“There’s something wrong,”
I stated matter-of- factly, knitting my brows together as I raised my gaze up to meet the amused eyes of my Midwife.
“Rachel,” she began, not taking me as seriously as I would have liked, “It’s only been 4 hours, you are doing great.”
This was my third baby and the first birth I would be having at home. Combined, my other births from the first sign of labor until meeting the babies took less than seven hours.
To me, four hours felt like a marathon. I quit having my contractions timed because I was annoyed that they weren’t getting any closer together. I stopped having casual conversations with the room full of people who surrounded me because my patience was wearing thin.
I stood in my kitchen, hands pressing into the doorway as a contraction hit. I could feel the intensity rising with each one, and I was already feeling tired, both physically and mentally. Tears formed in my eyes, both from frustration and the searing pain that was ripping at my abdomen.
I remembered to breathe and went back to the visualization we had used every week at Prenatal Yoga.
With eyes pinched together, I pictured myself on a surf board, awaiting the big wave. When I felt it coming near, I could see myself hop on this 6-foot long board, a little giddy knowing what I was about to accomplish, but also fearful of the challenge.
Throughout that next contraction, I was riding the wave, staying just on top of it as I struggled to both let go of the fear while maintaining my control. Before long the wave began to dissipate, eventually letting me off so I could regroup while the next one began to swell. I was proud of my ability to stay afloat but apprehensive of the already built up wave I was facing once again.
Moving on to my bedroom, the midwife wanted to check my dilation. Even though I gave myself a pep-talk, saying it was just a number, I felt so much defeat to learn that I was still at a 4, where I had been for hours. “Come on body,” I whispered. “I am okay. I just want to meet this baby. It’s time.”
My talk seemed to work, and well after six hours of labor, I intuitively knew I was rounding the corner for the home stretch. The spaces within my body were all participating in each contraction, threatening to tear down my calm demeanor.
The unrelenting pain made me almost believe I wouldn’t survive the experience. It was the deep-rooted knowing that this was purposeful pain that held me together. I struggled to maintain a few ounces of composure as the contractions ran deeper and stronger.
I tried to remember the metaphor for life that I so often preached: when things are at their most painful and difficult, know that you are on the cusp of so much beauty and joy. Like the rainbow that appears after a storm.
I braced myself between the doorway to my closet, and drew in deep, slow breaths, attempting to bring a sense of calm to my cells which were now screaming at me. Once I made it through that contraction, I hobbled over to my bed, knowing it was almost time to meet my little girl.
I pushed for what felt like hours, though only ended up being less than half an hour. I knew before my baby came out that this was my biggest yet. My body struggled to deliver her, and I had to use every muscle within me simultaneously to get her out.
And right after my body felt like it was ripping into millions of pieces, out she came, screaming her sweet little face off. She was quickly cleaned off by my midwife and handed to me to hold.
Boy or Girl?
My midwife asked if I knew what gender my baby was and, already certain I knew, looked down to appease her. That’s when I gasped and exclaimed, “There’s a penis!!!!”
The whole room laughed, as I lay back in shock. For nine months I had just known in my bones that this baby was a little girl. I was adamant about it and annoyed when everyone else claimed I was carrying like a boy. I looked down again at this squishy mini person with gigantic eyes that, between tears, looked so afraid.
And my heart. In that moment of our eyes connecting, my heart burst into countless scattered pieces that would never find their way back together again. A girl. A boy. Who cared. He was perfect in every way and I absolutely adored him.
The midwives worked at cleaning up and I awaited the news that for the first time, I would need stitches (my first baby was 5 pounds 11 ounces, my second baby was 7 pounds 1 ounce, and this baby was 8 pounds 1 ounce). Wrong again. No stitches were needed, I was free and clear to enjoy my new baby from the comfort of my own home, snuggled up in my own bed. That freedom and peace solidified what was already very much an empowering experience.
I brought this little bundled up man to my lips and kissed his squishy cheeks. Then I lowered my lips to his ear and whispered to him, welcoming him into the world and assuring him he was okay and that my heart was all his. I also whispered, perhaps more for my own well-being than his, “we will be okay my sweet boy. We can do this. As long as we’re together, we can do anything.”
And as I soaked in this perfect little bundle who was an extension of myself, I knew I was right. The past nine months I had spent in complete terror, worried how I would juggle a business, two other small children, a marriage, a home and now a newborn. And in this moment, seeing my son for the first time, I understood that my fears were trivial. I took off my proverbial cape and committed to leaving it on the ground.
This. This is what matters. The mess can accumulate. The clients can wait. The meals can be half-assed.
All that matters are my precious children. As long as they are with me, safe and healthy, I will forever have all I need.
About the Author:
Rachel Neill is a Holistic Nutritionist, Fitness Instructor, Yoga Teacher, Writer and Mama to 3. Her mission is to give busy Mamas easy to implement tools and strategies to improve their health and instill their sense of self-worth.
Featured Image: Author’s Photos, used with permission.
In Post Images: Author’s Photos, used with permission.