As told by Morgan:
The morning before I went into labor, I got up, showered, dressed and went to our next-door neighbors apartment to scoop them up before we all went to church. While watching them get ready (they had a baby) I knew, life with children would not be perfect, or punctual.
We all went to church, and I was so uncomfortable in the pews, so right before the sermon was about to start, I got up and left for the Farmers’ Market and Lost Dog Coffee. I got myself a basket of peaches (in season) and scooted down to the Lost Dog where the lady there made me a 2/3 decaf 1/3 caffeinated drink with “cupcake” flavoring, I’m pretty sure it tasted just as special as it sounds; I loved it and it filled every craving.
It was around noontime and I started cleaning the house. Cleaning the floors of the bathroom on hands and knees, cleaning the floor of the kitchen with a mop, cleaning the bathroom shower….etc. These were all of the things that HAD TO GET DONE before the baby came. In my mind, CLEANING the kitchen/bathroom floors was the thing I needed to get done before the baby came. I knew that once the baby was here I wouldn’t be cleaning any floors. (Now I know this to be true almost four months later, and yet to clean said floor.)
I started feeling small contractions around dinnertime (beef stroganoff). I remember eating a lot of food that evening, and after having the long labor that I experienced, I am glad that I ate so hardily that Sunday. I remember feeling anxious and excited, kind of cruising around the apartment feeling the contractions come and go about every five minutes or so, they were not intense, they simply reminded me of my Braxton Hicks, but this time they didn’t go away. I worked on a small project for my cousin’s wedding coming up using my calligraphy pen and ink, and also sketched a small card that read: “Baby, Welcome to the Wonderful World” with lips drawn underneath in black ink.
Little did I know that I was right. This baby was coming soon…ish.
I remember trying to go to bed that night, my sweet, loving, partner Patrick had no problem sleeping, as I lay awake timing my contractions, every five minutes while they were getting more and more life-like…hmmm, maybe if I woke him up, I thought, and told him that the contractions haven’t stopped and that they were still consistent, maybe then he would stay awake with me and know that I was in actual labor. It was around midnight. I remember staying awake until about 2:15 a.m. on that Sunday Evening (Monday morning technically) and finally waking him up to tell him “I think we ought to start packing up the car to make the trip to Mom’s house”. That is where I was planning to labor. He did not hesitate for a moment; he was up and excited just like I was for our upcoming arrival. He loaded the car with my bags, things for the baby, pillows, etc.
At some point earlier in the evening I call to tell my sister that I’m having contractions but that “I don’t want mom to know yet, I just need to tell someone”, and she was that someone for me. It felt great to tell her that I felt like I was going to be in labor soon. I was so nervous and excited. She is a good sister. Later on in the labor, she stayed on the phone with my father, who resided in the basement during my entire home-birth labor and talked to him as he waited nervously below us. I believe they found solace within one another during the wait.
Around 2:30-3:00-3:30 a.m. I call my mom to tell her that I think I’m in labor, that I’ve been feeling the contractions since dinnertime the evening prior, and that we were ready to come to her house and start laboring there. I knew we would have to get the aquadoula (pool) set up, hot water running, and prepare the house for baby’s arrival. The whole time “resting” never really struck my fancy. I was fully awake at this point.
I remember having some contractions in the bath tub while Patrick and my mom put the aquadoula together and sort of began filling it; it felt like they were taking FOREVER….and I felt lonely upstairs by myself. I saw Patrick and he didn’t look like he felt very well, I’m sure now it was his nerves. He decided he needed to go back to our home to grab a few things that he would need (I guess they forget to tell fathers they need to make a “go-bag” for themselves as well). So, he left to retrieve his things, and even though I didn’t want him to EVER leave me, I understood and knew it would make him feel better. And, of course, he came right back.
As the morning wore on, having wave after wave of energy flow through me, Patrick was by my side the whole time, and mom was too, for most of it. My mom was usually the person that fetched things that I needed. Water, food, remedies, water, juice, water… From about 4am-11am that morning, I labored inwardly, yet on the outside I needed some hard pressure on my back during each contraction. Later finding out that this was because of the back labor I was having. (The simple joys of giving birth for the first time—you have no idea what is going on!)
