July 26th was my 6th anniversary. My sister watched the kids while we went to the gym and ate tiramisu, sushi rolls, and fried chicken in the Harmon’s parking lot. I’ll write another post here shortly on how much working out helped me during pregnancy and postpartum.
While at the gym and in the car, I’m contract. Low-key, strong, consistent. No, I don’t time mine. I just pay attention to whether they keep coming. Probably coming about every eight to twelve minutes. Nothing urgent or exciting. Just strong enough to breathe through but no pain. They kept up all day. I usually go into labor in the evenings. I can tell when it’s 4 PM because my contractions almost instantly start kicking up a notch.
During the day, I distracted myself while keeping a vague awareness of my contractions. I played Plague Inc. on my laptop, reading, trying to nap, and eating the Crumbl cookies that my sister brought. It was a good day. I thought about getting some homework done but didn’t feel like it. The contractions were still there; not really getting closer together. Taking a shower slowed them down a lot. Hot water will do that if you’re not very far into labor.
I wanted to encourage them by relaxing more, so I sat in my office and played my “Birth” playlist from YouTube. I walked around and swayed, focusing on relaxing. My kids were still around; yelling and doing what they do. I wasn’t able to focus and relax enough to move these along. I called a neighbor to take them up on their offer to watch them sometime. Damon took the kids over. It was Remi’s first time being away from us for more than a few hours. Damon was nervous. I told him not to make me nervous.
I took my laptop into my room to see if changing positions would help move things along. My brain was everywhere; what if he didn’t come tonight? What if the other mom who my midwife was with didn’t have her baby? Was I overthinking this labor? It felt just like my others did at the beginning. Finally, I decided that I needed something to get me to loosen up and chill out. At that moment, I wished that I could dance. My belly was huge though and easy movements were out of the question. Then I had an idea; Remi will watch ballet videos with Haven sometimes. She lifts her arms up in a V shape and smiles. So, I tried it. I couldn’t help but smile. It was impossible to be tense or stressed when doing “The Remi”. I did it a few times and felt free, so I kept doing it till my arms got tired.
My midwife was going to head over soon. My contractions didn’t hurt more, but they were getting closer together. No idea what the timing actually was. All that I knew is that they weren’t twelve minutes apart anymore. I walked around and found myself getting cold. Damon retrieved two blankets from the dryer; one for me and one for my sister. I put on my sweater and pulled the blanket around myself. It felt like my midwife was taking a little while. I didn’t want these quitting.
My midwife arrived and was surprised that I wasn’t just relaxing in my birthing pool. I didn’t want to jinx anything. Damon got the tub out and helped her bring things in. She checked my cervix; I was a very stretchy 5. She asked what I wanted to do. Breaking my water would probably get me a baby in less than two hours. I didn’t want to do that just yet; everything gets way more intense after your water is broken. I didn’t feel ready to face that yet. She suggested a tincture to give me that extra jump to get things moving. Damon made me some dill seed tea. It’d worked wonders with Remi…maybe. Sample size of one isn’t that great, but it seemed to help a lot. The tincture started making my contractions stronger within half an hour. I got into the tub.
The tub was comfy and made maneuvering my body easier. Damon sat on the couch with an embroidery hoop, sewing up our down comforter that’d gotten a hole. My sister was on her phone. Everything was calm. I reached in and could feel how soft everything was. I could feel his head a few inches in. I couldn’t reach my cervix though. After a little bit, my midwife checked me. I was at a 7. His head was farther down than the opening of my cervix..just like Remi’s had been. Great. That meant that my cervix had to stretch all the way around his head. She asked if I wanted for her to break my water. I was still scared. So scared of the pain and intensity that comes after your water breaks. But I was also tired of waiting. We broke my water on my bed, and I immediately felt things ramp up. Not wanting to try working through these “dry”, I returned to the tub after another contraction squeezed out some more of the amniotic fluid.
Damon sat beside me as I sat in the tub, starting to hyperventilate a bit and cry.
“I don’t want to leave. I want to stay right here. I hate that part. I don’t want to leave.”
There’s a place called “Labor Land”. If you’ve been there, you know what it’s like. The sensations of your body overtake you. Sometimes, you groan. You “ooooh”. You leave your body yet have never felt more encompassed by its power. Every movement becomes an effort in moving through the waves. You’re not able to speak during contractions. Talking between them is tiring. I was afraid of leaving the world behind and falling into that place.
