The morning of January 22 I got up with Rog around 6:30 to see him off and had grand plans of finishing up some work and chores then running some errands. Before I got going though, I figured I would sit on the couch for a few minutes to enjoy my tea and answer some emails. Instead I passed out and woke up around 10:45. I felt kind of off, not in a sick way but more of an “I don’t feel like myself way.” Not long after I started to feel a dull ache in my abdomen. It went away pretty quickly so I didn’t think much of it. Then a few minutes later it came back. “Could this be the start of labor?” I thought to myself. It wasn’t painful at all but I decided to download a contraction timer just to see if the achy feeling was coming at regular intervals and sure enough it was.
I called Rog at work and told him not to get too excited but I thought labor might be starting and I would keep him posted. I then texted our midwife Mayanne, my friend Elizabeth, and our photographer Heidi to let them know what was going on. At that point I was still pretty skeptical but decided I should finish up the chores I had planned to do earlier and get a shower just in case. The dull, achy feeling was still coming pretty regularly so I called Rog again to update him and see if he could come home but he was already on his way.
Rog got home and we hung out for awhile and finished up some last minute items on our to do list then headed out around 3:45 to pick up our grocery order and some snacks for our birth team at Costco. Walking around Costco seemed to decrease the time between contractions and they were getting stronger, though still far from painful. We were both giddy with excitement and just kept giving each other little smiles, like we had a secret no one else around us knew about. Rog asked if I wanted to stop anywhere else but I just felt like I needed to get home so we headed that way. Once there and everything was put away I started heating up spaghetti and making homemade blueberry muffins to keep myself occupied. Around 5:20 while I was still in the kitchen baking I felt a small gush. I looked over at Rog who was sitting at the kitchen table and told him I either just peed myself or my water had broken. I went upstairs to change and felt smaller gushes so went ahead and texted Mayanne to let her know we’d probably be seeing a baby that night!
Mayanne recommended that Rog and I go for a walk to see if we could speed up contractions so after dinner we went to Old Town. It was a blustery and cold night but we were both so excited we didn’t care. It was really nice to have those last few moments together as a family of two. On the way back to the car we stopped to pick up some birthday cupcakes for Theo then drove home. Rog cleaned up the downstairs while I headed up to hang out in the shower since contractions were picking up. I had initially told Elizabeth to come over at the same time as everyone else then texted her that things were picking up so she came over right away. Around 10 she showed up and we hung out in my room chatting and waiting for everyone else.
Right before Heidi, Mayanne, and our student midwife April showed up around 11:20 I had one contraction that I described as someone karate kicking me in the uterus. That is really when contractions started getting more intense and coming closer together. I went from talking through contractions to pausing mid-conversation to breathe through them. I labored for about an hour between the bed and bathroom then finally was able to get in the birth pool. It felt so good to be in the water but my contractions really seemed to slow down and weren’t nearly as painful once I was in the tub. It really did seem to be nature’s epidural! Eventually contractions did start to pick up again and by about 2 the next morning they were one minute apart and really strong.
3 AM rolled around and I was feeling a lot of pressure. I was getting really uncomfortable in the tub so got out and took up residence at the bathroom sink then ended up kneeling at the end of the bed. At this point I was feeling pushy so I was checked and wasn’t as far as I had hoped to be. I don’t know if it was feeling discouraged or just the contractions but I started throwing up while Elizabeth held my hair back (what a good friend I have!) After that fun detour I laid back down for a little bit but ended up back in the pool around and stayed there for a long while.
Around 6:30 I got out of the tub again and went to stand in the bathroom. Standing at the sink really seemed to be my place to get things going and helped the baby come down. I was so tired by this point I don’t remember much but from the notes Mayanne and April kept I know I was kneeling at the edge of the bed again and was sleeping between contractions. I’m not sure what time it was exactly but Elizabeth ended up having to leave because of work stuff and I remember just feeling so upset and crying because I thought Theo would be born already, felt like he would never come, and was just generally feeling defeated and now had to overcome my support leaving. At this point I was not in a good place at all. Because of this contractions were downright unbearable and I just couldn’t seem to get out of the fog. I am so thankful that Rog, Mayanne, and April were all there to keep encouraging me though because I know without them I couldn’t have kept going.
A little after 8 I got back in the tub and after managing to keep down some toast and peanut butter was able to cope much better and get my head back in it for a little while. Labor is so much like running. When you feel like you just can’t go any further you have to just keep saying “I know I can” and push through. The rest of the morning was really a dance between the tub, bathroom sink, and the shower. Around 10 I started to feel my body spontaneously pushing which is really weird, especially when you’re standing up and can’t control it. I was literally doubling over with contractions and telling Rog I was done and ready to get the heck out of there. It’s funny, I remember trying to tell Rog quietly I wanted to go to the hospital because I didn’t want April or Mayanne to hear me. I knew if they did they would tell me I was fine and everything was great and I DID NOT want to hear that. Either I was talking louder than I thought or Rog ratted me out but Mayanne did come in and did tell me everything was fine and it turns out I was actually complete and ready to push.
At this point time seemed to stop. I felt like I was only pushing for a few minutes when in reality it was a little over an hour and a half. I tried pushing in the tub (where I planned to have him but ended up not), on my side on the bed, standing, and finally a lunge position which is how I was when he was finally born. Funny side note: I also pushed on the toilet for a little bit but had this moment of “Oh my god I cannot have my birth photos be of me pushing my baby out on the toilet!” so I went back to the bedroom posthaste. Ah, the thoughts of a birth photographer in labor. I remember so clearly the ring of fire as he crowned and just feeling this complete sense of ecstasy as his body was born into Rog’s hands. Rog handed Theo to up to me and I leaned back into the comfort of his arms.
I did it. We did it.
photos by Heidi Daniels