This is a long post and I realize a lot of people don’t read long posts, but that’s ok, because I didn’t write this story for anyone else but me and Ethan (if he decideds he wants to read it when he is older.)
I am happy to share it with anyone who wants to take the time to read it, but be warned, there are some graphic images described in this post, so read at your own disgression.
The Birth Story of Ethan Light
Written by his mother Anna Light
I knew it was happening before it was happening. I was more uncomfortable than I had been the entire pregnancy. Call it intuition. Call it wishful thinking but I had a feeling something was going to change that night.
We got home from a dinner where I distinctly remember eating fried catfish. We decided on a movie: True Grit, which I later decided was one of the most boring movies I had seen in a while. Lying on separate couches because of the heat and my enormous pregnant belly, we didn’t end up finishing the movie because Cody fell asleep and I wasn’t about to finish it by myself. I remember subconsciously thinking I need to get some rest…
Well, as it turns out I was right. But rest was not what I got. We went to bed at 9:30, the next thing I remember I woke up to a dull ache in the lower party of my stomach. I looked at my phone and it said 12:00am. I laid there, thinking I could go back to sleep but about five minutes later another dull pain licked across my expansive belly and I knew: this was it.
I laid still during three more contractions of which I timed and each one was about 5 minutes apart. I told Cody I was going to lay on the couch–a common occurrence in the later part of my pregnancy.
I grabbed the phone which had the contraction timer app already pulled up and started doing laps around my kitchen and living room. Another contraction. I had had practice contracts before, but these felt different. These were more intense, not like a cramp, but like a dull ache that said “Hey pay attention!” I made a few more laps in the house and then decided it was time for some wine. I remember reading that if you get yourself real relaxed and the contractions go away, then it wasn’t the real thing. So I poured a glass and sipped as I made the rounds through the house once more.
Contractions were still about 5 minutes apart and now they were lasting about 40 seconds or more. I poured myself a second glass of wine and finally laid on the couch to see if anything would change. Nothing did.
I called my mom, knowing I would wake her out of a dead sleep at 1am in the morning. “Try to relax and get some sleep. Call me in another hour.” My mother, who has birthed 7 children of her own doesn’t get worked up about such things as birth pains. She told me I was probably no doubt in labor, but that we should both try to get some more rest before things started picking up.
At this point I updated FaceBook and Twitter, because, let’s face it, that’s the world we live in. Plus I just wanted to tell the world I AM IN LABOR! THIS BABY IS ACTUALLY GOING TO COME OUT! I received several messages back saying how excited people were and that they were praying for me. Night owls, or other moms up for that 2am feeding.
My sister, Katie who works nights started texting me since she saw my Twitter update. She told me if she could leave work she would be there in an instant.
The pain slowly started getting more intense. It would build and build and then slowly fall away, giving me a few moments of reprieve before it would build again. I hadn’t woken Cody, knowing he was going to need his sleep, but by 2:30-3am he shuffled into the living room where I can only guess my quiet moaning woke him.
“I’m in labor,” I said. To which he replied, “I see that.” We kissed and with an excited whisper he said, “We get to meet our baby today.”
How odd, I thought. I haven’t even been thinking about meeting our baby. I was too focused on the pain and timing the contractions that I failed to think about the reason this was all happening. Cody brought me the birth ball and lit some candles. He turned on our birthing playlist which had all of 5 songs on it. But they were my favorite songs and I didn’t mind listening to them over and over again.
I had some pictures I wanted to hang, so Cody got his drill out and we placed them on the wall in the baby room. Hey, we had nothing else to do!
I sat on the birth ball for about half an hour. Then I opted to walk around. I called my mom again by 3:30 and she talked to me until I had another contraction. I now know she wanted to hear how hard I had to breathe through it before she decided to head this way. When I started crying after the contraction she simply said, “We’re on our way.” That gave me a little peace and I told Cody I was ready for a bath.
We started the hot water and I brought out the herbal bath blend we had gotten from our birth kit. Not knowing what else to do with it, we just sprinkled about a cup full of the tea leaves, and other flaky looking debris into the bath. I got in but started to get really itchy. Cody decided to read the label on the herbal bath and found out you’re supposed to boil the blend in a pan and then drain out the flakes before adding the herbal water to your bath. We had a good laugh as we started over, picking tea like flakes out of the bathtub so we could do it the right way. I relaxed a little, but the contractions were still coming about every 5 minutes and now they were lasting a minute or longer.
