My son Milo was born into my own arms, with my husband standing beside me. My water broke at 2:00 am and he was here by 3:15. That’s the short story, but the longer version is much more interesting.
Lyric, my first, was a week late. Everyone assured me that wouldn’t be the case again with a second child. So being over a week late with Milo seemed to last forever. No one seems to talk about the hormonal roller-coaster of being late. I had been 3cm dilated for a week. My body was ready…the labor just needed to kick into gear. Strong contractions sparked eager anticipation that it was finally happening. When they faded away, I was left feeling spent physically and emotionally. I was familiar with the roller coaster, but it was hard just the same. I just wanted my water to break, like you see in the movies, so I’d know it was ON.
I did all the things in those last days of my pregnancy. I ate spicy foods, swayed to the full moon, danced in my living room to Sylvan Esso and Madonna, used tinctures and drank red raspberry leaf tea. Finally, a friend came over to do some massage and acupressure. She spent 2 hours helping to move things downward. We talked through my process and came up with some visuals to help release Milo into the world. After feeling so low after many false-starts, her time with me lifted my spirits and got things going.
I went to bed that night feeling better. I awoke at 2 am. My water had broke- this was it! My adrenaline immediately kicked into gear and I woke my husband and told him to get ready. Like, now. I had no idea that my baby would be here in just over an hour, but somehow my body knew. My husband, always a calming force, called the midwife. Almost immediately, the contractions came on fast and furious. They were not ‘a minute long’, but were also less than a minute apart. I was sweating. The midwife suggested I labor at home and drink water…waiting for the 4-1-1 (Contractions 4 minutes apart, lasting one minute, for an hour). My husband started a bath for me to labor in and brought me some water and started gathering our last minute things for the hospital. My 3-year-old son slept soundly in his room. His labor had been 16 hours long with 2 and a half hours of pushing, so my husband thought we had some time.
In the tub, the contractions never spread out to be four minutes apart. Instead they grew much stronger. Too strong for me to handle. I wanted drugs (even though my first birth was natural and I was hoping this one would be too). The contractions were just so insanely intense. My husband held my hand, pushed on pressure points to relieve the pain, and talked me through it. I was nauseous and could only sip water. In the 45 seconds between each rush, I couldn’t possibly manage to get out of the tub, let alone get dressed and ride in a car for 15 minutes. I wished we had a doula or midwife to come to the house because somehow I knew we needed help. My husband, remaining the voice of calm, still thought we’d be going to the hospital and that we had many hours ahead. He tried to help me take it one step at a time. First I’d get out of the tub, then get dressed…little by little we’d make it there. My body knew that wasn’t happening. The contractions were stronger, I breathed and labored and groaned my way through it, not seeing how I could possibly get out of the tub and to the hospital.
After about an hour, I started transitioning. My legs started shaking and my body started pushing. My body was doing what it needed to do, but I didn’t think I was supposed to be pushing yet, so I arm wrestled my husband to have a place to push (we did this with my first birth at some point). A little while later we agreed I needed to get out so we could get to the hospital. One small step at a time. He helped me to sit up and change positions so I could get out of the tub. I was now on my knees, still having intensely strong contractions back-to-back. I knew we needed help. He started to call 911.
The next moments happened like a flash. The shift in position and gravity from me getting on my knees was all Milo needed to come into the world. Again, my body pushed. I say ‘my body pushed’ because it wasn’t my conscious decision…it was happening purely on its own. I felt the familiar burn and this time I looked down and I saw his head! I knew he’d be here with the next contraction. So when the push came, I reached down, caught him with both hands and lifted him out of the water.
Milo was born!
What I experienced next I can only describe as complete elation. Milo immediately began crying. He looked the same color as I remembered from Lyric’s birth, and so I wasn’t scared. It was incredible. Just after he was born, my husband spoke with the EMT’s who talked him through what to do. He then coached me. I swept Milo’s nose and mouth. We unwrapped the umbilical cord that was loosely spiraled around his body. We covered him in towels to keep him warm. My husband tied off the umbilical cord (with a shoelace!) and the EMT arrived in less than 10 minutes.
The EMT’s were wonderful. They cut the cord and took Milo’s vitals. He was doing great and so was I. Thankfully there were no complications. They helped us both up and out, wrapped only in loads of towels, to the gurney that was waiting for us outside. It was literally freezing outside. In the ambulance, I held Milo in my arms, still in awe and disbelief of what had just happened. Milo was born. I caught him. I knew I’d be there for him forever. From that point on, we had a fairly routine stay at the hospital and came home the next day.