Mabel Jeanne Davies
Born: 3:10pm, 24 March, 2016
Weight: 7 lb, 7 oz
Length: 20 1/2 inches
Head Diameter: 13 inches
She is precious and perfect, and I still cant believe she is ours to keep.
As I look back to this day, I am still in awe. I am writing this down to remember the wonder, the pain, and the inexplicable joy that erupted inside when I first held our baby girl.
I was due on the 14th of March, and for some reason fully expected everything to happen on schedule. Things seemed to be moving right along, the baby had dropped, we had moved into our house and had completed all the major renovations, and my parents had arrived in town on the 10th. I was ready, we were ready, and yet there seemed to be no moving forward from our little miss. Our due date came and went with nothing to show for it, except some spicy food leftovers and frustration on my part. For not being a type A person, I was on a schedule and wanted her out! Partially because I was sick of having sciatica back pain constantly, partly because I was ready to meet her!
I felt like I was doing everything to speed the process along; I was eating spicy food, pineapple, drinking red raspberry leaf tea, walking as much as I could, bouncing on my exercise ball, doing my pelvic rocks three times a day, eating eggplant parmesan that claimed to bring people into labour (I ate it three days in a row-no such luck), acupuncture, and constantly looking up more ways to naturally induce labour. On the 18th, my midwife checked me and said I was 3 cm dilated already, my cervix was soft, and my body was basically ready to go into labour. That was so encouraging to hear! That weekend I also started having small contractions on and off, which made me realize that it could happen any day now! My hopes were high. Almost every evening I would have with a few contractions, but they never stuck around long enough to become regular. I would wake in the morning and realize that i hadn’t gone into labour, so i would just hope again for the next night. At 9 days overdue, I went into the hospital to have an ultrasound and a non-stress test to be sure that Mabel was doing ok. She was doing stellar, so there was no need to rush, but my midwife and I had to chat through induction possibilities, natural and medical. This made me anxious and stressed, because the last thing I wanted was to be induced and be made to labour on my back in a bed for who knows how long. I came home from the appointment discouraged, but i am lucky enough to be married to the most encouraging man who reminded me that no matter what, we have a healthy baby girl, and she can come out all sorts of ways, but in the end it will be beautiful and she will be here with us.
Wednesday evening Matt and I decided to go out on a date, because we weren’t sure if we would get another evening just the two of us. We went to the Shady Tree Pub for wings, which Matt decidedly covered partially in Tabasco sauce to help baby along.
On Thursday morning at 3:00am, I was awoken by a contraction. Being unsure if this bout would stick around, I waited it out, then went back to bed. 10 minutes later, another contraction, one minute long. 10 minutes after that, I started timing them, seeing how often and long each of them were. They ranged from 10-11 minutes apart, each lasting a minute. After a couple hours of timing contractions and mentally preparing myself that this was actually the real thing, I got out of bed and wandering into the kitchen. I figured if I was going to have a baby that day, I better have some breakfast while I still had an appetite. As I ate my toast, I thought about the possibilities that the day could hold. I could labour like this for a few days. I could have a fast labour and she could be here within a couple hours-who knows? I quietly went back into the bedroom, unintentionally waking Matt. I told him that my contractions had started, but we had time to sleep some more before we would get up and get everything ready. So he went back to sleep, and I continued to rest my body and time my contractions. At 7:00am, I got out of bed and went into the kitchen, where my mom was just getting up to make her coffee. I told her that my contractions had started, and that I was pretty sure this was the real thing. My mom, being the amazing woman that she is, was very excited for me and immediately said “Ok, what can I do to help? Where is your list of things that need to be done?” At that point, we all went to work getting ready for the day. My dad started covering a few windows that didn’t have curtains yet. My mom started freezing rags, started boiling water, making an electrolyte drink for me to sip. Matt ran to the store to get a few last minute items, then returned home to set up the birthing pool. I continued to wander around and try to make myself useful, all the while stopped to have a contraction every 7-10 minutes. Lindsey (my sister-in-law, birth photographer, & one of my closest friends), arrived around 10:30am, and started snapping a few pictures. I continued to have contractions and experiment with different positions that I could labour in, bouncing on my exercise ball, leaning over the couch, on my hands and knees, whatever felt good at the time. Lindsey managed to get a few pictures of us when we were all talking and laughing, a clear sign that I was still in early labour! My mom started rubbing my lower back with some homemade massage oil my sister had gifted me, and between contractions I was able to rest and breathe in the clary sage and lavender to calm myself.
