Throughout the pregnancy, your dad and I spent a lot of time preparing mentally and physically for your arrival. We cleared our fears and mental roadblocks. We chose to trust in our partnership, in you, in my body, in our care team, and in the normal physiology of birth. We focused on visualizing the gentle birth we wanted to welcome you into the world with. We felt ready and giddy in anticipation. Finally, it was time to just wait until you were ready to enter the world.
On Monday, July 13th, a day before your guess date, I went to our regular prenatal yoga class. Our yoga teacher, Jane, had a sub that day, and even though the sub didn’t know me, she could tell you were ready to be born, and gave us the best seat in the house (the coolest spot in the room!). At yoga, I went to the restroom, and was excited to see the first signs of the mucus plug! After yoga, I texted your dad, who was at work, to let him know that some early signs had started and that you were getting closer. I came home, took a nap to Rachel Yellin’s birthing soundtrack, and welcomed the practice surges and increase in bloody show throughout the day.
That evening, we had a Ramadan feast with your uncle, Ahmed, who was visiting to be here for your birth and first weeks. I made some “spicy” eggplant to help things move along, which according to your dad was just regularly spiced eggplant. We all spent the evening relaxing and laughing at episodes of Garfunkel and Oats, which is a thing we think is funny.
We went to bed a little later than usual, and I woke up around 2:30am with what I knew were real surges. I was excited at this sign that you would be joining us so soon, and treated myself to some Effie’s oatcakes and a glass of milk. I crawled back in bed, resisting the urge to wake your dad and let him know things were starting. By 3:30, he woke up, and I let him know surges had started. He texted our Doula, Shannon, and our midwife, Sue, to let them know that you might be joining us soon! Afterward, dad fell back asleep quickly, and as the surges continued, I thought that it would be really nice if they slowed enough for me to get a good night’s rest, and thankfully, my body listened. The surges slowed enough for me to fall asleep until 7am, which I was thankful for.
AT 7am, your dad’s alarm went off, and with me still sleeping, he started his regular routine. When I got up, I let him know that surges were still there, and suggested a big breakfast so we could be ready for whatever comes our way. We had a good sense you were on your way, but didn’t know how long it would take and wanted to be rested and well-fed in case it was a long couple of nights.
After breakfast, Dad began to make some preparations as I lay on the bed. He pulled out supplies for Sue, prepared the birth tub, lit some candles and put on Rachel’s affirmation tracks to get me relaxed. I put on my eye mask and began getting used to the sensations. Eventually, Dad joined me and we cuddled and relaxed in bed for about an hour.
At this point, things get a bit hazy. I was no longer in my own head; my body just took over and time and sequencing were no longer easy to follow, and also no longer important. I remember snuggling in bed with your dad, and needing to squeeze his hand every time a surge would come—the more intense the surge, the stronger I would squeeze. I remember trying a few different positions in bed, but then needing to go to the restroom with each surge, which meant spending most of the rest of the time in the bathroom. I remember with each surge, listening for one or two things from the relaxation tapes to help me get through it. I remember asking my body to open, and thinking with each surge that it would bring me closer to you. Looking back, I am proud that fear never made its way into the birth. I am proud of my trust, acceptance in, and surrender to the process. My mind just had to get out of the way, and my body took over and did what it was meant to do.
At this point, your dad asked me if I needed anything to eat for lunch, and I could not believe it was already noon! The time passed so quickly. Your dad grabbed some water and a smoothie. This is when the surges started getting more intense, and your dad let Shannon know we needed her. The surges quickly continued intensifying and were rapidly getting closer together. Your dad let Sue know that things were moving quickly, and as he was doing that, I noticed that my body was pushing! I told your dad, “Let Sue know I’m pushing.” He did, and Sue and Shannon quickly made their way over.
At this point, I both instinctively knew that things were moving fast, but also couldn’t quite believe it because it’s not how most birth stories I’d heard went for first-timers! While I knew my surges were intense, I’d expected it to take a while longer for me to dilate, and I’d also expected have a pause between dilating and pushing. Instead, my body went straight from dilating to pushing without pause, and my mind had to catch up. Dad noticed my belly tightening like he’d never seen before. I kept asking him if he could see your head, and made him promise to tell me if he could!
Dad let Ahmed know that Shannon and Sue would be here soon and learned that he had left for a quick errand! Leaving me at this point was not an option, so Ahmed hurried home quickly to get back just in time to let Shannon and Sue in the door around 1:30pm.
Once Shannon arrived, she told us Sue was here and setting up, and let me know everything was completely normal and that you were “ just coming a little faster than expected”. Sue then walked in, smiled, and said “have you ever seen a more gorgeous woman in labor.” I was so happy to have her there, and seeing her so relaxed gave me a huge sense of relief. Little did I know, she was working at rapid speed to get set up for your birth in the other room! Sue then said she hated to ask me to do this, but needed to do an examination to see if the second midwife, Cynthia, would be able to get there in time. After the exam, we learned I was completely open and ready to have you. We didn’t know it until after the birth, but in fact, you were were already halfway down the birth canal! Later, when we asked Sue what that check was like, she said it was “the silliest check she’s ever done.”
As I made my way back to the bathroom between surges, Sue set a few more things up and prepared the bed for birth at lightening speed. Shannon and Sue coaxed me out of the bathroom and gently suggested another position. It was hard to get up, but Shannon finally convinced my by saying “you don’t want to have your baby on the toilet do you?” I thought that this was a very convincing point.
Sue suggested the tub, the birth stool, or hands and knees, and I chose to get in position on hands and knees on the bed. As I pushed, Dad gently stroked my back when he noticed we could see your head! At that point, Sue brought your Dad behind me to catch you. He saw the top of your head, and I asked if you had hair. Your dad told me you had dark hair, and at that moment I knew I was so close to meeting you and beginning to get to know you. Soon after, your whole head peaked out and your dad could see your whole face and lips moving. He told me all of this, and also told me you were a good color, which I found relieving! One push later, at 2:05 pm, your whole body appeared. Your dad got one good look before passing you to me through my legs. I grabbed you with such relief and joy, greeting you with a joyful, “Hi!” and then “you’re so slippery!” I finally sat back, and you lay on my belly with arms wide around my torso in a big bear hug and with your dad perched over the both of us.
The rest fades in the background as our focus was on you. The placenta was birthed within 5 minutes after your arrival, Sue and Cynthia made sure you were okay and stitched up my tears as Shannon fed my soup and smoothies. We both wept with joy, and remained in that cocoon of wonder for days after.
We're proudto say we all experienced the gentle birth we so wanted for you, sweet one. We're forever grateful to our beautiful midwife for being such a sage birth guide. We're so thankful for our first experience together as a family. Most of all, we are thankful for YOU!
All our love,
Your mama and dad