Friday, November 13, 2015

The Birth of Hosea. Day One.

At 12:30 in the morning, exactly one year ago, I awoke in the dark to the ache in my back that I had become accustomed to in pregnancy. Placing my hands around my great belly to guide it, I rolled over to my other side. As I did, I felt a distinct *pop* between my legs. My eyes flew open and I held my breath. As if in a movie, I placed an arm on my partner to wake her, uttering the timeless phrase: "Honey, I think my water just broke". Sure enough, as I heaved my heavy body to its feet, I felt a great flood of water drop from within me and I heard it hit the floor with a surprisingly loud crash.

This wasn't how it was supposed to be: A full week before my due date, no hint of impending labor, but there was no question that this would be "it". A trickle of water, a small leak, that could repair itself and I could continue to gestate, but not this. This would not repair. Our baby would come soon.
A call to the midwife, a call to our friend who was supposed to fly in on my due date, and I settled back into bed, shaking with adrenaline hoping, hoping to get rest before labor started.

 The baby moved gently within me, telling me they were well. By the wee hours of the morning, the gentle tightening of my womb strengthened and I could no longer lie down. I squatted on the birth ball by our bay window, head resting on cloth diapers piled there, and watched the sun come up.
That day, I felt strong.

Our friend arrived on a last minute flight, I ate small meals and felt the comfortable flurry of preparation around me. My partner glowed. I retreated to the bedroom mostly, noticing that contractions stayed strongest and closest together when I was alone.

The midwife came and went, our friend made dinner and we enjoyed it together, quietly, full of anticipation. I sent everyone off to bed, knowing that they would need rest for what was to come. I turned off the lights and lit a fire in the fireplace. My contractions strengthened, lengthened, and came closer together. 4-6 minutes apart for a few hours, requiring breathing and gentle moaning. The cusp between early and active labor. I filled the birth tub with water boiled on the stove. I felt sure I would wake my love in the early hours of the morning for support. "Please sleep," I told her, whenever she would wake. "I'll need you."
I remember the sound of the fire, the wind outside. I remember a deep feeling of calm as I rode my contractions in the dark.
Then, like a switch had flipped somewhere inside me, the contractions nearly stopped. Every 10-20 minutes, one would pass over me, weaker than before. An invitation to rest, I assumed, remembering the wisdom of so many birth workers to sleep whenever your body lets you. But upon laying down, contractions would feel like knives from within me, taking my breath, restricting my movement, doubling up on each other... I had the distinct feeling that it wasn't the right kind of pain. My body or my baby could not handle lying down, so I knelt on the couch, my head resting on the back cushions, swaying back and forth, waiting for morning to come.

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