The contractions started at around 10:30am. The night before I was convinced I was about to go into labor. I could feel Amos dropping down into my pelvis. I went for a long walk, relaxing into every Braxton Hicks contraction. I tried other suggested activities (insert throat clearing here) to bring on labor. Finally, I went to bed.
I woke up still pregnant...and cranky as hell.
I tried to go about my day. I took Griffin to the park. My grandmother came over for a visit. Around 11am, I noticed the nonstop Braxton Hicks contractions had taken on the more distinctive characteristics of menstrual cramps. I called my midwife — at first, suggesting that she stop at another visit before coming to my house. Two contractions later, I called her back and said, “Scratch that. Come here first.”
My grandmother stayed with Griffin, while I went to pick up Nicholas from work. He dropped me off my mother’s, where I laid on my left side to slow the contractions until my midwife’s arrival. They were still completely manageable at this point. I had on Oprah’s Master Class in the background, which was sort of amazing. It was like Oprah was in the room coaching me. (Y’all KNEW I wouldn’t give birth without at least one Oprah reference!)
About an hour and a half later, my midwife and her assistant arrived. She checked me and said I was between 2-3 centimeters. I spent the next hour walking around and squatting into the contractions. Working very hard to move things along, I knew I could get in the pool once I was at about 6 centimeters — anything short of that there was a chance the pool would actually slow down my labor.
Another hour or so later, my midwife checked me again. This time I was a solid three centimeters and much more effaced. More walking. More squatting. I was finding it difficult to get in a relaxing position. Finally, I got on exercise ball and braced myself on the side of couch. My midwife’s assistant would push hard on my lower back during every contraction. That pressure and my breath was all I had to get me through and things were starting to get intense.
I started to complain. I didn’t remember it hurting this much last time I said. This baby’s head must be huge I said. I wasn't getting time to rest because they were coming two at a time. The complaining turned to moaning turned to more than a couple of screams.
I kept waiting for my midwife to say it was time to check me again. Finally, I was at the end of my rope. I wanted to get in the pool. I didn’t care if I was 3.5 centimeters and my labor came to a screeching halt.
I made the long walk back to the bedroom for my midwife to check me.
9 centimeters! HOLLA!
And this is where things get exciting. My midwife yells out, “Anyone who wants to see this baby be born, better come now!” I walk back into the foyer where the pool is. Inexplicably, Griffin is in the next room doing a puzzle. (He had been taking a nap up until this point.) After some pretty serious rushing, he and my stepfather leave.
I get in the pool. At my next contraction, I feel the urge to push and my water breaks. I start pushing and screaming. Minutes later, Amos is crowning. I’m leaning over the side of the pool when his head emerges. My midwife has me get on my back (and by that I mean she and her assistant pick me up and flip me like a pancake). One more push and Amos Edward Holland was born.
Despite being in an enormous amount of pain, I felt that instant sky-clearing-ray-of-light-shining-down moment of pure love for this baby in my arms. I would describe Griffin’s labor and delivery as easier but I didn’t really have that intense bond with him the moment he was placed in my arms.
It was completely and totally mind-blowing.
Maybe it was because the labor went so fast — a mere six hours from first cramp to his birth. Maybe it was because the labor had been so hard. Let me tell you — going from 3 centimeters to 9 centimeters in a little over an hour AIN’T EASY. My first birth was a lesson in trusting my body. My second birth was a lesson in trusting my gut, which was screaming, “Get in the pool! This bloody hurts!”
Either way that moment was worth it all.