It's been three weeks since you came. Three weeks full of yawns and cuddles and shuffling around the house half blissed-out, half delirious. Any coherent thoughts that form rise and then burst like bubbles just before I can get them out of my mouth. Sleep deprivation is in full swing. It's the reason I washed Stella's Cinderella dress with our towels and now we all look like we've been glitter-bombed after we dry off. And the reason I walk around and forget where I'm going and why. And how I managed to misplace no less than ten things before noon today. But girl, you have been so worth it. Your silly faces are sweeter than sleep. And somehow the memory of your birth has remained unscathed in my postpartum fog brain. It was a day I hope I will never forget as long as I live.
My eyes shot open around 5:30am. I felt different in my body somehow. Like something had shifted. Like something was starting. And then I felt that first contraction. It was unmistakable. A feeling that I had forgotten about but remembered as soon as I felt it again. I laid so still, heart pumping fast, instantly energized thinking please let this be it. PLEASE LET THIS BE IT. Not only was I so excited to meet you but you were getting so heavy and strong and I was ready to get you out of my belly. (That is a gross understatement. I think I could write a book on submitting to the Lord's will and timing after surviving those last few weeks of pregnancy. They were not very fun. Understatement.)
I watched the sky go from black to orange behind the blinds. I let an hour pass and six or seven good contractions before I sat up and woke your daddy saying, PRAISE THE LORD! I'M FINALLY IN LABOR! We spent the next hour in bed giggling like little school girls all wrapped up in blankets guessing how long this was going to take, and if you were going to look like me or him, and if you'd be a girl or a boy like we were all convinced of. (Right now as I type this you are laying on a pillow in my lap wearing pajamas that say "mommy's little man"...if that tells you how convinced I was. Sorry about that.)
When Stella woke up we went downstairs and made waffles with strawberries and whipped cream, a favorite around here. We didn't want her to know that today was the day (anxiety makes her wet her pants and get clingy) which wasn't hard to conceal because I wasn't in very much pain. The contractions were starting to get closer together though so I snuck upstairs to make some phone calls. First I called Diane the midwife whose excitement made me feel giddy all over again. She said to call her back when they were coming every 3 - 4 minutes and lasting at least 45 seconds. Then I called Aunt Erin who had offered to come and pick Stella up when I went into labor. She said she'd be there around 10 to take her on a little play date with all of the cousins. Then I called NE and papa to tell them the good news. NE was sick with the flu and showed up a little bit later sporting a surgical mask. She said she wouldn't miss it for the world and I felt so much safer having her here. Papa was really nervous about us having you at home instead of at the hospital, but he came over too to show us support and to help your dad give me a Priesthood blessing. Your dad was cool as a cucumber and gave us a very Spirit-filled blessing of comfort and protection. I felt so much peace. Not an ounce of fear. Which was an answer to my many, many repeated prayers.
Once Erin and Stella were gone we got to work washing the sheets and getting the bed ready. First our good sheets, then a waterproof cover, then the cheap sheets. We cleaned up the dishes and got in the shower. Whenever a contraction would come I would yell "START!" and your daddy would time it using an app on his phone. They were about a minute long now and coming every three minutes. I got out of the shower and called Diane again. She said she'd leave right away and I remember thinking, I hope she takes her time, because even though the contractions were long and frequent they didn't hurt as much as I'd remembered.
Diane showed up around 12:30 with Shannon, her nurse, and Michaela, the midwife-in-training. They got to work setting up equipment, checking heart-rates, blood pressure, temperature, and checking my progress - 7cm at that point. Everyone (including me) seemed surprised that I was that far along and still feeling so good. When I was 7cm in labor with Stella I was huffing and puffing like the big bad wolf. This was going so much more smoothly already.
It was a cold, windy afternoon and your dad made a fire downstairs for us to lounge around while we ate lunch. My water hadn't broken yet so I was kneeling on some folded up towels, just in case. I had my back to the fire and NE was holding hot washcloths dipped in lavender oil on my lower back, which felt like heaven. We all talked and ate and told stories and laughed. I was starting to feel things intensifying so we decided to move the party upstairs. The sun was coming through the back windows of the bedroom casting large, rectangular patches of light onto the floor. I picked a sunny spot near the window and dug my toes into the warm carpet. I held onto the side of the crib and swayed my hips back and forth during each contraction, trying to relax myself completely. First my forehead and jaw, then my neck and shoulders, then my chest and arms, and finally my lower belly and hips. I could feel myself tensing up in response to the pain, but as I consciously released my muscles I felt the most incredible surges of endorphins swimming through my body. It became so intoxicating. I found myself wanting more contractions because I knew they'd be followed by another wave of endorphins. I watched the sunlight through my eyelids and swayed back and forth and smiled.
I couldn't tell you how long I stayed like that, but at some point Diane asked if I wanted to be checked again. I did, and climbed onto the bed. She said I was 10cm and 100% effaced. My water still hadn't broken, but she asked if I wanted to try to push you out. I said, sure, I guess. This was new for me. The last time I went through this, my body pushed the baby out all on its own.
The only way I can describe it is a "reverse vomit" where it felt like all of my muscles pushed downward violently at the same time and I couldn't have stopped them if I tried. But this time I was laying on my back and when a contraction came I would push as hard as I could. I could feel you coming down as I did, but as soon as the contraction was over I could feel you get sucked back up into my belly. I kept at it for a while and started to get really tired. I decided to have Diane break my water so we could get this show on the road. She did, and immediately I felt that crazy urge to reverse vomit. I flipped over onto my hands and knees and holding your daddy's hands really tight I let my body take over. And when I say take over, I mean TAKE OVER. The sounds that came out of my mouth were akin to a wild jungle animal. Maybe like a lion roaring as he rips into a gazelle, or something. It was completely involuntary and hilarious and if I wasn't otherwise occupied I think I would have stopped to have a good fat laugh. Every contraction made my body squeeze you out a little further, like a tube of toothpaste. After a few pushes I heard Diane say, "one more and your baby will be here!" I waited what seemed like an hour for the next contraction to come and felt you slide right out. That feeling! It is the mother of all sweet relief! I wanted to collapse into the pillows and cry for joy. But before I could they passed you like a little football right up through my legs and I was staring down at your tiny face while you cried and cried and cried. Your daddy pressed his forehead against mine and said, "IT'S A GIRL!" and I said, "NO. WAY." and we laughed and cried and laughed some more.
You were here. Maggie Jane.