By Hannah Edens
|All photos by Merritt Chesson Photography|
“We’re not having a baby tonight, are we?” asked Chas, my husband, on the eve of our second daughter’s due date. Our family was exhausted from a cold and very busy weekend, and we were planning on getting at least a few more nights of good rest. “Are you kidding? I’ve had a throbbing pain above my pubic bone all day and can hardly walk but not a single contraction. We are not having a baby tonight. Go to sleep,” I replied. Not 10 minutes later as I lay in bed, I heard and felt a pop. Three seconds later, a rush of warmth prompted me to jump out of bed and into the bathroom. There was no denying my water had just broken. I waddled to the living room to tell Chas the surprising news. We indeed would have this baby in the next 24 hours after all.
The midwife on call, Jessica, reassured me that most women begin labor soon after their water breaks, but I’d need to plan to come in to the Birth Center in the morning either way. Two and a half years earlier, I had been “in labor” 78 hours from the time I felt my first contraction to pushing out my first daughter at the WBWC. I was a bit nervous things wouldn’t progress quickly enough since my body certainly took it’s time with #1, so I knew more than anything I needed to try to sleep while I still had time.
Four or so hours later, the familiar but quickly forgotten tightness of a contraction began. They were 15 – 30 min apart for a few hours and I was able to sleep in between. My appetite actually prompted me out of bed around 3:30 AM, and I received some needed encouragement via text from my best friend, who happened to be awake and was my doula with the birth of my first. Then back to bed for another hour or two of spaced but increasingly stronger contractions.
By 6:00 AM I could no longer lay still or sleep between the impressively strong pains, so I jumped in the shower. Again, I expected a full day of this and wanted to feel prepared and try to relax my body. Jessica was still on call to receive my 7:00am update that my contractions were 7 – 12 minutes apart. She told me I was welcome to come in whenever I wanted, but it was okay to wait until they were more like 4 – 6 minutes apart.
I gave my friend and country neighbor Jane a ring. She’s also a nurse at the WBWC, who offered to be present as a doula if she wasn’t working that day. Her presence was a relief because by 8 AM I was struggling to stand through the discomfort and was shocked with how quickly it seemed things were progressing. I began to tap back into the breathing techniques I learned at a Birthing from Within class I attended 3 years prior. Although my contractions remained about 6 minutes apart, the pain seemed really productive and the noises of everyone getting ready for their day around my house felt distracting. I was ready for the relaxing, quiet atmosphere of the Peach Room.
Despite a very busy weekend of deliveries, Tuesday, May 24th was exceptionally quiet. When I arrived at 9:00 AM, I was the only mama in labor. Carey greeted me with her student midwife, Kristen, and I welcomed two for the price of one. Chas, my sister Katelyn, photographer Merritt, Jane, and nurse Asha rounded out the crew. Some mamas prefer smaller crowds but as with my first, I really appreciated the support and witness of caring, knowledgeable folks around me.
The car ride over had sped things up, and I was at that point starting to moan through the pain that found me every 3 minutes. My first cervical check told us I was a “stretchy 7, zero station, fully effaced” and I was thrilled! I knew I’d have this baby before lunch, which was mind blowing and a bit intimidating.
My exceptionally long , 12 days past the due date, with a 9lb 3oz baby 2.5 years ago was epic – hard and empowering, and I couldn’t have been more proud of myself and thankful for midwife Emily’s commitment to us. But everything about this labor was different and while going so well, it was a challenge even still to remain focused, allow my body to take control, and not give up in the middle of such discomfort. I was aware of how much freedom the birth team gave me to lead the delivery, and their silent confidence was reassuring.
I had a difficult time finding a position to labor in that helped ease the minute-long waves of pain, but someone offered to draw a warm bath. I had used water therapy throughout my many aches during pregnancy and welcomed the idea. I spent a half hour or so on my hands and knees, thankful for the weight of my perfectly basketball-esq bump to be lifted by the warm water. I was probably mid-transition when my arms started to give out and I switched to lying on my side. I was in full blown groaning pain and encouraged to push whenever I felt the urge. Eeek! I didn’t really feel the urge with my first; it was a conscious all out decision to be done and get her out. With that first experience, I felt incredible relief with , and it truly did not hurt very much.
But this faster, more furious transition period and soon-to-follow pushing HURT more! It was so interesting to hear my voice responding to the pain, and I think I shared with the team during a longer pause between contractions that I thought I sounded like a Viking. Ha!! Soon enough the urge came and through 3 or 4 contractions I propelled baby girl #2 out of me – all of her at once. I could feel the incredible force, which was confirmed by the onlookers and catcher. She let out a quick cry, was placed on my chest, held her next breath about 3 seconds longer than anyone cared for and started to turn blue. I, too, held my breath but a good strong back rub by the attentive midwives and she began to wail, clear and strong. My mama heart rejoiced!
All of the anxiety and pain was instantly gone when I could see her perfect little face and hear her sweet voice. The midwives were meanwhile concerned with what appeared to be a large amount of blood filling the tub and quickly got me to the bed to investigate. Thankfully the bleeding had already mostly stopped and I was in the clear.
WOW. Just wow. 11:30 AM Margaux Frances Edens joined the outside, on her due date, and we couldn’t get over how “small” she was at 7lb 13oz. I kept telling myself, “It felt like the most polite birth,” because of how quickly she arrived and without complications. Our sweet baby has continued so effortlessly to do what we all hope they’ll do – grow, eat, sleep and poop.
We packed up our things and made it home for dinner at 7:00pm. All in a day’s work.