“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”
– Lao Tzu
After what felt like an eternal wait, mom and June bug were finally in Fort Worth. Two days after their arrival my twelve year old daughter left for New York for summer vacation. I had given her the option of staying for the birth of the baby, or spending longer in NY with her grandmother and was sad that she wouldn’t be able to experience this with me. Looking back now I’m glad she went, this wasn’t the labor for her to see.
I enjoyed the week swimming and hanging out. Mom had to do all the driving, by this point in my pregnancy I could no longer safely reach the steering wheel and not squish my giant belly. Baby bird was measuring a week ahead and my body was swollen from the Texas heat. This time felt different than when we were waiting for June bug. I kept saying Sunday (14th of July) or Monday (15th of July) baby was going to come. I didn’t REALLY know of course, but I knew that dad wanted to be there when his son was born, and I wanted Baby Birds parents to be happy.
Dad flew in Saturday morning and Curtis and I spent all day cooking. We had planned a big BBQ to celebrate us all being together. It was exhausting, but food is one of my love languages and when I cook for you, your family. We made chicken, burgers, sausages, hot dogs, southern corn bread, potatoes, veggie kabobs, pulled pork, slaw and a couple salads. Curtis and I don’t play when it comes to food. We talked and joked and overall just had a good time.
We said our goodbyes for the night so little June could get to bed, and I got to work. NOW the baby could be born and I wouldn’t have a care in the world. I took a bath, had a glass of wine, took a tincture my midwife had given me to help ripen the cervix, pumped and then enjoyed some oxytocin with Curtis. I had some mild contractions and then nothing, so I decided to go to bed. Soon after lying down Curtis started to feel sick. Being out in the sun grilling all day had given him a migraine. I catered to him and crossed my fingers that I didn’t go into labor. I stayed up for awhile after her fell asleep, watching him and making sure he was okay, but eventually fell asleep myself.
I woke up at about 4:45 to use the restroom (not abnormal for me) and then went back to lay down. I tried to turn over in bed but felt what I thought was a strange kick from the baby and the urge to pee again. I got back up and felt wetness and rushed into the bathroom thinking I had peed myself. I sat on the toilet for a few minutes and thought maybe I had to make a bowel movement (I’m raw with my story telling ya’ll so buckle up). I felt my stomach and realized I was actually having a contraction. I continued to leak and thought “that is a lot of pee”. After a minute when I was really awake my adrenaline started to pump. “ohhh maybe this is my water!” I was in the dark and didn’t want to wake Curtis if it wasn’t. I threw a pad on a hobbled into the main bathroom so I could turn on some lights without waking him up. When I sat on the toilet in there i had a bit of a gush, and then steady flow of water. Definitely my water breaking. I took some deep breaths and talked to the baby for a minute. “Today is your perfect birthday, we’re going to go on this one last journey together, and then you get to go home with your family.”
I was ready.
I went back to my bathroom and put on a depends (the greatest thing by the way) and texted my Doula at 5:15am. I was having very mild contractions but had heard 5th babies are normally a whirwind so I went ahead and woke up Curtis and told him to make himself some coffee. I jumped in the shower and gave Curtis my very long list of people to text and instructed him on what to tell each of them. Brooke had told me that she normally wakes up at about 6am, so I had him wait until then to wake her. She was about to have a newborn and needed that little extra sleep.
I got out of the shower and did my hair, still leaking fluids and still having very mild contractions. At 6am exactly I called Brooke and told her she was going to meet her son today. She was ready to run out the door! I told her I was going to labor at home alone with Curtis for a little while and that I would call her when we were ready to head to the birth center.
I got dressed and brought my birthing ball onto the porch. I sat with Curtis and listened to some music while we watched the sun rise. I meditated and rubbed my belly. “Thank you for teaching me so many things little bird. We’ve been on such a long journey to get to today.”
I asked Curtis if I should try to speed things along, or go lay down and try to get some rest, as the day was surely going to be a long one. He (knowing all of the doula things I’ve taught him) suggested I go lay down and try to get some rest. At this point I was easily breathing my way through the contractions and could speak if need be. So I went and layed down with my music. At 7am by birth photographer texted me and asked how I was doing. I thought I was fine, but Curtis had noticed that I was starting to make noises during my contractions, and had started complaining of being really cold (signs that I had gone from early labor to active labor) and he requested that we started to head to the birth center. I objected but when I stood up I had a really good strong contraction and agreed. I let everyone know we were heading that way while Curtis woke up the kids and sent them to his mothers house.
