It was 5 days past my due date.
Family and friends on edge with excitement of my baby coming any day. Receiving texts and messages of any “signs” in which I’d reply that nothing has started yet to my dismay.
My boys were also eagerly awaiting the arrival of their newest baby brother.
Every day they’d ask me “is the baby coming soon?!” And each day past my due date I’d answer them “we don’t know when, but soon.”
It was that afternoon when I thought something might be happening, but I didn’t want to get my hopes (or anyone else’s for that matter) up. And just like that, as soon as I thought it might be the start of baby time, it wasn’t.
And then again the next day.
And the next.
And also the next.
By this time I was getting annoyed.
But simultaneously not trying to be annoyed because I didn’t want my emotions to run the show.
I trusted that my body knew what it was doing and that our baby would come when he was ready. Even still, the waiting while having contractions for days was pure torture. As soon as I thought things were picking up speed, everything would die down and my body seemed to pause to rest.
Until Wednesday night.
By this time, I was having several contractions an hour during the night. They continued to get progressively stronger throughout the night while I laid in bed trying to relax my body and rest through the surges. Every time that I’d get up to use the restroom, I’d have a contraction, so I knew things were getting real.
I didn’t want to wake the house, especially my husband, because I knew it could still be a long day ahead and I wanted everyone well rested. So I silently labored through the night in my bed while the rest of the house was sound asleep.
By the time everyone was up and easing into the day around 8am, labor was in full swing.
I couldn’t lay down any longer as they made the contractions stronger. So I swayed against the wall, bounced on my birth ball, and allowed gravity do its thing. This was when I thought I should let my birth team know my progress. Once Dom realized how quickly things were picking up, he got straight to work on filling up the birth pool with the help of the older boys.
By 9am both my doula and my midwife had arrived at the house.
I knew I wasn’t quite in the hard stages of labor yet, but with my contractions being so close together now, I was glad that they were there. It felt like things were FINALLY getting real and that sometime soon, I’d be holding my baby in my arms.
As soon as the pool was filled and ready, I wasted zero time getting in.
The warm water helped my body relax through the contractions and it was easier to get into a comfortable position; which happened to be sitting against the wall of the pool leaning back. Which is no surprise, this is how I always birth. Almost in a floating position when the surges get strong. The water helps to alleviate the pressure on my back and bottom when things really pick up.
And pick up they did.
At around 11am I glanced up at the clock because I knew things were getting hard and my baby would be here soon. Until this point, I was able to completely surrender to each contraction while I repeated to myself “I can. I am. I will.”
Saying these words in my head over and over again helped distract me from the discomfort my body was going through while also keeping my head level to not allow my mind to panic. I knew this pain had a purpose and I knew if I surrendered and allowed my body to do what it was made to do, it wouldn’t be long until I would be holding my baby.
Things were getting strong and the contractions seemed to never subside.
As soon as one was over, another started. Meanwhile, my midwife was keeping a careful eye on the baby from the outside. He had always been a very active baby and being in labor didn’t stop him from moving around full force.
Just an hour before, I could feel his kicks low and on my left side. But now, his kicks were in a completely different area and I could no longer feel his back pushed up against my abdomen. I was starting to fear that he was moving too much and would get himself caught into a bad position.
Which is exactly what would come to happen, I just didn’t know it yet.
He continued to wiggle around before, during, and after contractions. My midwife knew he was turning to find the best way to come down into the birth canal, so I turned my body towards the side of the pool to give him a better chance. Leaning over the side during the surges was pure agony, but I knew this could help and I was willing to do it.
Still no change after a few more contractions and I couldn’t be in that position any longer.
The pressure on my lower back was too much to handle so I’d beg Dom to push on it. I can’t even begin to describe the comfort that a man’s force on your back can give you while a baby is making his way through your pelvis. I just knew that I didn’t want him to stop. With each contraction, he’d push with all his might while I tried to allow my body to relax and surrender to the pain.
