camp. The second day of camp was filled with activities. We got to go swimming, learn how to identify tree berries, practice archery and shooting, ride a horse, and how to read a map. You did a wonderful job mastering each skill.
But then we reached the rock climbing wall rotation. The wall looked more like a large skyscraper tower, but instead of walls of windows, there were walls of items to climb upon. One side had wooden planks and blocks strewed all the way up to the top, several stories above the ground. Another side was littered with rocks you could grab onto to pull yourself up to the top. It was huge.
I was excited for you to climb, but I was also nervous. You were the youngest kid at camp by a year. And the rock climbing wall was not made with 5-year-olds in mind. I worried your arms and leg span wouldn’t be able to reach all the rocks. But this fear did not even enter your mind.
You took one look at the massive rock climbing wall, and your eyes widened.
“Wait, do I get to climb that?” you said.
“Yes!” I said, “Of course!” A huge grin grew across your face. You couldn’t wait to try.
The instructor secured a helmet on your head and tied a harness around your waist. You mounted onto the wall, and it appeared all your days of climbing on furniture and trees paid off–you were a natural. You made your way half way up without much fuss. But then you looked down, saw how high you were, and hesitated to grab the next board. You stayed up there for a moment, and I could tell you were not certain if you wanted to keep going higher. Then, you asked to come down. You ballayed down the wall, looking a bit disappointed in yourself.
“I want to try again. I know I can get to the top!” you said. Once it was your turn again, you quickly climbed your way back to where you stopped last time–the halfway point. You paused and looked down. I held my breath, knowing you had to be a bit nervous with how high you were (because wow, you were high up!). And then your hand reached for the next board and you pushed yourself up. And then the next board. And the next one. Everyone on the ground cheered for you. Before we knew it, you were at the top! The youngest kid at camp just made it to the top of the highest rock climbing wall!
The smile on your face when you ran over to me once you came back down is one of the happiest I’ve ever seen. Of course, I smothered you in kisses and hugs–the pride that our Maxie climbed all the way to the top and reached his goal radiated everywhere. And then you went on to climb to the top 5 more times. You made a goal and not only did you reach it, you crushed it!
And that is you in a nutshell. A guy who doesn’t let fear stand in his way. Who climbs all the way to the top even if it is a little scary. And who still lets his mom cover him in kisses and hugs.
We love you Maxie and cannot wait to see what the next year brings.
To people who have never had a baby, maternity leave sounds like this glorious vacation. You don’t work for 6-12 weeks. You “just” take care of your baby. You stay at home on “your own” schedule. I cannot count how many times someone asked me, “So, what do you do all day?” I would stare at them, hair disheveled, covered in spit-up, wearing a diaper myself, and I would imagine smushing their face. Because while I truly did love maternity leave, it was not a vacation. It was work.
For my first maternity leave with JR, I had no idea what to expect. I heard the stories about moms who were so frazzled that they weren’t able to take a shower for days. That brushing your teeth would be a luxury. And I was not ok with that being my new reality. I was not ready to lose myself. Wearing diapers was one thing. I was not on board with the reality that my well-being would be last on the to-do list.
And before I had three children, was back to work, and gave up caring what other people think (well kinda of–I still care–I just don’t let it eat me up as much as I use to), the thought of people coming over to a messy house completely embarrassed me. But everything I heard about having a baby, I would have no time to clean. That terrified me. I didn’t want people to think I was this lazy mom on leave who just sat around all day binging tv.
So Matt and I made a pact. Matt and I each wrote down one personal care item that was most important for ourselves to do. The thing that made us feel human.
We then wrote down the one chore that was most important to us to be done in the house. The thing that made us feel like our house wasn’t falling apart. Even if it kinda was.
For personal care, I wrote down “put on makeup.” Matt wrote “brush teeth.” (yeah, I am not ashamed that my choice is far less hygienic). Every day, it was each other’s job to make sure we did met our item. Matt would ensure that I would put on makeup sometime during the day. I would make sure he brushed his teeth. It didn’t have to be first thing in the morning or even by noon. It just had to happen at some point during the day.