Our midwife, our birth assistant, our midwife’s baby/ the baby’s caretaker, and another birth assistant showed up somewhere between 10-1130am to my mother and father’s house. When they walked in the house, I remember exactly how I felt. A rush of gratitude came over me. A flood of relief, happiness, comfort, and stability arrived when they walked through the door, knowing that these women knew what to do with me, the laboring woman. Before that, I felt somewhat incomplete, and somewhat uncertain. Their arms were full with supplies and love. I will never forget that feeling. BUT, with these birth-workers, came their birth-knowledge and so came the unfortunate news of the hour: My baby is turned the ‘not ideal’ way! (ugh)
Shawna Dewitt and Amy Miller helped me upstairs, where I began having some contractions on all fours to try to help move the baby away from being posterior. I had my hips in the air to try to allow gravity to do its’ job. Shawna wrapped my big belly with a scarf and began the rebozo method to try to help dislodge the baby from my pelvis and allow it to turn. The baby was pretty hesitant. They took turns moving the scarf back and forth around my belly, and also letting me rest in between contractions.
“He did a quarter turn!” I remember them saying. “YES!” I thought. This is progress. The feeling of “I knew we could do it” rushed through me. Each time there was a hurdle during the labor, I felt discouraged and scared, and each time there was positive progress after that hurdle, I felt determined. I thought “OK, one more thing down, I can do this, just keep going, something ought to happen, trust in the process.”
I labored and labored; literally it was work. I ate. I drank. I cried. I asked for tissues; I blew my nose; I labored.
I ate peaches, because that is what grew my baby. I drank grape Recharge because it had just enough and not too much flavor. I ate gluten-free pesto pasta, because I knew I had a long way to go. I ate corn chips, for the salt, so that my body would know to go on.
I had “stations” where I knew I could “post-up” and go through each one of the waves. I mean, while I was standing, I needed to lean up against something with my arms, something sturdy, so that the soon-to-be father, Patrick, could apply pressure on my lower back with the palms of his hands as hard as he could. He got better and better at this “hip squeeze” as time wore on, but it was a lot of work for one person to do over and over and over again, countless times.
The “station” upstairs consisted of an old changing table/shelf my father had built out of two by fours, that was just at the right height to prop my outstretched arms up against it. Lying down never really did the trick. I could never really rest. Standing helped. Downstairs, my main station was an old, ‘stationary’ piano. (In the picture below) Most of the time Patrick would be following me around, wherever I went, giving me what I needed, when I needed it, preferably on my lower back.
My mother and Patrick would take turns doing the hip squeeze for me, even my midwife provided relief for me through some of the contractions, doing the best hip squeeze of all, whilst showing Patrick how to do it.
I needed help during every contraction. (I needed it).
I felt badly for my poor mothers’ wrists. I felt somewhat better, but still fairly bad about my partner’s wrist that has an obnoxious cyst he has had for years.
I needed pressure when I was in the water. That was the trickiest. Somebody was getting wet. I didn’t care nor did they. Patrick got into pool with me once or twice. I don’t think I was ever in the pool long enough for someone to enjoy it with me. I used the aquadoula for relief from labor, for resting, for the wide steps it took to climb in and out of it, and mostly, for the shift in gravity.
The second or third time I had my cervix checked was when we all got a bit worried. I tried to hide it, tried to keep my game face on, but all I could think about was “please let this be okay, please let this be okay, please don’t make us go to the hospital, please please please make everything okay.”
There was what felt like a vein on the outside of the sac and our midwife was afraid that if and when this baby came, it would burst the vein (I think). She was worried and I could tell. I was glad to hear her communicate with us, it was nice to know what was going on, but at the same time my heart sank.