As things progressed, the contractions started to graduate in intensity, and I had to focus all my attention and energies into getting through each minute. I could feel that things were starting to pick up as the time between contractions became shorter and shorter, averaging on every 4-5 minutes. I dropped to my knees on the floor with every contraction, this somehow becoming my favourite “go-to” labour position. I remember sitting on my knees, bending over my exercise ball, as silent tears dropping as I counted and breathed through the contraction. They continued to get closer and closer, on average about three minutes apart. We were told by our midwife that when I have contractions that are three minutes apart, lasting a minute long, and this pattern has continued for two hours, then I could call her to come to our home. After an hour of intense contractions, I decided to get into the shower to help ease the pain. I didn’t want to call the midwife too soon, so I figured a shower would be a good test to see if the contractions would stall out or if they would keep progressing. Once in the bathroom, things hit full throttle! Matt turned on the water in the shower, but I didn’t have enough breaks during contractions to even take a step over the edge to get into the shower. Some contractions were thirty seconds apart, some three minutes, some two minutes, but they were all lasting long enough to run into the next one with barely a break in-between. By the time I got into the shower, there was only a few minutes of hot water left before it was cold and I needed to get out. At this point it had only been an hour and a half, but we felt like we needed to call our midwife and let her know that things were progressing quite quickly! Matt told my parents it was time that they left and headed to my in-laws to wait things out, and the midwife said she would be there within a half hour. I dried off and emerged from the bathroom and headed to my favourite labouring spot, a quilt on the floor covered in towels, beside the couch and beside the birthing pool. It took me several minutes to get there, stopping every few steps and clutching Matt because of the pain and contractions. Once there, bent over the edge of the couch, I began to feel the contractions like never before. I tried my best to breathe through each contraction deeply, dropping my jaw and moaning. There were times the pain became so intense, I remember thinking, shouting, and crying that I couldn’t do it anymore. But as I said the words, I remembered that my birthing coach had said that if I felt like I wanted to give up, that was a sign that I was in transition stage. I would be ready to push soon, and everything was almost over. With those thoughts in mind, I was able to focus back in, bearing down with every bit of what I had. Matt was there through every moment, encouraging me that I could do it, all the while he was squeezing the acupressure point on my big toe to help relieve the pain. Lindsey was squeezing my hands, talking me through my breathing.
When our midwife got there, she checked my cervix and let me know that I was already at 9cm dilated! At that point she had to call the RN from the hospital to come and assist her. Contractions still coming strong, we decided it was time to get into the birthing pool and start the pushing stage. Soon we were going to be meeting our little girl! I stood up ready to get into the tub, then another, incredibly strong contraction hit. I reached and clung to Matt as I cried and breathed through it. After it was over, I knew I only had a few short moments before the next one would sweep over me. I climbed into the tub and dropped to my knees along the side. Matt knelt outside the tub and faced me, and as the next contraction came, he grabbed my head and squeezed, placing acupressure on my forehead.
During these contractions I pushed some, listening to my midwife as she coached me through when to push and when to rest. At that time, unbeknownst to me, the RN had arrived, and in between contractions she was pushing my water bottle up to my face, reminding me to drink and to rest my head on the edge of the pool when I could. I had lost all track of time, focusing in on breathing and pushing. After a bit of pushing, my midwife asked if I wanted to change positions and sit with my back against the pool so I could catch her, because she would surely be here within a few pushes. I could catch our baby as she came into the world! I hadn’t even thought about it before that moment, but I decided why not? My main reason to change position was that I thought anything could be better than the pain I was experiencing, right? I sat back and Matt sat behind me outside the pool, his arms underneath mine, supporting me. I pushed several times, still listening to my midwife coaching me. Before I knew it, I was pushing her head out! We realized while she was crowning that our baby was still in the amniotic sac, or “en caul.” Being born in the sac is rare, and is said to bring luck. With the next contraction, I pushed her head out! In that moment, so much became real. I knew there was a life inside of me, I knew that when she came out she would be this beautiful, tiny person, but I wasn’t aware of just how in awe and in love I would be from the very start. I sat and rested a moment with her head in my hands, in awe that this amazing little person was coming out of me! I pushed once more, and the rest of her body followed, still in the precious, small sac. I held her under the water for just a few moments, and the sac broke as I brought her up to my chest. I held her close, in disbelief and amazement that she was ours.
The nurses quickly gathered a receiving blanket to wrap around her tiny body to keep her warm. After a few moments on my chest, she gave us her first cry, her first of many small noises in this new world. I couldn’t help but cry and laugh when I heard her, and I held her even closer, doing nothing but wanting to keep her safe and comfort her. We spent the next few moment in the pool gazing at this new life, smiling and laughing in amazement that she was finally here.
I handed baby to Matt to hold while I delivered the placenta, which was stored and kept connected to our baby so she could take full advantage of all the blood and nutrients that the placenta could still give her via her umbilical cord. I climbed out of the birthing pool, and laid on a quilt and towels beside Matt while they checked my uterus for any extra placenta or membrane left inside. Matt had some bonding time with her skin to skin, then once the umbilical cord stopped pulsing, he cut it. He then set her on my chest to soothe and calm me while they continued to check my uterus.
After they made sure there was nothing left, I was able to get up. I put my robe on, laid on the couch, and Matt handed our baby to me for her first breastfeeding experience. She latched on well, anxious to eat (she loves food, just like her mama!), and we laid there resting together in this blissful state.
The rest of the the afternoon was a wonderful blur of filling out paperwork, laughing, introducing baby to family, and snuggling. We fell asleep in the living room that night, Matt on the couch and Mabel lying on my chest in the recliner. I was beyond exhausted, but overwhelmed by the amount of love I felt for this little human. I woke up a few times in the night, just to check on her and make sure she was real; looking at her sweet features made my heart explode in a new kind of love.
As I remember that day, I feel like it was a fairy tale kind of birth, surreal and hard to find the right words. I’ll never forget these moments.
Mabel Jeanne, thanks for making me a mama. I love you dearly.