It was middle to late October 2018, and I was bigger than a blue ribbon prize pumpkin at the state fair. No seriously, random people would come up to me and ask if I was having twins. From the start, we weren't really sure when our due date was and neither were our doctors or midwives. "Sometime between October 19th and 25th" was what we were told. Being that this was our first pregnancy, my husband Curtis and I wanted the gender of our baby to be a surprise. Most everyone we knew though we were crazy for not knowing and not wanting to know. But for me, it was going to be my push power. I wanted our BIRTHday to be like Christmas- not knowing what present awaits.
Before we got pregnant, I always imagined having a natural birth with a midwife- thanks in large part to the BBC's Call the Midwife. It wasn't until we were about 28 weeks pregnant and taking some expecting parents classes at Women's Hospital that I truly realized not only did I want a midwife, but I also wanted a doula and a water birth in a hospital- just in case. Immediately, I was on the hunt for a team that could help me through my pregnancy and birth- that's how I found Natural Baby Doulas. It was pure magic. It was as if all the pregnancy and birth books and blogs I had been reading existed right here, in Greensboro, in the doulas.
Sometime in late September I began to pack our hospital bags. In hindsight, I had no idea what I was doing. I packed silly things like too many baby clothes, a rattle and snacks that no woman in labor would ever desire. Nonetheless, the planner in me packed and had a plan- should hurricane season bring our baby early. Around October 3rd we went to visit the midwives at Wendover OBGYN. I was already dialed to about 3 centimeters and we were told that baby could come as soon as the 15th. I couldn't believe it, we were going to be parents! On the 12th we were scheduled to visit with the midwives again and this time I was 5 centimeters dilated and had some pretty good Braxton-Hicks contractions. Our ultra sound showed that baby was going to be a whopping 9-10 pounds. Without hesitation I pointed my finger at my husband and said some colorful words to the tune of "This is your fault!" Because he himself was a 10 pound baby. After the ultra sound, our midwife, Daniela, gently placed her hands on my belly and very seriously look deep into my eyes and said "This can not get any bigger." Because I was adamant that baby would come on their own time, when he or she was ready, Daniela did the sweep method trying to encourage dilation to progress quicker. It wasn't painful, just slightly uncomfortable.
Surely it was going to be the 15th when we'd get to meet our baby.
Curtis and I were doing everything we could to get ready for baby. We filled the freezer with crock-pot dump bags. He finished assembling the bassinet and baby swings. I tried all the old fashioned tricks for encouraging baby to come. We walked our dog ALL over the neighborhood. I tried cleaning the tub. We eat spicy foods every night for dinner. While watching TV I bounced on a yoga ball... but nothing. For three solid days all of my somewhat regular Braxton-Hicks had stopped. I was heart broken. Right when we couldn't imagine anymore upset, Hurricane Michael tore through the East Cost and took our electricity with it. Like thousands of other family's, we were without power. All of the food we had carefully budgeted for and prepped was slowly spoiling and there was little we could do about it. Curtis, trying to make the best of it, cooked our breakfast on a camp stove. Thank the Lord for social media, within a few hours of us posting about the outage, family members from out of town and out of state tried having food delivered to us; neighbors offered up coolers; and one very generous individual let us borrow their generator just encase baby did come.
Another week passed by and the electric eventually came back on. The morning of the 19th our midwife Daniela had us come in for a check up. I vaguely remember Curtis and I planning a trip to Bruegger's Begels- my way of keeping him from work a bit longer as I was already on maternity leave. Daniela proceeded with all of the routine checks and test. To our surprise she said "baby was measuring 42 weeks and needed to come out." [we] "have the option of today or tomorrow at 7AM". My mind was racing! What?! Today!? But Begels... we can be parents just like that- with a push of a button? Eventually Curtis and I hem'd and haw'd to the decision of we will have one last date day of just the two of us, then we'll become parents tomorrow.