She said she was going to call her colleague, the other midwife in the practice at the time, to ask her opinion about what exactly it might be. I was still laboring. Patrick was definitely anxious. One more hurdle, I thought. Please let this be okay, please let this be okay. Please. Please. Please. The stress was rising as were the contractions…wave after wave….each breath ran through me. She was off the phone now, and the other midwife had helped her with a second opinion of what to do. Abruptly, it was brought up by someone, maybe even by me, about our sonogram that we had back in the beginning stages of pregnancy. “It would have shown up on the sonogram”, the midwife seemed fairly confident while saying now, “it would have shown up and they would have written something down about it, if it were a vein.” We searched the folder and pulled out the paperwork to my sonogram and nothing was written. The midwife asked if we could check again to see if there was a pulse on what she was feeling. I would go upstairs to be checked, so that I could lie down on a big bed. I would be checked in between contractions. I laid down in the bed and she checked my cervix and she said there was “NO pulse”. Ahhhhh~ yes!!!!! A rush of determination filled my body and joy came over me. “So we are okay?” We are okay, she said. (After the baby was born, we realized that this “vein” turned out to be a thick band of amniotic membrane.)
Patrick and I both had to mentally shake that fear away from us.
We needed labor to progress. “How about you two go outside for a walk” the birth workers said (they would always suggest things that I should do, which helped because when you’re laboring (at least for me) going for a walk is not the first thing that comes to mind as a joyful experience. OH lord this will be the death of me. I put clothes on, firstly. And by clothes—I mean a black dress nighty-thing. I got out to the porch and contracted a couple of times there. The birth assistant snapped a pic. Yay. (Thank you Shawna.)
I got down the steps and to the sidewalk and onto the grass. I fell to my knees with my partner, oh how he amazed me. We walked towards the labyrinth in the backyard, with our partnership- growing stronger. We walked the labyrinth, in love, and kissed. I know I had a couple or few contractions while we walked the entire labyrinth—a fifteen minute walk for normal goers probably took us about forty-five. It was a great project for us to do. We made it to the center of the labyrinth and to my last contraction in the labyrinth—we walked out. I was tired of the grass making my legs itchy and I needed back inside. On the way back to the house, I see my poor nerve-wrecked father pacing outside and heading back into the house. It was great to see another person that wasn’t a part of the labor visibly—a mild distraction.
My dad was stuck down in the basement for most of my labor (Well, all of it really). I was just glad he was there, in spirit, in essence. He went out of the basement door and around the house to the front door if he needed to use the bathroom or if he needed to get something to eat. Otherwise, Pop stayed downstairs, out of sight but never out of reach (it’s a finished basement). The sound reached him, every yell and every scream tugged at his ears as he most desperately wanted to help his little girl out of her pain. He felt helpless I’m sure. Thank god for my sister who lived in Texas, who stayed on the phone with him I’d say at least 50% of the time I labored. After I saw him in the yard, as we were walking up from the labyrinth, he came in the house and I hugged him, clothed, and told him where I needed pressure on my back. He helped me for one of my contractions.
Also let me not forget my cat, Louie. My cat also helped me through one or two of my contractions. His soft, fuzzy fur was such a relief, although I don’t think he liked it when I squeezed him. He was a spectator, and it was not until my baby was born and we placed the cat and my baby side by side that I knew, Louie had been a cat all along. He was an animal, not a baby, not my baby, after my baby was born. He was my cat.
It was getting close to dark, I think, (into Monday evening now) and I began to labor on the birthing stool. I cursed that thing I’m sure…Oooh it was hard, and I didn’t want to do it but I did have a few “good” contractions on that thing. That unruly stool. Patrick thinks “If you had just done a couple more on that birth stool I think it would have helped”. I’d like to see him do a couple more on the birth stool –it was agony. Pure agony.
I went upstairs to be checked and I was still not progressing past 8 centimeters. I believe in the entirety of my labor I was at 8 centimeters for probably 10 hours. Or more. Who knows, really. I remember throughout my time in labor, the one thing that kept me going was “his heartbeat is still doing great”. Oh my my my MY STRONG BABY! I could not have done it without you, my littler love. I could not have done it without the food and drink, either.
At some point the women tell me that I need to try and get some rest if this is going to keep going on. It was dark out, which meant I had been laboring a full day now, and I wasn’t sure how night came so quickly, but it did.
