the week leading up to where i believe this story starts could be a story in itself. if i were to write it, it would be called "being overdue sucks a fat one". but at the end of the day, none of that really matters. well, it kinda does. here's the thing about it, you know that your due date is an estimated date, based off a calculation people have used for years. but when that day approached, then passed, i felt this weird pressure to perform. like, in some way, i had control over it. people with amazing intent would check in, asking how i was feeling, if i needed anything, or my personal favorite - "where is that baby?". i knew right where she was. low, low, low in my hoo hoo. a constant, anything but cozy reminder of the road ahead. the difference with this pregnancy (one of the few trillion) was that last time i never really made it to "being done" mentally, or physically. i had added on another 2 weeks to my EDD and was OK with that. then, i was shocked when my water broke 6 days early. i never had to deal with the check in's, the pressure of being over due, or the emotional roller coaster of it all. that had a not so awesome impact on me - which of course impacted everyone around me. fun for them.
on monday, our 41 week mark, i finally woke to a sign. she was on her way. effing finally, i thought, as i glanced down at my morning pee to see a tinge of pink. holy hell, i thought, when i did a little wipearoo to see even more "evidence" on the toilet paper. i was relieved. and a little freaked out. i walked back to our bed, just as i had every day the past week, greeted with ty asking me how i was doing. each morning up until today, i'd say something along the lines of "welp, guess we got another full nights sleep". not today. "i'm bleeding a bit. things are finally happening." he was just as relieved as i was. finally, progress. the walk the night before paid off.
feel free to skip the next several paragraphs if you want to just cut to the chase of this story...
i was supposed to go to a 41 week ultrasound that day, and per this post, you can all imagine how NOT excited i was about it. i waited an hour or so and called our birth center pager line to leave a message asking if i should still go. when chris called back, she said it was totally up to me but she'd like to see what happens here first. she was comfortable with me going another few days over should we not be seeing my bloody show kicking into gear. my MIL, voni, was already on her way over so ty and i decided we wouldn't say anything specifically about seeing action, but instead would let her know our midwife suggested we give it a few more days before going to the ultrasound. i went on a long walk, visited with the stookey's and met my best girl and tate tate bean for lunch at purple cafe. it was surreal. i figured it was my last day of "that life" before my new one started, but at the same time i still felt like i was going to be pregnant forever.
that evening, contractions were sporadic and light. i went on another walk. two walks alone in one day was really good for me. we had amazing weather. it was a beautiful night. i came home, sat on my ball for a bit, and watched the bachelorette finale with ty. contractions started having a rhythm about this time - lasting about 1 minute and coming every 10 minutes on the nose. i loved that our evening was spent together watching this redic show. it was distracting and fun. ty and i were light hearted about the whole thing. i'd randomly blurt out, "are you ready to meet your daughter?!" or "this is about to get real!" or "seriously, are you ready to watch this all go down again, babe!?" by 11pm, they were a bit more uncomfortable - i'd have to pop up out of bed and stand through them. we went to bed and i was able to power through and try to sleep until about 1am. by this time, i decided to find a couch and camp out. for the entire night i slept in 9-14 min increments, with a crampy-pace-the-hall 60-90 second interlude. when ty woke up about 7:00am, we made a plan. i already had a 10am midwife appointment with chris at eastside birth center, so we planned on getting wyatt to school and heading to the appointment. last time my labor stalled with wyatt, and my midwife "swept me" (a nice way of saying completely stripping my membranes) which immediately took me into active labor. i wanted her to do that again. and i wanted to have a baby 5 hours later (or less) if i could - just like last time. completely ready to not come home until our girl was in that carseat, we planned on sticking around bellevue so we'd be close to the birth center when things got serious. we packed the cooler with champagne (obviously), peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, vitamin water and granola bars. i cried as ty got ready to take wyatt to school. could this really be it? was my little guy heading off to school, while i go and try and have a baby? it was all a little overwhelming.
it was another gorgeous morning. easily 70 degrees already at 9:30am when we hit the road. i had contractions every 7-10 minutes in the car and there was traffic. super annoying traffic. contractions and cars do not mix. contractions, cars, and traffic are explosive. we were almost to our exit after the 45 minute drive when i realized i had a voicemail from a number i didn't recognize. i listened to the voicemail, only to learn my appointment had been cancelled due to an emergency and chris would be calling to reschedule. what.the.f. i was pissed. sad. mad. defeated. my life was over. i was going to be pregnant with contractions every 10 minutes forever. this was obviously how my life was going to be now. dramatic much? yah, tell that to a 10 month pregnant emotional basket case.
