I watched my due date come and go. It really didn’t matter that I was due on my birthday because I wanted a baby more than anything. Cake was nice… but I’d have given a limb for some bone crushing contractions and a shared birthday.
It wasn’t to be… and the 5th came and went with a nice dinner on my parent’s houseboat on the lake, a pretty sunset and my best friend and lovely Little Red.
I sunk into my overdue status with exasperation. Still perfectly healthy but frustrated by my inability to do as much as I wanted to get done in the garden and battling devastating heartburn. The 6th ticked by without so much as a contraction. The 7th was equally uneventful. I had to relinquish my darling daughter to her dad the afternoon of the 8th and I watched her get out of the car and walk up to the house with a heavy heart and a lump in my throat. I’d gotten to the point that I was feeling awfully lonely waiting impatiently for the baby on my own. I blew her a kiss and wiped my tears… and drove home to resign myself to be the first woman to be pregnant forever.
My dear Miss Classy, my best friend in the world stopped by on her way home from work after I sent her a “I’M SO BORED” text whining about my eternal gestation and inability to weed the carrots. She hugged me, assured me I would not be pregnant forever and she would indeed come out eventually. We laughed and I realized I was having contractions. They were insignificant, but noticeable. It’d been 13 years since I’d felt one, but I noticed the rhythmic tightening. I laughed and mentioned them offhandedly. She went home to make dinner and relax. I went out to weed the dreaded carrots after a dose of Zantac.
I got three feet into the carrot patch when the mosquitos began feasting on me. I realized after I started to truly get pissed off about the mosquitos, that I was having more contractions. I smiled widely and struggled to keep going. After another 2 feet… I gave up and came inside. I fired up the fancy pink iPhone contraction timer my Little Red had loaded on my phone and started timing them.
Twelve minutes apart, lasting for 1 minute. Easy… not painful… and I had some things to get done if it was an indication that the baby might come that night.
I called Miss Classy.
J- I think I’m in labor. I know I’ve said it forever, but I think tonight’s the night. Seriously. Don’t panic.
MC- I’m not panicking. Do you want me to come now?
J- Nooooo. I’m going to mop and maybe go back out to weed the carrots some more. I need to bleach the sinks again and I’d really love to shave my legs.
MC- Ok, well call me and keep me updated. I love you. Hooray!!!
I got off the phone and turned the music on to dance with my unborn baby girl one more time. The dogs barked excitedly. The cat meowed at me for more cat food. I decided to take a shower.
I called the midwife first.
J- I’m in labor!!! I’m the happiest person in pain, ever!
M- Should I come check you?
J- No, I’m going to mop and make something to eat, I’ll call you when it gets intense.
M- Hooray! We are so excited! We’ve been looking forward to this birth so much! I’ll call the other midwife!
J- No rush, I’m just enjoying it finally being the day!
I hung up and texted to see if my Little Red could come on over.
J- I think it’s the night… can LR come over soon?
X- Sure! They just went to the store, is 45 minutes ok?
J- Absolutely! See you soon!
I called my mama.
J- I’m in labor!!!!
M- OH! I’ll come now!
J- No I’m fine, I’m just excited! I’ll call you when it gets serious. Love you!
M- I love you baby. Congratulations!
As much as I try to deny it…I’m a closet high maintenance girl. I shave… everything. Now that said, there are certain things that are more difficult during pregnancy and shaving is at the top of that list. So I took my time, got a new blade out and shaved. I put my favorite lotion on. Slipped into my favorite clothes and smiled at every contraction… now coming every 5 minutes according to the fancy timer.
I decided to change my sheets, and was too out of breath. I was hot and my back hurt. I called my dear Miss Classy.
As soon as I heard her voice I started to cry.
J- I think I need you.
MC- I’m on my way. I’ll be there soon.
I called my mom next.
M- I’m turning the water off and getting out of my garden clothes. I’ll be there in 10 minutes.
J- I don’t think I can do this.
M- Don’t be silly, of course you can. I love you. I’ll see you soon.
I sent a text to my ex-hubby.
J- Coming soon?
and they arrived in minutes.
I called the midwife.
J- Hi… I don’t know if I’m being wimpy or if I just forgot after 13 years… but this is worse than I remember it and I think you should come check me. I’m sorry if it’s a false alarm.
