Vada Estes Gaunt arrived on November 12th at 8:38 am. I wanted to write her birth story down simply so I remember it. I don’t expect other people to find it interesting, but I’d like to add it to this life journal I have here. I actually wrote this post 5 days after she was born. Now 12 days after her birth, the memories are already foggy, the experience isn’t raw anymore. I’m glad I wrote it down while I still had it. I’m also glad that we have photos (however unflattering they may be) of my labor and her birth. My Doula actually took photos of her birth, I didn’t ask her to, but I didn’t protest either. I don’t know if I will ever really look at them, but its weirdly comforting to know they are there. That there is documentation of Vada entering the world. There was once a day when she was not here, and that’s hard to remember. Without further adieu:
Labor was insane. There is nothing on earth that is as insane as natural childbirth labor. The entire experience literally blew our (mine and Mr. Gaunt’s) minds. I don’t even know why one would ever even go to a birthing class, you can not train someone to expect THAT. Even if you could train them to understand what labor will be like, it wouldn’t matter, you are in such an animalistic zen of insanity that the only hope you have is simply to trust your own body. DO NOT TRUST YOUR MIND!, your mind will tell you crazy things like YOU ARE DYING, or YOU WANT AN EPIDURAL or CUT THIS BABY OUT OF ME <—totally screamed those words at Mr. Gaunt. But your body will do what it needs to do. And it will break you, you will give up and quit, and I suppose that’s the cool part, is even after you have given up, your body hasn’t, and that baby will come out.
–Sunday 11/10: 8:00pm FIRST CONTRACTION
-9:00 pm – Went to bed, no more contractions.
– Monday 11/11: 2:00 am -Wake up having contractions every 10-15 minutes apart.
-8:30 am – Call my midwife and Doula just to let them know things are starting. Mr. Gaunt calls out from work.
-8:30am – 5:00pm – Contractions ever 10-15 minutes all day long. We take a long long walk around the neighborhood, try to nap, just hang out.
-5:30 pm – My midwife calls me to check in. She wants me to wait until I am 4-1-1 (Contractions are 4 minutes apart, 1 minute long for 1 hour). She also wants me to have my Doula come over and SIFT me to make sure baby is in a good position before I go to bed.
6:30 pm – My Doula comes over, we chat and she sifts me and goes home.
7:30pm – Go to bed. Contractions quickly get much stronger and faster.
8:30pm – We call my Doula and have her come back to our house to help us get through stronger contractions and to help us decide when to go to the birth center.
11:30pm – My contractions are about “4-1-1” and we call my midwives and head to the birth center.
Tuesday 11/12 12:00am – My midwives check my dilation (I had previously asked NOT to EVER be told what my dilation was at. I think its a discouraging number and can only make people freak out. For reference they don’t want you to go to the birth center until you are in ACTIVE LABOR which means you are 4cm dilated. To PUSH you need to be at 10cm dilated) My midwife checks my cervix (god awful uncomfortable) and my vitals and the babies heartbeat. She tells me she wants me to try to go home and labor there for 3-4 more hours and then come back. I know this means I am not at 4cm, but it feels less defeating just being told to go home for a little longer than to be told that I am at a 2cm. (Mr. Gaunt tells me later after I gave birth, that I was in fact only at 2 when they first checked me).
12:30am – I labor at home for 4.5 hours. This is pounding contractions one on top of another. There is no relief. I do crazy things with my body. I chant and rock and sway and moan over and over. I focus my mind on weird things. I give each contraction a character name (like snow white) and I watch them walk by me in my head. I greet each one and push past them. I pull myself deep in my head and focus. I can hold the focus for 20, 30, 40 minutes before I lose it and freak out. I take 2 scalding hot showers until the water runs out. I only break into tears once or twice. This is not pain comforted by tears. This is pain that will make you cross your eyes and forget the world around you. I throw up on my hands and knees in my hallway. I shake, I strain, I squeeze Mr. Gaunt’s hand until I can’t squeeze anymore. I lay everything on him. I force him to be my physical restraint. I fight my contraction with his strength. I don’t know how a woman could go through labor without the help of a VERY strong partner.
5:00 am – I am gone. I can not speak to people or care about anything. I manage to hold Hula in my arms and sob, she has always been my comfort. Mr. Gaunt and my Doula decide to take me back to the birth center. This car ride is excruciating.
5:30am – They want to check me again (I am at a 5, but they do not tell me this). They let me stay to labor there.
5:30am-8:10am – This is when I begged them to cut my baby out. When I looked Mr. Gaunt dead in the eyes and said “I can NOT do this, take me to the hospital!” He obviously didn’t. This is also the time where my need to push took over and I lost it. They kept wanting me to squat or labor on the toilet, to OPEN UP, but I couldn’t do it without pushing. Close to 8am they told me I could only start pushing if I let them check my cervix again, and I was at a 10. You can not push if you are not at a 10. The thought of squatting over a birthing stool so they could check me became the most terrifying thing on earth. I stood hugging Mr. Gaunt with my legs crossed tight and sobbing. Then my midwife told me I could push while she was checking me. That was all I needed to hear.
8:10am – My midwife began the check while I sat on the birth stool, Mr Gaunt sat behind me supporting my back. I had to be at a 10cm to be able to continue pushing. My midwife mumbled something about a cervical lip that would need to be pushed back in order for her head to come down. My other midwife stepped in and told me she was going to push the lip aside and guide the baby out, and that at my next contraction my job was to bare down and push as hard as I could. You don’t have to ask me twice.
8:10-8:38am – I pushed for less than 20 minutes. I’m not sure there is anything on earth more physically instinctual than the act of pushing out your baby. I could feel her coming down, I knew how far I had to go, I knew where she was the whole time, and I knew when it was my last push, the push that would bring her to me. I pushed through maybe 5 contractions total. At 8:38 am I gave one last fierce push and my baby came out. I was shocked. I could not grasp what had happened, that it was over, that this was my baby. I held her and felt stunned. (the photos of this are quite hilarious, I look like a deer caught in headlights)
8:38-11:30am – The midwives had me move from the birth stool to the bed behind me. They gave me my baby and had me nurse her right away. They cleaned up the room, and within a half hour they had me push out the placenta, this didn’t go that smoothly, and I lost a large amount of blood during this process. I have never felt more exhausted and faint than during this time. I THANKFULLY did not have to have any stitches, but I was put on bedrest for a week due to the large amount of blood I lost. Then they weighed my baby. They all guessed 9.5lbs, and were shocked when the scale read 10.13lbs. She was 22″ and had a 15″ head circumference. She was huge! Mr. Gaunt got to spend time with her while I slept and drank fluids. They helped us clean up a bit, put clothes on the baby and walked us to our car just 3 hours after she was born we were home. That was the best part, getting to go home.
The days following Vada’s birth have been really really cool. They also have felt so like US. I don’t feel like having her has changed anything about the way Mr. Gaunt and I live our lives. Mr. Gaunt is about the best partner/father on earth, I could write an entire post just on him, and maybe I will. For now we are just baby snuggling, photo taking fools. We love her.