wishfully thinking, we decided to stick around bellevue hoping chris would call and that we'd be able to get in after walking the park. boy, was i fun to be around. not. poor ty. i sobbed as we powered around the park. ty listened as i vented. he laughed as i snarked as people looked at me with that smile. "oh, the cute pregnant lady is trying to walk that baby out" their faces said. bite me.
we decided to get food at gilbert's. as ty ordered, i had contractions outside. i'd have to stand up through them and i'm sure people thought i was crazy out there about to have a baby. my 10 or so minute breaks left me there observing those around me. i'd get more and more annoyed with each and every one of them, as they peacefully ate their everything bagels with cream cheese, or marion berry pancakes, cramp-less, in the warm NOW AUGUST sun. i moved to another seat, in the shade and completely out of the way. but still glared at them in envy.
it was probably around 11:30am by now. and no call from chris. shoot me now.
so i texted my doula/life coach/voice of reason, kristin: "should i just expect to have contractions like this for awhile - like days? is this normal?" in other words, do i need to just accept this new life of mine, and the shitty mood i hadn't been able to shake for a couple of weeks now? i wanted my life back. i wanted to feel like me again.
my phone almost immediately rang back. "the loaded question, is it normal..." she started saying. she explained that it very well could be like this for a bit and that yes, it was normal. and that even though it feels like this is my life now, it isn't. and that once it turns the corner, things will go quickly for me. she was sure. while i understood what she was saying and appreciated it, i wanted to crumble into a million pieces right there in front of everyone at the park. i cried on the phone, she talked me through it, and ty and i decided to get in the car and head home. kristin suggested we do call the birth center first to get an idea of when i might be rescheduled as to avoid driving all the way back home just to turn around again. and that it was "OK" to be annoying if i needed to be. my frustration was validated by her, which is just what i needed to hear. we hung up and called in and the voice on the other end told me i wouldn't be able to see chris that day. i explained that i was having contractions every 10 min or so and that i needed to understand when i would see her. she didn't know and suggested i page her.
we drove home. i remember crying and apologizing to ty, explaining how badly i felt that it was going on like this. and that i wished i could do something about it. he was awesome, as usual, telling me i didn't need to apologize for anything. i was just so tired of being "this person". this tired, pregnant, grumpy, emotional, person that i had become over the past 10 months only escalated into an even worse, poltarguise version the past 7 days. i couldn't even stand being around myself another day - how in the hell could he?
we got home and i decided to take a "nap", which looked a lot like my night. up and down, up and down, every 10 min or so. ty hammered through the last bit of work stuff he had for the week. after i woke up, chris called and we decided that we'd come back to bellevue later that evening, she'd sweep me and we'd go from there. voni and dave came over after ty picked wyatt up from school.
IF YOU DECIDED TO SKIP TO THE CHASE, CONTINUE HERE:
at about 4:30pm we were on our way to the birth center. i had a few contractions in the car, but by this time i was used to this pattern. afterall, it had been close to 20 hours at this point. we had planned on meeting chris at 5:30 but she had a break in her schedule and we were already close by 5. we popped into the birth suite, and after a "good sweep" we were on our way. (when i left, i was about 2cm and 50% effaced, but i believe she said my cervix was really soft at this point.) to jimmy johns. we got dinner, i had contractions, people stared, you know the story... they were starting to come closer and were definitely stronger. we had an amazing time driving to my mom's place downtown in rush hour traffic. riiiiight...
we got to my mom's, and decided to walk the park. my mom and ty walked beside me, doing their best to read me and follow my queues i'm sure. it was such a warm night, beautiful really. by 7, we were back up in her apartment, overlooking the park. she had made the most amazing labor mix for me. every song was my favorite and i loved having that as the background for us. the contractions were about 5 min apart now, and we had been in contact with annie, chris, kristin, and jessica (our birth photographer) that things were moving along. i was very engaged in between contractions. very different than how i was with wyatt. i was vocal both during contractions and after. i was persnickety and opinionated - "i don't like this song", "no slurping your coffee when i am having a contractions", and my personal favorite - the overuse of swear words at the start of contractions indicating to ty it was time for him to start timing. around 8 or 8:30 i decided i wanted kristin to come. i needed her help and support through contractions. i was feeling nauseas and sweaty and over it. she came and i could feel things start to change. her presence indicated to me that we were in fact, doing this again. having a baby.