So, while lying down wasn’t an option at first, after I took some children’s Benadryl, I was able to lie down. It helped to relax me and my cervix. I was willing to try anything at this point, I had not really rested since Saturday night before the labor was even a twinkle in my eye, and it was now Monday evening.
Patrick was on the couch, resting, too. And he fell asleep for about 5 to 10 minutes. He woke up just after it got pitch black outside and worriedly asks “how long have I been asleep?!” Not very long the midwife tells him.
As I lay there, I shut my eyes, rested and for the first time in the whole entire process I could breath and not tense up entirely during the contraction. My midwife broke my water at this point. A gush of water streamed through my legs and onto the blankets and towels and chucks underneath of me. It kept coming. More and more water. Oh this is a good thing!!! I thought. Thinking of all of the Hollywood films that I had seen. Your water breaking is what needs to happen before the baby comes, right?
Well, hell, the contractions kept building rapidly and just when I thought they couldn’t get any worse, they did. I could not stand I could not function I could not talk I just kept crying and crying, wailing and moaning. I had never cried more in my life. I wiped out all the Kleenex boxes. I was done. I got back into the water. I got back onto the birth stool, naked, always, never clothed. The birth assistant-turned-doula took a picture of me while on the birth stool. (thank god) If she hadn’t snapped that photo, then I would not have a visual of the pain I was feeling. I am so thankful for her taking those four pictures of me. I treasure them, for sure. They are every bit of evidence to me.
At this stage in labor-I was very tired. It was very late. My contractions were on top of each other and I had no time to rest in between. One after another. My now (what felt like) doula began to talk to me, calmly, telling me to blow it away, blow away that last contraction as to not fixate on it, so that I was able to let it go before the next wave arrived. This was hard to do, but I tried. I needed help but I couldn’t internalize it any longer. I was determined but I was getting weaker. It had been over 24 hours since I had started to labor. I was exhausted, mentally, physically, and emotionally.
Thoughts were spoken about the H word. I knew I wanted it so bad. I wanted pain relief more than Miss America wanted World Peace. It was over. I surrendered. It took a lot of hesitation and a lot of time before I really said that, but I wanted to go to the hospital. I knew once I said those words that it was over, that I had given in, not given up. I had given in to the pull and desire of whatever exactly the hospital would provide me. I didn’t know but I wanted out.
My mother, in attempts to avoid our upcoming car ride, began pulling out her bag of tricks with the Reiki gods and started pulling negative energy and tightening out of my cervix with a method called aura cleansing or psychic surgery if you will. She was trying everything she could at that point to help me. God bless her.
My partner, Patrick, was scared. He kept telling me exactly what I wanted to hear: you can do it, keep going, keep going, you’re so close, and exactly what I didn’t want to hear: you don’t want to go to the hospital, really, you don’t want to go. He said exactly what any fearful soon-to-be panic stricken father would say. He said what I told him that he NEEDED to say if I ever got to this place in my labor. He knew how badly I did not want to go prior to the unbearable-lengthy-god-for-saken back labor. I told him I want to. The waves were never-ending, or so it seemed. Later finding out that I may have been transitioning, without knowing it. I was out of control, I could no longer hold on. My yells echoed through the house I grew up in. The same house that I was born in. I remember feeling like one of us (the baby or I) was not going to make it. And I wanted to make damn sure it was me and not the baby. This was the intensity I felt.
My mother did not want to go to the hospital either, but she knew I had the final say, and when the laborer wants to go, it’s time to go.
The midwife was also hesitant but she knew I was exhausted and she knew how important it is to respect the laboring woman’s desires.
I am pretty sure once we decided to go to the hospital, I started to try to put clothes on. I’ve never had so much trouble putting clothes on before. I think it literally took me twenty minutes to do this. The birth assistant-turned-doula was amazing, going above and beyond her call of duty, helped me put some underwear on, and some pants on. Patrick searched for a shirt for me to wear, later finding out his thought process was to ensure that ‘people took me seriously when I got to the hospital’. I was wearing a Pink Floyd black retro worn-out t-shirt with a giant open gaping mouth filled with moody reds and astringent maroon pinks of flesh ripping and tearing like a giant womb or vaginal opening. IT was the PERFECT shirt to wear if you didn’t want to be fucked with.