MW- I’ll come right now. Don’t apologize, I’m happy to see you. Are you out of breath?
J- … … …
MW- Are you having a contraction?
In three minutes, she was walking up to my front door, little midwife bag in hand. I was overjoyed to see her. She was smiling and looked happy and serene.
I was hit by a contraction as soon as she stepped inside the door and I leaned against the edge of my bed and counted backwards from 70. Not sure why… but anything to focus and relax. I smiled at her and she looked a little more concerned. She checked my blood pressure, my pulse and baby Quinn’s heart rate. Then she actually checked me and I saw the surprise flash across her face.
MW- Oh. Honey. You’re already dilated to an 8… closer to an 8 1/2. You don’t have time to fill the birth tub.
J- I’m having her in the bath tub then.
I didn’t wait for an answer, just walked to my sparkling bleach-y clean bathroom and started the water. Another monster contraction, and I saw my Little Red walk in, smiling proudly. I knew in my heart of hearts that the most important thing in my life was to show this young lady love of mine that birth is natural, that women can handle pain effectively, and that birth can be peaceful and on your own terms. She sat down on the toilet seat and I sunk into the water, giggling.
J- Are you worried? Are you afraid? Is it too much? Are you ok?
LR- Don’t be silly. I’m fine. Are you ok? Is it bad? I’m sorry it hurts.
J- It’s the most rewarding pain in the world. I learned that with you and your brother. This pain has the biggest payoff imaginable. I”m sorry if it gets scary. I’m probably going to scream. Hitting a certain tone in your throat helps ease the pain of the contraction. I’m sorry if it scares you.
LR- Mama you can do this and it’s ok if you scream. I would too. I believe in you.
I had another contraction and my dear midwife sat on the edge of the bathtub and checked me, telling me to warn her when I felt pressure… a pressure I was already feeling.
MW- You’re full term so you’re going to be pushing longer than you did before.
J- I pushed for 2 1/2 hours with my son, and 3 times with my daughter.
MW- I’m just preparing you.
And then the vortex opened and sucked me in.
I turned the other way and put my hands on the cool porcelain. I closed my eyes and thought of my dear Grandma Afton, who my baby daughter was going to be named after. She was fearless and feisty. She was the first red haired green eyed woman in my life who told me from infancy that the rules didn’t apply to me. She was the first person to push me to be better than I thought I wanted to be. Waves of excruciating pain tore through me and I forced my hands into relaxed open palms and pictured her sitting next to me, laughing at my doubting myself.
MW- Sink into the water. Breathe. Relax. Believe. You’ve got this.
I heard my grandma laugh.
I squeezed my eyes shut hoping she’d say something to help me survive the impending crash of another contraction.
I heard my dear friend Vera threaten me.
V- Don’t you dare name that baby after me. I hate my name.
I laughed and smiled at my Little Red, who was laughing back at me and shaking her head. The next contraction hit me and my eyes closed again for the last time and I began to push.
I listened only for the voice of my midwife. The woman captain of my lost and tortured ship fighting its way through the biggest storm on record. I heard her guide me. I asked for my dear friend, who put a towel under my head and a cold washcloth on my forehead.
MW- Push right here. Good. Ok, now blow… don’t push… breath… her head is almost out.
J- OUCH OUCH OUCH
MW- Breathe… now push. Now wait. Her head is out, you have to wait for the next contraction.
J- I can’t. I don’t want to have another contraction. I’ll push her out without it.
MW- NO. Wait. Ok, you’re having another one, PUSH.
I felt her leave me. I was momentarily sad. She was like a mermaid in the water and my midwife guided her deftly onto my chest… where I opened my eyes.
10:50 PM 8 lbs 4 ounces, 20″ long
Sweet baby girl ❤️
There she was. My little beauty. All wide eyes and alert with her tiny hand extended and her fingers curling around the center of my sports bra.
I smiled at the beautiful women I’d chosen to support and love me through the hardest battle us women fight, and they were all beaming and cooing at the bubble gum pink newborn resting on my chest under my favorite towels.
Looking up at me with dusky blue newborn eyes and the promise of more love than I ever dared to hope for.
There she was. At last.