Thor‘s birth story began in the night of the 31st of December. At 1 am I woke up due to a very light cramping, which was unusual for me to get. So I kind of knew by that point that this was probably the beginning of labor. I‘ve had only gotten 2 hours of sleep, but I felt energized enough to finally give birth. I got up and used the toilet. Then went back to bed and tried to “sleep”, even though I knew that wouldn‘t happen. I was way too excited for things to get rolling but at the same time didn‘t want to jinx anything, so I pretended to sleep. As I was there laying in bed thinking about how my life would soon change, I felt the cramps getting stronger and more consistent. By the third cramping, I decided to start timing them just to make sure that I wasn’t kidding myself and that I was actually in active labor. And yup, the crampings were around 10 minutes apart. I timed a couple more and then decided to text Ali who was in the room next to me, still working. I told him that I didn‘t wanted to jinx anything but that I was pretty sure that this was it and that he should bring me a hot water bottle to soothe the cramps in my lower belly. I carried this hot water bottle with me during my entire labor, as it helped so much going through those intense contractions. Emma was deep asleep next to me and for the next 2 hours I just laid next to her and listened to my favorite sleep meditation on repeat. Around 3 am I noticed that I had to use the bathroom again and this time I could feel that I wasn‘t going back to bed. So I took all my things and moved base to our bathroom. My body was making space for baby by cleansing itself out. Ali lighted some candles for me and besides recording me pretty much left me to do my thing. (I requested that in my birth to do list for him). The next few hours were just like I imagined them to be. It was peaceful, it was dark, it was quiet, and the floor heating kept my feet warm. My mom decided the day before to stay the night at our place, looking back it is clear that this was her strong mama instinct. And thank god she did, because she wouldn’t have had a train to us in the middle of the night.
Back to the bathroom, I was still listening to my sleep meditation and with each contraction or wave as they say in hypnobirthing I was moving my body the way it led me to move. I was always moving my body, even when I didn’t have a contraction, but the movements were a lot less intense so that I could save energy, which I knew I needed to reach the finish line. The movements were a lot like dancing, I was dancing with each wave, mostly moving my hips in circles or in the shape of the number 8. As the contractions / waves were becoming stronger, I started to walk in small circles or swayed my hips from left to right or from front to back. The key was to never not move because that would bring me out of my flow. And that would mean that the contractions would hurt instead of just being an intense feeling. Around 5am, Ali asked if he should text my midwife, it took me a good minute to respond to him, as I didn‘t want her to come too early but at the same time I really wanted to know how far along I was, so I told him yes. My midwife arrived around 5:45am, I was still in the bathroom doing my little routine of going through each contraction. My mom had just woken up as well due to the noise that Ali was making while setting up the birth pool. I really appreciate that she didn‘t come into my space once, even though as any mom would be, she was very nervous. Once my midwife arrived, I asked for her to check my cervix and how many cm open it was. She was surprised that I wanted to know, as this exam can be uncomfortable and not every woman wants to get it done as it can also be discouraging, if it turns out that you’re not that far ahead yet. For the exam we changed rooms to Ali‘s office, where I laid onto Emma‘s old bed. Emma was still sleeping in our bedroom at this point. My midwife checked me and told me that my cervix was 7cm open and that really gave me the validation I needed to continue with my technique, as it had already gotten me this far without hurting. Once she was done, I tried to stay on the mattress to see how that would feel and I regretted it as soon as that next contraction hit me.
My body just needed and wanted to move so I got up like a lightning bolt and immediately went back to my safe space, the bathroom. There I decided to change things and use my last but best tool that would help me manage those last 3 cm that needed to open. The shower. I was all by myself, or at least that‘s how it felt, because apparently I was in a very deep state of hypnosis. I took this little stool that Emma uses to reach the sink, and used it in the shower to support my upper body, while I was moving my lower body through each wave. If you already gave birth you know that those last few centimeters are the toughest ones as the contractions become closer together and even more intense as before. Because of my last birth, I knew what was coming and so I told myself that I needed to concentrate even more now, to stay in flow. I was doing different positions in the shower, but mostly was on my knees or on all fours. After 30 minutes, my water suddenly broke.
That was the first time I really made a loud sound during labor, as the sudden feeling of something splashing out of my vagina took me by surprise and almost scared me. Ali was right in front of me and so he heard me saying that my water just broke and alarmed my midwife. She then came into the shower and told me that it was time to move to the place where I wanted to give birth. As soon as she said that, I started to feel like I needed to push. Everything happened so fast from that point on that I started to become a little overwhelmed for the first time during my birth. I was also a little scared, because with Emma I needed to push for a good 2 hours before she was born and I did not want to repeat that. Looking back I can see that this was my transition. The transition is usually the stage where women go from that first phase of opening their cervix to 10 cm to the pushing phase. Many women say somewhat irrational things during that phase, for example if they give birth at home that they want to go to the hospital or want an epidural or that they just can‘t do it anymore, even though they almost reached the end. After having given birth twice, I noticed that during transition, I start to ask silly questions. So for example, I asked my midwife if she was really sure that the baby was gonna come out now. I asked that like 3 times and she assured me each time, that yes this was it. By that point I was already pushing, but I was still in the shower. My midwife kept asking me if I wanted to give birth in the pool and after a lot of thinking, I told her “no”. It just didn‘t feel right and I didn‘t want a change of scene at this stage. So she told her assistant and Ali to set up a mattress on the bathroom floor, where I could give birth instead. It was around 6:45am and Emma was already up as well, which would usually be way too early for her, but I guess she was sensing that something was going on.
I really didn’t want to come out of the shower, but with each contraction I noticed that it was getting harder for me to find a good position as it was very slippery. So I trusted my midwife and how I remember, made my way to the mattress on all fours. The pushing kept becoming more intense and I somehow never felt ready for it. I had this irrational fear of baby’s head coming out that I couldn’t open my legs properly. I wasn‘t in control anymore and the contractions were ruling me. I didn‘t even try to push but my body just did it automatically for me. But the good thing about that pushing phase, is that you‘re only a few moments away from meeting your baby. And that gives you that last bit of energy and motivation to keep going. I could feel my midwife holding her hand against my perineum, which she afterwards explained, was to prevent me from tearing. And truly, I did not tear one bit. After three really challenging pushes, Thor was finally born at 7:09am. And just like Emma the first thing I noticed was that full head of hair. As soon as he was out, I broke down and just cried out of pure relief. I did it again. I created and just birthed another little human being. I was so proud of myself.
There was also another little surprise waiting for us. The gender of the baby. But truly it wasn‘t a big surprise anymore as for 1. My instinct was telling me that he was a boy throughout my entire pregnancy and 2. I could already feel his testicles on me, before we could take a peak at the sex.
I asked for Emma to come and meet the baby and so together with my mom they came into the bathroom. They both saw me for the very first time since the evening before. But this time with a grandson, a brother and my son in my arms. Little Thor.
For more of Valeria’s journey follow: @valeriaharris__