The Birth Story of August James
I woke before dawn, the contractions seemed like they might be real. I walked the 30 or so feet of our hallway and quickly realized they were in fact, real. I say "real" because I had been having some sort of tightness and discomfort for almost a week but nothing was happening.
"Brian" barely swished out of my mouth as another hit. I called Dawn and she asked if it was time. I said yes and she hauled ass over to get Benjaroo.
Brian reminded me that we didn't need to call Cindi yet. I got dressed in yoga pants and a tee shirt. I told Brian I was walking outside for a bit. He wanted to go but I told him I wanted to go alone, that I wasn't going to birth in the street. That this wasn't anything I couldn't handle alone.
I walked down a vacant house on the bay side. About 2 houses away. It has a white sandy beach. By now the sun had been up for thirty minutes or so, the wind was really blowing steady, in a cleansing way. I stood under the swaying pine trees and looked out towards the island. I could see the dune where Brian and I had fallen in love. I raised my arms in a sun salutation as my body pulsed with contractions. Three pelicans alighted one at a time on some dock pilings. I felt them to be my mamaw, Grannie and my friend Brian McGregor. I breathed in their strength and blew out my weaknesses.
I talked to myself. I recited "this is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it." I thought of my Mamaw having her twin babies in a shack. The midwife put an axe under her bed to cut the labor pains. I felt the sand melting in between my toes. Then I was ready. I turned toward home and my Brian was there watching me as I keeled over. He got there in time to walk me home.
I know it was 7:40 when we got back inside as my neighbor was loading kids into the car for school. Her seven year old was so excited I was finally having the baby!
I laid on my side, on my couch with Brian sitting in our ottoman holding my hands all day. I moaned through the contractions. We watched Dazed and Confused. I drank water, ate salty spinach, turkey roll ups and string Cheese. I'd get up and pee and it hurt to contract standing up, but I was fine on my side. We watched Caddyshack. I got up to pee right before the golf course blows up and then it changed. I couldn't visually concentrate on movies. I laid there and slept between contractions in some sort of hypnotic state. When the surges came I moaned and squeezed Brian's hands. My left hand clasped his left hand, and right with right. we were crossed like that all day. I think I slept an hour and then I asked for my music. We did Arcade Fire's Funerals in its entirety, I felt every single note of that album pulsing through my body. I heard every instrument. There are like 15 people in that band. I sang loudly and got myself pumped up. I cried. I loved it so much. Fucking Arcade Fire is the shit.
Brian had been timing contractions off and on to see where we were at. He knew we were nearing transition but I really didn't. The pain increased so gradually that I was able to manage it completely. It was like when I got back to exercise after Benji and just walked another driveway further each day. Just the smallest amount dripping on top of the existing pain. Like going further into an asana with each breath.
My water broke as we started listening to the hard stuff. I remember pumping my fist and trying to sing along to Where Eagles Dare while lying on my side on the couch.
My mom came, I was now laying with Benji's dragon blanket draped over me. I was getting the chills. It freaked her out. I talked to her for a bit but I was ready to go inside and she could tell and left us to get Benji.
Quickly thereafter my water broke. I had put on Brian's surfboard boxers because I thought my dad was coming, I had been in a sports bra and grannies all day. Thank god, the boxers absorbed the first gush and none got on our couch. I think I did some more side lying.
Then I got on my hands and knees on our ottoman and Brian sat across from me. I asked for a towel to drape across it because I said it smelled like our feet.
I threw up and Brian announced I was in transition. I was so excited. I think we put on Rebel Girl and then things got serious. Brian calls Cindi. It is 3:30.
Brian got up to unlock our front door. I am nude from the waist down with my ass in the air, facing the glass door. He goes, "whoa, you are really dilated." I said "you can tell from over there?" He said "yeah, we might be on our own." I am amazing myself with this pain management I've got going on. Like I am seriously impressed with myself. I just moan and moan, breathing through every contraction. I think it's funny that my fully dilated birth canal and asshole are facing the glass front door. Things are going good.