Once I had on my makeup, I felt a little more like myself. Sure, I now was full of spit up, milk always was leaking through my shirt, and my clothes weren’t fitting the way I hoped, but I had gosh damn makeup on.
For chores, Matt needed the dishes done each day. I wanted the bathroom sink wiped down. Every day, I would make sure that dishes were done at some point during the day (and no, that didn’t mean I did them. I just made sure they got done, which largely meant it was a duty delegated to someone else). Matt would make sure the sink got wiped down every day. The rest of the house could be in complete shambles. Diapers would need to be washed. Laundry piled up. It didn’t matter. All that mattered was that we got those two chores done. The rest could be forgotten.
It made such a difference. The idea of having a million things to do on top of keeping this tiny baby alive can be overwhelming. There simply was no way I could nurse JR all day (I mean ALL DAY), keep up with laundry, take a shower, take a sitz bath, do my makeup, style my hair, dress myself, dress JR, change JR’s diapers 10 times a day, change my own diaper 3 plus times a day, make food for myself (that is super healthy and keeps my milk supply up), sweep the kitchen floor, wash the dishes, buy groceries, put away groceries, keep the house de-cluttered, and every other little thing that needs to be done. But I also couldn’t pretend like I didn’t need to be taken care of. And that the house needed tending to. So we just picked one each. And the rest got done when we had extra energy and time.
Moms, please take this unsolicited advice. Don’t set yourself up for failure and expect that you need to do it all in order to have a successful day. Keeping a baby alive while being utterly sleep deprived is an accomplishment in itself. But sometimes only taking care of your baby isn’t enough to feel ok on leave. And sometimes it hurts to feel yourself melting away. So set your list of one personal care item and one housework item and let the rest go.
Last month my little Maxie turned three! Which I have not entirely processed yet. Because it simply cannot be true that three years ago I bought my squishy Max home. Just like every quintessential parent says, time is cruel and it all goes by too fast.
I was reliving the day my littlest boy was born and realized I had never published a birth post! Middle child problems!! So in celebration of my boy’s third birthday, I am sharing my littlest boy’s birth story.
I left work on December 14th a little too cocky. “I’ll see you guys tomorrow” I said as I turned off my office light. There was no doubt in my mind that on Wednesday morning, I would find myself sitting in front of my work computer, answering emails and working on briefs. JR was 12 days late. If I learned anything from JR’s birth, it was that due dates meant nothing. It didn’t matter that my due date was tomorrow. There was simply no way this baby was going to be born yet.
We didn’t have a special dinner or do anything really out of the ordinary. I gave JR a bath, put him in his doggie pajamas, and read him a book before bed. JR was his typically hyper self. Running around in the crib, singing, and laughing. By 9:00, he was asleep.
I made my way to the TV room and turned on a show. Within a half hour, I heard a large pop and it felt like I had peed myself. My heart immediately began to race. “Oh I am not looking forward to labor.” I reached down for my phone, but it wasn’t there. My hands were shaking. I hadn’t felt one contraction yet, but my anxiety of what was to come was climbing with every second.
“Where is my phone?” I got up, frantically looked under the couch, under the side table, no where to be found. I yelled to Matt. “My water broke, and I can’t find my phone!” My eyes were wild. “I need my phone! How can I tell Micah that she needs to get ready to come! We have to call the birth center! We have to call the doula!”
Matt put his arms around me. “Go take a shower. I’ll find your phone.” I got into the shower and let the water fall over me. It waited for the hot water to calm me. It didn’t come. I got out. Laid down in bed and closed my eyes. I still felt no contractions, but I knew what was coming. It was just a matter of time.
2 hours went by. I woke up to a cramp. Ugh. My lower stomach twisted. What the hell?! I had forgotten this is what labor felt like. I remained in bed and kicked my legs in frustration. It did not help.
I left the bed and went to the living room. I paced. It did not help. I was annoyed. Matt was sleeping. My stomach was exploding. BECAUSE OF HIM. Ok, me too. But whatever. It’s his fault. I walked back to the bedroom and threw a pillow at him.
“What?!” Matt said dreamily.
“I have contractions,” I said. Matt bolted up. He followed me to the tv room. I paced from one side to another.
