That’s her on her first birthday. Now she’s four. Yikes!
I’ll try and get a good rendition of her birth story down here; but I’m pretty tired.
Sophie was due on June 2, 2001. That very day, I went to a birthing class at my midwife’s place, and during the birth video (really!) I began having contractions. Veronica (the m.wife) checked and I was one whole centimeter dilated, and zero percent effaced. whoo!hoo! But, hey, it was the furthest in labor I’d ever gotten on my own and she’s kid number three.
I went to the drugstore, babbling to strangers as I picked up the last minute supplies that I was going to go home and have a baby! I’d have skipped down the aisles, but just walking was a challenge.
I went to a family picnic at the park with my boys that evening, having pretty mild contractions throughout. Got home, bathed the boys, put them to bed, and tidied up best I could. Sophie’s father and I had broken up three months earlier, otherwise I’d have been headed to the hospital, since he wouldn’t even discuss home birth with me.
I didn’t really know what to expect, because both the boys were induced and I was medicated and monitored and frightened and uncomfortable. Things were great for a few hours and I felt really connected and rhythmic and lots of other mystical ways that don’t hold up when put to words.
3 a.m. on the dot I had a hard contraction that woke me up and made me call my momma. She came right over, to find me rocking back and forth on my hands and knees. She was not too keen on the home birth plan because, you know, I’m her baby and she wants me to be safe as possible. But, even though I knew she was concerned about my plan, I felt nothing but total support. She called Veronica and my wonderful friend K, and they both headed over.
While we waited for them to arrive, we decided to fill the birthing pool (which was a rubbermaid horse trough I’d rented from a really nice couple) that was taking up most of my living room. I’d bought a new garden hose just for this purpose, thinking that we’d hook it up to the kitchen sink and create a tub of nice, warm water. Of course, I didn’t test that theory out first. When the hose was finally sort of connected to the sink, which was far away, we were only able to get a tiny trickle of nice, warm water. After a few minutes, there was maybe enough to cover the pads of my feet. We decided to abandon ship, and I went to lie down on the couch in the living room, which was covered in a bedsheet and some of those blue plastic-backed absorbent pads. I stayed there, on my left side, for the rest of the labor.
I did alright, although I did vomit almost every time I had a contraction and the contractions were right on top of each other. Still, I noticed the absence of bright lights and beeping machines and there weren’t announcements and people in the hallway. All that was a huge difference for me. Veronica made a little pallet on the floor so she could lay down, and talked me through when she heard me struggling. I went straight for the blowing breathing they teach in lamaze class. Couldn’t help it.
When things got more and more intense, my lower back spasmed on me. (or as a guy I used to work with would say, "it seized up, ahhhhhh!") I couldn’t move, and the grip was furious. I remember laying on my side, feeling like I’d never be able to leave that position, and how every time I threw up, my whole body felt like my lower back. My friend K stood on the other side of the arm of the couch at one point, and when I was having severe pain she took her hand and pressed it open palmed, into mine. I pushed back, and immediately had less pain. Counter-pressure = magic.
Around this time, the boys left with their dad. They came over and gave me a kiss and said goodbye. The funny thing is that their dad was certain that seeing me in labor, and especially seeing their sister born, would be traumatic and would scar them. He thought that seeing me in pain would freak them out. When they came to say goodbye to me, I was deep into transition, but was still able to talk to them and tell them that I was okay. I regret ever calling him now, thinking that they could have been there for her birth. But, on the other hand, it was nice and quiet when she was born.
When I reached the point of thinking that I’d made a stupid, horrible mistake doing this at home and felt like I needed to be taken into surgery to get. this. thing. out. of. me. RIGHT. NOW.; I said something to that effect. I think that I was so tired that I just said, "I can’t do this," which was Veronica’s cue to get up and see how I was progressing. She checked me and said I was at 8. And I thought "OH HOLY FUCK, EIGHT!!??" (sorry, but I am being honest) Just then I had a massive, physics-defying contraction, and she said, "OH wait, you’re at nine. . . no, ten, okay, you’re there, BUT DON’T PUSH!"
I pushed. Hard as I could. Don’t tell me not to push.
On the first push, Veronica told me that my water hadn’t broken yet, and that she was going to have to take the membrane off Sophie right after she came out. I think that’s what she said, I don’t remember too well. Then I pushed again and her head came out right when the water broke, on its own. One more push and she was out. Three pushes, people. Three. And really, it could have been one if I’d applied myself.
So there was Sophie, totally clean from being in the amniotic fluid, and tiny and perfect.
The time? 6 a.m. exactly. Three hours from the "ouch" to baby. I suppose you might call hers an ‘easy’ birth, though I don’t think those two words belong in the same paragraph. Since I was on the living room couch in our tiny apartment, I was near the front door. I remember that someone opened the door, and there was a cool breeze and the sun was coming up. Birds were singing, the fridge was humming, but it was really quiet, too. Veronica waited an hour before cutting the cord (Lexy had wanted to do it, but by 7 they weren’t there and it needed to be done). I remember the damp cool breeze coming into the house, and how blue and grey and cool everything was. It was nice after working so hard, like a drink.
Veronica weighed Sophie in a blanket attached to a spring scale; like a fisherman would weigh a fish. She was nearly seven pounds by that scale, but I think she was really closer to six. She had no eyedrops and no shots and no bath and no blood tests and no plastic bracelets and she didn’t leave my arms for a good long while. I told her when she was born that I couldn’t wait until she got big, cause we’d paint our toenails together. I had two boys at the time, so I was ready for girly. And so tomorrow, at some point in all the fun and chaos, Sophie and I will paint our toes together. When she’s much older, I’ll make sure that we get pedicures together on her birthday.
That’s it for now. I ought to sleep. Big day tomorrow. We are making her cake together. Her plan is chocolate, with blue frosting that has yellow stripes and multi-colored polka dots. Also, triangles. "I love triangles," she says.
Happy Birthday, Sophie!