The hot water was making me tired. My midwife said that’s often your body’s way of making you calm down and conserve your energy for the end…whenever the heck that would be.
“I just want to push him out. I don’t want to go through transition.”
I’d been “training” for this moment for months. I’d not missed a week at the gym since January. My core was stronger than it’d been since high school. I was ready to push this kid out. But my body wasn’t. I kept repeating phrases like that over and over. Seriously, I didn’t want to do this. I didn’t want to “labor”. I was so tired. I just wanted to sleep. I got out of the tub and made my way to my room. Damon laid beside me on our bed. I pulled the white blanket around me and tried to rest.
Oftentimes, I’ve heard of and experienced the intrusion of the analytical brain during labor. This wasn’t one of those times. This labor required me to think through what was going on. As I laid there, I talked to myself (in my head) as a form of distraction from the surges in my body.
Here is comes. Pull through it for another ten seconds. Yup, you got this. Aaaand done.
This feels like someone is pulling a fire skirt over my body.
I can handle another one. Just one more.
One more. I can handle one more.
I don’t know how long I talked to myself for. My midwife came in and asked if I was dozing. Damon was reading on his phone beside me and said “I think so” or “Yeah”. I don’t remember which. Ha…Nope. Just like with Ty; I was in the most exquisite intense pain that I’d been in but looked like I was sleeping.
It began to change. Each one became more intense. I twisted my head to the side and felt like vomiting.
“I just need to throw up, then I’ll be okay.”
Damon had a bowl lined with a plastic bag for such an occasion. He passed it over to me after I’d said that I felt like throwing up. I reached in and felt my cervix, which was all the way in the front now. I was at a nine or a ten. This was probably transition.
I didn’t throw up. But suddenly, I felt a feeling of bearing down. I can’t remember what sound I made, but it was loud.
“He needs to come out right now.”
My midwife asked if I wanted to push in the tub. I said “yes”, but after about thirty seconds (or however long it was…I have no idea), I knew that I wasn’t going to make it. Damon was by my side. I told him to help me up now. I told him to help me get from my back to my hands and knees. He asked me why. I told him that he needs to come out now. I was on my hands and knees. I felt that overwhelming urge to push this boy out.
And with one long roar and push, I did.
Adrik fell out onto the bed. Nobody caught him. He cried. I laid down with a cry of relief….and a stream of celebratory expletives. About a third of the words that this kid first heard were probably the f word. I was so overjoyed to have him out.
“@#$! Yeah!!!! I @#%ing did it! I @#$@ing had a baby!”
No joke. I made Damon high-five me. I pulled my small man to me. I didn’t see his face for a little while because of how he was positioned. He was covered in slimy, white vernix. His color was fine.
He was a bit wet still from having not being squeezed at all on the way out. But he did it. I told him that he was not going to the NICU like his brother. He was going to show him up and transition.
He did. It took him about half an hour to transition to our oxygen. He’d told me in utero that he was strong. I don’t know how else to explain it. I knew that he knew that he was strong.
Can we just talk for a sec about how much it hurts after you have your fourth baby?!! I seriously wanted to yank my placenta out of my body. Pushing that out brought about 75% as much relief as pushing Adrik out. And nursing him for the next few days…I mean, really, God?!??! You couldn’t make this easier with each kid??? I was asking for ibuprofen goodness sooo soon after he and the placenta were out. I had Damon take a picture of the placenta. One of my friends wanted to see it, and I wanted to encapsulate it. It’s sitting in my kitchen cupboard right now.
Oh yeah! I didn’t tear. I had like three little papercuts in a few places. But no tearing. I don’t know if that’s really a victory or more of a sign that my perineum just said “Welp! Time to scootch.”
Anyway, after small boy’s vitals, weight, and measurements were checked, I waddled to the bathroom with the help of my midwife. My sister, who missed Adrik falling out by like 5 seconds, made me a grilled cheese sandwich. My boy was born. I’d done it.
Adrik Daniel Roarke Johnson born at exactly 37 weeks on July 27th at 1:23 AM.
7 lbs 2 oz (heaviest baby) 20 inches long
Oh yeah. I was all worried that Remi would be jealous. NOPE! He’s her baby!