In a foggy haze, I leaned my head back as I crouched on my knees and let out a long, deep moaning roar. I growled and grunted, instinctively urging my baby to be born into this world, begging that child to just come out and just be born already.
At that point, it was five-something in the morning and after a long and intense contraction, I muttered under my breath in quiet, defeated desperation “I am strong” as my mind drifted to something more along the lines of “I just can’t do this anymore.”
Labor had started just 7 or so hours before after waiting 10 extra days beyond my due date and just 3 hours after my mom got on a plane to return home. With no extra help for our girls and having had prodromal labor for weeks, I quietly timed contractions starting at around 10 pm the night before without a word to anyone around me or even to my midwife.
And I waited.
Simply hoping that I wouldn’t have 12 hours of regular contractions just for it to not go anywhere… like had happened two weeks prior.
But then at one in the morning, I felt my baby push and then there was that unforgettable bulging sensation like I had with my second child. And suddenly a loud pop.
My water broke.
Standing up quickly to shuffle to the bathroom, my waters gushed and so did my emotions.
Baby was actually coming. Nine long months of uncomfortable and frustrating pregnancy almost over. And finding out if it was a boy or a girl finally so close I could cry. And heaven knows that’s all I did for weeks leading up to birth. Cry. And beg to go into real labor.
But now it was finally real and I called my midwife to tell her “don’t come, but my water broke” all while writing notes about every little thing I did from drink water to eat cheese on the family white board.
Somehow, even though I had already had a homebirth and already experienced a successful VBAC, this go-around I was scared. Almost petrified really. So any tiny, little, unexpected pain took me out of my zone.
But I was able to rein in those emotions and focused on what needed to be done. I timed some contractions to see where they were and then gave it up so I didn’t feel the weight of “I’ve been in labor forever” feeling from pressing a button every 60ish seconds.
And the haze set in.
The intensity in contractions started to rise and it was all I could feel. To the point that my husband was the one who called the midwife. She and her assistant, Gwen, walked in the house around 4 am. They scurried around setting up a crock pot with warm water for compresses, spreading out my birth kit, boiling medical utensils, and checking to see that I was emotionally feeling ok.
Excitement stirred the air with them there.
“You’re going to have a baby Kara!” Nancy kept saying. And each time, my heart skipped a beat, hoping that even though I had only been in labor for a short time, that it wouldn’t be long before it was all over and I truly held a brand new squishy newborn in my arms.
I hovered over the kitchen sink and I took in deep belly breaths and worked to forget about the intense pain in my lower back from having a posterior baby try and bust its way out. Gwen pressed her forearm into the area for counter pressure as she kneaded arnica and essential oils into my back and onto my skin.
Birth felt doable. But so far away.
With a small pillow wrapped in plastic as a pillow case, I rested my head as I sat backwards on the toilet to take away tailbone pressure. I used the bathroom bars from the previous 90-year-old owners to support myself while squatting. And I took in long, deep breaths and paced the kitchen and small hall of our house.
And I waited.
Instinctively, I moved to the bedroom. I should have known I was close. It happened the same way last time. I wanted to go to bed as an instinctive move towards birth, but just like last time, I mentally thought I was hours and hours away from having a baby.
On my hands and knees, I labored.
Every 5 to 10 minutes I would have these long, deep, soul-reaching contractions that would make me rear back like an animal in the wild and moan with a roar that both showed my vulnerability and threatened anyone who dared to mess with this mama bear birthing her cub.
Knowing the “by the book” labor and even teaching my own online childbirth class, I knew transition should be contraction upon contraction upon contraction.
But that wasn’t happening.
And no matter how many times I tell my pregnant friends or people in my classes that no child or birth is ever the same, emotions take over and what you know seems to fly out the window. And emotionally, though I told no one, I was unwinding inside.
And then I heard the midwives softly chatting about the line up my back and how distinct it was. “She’s close. That’s 10 cm and pretty clear”. and it snapped me back to remembering about the purple dilation line. Because they didn’t do cervical exams on me, hearing that they could visually see my progress gave me hope.
But my energy was fleeting and emotions waning and a plopped over on my side to rest and murmured to myself “I am strong. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. The fruit of my womb is a reward.”
At this point, our 2-year-old, Em, woke up. She came into to see what the commotion was about and then left to be entertained somewhere else.
“I think you should have had this baby Kara. Can I check you?” Nancy asked.
“Yes. Yes please.”
“You have a lip on your cervix. Turn over on your back, press your legs into us as we push back, and I am going to hold your cervix back. You just push right into where my fingers are.”
And a single contraction later my baby was born. With a hand by the head and the other across the chest, my posterior baby made a grand entrance into the world. (And somehow by the grace of God no stitches were needed after all that). Promptly placed into my arms, I leaned back onto that plush mountain of pillows with my sweet baby at 6:24am.
And all was right in the world.
Then in marched my husband with Em and he went to wake up Jenn to bring her in as well. They sat there amazed that I was holding a tiny baby in my arms and
mortified intrigued by the passing of the placenta.
And we sat.
As a new family of five we soaked in the moments together as the midwives gave us time to just be us for a bit as they stepped out of the room. “It’s a boy” Jenn said adamantly, “because he has brown hair like daddy.”
She was the one who told me I “had a baby in [my] tummy” and would be having a boy weeks before I even knew I was indeed pregnant. And guess what? Other than the fact that his name is not in fact “Coco De ZaZa”, she was right on all accounts.
So in my arms, I held this perfect baby boy.
The baby that made me wait.
This boy that tested my strength and endurance.
My baby that challenged what “normal” and “textbook” were.
He gave me a voice; he made me roar.
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Kara is an author, wife, and mother of 3 children living in Boston, MA. She has her degree in Secondary Education & Adolescent Childhood Development and is passionate about connecting with and even helping other parents on their journey to raise awesome kids!