Mom and dad walked in around 4am and I got a little excited because now it actually felt like things were happening. I was excited to have everyone come and be together for the birth.
I got out of the tub and we did a little more walking. Mom brought zucchini muffins, and she wanted me to eat one, but I could only swallow half before I lost my appetite. We put dad in charge of timing contractions. I would have one really hard and painful contraction that I would moan through and then one that was much lighter. When I told mom this she said pretty soon the lighter contraction would get heavy too, and about that time that’s exactly what happened. We went outside and walked to the mailbox. It was still dark out, and the air was humid but not too hot yet. Later we would find out it was the hottest day on record. I laid on the couch, but laying down seemed to make the contractions almost too hard to bare, so I kept walking.
At about 6:30am I called the midwives and left a message saying I was in labor. I was relieved in a way I’ll never be able to describe when I found out the midwife on call was Gale Brown, my favorite midwife and the one I had hoped would be at my birth. We got a call from her assistant, Nikki saying she would be on her way.
Around 7am my oldest sister Erin arrived. Six months pregnant herself, she brought raspberry scones and plenty to do to keep her occupied as we waited for the birth.
After that, my sister Katie arrived having just finished her night shift. My mother-in-law was next to come. It meant a lot that they were there.
I was relieved when we didn’t have to time contractions anymore. It felt like such a chore. My dad said it best, “She’s obviously in labor.”
I continued to moan through the contractions as the first light of morning started peaking through the blinds. Gale’s assistant, Nikki arrived and she asked if she could check me so she could tell Gale how far along we were. We went into the bedroom and she tried to find my cervix but was having trouble. She said we would just wait for Gale so she could look for herself.
Around 8am, my sister Ali arrived and then Gale herself, bringing with her an air of peace. She hugged me and I told her how glad I was that it was her going to deliver my baby.
I walked around and passed my dad reclining and nearly falling asleep in the chair. “I bet we have a baby by lunch time,” he said, to which I brightening and replied, “Really? I hope so.”
My dear friend Abi Martin arrived, there to document the birth with her amazing talent of photography. All the ladies hung out in the kitchen, eating breakfast and listening to me moan and groan through the contractions that just kept coming. Around 11am my sister in law, Abbi arrived and finally everyone was there. ok, I thought, baby by lunch… let’s get going…
Gale wanted to check me, so around 12pm we went into the bedroom and she tried to find my cervix to see how dilated I was. She told me my cervix was tilted back and she needed to pull it forward to be able to check. I didn’t know what that meant, but I told her to do whatever she needed to do.
Pain. Pain, pain, pain crashed through my brain like fireworks on the 4th of July. I remember squawking, yes, squawking, quite like a bird as she pulled my cervix forward. I nearly came off the bed, battling with my mind which told me to stay put, and my body which told me to get up and run far, far away. It felt like someone was pulling my insides and that at any moment something inside was going to come detached.
A four. I was only open 4 centimeters. I had labored 12 hours and I was only dilated to a 4. But Gale assured me that since she was able to pull my cervix forward things should start picking up. She was right. The contractions started getting more intense. I went back and forth from the birthing stools the midwives had brought, to the birthing ball, back to the couch.
By now, each time a contraction would come I would grab for someone’s hand, squeezing through the pain, palm to palm. At one point after a contraction had passed I was overcome by emotion. I let out a deep, guttural sob, that filled the room shock and awe. I don’t think anyone knew what to do. I sobbed for Cody. “I need Cody. I need Cody.” And there he was, embracing me as I let the tears gush. I felt better afterward, and my midwife told me it was a release of hormones through emotion. All I kept thinking was that I still had to push… I was getting exhausted.
I decided it was time to take a shower, so Cody and I got in together and let the hot water run over my body, allowing it to relax me only a little.
Gale suggested I lay on the bed with my booty in the air. She said it would help my cervix to tilt the right way. I thought, whatever works, and spent the next hour with my booty in the air.
The contractions were getting really intense. Gale kept telling me to disconnect my body from my mind. She said my body knows what to do, my mind was the one getting in the way. So I found a place in my head that was somewhere between dreaming and waking, existing and completely losing oneself in the dark recesses of the mind. That is where I stayed for the remainder of the birth. It was the only way I was going to get through it, the only way I was going to make it through the pain. I had to ignore it. No, embrace it. I had to fall into the pain and allow it to do what it was meant to do. The details from this point are a little fuzzy, but I remember getting a shot in my bum for antibiotics to protect the baby from a virus I was carrying. The shot hurt so bad and I bled for almost an hour. To this day, the spot where I got the shot is sore, like a bruise.
