It is absolutely amazing how fast time flies– I am completely amazed that a full week has already passed since we welcomed baby Isaac into this world. I find myself wondering how I ever lived without his beautiful presence.
It’s hard to believe that, if Isaac hadn’t come “early”, I’d be writing a 40 Weeks Healthy and Hapai post right now instead. But he came at 39 weeks and was the most perfect thing I have ever encountered.
There is so much to say about the profound effect the birth of my son has had on me. Words don’t seem to do justice to the event [and sleep deprivation doesn’t help much, either]. But because I feel it’s important to share my story, and because I absolutely adored reading birth stories as I prepared for my own, I will do my very best to convey the incredible experience as honestly as possible. Know that I am trying to condense as much as possible so that it’s not a novel. I do want to share it with as many people as possible, though, so if you have any questions at all, please feel free to email me or leave a comment and I’d be happy to get back to you.
[Also, it should go without saying that I don’t intend to sugar-coat anything here, so only read on if you’re ready for T.M.I.]
[June 23rd, 24th + 25th]
The 23rd was a Saturday, so we went about our business as usual. We went to the Farmers’ Market and then went into town for Sports Authority’s grand opening and to run errands, when I starting getting regular rushes. We began to time them and realized they were about 5-10 minutes apart, but not consistent. We called our midwife Tina and her assistant Sonya and they said to let them know when the rushes were about a minute long and coming every five minutes. I came home and had a warm bath and nap and the rushes slowed.
At around 2:30pm, my blood-tinged mucus plug came out. The rushes were coming every 5-7 minutes but only for about 30 seconds, so I went about my day. Ben and I walked the neighborhood, had friends over to visit, and then went to dinner at a bistro. Ben and our best friend Zak stayed for the hip-hop show that night but I decided to come home and rest.
I got about 3 hours of rest that night total. Contractions in bed were painful, so by the time Ben came home at around 2am, I was spending most of my time out of bed rocking on the birth ball. I talked to the baby and told him I was ready for him to come whenever he was ready, and tried my best to relax and rest, but thoughts flooded my mind.
On Sunday the 24th, the rushes slowed down and got less intense. I was confused about what was happening [I mean, my mucus plug had come out… which typically meant that childbirth was around the corner…], so I jumped at the opportunity to head to Tina’s for a checkup, just to see where I stood.
When I got to her home, Tina sat and talked with me and in a nutshell said “you’re not in labor yet. Early – or pre-labor – yes, but this baby isn’t coming out today”. She is extremely intuitive and also said to me, “the baby in you isn’t ready to let go of this baby IN you yet”, which I took to mean that energetically I wasn’t in the right space to be Mom just yet. She suggested that I go to the beach and kick my legs in the ocean – let the energy go and just trust the process.
I left her house sobbing. Wondering if this isn’t labor, will I be able to handle the real thing? But I listened to her and went to the beach. Ben and I got in the water and he held me while I cried and was brutally honest about my fears and hopes. The rushes slowed for the rest of that day, but were back in time for me to try to sleep. I had yet another restless night as I writhed through contractions in bed.
I feel it necessary to say that one of my biggest fears going into the pregnancy was that the baby was going to be too big for my birth canal. I also feared that I – or the baby – was going to die during childbirth [a common fear]. To combat my fears, I spoke openly about them with Ben and my midwife, Tina. I borrowed Birthing From Within from Tina and truly appreciated the stories and practices. I was brutally honest with myself, took everything to heart and worked hard to remind myself that women everywhere gave birth at every moment of every single day. If they could do it, so could I. We were also so busy with moving and unpacking that I didn’t have much time to think negatively.
By Monday the 25th, I had exhausted myself emotionally and physically. Luckily, a good friend [mama of five and doula/midwife in her own] Robin had asked if I wanted to be a model for hapai massage. I was so excited – not only to be massaged but to be in the presence of such a powerful woman – and just let her know that I had already been feeling rushes. Robin massaged me and the baby, which was wonderful, and then finished the class by surrounding me with love and light and saying Remember, this is YOUR birth. Don’t be afraid to speak up about what YOU want and need. You get to be selfish. Don’t worry about hurting anyone else.
How I ever got lucky enough in my life to be surrounded by so many powerful and intuitive women, I will never know, but that was exactly what I needed to hear in that moment, and I went home sobbing – again. I continued to prepare myself emotionally and spiritually: Even with rain and high gusts of wind, Ben and I went to the park and walked and talked. By this point my rushes were strong enough that they stopped me dead in my tracks – I leaned on Ben and breathed through them. I embraced the wind and rain – reminding myself that all the power and force of nature was also within me, and that I was made for this. I wrote in my journal and truly tuned in with my baby, letting him know that it was time. I was ready and he was safe to come.
By that afternoon, my rushes were about 45-60 seconds long and coming about five minutes apart. Soon enough, the only way I could get through a rush was on the birthing ball. By dinner time, I sat at the table between the five-minute intervals while my Mom and Ben looked on with anticipation. I tuned in to myself and started feeling a bit out of it. None of us were sure of whether I was having contractions that would soon lead me to childbirth or not, so we didn’t want to get too excited, but we were all hopeful.
Little did we know that in less than eight hours, the woman on the birthing ball would have flown up into the rafters and been replaced by a mother.
Active labor was a whole new ball game and I’m excited to also share with you what that was like. But right now I’ve got a little family to get back to.
Click here to read Part II.
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