On Thursday, January 23rd, the day before my sister’s birthday, I awoke with Rob in the morning like usual. Who knew that would be the last time it was just us! I took a shower and got ready for work, noticing some mild contractions (I thought they were just Braxton Hicks contractions, but they were probably real) and a teensy bit of bloody mucous. Not thinking anything of it, I ate breakfast and went to work. It was around 8am at this time.
While at work, the contractions continued, but I still kept thinking “This can’t be the real thing.. it’s really not that bad!” I had a little bit more mucous/bloody show and I took the boss’s dog for a walk, which didn’t make the contractions go away. Thinking that this could be it, I told Mary (my boss) that I should go home and try to figure out if this is real labor or not. I stopped at Meijer on the way home to get a few last minute groceries.
Rob and I took a long walk with Jackson (our black lab/retriever mix) when I got home. My contractions still did not go away, but did not get stronger. I called my midwife, Kathi, CPM, and explained to her what was happening. She told me it was probably pre-labor, and that it could last a whole week or just a day. As we all know, birth is very unpredictable!
So, Rob and I went about our day as normal, watching the Wizard of Oz and dozing off for a short nap. We cleaned a little here and there. I washed the sheets and baked chocolate chip cookies. Then it came time for Rob to leave for work. I decided to tell him to go, since nothing had gotten stronger and the contractions had pretty much stopped since I woke up from the nap. He left and I spent the rest of the evening relaxing and reading.
Around 7pm, I decided to take a warm bath. As soon as I drained the bathwater and stood up, I had more bloody show and the contractions started again, this time a little more intense, although I STILL did not believe it was the real thing! I decided to make myself some dinner. I guess in some part of my brain, I figured I’d need the energy. In between chopping up green pepper and mashing avocado for my veggie burger wrap, I’d lean against the counter and breathe through contractions. (I still did not believe it was actually happening at this point, despite my frequent trips to the bathroom to urinate with bloody show.) After eating my dinner, I got ready for bed and texted my doula and friend, Ashley, about what was going on. She called and told me that if I was having bloody show, my cervix was doing at least SOMETHING, and I probably wasn’t just being a big wuss like I thought. I said I’d let her know when things get more intense, because I still didn’t feel like the contractions were that big of a deal.
I laid down and tried to get comfy enough to fall asleep. After about 5 minutes, I had to get up to pee again and as soon as I started to stand, the intense contractions began. I called my husband at work, and he did not answer his phone. I tried the land line and told the hostess to tell my husband, Rob Stucky, that this is his wife on the phone and she thinks she’s in labor! He quickly came to the phone and I was breathing heavy and told him, “I think I need you now!!” Rob started heading home and called me on the way so he could listen to me through a contraction, telling me to breathe. I just kept thinking “I must be a huge wuss because I’m not going to be able to handle this for 12 or more hours!! (First births usually last on average 12-24 hours, USUALLY!)
While waiting for Rob to get home, I french braided my hair in between contractions, because I didn’t want to deal with hair in my face while in labor! I also started texting my sister to tell her that her husband Jay was probably going to be right about the date my baby would be born, but I had to drop my phone and lost my train of thought because a strong contraction hit right then. I was standing in the bathroom, moving my hips back and forth and breathing when Rob walked in.
I told him to call Kathi, and he did. She talked to me for a minute and listened through a couple contractions. They were very close together at this point, but it was hard to tell exactly when they were stopping and starting. Kathi told Rob to start timing them and to call her back when they were consistently 40-50 seconds and 1 minute apart. As soon as he hung up and started timing them, they were 45 seconds and about a minute apart! I was naked in the bathtub at this point, with bloody show dripping and on my knees. I tried to stand up and put my arms around Rob a few different times. My poor husband was running around rearranging the bedroom and trying to set up the birth tub when I would yell, “Baaaby!” and he would come in and hold my hand while I had a contraction. I told him to call Kathi, that this wasn’t right, it was happening too fast! He called and she said she would be on her way. Rob called Ashley, my doula, as well. She said she’d be there as soon as she could.All I remember thinking was “I must be a huge wuss.. how can women tolerate this for so long??” But I never felt like it was actual pain or that it hurt.. just some really intense feelings.
Kathi got there first and began setting everything up. I was still in the bathtub when she came in and I asked her to check my cervix for dilation when I was able to talk. Ashley arrived sometime around this point. We got to the bedroom and I had a couple contractions on the bed before Kathi was able to check my cervix. When she was able to, she said something like, “Oh, I feel a little bubble… and… Jeanne, you’re completely dilated!” I think I said, “Oh boy, oh boy!! Oh, wow!” And smiled a lot! I couldn’t believe it! I wasn’t a wuss after all! The whole time I thought I was in the first stage of labor, I was actually much further along than that! Nicole, Kathi’s assistant midwife (also CPM) arrived around this time as well. Rob called my mom, who had planned to be here for the birth and lived about an hour away. She’d be on her way as soon as she could!
