Labour for Eleanor started much like labour for Claire. My water broke. Apparently this doesn’t happen often (labour starting with water breaking), I read somewhere that this only happens 3% of the time. In any case, it happened to me twice.
My water broke at 7:30 a.m. on May 18th, two days after Claire’s second birthday. My father and step-mother were in town staying with us to help me with my last weeks of pregnancy and to be here for the birth. We gave Claire breakfast while I had mild contractions consistently three minutes apart. My father walked her to daycare after I hugged her tight. The mood was happy and calm. Contractions kept coming and I called my midwife, who told me to meet her at the hospital. Perhaps, like me, she sensed that things would happen quickly.
Francis, my step-mother and I got to the hospital at around 9:30. We went to our room and opened the curtains and windows. It was a lovely, hot and sunny spring day. I sat on a yoga ball while we listened to the news. My step-mother went to the coffee shop to get the midwives some coffee and muffins and an egg sandwhich for me; I was starving! I was trying to get Francis to hook up his phone to the hospital wifi so we could get some music on Songza but the wifi was terrible, so we just kept listening to the news.
Contractions continued to be regular and to increase in strength. I ‘slow-danced’ with Francis to get through them. When it was getting hard to stand through them I got in the whirlpool tub. I don’t really remember the time, but it must have been 11ish. I was in the tub for an hour, which is where I went through transition. I remember saying, “No no no no” through the contraction; like I didn’t want them to happen to me. I’m pretty sure I asked for an epidural but Francis deflected my request and kept me calm.
It got a point where I didn’t think I could make it through one more contraction, so I called my midwife over and demanded an epi. She nodded, said OK, and told me to get out of the tub onto the bed so she could check me (and obviously I needed to be out of the tub to get an epi). So it was around noon, and I got onto the bed but the contractions were so strong that I couldn’t get comfortable in any position. I needed help to move; it was all pretty intense.
And then, I felt my body start to push. I lost my cool then; screaming that I couldn’t do this, I didn’t want to feel her head coming out, that I wanted them to cut her out so I wouldn’t have to feel the pain anymore. My midwife, knowing that I needed to stay calm for the pushing, grabbed my head, looked right into my eyes and said, “Isabelle, you can do this. You ARE doing this. You need to calm down and breathe.” And so, I did. I calmed down, and in three pushes, Eleanor was born.
It was 12:35 p.m.
It had been my intention to give birth naturally, without an epidural. My midwife told me that my labour and delivery were pretty texbook; transition being the most intense. The time when it all gets crazy. Looking back, I’m amazed that I was able to do it. And, as with Claire, no tearing or stitches. A pretty lovely birth. Looking back, I remember laughter and sunshine. I remember clinging to Francis when I was pushing; my head buried in his chest. Hanging on him for dear life.
She was 7 lbs 16 oz (just shy of 8 lbs) of perfection. Her eyes very blue and she had red hair (still does). She didn’t cry; just looked around calmly. We were able to go home at 3 p.m., to wait for Claire to come home from daycare to meet her sister.
I smile whenever I think of that day. All the love, all the sunshine, all the happiness of that day come back to me in a rush, and I smile.