While mentally preparing myself during pregnancy, I so desperately desired a “pain free birth.” A birth that seemed easy from the outside, but took strength inside. A birth to be empowered by. A birth that birth that I could truly be proud of. All of those thoughts and desires quickly started to become out of reach once he started making his way down the birth canal. It was definitely more than discomfort at this point.
All of my previous births have been completely unmedicated.
I’ve had 1 land birth in the squatting position and 3 waterbirths, so I was not new to the discomfort of labor transition. It’s the part of labor that I dread the most, but also the part that I was determined to not let get a hold of my mind this time around. Transition can easily do that.
Now I knew for certain that I was in transition.
There was no doubt in my mind any longer as I started to become loudly vocal with the contractions. There was no more doing this in silence. It was as if my body had been taken control by an unknown subconscious primal state of being. A state I have never once met even in all of my other 4 labors.
I checked the clock again after an intense rolling contraction and it was roughly 11:30am.
“Okay, I can do this.”
Transition has never lasted more than an hour for me. I just need to keep my mind right and I’ll have this baby out soon enough. That is what I told myself along with the lines “I can. I am. I will.”
Over and over again, I muttered those words inside of me while my primal being let out sounds that I couldn’t possibly begin to describe or even fare mimic. But there was one thing for certain, these wails were loud and powerful.
My 4 boys were still upstairs when I heard my husband rush to them to let them know it was about time.
We had prepped them ahead of time about what labor could be like and how I might respond when the baby is coming (very loud, very vocal, but nothing to be worried about).
Since we were planning a homebirth, I knew I wanted my kids present to witness their baby brother being born IF they wanted to be.
Not many kids get to experience something like this and I really don’t my children growing up without proper knowledge of what physiological birth looks like and how natural and blissful it truly is. It’s been a long time trend of fearing birth because of the one-sided narrative that has been displayed and need I say exaggerated through media and television. But I don’t want my children viewing it that way. I prefer they find out the truth through experience.
As soon as my husband ran upstairs to collect our kids, they were all downstairs gathered in the living room just observing while I wailed on through what felt like an eternity.
After each contraction, we’d have to remind Marcellus (3) that Mommy was okay.
He’s such a brave boy, but I could see his sweet little eyes fighting back tears as I let out roar after roar trying to bring this baby down and out of my pelvis. It was too much for him to see his Momma like this while he sat on Dom’s lap slowly closing his eyes in what appeared to be his way of shutting down.
My maternal side sympathized with the situation as I assured him that I was alright, but each new wave brought on a stronger and stronger contraction that my primal side couldn’t ignore.
After putting up with these contractions for over an hour and what felt like the 11th ring of hell, I asked my midwife to check my cervix.
Mind you, I am all for zero checks and interventions whatsoever, but I NEEDED to know where this baby was. I needed some kind of assurance that this torture would end soon. If I knew that, then I could finish strong.
But my midwife looked at me and responded “do you really want me to check you?” Well of course I did! She continued to say “you can check yourself if you feel like that would help.”
So I did. I didn’t waste any time when she gave me “permission” for me to check myself. Without going into too much detail that doesn’t need an explanation, I was able to feel my baby’s head a finger length away.
Sweet relief, he was coming. My body was doing its thing. Soon this would be over. Or so I thought….
Many contractions went by and I was starting to get tired. I wanted to give up. If I were in a hospital, I probably would have even begged for the staff to just cut me open because I couldn’t keep doing this. I continued to monitor my progression, but baby was not coming down. He was still a finger length away even after all that work.
Then it all started to make sense.
The long transition. The strongest contractions I’ve ever felt. No real progress. This baby was not in a great position to move down and my body was feeling the effects.
Each time that I reached up to check his progress, which was after each contraction at this point, I could feel the bag of water Bulging in front of his head. It was like a soft cushion of water that surrounded his soft head, even in the most tight place he could be. I knew that’s what was slowing this down.
