Well, what can I say? It had just turned Thursday, January 17th, around 12:12 a.m. I was 41 weeks very pregnant anticipating her arrival at any moment. My contractions were small but noticeable. I never counted the minutes or timed them at all, but for the most part they were consistent. I knew it was close. I got up and rocked my husband’s shoulder gently, “I think we’re gonna have a baby! Don’t put it on Facebook yet.”
So Will took a late night trip to the store to get me some laboring food. Cheese, crackers, and fruit! It was not even an hour later till Will updated his Facebook status, “Timers UP! Bun in the oven in done baking! Time to meet Anela!” Lol, so much for keeping quiet! Oh Lordy, my husband is terrible at keeping secrets.
So, Anela being my 3rd baby I was so convinced my labor was going to FLY by! With my first I labored for about 14 hours. My 2nd was only 6. Oh goodness, I believed Anela was barely going to give me enough time to call the midwife, double make the bed, and she was going to slide right into this world like riding the Free Fall Slide at 7 Peaks!!! !
So, I called Stephanie around 2 or 3 AM where contractions were getting uncomfortable. I thought to myself, “Ok, I think these are intense enough and I know this is going to go quickly!” She showed up and checked up on me and the baby. We were perfect. She started to set up all of her supplies. Crystal showed up a little while later and continued to do checks on us every hour.
I slept through most of this part. My laboring position of choice was lying comfortably on my bed. Some contractions were easy to just focus and breathe through. Some were strong enough to hear me vocalizing from another room. I called this my “peaceful labor” stage. It was almost like my body was giving me a warming up period to real active labor.
I even started to worry my labor was not progressing fast enough while my midwives were here. Stephanie was so calm and told me, ‘You don’t worry about us. We are here for you. Count this as a blessing that your body is easing you into labor instead of going full force.’
Stephanie was able to get a nap in on the couch and Crystal caught up on some paperwork. About 8 or 9 AM, 7 or 8 hours into my “peaceful labor” I decided to send Stephanie and Crystal home. I remember Stephanie telling me in some similar words, “I am right down the road. If I get down the street and you call me to come back I will whip right around and be right where you need me to be. This birth is about you and no one else. Pamper yourself.” She is just amazing.
Pamper myself! Ok, I am going to pamper myself! I ate and drank when I wanted. In between contractions I even put my makeup on and curled my hair!! One birth story I had read was of a mom who blow dried and curled up her hair before labor had started! Her husband thought it was funny that she’d be blow drying her hair at some odd hour, but in the end she was so happy she did because her hair looked nice in all her birth pictures! Ha! I thought this was the best idea ever. Whether I had pictures or not I am going to do my hair!!
At that point I figured I had better rest. Labor position of choice was still lying on my side. I continued to sleep. I ate and drank when I felt comfortable to do so. I did not like walking around though. If I was up it wasn’t for long. It was easier at that point to lie down.
It was about 3 or 4 hours later, 12PM-1PM, 12 hours of peaceful labor when I started to get more uncomfortable. I couldn’t lie down anymore, and wanted to take a bath. I started my bath and pinned up my hair not knowing this was going to be my final destination ‘til Anela was born. I remember telling Will in between contractions something to the effect of, “They’re getting stronger…..wooo wooo….call Stephanie.”
I believe she came around 2:00 or 3:00 in the afternoon. My back was to her as I faced the wall in my tub. She gently squeezed my shoulders and calmly said, “Hi.” I cried. I was getting to a point in my labor where I thought to myself, “Uh oh, I don’t think I can do this!” I remember asking her to please check the baby. I hadn’t been feeling any movement during these stronger contractions. She put the waterproof Doppler in the tub and we both listened to Anela’s strong heartbeat. “She’s beautiful. She’s doing great and you are too” …and I cried! After I composed myself I told Stephanie, “I listened to you and pampered myself! You can’t tell now but I actually curled my hair and put makeup on!”
After some chuckles later, contractions were getting closer together and stronger. This was my first time I experienced back labor! When people ask, ‘How’d you get through the pain? I say the only pain or real discomfort I went through was the damn back pain! So, we tried lying all the way down in the tub which wasn’t working. We tried hands and knees in the picture below which only lasted one contraction. I was surprised how uncomfortable that was! The only good position was propped up and sitting with a bunch of towels behind my back.
