On October 11, 2009 we were over at a friend’s house for Thanksgiving (in Canada Thanksgiving that year was on October 12). We were playing Pictionary and if you’re ever in need of a few laughs, I highly recommend this game! It was so much fun, there were crazy ridiculous drawings, mildly offensive drawings, Picasso-like drawings-it was hilarious.
Anyway, throughout my entire pregnancy I was an early-to-bed type of girl, I never stayed up past 11:00pm. On this particular evening (one week prior to my due date) I didn’t make it home until 3:00am and by the time my head hit the pillow my stomach was aching from laughing so hard!
At about 8:00am, I woke up abruptly with Cinnamon Toast Crunch on my mind. Throughout my pregnancy, I ate fairly well. I don’t even think I had ever tasted Cinnamon Toast Crunch before this day, but it’s my husband’s favorite so I knew there was a stash somewhere. I searched the house and found an unopened box-wooohoo! I promptly ate the entire box and went back to bed.
A few hours later I woke up and felt a cramp-like sensation. I noticed it and went back to sleep. Then at about 10:30am I got out of bed, the feeling in my stomach was still there, but it was so mild I thought I had pulled something after my night of hysterical laughing. I went about my day, organizing my soon-to-be-son’s toys, answering emails, and paying bills. I called my midwife to tell her what I was feeling and she said that Jackson (my son) should arrive sometime within the week. She asked me if the feeling was coming and going, it was pretty hard to tell, but I thought maybe it was. So she asked me to write down the times that I felt coming and going. I promptly sent my husband out to purchase a timer (something we were already supposed to have!) and some juice. When he got back he was contemplating whether he should go to work for a few hours. I wasn’t sure (was it false labor?), but I asked him to stay and he did.
At about 1:00pm the feeling got stronger, I was still going about my day, but I would lay-down when the feeling would come. I soon found out that laying down actually made it feel stronger so I took a shower, walked around, got on all-fours, drank some juice, balanced on a ball, and tried to find the most comfortable thing to do when the feeling came.
At about 2:00pm, I climbed in the tub. When the feeling would come I would get on all fours, rest my head at the end of the tub, and let my belly hang. And when it was done I would turn over and submerge myself in the warm water. I remember my husband asking if this was “really it”. I still wasn’t sure…you see, I heard all these “stories” (perhaps you’ve heard them too) about how difficult, scary, painful, overwhelming labor is. I wasn’t feeling those things, so I wasn’t really sure if this “was it”. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a walk in the park, but it just wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.
At 2:30pm it all changed, something happened, I don’t know what it was but suddenly it was like my mind turned off and my body took over. My husband was running around the house, getting me cool water to drink, putting laundry in, offering me a selection of fruit juices, cleaning the house, pouring warm water on my back. He was one busy guy! After the big event was over he mentioned that his quads were hurting from running up and down the stairs so much. Cute.
My memory is a bit hazy after that, but I do remember telling my husband to call the midwife and to tell her something had changed. I remember him saying, ‘are you sure?’ and ‘let’s wait a few more hours’. To be honest, I wasn’t sure, but a voice in my head said, ‘this is it’. He called and chatted with the midwife, giving her an update about what had progressed since my early morning call.
The midwife asked him to give me the phone and by some miracle of her training she was able to tell that I was in active labor just by the sound of my voice! Amazing. She talked with me for a little while, asked me to see if I could “feel the head”. It took me a little while to understand what she meant. By the time I clued in the out of mind and into body experience happened again and I checked out for about 30 seconds. When my mind returned I tried to “feel the head”.
For those of you that have felt inside yourself before (for whatever reason), it’s the strangest thing to put your fingers in that familiar place and have it feel completely foreign. I think that was the weirdest thing about the whole birth experience. In fact, it was so intriguing, that I kept checking every few minutes, I even grabbed my husbands hands and so he could experience it too. Anyway, back to the story.
I told the midwife that I could only fit about half my finger in. I could hear her scurrying around as soon as I said that and she said, “I’m on my way”. My husband took the phone from me and chatted with her for a few minutes, then I heard him say, “should I call the paramedics right now?”. I happened to be in my mind at that point and I protested (I really didn’t want to be the back of an ambulance!). Poor guy. I feel bad about putting him in that position now. The midwife said she was on her way, stuck in traffic, baby was coming, and the paramedics should be called.
There’s something you should know about the whole paramedic issue. Throughout my entire pregnancy anytime I would encounter an underlying fear that I had about childbirth, I would identify it, work through it, and release it. Or so I hoped. One of the strategies that worked well for me was to say to myself, “you have two choices you can birth from fear or you can birth from love, what are you going to choose?”. I would work through the fear in the most loving way possible until I felt it release its grip. However, I did have one fear that was holding on tight- the fear of being in labor, in the back of an ambulance, on the way to the hospital. Interestingly enough, once I was faced with my greatest fear, I felt love come into my life and melt away all fear. That was the moment that love was birthed into my life.
I went back into my body, my fingers still exploring the strangeness of my changing body, I was intrigued with the way that his head felt. I felt surrounded by love and peace. All of a sudden, I felt Jackson moving quickly down and through me. I put one knee on the floor on the tub, and one knee up (the proposal position) and he slipped into my hands. The cord was wrapped around his neck twice, so I quickly un-looped it and looked at Jackson for the first time. Breathtaking.
In the background I heard my husband talking to the 9-1-1 dispatcher saying, “the baby is on the way”. I looked up and smiled and he said, “uh, the baby is here”. I laid back into the tub, he grabbed a towel and put it around Jackson. Jackson was born at 3:12pm, the paramedics arrive at 3:14pm and the midwives arrived at 3:15pm.
The midwives and paramedics took care of everything while we cuddled up to enjoy our first few moments as a family. It was absolutely the most peaceful moment of my life. In fact, one of the paramedics looked at me and said incredulously, “you’re so calm?!”. Got to love those uber-powerful birthing hormones.
Gemma Stone is married to the love of her life, Matthew, and is honored to be the mother of Jackson. She is a psychologist, speaker, and writer who has a passion for working with pregnant moms. Connect with her at www.birthingfromlove.com