film by: Kalimana Film Stories
music by: Foreign Fields
May 31st, our baby girl’s due date, came and went and I knew I wanted to spend the last few days before she joined us relaxing and preparing for her arrival. I took lots of warm baths, visited my chiropractor, got acupuncture daily, and even managed to enjoy a few foot massages. Sunday, June 4th was my birthday and many made the comment that she would be the birthday present I’d never forget. Of course, it would be such a beautiful gift, but quietly I wanted us to have our own special days of the year. I also knew deep down that we would meet her on June 6th. Many months before she was born, a voice woke me up and in a dream state I heard the day “June 6th”. I clung loosely to this as her birth date, but didn’t want to be too attached in case she decided on a different day. On the night of my birthday, I began having regular Braxton Hicks while out celebrating with friends. I stayed out late and enjoyed spending time with friends before baby girl arrived. I told one of my close friends I was having Braxton Hicks and had her feel the firmness of my belly during a tightening. The Braxton Hicks continued the following day and I lost part of my mucous plug that morning. I went to lunch with my sister-in-law and commented on the regularity of the tightenings. We met up with Mike and went for a long walk after lunch. Of course, we had to stop for ice cream on the way back, mint chocolate chip coconut milk ice cream to be exact, which was one of my biggest cravings in the last trimester. After that, I decided to head home and began making dinner. I noticed the Braxton Hicks were getting stronger and felt more like period cramps. I started getting excited, but also knew I could still have a long journey ahead. Mike got home from work and I told him I thought I might be in early labor. He looked at me with wide eyes and said “Well, what do we do now?”. I told him we’d just continue our night as usual until the contractions grabbed my full attention. We ate dinner and I made some laboraid have on hand to keep me hydrated for what was to come. I gave my doula, midwife, and birth videographer a heads up that I thought I was in early labor. We watched Bridesmaids in bed and then tried to get some rest. With a hot water bottle on my belly, I was able to sleep through most of the cramps, waking occasionally until around 2:00am. At this point, a bath sounded nice so I drew one and got in. A little later Mike began timing my contractions. They were coming every 2-3 minutes, lasting for about a minute. We did this until 3:30am and decided to call the midwife. She encouraged us to come in to the birth center. We gathered our things and started heading towards the birth center. Mike turned on the birth playlist and we made the foggy trek.
We arrived around 4:15am and our midwife, Margaret, was waiting for us. I laid back on the bed for her to check my dilation. In an encouraging tone she said, “Your body has done the hard work of thinning out your cervix”. I looked her in the eyes noticing she didn’t tell me my dilation so I asked and she let me know I was only 2 centimeters dilated. This meant I wasn’t in active labor, which was disappointing since my contractions were so close together and feeling fairly intense. I had two options: to go labor back home until things picked up or labor at the birth center for a few hours and reassess my progress before officially admitting me. Because of the intensity of the contractions, I felt things could move quickly, so we decided to stay at the birth center. Margaret dimmed the lights and suggested a shower. I got in and closed my eyes, swaying and visualizing my cervix opening and bringing our baby girl down. Mike sprayed water on my lower abdomen, which is where I was feeling the most pressure, almost a pinching sensation. After a while, I toweled off and we walked the quiet halls of the birth center. We moved out to the patio, where we paced back and forth and watched the most beautiful foggy sunrise.
As the intensity of the contractions became stronger, I requested to get in the tub. Around 6:00am, Margaret checked my dilation to see if I could officially be admitted and I was 6 centimeters with a bulging bag of waters. I started laughing with excitement. Margaret drew a bath and I labored in the tub for about 90 minutes, leaning back on my doula, Amy, and Mike for support. They took turns caressing my head, bringing me food and water, and placing cool rags on my forehead. I hadn’t decided if I wanted a water birth or not and was open to the idea, but I got too hot and wanted to try something different. As I stood up to get out of the tub, my friend and nurse, Heather, arrived and I hugged her, crying tears of relief to see her sweet face. I moved over to the Swedish bars to do side lunges and then tried leaning over the peanut ball on the bed. Just as I was starting to feel overwhelmed by the intensity of the contractions, a beautiful song by the band that inspired our daughter’s name began playing. I started crying thinking about meeting our baby girl, which felt like such a great release. Shortly after that, just a little before 9:00am, I started grunting during contractions and spontaneously bearing down. There was just a lip of cervix left and my bag of waters still bulging. Margaret said she could break my water if I wanted or we could wait for it to spontaneously rupture. In the moment, I felt like breaking the water bag would really relieve some of the pressure I was feeling so I had her do it. With a massive gush, her head descended quickly and I began actively pushing with the pressure I was feeling. Our baby girl wasn’t tolerating the pushing very well and her heart rate began dipping. Margaret gave me some oxygen and had me lie on my left side to help bring her heart rate up. During the next contraction, I tried squatting at the Swedish bars to see if that would give her some more room, but her heart rate continued to dip. I moved back to the bed and because her heart rate wasn’t recovering in between contractions, the decision was made to transfer to the hospital via ambulance. Margaret looked me in the eye and reassured me that she would stay with us every step of the way. At this point, I knew the best thing for me to do was to try and stay calm for our sweet girl so I closed my eyes and began taking deep breaths through the oxygen mask. Mike was holding my hand and my doula was whispering prayers of encouragement in my ear. During all of this, my body was still spontaneously bearing down and baby girl began crowning with the next contraction. EMS arrived with the stretcher ready for transport. Margaret looked at the paramedic and said, “Give her one more push!” We locked eyes and she encouraged me to push my baby out with all my might. I pushed harder than I had ever pushed before (breaking all the tiny blood vessels in my face and neck!) and focused on bringing her out and safe into my arms. By the grace of God, at 9:34am, Amina Jane was born and placed onto my chest. She began crying immediately and we were all so relieved she was ok! Mike and I were both crying, feeling so grateful for how strong Amina was through it all. After some skin-to-skin time, Amina latched and nursed for about an hour. Our doula brought us breakfast and then we dimmed the lights and settled in to rest as a new family of 3.