Our due date was slowly approaching. April 23rd, a Wednesday. Our home was set and ready for our baby girl to come. The birthing kit and supplies were carefully laid out, our inflatable birthing tub was waiting patiently in our bedroom, and all her tiny clothes and blankets were washed and waiting. It was April 18th, a Thursday night when the first tiny sign of labor started. As you will soon understand, I will have no idea I am even in labor until the very end. For that Thursday night, I thought I was experiencing a mild stomach ache coupled with a little lower back pain. I didn’t think much of it, and went to sleep that night. The next morning, Friday the 19th, I woke up still feeling “crappy”. I felt pains of indigestion, numb lower back pain, and general discomfort. I canceled a morning work meeting and tried to just feel better. That afternoon I kept lunch plans with a gal pal, Amia. We went downtown on that gorgeous sunny afternoon and ate at my favorite sandwich shop and got coffee. Unbeknownst to me, I was actually starting to have contractions through our lunch. How could I not know you ask? I was experiencing heavy back labor. Rather than feeling front uterine contractions or vaginal pains, I was only feeling discomfort in my back. I figured baby girl was dropping deeper, and that was causing the pains. I never thought to expect back labor pains, so I just didn’t think it was happening just yet. Amia asked me a few times through long breaths and twinges of discomfort on my face if I was sure I was OK. I reassured her it was only the baby “moving around a lot” and I just needed to stretch my back. Once I returned home, I picked roses from my garden and filled our bedroom with them. I took a nap. My husband, Ronaldo, and I ordered pizza. I baked a rhubarb pie. The entire time, I was in early labor. By nightfall, the discomfort had risen. I felt clenching and tightening in my thighs coupled with more serious back pain and I passed a small amount of blood. Ronaldo suggested it was time to call the midwife.
For our birth, we enlisted a Certified Professional Midwife with her own private practice about a 25 minute drive to our home. She would also be bringing along an assistant. Along with Angela, we also hired a DONA certified professional Doula. Mandi would be there to assist me with birthing, with pain management, and to help Ronaldo help me. She would also be bringing an assistant. These 4 amazing ladies plus my wonderful husband was the team to be present during our birth.
Ronaldo called Angela that Friday night to tell her of my symptoms. She reassured us that it sounded like I could possibly be in very early stages of labor, but at this point I were to just relax and get some rest. So around 10pm, we went to sleep. At 2am, I was woken up by more back pain. My insides felt twisted up. I needed some relief. I told Ronaldo I was going to go to the bathroom for a little bit, hopefully I could work out whatever was going on inside and I would return to bed later on. He dozed off back to sleep. It might sound strange, but sitting in the darkness on the porcelain throne was where I felt most comfortable. The pains began to ravage my lower back. After I completed my business, I tried to return to bed. Lying flat was incredibly excruciating, so I began pacing in our bedroom. At this point, Ronaldo was pretty insistent that I was in active labor and that it was time to call the midwife. I argued against him. Nothing I was experiencing screamed LABOR to me. I was expecting a whole different set of pains than what I though I would be feeling. I had felt these pains in life before. It was just a really bad stomach ache coupled with constipation, I kept assuring him. Finally he suggest we time my “pains”. Each time I felt the clench, the twinge in my thighs, and the crawl up my back we would time till the next one. Never was there any pattern. 5 minutes, 12 minutes, 6 minutes, 4 minutes. “See!” I pointed out with confidence, “there is no pattern, these are not contractions”. To the outside world, it must all seem so clear. How could she not know she was in labor?! Right? Well, take my extreme stubbornness and couple that with exhaustion as it was nearing 4am, I just knew I was right. I have never been so wrong.
