It has now been just over three weeks since Mr. Abel joined our little family and we are truly so amazed at what a perfect baby he is. Today I wanted to share the story of Abel’s birth with you all. It’s long and I tried really hard to leave out any of the gross details, but it’s probably more of something that the ladies will want to read anyway.
On the Saturday night before his birth day, about two and half weeks before his due date, I started to notice a change in the way I was feeling. It is hard to explain this part, but I started to feel a shift in my body and I started to get very nervous about what felt like might be ahead. This continued on Sunday and Monday. Monday evening I started to feel kind of crampy but it was still very irregular and I figured they were Braxton Hicks, which I had never had during the pregnancy. The cramps woke me up every hour or so throughout the night and around 5:00am I got up because they were too intense for me to be comfortable laying down.
Ben woke up around 6:00 and found me sitting in the dark living room on the exercise ball. He stopped in his tracks and just said very seriously “are you in labor?” At that point, I was convinced that there was no way this was real labor yet. So I told him I was calling the midwife at 7:00 because I didn’t want to annoy them too early in the morning when it most likely wasn’t labor. I spoke with the midwife on call and she seemed unsure whether it was labor too. She suggested I take a shower and see whether that changed the frequency of contractions. I had about six contractions in the shower and then went back to my spot on birth ball. I sent Ben to work because I was still thinking it wasn’t really time even though he was beginning to feel it was time.
By about 10am, contractions were averaging about six minutes apart and lasting 45-60 seconds. I decided to call the midwife again because I was pretty sure that it was the real thing at this point. For some reason (apparently they were very busy), it took over an hour for the midwife to return my call. During that time, I texted Ben that he needed to come home because things were picking up. He got to the house around 11:00 and sprang into action getting all of the final pieces of our birth center bag put together. I was finally able to connect with the midwife and agreed that we would meet her at the birth center at 2:00. By around 12:30, Ben was having to help me work through contractions and applying pressure to my lower back. At 1:30 we loaded up the car with our bags and our puppy dog and headed into town. Contractions were lasting a solid minute long and were coming about every three minutes.
After we dropped the puppy off at my dad’s we arrived at the birth center a little bit after 2:00. When we checked in, they instructed us to wait at the counter while they got a room ready so they could check my progress. I was incredibly annoyed by this and had about six contractions while I was standing at the counter. When the midwife checked me, she was very surprised that I was at 6 cm, which was great because it meant that I could stay at the birth center.
Just a few hours before Abel was born.
I got into the bathtub right away. From what we learned at the birthing classes, I had expected this to make me feel a lot better but it really just accelerated labor. Things were progressing pretty quickly and the midwife asked if I wanted to give birth in the tub. A water birth wasn’t something we had planned on so they had me get out of the tub. At this point, my water still hadn’t broken so the midwife suggested we break my water so that baby could move further down and help me dilate further. Once she did this, things got really intense. I think this was the point that I moved into transition labor. I know that for most women, this is the most intense and painful part of labor and this was definitely the case for me. The contractions came in so strong and it was all I could do to just breathe through them. The midwife stepped out of the room to let Ben and I work through contractions as a team. I remember getting the infamous “urge to push” for several contractions but the midwife instructed me not to push because I wasn’t fully dilated. Not pushing through these horrible urges was the hardest part of the whole labor. I remember physically shaking from trying not to push. At that point, Ben went to get the midwife to let her know that I was no longer able to not push. She came in and determined that I still had about a half centimeter to go and said that with the next contraction, I should try pushing and she would try to push the final part out of the way. Pushing was still painful, but definitely better than transition. I pushed for about twenty minutes when I started to feel the ring of fire. It was much more intense than I thought it would be but I also knew that it was a sign that things were getting close. Our concept of time got pretty hazy at this point, but what seemed like about 10 minutes later, the midwife told me that in a few contractions, he was going to be here. Talk about encouraging news! She then asked Ben if he wanted to catch the baby. He was a little hesitant, just wanting everything to go well and for a safe and healthy baby to arrive, but he decided to do it. I kept on pushing through a few more contractions and then all of a sudden he was born.
His entrance into the world really fit the whole day – quick and unexpected. With one final push, he was born and Ben put him immediately on my chest – despite being doused by a fair amount of amniotic fluid! The midwives covered him up with a warm blanket and Ben was so focused on getting him to me, he forgot to check what the gender was. He peaked under the blanket and said “It’s a boy!” Our families in the waiting room started cheering. He was incredibly calm and not moving or breathing when he was born and was really blue. He didn’t cry right away and the midwives were rubbing him all over to get him to breathe. He was up so high on my chest that I couldn’t see anything but the top of his head and had to ask Ben if he was cute or not. Ben said that his eyes were wide open and he was just staring at him and looking around the room. I am so happy that they were able to have that moment together. We got home at 11:00 that night and I remember thinking that just with the timing of everything, in a way it felt like it was “all in a days’ work”. I woke up at 5:00am, gave birth to our son Abel at 5:07pm, and came home the same day with a baby – and he really is the most incredible baby!
It was all such a blur at the end and it took a while for me to even grasp what had just happened. I had just given birth to a real, live baby that was all ours! What an incredible moment! I feel proud that I was able to have the natural and unmedicated birth that I wanted. But really every part of it was different from what I was expecting – from him coming two weeks before his due date, to the intensity of the pain, to how quick labor really went. There really is nothing like the experience of birth and the love that fills our hearts now is so much stronger than I would have ever thought possible. We are so, so in love with sweet Abel and can’t wait for the adventures ahead!