I remember my aunt Cristi arriving with lunch and tons of food, and Champaign for celebrating when it was all over. It was just Cody and me in our bedroom for a while and when he needed a break it was any number of women that came in to hold my hand through each contraction. I know I asked for someone to massage my butt, because it felt so good, but at one point someone pushed down on the spot where I had gotten the shot and I yelled out “Don’t touch my booty!” I’m sure I said a lot of things that didn’t quite make sense to those on the outside.
I tired of the bedroom and went back out into the living room to sit on the birthing stools for a while. I suppose my hair looked disheveled after the shower so my hair dresser Ali took it upon herself to fix it where it was out of my face. I was glad too because I started to get really hot. I was sweating through each contraction and I was only vaguely aware that everyone around me was wearing a light jacket, long sleeves or socks. The air must have been turned on the coolest setting because I kept hearing people talk about how cold it was in the house.
My midwife said the contractions seemed to be more intense when I laid on the bed and suggested I move back into the bedroom so they could work on getting things open.
She checked me again and again had to pull my cervix forward and hold it in place during a contraction. “Please stop!” I yelled at the top of my lungs as I screamed and squawked through the pain. When she was done I heard her say she stretched me to a 7, and then my mom came close to my face and told me I was a 7 and that we could stay home. Stay home? I thought. What the heck do you mean stay home? Were we planning on going somewhere? Little did I know at the time, but Gale thought we might have to go to the hospital to speed things up since my cervix was tilted and it was taking longer than expected.
It was taking longer than I thought too, so I resolved in my mind to get things going. I found a great way to breath through the contractions. Each time one would come I took a deep breath, puffed my lips out and blew air out slowly like blowing raspberries. It seemed to really help me get through the contractions and I spent a long time on the bed doing that.
I would get up and go to the bathroom about every 20 minutes. It took forever to rise out of the bed and make my way into the bathroom. I remember one time after using the bathroom I looked up at my mom and said “I don’t want to do this anymore.” She smiled slightly and said, “Come on, you can do it. Remember your scriptures.” I had written several different Bible verses on the mirrors in the house and I asked her to read one to me. “I will never leave you, I will never forsake you. Be strong and courageous.”
Ok. I thought. We’ve got to do something to get things moving, to distract me, to make things fun, if that is even possible. So I came back in the bedroom and told my sisters we were going to play a game. Every time a contraction came on, I would yell out an exercise move and they had to do that move until the contraction was over. The first one came. SQUATS. Through laughter they all started squatting until the next one came. PUSH UPS. CHEST PRESSES. JUMPING JACKS. The room got quite hot with all those bodies breathing out hot air so we decided on another game. Boy vs Girl. Each time a contraction would start, someone had to say boy and then the next person said girl and so on and so on until the contraction was over. Whichever gender we landed on when I was finished blowing my raspberries was what we said the baby was going to be.
I remember holding on to Cody’s arms each time a contraction would come. I would always say “Be a table. Be a table.” Which in my mind meant, be strong enough so I can lean all my weight on you.
The games lasted about an hour and I went to the bathroom again. I looked up at Cody who was helping me up and said, “It’s taking a long time.” I felt the evening hours stretch out in front of me like long shadows cast by a dwindling sun. It should’ve happened by now.
We went back into the kitchen where I ate some raspberries and stood at the kitchen counter to labor through a few contractions. I remember feeling the baby kick and said, “Are you kidding me? Stop kicking me and just come out!”
They brought the birthing stool in the kitchen and laid down mats underneath me just in case my water broke. I labored in the kitchen for about an hour and thought maybe we were going to deliver the baby in the there. I remember my back hurting and someone massaging it. I remember being fanned by paper plates because I was still so hot and couldn’t get cooled off.
I didn’t think it was possible, but the pain got more intense as I labored in the kitchen. I felt a slight release of water, and looked down, but didn’t see anything. I buried my mind deeper and deeper until I felt like I was in a dream. People would say things but their words faded before they made it down to where I was in my mind.
I was being taken back into the bedroom but on the way I heard one voice that didn’t seem to come from the outside. This voice was familiar and it came from the deepest part of my mind where I was hiding. It was right next to me and now that I heard it I knew it had been there all along. It’s coming soon. I know the right time. Trust Me. You’ll be drinking that champagne at just the right time.
