below is what i have already written in my baby book for ramona. i’ve transcribed it here bc to go back and edit and revise would be as exhausting as the labor itself. please excuse any possible incoherence.
ramona bean, you were “due” on july, 11. i swore up and down that you would be earlier than that. that day arrived and still no sign of you. i was bummed bc i was so anxious to meet you! so i went and got a thai massage and the masseuse tried some acupressure. but as any good midwife will tell you (and mine did many times) those natural labor inducers only really work if you are already showing signs of labor. i was not. this was a monday.
but stubborn as i am i continued trying other methods of coaxing you out: papa and i went on long walks every morning, had sex, ate REALLY spicy foods, and drank some wine to relax me. nada. until wednesday when i went out with some girlfriends for dinner and wine and the david gray concert. you loved that concert! you were kicking and dancing and jiving. i really enjoyed that concert too: time out with good friends, soulful music, lots of time with my hand on you in my belly just feeling you groove. after the concert we walked back to the parking garage and–wouldn’t ya know it–my water broke in the elevator! it wasn’t the gush you see in the movies but a small trickle i couldn’t stop. this made all us girls giddy and giggling. i called papa and maren on the drive home. i was to go to bed and maren would be over in the morning — unless there was more action (contractions) during the middle of the night.
all night i waited for these contractions to start. they didn’t and, again, i was bummed. maren came in the morning and confirmed my hindwaters had broken. technically, active labor had to begin within 24 hours of the waters breaking or i was supposed to go to the hospital to get induced. mama and papa did not want this. so we stayed in all day on thursday –except for a walk to happy and a big, huge lunch at hops & pie– and played with my nipples. sounds silly, i know! but nipple stimulation (and making out) is highly effective at releasing oxytocin and getting those contractions flowing. except for me. there were some contractions heightened by the stipple nimulation (as papa and i started to call it) but they weren’t exactly rhythmic or time-able — signs of labor. i was frustrated.
bc my waters had broken we were still on a time crunch — even if papa and i had decided to flout one set of guidelines. so thursday night we went to bed knowing that if, in the morning, i still was not having labor contractions, i would be taking castor oil.
so at 5:30 the next morning, a friday, when my contractions were still puny and ineffective, i chugged 1.5 oz of castor oil mixed with Recharge. By 6:15 the contractions had started. they were a lot more intense than the braxton-hicks i’d been experiencing up until then. maren arrived around 7:00 and i took another dose at 7:33. by 8:00, when the contractions were getting a lot harder than i anticipated, i had your papa call pam –a family friend and doula– to have her come over.
papa was with me entire time. at first my contractions were just bad enough i that had to concentrate during them but could still talk in between them. but by the time maren got back from her walk and pam arrived at the house, i was in labor land and couldn’t talk to anyone. bc of the effects of the castor oil, i spent much of my time laboring on the toilet. like a champ, your papa sat right down in front of me (foregoing our married rule of no pooping with the door open) and stayed with me through it all –even though most of it wasn’t pleasant! he was so incredible and supportive and quiet and loving and steadfast and just the right amount of concerned. i could not have done it without him and all his words and touches of affirmation.
i was having back labor bc you were posterior, you little stinker. and that hurts a lot. we tried positions during contractions to turn you but you were stubborn (like your mama). i didn’t want the tub or the birth stool or the lunge or any other fancy positions. they hurt. i just wanted the toilet or to stand against the wall in the hallway.
it got hard fast and i didn’t think i was going to be able to do it. i had no idea how long it was all going to take and that annoyed me. i asked to go to the hospital and i dreamed of how good an epidural might feel. but your papa reminded me what i had wanted for so long for your birth, little bean; how i’d researched and planned and dreamt of your arrival in our home long before you were even conceived in our head. i was not happy and i was really angry at the pain and the process but i knew your papa was right.
they laid me down in bed to try and give me some rest. when i wasn’t having rushes it felt marvelous and i searched for seconds of sleep –something i had been able to find in the moments in between rushes on the toilet. but then, lying there, a contraction would come and it was the worst yet. pam lightly rocked me and papa whispered in my ear — these things helped a little bit but really i just wanted to give up.
finally i bolted upright realizing i needed a change and that’s when i felt it: i was transitioning. so i ran to the bathroom sink and puked my guts out. i hadn’t thrown up since i was ten-years-old. it felt amazing! and for a moment the rushes eased up. there was just enough time for papa to walk me over to the tub, rest his forehead on mine, gently grab my face and, with tears in his eyes, tell me how proud he was of me. i married the most incredible man.
so i got into the warm tub (set up in our dining room) and, clutching the side, squatting and leaning forward, i worked through rush after rush that was slamming my body. i got about 20 seconds break for every two minutes of intensity. papa sat in front of me and grasped my hands (but not before he found a moment to put on portishead, the only music he had remembered me mentioning i would want to listen to), pam stood over me and rubbed my back (hard!) while reminding me to open up and let go and release. maren checked me and i was 8 cm dilated — a large and fast change from the previous 4 or 5. the rushes kept coming and eventually i started feeling the sensation to push. maren checked me again and i was 10 cm!
i was so ready to have you out so mama did not mess around. i started pushing and pushing and screaming and grunting and groaning. maren reminded me of the proper technique for breathing and that definitely calmed me down and focused me. i kept pushing and could feel you moving closer, further down. but my position wasn’t ideal and maren wanted me to lean back and squat. but it hurt so bad that way! finally they got me where they needed me and i pushed some more and reached down and could feel your head just inside my vagina. a couple more pushes and one primal scream and your head was out! papa was in awe but i didn’t even want to look down bc i just wanted to keep focusing on working to get you out. they asked if i wanted to reach down and touch you but, again, i was so intent on getting you out as fast as possible and didn’t want to be distracted. ha.
your shoulders were twisted a little so maren, with the help of papa, got me into a sort of runner’s lunge position. i pushed one more time and, 8.5 hours after all of this started, i could feel you come right on out. and then WHOOSH you were up out of the water and placed on my chest. but not before i noticed you were a girl, my ramona marilyn.
oh, how i loved holding you! you were white and wrinkly and slimy and mine. your breathing was a little rough so they gave you some quick mouth-to-mouth puffs and put an oxygen mask on your and we waited 30 minutes until whatever was going on in your tiny lungs was worked out by your coughing and crying.
we got out of the tub and the three of us crawled into bed where we held you close and loved on you. i delivered the placenta and, along with papa cutting your umbilical cord, seeing that go was a bit weird. you and i were no longer one and you are officially your own person. and now papa and i get to raise you to continue to be your own person. we fell in love with you so fast and so hard. you are the best.