My first baby turned 10! I’m going to take this opportunity to share with you some of the story of his birth into this world, and my birth as a mother. The day of his birth remains one of the most important days of my life because it was the day I stepped into a pair of shoes that felt wholly new, and wonderful and like they were made for me.
And yes, this would be totally sappy except for the fact that it is all true.
The day on which Thomas was born the weather was perfect. It was sunny and clear and cool. Not that I spent the day outside, as I was hard at work inside. But I spent a fair deal of time looking out the window to our neighbor’s young plum tree and remembering the blossoms of the cherry trees aligned on the streets in Japan. I was listening to some zen music which might have been part of that.
My labor started early, about 5:30 a.m. and our midwife came over around 10:30, at which point I thought I must be really close to having the baby since I was in so much pain. Oh, no. I was barely 2 cm. I was devastated, but regrouped and got moving around more…. walking, the ball, the shower, rocking, the shower, walking, the shower… I think you get the picture.
Around 2:30 p.m. I hit “the wall.” It’s the same wall that marathoners hit. I was still at about 2 cm and fed up. Our midwife told me to try the ball in the shower. I reluctantly agreed, but I was mad at her, mad at my body, mad at Eve… but I got in the shower. With the ball. And the water hitting my back. I cried and whined
I can’t do this. I’m not strong enough for this.
All my life my mom has told me how strong I was and look! she is soooooo wrong.
I will be the only woman in history not able to birth her own baby.
I don’t even want to do this any more. I just want them to cut the baby out and then I can go back to sleep.
Oh, man, but that would mean I’d have to go to the hospital, which means I’d have to get dressed. I don’t wanna get dressed.
Oh, man. That means I have to figure out how to do this thing myself.
What can I do?
I can’t do anything except breathe.
Hey, I can breathe!
But, not exhaling and inhaling both. I can only think about the one. Then I’ll think about the other.
And there you have it. That was how I got through the wall. After that, things started moving along a little faster. But at 4:30 I was only 5-6 cm. I started crying again. (By the way, for those of you who haven’t had a baby yet, or get scared about “losing control” I’d like to say that “losing control” is a great way to speed up a labor). My midwife helped me get to the bathroom for a bath.
At this point I will diverge for just a moment and tell you all about this bathroom. It was pale pink, like cotton candy that sat in the sun too long. Pink tile halfway up the walls and covering the floor. Pink sink. Pink bathtub. I think the cabinets might also have been pink, but I’d have to look at a picture to tell you for sure.
After sitting on the toilet (also good for getting things moving) I got into a heavenly and well-deserved bath. I rested and relaxed. I was alone- well, maybe hubby was there, but I was zoned out- and then I felt my body doing something different. I couldn’t tell exactly what was happening, but after a few minutes of it, my midwife came in and listened for a few minutes.
Sarah, is your body pushing?
me: Maybe. I think so. But how is that possible? I’m not far enough along.
Why don’t you try a little push with it and just see how it feels.
I tried a little push. Wow. That felt… powerful.
Like a train roaring through me kind of powerful. Hmmm… I think I’ll keep trying that.
Why don’t you check and see if you feel a head.
o.k. Eyes open super wide. Yep. There’s a baby in there! Who knew?!! Hey, remember now, I was only focusing on one part of a breath at a time and details like there being a baby inside me had sort of escaped me for awhile. But I was back in the moment now. Labor Land had just handed me my walking papers.
I begin to get up from the tub and then I feel like it will be really soon. And it is.
My midwife is asking me where I want to have the baby.
Oh, man. I don’t want to be one of those weird women who give birth in the bathroom. I mean, the baby should be born on a bed, right?
Heck, no! I’m having this baby right here, in this pink bathroom. And I step out of the tub and use the side for support.
And with another couple of pushes the baby is born into mine and my midwife’s hands. I look at my husband and he is crying for joy, and his face is full of devoted admiration.
The baby is wrapped and I sit on the side of the tub and gaze at this incredible person who changes me forever. We nurse for awhile, then we look and discover that we’ve been blessed with a son! We announce his name to my mother-in-law who blessed us tremendously that day and for many days after.
And now that boy is 10 years old. Double digits. And the finest young man I know. And I have the privilege of being his mother. The pink bathroom is no more. It was remodeled recently, but the space still holds the same significance for us. And today, in addition to being really happy to be a mother, and especially to be a mother to my kids, I find myself saddened at the idea of leaving the home where my children were born. Because it means as I recount their births to them each year, I can no longer point to the spots where they first drew breath.