I remember the worried look on my partner’s face, I remember my mothers face—knowing she had to drive and the stressed out face of my father just as we were leaving the driveway. I remember the midwife, with her ‘pack’ on her back with all of her tools that she put away quickly and in a hurry.
We all got in our cars, the midwife and birth assistant in one and my mother, Patrick and I in the blessed CRV. I couldn’t find any way to sit comfortably, so I was on my knees, belly facing the seats of the car, my arms sprawled over the back of the seat, holding on for a dear life, literally. There was no comfortable way to be at this point in my labor, but the gravity of the situation became relevant, and my little boy was making his way down through my pelvis, and through my cervix.
We made it to the old, abandoned Sheetz parking lot, on our way to the hospital, right by the stop light in Kearneysville. Aw crap, literally, I felt like I had to poop. I ask Patrick to check me, and I said that I think the baby is coming, and that he needs to feel down there, he doesn’t but he does tell my mom to flash the midwife with her headlights. My mother alerts the midwife to the situation, who is driving ahead of us, and just quick enough for us both to pull over in the abandoned lot. My midwife gets out, comes to the side of the car, checks me and says “yep, we have a baby coming!” The best words I’ve heard spoken in a long time.
We decide we all three need to get into the back of the CRV, midwife, Patrick and I—so we do. The midwife asks “well, do you want to have this baby at the hospital or at home?” We are half way in between both places at this point. “HOME, we want to go HOME”, Patrick exclaimed. Thank goodness for him.
I remember looking out into the road when I was laying in the back of the CRV, staring out past that stop light, and into a car’s headlights as they passed by us, thinking to myself what a site they must have feasted their eyes upon that night. What a special thing for them to have witnessed, a stranger, a car, a set of headlights that I will never know who was behind them- got to see- MY VAGINA. (or what a vagina looks like at this point in labor).
I am not pushing at this point, remembering what the women at the midwifery had said, that the contractions will push for you, trust your body, if you push too soon you could tear, so I just let my body do the work, not wanting my baby to come midway through our drive home. Unfortunately my little baby was probably a little crammed at this point, and would’ve loved the extra push, but I waited until we got back and stopped in the driveway to push.
I had almost forgotten to do so when the birth assistant told me “you can go ahead and push now Morgan” and just like that I looked up to the left, into the starry night sky, and on the day he was born, time slowed down, my breath was full, and my world became a strung out series of seconds where I pushed and I pushed and on my third or so push— he slipped on out earth-side, into the hands and forearms of my midwife, warm towels being readied to wrap around him like the new earthling he was.
“Is the baby ok, is the baby ok” I kept asking, delirious and worried. Patrick got to tell me that he was a boy (we waited to find out the sex). We were happy. We thought we were having a girl. A surprise. A boy! At last, 2:13 a.m. – my boy gave me the best gift I could ask for, motherhood.
Patrick cut the baby’s cord after a little while, because we were still in the back of the car, and I was shaking from adrenaline, cold and tired, and the baby needed to get inside, there was an obvious knot (or two) in the cord, and it wasn’t too long… After twenty some odd hours of active laboring, we all went back inside the house. The midwife and birth assistant, my mother, my partner, and my father, were all looking after me and baby equally.
I was tired, but I knew I needed to deliver the placenta, so Patrick held the baby, with his pinky in the baby’s mouth, while I went to the bathroom area to the toilet to see if I could use it. It took forever to pee. I wanted to pee so badly but I couldn’t—damn. I squatted on the bathroom floor and delivered my placenta, right in the same area that my sister was born-26 years before. (Just now thought of that!) We reunited, baby and I after I did a thorough (but short) examination of the beautiful placenta and the tree within it. I was tired. Did I mention I was tired? We made our way upstairs-babe and I and the sweet, new, proud Papa along with my two parents. The babe started nursing or suckling or whatever that babe wanted to do. They weighed all 8 lbs 12 ounces of him, we smiled, we slept. The end.