An intact bag of waters provides a cushion around the baby making it less painful, but it also slows things down.
I knew what needed to be done in order to get this train moving, so I reached up again to attempt to break the bag of waters with my nails. I pinched and squeezed from every angle that I could, but this thing was just not budging. I thought maybe it would break while I continued to push, as this always happens with my labors, but it never did.
At this point I was beyond annoyed that I was still at this.
Not only should I have a baby in my arms already, this darn bag of waters would not break. So I begged my midwife to break it for me. I could tell from her face that it wasn’t what she preferred for me, but she obliged by giving up and giving it a go. Still, she had no luck. It seemed that this bag of waters had a plan of its own and I would just have to accept that.
Looking up at the clock again for the last time, it was roughly quarter after 1pm, but that’s just an estimation as I was not in my comprehensive mind. My primal state was at an all time high and I barely noticed much around me at all. I was completely absorbed by the contractions and having to rest my body and my mind between them.
I assume that the boys had gotten bored waiting around for so long because they weren’t around any longer, except Marcellus. He was still planted in Dom’s lap on the floor next to the pool. Seeing them there helped me feel less alone in my vast sea of labor pains.
As a new surge would start up, I’d hold both of my hands out as a silent plea of help.
Although it did nothing for the pain, squeezing Dom’s hand in my right and my doula’s hand in my left made me feel like I could keep going even if it was just me vs. my body. I’d roar relentlessly through each surge and allowed my body to just take full control. But, there’s only so much pain a person an endure.
It was getting tired not just in my body, but also in my mind.
I should have birthed this baby an hour ago, why is it taking this long?! I wanted to scream and lash out my frustrations, but I knew that remaining calm was my biggest asset at this point. Even with my mind completely in labor mode, I could tell that my midwife was empathizing with me.
After the next contraction, she instructed me to hold on to her hand and pull against her force, as if we were playing a game of tug of war. So with the next surge, I pulled with all my might while she pulled with all of hers. This pulling forced brought me to my feet in a low squat position while I roared and pushed with everything inside of me. I could feel my vocal chords being shredded, but there was no stopping.
I continued to use every ounce of power inside of my body to get this baby down and out.
With that, I could finally feel my baby’s head on the verge of crowning. He was right there.
What an amazing relief knowing that FINALLY the moment has come. And just like that, another contraction started and I held onto my midwife hand again to play another game of tug of War.
This time the contraction went on and on while I kept roaring and pushing with all of my might.
The urge was so intense that I felt my body might explode, and with that emerged a tiny head. I reached down to confirm that yes, his head was out and still covered by the amniotic sac!
I remember my midwife asking me how that one went and I said “it worked great! His head is out!”
To much of her surprise, she quickly turned on her flashlight to confirm our suspicions, he was in fact sunny side up.
Now I knew and understood what unmedicated posterior labors were like as described by Mothers who’ve endured their mighty wrath. It was a force so unimaginable before, but now it all made sense why I was having a longer and stronger labor than I had ever experienced before (and why I wailed on like a wild banshee).
Another surge came and I knew this was it.
One final push and I’d feel that slippery baby through the water.
One mighty push and a final roar with all my might and he emerged. Still in his sac as he quickly glided through the water into my arms. I brought him up to my chest as my midwife gently unveiled him as the sac still covered his body.
And then I felt it. The feeling I had looked forward to my entire pregnancy. It was a feeling I have known before and desired now more than ever. The immense euphoria of meeting your baby and falling in love for the first time.
In that moment, I felt no one else in the room except the presence of the baby whom I had only known previously by his kicks, twists, and turns inside of me.
I met his gaze and the pain was instantly erased from my mind.
We had done it together and we were finally united on the other side.
Marius Dominic was born safely and lovingly at our home on June 16th, 2022 surrounded by all of his brothers.
Born in the sunny side up position and en caul, he definitely has a story that we will always remember.