Jordan here, wet t-shirt and all. No, I’m not a participant in some spring break blow-out with young perky boobs showing through my white shirt.
I’m a member of the elite squad called “motherhood”, slave driven by a 12 week old, my boobs are now breasts, I cant imagine I own a white shirt and the only blow-outs I see are the yellow ones in Alders potty bowl.
Then why is my t-shirt wet, you ask? Great question! To answer it, I will have to start from the beginning.
(To learn more about how I decided to birth unassisted check out last Monday’s post)
THE WHEELS ON THE BUS GO ROUND AND ROUND
In June of 2017, Justin and I decided to take the plunge and make our family a bit bigger. Living in a 17’ bus with 2 cats, most people would think we were crazy. Maybe we were…or Erm; are! We did, however, already have plans to sell our skoolie dream house in exchange for a small apartment.
By the first weekend in our new apartment I had a positive pregnancy test, my plans to eat chicken hearts, raw pastured eggs and spinach were down the toilet in chunks, and my 10 mile walks were replaced with 30 minute jaunts around my living room.
(To hear more about how I did my own prenatal care, tune in next Monday. Spoilers, no ultrasounds!)
PAINS, STAINS AND A MUCOUS PLUG
I’d been having obvious signs of labor for several days, including losing part of my plug on the 2nd, and by the 5th of April things got pretty predictable.
So predictable that Justin could tell me when another surge was on its way. We called my Aunt who would be photographing the birth, and we all tried our best to sleep through the night
The next day ticked away, a blur of birthing ball and bath water.
Around 7pm we ordered from my favorite Thai restaurant. Just as Justin submitted the order I felt a burst. *gush* water flooded the towels and puppy pad. What a, momentary, relief from pressure!
By the time the food arrived I was in full blown active labor. I picked up a piece of chicken covered in Panang curry, the huge meaty pieces were just too much work for how little time I had in-between surges.
I said “screw this” and headed to the fridge where I drank a long swig of whole milk. I knew this would be my last time “eating” before alder arrived.
Everything was uncomfortable. If I lay during a contraction or wore anything remotely skin tight I felt trapped.
I paced, I sat, I squatted and I cried.
Continuously moving between the toilet, living room and the bathtub; I felt alder often during this time. He squirmed as usual, right there in labor with me.
For the next few hours the tub was our sanctuary. At some point I decided to get out for a break. As I stood up a contraction wrapped around my body and up to my stomach.
“Oh…I feel that one up here” I grimaced and pointed to the top of my belly.
Before I could think my body gave one big heave and projectile vomit spewed over Justin’s shoulder into the sink.
TRANSITION: FROM 2 TO 3
Justin stayed with me in the dark bathroom while I labored in the water. He tried to comfort me, but the best comfort he could provide was simply staying nearby. I hadn’t done any cervical checks during pregnancy and labor was no exception. But I guess I must have had a feeling something was happening in there. Without saying a word I reached two fingers inside; It felt like a hard yet soft, oddly wrinkly protrusion. I took Justin’s hand in-between surges and lead him gently in.
“do you feel the babies head?”
This is one of the most cherished memories during our sons birth. I felt this was a beautiful gift; A gift he wouldn’t have gotten in a hospital, maybe not even with a midwife.
Justin was born under 3 lbs, he underwent major heart surgery and his first year was spent in the NICU; He is a prime example of the reason we have medical intervention. As such, I desperately wanted to help heal his faith in normal physiological birth.
The high I rode during this stage was unlike anything. I felt I’d slept ages between each wave, although Justin assures me this was NOT the case. My mind was somewhere far away. It was the most intense and surreal time of my life.
My aunt asked if she could turn on the light, to capture the birth in photos. Everything in me screamed no. I wanted photos during this time, but my body was tuned into itself, and that’s how it needed to stay. My instincts told me to avoid the distraction of lights and shutter clicks. No regrets, that is exactly what I did.