“Do you want to watch Bones?” Matt asked. The two of us had been watching Bones together. It was show we could relax and turn off our minds. I shook my head no. For some unknown reason, I did not want to be distracted. These contractions were a bitch. And each one demanded my full attention.
I moved to my knees, with my forearms on our chair. Matt grabbed the scarf that he used to raboozo me during JR”s labor and wrapped it around my belly. He tossed his phone with the contraction app on the chair and I would click when my contraction started. When I clicked start, Matt would start to raboozeo. Two hours went by. It felt like forever. “Why the hell did I decide to do this again? I am a moron! Why did I think I needed another natural birth?”
Suddenly, the pressure felt so much more intense. “Matt, call Micah. Tell her to come now.” Yes, it felt weird to be able to speak. It didn’t seem like it was ‘the time’ yet. I couldn’t say a word when I was in labor with JR. Yet,here I am, speaking. Obviously, we had time. I wasn’t truly in labor yet. But still. I should be safe. Micah (our nanny) should get here. Just in case.
Only a minute or two went by. But then my stomach turned. OMG THIS IS INSANE. THIS BABY IS GOING TO FALL OUT. “F…..CALL MICAH NOW!” I yelled. I waddled into the kitchen. I toss my phone on the counter, and I pushed the recall button. I called Micah again. Why wasn’t she here already?! Matt was running around. Tossing bags into the truck. Grabbing a jacket for me. I rocked back and forth.
A huge wave of contraction came. It felt like a strong twist on my lower stomach. There was pressure on my butt. Fu—-k. It left like the baby was crowning. “Matt, I am pushing!” I was leaning against the counter. I WAS pushing. It felt good to push. But holy shit. I AM IN MY KITCHEN. WHERE IS THE NANNY? WE CANT LEAVE JR ALONE!
“We need to go now!” Matt yelled. I violently shock my head. “Get the car seat in the car!” I grunted. My stomach ached. MOTHER OF GOD! THESE CONTRACTIONS. But I can not leave JR. He’s my baby. I can’t leave him alone.
“NO! GET IN THE CAR. Micah will be here soon. GET IN THE CAR!” Matt urged.
I dialed Micah again. My voice ached. “How close are you!” I could barely get the words out. “Five minutes” Micah said.
I looked at Matt in terror. This baby was coming. I did not have 5 minutes. “Get in the car!” Matt said. I growled angrily and moved to the door. “Call us the second you get to our house. We have to leave now!” Matt said to Micah. I walked out the front door. Leaving my baby boy. Matt locked the door behind me.
I climbed into the truck. Matt jumped into the car and gunned it out the driveway. The contractions were strong. I put on my seatbeat, but fu–k, it felt too restrictive. Matt immediately started to drive 2o mph over the speed limit.
Halfway there, I started to panic. “Matt, I AM PUSHING!” I yelled. And I was. It felt good to push. As I pushed, it felt like the baby’s head was crowning. I wasn’t truly sitting in my seat. I was basically standing, while wearing my seat belt, with my hand firm on Matt’s thigh. Matt was going 90 mph in a 55 mph. We rounded on to the side street that would lead us to the Minnesota Birth Center. We reached the first set of lights. Red lights. My eyes widened. Nope. I am PUSHING. THIS BABY IS FALLING OUT. MOTHER OF GOD I WILL NOT HAVE A BABY IN THE CAR. DRIVE FASTER. JESUS CHRIST. I AM GOING TO HAVE A BABY IN THE CAR. Matt drove faster. He ran the light. The speed limit was 40 mph. Matt remained a steady speed. I felt taken care of. But oh my goodness. The pressure was so intense.
“Hurry! Hurry! Hurry!” I whispered. I couldn’t truly capture what I was feeling. But I felt the urge to say something. Even if it was at a whisper. Matt pulled into the driveway of the Minnesota Birth Center. The car sped into the parking spot. Matt slammed on the brakes, put the car in park, and jumped out the car. He opened my car door, and presumably I walked out. I have no memory of this. The next thing I knew, I was in the Minnesota Birth Center. Watching the water of the birth tub rising.
