a while ago:
I went to bed that night feeling very, very tired. Even so, I barely slept. I tossed and turned, felt restless in every limb, and could not get comfortable no matter what I did. It never crossed my mind that labor might be starting. After all I was still 8 days from my estimated due date and my labor with S had started exactly on his EDD. Looking back now have no idea what made me think things would be the same for baby L as for baby S.
At 6ish the next morning, I was basically still awake. And I thought maybe I needed to work on turning Laila from her preferred sunny side up position and since I wasn’t sleeping anyway, a little yoga asana in bed with pillows couldn’t hurt. I noticed Sufyan and Faris were awake in Sufyan’s room. I remember hearing his sweet little boy voice floating down the hall and a blueish light coming from the room (‘he must be playing with Baba’s phone while Baba tries to get just a few more minutes of sleep’ I thought.)
SO, I got on my hands and knees in bed, cat-cowed, I hammocked my belly, and swayed a bit while considering whether I might go back to sleep.
I didn’t have much patience. I stopped and listened in the dark to my son talking to his baba. Then i felt it: this weird “pop” in my abdomen. It felt exactly like a water balloon would feel popping in your belly. It was internally audible. I sat up. a little trickle of water was discernible. I thought, “nah.” I just wasn’t convinced and I was a week from my EDD. I went to the bathroom and as I walked I could tell something had shifted. A small contraction rippled through my body. I went in to see Faris and Sufyan. Faris smiled and looked up calmly and I said, “I might be in labor.” His face lit up and he said something like OK should I call Julia (our midwife) etc.
i tried to protest that we should wait a bit to see. We walked to the kitchen and nothing was happening. Just some light squeezing. And I just couldn’t believe my water had broken. There was no huge gush as I thought there would be.
In the dark night light of our kitchen, Sufyan, Faris and I talked. Sufyan was on his learning tower playing with a toy. He was happy. Faris was insisting we call Julia. As we talked, I started having big warm contractions that i needed to lean over and be quiet for. i leaned on the counter top. I remember Sufyan was trying to talk to me but I couldn’t answer. Faris was trying to tell Sufyan his baby sister was coming. i was still not convinced.
Faris called Juila. i got on the phone when she answered. “hi julia, i think i might be in labor.” i remember she said something like, “you think this is it? the real deal?” and i had another contraction. yep. the real deal.
By now I knew it. It was 7am. the contractions must have been about 5 minutes apart. we were not timing because we were not worried and also sufyan was running around. the next thing I remember is that i went to our bedroom. i sat on the rug and had contractions. I got on my hands and knees. julia and her assistant arrived. i remember looking up and saying hello to her with a smile. and she went out to get some equipment, leaving a box of nursing supplies in the room. sufyan came in and faris must have been elsewhere helping julia. it was just sufyan and i. he tried to climb on me and i couldn’t even move or talk. he went to look at the box of nursing supplies and i remember i freaked out because i couldn’t move and the box was full of things that a toddler definitely should not have access to…i called faris and told him i could not be left alone with sufyan right then.
I felt kind of amazed that here I was in labor, full swing, and I was operating from mom brain and laboring woman brain. mom brain was screaming commands as the ship went down, knowing soon enough there would only be laboring woman brain and trying to take care of her toddler before the shift happened.
at 8am Sufyan’s nanny came over as usual and took him into his room to play. i remember hearing them outside.
julia immediately wanted to set up the IV of antibiotics i had decided i wanted. I was GBS+ and thought it was best to go the IV route due to my high likelihood of precipitously fast labor. (sufyan was born in 5.5 hours). she started the IV easily. I felt the drug go in. a few minutes later as i was having a contraction i noticed an intense itching in my belly and groin. then in my neck and ears and face and chest! i told julia, calmly, as i had no idea what it was. “it sounds like you’re having an allergic reaction to the clindamycin. do you have any benadryl?” faris ran to the med cabinet and got the only benadryl we had; children’s formula. julia asked me if i wanted a chewable or liquid. she was very calm. she gave me 2 chewables. i looked at her and said, “now i’m scared.” she told me she thought it was going to be alright. she looked in my eyes, and i felt calmer. but the medicine had been administered, it was too late to change horses.
thankfully, the reaction subsided within a few minutes. very thankfully. and labor rushed back to the forefront of my mind.
i had no idea how painful back labor would be. this is one of those things that people try to describe but that is completely impossible to convey the power and intensity of unless you actually experience it. A bit like having a baby in general!
because wow. it hurt. i have no recollection of abdominal contractions. i have no memory the squeezing, warm work of the muscles in my belly. just pure, stabbing pain in my sacrum and low back that made labor challenging to endure. it took every ounce of my mental determination not to start to panic and want to run from this labor. every contraction i begged for faris to dig into my back with all his weight. I whimpered, yelled, moaned, pleaded…I labored.
Eventually I began to feel that Laila had dropped lower into the birth canal. I told my midwife and she agreed that it seemed my baby would be here soon.
People kept telling me, “you’re ok. you’re ok.” i think because they knew the back labor was really intense…and I got kind of irritated with hearing that over and over! I KNEW I was ok. So I looked at my midwife and said, “I know I’m ok. I’m not worried.”
Pushing began. I began just like that. Suddenly it was time to push and the urge was completely and utterly undeniable. It was a freight train loaded heavy with bricks going full steam down the side of a mountain. I remember I looked out the window into the front yard and there was Sufyan, playing with his nanny in the sandbox. oblivious to the new world order being created right then and there not 15 feet away.
I pushed, and it wasn’t hard to feel progress. I pushed only a handful and times and then….
there she was.
“is it a girl?” I cried. Julia chuckled and said, “I’ll let you see for yourself.” and passed her through my legs and into my arms.
She was beautiful. Long. Absolutely beautiful.
And covered in very thick vernix.
I brought her to the breast and Laila nursed for nearly 2 hours. She latched immediately, and I clearly remember looking down at her small, still compressed face. Her big big eyes were open and shining as she slowly, so slowly, joined us in this world.
My baby girl.
She is 10 months and 4 days old. I love her so completely that I cannot remember how it felt not to have her and love her.
Thank you, baby Laila, for choosing me.
And that’s her birth story!