Today marks the most important day yet in my short 32 years of life - my daughter, Harper's, first birthday. Before you become a parent, you will have so many people tell you how fast time will pass you by. They will tell you to enjoy every moment of it, and this piece of advice could not be any more accurate. I honestly feel like there is a lot that happened during this past year that I can't even remember, which is most definitely a result of a lack of sleep, but also due to how many little things change on a daily basis when you have a baby. Before having Harper, I shared a lot about my pregnancy, including what I planned to pack for a birth center birth and how I planned to use essential oils during labor and beyond. I have always loved reading other mamas birth stories, and had thoughts of some day sharing my own here on Middle of Somewhere. I figured her first birthday would be the perfect occasion to do so.
May 21st was my estimated due date, and for some reason I always thought Harper would arrive a little early. I woke up on the morning of the 21st in the strangest mood that can best be described as a mixture of disappointment and actual sadness. It was the weirdest thing! All I wanted to do that day was lay in my bed in a dark room. I remember in our birth series classes that we had talked about what animals do when they prepare for labor and secluding themselves in a dark, quiet space was one of those things. I didn't even realize it until we went to my 40 week check up later that day that this was totally my body's way of letting me know something was about to happen. When we got home from our appointment all I wanted to do was eat Dion's (a local pizza place) and watch Knocked Up, so that's exactly how we spent our evening. Little did we know that this would be our last night alone, and little did I know that this would be the last night I would get a full night of sleep in a year (ha!)
I woke up at about 5am on May 22nd with what felt like a stomach ache. I tried to get comfortable in bed and fall back to sleep, but it just wasn't happening. I decided to get out of bed and wound up bouncing on an exercise ball in the living room. When that was no longer comfortable I went into Harper's room and sat in the recliner. At this point I wasn't convinced labor was starting, but I did text my mom and best friend to let them know how I was feeling. At about 6:30am, my stomach still wasn't feeling right and I was getting progressively more uncomfortable. I went into our room, woke up my husband, and told him that I felt like he should call his boss to let him know he wouldn't be going into work. Through all of this we were both surprisingly calm (surprising for me, not for him - he's always the calm one!). I had been attempting to time my contractions, if that's what they really were, throughout the morning, but now they had become a lot more regular and I was pretty sure that I was experiencing contractions.
My husband called the on-call midwife from the birth center to let her know what was going on. She confirmed that I was definitely in labor, and suggested we call back when my contractions were consistently 2-3 minutes apart for 30-60 minutes. While he was on the phone, I got into the shower in an attempt to relax and it turned into the longest shower of my life. It literally took me almost an hour to wash my hair because my contractions had become so intense that I was stopping every few minutes as each contraction started. Once I finally got out of the shower, we decided to head to the birth center since everything was progressing much quicker than we had anticipated and we had joked that my husband was going to have to deliver Harper at home if we waited any longer.
The car ride to Dar a Luz was not a pleasant experience. My sweet husband tried to coach me to breathe through each contraction and joke with me to try to distract me, but we both realized pretty quickly how the rest of my labor was going to go because I wasn't having any of it. Thankfully the birth center is only about 20 minutes away from our house, but by the time we got there it was a struggle to move. I think we arrived around 9 or 9:30am, so I had only been in labor for about 4 hours at this point, but everything was happening so fast. Almost immediately the midwife asked if I wanted her to fill the tub, and little did I know that once I got in that tub, I wasn't going to be coming out alone.
The midwife periodically checked Harper's heart rate with the doppler, but generally left me to do what I needed to do without any interventions. My husband, mom, and sister were with me the entire time and allowed me to just get in the zone - I always imagined myself wanting to talk and joke with everyone as a means of distraction, but in the moment I actually only wanted to have music playing in the background, put my head down, and get through each contraction on my own with my husband holding my hands the whole time. I have always heard women say that they were told to push or have asked their doctor when to push, but man, that was not something I needed. All of the sudden my body just started pushing and I remembering wondering how this was all happening so fast. The midwife suggested I get into a more gravity positive position in the tub, and after about 45 minutes pushing, at 10:47am, Harper Rose was born. The feeling of a baby exiting your body is quite literally both the most intense, yet biggest relief ever. One of the midwives had said that Harper was born en caul, and at the time, had no idea what that meant. I remember that I kept asking throughout all of this if my water had broke or when it would, however it actually never did break. Shortly after she was placed on my chest, she said that Harper was born in her amniotic sac. To this day we joke that she is our little witch, because it is said that babies who are born en caul possess the gift of clairvoyance. The best part about having Harper at a birth center was that about 5 hours after I had her we were on our way home. We were joking on the way home that having a baby was "all in a day's work" since we were home by about 5pm that evening.
Having a baby is no joke! It is so incredible to see what our bodies are able to do, and even more incredible to come out on the other side realizing just how strong and powerful you are as a woman. If you had asked me before or during my pregnancy if I wanted to have an unmedicated, natural birth I would have laughed in your face. I also never in a million years would have thought that I would have had a water birth, but things just seemed to happen the way they were supposed to. Now I can't imagine having a land birth! I had always gone back and forth as to whether or not I wanted to share my birth experience on my blog, but then realized how monumental that day is in my life, and how it forever changed me.
Happy 1st Birthday to my little Harper Rose, and happy birth day to me.