Aya Claire's Birth Story
Born June 11, 2015, 4:30pm, at home, after 20 hours of labor
It started at dinner. One week past due, with my parents in town hovering, waiting, commenting about when this baby will come. I had one of those magic pregnancies, the kind where I'm glowing. The kind that leads me to say that I never felt as good as I did when I was pregnant. The kind that makes other women want to punch me in the face. As far as I was concerned, she could have stayed inside another 2 weeks if she wanted, and she wasn't showing any signs that she was ready to come into our world.
Until suddenly she was. At dinner. Well, at dessert really (that’s my girl!). Suddenly I noticed the contractions. And I knew, as everyone told me I would and I never believed, that this was it, that she was coming.
I waited until my parents left to tell my husband. It was already around 9:30pm, and I had been having contractions for about an hour. We got excited. I started hanging up some of my drawings and birth inspiration around the house. I put my birth playlist on (later I would realize that I really should have made a birth playlist that was longer than 2 hours). And around 10:30pm we said "we should really get some sleep… we have a long night ahead of us". HA! Well my husband got about 3 hours… me? Not so much!
But really, I actually ENJOYED those early contractions. Can you believe it? I had my physio ball and my yoga, and I was breathing and moving and timing the contractions and just imagining who this person was that was about to join our family. I watched my husband sleeping and just felt so much love and appreciation for him, honestly happy that at least someone was resting. And at 1:30am, I thought she was coming. I woke up my husband. We called Barbara. When I talked to Barbara on the phone she said "From your voice, and from the fact that you are even talking to me, I can tell we still have time. Let's check in later." OOF.
From then on, my husband was up with me. We were just talking and anticipating and excited, dancing, and stopping every couple of minutes for a contraction, and they began coming on stronger and faster. At 5:30, he called Barbara again. This time I could not get on the phone, but in the background chimed in "TELL HER TO COME ALREADY!" But she somehow knew that this was not going to be a fast birth!
When she arrived at our house at 7:30am the next day, she checked me and said "only 2cm dilated". OOF again! But fully effaced. Take a walk, she said, see what happens. So we took our dog, and headed outside. The day was just getting started. Kids were waiting for the school bus, cars were pulling out of driveways, and every minute we were stopping and hugging while I dealt with a contraction. I remember wondering if the people could tell, if they saw what I was going through, but then realizing that most were probably so focused on their own days, and that no one was even looking at us!
When we got back, I had dilated another cm and Barbara said things were looking good. From the morning until the afternoon, the house was very calm, I was dealing with my contractions using all the tools I had gained, and Barbara and my husband were just chillin'! One of the things I vividly remember was that my husband made breakfast. He and Barbara sat down at the table and he asked me if I wanted to join. I didn't, and then Barbara told him something like "they usually don’t want to eat at this stage". So they had a nice breakfast at the table, talking about spice, as there was a particularly spicy dish on the table, and apparently Barbara has quite the tolerance!
By 1:30pm, I was fully dilated, but my water still had not broken. So Barbara told me I would have to push it out. She got out her little U-shaped stool, and I basically gave birth to the water sack! Whoa, that was gross, but also felt kind of good?! And Barbara said "Oh yeah, we are going to have a baby here in about an hour"… AHHHHHH! I was so excited! Everything was going so smoothly. I felt like I was rocking this birth thing and now the end was in sight. I was a warrior!
Except it wasn't. Suddenly things were not going smoothly. Instead of the head dropping down when the water broke, my little girl pulled herself back up inside. And I began the 3 craziest hours of my life.
The pushing stage for me was such a blur. It consisted of constantly changing positions, squeezing my husband's arms so hard I thought my own fingers were going to fall off, and what felt like lots and lots of screaming. I rolled the physio ball into the shower and sat with the water on my back until all the hot water ran out, to help bring baby down. Realizing that the baby's head was turned a little to the side, Barbara set me up in this special position in the door frame to get her head turned. After about 2 intense hours, baby's head started to crown! SO MUCH HAIR! I felt a new wave of energy, so eager to see this person already, and feeling so close to the end.
But my little girl is stubborn, just like her mom. She wasn't going to come until she was good and ready. She stayed there, nestled in my cervical opening, with the top of her head just peeking out, for what felt like hours. Later, I was told it was about 45 minutes. There was talk of making a small cut in my perineum to get her head out. Barbara would say "maybe we should cut, but I really don't want to. Let's try another position!" and then I would say "no cuts no cuts! Let's try another position!" and on and on. I had it in my head that I could do this, and I didn't want any interventions. Plus, with Barbara checking the heartbeat between every push, I felt confident that baby was holding up fine.
But after a while, I was TIRED. I hadn't slept or ate in what felt like days. And the crowning stage, well that HURT! I started to think that even if I just get one little cut, if I just need a couple of stitches, to get baby out healthy, that at least I still managed to do it at home. I finally said, "ok, if we need to cut, let's cut, because I don't see how I will get this baby out on my own…" But someone said, let's just try this last position, and that last position, and somehow, on my bed, on all fours, I managed to get that head fully out without cutting!!
THE ADRENILINE! I was feeling so crazy, I didn't even notice what was going on around me. The baby's head was white, too white, so Barbara didn't let me waste time trying to push out the body. She reached her hands in and baby was out faster than I could even understand what was happening!
And then, that one sentence. The one no one wants to hear. The sentence that, in how it was perceived, revealed the difference in how my husband and I experienced the birth.
"She's. Not. Breathing."
Now, I should mention that we did not know ahead of time if we were having a boy or a girl. So here is what I heard in that sentence…
"IT’S A GIRL?!?!?!?!?!?!?! CAN I HOLD HER?!?!?!?! WOWWWW LOOK AT HER!!!!"
And here is what my husband heard…
Well, my little girl, my beautiful Aya Claire, with her crooked head and the cord wrapped twice around her neck, her skin as white as snow. In my eyes she was perfect. And as I looked at her lying there, I saw her mouth start to move like a little fish. The quick suctioning by Barbara in the mouth and nose was all my girl needed as she turned pink all over and started to cry! The whole ordeal only lasted about 15 seconds!
Immediately, Barbara placed her on me. I was high as a kite on oxytocin! There I was, in my own bed, with my husband by my side, and this new life that we had been waiting for. Except for a quick shower, during which my husband cleaned off the bed and changed the sheets, I didn't leave my bed for the rest of the night, just cuddled up with my daughter, nursed her, and stared at her perfect little form.