Back in the bedroom, through the dim light, I was aware that things were getting set up. Medical pads layered the floor and bed. I used the bathroom again, but before I made it to the toilet another intense contraction overtook me. It was stronger than anything I had felt before and I thought my legs might buckle under me. Cody was there with his strong arms supporting me and I knew I was in transition.
After using the bathroom I knelt by the bed and felt a strange urge to push. My midwife told me if I felt like pushing to push. So I did and felt a little water trickle out of me. It was at that point that my water had broken, but nothing gushed out because the baby’s head was so far down already that it was blocking anything else.
They brought the birthing ball and placed it on the bed. I laid on half of it while my sister Katie grasped my hands and laid on the other half. I knelt over the ball and pulled with all my might through a contraction. I was only vaguely aware that someone had to hold Katie by the waist to keep her from falling on top of me.
At one point I looked up and saw all the people in the room. My eyes caught a glimpse of my dad and his mouth was moving and eyes were closed. He was praying. Praying for me. Praying for the baby. Praying that it would be over soon.
Gale suggested I get on my side since laying on my back was unbearably painful. She checked me again and said I was at a 9 and had just a little lip of cervix left.
“Anna,” she said. “We can either load up in the car and head to the hospital to try a vacuum extractor. You’re so close that we might have the baby in the car.. or there is one position that might help get rid of the last part of cervix.”
The hospital? Oh hell, no! I’m not about to go to the hospital after laboring all day here. This baby is coming out NOW! Those were my exact thoughts. I also saw the look of worry on Cody’s face when she mentioned the hospital and I was determined to do whatever I needed to get this baby out.
I scooted to my back and allowed Gale and her assistant to pull my knees up by my face. It hurt so bad to be on my back, but I knew it was the best thing.
I started hearing all kinds of noise then. Everyone was telling me to breath deep. I wanted to scream, but they kept telling me “Low, low… growl, don’t scream.” So I growled through each contraction until I felt like I could push.
Oh pushing. Glorious pushing. Now I could actually do something about the pain and not just have the pain doing something to me. I could contribute my strength to this and get this baby out and make this pain stop. I pushed, holding on to Cody’s hand with all the strength I had. I could tell the first push didn’t do much so I mustered up some more energy and waited for the urge to push again and then I bore down with my chin on my chest, and felt the veins in my neck straining as everyone around me talked at the same time.
Between pushes, Gale told everyone to be quiet and that Nikki would be the only one to tell me what to do. I listened for Nikki’s soft voice and with one hand gripping Cody’s and the other gripping Nikki’s, I pushed again. This time I felt my eyeballs bulge, threatening to pop out of their sockets. But I knew that push had done something. The oohs and ahhs in the room told me that they were starting to see something. “I see the head.” “Whatever it is, it has dark hair,” someone said.
Another push and I felt the head easing out. Hot. Hot. Hot. I was on fire between my legs. I was being stretched to my max and I yelled out for some relief. “Cold, cold, cold… I need cold.” No one knew what I meant until I was able to put the sentence together. “I need it to be cold down there.” A little relief came with a cool cloth pressed against me, until I felt the urge to push again. With another surge of energy I pushed again and felt the head pop out. I heard my aunt Cristi say “It has cute ears.”
They asked me if I wanted to feel it, but I said no. I just wanted to keep going so it would be over. Another push and Gale told me to stop and breathe. Someone said the cord was wrapped around the baby’s arm. After Gale had moved things around I was allowed to push again. One last time and everything came slithering out… I grabbed down to touch my baby and heard Cody say “It’s a boy!” I threw my head back on the pillow, and sighed in relief, “I knew it was a boy!”
Noise erupted in the bedroom but the only noise I wanted to hear was my baby crying. After 30 seconds Gale had everyone quiet down and finally the sweet sound of the first cry cracked through my mind and found where I had been hiding. She laid him on my stomach and I touched his slimy body. “Oh, baby!” I said. “Oh, baby, baby… Oh Ethan, baby.”
The pain was gone and in it’s place: euphoria. I felt a rush boil up from the base of my neck like a geyser exploding under pressure… no it was more like a volcano erupting with hot lava spilling over my mind, blanketing me with a feeling of pleasure that was utterly intoxicating. My baby was here and nothing else mattered.
Ethan Light–born on 8/03 at 8:03pm. Perfect timing was right.