As 4:00 am drew near, I retired back into the bathroom. Sitting and closing my eyes in the silence was the only place I wanted to be. My brilliant husband, at this point knowing I was crazy and in fact in labor, began preparing our bedroom. He changed our sheets, he pulled out more supplies, and he cleared up some last minute clutter. I can never thank him enough for not listening to me and trusting his gut. As I sat in the darkness, it was becoming more and more apparent that something was not “right”. I still was not fully ready to admit I was in labor, but I agreed to have Ronaldo call Angela around 5:30 am when the back pain was becoming more than ‘mildly uncomfortable’. She assured Ronaldo that I was indeed in labor, and that she would gather her things and casually be on her way. I texted my mother, who I had standing breakfast plans with, that I “might” be going into labor and if she and my step-dad could come over to assist Ronaldo with filling my birthing tub with warm water. I thought we were hours, if not days away from me giving birth. They agreed and started to head over. At this point, I decided to put on my nightgown. I didn’t think I would be having a baby that morning, but I figured I might as well get comfortable. I moved into the bathroom in our living room area, to free up the master bath for the filling of the tub. As I sat in that bathroom, I suddenly felt the need to push. “Need” doesn’t properly explain the feeling. I had to push, more than anything in the world, I had to push. It was uncontrollable. Only now did the pain begin to mount. I began to feel much different pains and finally gave in and allowed myself to believe that this was happening. My mind was beginning to feel cloudy and my adrenaline was starting to pump. My heart raced as I reached down and felt my perineum bulge. This baby was coming, and fast. I threw open the bathroom door with my foot just as my mother was arriving at about 6:30 am. I hollered for Ronaldo, “please look, tell me what you see”, as I opened my legs the color dropped from Ronaldo’s face. He could see the baby’s head. Angela, the midwife was on the phone in seconds, who was still a drive away, and began giving Ronaldo instructions. My husband insisted ‘he was not going to do thins’ and she HAD to make it in time. With Ronaldo using Angela’s guidance on the phone, and my mother’s (who has had 2 natural births herself) advice, I was told to stop pushing. I was not dilated enough and could not push the baby out sitting on the toilet. It was a huge fight to get me up, as I was comfortable where I was, but I eventually waddled into our bedroom. Scott and Ronaldo began setting up the birthing tub and attempting to fill it with water. There were still no Midwives (or my doula, who we never called) present and I was getting extremely impatient. I was ready to push her out. Holding her in was the most difficult part of it all. Luckily, Angela had called a fellow Midwife in who was close in the area to come over immediately. Lisa Marie had just come from a birth, where she hadn’t slept all night, but she arrived just in the nick of time.
I had prepared massage oils, mantras to chant, records to play, and snacks to enjoy and I didn’t get to use any of it. This baby was coming now. As I waddled into our bedroom, I used the training we received in our Doula’s birthing class to get myself in a position I knew was best for me and baby at that moment. I needed back relief and to slow labor, so I hopped up on the bed and got on my hands and knees. My mother rubbed my back. Ronaldo watched the front door. Scott filled my tub. This was happening. I was about to deliver my baby. As each contraction came with the most intense pressure I could ever imagine, I was driven to push. With my mothers help, I tried to breathe through and not push. This is where all the extra kegals payed off. Minutes later, Lisa Marie busted into our bedroom, still pajama clad Ronaldo followed behind with her supplies. I have never seen two people move so fast. I begged her to let me push. One look under my nightgown and she said it was time! Ronaldo stood on the other side of the bed and coached me through my last few moments of labor. I remember him reassuring me that I was having our baby just the exact way I wanted to. Hearing him sound so proud of me gave me the strength to get her out. Our first midwife Angela arrived just about this moment. “Grab the olive oil!” I shouted, a quick douse, and after about 3 quick pushes, my baby girl was born at 7:57am on April 20th 3013. I sat up onto my knees and looked down. There lying on the bed sat the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. I was instantly overcome with emotion. I froze. I just stared at her little wet, pink body. “What do I do?” I shouted out, I was in complete shock. “Pick her up!” was all I heard. I scooped up my little girl and fell back into my pillow. There she was in my arms. The whole room went cloudy, all I could see was my amazing husbands face, which was littered with tears, and my little baby girl. I was so over come with emotion, I couldn’t register anything. I was feeling such an unusual mix of confusion and relief. I don’t remember asking, but I frantically asked “Is she okay? Is she a girl? Is she normal? Does she have 10 fingers?”. Nothing could have ever prepared me for the rush of absolute love and emotion I felt at that time. I was in complete bliss staring at my little one. Ronaldo joined me on the bed as the midwives went to work on me. Baby girl and daddy had skin-to-skin time, and then he carried her straight outside into the sunlight and showed her the trees. Mandi, my Doula finally arrived. She was so sad that she missed it all, but she stayed by my side offering up juice and comfort till the very end. Baby girl’s newborn exam was performed right at my feet on our bed with our cat Abraham by her side. She only left my skin for a few minutes. She didn’t cry. She wasn’t blue. She didn’t even look like a newborn. Everyone in the room was stunned by her beauty. I nursed her for the first time and birthed the placenta after lots of abdominal massage. She latched so naturally. Baby girl came out completely healthy. I felt almost no pain anymore at all. After the family and our midwives helped clean up, Ronaldo made coffee, it was all over. I wasn’t pregnant anymore. I had just given natural birth. It was the most beautiful Saturday morning. Our room filled with sunlight, all the roses I had picked were blooming, and Ronaldo was now a daddy. I couldn’t have imagined a more perfect moment in my life. After a little bit more care, I walked into my own bathroom and looked at myself in the mirror, “you are a mommy now”, I then curled up into a fluffy robe, and the three of us were left alone. We put a vinyl on the record player and sat as a new family and reveled in the perfect love we had just created. We stared at her. Her soft skin, full head of hair, sweet smelling breath, she was perfect. And she was ours. Welcome to the world little moon.
Luna Marie Fierro April 20, 2013