The midwife placed her stethoscope on my belly, confirming that the baby had a strong heartbeat and giving me the green light to get into the birthing tub. The midwife helped me into the tub, and I lowered my body into the water. The water felt warm and familiar. After the stress of driving here, I finally felt at ease. All I wanted was to get into the tub because getting in the tub meant pushing this baby out, which means my stomach will no longer feel like it is being twisted like a wet dishrag.
As I settled into the tub, the midwife and Matt looked at one another. The clear water had turned deep red. “You are bleeding too much. We cannot have you in this tub. We need to get you out right away. Please take our hands so we can help you out without slipping.” the midwife said. The fact that there was so much blood did not register with me. All I heard was that I could not give birth in a tub. The only place I had ever given birth before. The thought of giving birth on a bed, outside the soothing comfort of water, seemed insane. But I did as I was told. I slowly climbed out of the tub.
The midwife showed me to the large queen sized bed. I climbed on and placed my forearms on a big green birthing ball, trying to remain calm. Matt stood at my side, off the bed. The midwife placed a warm, wet washcloth on my crotch and calmly said, “when you feel the contraction, push through it.” I nodded. But honestly, since making my way to the bed, I didn’t feel anything contractions. It was as if my body had pushed pause on the labor. I wasn’t in the water, and I don’t give birth anywhere but the water. Instead, I felt out of it. Kneeling on the bed, on all fours, like a barn animal. Without the water around me, I felt exposed.
Finally a contraction came. It felt terrible and wonderful at the same time. As the contraction built up, I pushed. I buried my head into the birthing ball and pushed harder than I thought I could. “There’s the head!” the midwife said calmly. “Now just one more good push, Lindsay. You got this.” Her voice remained steady and low. I didn’t feel a contraction but I didn’t care. The pressure of the baby’s head was too much to bare. I pushed, and suddenly felt a wave of relief. The baby was out. It started to cry, and I rushed to move off my hands and knees to grab my baby. As I moved, I pulled the baby with me. The midwife quickly intervened, assisting me to a sitting position and bringing my little baby to my chest. My little baby boy. My little Maxie. I wrapped my arms around him, kissing the top of his head, and felt a strong wave of emotion fall over me. My perfect little boy was finally here. 8 pounds, 1 ounce. So much hair.
And as for all the blood, the midwife never had a concrete explanation for it. They were worried my placenta had ruptured, but it didn’t. If Max hadn’t been born basically 10 minutes after we got to the birth center, they were planning to send me to a hospital due to all the blood. But Max wouldn’t have that.
He’s still my biggest mama’s boy ever. I am forever grateful he’s mine.
I was about 7 months pregnant with my first baby when I started to seriously think about the fact that I had to get this baby out of me. Of course, this baby had to come out at some point. But the idea of going into labor was terrifying. No one could tell me how my labor would be. No idea how long it would be. When it would start. How much would it hurt. Would there be back labor? The realization that so many things were out of my control was too much. So instead of dwelling on this things I couldn’t control, I decided to focus on the things I could.
1. Take a Birth Class // I signed Matt and me up for a 6 week natural childbirth class early on in my pregnancy. I had been reading random blogs about labor, but I am certain Matt had done zero research on childbirth. So by going to a weekly class together, we both were on the same page. We had an arsenal of copping mechanisms to try. We got to practice the labor management moves out (which felt sort of dumb but in hindsight, it was nice to have the practice). The hardest part of the class was watching the video of a woman giving birth. I had never seen someone give birth before. I don’t think I could ever be emotionally prepared to see an actual birth either. It shook me. As Matt and I drove home that night, I cried. It was probably the closest feeling I’ve had to a panic attack. But since Matt had seen the video too, he understood why I was so shook up. Anyway, after seeing that video, it was a big part of why I became so focused on controlling the remaining pieces of my upcoming labor that I could.
2. Get your nails done // I had no idea how disheveled I’d look after having a baby. But I knew that my nails would look good holding my brand new baby. Plus, getting a manicure and pedicure is wonderfully relaxing. After carrying a baby in your belly for 9 months, there’s no question you deserve a mani and pedi.