We arrived at the birth center at about 7:30am. One of my two midwives and a birth assistant was already there, just finishing cleaning up from another birth that night. Brooke, Joe, and (Aunt) Alex got there at the same time we did. My other midwife, student midwife, doula and birth photographer arrived shortly thereafter. We got into the birthing suite and we made ourselves at home. I asked my midwife to check me (the very first cervical exam I had the entire pregnancy). I thought I didn’t want to know where we were, not feeling like I was in active labor and not wanting to be disappointed, but I didn’t speak up and my midwife announced I was at 6cm already. Not being able to contain my excitement I exclaimed “ARE YOU SHITTING ME?”. That was basically setting the stage for the rest of labor. Alex called her (and Brookes) mother and told her she should come with June, as things seemed to be moving quickly already.
I had a playlist I had been compiling for months, simply called “For Curtis” that contained songs that gave me strong feelings of love (releasing oxytocin) that I had Curtis hook up to the Bluetooth and play. Throughout labor my team commented on my impeccable taste and it even drew a few tears. I labored over the next two hours between a birthing ball (kissing and snuggling Curtis), standing (swaying with Curtis), and walking/lunging on the stairs.
Over the past couple months I had spoken to Curtis about his role while I was in labor. In all my other labors he had been there, silently supporting, but our relationship has grown, and my need for him to be more active made him slightly uncomfortable. But he came to recognize my needs, and he didn’t just step up to the challenge, he embraced it and thrived as my main support person. It’s something I will cherish forever.
June played while I labored, and at one point stopped to check little brothers heartbeat. It was surreal to have her there, where I delivered her just a short three years ago.
Completely surrounded by the flags depicting the women I adore in my family, my family of professionals, and my surrogate family I enjoyed my labor and said multiple times “This is so easy”. There was some question in the back of mind though, because I was experiencing some strange contractions. I would have a real contraction and work through it easily, but then it would be followed by a half contraction 30 seconds later. I pretended like I didn’t notice, but mentioned it to my midwife while also saying I was feeling pushy. We got on the bed while the tub was being filled and Lissa did a side laying maneuver where she pushed on my hip during contractions, worried the baby may not be in optimal position. It hurt like hell, but I was willing to do anything to make sure we continued smoothly. Brooke showed June the tub she was born in.
When we were all ready, Lissa said a prayer, and the entire crew (all 13 of us) headed into the birth tub room. When I walked in the first flag on the wall I saw was my late Grandmother. I started to well up and when I turned around Brooke was right there. She too started to well up and the weight of what was about to happen really hit. We cried a little and held each other for a moment, just taking it all in.
The room felt so light, and we were all on the same page, baby would be here any minute. I couldn’t believe how easy this had been. I listened to my playlist, meditated and during each contraction tried to just breath the baby down (like all the women in those serene videos) and be a birthing goddess.
After almost an hour, I knew something wasn’t right. Lissa knew it too. I asked Dana to check me after I felt for babies head and felt nothing. I wasn’t in a great position so I tried other things and nothing was helping. Lissa asked me if I would get out of the tub, and surprisingly I was okay with it. I jumped out, ready to birth this baby, and now worried that something was wrong. Before I got out, there was a moment of mass confusion.. the baby started kicking and moving like crazy, everyone could see it, my belly contorted and moved and I wondered how he could have so much energy for being in the middle of labor. And honestly it scared the hell out of me.
I tried a couple of contractions squatting next to the bed, then a couple on my side on the bed. Babies heart stayed perfect. Once on my back Lissa checked me, and I heard those famous words I hear every. damn. labor. “She’s got a big fat cervical lip”. Fuck.
“You better go get me the nitrous because I am NOT doing this without some sort of drug.” I had decided before hand that I wasn’t going to torture myself again with this damn cervical lip, and I would accept some help. So the nitrous was brought out.
Heres where the story splits between what I remember, and what I know now to be truth:
My memory: In my head, I pushed past a cervical lip for two hours. I pushed with all my might. I didn’t understand why it was taking so long or why no one got me off my back. I sucked in the nitrous like it was a lifeline and I held onto Curtis. I pulled on a rope and tried to yell but was told no yelling, just push. There were too many voices and I couldn’t concentrate on anything until someone said I may need to be transferred to the hospital.
The Truth: In two pushes the cervical lip was gone, but the baby was rotated the wrong way and stuck. Every time I pushed, he turned again. After awhile I was barely pushing due to exhaustion and the nitrous making me woozy. My midwifes were doing everything they could to help me. When transfer was brought up due to maternal exhaustion and the possibility of needing to use forceps or a vacuum to get baby out, it woke me up.