not long after she arrived, i got sick - "reverse digestion" is what kristin calls it i think. so yah, that... a good sign that things are moving along. i knew that, and remembered it from "last time". at this point, i was analyzing everything - every contraction (it's length, it's intensity), my body, the signs, kristin, everything - and comparing it to "last time". i used my breaks to engage with everyone, and if a break lasted "too long" in my mind, i'd decide things were slowing down. if a contraction was too short, it was a "baby contraction" and i'd question it's existence. (advice: don't do this.)
annie came soon after that and brought tate. i was so happy to see them. annie and i had worn the same skirt. i loved that. it was a funny moment really. i remember realizing that this was it - the last time i'd see her when i was pregnant and she wasn't. next time, we'd BOTH have our babes in our arms. i loved knowing that. it motivated me.
i spent most of my time in front of the sink. moaning and rocking with each contraction, while kristin rubbed my hips and rocked with me and my rhythm. i swear, i do not have rhythm any other time in my life. but when it comes to contractions, i'm like freaking shakira. my hips don't lie. or not, but you know what i mean. i cried several times in between contractions in the kitchen. i'd always turn around to her fridge, and on it are pictures of our life. trevor and i with ice cream covered faces when we were really little, cam with my grandparents, ty and i, wyatt's 5 day old pictures, recent ones of all of us. it would hit me how soon i'd be seeing pictures of my daughter on that fridge. my mom started being in charge of the wash cloths, rotating a few. she would put them in the freezer and at one point, she brought one out and it was stiff as a board. i can remember laughing - calling it out as being pretty "erect". my mom laughed so hard, it was hilarious. by 9:30 or so, i was ready for a change. whether my body was or not wasn't important to me. i asked kristin if we could go to the birth center now - i can remember saying, "i feel like once i am there, i'll really let go." kristin called chris and within a few minutes she popped back into the living room to tell us we could make our way over if we'd like. effing phew.
i was so nervous about the car ride. i couldn't imagine having contractions like this in the car. kristin reminded me that it was such a short drive (2-3 miles max i think) and that i'd maybe have two in the car. she was right. ty drove perfectly, had all the windows down and kept telling me how great of a job i was doing. when we got to the birth center, jessica was there waiting for us. it was just chris, jessica and ty and i there. when ty helped me out of the car i immediately had a contraction. as soon as it was over, i immediately broke into tears. i sobbed for a second as i hugged him. i was happy to be at the birth center, but i think i needed an emotional release. i said out loud that i was so much more emotional this time. if i am really being honest, i would describe my entire pregnancy this time around as emotional. it was fitting.
within minutes everyone else was with us. chris had already prepared the tub and after a trip to the potty, i was in the water. i'm thinking it was maybe 10:30 or so now. it didn't feel as relieving as it did with wyatt, i thought. i wasn't as comfortable there. i remembered being so cozy in the water "last time". i analyzed my position. i didn't just fall in and into my zone like i did "last time". analyze, analyze, analyze. the candles were lit, and it was absolutely beautiful in that corner of the birth suite. annie was on top of it there, yet again. i loved the lighting in this room. i loved the faces that surrounded me. i loved the support. it was different this time. i opened my eyes a lot to look around. i liked knowing where everyone was, their placement in the room. my contractions were long and the breaks in between felt long too. giving me ample time to question where things were at. was i doing a good job? was i where i should be? (advice: don't do this.)
bottom line - i wasn't letting my monkey do it. and it made it really hard on me. and while i gave myself a hard time the first couple of days after summer's birth, i know now that every birth is different. and while i may have let my monkey do it "last time", for whatever reason i didn't this time.
it must have been around 11:45 when i heard a gasp from my mom, and "jord - your daddy's here" and as i cranked my neck around to look behind me, i saw my dad. i know some people reading this might think it's weird, or awkward to have your dad in the room when you deliver. but for me, it was just what i needed. after all, my dad has played a huge role in instilling confidence and security into me throughout my entire life. he has told me i can do anything i want. i am strong, and smart. why would i not want him there? he kept his distance, and i know that seeing me in pain wasn't at all comfortable for him. but to know that he was there to see his granddaughter's debut is something i will always cherish. he'll never have that opportunity again. it was important to me that he have that. it was important for me to have that.
