After about an hour of regular contractions, I decided to text Janae to head over. By the time she got there at 1:00am, my water had broken and I was having pretty strong contractions on my knees kneeling over my birth ball and Brady was getting the tub ready to fill. She saw that I was in real labor and started unpacking her things and calling over her assistant which happens to be my doula from Stella’s birth, Trisha. I was so excited to have my same birth team this time around.
We got the tub filled and I hopped in when Trisha arrived. I loved the tub and was immediately glad we had decided to get it. It took my contractions from increasingly uncomfortable to completely manageable. Feeling weightless in the water was amazing and the surrounding water just really cushioned the contractions and took the edge off. We decided to call my mom and friends who were coming to shoot the birth. My labor had gone so quick with Stella we wanted to make sure no one would miss it. My mom got there and took over fanning me in the tub during contractions and Brady kept my washcloth cold for my head. Between contractions we were just laughing and talking and carrying on like we would on any day. I was much more coherent and was able to really enjoy myself during my labor. We were so excited to see what she would look like, if she was still really a girl and we placed bets on how much she would weigh, if she would have hair, etc.
After an hour or two, I wanted to get out of the tub. I dried off and went to the bathroom and got checked, I was dilated to a 9 with a thin stretchy cervix. I was in shock. I didn’t feel like I was even in hard labor yet and I was so close to being done. Janae told me I could start pushing to get rid of that lip if I wanted to. My contractions were starting to get a bit more intense like transition was setting in. I started doing 2 second pushes through some contractions and resting through others. I couldn’t quite decide which felt better to me. I started to get more restless and uncomfortable but couldn’t find the best position to be in, or the best way to cope. I wanted to squat, then kneel, then lay back.. I wanted hot towels on my back, then someone to fan me, then Brady to apply pressure, then not touch me… I just couldn’t quite get my head in the right place. It felt so surreal to be at the end of the pregnancy, I couldn’t focus on what I was needing to do.
That internal battle went on for some time. I was getting more and more frustrated with myself not being able to figure out what I needed to do. It felt different than my last delivery, I couldn’t feel her moving down the way I had felt Stella. I felt like I was just ineffectively trying to push and nothing was happening. I kneeled up to the side of my bed and offered a silent prayer for help. “Help me,” I said. “Help me, help me, help me. Help me do this, help me know what to do, help me feel my sweet baby and bring her into this world. Please God, help me.” I was starting to feel so desperate. I asked for a minute to myself, I needed to take a serious breath.
The room cleared out, brady and my midwife included. I got up, went to the bathroom and splashed some water on my face. I gave myself a little pep talk and said another prayer asking for help. I knew I couldn’t do this alone. Just then, another contraction came and Brady rushed to my side. My midwife followed behind him to check the baby’s heart tones. “I’m wondering if there is a cord,” she started, “She’s not really happy in there and she’s not moving down and I think it’s time to get her out.” I immediately felt the room go foggy. The only thing I could see or hear was Janae as she reached for an oxygen mask and I knew I needed to do exactly what she told me to. “Lay all the way back and pull your knees to your shoulders, on this next contraction we’re going to push her through that cervix.” I was not comfortable, but knew I had no time to argue. She asked me if I wanted help moving the cervix out of the way and I quickly agreed YES! Help for anything sounded great. As the contraction came and so did the time to push, I quickly realized why she had asked.. it huuuuuuuurt. This sharp, pinching feeling consumed my body and made me yelp, “Ouch!“. It was such shocking pain that I almost couldn’t process it before Janae listened for her heart again and said, “She needs to come out right now, Cass. On this next contraction you’re going to get her out.” I can’t quite explain how impossible that sentence sounded. I have never not wanted to do something so impossibly bad and knew I absolutely had to do it and had no choice. Before I could burst into a sob of frustration, another contraction came pouring in and I pushed with every ounce of energy and frustration and fear and love my body could possibly offer. “I can’t,” I sighed pausing from my push. “You did.” She said as she checked for the cord, “Pull her out.”
I reached down to feel her tiny shoulders, I wrapped my arms around her little body and pulled her onto my chest. I felt life rush into her as she started screaming in my arms. This little lady with this great big soul, she was here, the one I had been waiting for. I did it. Relief consumed me as I laid back into my husband’s lap and we stared at her in wonder.
After Grae was delivered we found out that her cord was wrapped around her shoulder, not her neck like Janae had been thinking from her lowering heart rate (which is why I got the oxygen). She was stuck on my pubic bone which kept her from dropping all the way down into the birth canal. Once I had pushed her through the cervix (tilting my pelvis back to allow her to move into the birth canal) the cord around her shoulder was being pinched and her heart rate dropped which is why I had to push so quickly to get her out.
She weighed in at a ferocious little 6 pounds 6 ounces and 19 1/2 inches long. Her beauty astounded me. I loved her in a way that was familiar but all completely new at the same time. She stared into my eyes like she has known me for a thousand years. Another perfect little girl, we are so blessed.
The birth team cleaned up, tucked us in and left without a trace just as the sun was starting to rise. Elated and exhausted I nestled into bed, snuggled in next to Brady with our sweet baby Grae in my arms. I closed my eyes and slept for a few minutes before I heard little foot prints headed toward my door…
(A special thank you to my dear friends Errin Andrus and April Davis for documenting our birth)