REAL TALK MOMMIES. THE SCOOP ON LABOR POOP
Everyone, or at least most women I’ve spoken with, wonder about pooping during birth. Well, despite having loose stool for weeks leading up to labor, on this day my body refused to clear out; instead I had hard dry pellets of shame. I held my hand near my buns (the ones NOT made of steal after gaining 50lbs during pregnancy) and handed them to Justin as they arrived. He later said he was surprised I hadn’t pooped during the birth. I couldn’t believe it. He didn’t know I was handing him poop! He thought these were somehow related to the mucous plug. Like I said, It was DARK.
THE FINAL STRETCH
My Aunt and Justin checked the water temp, it was ice cold. They tried to empty it in order to refill, I could feel another contraction on its way, and was not having it.
“Why are you taking my water?! I neeeeed it” I whined in desperation, to appease me they resorted to simply topping it off.
Alder was close, I could feel him move even as his head got closer and closer to earth. Going with the flow, I stood in-between contractions and squatted as they washed over me. I kept my fingers on his head and could feel him take one step forward one step back. Finally he reached my opening; I wondered if I would tear and if it would hurt. His head pressed firmly against the exit, I believe it was 3 contractions. As the third contraction hit, I could not hold back. One loud grunt and I felt the weirdest shape exit my body.
THE HEAD IS OUT
In this moment my logical brain was no longer with us. I had birthed a blob, a homunculus. I hadn’t grown a baby, I’d grown a strange breed of cuddle fish. It’s hideous shapeless figure dangling between my legs. Justin shouted for my Aunt to join us, they scrambled around getting towels and a flashlight. It was D.A.R.K.
“what is it?!” I shouted, not asking if it was a boy or girl, but “what was this creature?”
My aunt turned the light on briefly to see what was happening, to which I shouted
“Why is the light on?!”. Back to darkness. They let me know it was a human babies head…not a homunculus after all.
Hindsight, I know exactly what I felt. Alder was born in the ideal position. His chin tucked, his head rotated from back to front as he emerged. His noggin was a bit elongated as it had molded perfectly for his decent.
“its okay to take a break between contractions when the heads out” I remember rationalizing to the two of them, as if they would argue.
BABY IN THE WATER [Cue Jaws theme]
One more contraction came and out poured Alder into the bathtub below me. They shined the flashlight into the water, I could see his beautiful eyes staring up from below the surface. Justin braced me from the side as I scooped Alder from the water.
“What is it?” this time I WAS asking if it was a boy or a girl.
“I feel something extra, I think It’s a boy” said the proud new papa.
He was breathing immediately, mostly pink, with the exception of some white little pruny hands and feet. His sweet 8 pound body had baked for nearly 43 weeks and that was reflected as he had nearly no vernix left. He let out a brief cry and then he rested calmly in my arms. All pain was gone, all fear erased.
All three of us were in complete awe.
I had just had my first baby…in my bathtub…in an upstairs apartment….exactly the way I’d wanted.
They helped me to the living room floor where I propped up on couch cushions. Alder began trying to latch, not long after, I felt a familiar pain embracing my body. One last contraction, possibly two, and out glugged the placenta and a pool of blood.
We waited until the cord was white and limp before performing the cord burning. Everyone was tired and grumpy and our patience wasn’t exactly abundant. I tried to explain how I’d seen the cord burnt on YouTube, they did there best, albeit leaving way too much slack. Later they cut it again with my sewing scissors and tied it off with wool yarn.
My Aunt cleaned the placenta and cut it into palm sized pieces, as I’d requested. They made me a berry smoothie with what turned out to be blood clots, again, we were exhausted. What was important was my sweet healthy baby boy was here. He slept on my chest that night, as he has every night since.
So, why is my shirt wet? Well, between my 12 week-old-diaper free-baby and my Mommie-milk-filled-mom-boobs, wet shirts are par for the course.
Tune in next Monday, Mommies, for a discussion on unassisted prenatal care and how I navigated those murky waters.
How did your first birth transpire?