3. Buy labor clothes // Guys, I took such care in figuring out what I was going to wear while I was in labor, you’d like I was picking out an outfit for the Oscars. I spent an embarrassing amount of time online shopping for labor clothes. After hours and hours of window shopping, I ended up buying a floral robe off Etsy. I bought a bunch of new underwear so when I finally did go into labor, I had a fresh pair of undies (even though I knew the joys of labor would destroy them). It was nice to have brand new clothes to wear and to not have the whole “what should I wear” debate in your own head.
4. Get waxed // This may not be for everyone but…there is no question that there are going to be a lot of eyes down there when you have a baby. I am 100% certain that the midwives/doctors and nurses have seen it all so if you did nothing, it’s fine. But I didn’t get waxed for anyone but me. I wanted it to be all neat down there. I knew that the weeks following the baby would include quite a bit of care of my lower parts–using a peri bottle, spitz baths, witch hazel sprays. You have to take care of your vagina on top of your baby. Being waxed before the baby arrived made me feel like I was already take a step towards my own personal care.
5. Get a new haircut and dye // What is it about a fresh haircut and dye that makes you feel like a brand new woman? Ok, this is not a recommendation to get the quintessential mom haircut (at what age does everyone cut their hair short?) But having a new haircut and dye makes you feel lighter. I swear for the first couple of weeks post-hair cut, I am able to style my hair better. Plus your hair will pop in photos with your new baby. So it’s a win win.
And after all of this, I did feel a bit better about feeling out of control. If you are pregnancy or know someone who is, I highly recommend you knock at least a couple of these things off your to-do list before the baby arrives. Because when you really think about it, the to-do list before the baby arrives is just too baby-focused. Sure, the baby in your belly needs a lot of attention, but that momma building the baby is equally as important. And I know this list is basically just a pamper/spa day. But there should be no shame in wanting to take care of yourself and feeling your best when the baby does arrive. You are about to go through a challenge. Even the “easiest” labor is still tough and can leave you wiped. So grab yourself a pedicure as you prepare for the big day.
It was Monday morning, and I woke up at 3:30 a.m. with a contraction. It was strong. I twisted around in bed and tried not to wake Matt up. One, two, three. I imagined myself walking up a hill. When the contraction felt at its height, I made it to the top of the hill. As the contraction waned, I walked down the hill. It took about 40 seconds. Ok, not a minute but certainly not nothing. I drifted off back to sleep. Ugh, it’s back. I grabbed my phone and pushed the side button. 3:36 a.m. glowed back at me. Seriously? Only five minutes had passed. Ok, walk up that hill. Then again at 4:48. And 5:00. By the time it was 6:30, I was exhausted and confused. My water hadn’t broken. I had never had any contractions until my water broke so what was this? I was already two days past my due date so chalking these contractions up to Braxton Hicks seemed patently wrong. But this couldn’t be it, could it? I texted our doula to give her an update and made my way to the bathroom. The side of pants were a little damp. Not enough to consider my water broke. Or was it? I immediately started questioning myself. I mean, three hours of contractions, which had now mostly dissipated, maybe this was my water breaking. No matter what, I decided that I should work from home today. If those contractions worked themselves back up again, there was no way I could drive home. I got ready for the day of working in the basement so I just tossed on a fresh pair of yoga pants and made my way downstairs. Arg, maybe I should call the birth center just to be safe. I dialed the midwife on call line and asked to be seen in the mid-morning. The contractions. The damp pants. Two days overdue. Probably a good idea to go in.
Matt woke up and immediately said, “we are having a baby today!”
“I don’t know. I feel ok now.” I said. I didn’t want him to be disappointed. Still, I wanted him to be right. I wanted to have the baby today.
We grabbed breakfast at Panera and then made our way to the birth center for our 9:45 appointment. From my initial call to the appointment, I had no more than two contractions. They were minor. Yes, they were not comfortable. But since they were spaced out, having 20-40 seconds of pain was more annoying than anything else. It’s just a cruel joke to have this pain when I am two days overdue and it’s false labor.
The appointment was brief. The midwife confirmed that my water had not broke and instead broke some rather disappointing news: it is very common for third babies to be “tricky.” Having labor start and stop is common. Don’t get discouraged. You are near the finish line. But your labor may start up and stop again so get prepared for this. I left crabby and discouraged.
