It was the night following the afternoon in which I thought vehemently, “I can. NOT. do. this. one. more. day!”  I woke up when John came home late from a meeting, and noticed the familiar tightening that usually just faded away during the weeks prior.  Night-time, it seemed, was workout time for my tummy.

But this time -oh bliss!- the tightening came back at regular intervals.  As much as I wanted a well-rested husband during the whole process, I couldn’t hold back my excitement very long. It’s his job to time these things, you know.   [He'd been on-call during the week prior, and was running very little sleep, poor guy... ]

Thus it was that around 2am, contractions were roughly 6 minutes apart and getting closer.  The midwife was called & the kiddie pool inflated.  John’s lungs got a workout taking care of the last 5% that the air-matress-pump couldn’t do.  I giggled and pranced around the play room, giddy with joy that I was nearing the end of being pregnant.

We didn’t have to rush anywhere.   There was no bag to grab, things to forget.  I took a shower, wore my own comfy clothes (that alone made going au naturale worth it! hahaha), felt free to roam around, bounce on the great big ball, hug my sweetie through contractions…

I was expecting at any moment that my water would break and we’d have a new baby in less than a hour.  That’s just how my body works.  I wasn’t even worried about the kids getting up.  Surely this would all be over by then.

But it wasn’t.  This time baby had very different plans…

At midnight he let me know that today was the day, but he took his time.  Baby liked having contractions far apart as much as I did.  So that’s what happened.  Turns out poor Holly the midwife, my mother, and my sister really didn’t need to be in any kind of hurry to get here… but knowing my track record, who’d have thought.

I could hardly believe it when the kids woke up and Baby wasn’t here yet.  The three of them were only too excited to see my little (20yo) sister  when they came down the stairs, and she graciously took care of breakfast for them.  Huzzah for sisters!   The kids even came in to see me after their tummies were full.  Boy oh boy, did they like the looks of that kiddie pool, let me tell you!  Once Everett saw it there, it was difficult to keep him away from it, so he eventually got sent over to my sister-in-law’s down the street.

I was surprised by a few things.

One, I actually didn’t mind seeing my kids during labor.  With the exception of the toddler wanting to go swimming in our play room, it was actually a very happy and joyful thing to have them near me.  Keep in mind, I’m only having contractions every 4 minutes or so, so there’s lots of time where I’m smiling and conversant and fairly normal to their eyes.

Two, Claire was… hm, how to explain this?  It was so precious that it graduated to the level of sacred, so it’s hard to put into words.  I had her with me during a few contractions.  I’d sense it coming and I’d prep her:
“Mommy is going to be still for a minute and I need you to be very quiet.”

She seemed to know what was going on.  Her observant and sensitive soul could tell it was serious business, and she would put her little arm around my shoulder, hold my hand, and be very, very quiet.  It was the closest I’ve ever been to her emotionally.  I am still rather speechless about it, but I’m grateful for the insight it gave me into her divine nature.  Underneath this intense , often bossy -have I mentioned intense?- easily upset 5-year-old personality, there is a very compassionate, tender old soul.  I never would have pegged her as having a fantastic bedside manner, but she was golden.

Chalk another point up for the homebirth.  That wouldn’t have happened in a hospital because my kids aren’t invited there until after baby is born.

Keep in mind that this whole time my water still hasn’t broken.   I’m still expecting at any minute to feel that surreal pop-gush feeling, and then have the labor get significantly more intense, followed shortly by baby’s smooth arrival.  What gives?  Contractions were so much more gentle wiith that all that water still there.  It was like the difference between squeezing a water balloon and a football.

I don’t remember what time it was when I finally had Holly heck and see how far dialated I was, but I do remember the excitement I felt when she tolkd me I went from 8cm to 9.5 while she checked.  WOO-HOO!  Almost done!

That, I think, was when my dear Mom took Everett to Auntie’s house.  I remember thinking, “Baby, don’t come while she’s gone!”

No worries.  It was still about an hour after that before baby came.  I knew in my mind that it was probably about time to push baby out, so I’d try, but something wasn’t right.  My body didn’t want to, although it obligingly gave me longer, harder contractions to work with.  It was VERY strange for me to not have the urge to push – this is not how the end of my other deliveries happened.  When I started getting involved and trying to take over, it wasn’t nearly as comfortable, to put it mildly… and it just didn’t seem like everything was the way it aught to be.  Usually my body and I work pretty well together.

So Holly checked me again, and found my cervix wasn’t completely effaced.  Ah-hah!  She fixed it and THEN we began the super-intense but very quick business of getting baby out.  From that point it went from being my easiest labor to being the most difficult.  Fortunately it was only 2 or 3 minutes of “difficult,” right?  Water broke, head moved down and out rather quickly.  Such an intense experience.  I wondered what Holly was doing putting her finger between baby’s head and me.  I thought, “Okay, that’s REALLY not helping!” because it was excruciatingly painful, to put it lightly.

What I didn’t know is that Baby’s right fist was stuck up next to his right ear, and it was be delivered that way.  It’s already a tight fit, you know.

Oh, ouch.

Ouch, ouch, ouch.  My hypothesis is that the slow labor, water not breaking, etc, was to encourage that little fisty to get out of the way.  Don’t know what the likelihood would be for that sort of thing slowly fixing itself, but in hindsight it would have been worth another hour or two of laboring to NOT have to deliver a baby hand at the same time as baby head.  Oh well.

At any rate, it was all over very quickly.  There’s nothing quite like that powerful feeling of “I did it!  It is done!” mixed with the overwhelming blessing of holding that brand new, soft, wet, wiggling little newborn.  John caught the baby as he was delivered -very special for all of us- and Baby was gently brought up through the water to my arms with a fluffy purple towel at his back to help him feel more cosy and secure.

His big healthy cry was quickly replaced by a beautiful hush as he looked around himself for the first time outside the womb.  I attribute his peaceful and calm expression to the water-birth experience.  He was still mostly in nice warm water, which is what he was used to.  Like most babies delivered without the hinderance of pain medication, he was alert as could be, with big, wide open eyes.  It was so peaceful I can hardly describe it.

Claire and Devin had been watching a movie on the laptop in the kitchen, but could hear something happening as he was delivered.  They rushed in to see if everything was alright, but by the time they got through the door, Baby was safely born and Mommy had another towel quickly thrown across her lap.  It almost makes me tear up remembering how they saw their new brother during his very first moments of life.  I still see their concerned, wide eyes and their serious little faces as they took it all in.

Three year old Devin made us all laugh.  After he saw that everything was alright, he simply said, “Okay.  Let’s go watch the west of ouy movie, Sistoy.”

Big sister was a little more curious, though.  “Can I touch Baby’s finger?”  Then back to the movie.

I stayed there in the water until Baby wanted to eat.  Or was it until the water got cold?  Hm.  It was probably a long while.

For me, time stood still and will always be standing still when I remember that moment, and three other moments just like it.

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Mrs. Smith
Happy mother of four children, all delivered naturally – 3 in hospitals and the most recent at her home in Salt Lake City. Feel free to drop by her blog documenting their many adventures.
http://mrs.smith.smithfam.us/