Friday early morning May 1st, around 3am, I was woken by small pains. They started in my lower back and flowed slowly around to my stomach. I knew this feeling. Contractions. I was excited, but I didn't wake Daniel.
I decided to start counting them after an hour of feeling them. They ranged around 8 minutes apart lasting 45seconds to a minute. They slowly got closer and slowly became more intense. I decided to wake Daniel up and let him know we could be having a baby soon.
He helped me through the contractions as they became very uncomfortable, especially in my back. But the time between each contraction began to waver.
I texted my doula (who is also one of my best friends) Anna. I explained how things were going and she told me from the sound of it, it could be false labor. She had warned me that second time mama's can get false labor. But not me. I know what contractions feel like. These were real!
She suggested a bath to see if they went away or not. I decided on a shower and called my mom to be ready to come watch the girls cause this was the day.
In the shower the contractions virtually stopped. That's okay, I thought, this happened with the girls too, the warm water really helped me not feel any pain in a contraction.
After I got out, they wavered even more. To about 8-10 min apart and losing their intensity. I laid back down hoping they would return. I also let Anna know and she assured me it was false labor.
That was not what I wanted to hear!
I was rebuking her words and praying they were real. They truly hurt! Why should I have ALL this pain for NOTHING! I was angry.
Mom came and I cried when I saw her. I was so disappointed. They were completely gone by that point. Anna encouraged me that the false labor wasn't in vain. That my body was prepping and I could very well have a fast labor from having them. I was too sad to see the bright side. But by the next day I felt better and took her words more willingly.
Fast forward to Sunday night the 3rd.
Around 7pm when we were getting ready to bring the girls up to bed I felt a very faint and small ache in my lower back. That ache would slowly swim to the front of my stomach. False labor again. I had to think about the false contraction to really even feel it.
After the girls were in bed I let Daniel know I could feel some minor aches, but it wasn't anything like Friday's pains.
I had planned to go with my brother to Target that night and thought walking would either rid them completely or they would become more of something to consider.
When I picked Wesley (my brother) up, I told him I could be in labor, but probably not. He was a little panicky, saying I better not deliver at Target. I think he must have thought that if a woman goes into labor, there isn't time to do anything, but do an emergency catch the baby procedure.
The mild aches came and went as we walked and I timed them just cause I could. Didn't want to waste the app I had downloaded. They weren't very consistent and ranged quite a bit. So I decided it was false.
I went home, but the aches were still coming and going. Daniel had a lot of work to catch up on so I went up to bed to rest. About 10pm the aches didn't feel like aches. They felt like the same stinking contractions I had Friday. I was frustrated. But thought to count them just in case.
They started at 7min apart, then slowly they dipped to 5 apart then 4.
I told Daniel and they were becoming intense. But I didn't want to pull him away from work (I already made him miss work on Friday with false labor) so I continued to manage the contractions on my own in bed.
I again texted Anna and let her know what was up and to get her input. And wouldn't you know that the moment I texted her my contractions spaced out to 7 min apart. Then 8 min, then 5, then 2, then 7:53, 7:42, 4:43, 2:08, 2:26, 7:52, 3:59, 6:31- I still have them saved in my app. Yep, disappointed again. The time was all over the place, but the pain was not subsiding. I moved and changed positions, showered and did what I could to drive the pain away, but to no avail.
Daniel came upstairs and tried to help relieve some pain through a contraction. I began finding comfort in getting on all fours and concentrating on them the best way to get through them.
I was angry thinking all this pain again for nothing.
I had called Baby+co to see if maybe I should come in. I was told it was probably not real labor and to hold off on coming. But at one point, on all four and trying to get through a contraction I cried through it. Daniel decided at that point to call my mom and that we needed to go in.
Mom was at our house in a flash, I moved around getting things together, and would hop on the floor to get through a contraction as it hit. We went to the girls room and kissed them, letting them know we were leaving to see if it was time for their brother to come and would be home soon. I remember hurrying out of their room to work through a contraction so they wouldn't see me.
We got into the car a little after 1am and I let Anna know. I stopped counting them long ago now, but they were feeling more consistent. Daniel pulled out the car and I worked through a contraction in our driveway. Every contraction brought me to the floor. How was I going to drive 45min to Baby+co?! I was dreading the drive.
I wanted to stay relaxed, to not tense up so my contractions wouldn't be so intense. But I couldn't help but tense through the contractions peak. I grabbed onto what I could in the car and hoped to make it through it.
With Lilly and Rose, my contraction never got this intense. When I got the hospital with them I was 6cm and 2min apart and I still felt great! So I knew if this was truly the real deal, then I would be farther than 6 with as much pain as I was having.
We got to baby+co about 2am. There were two other mama's delivering so that left me with the back room to the right, which is the one I wanted. I went in and Anna showed up shortly after.
I went the bathroom and had bloody show. I freaked out a little. Anna reassured me it was normal. We started the bath, I was eager for some relief and feeling the warm water.
But before I could really settle in the tub, about 2:30am, Kate walked in and wanted to check me. I was ready to hear I was 8cm, maybe 9. I was so ready to hear I was moments from being done with all this and she tells us I am a whole TWO centimeters. 2!!! WHAT!???
My heart was broken! Only 2? I couldn't be admitted till I was 4.
She told me I could stay and labor for a couple hours and see if I make it to a 4 so I can continue to stay. I just couldn't believe with the intensity I was feeling I was only a 2.
I was told I couldn't go into the bath because it could slow my labor down. Anna again tried to encourage me by reminding me how her and my sister had incredibly intense contractions close together and were only a couple centimeters also, but then delivered so fast they had no time for pain meds. But I didn't feel like I would be so lucky.
