I found out I was pregnant less than a month after Tim and I were married. We both wanted a family and were thrilled that it was going to happen so quickly. We went on a walk and eagerly came up with a plan for who to tell that I was pregnant and when.
The next months of pregnancy had me reading and trying to learn all I could about natural birth. My mother, who became a midwife when I was young, had both my sister and I at home and years before I had watched “The Business of Being Born” with a friend so I thought I wanted to try a natural birth at home. Tim was hesitant, but listened to my reasons and sat with me to watch the movie again. Ultimately, we decided to find a great midwife, a supportive hospital, and we hired a doula. Everything was in place and we took a Confident Childbirth class so we were nervous but felt prepared.
Then we found out that we were going to re-locate from Georgia to Pennsylvania. Weighing all our options we decided to just go before the birth and figure out a new plan. Fortunately, the move brought us closer to both our parents, and my mother’s practice took me on as a patient. Since it was still a three hour drive, I planned to head down the week before I was due and we would call Tim when I went into labor. He would certainly have enough time to make it down before things got really intense.
For as much as I had repeated to myself to be flexible with the process, I was not at all prepared for what came next. My water broke a week before I was due so we gathered up a few things and started the drive down the D.C. I had little cramps here and there but nothing too bad and it stayed like that for many hours. My mother sent me out for some homeopathics that we could use to kick start labor in the morning and we settled in for night. Both my mother and my sister had long labors and I expected nothing less, but at about 11 p.m. I woke up with contractions. I tried to rest in between but couldn’t get too comfortable. I used a TENS unit (it uses an electric current to stimulate the nerves for therapeutic purposes) to help me through the pain and made myself a little pallet in the living room. I wanted my mom and Tim to rest for now so they could help me when things really got going. At 2 a.m. things were very difficult but I waited to wake anyone up until 3:30. Mom came down to help through a contraction and did a check. I was at five centimeters already!
Tim got up and started to help me too. We tried massage and a birth ball in the shower. Things were getting very painful but I thought I still had a long way to go. A little while later our doula arrived. We were lucky to find someone in the area who was able to help us after the move. Kelly and Tim worked together as things got even more difficult for me. I could hear them asking for house hold items for such as a table cloth to make a rebozo for counter pressure. I had everything we needed in my labor bag but I couldn’t speak to tell them where it was. I barely had time to take a breath before the next contraction began and I couldn’t imagine getting in a car to ride to the hospital. I hadn’t really kept practicing my labor strategies after class so they were not at the forefront of my mind. Low tones and breathing strategies did help but I couldn’t get into a good rhythm and keep it going. Each contraction was stronger and closer to the last and I didn’t know how I could go on. I never said it out loud, but I thought I might have to give up and get an epidural. The pace was just too intense.
About this time my mom decided we would go into the hospital. She had another patient in labor and it sounded like we should both go in. But before I knew it, it was too late. I felt like I needed to push. Mom checked again and he was crowning. An hour a half before I was just half way there but it was time! Kelly was quick thinking and pulled down the shower curtain to lie on the bed. She grabbed old sheets and bedding as well. Everyone helped me into the bedroom and Tim held me as I pushed and pushed and at 6:40 AM, less than eight hours after my first real contraction our beautiful baby boy was born. Another midwife from my mother’s practice had just arrived. Nora detoured from her drive to the hospital when she heard what was happening.
No one was prepared for this and we had to improvise it all at home. The cord was clamped with hemostats that my father gave my mother 30 years earlier when she decided to go to nursing school. I remember looking at them in our hall closet as a kid. Opening and closing them. Wondering what you would use them for. They looked like scissors but couldn’t cut anything. The cord was cut with a sterilized utility razor blade and we didn’t have any clothes for him. I had one diaper that I got in a goodie bag and we wrapped him up in swaddling blankets. I am normally such a planner. I am organized and prepared well in advance, but my baby boy didn’t wait until I was ready. Charles Currie “CC” came into this world rapidly and my heart grew bigger the moment I held him in my arms. I instantly forgot about all the things I didn’t have ready.
When I wrote out my birth plan, I kept in mind that things could change over the course of labor but I imagined a long peaceful process, with very little intervention and possibly delivering in labor tub. I had thought about the possibility that labor could stall or that I may not get everything I hoped for in a hospital setting but in the end, none of it mattered. My best laid plans went out the window. I was fortunate enough to get most of what I had hoped for just not in the way I had mapped out in my head. There were nocandles, no birth pool, and no claming music. I couldn’t laugh and play Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” as I pushed because we just didn’t have a chance to get it all together. CC had a different idea about how to arrive in style!
Giving birth was the most intense and amazing thing I have ever done and becoming a parent has been a beautiful journey from the first little positive test to now six months later, rejoicing in all the learning and growing we are witness to and a part of for this little boy. It has been said that “Having children is to decide forever to have your heart go walking outside of your body.” I now know the weight of those words and wouldn’t have it any other way. Becoming a mother has been nerve-wracking, terrifying and tiring at times, but the blessings abound and I know that this is what I was meant to be.