Birthing Baby Sage (Part 1)
Like a number of mornings before, I woke up remembering sporadic contractions throughout the night. Nothing strong enough to keep me awake and nothing to trigger me to stop and time them, but I knew they had happened. At this point, a little over 39 weeks into my pregnancy, I was feeling ready to meet our baby girl. I had intentionally had special days with my toddler, I had a date with my husband, I had laid out clothes and blankets and decor for our girl.
I decided it would be a good day to pull out some of the “go into labor tricks.” You know, I ate my dates a little more often. I had a little closed-door time with hubby. I cranked the music up with my toddler and we had a dance party. In retrospect, I love what a fun morning it was.
As many of you know, Emerson (our 2 year old) is not the biggest fan of going to sleep. Most days, we still drive him around after lunch to get him to fall asleep so that we can all have some quiet time and avoid the evil possession that seems to come after days with missed naps. As I got in the van to take our drive, I decided to drive the route to the hospital. We hadn’t made that drive recently and with construction constantly changing in Columbus, I wanted to make sure that we had the best route down for when we needed it. Granted, I was in labor for almost 21 hours with Emerson… I knew it could either be long again or it might be shockingly short. We drove the route and as we were returning home, I noticed my contractions increasing and becoming more frequent. At about 12:30, I started timing them. They were about 11 minutes apart and so in normal fashion we came home and I laid my sleeping toddler down for a nap and tried to get some rest myself.
It wasn’t long before the contractions increased in frequency- getting to about 7 minutes apart. I was so unsure of them, though, because the intensity didn’t seem to be increasing. I did, however, let my mom know to come our direction after work in case she needed to stay with Emerson. About an hour later, I told her to hurry here, because we were going to just get checked out at triage. I told Mike to double check the hospital bag and add any last-minute toiletries and items and have it ready by the door. Honestly, though, I still thought we had at least a day or so, but because of her heart condition I didn’t want to risk delivering on the road or in a place where she couldn’t have immediate care, so we were playing it on the safe side.
We got to the hospital and checked in at 4:30pm. The midwife checked me out and said I was dilated to 4 (I had been at 3 for about a week) and that my contractions were frequent, but she could tell they weren’t so intense that they were stopping me. I was still walking and talking and laughing. All of the midwives knew my wishes were to not be stuck laboring in the hospital for hours on end and knew I wanted things as natural as could be. She gave me the option of settling into a room or going back home to labor for a few more hours. Because I was still feeling pretty good, we decided to drive back home and planned to labor in the shower or bed at home. On the walk out, I noticed my contractions getting stronger, but continued on to the van. We got out of the parking garage and started driving home. By the time we got to High St (just a few blocks away) I was telling Mike he needed to turn around and I knew then that it was go time.
Things Got Real the Second Time
Walking through the hospital the second time was much different from the first. The first time I paused through some contractions, the second time I was doubling down in the hallway on what felt like one of the longest walks of my entire life. At 6pm we were back in triage on the monitors and since the last time (from 4:30-6) I had gone from 4cm to 8cm dilated. That transition happened in no time. We moved to a birthing room and I prepared for the hours ahead. I wanted to labor in the tub, but they didn’t feel there was time for that. Fine, then I wanted to labor in the hot shower, they said we would move there after getting things prepared. I found myself on a birthing ball with my head and hands buried into the bed. Contraction after contraction came and while they gained in intensity, I thought we were still pretty early. I utilized the breathing and visualization techniques I had acquired from spending weeks with a pre and postnatal trainer (Strong Body Strong Mama). We had focused heavily on deep belly breathing and each time I worked to expand my belly, I could feel the contractions loosen and lighten in pain. When I started to get tense, the team reminded me of two things: 1. breathe. 2. loosen my shoulders.
Give Me The Water
I remember my midwife asking if I wanted to change positions. I wanted to get in the hot shower and she told me I would first need to stand. (This took me back to my first birth when I remember my midwife asking me if I wanted to change positions and I said I physically couldn’t. That time, I didn’t.) This time, I did all I could to stand up against the bed and as I did, I experienced the gushing of my water breaking. (Kind of a cool thing. I didn’t feel it with my first as it broke while I was in the birthing tub.) She told me I was close and she didn’t think I would labor much longer… but… what is close and what is much longer? With my first labor being so long, I didn’t want to let myself believe I could truly be within minutes instead of hours. I wanted to be mentally prepared for hours more, but at this point I found myself up on the bed on all fours telling her I felt like I needed to push. I said this aloud, but said that I was certain it couldn’t be time yet and honestly, I probably just needed to poop. For those of you who haven’t been there yourself, the urge to push a baby out is strikingly similar to the urge to poop. There, I said it.
I was told to follow my urge to push. First push and much to my surprise, I was told they could see her head crowning. The midwife told me, if I could, to hold the second push a little longer. I focused on this and pushed a second time- and there she was. My 6 pound 12 oz little girl came out in two pushes. After pushing for around an hour with Emerson, this was a much appreciated surprise.
Still connected by her cord (delay that clamping until the blood is done flowing!) she was passed through my legs as I somehow moved to my back to sit and hold her. The birth was quick. It was (relatively— come on now, we are talking birth) easy. It was beautiful. It was empowering.
12:30pm- Started measuring contractions
4:30pm- Checked into triage (for the first time)
6:00pm- Checked into triage (for the second time)
8:10pm- Ms. Sage was born into the world!
The moments and circumstances following her arrival weren’t as blissful. The emotions took a quick dive and what followed felt like a storm. However, that is for another day and another post. This day and this post is celebrating the incredible work a body can do, the way no two births are the same, and the sweet sweet moment our girl entered the world.
To see Birthing Baby Sage Part 2 you can continue here: