1:30 a.m. A strong contraction awoke me.
2 a.m. Contractions became stronger and closer together. I could no longer lie in bed. I woke up and began walking laps around the house.
2:30 a.m. "Eric," I said between breaths. "This (inhale)....is (exhale) ...labor," and I left the bedroom to continue walking, squatting, lunging, walking... Over the past two months, since week 26, I had been waking up with intense Braxton Hicks contractions. But this time I knew. These were the real thing.
3 a.m. Vomiting began. I vomited one time at around hour 10 out of a 20-hour labor with my first son, Avie, but this was different. This time, I threw up over and over, in between and during contractions. The intensity paired with multiple bodily reactions overwhelmed me to tears and nearly to fear. Luckily, the principles of one-pointed concentration, focused breath, positive thinking, mantra and prayer derived from my disciplined yoga practice and Catholic faith overcame the terror and transformed it to functional movement and a sense of presence and trust in the process.
4:28 a.m. The first midwife arrived to me in the birthing tub, which was set up in our living room. "Vocalizing. Lots of good movement (hip swaying, etc.)," she wrote in our birth notes. The following times and notes are from the pen of our two midwives. My thoughts are in italics.
5:13 a.m. Fetal heart rate = 125-132. Lots of position changes. Set up for birth.
5:42 a.m. Deep lunges through contractions.
6:16 a.m. Fetal heart rate = 120s to 130s.
6:48 a.m. Mother shaking. Trembling is a good sign that labor is progressing, they told me. It felt anything but good!
6:54 a.m. Vernix. My water broke as I was standing up in the tub. The audible pop and sudden gush of water splashing into the pool made me laugh... ahhh, some comic relief! The midwives noted that the water contained vernix from baby's body. Oh, closer to meeting my sweet one! And how very different from Avie's labor, when the breaking of the water began the onset of his labor.
7:07 a.m. Pushing on the floor. I found solace perched upon my number one comfort object, my Prana Revolution yoga mat. It was around this time that Avie woke up. Eric carried him around for the remainder of the birth.
7:18 a.m. In pool. At this point, the midwives urged me to choose to stay in or out of the pool. In other words, the baby was near, and I needed to choose a location for it's final arrival. Like Avie's birth, I got out of the water.
7:36 a.m. Head. This is when the pain felt different. I was back on my yoga mat, and baby's cord was wrapped around it's shoulders, which kept the chest broad and unable to collapse for the exit. One of the midwives had to manually unwrap the cord. With baby and hands stretching me to my limits, I let out a blood-curdling scream. Baby was stuck this way for four minutes. The thought sends shivers throughout my entire body.
7:40 a.m. Baby.
7:41 a.m. First breath.
7:53 a.m. Latched. IT'S A BOY!!!! More crying.
8 a.m. Placenta.
Fast forward to now, Monday, April 2, 2018
Happy first birthday, Grey Gibbons Harder!
"Avie," I said to my oldest son, "what do you remember most about the day Grey was born?"
I was in and out of the pool, which was a wonderful birthing tool. Yet, like Avie, I had both of my sons out of the water.
Our two home birth midwives were like cheerleaders. For each contraction, they expressed enthusiastic encouragements such as, "Good one!" Between their cheers, my birth sounds and then Grey's first cry, it was indeed noisy.
The baby's gender was a surprise... the greatest of surprises. Avie's bright face as he said these words and ran to me and Grey melted my soul.
As I held our newborn for the first time, Avie climbed on the couch behind me and took his hand. It was brotherly love at first sight. I did not know this was happening, but luckily a midwife captured the moment for us.
Avie, ever the focused, self-aware, observant child, eagerly took on his duty of cutting the cord.
8 lbs, 13 oz.!!! The midwives were laughing and gleeful, saying, "we love when the tiny moms have huge babies!" and, "usually pushing out the second child is easier but not when it's three pounds bigger than the first!" Avie had weighed 5 lbs, 12 oz. at birth. We all laughed in amazement. Yet, like Avie, Grey was 21 and 1/4 inches long.
Mom (Brynn) and Avie