at this point i believe i was having transition contractions and they were long, intense and overwhelming. i remember shaking at this point. shivering maybe is a better way to describe it. i felt as if this was all taking forever. "why is this taking so long?" kristin finally reminded me where i was just a few short hours ago. that it was going at a great pace. and to give myself a break. she was right. less than 7 hours ago, i was 2cm, 50% effaced and having contractions that were 10 minutes apart.
not long after that, i started to make some pushy sounds and felt the pressure down there i had been waiting for. "last time" i felt this, it was time to push. chris and kristin told me to listen to my body but i still felt things were a little off. i tried pushing through the next contraction on my back, but it just wasn't working. which is what happened "last time". and "last time" i got up into the squat position and it all clicked. i tried to do it again, but it wasn't clicking. my water still hadn't broken and i was concerned about this. why had it not broken yet? what was going to happen when it did break? what if it didn't? a contraction came quickly and i panicked. i wasn't ready and i was in between positions. i remember crying and saying "i don't know what to do!" and kristin had me look at her and said that i just needed to get through this contraction and i could change positions. that was comforting. chris said that any time you move positions at this point, it's always overwhelming but that if i did give it a couple contractions i might fall into it. that made me feel better. i did try to fall into it and tried a few more contractions. i said out loud this time that "things weren't clicking" for me and chris suggested she check me (during the next contraction i think) to see what was going on down there. i laid back down in the water and when she checked me she explained that i was at a 9, but not complete. i needed to work through a few more contractions. music to my ears. NOT. chris also said that because this was my second time around, wyatt had paved the way and that things were probably going to go fast and the pressure would be very strong.
the next contraction came and while there was pressure, i could feel her moving down further. i remember keeping my hand on my stomach during a lot of the contractions and knew she was low. this time, i felt her push off from the top of my belly and at same time, felt a sharpish pain in my pelvis. she was working hard. we were working hard together. the next contraction came, and the first half was transition and then before i knew it, i was making the most enormous pushing sound. just like that, my body was telling me we were pushing. my mind hadn't caught up. when i heard i was a 9 a few minutes before (if that) i thought for sure we had a little longer. a contraction and a half later, i was using all of my strength to push this girl out. it was the hardest thing i have ever done in my life. it was intense. powerful. i had no control of myself. i was scared. i felt a pop and heard someone say that had been my water breaking but the pressure at that point was so overwhelming, i continued to panic. i felt a bit of that ring of fire, but the pressure outweighed that sensation and honestly there's not a damn thing you can do about it. i just wanted her out. i felt another pop. it was her head. i had to wait to push but i wasn't sure what to do with myself. chris had to ask me to drop my legs down because i was squeezing them up without even knowing it. her sternness scared me. i think i even said that i was scared out loud. was she OK? apparently her elbow was up and chris needed me to use the next contraction to push her out pretty aggressively. apparently i got a grip for long enough to listen to her and with that next contraction, she was here.
at 12:45am, on august 7th, summer james was in my arms. she was greeted with my sobs, others' tears, all of our smiles, excited cheers, a great and very fitting song (embedded below) and magical candle light. getting to this point was hard. but it was perfectly hard.
summer's birth story is about perspective. i walked away from wyatt's birth feeling exhilarated, on top of the world. i was surprised at the strength of my body, proud of the trust i put into it. i also thought it was a pretty easy ho down. this time? not so much. my girl made me work a lot harder - both mentally, and physically. and to say that she was worth it would be the most gigantic understatement. i love her story. i love the distinctness, the difficulty, and the challenge of it all. i love being able to share this story and say that despite the analyzing, the insecurity, the questioning, i still did it. i cooked this little person for 10 moons almost exactly, and i worked my ass off to get her here in the most healthy way possible. i may not have been the most perfectly controlled, modest, politically correct, graceful, polite laboring woman, but i was me. i was vocal and honest, and candid, and i wouldn't have changed anything about it. because at the end of the day, she's here, bringing a completeness to my life i never knew i needed. she fills holes i didn't know i had. she answers questions i didn't know i was asking.
welcome to this world sweet girl. you are perfection. you are the bright, pink, glitter covered puzzle piece our family was missing. thank you for making the wait worth it, this life more fulfilling, and this mama stronger than she gave herself credit for.