As labor went on, Crystal would give me water from a cup and bendy straw. Stephanie would put cold towels on my forehead and check the baby every hour.
The only thing that was difficult was that as big as I thought my bathtub was, being in there for 5 hours it was not nearly deep enough. Stephanie was saying, “Maybe we should get ahold of Rose to bring a birthing pool? … But then again, I think we’re really close to having a baby! So let’s just have a baby!” She said this to me and all I could think was,’ No, I don’t think so. I’m pretty sure I have to go through an excruciating 12 hours of these contractions before she comes, right?!’
Some contractions were long and hard. Some were back to back, and some gave me pretty good breaks in between. I am so grateful that my body knew exactly what it was doing.
At some point in my labor the lights went off in the bathroom which was really nice to labor in the dark. It didn’t make a difference to Stephanie. She was able to work around my comfort level and prepared with flashlight and all. I remember opening my eyes after a contraction and seeing this big square light right in my face! My husband not wanting to miss out on any action left and came back with a big huge headlamp on his forehead. He must’ve thought since Stephanie had a flashlight, he needed one too. Both Stephanie and Crystal just cracked up!
Soon after that, my breathing was changing during the contractions. They were getting more difficult to concentrate through. My body would start shaking after a big contraction All I could do was close my eyes and let my body do what it had to do.
I remember quietly thinking, “OH boy, an epidural would be really nice about now!” Stephanie very politely mentioned something to the extent of, “I think you’re fighting pushing the way you’re breathing. Try to see if pushing a little takes the edge off?” Sort of in disbelief I tried but didn’t think it could be time yet, could it?
All of a sudden, there was a very surreal, “out of body” moment where my body started “heaving” all on it’s own. Stephanie would say, ‘Go with that, go with that. It’s Ok.’ I was thinking to myself,’ No way, this can’t be happening so soon? Looking up into the corner of the bathroom I said, “NO, no..” I started to try and get out of the tub. Even though I could feel Anela right there, I hit a fight or flight stage in my labor. I must’ve lost my mind for a second because I thought I’m going to get out of this tub and run away from having this baby. I’m done.
Grabbing my attention and refocusing me with firm but calming eye contact Stephanie brought me back to reality, ‘You need to push your baby out!” Within that split second I was no longer in flight mode but back into the Fight I remember telling Will, ‘You’d better give me your hand on this next contraction!!’
At 5:05PM, we all heard a huge POP! Something had just shot out across the tub what I thought at the moment was my mucous plug? Stephanie turned to Crystal, “Oh, water broke! 5:05.” She was recording it for documentation. Smiling and continuing to assure me everything was going great, Stephanie kindly looked at me saying, “Fluid looks clear and great! Look at all that vernix! You are going to see your baby soon!” This was really happening. I was about to meet my baby.
It only took a couple of pushes later that I could reach down and feel Anela’s head crowning. I remember thinking, “Oh no…she’s not going to fit!”
Stephanie said, ‘Push your baby! Even if the contraction stops, keep pushing.” I don’t think I’ve ever pushed with so much might in my life. Once her head and shoulders were birthed at 5:15 PM her body came out like butter!
I looked down into the tub and could see Stephanie’s hands guiding her up through the water. As soon as she came out, she came out wide awake and crying and right into my arms!
That face was a face of pure, “THANK GOD YOU ARE OUT OF ME!” That quickly changed to “I DID IT!! I DID IT!! MY BABY! MY BEAUTIFUL BABY IS HERE! SHE’S PERFECT! SHE’S JUST PERFECT!”
I’m not sure how long I sat in the tub, but it was as if time stood still. All that mattered at that moment was me and this beautiful new baby. We sat in the tub ‘til the cord stopped pulsing. Will was able to cut the cord and hold Anela for the first time while Stephanie and Crystal helped me out of the tub.
It wasn’t long after ‘til my beautiful baby was back into my arms nursing in the comfort of my own bed. All my hard work was now nothing but a memory and at that moment I felt nothing but pure joy and bliss!
Anela’s birth was amazing, empowering…intense at times…and Beautiful overall!
Thank You Stephanie and Crystal for being such a great team for this awesome experience!
Anela Taumohe Manako
21 inches long
Jan. 17, 2013 at 5:15PM