Beyond telling work that I had some contractions, which was why I was working from home, for most of the day, I didn’t tell anyone until late afternoon. Mostly, I didn’t want to give our family false hope that the baby would be born soon. Like me, they too were getting anxious for Toastie Three to arrive. With the sting of three hours of wasted contractions hanging over me, I couldn’t stomach fielding questions and comments about the entire situation. So I told everyone I was at work and fine. Neither were true.
I noticed that if I stayed sitting, I had no contractions. But when I stood up, my stomach would twist a bit. “Maybe that’s the secret. You have to start moving around to get the baby to get out,” Matt said to me. Maybe he was right. I put on my workout clothes and pulled out my pregnancy workout guide to week 40, day two and fit in a workout. No contractions, but it was nice to a solid workout in. At least I accomplished something with my body today.
My work day ended, and we ate dinner together like we always do. The boys were well-behaved and earned TV time, which meant Matt and I could watch the new episode of Shark Tank with no interruptions. It is a 40 minute show, and I had three contractions while we watched it. Ok, so these contractions are coming back. But is this another start stop false labor marathon? We started the bedtime routine and the contractions continued. Just like in the early morning, each contraction was 20-40 seconds long, coming every 5-10 minutes. They were strong enough to make me stop doing whatever I was doing and focus on walking up the hill. “Relax, your body knows what it is doing. This pain isn’t because something is wrong. It is a good sensation” I would tell myself as I walked up the hill.
I couldn’t help Matt get the boys to brush their teeth and into pajamas. Instead I paced from the living room to the dining room and back. Once they were ready for bed, I grabbed Max and took him to his crib. As I nursed him, a contraction came. I held him tight and waited for it to subside. My water still had not broken. This had to be this false start stop labor that the midwife had talked about, and I am not a fan. I laid Max down to bed, went to JR’s room to tell him “The Little Boy Story,” and then headed out to the TV room to relax. The contractions had started to die down again. I was frustrated and needed to unwind. I tossed on a mindless TV show.
It was 9:27, and I had only watched about 15 minutes of the show when I felt a gush of water. Holy hell, my water broke. For real. I immediately texted Matt, who was still in JR’s room waiting for him to fall completely asleep, “Water broke.” “Just like Max” he wrote back.
I texted our nanny and asked her to come right away. Then our doula. Just then, my mom sent a text saying, “Any stirrings?” Funny she should ask. Normally, I wouldn’t have told her until we were on our way to the birth center or if the baby was born. But her timing was impeccable. “My water just broke. I need to get stuff figured out. Talk later” I wrote back.
Matt came into the TV room and started to get bags packed for the drive over to the birth center. I paced back and forth, waiting for the midwife on call at the birth center to confirm that we could come in. It took 7 minutes for her to confirm that we could come in right away.
At 10:00 p.m., our nanny Zee showed up. Matt had already tossed all our bags into the car. I had barely left the TV room where my water had broke. I was too nervous. As I made my way to the kitchen to leave the house, I got a contraction. It was strong enough that I stopped moving and talking until it passed. We said goodbye to our boys and headed to the birth center.
The drive was quiet. With my boys, the drive was stressful. But now, I wasn’t freaking out that I was going to have a baby in the car (Max) or that the contractions were too strong and I was confined to a seat (JR). I felt fine. Almost foolish that we were leaving so early to get to the birth center. I had 4 contractions during the 20 minute drive but there weren’t that strong. I just squeezed Matt’s hand as he drove down the highway.
We pulled into the parking lot and to a dark building. We were the first ones to arrive. I texted the midwife, who said she was 5 minutes away. I started to get anxious. The birth center is in a neighborhood, and the neighbors had their lights on. I could see them staring at me from the window as I paced. I felt like I was on display, and it irked me. I had one contraction as we waited. It was stronger. More present. I leaned against the car, upset that we had beat everyone and that these random guys got to witness me labor from their window.
