I wish I could say I had no expectations for Bram’s birth, but I had journeyed through birth before – twice. Owen’s birth had been long and tiring with days of contractions before he emerged into the world. Caedmon’s had been surprisingly easy and quick; he had slipped out into Daddy’s hands before the midwives arrived.
I was experienced. I had confidence in my body to birth a baby. I had a midwife I trusted and who trusted me. I’d stayed active throughout pregnancy and felt good – strong. This was going to be a quick and easy birth.
I had shown the midwives the birth kit in our bedroom and the adjoining bathroom. I’d really appreciated water during my other labors and pictured myself spending time in the warm tub before the baby was born.
Sunday, September 1, I noticed a bit of blood-tinged mucous – a sign of changes in my cervix. We did the morning chores – caring for the layers, the meat chickens, and Brownie and picking the produce of the garden – green beans, tomatoes, and bell peppers. In the afternoon, we attended cousin Carter’s birthday party. I had been having painless Braxton Hicks contractions throughout pregnancy, but that evening, the contractions felt “real.” They were irregular and fairly mild, but I did have to close my eyes and focus through them at times. Although I tried to rest, I didn’t get much sleep that night.
Monday, September 2 – Labor Day and cousin Carter’s birthday. Abram was off work for the holiday. I continued to have irregular contractions – some challenging, some not so much – through morning chores. I cleaned the van and installed the baby seat while Abram finished the mowing. As evening came, my contractions got closer, stronger, and longer. We proceeded with our evening rhythm and during a family show, I sat on a birth ball and walked around the living room.
I got Abram to take a few pictures to remind us just how large I was and of the boys and me when I was a mama of two.
We called our midwife Jeanne, and Abram walked Caedmon to sleep. Owen was very attentive as I continued walking around the dim living room pausing for contractions. The second midwife, Joy arrived first. I’d only met her on Saturday, and when she arrived and started chatting, I felt myself shift out of Labor Land. Jeanne soon arrived, and I continued to walk and pause to breathe and focus through contractions which became more erratic as time passed. The midwives set up the spare room for birth, and Jeanne checked my blood pressure and listened to the baby’s heartbeat periodically.
Owen went to sleep. The midwives encouraged me to rest if I could. While contractions were manageable when I was up, they were overwhelming if I tried to lie down. Resting was really difficult. Even the tub was uncomfortable.
Tuesday, September 3, we “got up.” I’d rested a bit off and on through the night on the couch with Abram close by. Jeanne and Joy had camped out on the love seat and bean bag in the play room. No baby had arrived, and my contractions were sporadic. We made a plan for me to try to rest while Abram took the boys out for a while (he’d arranged Monday evening for a sub at work), and the midwives went home.
Owen made fried eggs for breakfast.
Five hours alone in a quiet house. Some rest. Some moving. Tiring but bearable sporadic contractions. Lots of visualization of my cervix opening.
When the Abram returned home with the boys, we had some lunch. Jeanne had suggested climbing the stairs. I’d tried resting so I thought I’d give the stairs a go. One at a time. That was okay. Two at a time. That was even better – but really tiring. One at a time again. Then two at a time once more. More walking and sitting on the birth ball.
By evening, I was done – completely tired of exhausting labor that didn’t seem to be going anywhere.
I had a plan: I’d stop the contractions. I would just be really, really still, and make them stop.
I broke down on the couch and told Abram I couldn’t do this anymore. I worried that something was wrong that I’d never be able to have this baby. I recall mentioning a baby with two heads. Clearly I was not thinking straight anymore – stopping labor by being still and two heads. Really?