Cindi gets there, slides off her clogs and sits next to me on the floor. She gives me the once over and then watches us do some contractions. I ask her who else is coming. She tells me Annette and Sarah. I never met Sarah, I say. Cindi assures me she's great. I loved Annette from my last two appointments so I'm stoked she's coming. She even impressed the hell outta Brian which is damn difficult.
Cindi suggests I plant my left foot on the floor for the next one. This idea sounds terrible to me, but I remember Christy teaching us that we should try a new position for at least three contractions so we give it a go. I even do the other side for two and decide I want to stay on my hands and knees. Or I want in the tub, I can't remember exactly. I do get in the tub once Cindi checks the water temp and at some point Annette and Sarah got there. They were setting up stuff and were doing their best to remain invisible. I don't really notice them or Cindi, I'm into Brian and Auggie.
Once in the tub, Cindi tells me to try and push with the next contraction. I say "already?" She's like, "yeah, try."
I push on my hands and knees, holding Brian's hands as he sits outside the tub. It's going okay, but I feel like I'm working too hard to hold myself out of the water. I know that if my body is working this much, this hard, this position just isn't right.
He runs and puts board shorts on. He gets in and I lay with my back on his chest. It works.
I push once and start saying the "I don't think I can do this" and "what were we thinking" crap. Then I hunker down and push more. The top of his head comes out. Cindi encourages me to breathe through the next contraction and just allow him to sit there so I stretch out. I am now super serious and focused. The next contraction comes and I push again. Cindi says, "his head is out, touch it!" I touch his head and its still collapsed. This feels weird. I don't like it, but I'll always remember the first time I felt his fuzzy hair floating in the water. She tells me she wants me to grab him when the next contraction comes. I do that but I had my hands on him weird so she takes over. According to Brian I was about to pull him out by his head.
Then I finished my final push and he was out. He was immediately placed on my chest and I kissed his slimy head over and over, "my baby, my baby, my baby"
It was 5:05pm, I had a 9-5er, the most convenient time. I had sleep, I went to bed at a normal time. I couldn't had dreamed it would be this perfect.
We all go back to our bed
and crawl under the covers. Auggie isn't getting warm enough, so we lay with a heating pad. He finally warms up. He latches right on,
I push once and the placenta comes out. I never tore! I never got hemorrhoids! Thanks for having me hold him steady Cindi. You're amazing!
My mom gets there and brings Benji in. He has a mixed reaction, really just wants me. Brian and I talk to him gently and he's obviously overwhelmed but he is happy.
Cindi weighs and measures him. 8 pounds, 7 ounces. My mom just wants to hold and hold Auggie. It's so sweet. Brian feeds me my stuffed peppers as Auggie nurses.
Annette and Sarah are there, popping in only when necessary. Helping Auggie stay warm, cleaning me up, checking our vitals. Annette got me in the shower. That was amazing! They did all the laundry, we used a lot of towels.
All three of them were like that, just there when we needed them. When you witness the synergy of a good team, it's truly moving. They all knew what to do when without a lot of direction. And that's really it. They left and our family was a little bit bigger.
I have a hard time describing the birth the way people want to hear. They are disappointed. It's a boring story. I end up saying, "we watched Caddyshack, I pushed, he was born." Did it hurt? "Nothing I couldn't handle." Then I say my excuse, "my back is shot, so I'm used to a lot of pain."
I don't really want to make that excuse anymore. It was non-eventful. That's what you want for your birth! Hooray for my boring story! Yay!
I was diligently cared for by my husband for most of my labor. We talked all day long, about so many things. We did this before kids but we never truly cherished those moments like we did as I laid on that couch, laboring through the day. We love our quiet snippets of time together and that day we got hours. In a row. Of peace and conversation.
My midwife came for the last hour and a half. She was wonderfully hands-off, allowing our beautiful experience to truly be ours. We did not need her until she was there. A truly synergistic experience.
The birth of August James Burger was more about me than him. I'm not embarrassed of that. It filled me with enough strength to care for my two sons with grace and humility. It humbled me to labor as my Mamaw did in that ramshackle place down the river from the Gulf that feeds the bay, that feeds those pelicans I looked out that morning. Brian even drew me an axe and put it under our couch.