I love birth stories.
I love how they are unique to each person, and yet so many of the same things resonate within us and between us. Even between the births of my two children I find that they were so very different, and yet a sameness remains.
I remember that when I was in labor with Shea it was quiet and dark and peaceful. Even though it took much longer, it went by so much quicker.
Hailey’s birth was bright and full and busy and seemed to take forever (to me, at least). In labor with Shea, I spent most of my time alone with my thoughts and I remember praying constantly, a place to land between contractions. With Hailey, I was surrounded by others, and met happy and anxious eyes every time I was able to look beyond the pain.
Both were good, but so different.
This is what I remember from Hailey’s birth.
I woke up at 5am on July 4th from a contraction. After weeks of having braxton hicks and wondering when I would go into labor, I finally remembered what “real” contractions felt like. I went back to bed and was able to sleep for a little while, knowing that it might be the last sleep I get for a while. I called my midwife at 8:30am, positive I would be having a baby later that day, although contractions still varied from 5 to 7 minutes apart. I took a shower and started getting ready for the day. We cleaned a little and started making plans for childcare for Shea and I called my friend, Amber, who was planning on being at the birth. My midwife kept checking in with me every hour. She had an appointment we decided she could keep – I was sure I would be a while. I bounced on my exercise ball and watched Netflix.
Amber and my sister-in-law, Hanna, arrived. We sat around, ate some snacks, and took a short walk outside. My midwife arrived around 11:30 or…maybe it was 12:30? I can’t remember anymore. I was about 7-8 centimeters dilated at this point. I honestly didn’t think I would be that far along. Things definitely hurt at this point, so I was glad to hear I was getting close.
Since I wanted to give birth in the tub (although, I didn’t really want to labor in it), my midwife suggested I got in at this point, because she was worried my water would break outside of the tub and I would not be able to physically move after that point. I didn’t really think this was much of an issue, but the tub sounded good. Looking back, I do wish I hadn’t gotten in quite so early. I think it may have slowed things down, and maybe I would have been able to get Hailey out sooner if I had been in a more active position (such as rolling/bouncing on my exercise ball). Anyway, they filled up the tub and I climbed in. It felt so good. But then came what felt like an eternity for our baby girl to come out.
I sat in that tub, and I sat, and I sat, and I sat.
It seemed like just a cycle of the following for the next couple of hours:
Breath through contraction. Grip my husband’s hand a little tighter.
Give a courtesy laugh to something my husband says to try and make me laugh.
Breath through a contraction.
Look around at all the faces in the room and think how bored everyone must be, but probably thankful they are not the one in the tub.
Sit. Breathe. Think to myself, “wow I really never want to do this again” at least 20 times.
Finally, a POP!
My water broke. From how things went with my previous birth experience, I was expecting to be able to push this baby out in a matter of minutes. Instead, it took much longer. Maybe another hour, I don’t know, but it felt like a really long time. For some reason I could not wrap my head around pushing her out. I would try, but I always held back a little. It is possible that she was in a bit of a funny position and things just didn’t feel right. Maybe if I had been moving more, she would’ve been in a better spot and pushing would have felt more instinctive. Who knows.
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