Sage's Birth Story: Part One

The Sunday I went into labor felt like a long day. I had spent the week before crying multiple times a day over a variety of things. The Friday before the birth my mom left for the Philippines to be with my brother and sister-in-law as their baby was in the hospital and they were still trying to figure out what was wrong. Saturday we had a nice day and my dad cooked us a wonderful dinner. Sunday morning my dad left for a business trip to Costa Rica. I spent most of Sunday feeling discouraged and down, even though Bryan and I were able to spend some nice time together during the day and we had a really nice family outing to the library in the afternoon. I remember crying at the library. I checked email on the ipad while there and I got a really sweet and encouraging message from my friend, Melissa. In a moment when I was feeling especially discouraged about still being pregnant (I was a week past my estimated due date) she told me she was proud of me and wrote this "So today, instead of saying when is this baby going to get here?! I want you to say 'I am one tough mama, I can handle this!! I can be patient for nature. Not everyone does this and I am proud of myself for waiting it out!!' and give yourself a nice pat on the back. Or just pat your belly if that is easier." It made me smile and then cry. And it made me feel a little better too. Little did I know how much I would need to hear, and remember her words that I was one tough momma in the hours to come.

My labor really got started Sunday evening around 6pm. I'd been having contractions steadily all afternoon, but they weren't really labor contractions, they were just the same tightening feeling that I'd been having since I was about 20 weeks pregnant. But, around 6pm things changed, these contractions were different, they felt like labor. Suddenly as I felt them I remembered, really remembered, my first birth in a whole new way.

I continued having regular labor contractions as I made dinner and put Thaddeus to bed. When a contraction would hit I'd just lean over against the counter and do what I needed to do to deal with it and then go back to making dinner. We had a broccoli and green bean pasta for dinner. Bryan and I split a beer and toasted to the baby being born soon.

Dealing with the contractions got a little harder while putting Thad to sleep as they got more intense while I was nursing him. Thankfully he fell asleep quickly and I only had to work through two or three contractions while putting him to bed.

After Thad was asleep we called our midwife, Shell, and gave her a heads up about what was going on. Then I had some chocolate crème brûlée that my dad had made the night before and we tried to watch some tv. That didn't last long.

It was getting later and things were moving along well so we started getting some stuff ready - moving birth supplies into the bedroom, changing the sheets on the bed, etc. We put on the playlist of songs I had made for the birth and danced our way through a few contractions. Shell called back to see how things were going and told us she was on her way. We called my sister and asked her to come be with Thad in case he woke up. We texted my mom (since we knew she was up any way because of the time difference in Cebu) and I sent off a quick email to some close friends who had agreed to pray with me throughout the last few weeks of pregnancy.

When Shell got here she started setting up her stuff, and helped me through a few contractions. Then we all moved out into the kitchen. Shell had one of dad's crème brûlée's and a coffee. Bryan and I had some tea and we all just sat and talked in-between contractions. Shell shared stories with us that made us laugh. (She really should write her memoirs some day - I know I would love to read that!)

Soon Brie arrived and joined us for a crème brûlée of her own and plenty of her own energy and talkativeness. The contractions at this point were difficult but manageable and Shell kept saying "I think you'll be surprised. I think your farther along then you think you are." which was of course an encouraging thing to hear.

After everyone had finished their desert and drinks we moved back into the bedroom and Shell did an internal exam - more for the opportunity to turn the baby since she was still posterior than to find out how dilated I was, but it was encouraging when she told us that my cervix was dilated to a five on it's own but could easily stretch to an eight. My sister asked something about how much longer Shell thought it would be and Shell said something to the extent of it being up to me, that my cervix wasn't really the issue, and it would quickly open and stretch as it needed to once I was ready and about how it was going to be more about me being ready and not afraid to push...or something like that. It was getting harder for me to concentrate at this point.

After I was checked Brie and Bryan started laying down the plastic floor covering stuff that we got to protect the carpet (my dad was worried we'd ruin the carpet in his bathroom again, like we had when my son was born). The stuff we got this time had adhesive on one side so it actually stuck to the carpet and didn't slide around. It worked really well. My sister got really into the job of covering the carpet and even made a little "run way" from where I was laboring on the floor in the bedroom to the bathroom. It even had an arrow in the middle made out of duct tape. We all got a little chuckle out of it.

It was nice to laugh during labor - my labor with Thaddeus had been really, intense and heavy and even contemplative. Up to this point in my labor with Sage things were much lighter, more relaxed, and I felt much more present and grounded.

Once we moved into the bathroom with everything all set up I hit what I'm going to call the peeing stage of my labor. By this point the baby was very low in my pelvis and putting a lot of pressure on my bladder. For a while this was the pattern that was my reality - have a contraction, go to the toilet and pee, come back out, feel thirsty and have something to drink, have another contraction, get up again to pee, again have something to drink. It went on like this with me peeing about every two minutes for quite a while.

Then things slowed down a bit. I remember my sister asking numerous times "what are we waiting for?" and looking at her phone. I remember her asking Shell how much longer she thought it would be and how far along she thought I was now. I didn't realize it at first but her anxiety and desire for it to be over started rubbing off on me. I was the one who really wanted it to be over, I was the one working through the pain every few minutes! My stress level rose.

I remember telling them that I felt a lot of pressure (which isn't surprising since the baby was very low by now) and that I kind of wanted to push but didn't really feel ready. Shell told me if I wanted to push I could try and that if I wasn't ready it wouldn't really do anything. For the next few contractions I pushed. Shell listened to the babies heart rate, which sounded great. The pushing felt nice with the contractions, but it didn't really do anything.

I started to feel discouraged as Brie asked again "what are we waiting for". There started to be longer distances between contractions. I remember during a particularly long break between contractions I thought to myself "you need to ask brie to leave" it was clear as day and I knew it was what I needed for everything to pick back up again. But I wrestled with telling her for what felt like a mini-eternity. I didn't want to hurt her feelings, I knew she had said she really wanted to be at the birth. I had planned on having her video the birth and take pictures (as long as Thad didn't wake up), since I was always a little sad that I didn't have video/pictures of Thad's birth. Would brie take it the wrong way, or would she understand? I struggled with these things for a while, but I knew I had to ask her to leave. So, I asked her to go, and she did, and pretty much immediately things picked up again.

.... check back tomorrow for the rest of the story...

Rejoicing in the journey - Bethany Stedman