This is a post that I have thought about writing so many times. I have regretted not writing down the birth stories of my other 7 babies. I thought I would never forget the details of their births, but sadly I have. The realization came to me when I was pregnant with Atticus and listening to the podcast: The Birth Hour: hosted by Bryn Huntpalmer. (If you are a birth junkie like me, check it out!) I mentally started going over each birth and it hit me that there are so many gaps in my memory. How could I forget every detail of 7 of the most beautiful and life-changing days? I promised myself I would write Atticus’ out as soon as he was born. Well… he is now 5 weeks old and it is time. I have no idea why it is so challenging for me to do this. Maybe it’s because the experience of birth is beyond words. How do you do it justice? Is there any words in the English language that can encompass the feeling of birthing a human? It is an experience that only those that have done it can understand.
On May 27th, 2017 I woke up and felt different. I can’t explain why, I just did. I rubbed my enormous belly and asked baby boy if today was the day we would finally meet. I was 39 weeks and 5 days pregnant. I kept this feeling to myself, the birth process to me is so intimate and personal. I feel like it’s a special secret between me and the baby. Our last moments that we are connected, that I can protect him.
The contractions started first thing in the morning. At first they were about 20 minutes apart and very mild. Early labor surges don’t affect me as physically as they do mentally. It is a process of allowing my body to let the baby go, release him to to the world… share him and allow him to become his own person. I went about my day, glancing at the time and recognizing that the surges were staying consistent and gradually getting closer together. I did have an extreme burst of energy, as I had the day prior. I was having a home birth and I felt really strongly that the house had to be immaculate before the midwives could come over! My daughter, Annelise, whom is 13 stayed by my side all day. She helped me clean, and kept me company. I didn’t tell her about the surges, but I do know she noticed. Her intuition to be with me, and support me was beautiful. We worked together throughout the day… cleaning the kitchen, vacuuming the house, finishing laundry, and dusting. All 8 out of 9 of the kids were home that day, (Jon is stationed in Japan with the Marines) and there was a lot of chatter amongst them that “today could be the day”. Being a full-term pregnant woman you feel like a watched pot, something that is somewhat frustrating to me, so I still hadn’t verbally told anyone about my surges. Ben worked from home all day and had to leave for work at 3:30. Surges at this point were about 12-15 minutes apart. I wanted him to go to work… I needed life to continue as normal until I got the house cleaned! I still had 2 more bathrooms to clean when the surges got painful enough that I had to completely stop what I was doing and focus on them. At this point Annelise was asking me if I should still be cleaning, and thought I should call Ben. I knew I could work through them, and I figured I still had a lot of time left so I waited. At around 8:30pm I finally decided to text Ben. I had some bloody show and was finally realizing that today was probably the day. My surges were about 5 minutes apart. I told him I wasn’t sure how long it would be, but he decided to come home. I was really surprised by how well I was handling the surges. They were pretty painful, and lasting a minute or more. The time in between each one was calm and I was able to let each surge go and prepare for the next one. Because of this, I thought I had quite a while left until baby would be born. Ben got home as I was finishing up cleaning our bathroom. At this point I realized I needed to let my mind go to “labor land”. Labor is far more mental than physical for me. If I keep my mind focused, my body is allowed to do the work it needs to do. We called the midwives and decided to not have them come quite yet. We got the kids to bed, and I took a much needed shower. While in the shower I allowed myself to acknowledge I was in labor. I talked to the baby, told him we could do this together. At this point the surges were painful, but manageable. I got out of the shower, and Ben had filled the birth tub. I got dressed and went to the babies room. I rocked in the glider, listened to Xavier Rudd and allowed the surges to do their job. Layne (Ben’s friend and videographer) arrived and we decided to go for a walk. We walked around the cul-de-sac very slowly. I had numerous surges that were extremely painful. Ben continued to give me support. He did the hip squeeze and let me hang on his neck. He also lightly rubbed my arms like we had learned in Hypnobirthing class. I mentally reasssured the baby, told him I couldn’t wait to meet him, and encouraged him to move down. By the time we got back to the house I knew it was time to get in the birth tub and call the midwives. The surges were right on top of each other, without any break. Knowing my body, I was in transition. Some women have powerful, primal screams during active labor, but that’s not me. I go to a meditative state, but I also cry. It’s not a pain cry, but a “I really need to be supported and reassured” cry. Interesting because it is very out of character for me any other time. Ben was the perfect partner. We had prepared for this moment together over the last 9 months, and it was finally time! Ben encouraged me, telling me he loved me. It wasn’t just his words, but I could see in his eyes that he was extremely present with me. I had a few more surges as I was preparing to get in the tub. (It’s amazing how long it takes to move just a few feet when you are in active labor!) I noticed I was a little “pushy”At this point Bri, our midwife walked in. I got a little break from the surges, as my body took a break to switch the focus from opening up to releasing the baby. This break is the time I used to face my biggest fear of birth: the pain of pushing. My mind and body naturally want to work against each other. My body was trying to let the baby move down and out, but my mind was trying to protect me from the pain. I had to refocus and remind myself this is necessary. Baby is almost here, it is almost over.
I see Laurie, our other midwife quietly enter the room. I allow a few pushy surges to come, and I work with them very gently. After a few minutes I feel a powerful surge and decide this is it… time to bear down and meet baby. At 1:48 am on May 28th Atticus Thomas Peterson shot into the world peacefully in water. He let out a cry immediately! It took me a moment to become aware of what had just happened. I had been leaning over the side of the pool, and so I had to turn around. Bri handed him to me, Atticus looked at me and I was in love!
We stayed in the pool for a bit, Ben and I were in awe that we had created such a perfect baby boy! Ben cut the cord once it stopped pulsing. He held Atticus skin to skin while I got out of the tub. Once we got settled into bed, Atticus wanted to breastfeed. 3 of our kids heard the baby cry and came in to meet him. It was a beautiful moment that couldn’t have been any more amazing! The midwives left us alone for a while to get to know each other. The kids held him and just couldn’t stop staring at him. Bri and Laurie came back in to do the newborn exam. He weighed 7LB 11oz and was 22″ long. He was completely healthy and perfect!
We had an amazing 9 months of pregnancy… All of our midwives at Treasure Valley Midwives were so loving and supportive. They encouraged me and made me feel capable of growing a healthy baby, and give birth to him. The messages I felt society was giving me was that I was to old to have a baby, (I was 39) and it was risky for me to do it again…. for the 8th time. In actuality, my pregnancy was completely uneventful, and so was my birth.
I will write a post about our pregnancy journey and my postpartum experience soon! I encourage all mamas to write down their birth story. You will forget the little details, your tiny baby will grow and your mind will be filled with so many firsts, don’t forget to document the first day of the rest of your babies life…. xoxo