I got down on the floor on the plastic table cloth that was originally going to be under the tub and someone put some chux pads down under me, since we wouldn’t have time to fill up the tub. I was on my hands and knees and asked Ashley what it would feel like when I needed to push (even though I already knew, I guess I needed some reassurance). She told me it would feel like I needed to poop and I would know. I said, “Okay, I’m pretty sure it’s happening now!” Just then, with a mighty splash and burst, my water broke! I didn’t see it, but it sounded and felt like a water balloon. I thought that was pretty cool! Right after that, with every contraction came pushing. I don’t think I even tried to control or think about what I was doing, I just let my body do the work.
Rob was sitting right in front of me, holding my hands. So much for that dinner I felt like I needed to have, since I threw up with pretty much every contraction! I’d throw up, then chug water, and so on. Ashley was to my left, taking pictures, Kathi was behind me, massaging my perineum with oil and pressing where I needed to focus my energy while pushing, and Nicole was to Kathi’s right taking notes and assisting Kathi. After about 30 or 40 minutes when I finally shouted “FUCKEEEER!!” (not usually in my vocabulary), I decided to get on my bottom, in between Rob’s legs with my knees up in the air. It felt really good to be supported by my strong and amazing husband, and hold my knees to focus my energy down and out. It didn’t take long after getting in this position to make a lot of progress! I felt very loved and supported the entire time. I remember yelling a lot, and thinking I sounded like a ferocious lion roaring. I’d bear down and roar each time I felt a push coming on.
Finally someone grabbed my hand and put it where I could feel my baby’s head coming out. “Oh baby, oh baby!” I said with smiles and felt so much emotion. I wasn’t long before the baby’s head was crowning and Kathi told me to just breathe, don’t push. “I have to push!!” I yelled. She said, “Ok, tiny pushes.” With tiny pushes and breathing, my little one slipped out perfectly with ease. I opened my eyes and couldn’t believe our baby was finally here! It was 11:46 pm. I reached down and pulled her up to my belly. Rob said, “It’s a girl!” and called her Ramona right away. I guess the name just fit her! I brought Ramona up to my chest and just kept looking at her over and over, tears forming in my eyes. I couldn’t believe how lucky we are to have such a perfect angel, covered in thick, sticky vernix! Our own little sticky Stucky! I kissed Rob and we said I love you to each other and our new, sweet baby. The midwives wrapped Ramona in blankets and towels so she didn’t get cold. Ramona latched on like a pro.
After about 10 minutes, Kathi told me to push out the placenta whenever I felt a contraction, so I did. It felt so slippery and good! Soon after, Rob cut the cord. It was so gristly and cool! Ashley brought me some Emergen-C to chug since I’d thrown up so much. Shortly thereafter, I was assisted onto the bed and nursed Ramona. I couldn’t believe how well she nursed right away! My mom arrived around this time to meet her new granddaughter. She was surprised to see a new baby already born when she walked into the bedroom! Ashley made me scrambled eggs and toast with peanut butter. I didn’t feel much like eating, because I was so enthralled in our new family and overjoyed with the wonderful feelings of natural birth.
Kathi and Nicole checked me and found no tears or anything, just swelling. I took some homeopathic arnica and Nicole gave me an ice pad to put on my soreness. It really didn’t hurt that bad at all! I remembered my midwife asking if I was afraid of pain in childbirth at my most recent prenatal appointment. I told her I wasn’t afraid and that pain is just a state of mind.. but ask me again after I’ve given birth! Well, we remembered that conversation and I told her that no, I had not changed my mind about pain even after giving birth!
Kathi and Nicole did Ramona’s newborn exam about an hour or two after she was born. Everything looked great! Ramona is a perfect beautiful little girl. At birth, she weighed 6 lbs 10 oz, was 20 ¼ inches long, and couldn’t be more adorable! She has Rob’s eyes and ears, and my nose and lips. She has a sweet little birthmark on her head, about the size of a wild strawberry. Her chin is kind of long and pointy like Rob’s, and she looks like the perfect combination of him and I!
All night I lay awake gazing at our beautiful daughter, in complete awe of what had just occurred. I’m writing this 6 days later, and I still feel like I’m dreaming! Rob and I couldn’t be happier and my birth couldn’t have been more easy and enjoyable than it was. Everything went so perfectly. We both feel really lucky.
Life is but a dream!
As a side note, Ramona’s birthday was the first of two more baby girls in a row for my midwife during Northern Michigan’s snowiest and coldest winter in a long time!