Finally, the midwife arrived and by 10:20, we were walking into the building. I had never been fully present when I walked into the birth center in labor before. With JR and Max, I was so focused on the labor itself that I truly have no memory of walking in. But this time, everything was so clear. Watching Matt hurry to bring in our bags. The tub starting to fill. The bed nicely made with clean, white sheets. I leaned up against the counter and stared at the clock right in front of me. It glowed 10:25. I pushed my shoes off and a contraction started to come. MOTHER OF GOD THIS IS TOO MUCH. Matt was on my left, petting my back while he unwound the scarf so he could rebozo my belly. He wrapped the scarf around my lower belly and began to rock it back and forth. Nope, it didn’t help. OMG TWISTING AND TIGHTNESS. The contraction wrapped around my lower belly. Firmly grabbing hold of stomach and twisting and turning it. The pain was unbearable. I told Matt to stop trying to rebozo. No use for him to waste his energy. It wasn’t doing anything. He tossed the scarf aside and told me that he was proud of me. That I was going a great job. I tried to get off my socks. To bend over was excruciating. I barely managed to toss them both off. I couldn’t imagine myself moving from this counter. But I wanted to get into that tub. I could hear the water running, and the midwife said it needed at least another 10 minutes. A second contraction came as the midwife rushed to pull out heating pads and pads to soak up blood. She placed a cuff around my arm so she could take my blood pressure. I twisted and curled as the contraction continued. Nope. There is no way I can survive another contraction like that. This baby is coming out now. I started to push as the contraction waned. A wave of relief washed over me. Pushing felt so good. As if I could control the rising pressure I felt.
I told the midwife to help me take off my pants and take me to the bed. Matt and the midwife complied, and I shuffled to the bed as fast as I could. The contraction was over, but another one would be coming. I did not want to be on the move when that happened. Plus, the pressure in my butt kept rising. I had to get on the bed so I could push this baby out. There was no way I was going to wait another 10 minutes so I could deliver in the tub.
Once on the bed, I felt misplaced. With Max’s birth, the midwife ran the show. She gave me a birthing ball and calmly coached me how to give birth on the bed. But now, the midwife was scrambling. She was still placing pads on the bed, getting things ready. We’d only been in the birth center for 5 minutes at this point, and she still had quite a bit to get out.
“I need a birthing ball,” I said. The midwife handled me a large, silver ball. It was too big.
“Does this work?” She asked.
“No, smaller.” I managed to get out. The pressure was building. I was in between contractions but I knew one would be coming soon. She ran out of the room and came back with a smaller ball. I placed my forearms on the ball. Not perfect but it would do.
“I need a hot towel.” I said. I knew I was being demanding but I didn’t care. For Max’s birth, I had the birthing ball and the hot towel that the midwife pressed against my crotch for perineal support. Those two tools were the things I needed for a birth on a bed.
The midwife grabbed a warm towel and found a place behind me. Matt was at my head with his hand on my shoulder. He rubbed my shoulder, whispering that I was doing a good job and he was so proud of me.
A contraction came, and I pushed. It felt so good to push. As the contraction waned, I continued to push. “If you push a little longer, it’ll be worth it” I told myself. I let out a sigh as a pushed longer and felt a wave of pressure release from me. My baby was out.
The next thing I knew, I was moving myself from my knees to my butt, craning my neck to see if I had a girl or a boy. I swear I could see a vagina, but I didn’t want to be wrong. The midwife eased me to a seated position and handed the baby to me. I took a second look.
“Oh my God, it’s a girl!” I cried.
I kissed my baby girl, still in disbelief. Matt came beside me to get a closer look at our baby girl. She was perfect. 10 fingers. 10 toes. A full head of hair. Everything we had prayed for. I pulled out a boob to feed her and she immediately latched. As we nursed, the midwife tended to my lower parts. She gave me a shot of Pitocin to help bring the uterus down. Then a second dose. I was still bleeding a lot. More than usual. I needed more medicine. Unfortunately, that meant that the midwife shoving four pills up my butt. That was not great. It wasn’t even the application of the pills that was the worst. It the fact that those four pills do not dissolve immediately. Instead, it feels like you have a finger up your butt for about a half hour. It’s not great.
Still, I was losing blood so there was no room to complain. I felt so cold. Colder than I ever felt. As if I was completely naked in ice cube. My bones felt like ice. An entire liter of blood left my body, and it felt as if the blood was replaced with ice water.