Back to reality, I hear transfer and I think “NO, that is not how this baby is coming into the world, and I am not going to a damn hospital.” So I pushed. I pushed with a fire in me I’ve never had before in my life, and then I felt that ring of fire. Suddenly I was being told “YES THERE HE IS! Now slow and steady.” But that’s not my style, so I kept pushing. I looked down and there was Lissa, grabbing Brookes hands and putting them on babies head “you’re going to deliver your own baby” Lissa says to Brooke, and honestly I think Brooke was just in shock. So I pushed again and Brooke delivered her own baby and layed him on my chest. The room erupted in cheers and crying.
Brooke and I held hands as she took a good look at her son for the first time. Sky Waylon was born at 11:44am, after just under seven hours of labor.
Joe was there to cut the cord, I made a funny face as he did because Brooke found it to be so gross when she cut Junes and I thought he might feel the same. Then mom and dad both enjoyed some skin to skin with baby.
As soon as baby was settled we jumped into active management for me. I’ve been known to bleed postpartum and we decided to not even give it a chance. I got a shot in the leg, some pills and immediate fundal massage. As I was trying to deliver my placenta I heard “Well, that is really weird.” All I could think was ‘surely there will be no more surprises’. Spoiler alert, there was.
My placenta had a large baby head sized pocket, just full of fluid. No sign of a twin, no sign of ANYTHING. Just an extra pocket, apparently Sky needed a pillow? But then, Dana saw a piece of retained placenta. If you’re not aware of what that means, retained placenta can cause infection and ultimately lead to death, not really on our to do list. They handed me back the nitrous and cranked it up. It was the worst pain I’ve felt in my life as she tried to clean me (inside) and find this piece immediately after birthing a child. I went inside myself and used every single thing I’ve ever learned from meditation. It worked, until I started to feel dizzy and everyones voices (my doula comforting me, Dana telling me she was sorry, and Alex & Brooke cooing over the baby) started to seem farther away. Suddenly I thought I was dying, I don’t know why, but I did. I took my mask of and called for Curtis and the pain intensified hundred fold. I started to try to close my legs and reached my hand out for Curtis. If I was going to die, I would die holding his hand.
But spoiler alert again, I didn’t die. After about twenty minutes (I think) Dana finished and I was clear of any placenta. I curled up in the bed and got a heating pad. My sugar was low, I hadn’t eaten much, I had lost some blood, and I was freezing. I tried desperately to take in the joy around me.
Things get a little blurry here again. I’m not sure if it’s regular postpartum hormones that cloud my memory, or if it’s because of the nitrous, but either way, I hate that I’m not clear minded about everything. I know that Curtis went back to the house to get my breast milk and my sons. I know that one of my boys didn’t want to come, so of my three children, only one was there. I know that they fed Sky the milk, but then there was concern that he had aspirated some of it and was having trouble breathing. I know that the poor babe had some bruising on the back of his head from his wild entry into the world. And I know someone ordered tacos.
We did the newborn exam in the same exact spot that June had been, and I was reminded again how the days may be long, but the years are short. This time Joe got to weigh the baby. I had guessed 9lbs 2oz based on my stomach size and measurements, but after seeing how much water I had and with Skys little surprise water pillow I was second guessing myself. 8lbs 9oz. Still the second largest baby I’ve delivered.
I was asked about an herbal bath and hesitated. At Junes birth I blacked out after the bath and did not want a repeat, but I felt pretty gross after birthing on the bed and wanted a little wash and to change so I got in. It felt great as always and Junie came in to ask about my “tea bath” and we laughed over how silly it was that I was taking a bath in tea. Collin (my oldest son) came in and sat with me and asked a million questions about the entire experience and was so worried about me bleeding. He’s the sweetest boy.
After the herbal, Lorin (our student midwife) had to leave and get back to her kids. I was so out of it that we said our good-byes and I totally forgot to tell her to wait! I brought champagne (and sparkling juice for those on call and the kiddos)!
We toasted to Sky and to the team effort and ate tacos before getting a group photo.
Slowly everyone started to leave, one by one giving us their love before going home to get some rest. I could not have asked for a better team.
Lorin (Student Midwife)
Melissa (Birth Assistant)
Eva (Birth Photographer)
And those who weren’t physically present for the birth but that I wouldn’t have gotten through this pregnancy without.
Annie (Massage Therapist)
And countless other “non-professionals”
Just like that, a family of three became a family of four. Happy birthday Sky.
You can read my other stories here: