2 AM Thursday, I awoke to a familiar ache, though it was enough to be bothersome and deprive me of sleep. I didn't want to wake up anyone unnecessarily, so I got up to walk around to make sure this aching was consistent. I gently squeezed Ryan's foot and told him I was having contractions. I timed them as he fell back asleep. 5 minutes apart. Yes, I wanted to go to the birthing center. I was going to have the water-birth I had dreamed of since giving birth the conventional way with daughter number one.
I awoke my parents, and while they were scrambling to get dressed, I laid some towels in the car and got in. My mom came, Ryan followed, carrying the carseat, juice for me and other odds and ends. The drive was quiet, but hurried. We were there before Sharon, but at least the baby wasn't. She checked me, still just a 3, but very effaced. Her suggestion: walk the halls. I had never been given this luxury. Yes, it was a luxury. I took off my noisy flip flops and began to walk. Up and down. A quiet cricket crossed my path. He seemed to know my need for peace. My only company. No, I didn't want any other company at this point. As I was pacing, barefoot and solo, joy filled my body. My body did know what to do. It knew when this baby was ready to join the world. 40 weeks, 41 weeks, 41 weeks and 4 days, it wasn't rushed by the measurements of time. I was grateful for a supportive husband, midwives, and parents who allowed me to do this on my own. I was surprised to be grateful this journey was taking place in the solemn hours of the morning, with no outside onlookers to invade.
4:30-Sharon checks me. I'm a 5, but as she checks me, my water breaks. I decide to keep walking until that first contraction without my water manifests itself. I quickly return and tell her I'm ready to get in the water. She says it will be 10 minutes before the tub is filled. 10 minutes suddenly seemed like a mountain of pain before me. I waited until there were three inches of water and asked if I could just get in. She turned down the temperature and helped me in. My mom peers in the room and I tell her I now need Ryan. The glimpse she sees in her words: Then I see her slip in the back room, water running for the underwater birth, four woman, quietly getting ready for a most amazing experience. Each woman knows their task and just join in the dance like it all had been rehearsed for months. I love the way they NEVER leave her side. It is all about Katy, all about her strength and ability to have a baby without anything but her body to tell her what to do." Ryan came to my side and began to pour the warm water on this mound of life preparing to make the most glorious and painful entrance.
3 contractions later, Ryan said he watched as this baby moved from the "pregnant position" to "down, really far down". I announced that I had the urge to push. Sharon asked me to wait for the next contraction. Moments later, it came, and I began to scream and push. Sharon pleaded with me to hold back a little so there wouldn't be tearing. I held back as much as I could muster, but this baby was coming. I continued to push and then she was here, on my breast. 4:56. I held this new life. Gratefully. Reverently. It, the birth, was perfect. My body did everything perfectly in 3 simple hours. Nothing too soon and nothing too late.