Thanks so much to Jennifer for sharing this story of the birth of Tula, born in Louisville in May 2011.
Since this was my second baby I expected labor to begin earlier than it did with my first, but instead I got more practice in patience. After waiting 41 weeks and four days I was tired of waiting. I was fed up, frustrated and weepy. As a midwife I felt my own words, said to many women, reverberating back to me: “Enjoy these last few days with two free hands…Your baby will come when she’s ready…Try and rest…” I did do all of those things, but I also walked, prayed, pleaded with my baby, did nipple stimulation and many other things to try and “encourage” labor. I was having infrequent, weak contractions for what felt like weeks now.
Needing some quiet time, I called my mother and she came to take my other two girls to the park around 3 pm. My husband, Lupe, came home from work to find me on the birth ball using the breast pump and by reading the expression on my face, recommended a change. We went out for a walk in the beautiful May sun and my contractions began in earnest and became more regular making me stop every few minutes to breathe. I felt a surge of excitement that labor had finally begun.
In the next hour I showered, got a back rub and was sweet with Lupe. Contractions intensified and I huffed and puffed around the house; lighting candles and making phone calls to my mom, midwife, and sister. My teeth chattered and my body shook as I told my midwife not to hurry as I “wasn’t in transition or anything!” Minutes later, I felt my baby drop in my pelvis and the undeniable feeling of rectal pressure made it clear that she was coming soon. Lupe called the midwife to tell her that we wanted her to come over now, and she told him she was already on her way, tipped off by my obvious (to everyone but me) signs of transition. Case in point for why even midwives need a midwife! Feeling a little overwhelmed by the pace, I moved to the tub hoping to slow things down a bit. My water broke and I felt trapped and ungrounded in the bath.
My midwife arrived and I felt relieved that she was there in time. She and Lupe helped me move out of the tub and into the living room where I found a comfortable position kneeling, leaning over an arm chair. Labor-land found me there as I went inward, unable to talk, not noticing that my mother and the other midwife had arrived. While I was oblivious to outside activity, I was aware of every movement of my body and my baby’s body. As the contractions got stronger I felt the bones of my pelvis open like a tunnel causing me to gasp and tense up. I began to blow and reminded myself to surrender and let her out slowly. As her head emerged I lifted one foot to the ground and grabbed onto Lupe for support. Her head was born with her hand on her cheek. I pushed for one shoulder, then the other and then her body was born. I scooped her up off the pillow into my arms and sat up in the chair. Hearing her loud, strong cries filled me with joy and relief.
Looking up I saw my sister had just arrived, and happy tears filled the room. She nursed as we looked at her tiny face, hands and body. I squatted for the placenta. My sister cut the cord telling her she was now a “free, independent lady” and that she was “free to do as you please”… and apparently she wanted to nurse then and for years to come. We all looked at the placenta, made prints, laughed, ate and relaxed.
After a few hours everyone left and the three of us laid down to sleep together. It was magical just to see her tiny self laying in the bed next to me, when just a few short hours before she was part of me. In the morning her two sisters came home to meet their baby sister, with Tula waking up and opening her eyes to see them at just the perfect time.