Labor Day weekend is filled with bad jokes about pregnant women. The joke was on them though when I woke up Sunday morning and my water broke. But let me back up a couple of steps.
Saturday was rough. We had one real thing to do and that was go to the grocery store. Our fridge was basically empty and I was supposed to make beef stew that evening, so we needed some carrots and potatoes. But I dread the store. The stares, the comments, and worst of all, random people touching me. I get it, I’m huge. But leave me alone.
As we walked through the store, I remember sending my sister some texts about how awful the whole thing was, but at least when we were done, I’d be ready to go into labor. (Ha!) After that we came home and I relaxed for far too long, got dinner in the crock pot far too late, and eventually we scavenged up something for dinner while the stew went in the fridge for “later.” We settled in for the night and all was well.
Sunday morning Nora came into our room and woke us up, and Brandon took her downstairs to play while I dozed for a bit longer. Later when they were getting ready to make the usual pancakes and eggs, they came back up to wake me. As I finally rolled out of bed around 8:30, I felt that trickle of a high rupture and my water breaking.
I texted my midwife and doula to let them know, and then my mom to come over as soon as she could. But we kept doing our normal thing, making breakfast as a family. I had a few contractions, but they were far enough apart, I brushed them off as “random and unorganized.” When we finally sat down to eat, I took the opportunity to start timing them, and of course they weren’t random at all. So we ate, planned to get our dog to the kennel, and started getting ready for a big day.
My mom arrived, and I went to shower. The hustle of arrivals and departures had gotten my contractions off rhythm, so after I was clean (about 10:30), I decided to head up to bed with some music to just relax. We were all in the zone: Brandon got the pool set up, Nora played with her grandma, I put on my headphones and started the Live, Birds of Prey album. It was kind of perfect.
I lay there resting, feeling the contractions washing over me. They were definitely getting stronger, and about 45 minutes later I texted my midwife and doula to head over. I hid out for a little bit longer and then decided I wanted to go see how Nora was doing with my mom.
When I came downstairs, suddenly my contractions got very intense, and I was having to vocalize loudly just to get through them. So when Nora came inside from playing and one of these contractions hit, I could tell it was time for her to leave. She was a little scared and worried about me, but I wasn’t in a position to reassure her. Luckily we planned for just this, so Brandon packed the last couple things in her bag and got the car seat moved, just as everyone was showing up for me. (I heard a rumor that he also accidentally tried to send one of the doula’s bags with my mom, but somehow it was returned before anyone missed it.)
Kat, my doula arrived first, and I was kneeling by the stairs. She sat with me doing her thing, and we hung on until Rhoda, our midwife, and her team arrived shortly after. As everyone was getting set up, Kat casually mentioned that unless I wanted to be checked to see how far I was, I could just get in the birth pool for some relief.
‘OKAY!’ I remember thinking. Or maybe, ‘thank f*#%ing goodness.’ Either way, I stripped down to my bra and climbed in. It was pretty wonderful. Rhoda checked us with the Doppler and we got down to business.
Relief was relatively short lived and I kept thinking about a technique we learned in our birth class, where the instructor, also a doula, would give laboring mothers a couple of combs to squeeze. Somehow the little pain was able to take the edge off the contractions. So we tried that (instead of crushing Brandon’s and Kat’s fingers), and suddenly I realized I was starting to feel sick. I told Kat, and I already knew what it meant and what she would say, but I needed to hear it to believe we were there already. She said, “Sometimes you throw up to throw down.” In other words, it was probably time to start pushing.
Last time I remember I was a little scared of pushing so I fought it (as much as a laboring woman can), and I did end up throwing up. This time, I was ready. This hurts and the only way to be done is to get this baby out. So I pushed and pushed and Rhoda was magically right there to coach and encourage me. It was painfully intense and beautifully surreal. And then he was born, just before 1pm, my son, Oliver Bernard Kelley.
The next few hours are a blur as we snuggled and nursed, relaxed in the herbal bath, I was checked for tearing (just a little, no stitches needed!) and Oliver was weighed, measured, and examined. Kat asked me what I wanted to eat, and I laughed and remembered all the beef stew that was sitting in the fridge. It was perfect!