Saturday, October 20th came quicker then I could have ever imagined. It was like the feeling of Christmas, a first date, the last day of school all jumbled up together. I was packed, we were packed but my goodness was it hard to get Curtis in the car! I mean, this man has NEVER driven this slow in all of his life and he picked today to do it. All I could think was we have to be there by 7AM- it's a good thing i'm not actually in labor! We finally got to the hospital, checked in and texted our moms, the doulas, and Daniela. Jessica was going to be our doula. While in the waiting room, there was this woman who was clearly in labor. She was holding her lower back, breathing deeply and sporadically and somewhat frustrated with her husband. Though I was being induced, I couldn't help but wonder- if I'm already at 5-ish centimeters and not "feeling" anything... how is this woman in so much pain? We finally arrived to our room around 9AM. I was now measuring 7 centimeters- still no pain. I was hooked up to all the monitoring devices and given a pill to help induce labor. Around 4 o'clock Jessica arrived to find me calmly sitting on the hospital bed and Curtis on the stool while we played the card game War on the bedside tray table (I'll say it again, I had no idea what I was doing when I packed for the hospital!). It was her shocked and confused expression while she texted Daniela that made me think back to the laboring woman in the lobby... Did labor really hurt? Or was it some age old secret passed down by women to really make a show of it- but no one filled me in?
To help pass the time and get ready for our water birth: Jessica had me on the yoga ball, she and Curtis took turns using the rebozo (HINT: do this! It's AMAZING!), we practiced the side-laying release, she prepped our tub and lit battery operated tea-light candles and placed them around the room. I think it was somewhere around 7 PM when the decision to break my water came about. I was scared. Was it going to hurt? Did things just get real? Was I about to be in "real" labor? Or worse, was it going to make me have to poop!? Turns out, beyond the uncomfortable feeling of having to get to the point of breaking your water and the feeling of being a grown woman peeing yourself in front of others, it's really actually nice. Truth be told, having your water broken feels a lot like having drank too much then waiting in a really long line to pee- the release of pressure that has been weighing on you for the past three months is blissful. Almost immediately, I started to feel the waves of labor pains. It didn't take long before I was mooing like a cow. Curtis, Jessica, and the labor nurse helped me into the tub. I was truly amazed at how something as simple as warm water could absolutely minimize the pains of labor. I loved it. I remembered reading somewhere that contractions are the bodies ways of moving blood from the placenta to my precious baby. Though they hurt like nothing I ever felt before and made me vomit, I was glad to have the water help calm and relax me. While Curtis leaned into the tub to support me by my elbows, Jessica calmly reminded me that I "can do this, this is was my body was designed to do." as she rubbed my back. Having these two as a team in my most primal vulnerable moment was priceless.
After pushing for a while, I had to come out of the tub because baby wasn't making any progress. It was pure agony to be put back on the hospital bed. I was given the peanut ball to put between my knees, but it was nowhere near the relief that the water was - it actually annoyed me. At one point my labor nurse took a bed sheet tied a knot on both ends and gave me one end. While Jessica and Daniela held my legs, Curtis put cold damp towels on my forehead to curb the nausea. For the next hour, my labor nurse and I would play tug-of-war as I pushed with every contraction. My legs and sacrum felt like rattling rain-sticks as the pains of contractions pulsed through my body. After having pushed for about four hours and making no headway (literally) I looked at my midwife and said "What are we doing here?" She called the doctor to our room. With the doctor came a team of about four nurses. An episiotomy was in order. Though none of this was a part of my birth plan, I had no time to be discouraged. After the episiotomy with localized anesthetic didn't work we then tried the vacuum. This, really wasn't a part of my plan and I was so worried about everything I had read and heard about vacuums. I used every bit of my energy I had left to push. I felt like a human stress ball. I felt like my eyes were going to pop out of my head. I was pushing with all of my might and baby still wouldn't budge. A second vacuum was tried- though I pushed harder, still no progress. There was a brief conversation about shaving baby's head to get better suction. Not wanting this to happen I pushed still harder. A Third vacuum was tried and I pushed with all of my might. I pushed so hard my vision was blurry and I couldn't focus. Then, legs trembling with muscles fatigued, I felt what might have been a toddler sized child placed onto my belly and everyone saying "Go ahead dad, announce the gender!" Curtis, having witnessed all that we went through for the last seven hours, struggled for an answer "I, I, I'm not sure, I can't tell?" My mind raced as I tried to catch my breath and regain my sight. Finally he said "It's a girl!"
I could see her. All 9.4lbs of her. She was 21.75 inches long with a full head of hair and beautiful. Scarlett Aurora Hare was born at 1:33 AM on October 21st and I felt like Wonder Woman.