We went outside to walk around to help get things moving. The night was warm and there was a lovely breeze that would bring comfort and blow the trees leaves, sounding like ocean waves. With each contraction, I would turn to Daniel and hold onto him, swaying through the waves. Anna would press on my back to relieve pain. We walked back and forth a couple times and then returned to our room.
I sat on the birthing ball and swayed. When a contraction hit I tried to breath slowly through it. But as it peaked I found myself in a bit of a panic and struggled to keep my breaths slow and even. Anna again worked on my back through each contraction, using her strength to ease my pain. Daniel sat in front on me making sure I had water between each contraction and reassuring me I could do this.
I stayed on the ball for quite a while. And it became extremely intense. I remember I had told myself long before in my pregnancy, that I wouldn't be a mama who says she can't do it. I would have faith in myself. But as I would hit the peak of a contraction I found myself looking into Daniel's eyes and crying out, "I can't do this!" I think it felt like a relief to say it and also a way to get encouragement. Daniel would reassure me with his words that I can do this. He would make me look into his eyes and push me to follow his breathing.
Funny enough, in our birthing class, practicing staring into his eyes would make me laugh. I decided that would not be something I would do in real labor. Yet it was looking in his eyes and breathing with him that made the contractions feel the most tolerable.
Anna decided to go and get a midwife to check me again as I was signaling I was progressing through labor. That was around 4:30am. Jualeah, who actually had the evening off and worked on call the day before (I think) had stayed to be help Kate if she needed it. So she came in to check me.
I was praying to God I was at least a 5! I wanted to be in the tub, I wanted relief and to know I was at least half way there. If I was still a 2, I was ready to give up (like that was an option).
Jualeah gently checked me and announced, "Oh! If you pushed right now, you could have a baby!"
I was too tired to understand what she meant by that. I called out, "What does that mean?!"
Anna laughed and said, "That means your 10cm!"
I couldn't believe it. I mean, I was delusional and could NOT believe it. I felt like I was dreaming. I went from a 2 to 10 in 2 hours?! THANK YOU GOD!
They began filling the tub as I managed through contractions on the bed.
It was after 5am by the time I could get into the tub. It was so much warmer than I thought it would be and it was GLORIOUS.
The heat and water was like magic. My contractions were much easier to handle and I felt like I got a much needed break.
"But I don't feel like pushing." I said. "Shouldn't I have an urge?"
Jualeah told me to try and that my water should break from it.
But I was too happy to finally have some rest. I didn't want to push.
I was instructed to try. As a contraction came I found I still wanted to be on my hands and knees and I did so. I gave a push. A very fake -I don't really want to do this right now- push. I couldn't fool the midwife. She then told me to give heavy grunts and deep groans to get some strength. I guess my measly weak "Errms" & "Oohs" didn't work for her.
I dug a little deeper and really tried to push. I wasn't liking it. But the longer I hesitated the longer I would be in labor. I had to suck it up and get it done if I ever wanted to be out of this and with my baby.
With each wave I gave a deeper groan to give a stronger push. My water broke.
OH! It felt so good! I guess the water bag was making it very uncomfortable to push and when it broke it was like a release. It was an incredible feeling. BUT THEN. I could feel his head coming down.
What. Have. I. Done.
I remembering thinking- 'I will never do this again' & 'what was I thinking to do this?!'
"I can't do this!" I called out.
Anna said, "Too late Liz, you're going to have to push him out." or something like that...
I wasn't incredibly fond of her that moment, but I did still love her.
Daniel kept telling me I CAN do this. I just needed to hear it. I knew it, I just needed to hear it.
I think I needed to hear that it was too late too. To get over myself.
I felt the pressure of his head and I suddenly had no control over pushing and the sounds I made. They were deep and raw groans that became louder with each contraction. I found myself yelling out these groans and with each contraction it became an out of body experience. I had no control. Time seemed to feel like forever, but it was such a feeling of being out of myself that I couldn't tell time.
There. Right there. I felt his head coming. Was this the ring of fire? No, it felt like a ring, but a ring that was going to fail. There is no way this giant head is coming out without tearing me apart.
With another push came the most incredible feeling I have ever felt. The feeling of power, but no control over it, his head was out. Relief is all I can say to describe that feeling.
Jualeah asked if I wanted to catch him myself.
Oh hellz yes I do! After all those feelings I wanted to complete my path of power and catch my own baby!
She instructed me that with the next push I need to lay back in the tub and his body will come out. I'll need to reach down as I get into a sitting position and pull him up to my chest. I was ready.
The contraction came and I pushed, I leaned back as I reached down feeling his body slide out. I felt his little body with my hands and I pulled him up onto my chest.
And like that, every pain, discomfort, the warmth of water, the water itself. I didn't feel it. I just saw my baby. He was in my arms and he was perfect. He was mine. I did this. I pushed him out myself, I caught him myself. I felt so relieved, such peace and such strength.
Bear was born at 6:01am. Perfect. Beautiful. Mine.
Jualeah & the nurses, were a perfect team that I needed to make this baby happen.
Anna was my relief and my voice when I didn't have one or didn't know what needed to happen and what to say.
And Daniel. He was my strength. He is my best friend who I do life with. My partner. And his strength became my own.
Even though at the moment I was telling myself I would never do this again. It wasn't even 24hrs later before I was thinking how I would totally do that again if I ever got pregnant again.
It's hard to imagine not to now that I had done it.
I prayed the whole time, more like yelling in my head at God to make the pain go away. I kind of wondered where He was. But I know He was there, He didn't make anything go away. He was present in the moment and was the power inside. The indescribable rawness was the most in tune I had ever been with my body and I'm glad He didn't take that away.