The night of April the 1st I began having what I described to my husband, Forrest, as "painful" contractions, and so I got a little excited that it might be time! Little did I know I was just in for a night of prodromal labor and that my first-time-mom butt had no idea what a "painful" contraction was.
Cut to the next night, I had some more of these "painful" contractions, but I assumed (since it was my real due date and NO ONE in my family could possibly deliver any sooner than two weeks late) that it was more practice contractions, and so I decided to let Forrest sleep. He slept and slept. He slept through me getting in and out of the bathtub several times to try and cope with the pain. He slept through me trying to put counter pressure on my OWN back and tearing up every time I knew a another "fake" contraction was coming. I would like to officially state here that I am a superhero for not waking him up. I am glad I didn't because I needed him to be on the ball the next day, but seriously, I thought I was dying. Finally around 5 a.m. I moaned right in his face something about how I might very well be in labor, and he began to take notice. We pulled up the contraction timer on my tablet and started timing them to see if they were getting organized and regular. They were. WHAT. THE. CRAP. I can't have a baby! It's not time! (Is what I started telling Forrest when he informed me it was time to call the midwife and go in.) Lucky for me I have the most incredible, level headed, works-well-under-pressure husband ever. We called Leslie around 6 am and she agreed that I was likely to have the baby later that afternoon. Leslie's on-call shift was about to end and so we called Carol about an hour later and she agreed to meet us at 8:30 at the birth center. We also called my mom and dad to start driving up from Corpus Christi and one of my best friends: the most incredible photographer I know, Sarah. We got everything together and on the way to the birth center I had maybe one or two contractions that weren't that bad. Forrest started worrying that I had quit laboring, but little did he know that things were about to get real.
When we arrived at the birthing center, Makayla, the nurse on call with Carol, began her job of being amazing and wonderful. She got out two birth balls, and I sat on one while Forrest sat on the other and rubbed my back during contractions. By the way, the counter pressure was so great, it almost took the pain away during those earlier contractions. Poor Forrest would just try and do what I asked as I would call out, "Harder! No, softer! Up! Down!" in rapid succession. To get my labor going faster, Makayla made me some Rasberry leaf tea with black and blue cohosh. It worked. The contractions got harder and more frequent. Carol then advised that we go outside and walk around during contractions to help them work better for me. We went out on the deck and I walked and walked and walked. I walked right through contractions and drank water and ate my peanut butter sandwich.
After a while we went back up into our room so that Carol could see how I was progressing. When I first got to the birth center that morning I was a 4, and when she checked me the second time around lunch time I was a 5! Since I went into this basically expecting to be in labor for days I was always happy with any progress. Right after being checked, Sarah arrived. That was a fun moment. Forrest informed me that she was on her way up so I might want to put my pants back on (they were off from the aforementioned check) and when I declined and said I didn't care, he exclaimed, and I will never forget this, "You have lost your modesty! That means you are getting close!" He learned that in the Bradley class. I love that man.
Soon after Sarah arrived, Makayla began filling up the tub for me to get into and I got super excited. Up to this point I was making jokes and talking through contractions. My mom got there just after I got into the tub and I cried when I saw her. I honestly believe that my labor became fast and furious at that point because I was waiting for her to get there. It was so important to me that she get to share in this incredible event in my life, and after driving 7 hours through tornadic weather, she arrived just in time!
When I first got into the tub it felt so nice, but soon the contractions became so tough that with each one I had to jolt up from my relaxed position and hang my head over the edge, blow air through my lips like a horse, and stroke a soft towel that was under my head to try and distract myself. I could no longer talk at all through them. I remember at this point looking at Sarah and mumbling "No flash!", which is why from then on she had to do what she could with a borrowed rebel camera at 1600 f 1.4 and only 4 candles lighting the room.
I wanted SO BADLY to have a water birth, but for whatever reason, being in the warm water made me feel faint and so Carol decided I needed to get out and cool off. Throughout my labor Makayla would frequently check the baby's heart rate, and it was always good, but I knew it was not safe for a laboring woman to feel woozy, so I got out and laid on the bed.
Carol checked me again and said I was a good 7 with some cervical lip that was being stubborn. She broke my water to help things along more and soon I got the feeling of being "pushy", but it did not feel like I thought it would. I was under the impression, based on some of the birth stories I had read, that I would like this feeling but I did not. I sat backwards on the toilet and pushed a little bit, and then Carol suggested I go and hang onto one of the posts of the bed while squatting on the floor. While I did this she held back the last bit of cervix that wouldn't recede while I pushed. This is where painful became excruciating. I said a few words during this time that ladies do not usually utter, I may have claimed that I truly was going to die, and I asked repeatedly how much longer it would be until it was over. Unfortunately there was no answer to my question at the time, but it would be less than an hour.
As it turns out it was for the best that I was way way into "labor land" by this point, because tornado sirens were going off and candles were being lit in case the power went out and I don't even recall noticing. According to Sarah it only took me about 6 pushing contractions at this point to get him all the way out once my cervical lip was gone. I did not know it at this point, but I had torn a bit toward the front of my lady area and so Carol asked me to lay on the bed. This was probably so that gravity would be off that area, and to decrease my bleeding. I pushed and pushed, and cursed and cursed, and before I knew it I felt the strangest feeling I have ever felt in my life. A head was coming out of me! Now THIS was the only part of second stage labor that I can say I liked. I knew it was almost over and I finally remembered why I was doing it.
After baby's head came out, Carol turned to Forrest and told him to reach down and grab his son. He was not prepared for this, and in his bewildered state went to grab the baby with one hand on either side of my left thigh. There was a moment of confusion as he realized that he could not pick the baby up that way. In my eternal impatience I did not wait for things to get figured out, and instead reached down, pulled Augustine Ransom Womack out of myself, and brought him to my chest at 4:26 p.m. It is worth noting that my mother retold this part to all of her friends and relatives as if I had leaped a tall building in a single bound.
|Forrest holds my hand while I get stitched up...|
When Augie came out, it was like meeting someone I had known my entire life for the very first time. He was a little bit purple in the face because he was tilted slightly to the side before he came all the way out, and also he came out with his right hand against his face. Both of these things probably factored significantly into the ouchy-ness of my labor. His eyes were, and still are, big and dark blue. He has a full head of blond hair that flips me out every time I look at him. Three weeks in, and he is still not much of a crier but rather just lets out a yelp once and awhile as if to say, "HEY! I need milk/cuddles/a new diaper." I love to watch him sleep, and I just absolutely cannot believe that he is the same little person who grew inside of me for nine months. The same little person I talked to, bargained with, and loved so much before I ever saw him. I can't wait to see who he becomes and then let him read this story, and all the others I plan to write, to remind him who he was when he first started out...