Around 11pm on Dec 23rd, I go to bed feeling light contractions. Being right around my due date, I suspect I am in early labor. They diminish around 4am, so I think it must be a false alarm. I want to stay busy and give the kids a fun Christmas Eve before baby gets here, so we bake sugar cookies and carry on with the day. By evening I start to have very mild contractions, about 15 minutes apart, but the intensity is so low that I keep doubting that it’s “the real thing.”
Right before dinner, we decide to open stockings with the children. My in-laws are staying downstairs and we send Letta to call them upstairs. My mother-in-law walks in, eyes wide and troubled.
“Mom, what’s wrong?” I immediately ask
“Grandma and Thom were found dead from carbon monoxide poisoning. They are both dead.”
We are all completely shocked, and I can’t help but burst into tears. Aside from the suddenness of her death, I am overwhelmed by the surreality of her death being so close to the birth of our baby. We all gather at the table and try to talk through what’s happened and make calls to inform family. My contractions completely stop. It must have been braxton-hicks after all, I think.
We eat dinner and start to get the kids ready for bed. After bathtime, I experience two contractions that are “real” and 6 minutes apart. It’s 8:30pm. I walk into Letta’s room where my mother in law is reading to Letta.
“Mom, I’ve had two that are 6 minutes apart” I grab onto Letta’s toy cupboard as the next contraction comes. “I think I should call the midwife” Right after I say that, my water breaks.
I immediately call Cindie (my midwife) and my labor is suddenly in full swing. There’s nothing like those first few REAL contractions that make you start to shake in your proverbial boots when you realize I HAVE TO DO THIS AGAIN. Letta is jumping up and down completely over the moon that WE ARE HAVING A BABY. Meanwhile, I’m texting my mom to get over here asap and sending my sister a “last selfie on the toilet before I give birth.” I turn off all the lights in my room and labor in my bathroom doorway using a contraption Micah put together using a pullup bar and moving straps (I thought I had a picture, but you’ll just have to use your imagination). Micah walks in to check on me in between filling up the birth pool and getting things ready. I grab onto him and “labor dance” through the next few contractions. it’s GETTING REAL.
Cindie finally arrives at 9:30pm and tells me I can get into the tub because I definitely look like I’m about to have a baby. I use the bathroom one last time and end up throwing up everything in me. With this being my 3rd birth, I realize I always throw up during transition and it’s another sign that, yes baby is coming NOW. My second midwife wants to take my blood pressure but Cindie tells us we need to get out of the bathroom NOW because we don’t want to have this baby in the toilet.
I get into the tub and am struck full force by my LOVE/HATE relationship with waterbirth. I have loved all my waterbirths, and could not imagine it any other way, but the moment I get into the tub I hate it and I can’t figure out HOW to labor in the water. I keep trying different positions and start pushing, but it seems too early. Like Elcho’s birth, I’m feeling out of control. I’m labor wailing. After a few particularly difficult pushes, I sink back into the tub and glare into the distance.
“this is sick. this is sick that a person has to push a baby out of their body.” i whisper hoarsely
“No, it’s natural. It’s beautiful.” my midwife reminds me
“yes, yes it’s SO beautiful” I say sincerely, in a unearthly state of laboring only laboring mothers can know. I start to cry pitifully and immediately reprimand myself, STOP IT, I can DO THIS.
Just when I think it’s not happening. This baby is not coming down. I finally feel her head. I’m ecstatic and terrified at the same time. I start to feel what I have only heard of as “the ring of fire” and I’m freaking out “MY PERINEUM. HELP MY PERINEUM” I’m begging Micah and my midwife to get their hands down there and prevent what I’m imagining would be my privates ripping open violently. (spoiler: I did not tear at all)
Suddenly in the midst of all the insane, fast laboring I have a reprieve. It’s the most beautiful, albeit uncomfortable moment where you know you are so close to having your baby in your arms, but you know you still have one (or two) pushes left. I focus on relaxing and breathing, allowing myself to stretch for the delivery. “Thank you, Jesus. thank you, Jesus” I repeat over and over.
The next contraction comes- I push her head out. “I need her whole body out!!” I scream. Second push, she’s born! Oh sweet, euphoric relief! I’m weeping and smiling at my beautiful, slippery baby girl. Born on Christmas Eve at 10:32pm after two hours of wild labor.
Margaret Noelle Takeko Kubo // 7lbs 3oz
**In loving memory of Mildred Margaret Redding Thompson “Grandma Millie”**