When we decided it was time to add a munchkin to our family, after over 3 years of marriage, we were unsure of the length of time it would take us to get pregnant—heard that one before! Low and behold, we were blessed to have succeeded upon the first week of trying, literally! But of course, we had no idea at the time. Life went on as usual. We traveled to celebrate Thanksgiving with out of town family that fall, and must have answered a few dozen inquiries with “nope, we’re not pregnant yet”. Sneakily, everyone sent subtle glances my way to see if I would indeed have a glass of wine with that year’s big feast…their own way of confirming that there was indeed no munchkin on the horizon.
The following Monday upon returning to work, I wondered if I had indulged in one too many helpings of turkey and sweet buttermilk pie or if there was a little life-form brewing in my belly. I decided to take a pregnancy test over my lunch break and what do ya know?! Sure enough, the pink plus signs came, one by one—because of course, one pregnancy test just won’t do. I was bursting with joy and wanted to tell my husband but knew sharing the news over the phone was not the way I had envisioned it. I held that precious secret for the rest of the day, oh the pent up excitement! My heart was smiling!
All of the little landmarks, finally getting to tell the Dad and grandparents-to-be, finding out we were having a boy, finishing his chic little navy and tan nursery, posing with a blossomed belly for our maternity pictures, and composing our ideal birth plan, we were ready to hold our bundle of joy.
One of the most important pieces was the intention to have a fully natural labor and delivery in the event both Mom and babe were healthy and all progressed well. We prepared by taking a Hypnobirthing class with a wonderful instructor and a water birthing class. With all of our ducks in a row, we were ready to welcome our own little duckie. And my hubby was ready to be my cheerleader in the event the going got tough…although I was unsure how willing he would be to jump into the birthing tub. Lol!
At midnight, 40 weeks in, two days before our little fella would actually arrive, I woke with a different awareness, and the hunch that Jackson Zayle was indeed initiating his descent into our world. Of course the exhilaration prevented any possibility of catching Z’s that night… even though I had heard time and time again, “relax and rest AS LONG AS POSSIBLE.” Yeah right! So after lying awake, tossing back and forth quietly (which is hard to do with a 9-month-old pregnant belly), not wanting to wake my husband, I decided to get up and at ‘em. So at 2am, I began nesting like no bird had ever nested before. I cleaned our house, I checked and re-checked my hospital bags for all necessary supplies, made extra copies of our birth plan just in case, and baked 2 dozen, decadent cookies for the nurses (I read in a magazine that nurses really liked to get cookies, hehe! They did!) Of course at the time, I had no idea how long the full duration of our labor and delivery would be—a total of 30 hours. In hindsight, I would’ve MADE myself rest instead of motoring around like Martha Stewart on B vitamins.
When my husband woke for work later that morning, I apprised him of the situation and encouraged him to go in for a 1/2 day. He reluctantly followed orders after my promise to keep him posted on the stork’s activities.
Later into the evening, our wonderful doula arrived and we decided around 8pm that it was time to load up and head to the hospital; mind you we’re twenty hours in at this point. My parents must have called a gazillion times throughout the day. (Did I mention that the excited grandparents-to-be, beat us to the hospital by 2 hours?! Too funny.)
Upon arriving to the hospital, I was in full blown contractions, nice and steady at 5 minutes apart, 6 cm dilated and there was not a room to be had! No room at the Inn, I now knew how Mary and Joseph must have felt—minus the riding in on a donkey part, thank goodness!
To pass the time, and encourage continued progress, we set about circling the labor and delivery ward, stopping every few moments so I could hunker down and breathe through contractions. Picture this, a large bellied pregnant lady, sandwiched between a calm doula and a wide-eyed Dad-to-be, followed by an entourage of four excited grandparents. We were quite the labor and delivery ward parade but it definitely helped pass the time as we awaited a room.
Having geared up for a water birth for several months, I was definitely ready to be in my warm aqua bliss. Finally, after my birthing room became available, I was in the tub by 12am, ahhhh! Relief! And to our luck, the midwife on call was the lead midwife at the practice. We were thrilled to know we were under the care of an expert, who has helped deliver over 5000 babies might I add, the majority of which have been au naturale. Quite the experience!
(Side note: Laboring in the pool was amazing— absolutely wonderful for keeping the intensity at bay. In fact, the few times I decided to take a break from the H2O, as soon as I was helped out, I went right back in. The water served as a truly extraordinary pain reliever. I was however, super wrinkly and did not venture to take my first bath again until about 6 months later. LOL!)
So drum roll please, after thirty hours of labor …six hours in active labor in the pool, and the final three hours spent pushing (whew!)…into the water came our beautiful little boy, with a head full of dark, wild man hair, weighing in at just over 8lbs. It was super surreal and yet the most authentically beautiful experience of my life.
As I think back to my birthing experience, it continues to empower me, knowing that my body was smart and resilient, and able to conquer a completely natural labor and delivery. And my happy, healthy, chunky little boy serves as a daily reminder of the precious gift we as Moms, are allotted. Oh what joy!!!