On Monday, June 11 I was sitting by the swimming pool at my parent’s place telling my mom that the Braxton-Hicks contractions I had been having for weeks felt like they were spreading around to my back. She asked if I had any indication that labor could be sooner than later and I said no. Then I told myself I couldn’t keep thinking that this baby might come early in case the baby decided to come late! I needed to be prepared to be disappointed when my due date of July 8th came and went. What I wasn’t prepared for was a bloody show later that evening!
I looked it up online just to be sure; a bit of bloody show could mean hours or a few days or longer. I assured Ben that nothing was going to happen soon and we should just go to bed while inside I was beginning to feel a little concerned. I was not ready to have this baby. Nothing was ready: no baby clothes had been washed, the doula (my sister Camille) hadn’t arrived yet, I hadn’t decided on a “groaning cake” recipe, the shower curtain wasn’t under the sheets. Plus, we were in the middle of a two week celebration that would culminate in my sister’s wedding! No, this baby wasn’t coming yet because I wasn’t ready.
At 4 AM I awoke to some strong Braxton-Hicks. I argued with myself for the following three hours that they weren’t “real” contractions. I didn’t wake Ben up, I just lay next to him dozing now and then and waiting for the sun to rise. Around 7 AM Ben woke up and we started chatting and making coffee. I was beginning to be worried. “I think this might actually be it,” I told Ben, then I burst into tears. He suggested we start timing contractions and we pulled up a pregnancy website with a start/stop button. “Ok, go” I said as another contractions started. After a couple rushes had past we both stood there staring at the computer screen: 4-5 minutes apart lasting at around 60 seconds. The screen yelled at us in five different languages to get to the hospital immediately. I told Ben he had better call my mom.
Once she arrived and rushed into the room with a big hug – I burst into tears. I wasn’t ready! She said, oh yes I was, and started telling everyone what needed to be done. The water was boiling, the shower curtain was under the sheet on the bed, the baby clothes and blankets had been rushed to the laundromat, and calls were being made to try to locate the doctor who had done my prenatal check ups. She was in Canada. I was getting really warm so I hopped in the shower with the cold on full. I heard my mom and Ben talking about trying to find a midwife we had heard of in a nearby town, but when Ben told me he was going to run out to get her I told him from my position on all fours under the cold water that he better stick around. So my mom and my sister left. Shortly after, I got out of the shower and went into the bed room where a sudden contraction put me on my knees with my arms on the side of the bed. I said, “Ben, I think I need to push!” It was 9.40 and sure enough, pushing felt really good!!
Meanwhile, my mom and Gaby drove to the taxi stand in the town where the midwife was supposed to live and with embarrassed laughs asked a bunch of taxi drivers if they knew where the midwife lived. They stared at these two white women for a moment then replied, “Down the street three blocks, two houses in – it’s a blue house.” So off the girls rushed to the blue house. But when they arrived the midwife’s husband informed them that she was out buying some groceries and would they care to wait. Feeling that they probably couldn’t’ wait, they started driving away but when my sister saw a little, old women with a grocery sack in her hand walking down the sidewalk she thought, “That must be her!” It was. They grabbed her and explained the details on the way back to the house.
When the midwife, Victoria, arrived she checked my dilation and said I was ready to have the baby. Mom asked if she could give her a number and Victoria said, “10, she’s dilated to 10. I need to run an errand, can you take me home quickly?” I almost screamed. So my sister ran her home then brought her back – I never did find out what that last, important errand was.
As it turns out, Willow was a posterior baby, meaning her face was looking up toward my belly as opposed to by backbone (which is more common and preferable). While posterior facing babies often cause a long and painful labor, mine was not long. The problem I faced was being oh so ready to push the baby out and feeling that as soon as I was getting close to moving her the contraction would lessen and end. I was left feeling so frustrated and helpless because I felt capable physically and emotionally to birth her and yet was unable to. Although I did get quite tired by the end, I still felt that if the contraction would only last a little longer we could do it together. I tried all sorts of different positions but I didn’t feel that any of them helped move my baby down. I remember once in the interval between contractions I yelled, “I am just SO mad at this baby!” But for the most part, every time I felt a contraction coming I whispered, “Come on, baby, you and me, baby. We can do this together, baby. Oh, baby, baby, baby. Come on, baby.” Once, I asked everyone to pray and my mom said, “We are, honey.” And I said, “No, out loud. I need you to pray!” I had asked God throughout the previous weeks that the baby would come when she was ready, at just the right time. I didn’t doubt that this was the time – how do you doubt when your body is trying to push out a human being? – but I was confused at to why she wouldn’t just hurry up! Then Mom reminded me I had only been pushing for an hour. *sigh*
I don’t know how but finally and beautifully this baby girl was born. I know that I drew strength from my sister, Gaby’s presence. At one point I remember asking where she was (she had been caring for Ayden during the labor) and when I was told that she was there and watching I was comforted. When, through the fire and white light of pushing and contracting, I heard her voice saying “Oh, I see it! I see the head!” I was strengthened and I think I actually smiled.
She didn’t breath right away after birth although her coloring looked good. I kept nudging and urging and willing her to cry but she wouldn’t. I kept asking Victoria about her breathing and finally she grabbed my baby and held her upside down, slapping the bottoms of her feet. I thought my mom was going to punch her. Well, that got her going!
We spent a lovely day resting and looking at our baby girl. Ayden gave her plenty of gentle hugs and kisses. We marveled at the goodness of God in allowing everything to go, not as we had planned, but well. On June 12 at 11.14 am we had a beautiful little girl, 17 inches long, 5 pounds 8 ounces, dark eyes and a full head of dark hair.
She didn’t get her name until days later when we saw the true strength of our seemingly fragile little one. Willow Lyn Boyt, welcome to the world!