When people ask how Callie came into the world, all I can respond with is, “perfectly.”
I knew, years ago, that I wanted to bring my babies into the world in the comfort of my home. I wanted my baby’s first impression of the world to be cozy, loved, warm, and secure. I didn’t want clinical, I didn’t want what was easiest, I didn’t want someone else to be in control.
So when I unexpectedly found out that I was pregnant, shortly after being very, very, sick with nothing that anyone could figure out, I went the standard route- OBGYN. And it was fine. Everything was fine. But I didn’t want fine. I wanted to love being pregnant, and love giving birth, and love everything about this amazing miracle growing inside of me. So after a few months, I started looking for a midwife. I had a friend who studied to be a doula, who provided amazing education and wisdom and insight on what to expect. But when you know, you know.
I saw the Family Birth Center’s website, read about Galyn, and set up a consultation.
We walked into the charming little house, I looked at my husband, and I knew. This was right. This was what I WANTED. And looking back, knowing it was exactly what I needed.
A little over a week before Callie made her arrival, I started having contractions, frequently, intermittently, and mildly. Every 5, 7, 10, 30, 2, 3 minutes. I sat in warm baths, I counted contractions at work, written on sticky notes. I walked and walked and walked. By Friday, I was over it. This was my first baby, but I knew she was not ready.
I had an appointment on a Tuesday, so I chugged along through the weekend. Monday came, and I started throwing up, and I. Was. Thrilled! We had learned that vomiting was a sign of labor, so my husband called Briana, and we were told that a stomach bug was making its way around. Of course it was. Back to team-no-sleep, warm baths, and walking. We moved my appointment to Thursday because… germs.
I left work early on Thursday, eager, anxious, frustrated, and ready. So, so ready, and made our final trip as 2 up to New Braunfels. We had a frank conversation- I was 3 cm dilated (at least it was SOMETHING), some bloody show during the examination (we all CELEBRATED), and terribly dehydrated. Briana looked me square in the eyes, and told me, “If you want to stick with your plan, you need to work your body as little as possible and hydrate it as much as you can. If not, Baby might not come so soon, and if she does, you won’t have the strength to have her at home. If you hydrate and rest, you could have a baby by this weekend.”
Fair enough. We had a recipe for Labor-Aide, and my step-daughter’s Meet-The-Teacher night to get through, and then rest. I called into work (still kind of planning on being there in the morning...) stopped at HEB and impatiently waited in the car, then off to the elementary school. I walked through the halls, and contractions started to get tighter, by the time we left, I was struggling to stand at some points- so maybe not the best decision, but I wanted my stepdaughter to know what to expect this coming school year.
We went home, and I sat in the tub drinking the cool, lemon-ginger drink, and petting my dog when I could. I talked to the aforementioned friend about seeing a chiropractor the next day to help labor progress, LOL, and my husband went off to bed. Sometime around 2 AM, I started timing contractions, still as irregular as before, but definitely worse than they had been the past week. I was frustrated and just wanted to start “real” labor or go to sleep. My sweet, sweet four-pawed-companion all but hopped in the bathtub with me- licking my hands, nudging my head, and snuggling up next to me when I managed to get out of the tub. I still thought it was all Braxton Hicks. Oops.
My sweet husband was sleeping soundly, of course, and logically, I had no reason to wake him up. I knew he would just sit helplessly by, or suggest things that would “help.” Past the point of caring what time it was, I yelled from the bathroom of our tiny apartment bedroom to wake him up. He came in and received a list of things to do before taking over the timing, and I finally stopped thinking of my never-ending list. Time stood still, and I revelled in my body’s strength. For years it had not worked right, it had turned against me, and in that moment, I fell in love with it all over again. The purest of joy, and deepest of gratitude.
I had thought about candles, and prayers, and pictures, and twinkle lights, and essential oils, and pretty nightgowns, and a picturesque vision to surround my birth with “magic and sparkle,” and when the time came, I wanted none of it. I wanted it to end, and to never stop. I wanted my baby, and I wanted my new way of life, and I wanted to go back to how things were before I was pregnant, and life was easier all at the same time. And then I wanted my Midwife.
So my sweet husband called, and I could hear them talking about me, and I didn’t like that at all, but I wanted all of my attention to be on my baby, so I had to remind myself that Miguel and Galyn were on my team. Our team.
We got the clear to inflate the birth pool, and I got to leave the bright, sun- lit bathroom. Getting in the pool was the most magical thing of all. Relief and comfort, and floating, and handles, and a cup holder. Man, I was thankful for that cup holder. Cue essential oils, and snacks, and more Labor-Aide, and my other two pups, and a dark, cozy room.
Around 1 PM, Galyn walked in the front door, and I have never been so excited to see a person in my life. Things were quiet and comfortable, and it hit me that this was real. I was going to have a baby, I was going to be a mom, I was going to give birth, and I was going to get everything I wanted, and how on earth could I possibly deserve any of it.
Galyn tip-toed around like a little mouse, as she said, and OH MY GOSH! I never asked her how her trip to Ireland was, how her family was, what was happening. And she just whispered everything was great and beautiful and good.
She said she’d show me what muscles were needed to push when that time was right, we practiced and “Wow! That is really strong.” Good job body, you’ve got this. In a daze, I heard soft voices, the door open and close, and then I heard Briana’s voice. Oh, how sad we were when we found out she would be decreasing her time just as our baby was going to be born. But also, how could things suddenly get MORE perfect? I was so happy she was with us. I kept waiting for more pain, for the “I can’t do this” wave to hit me, and Galyn and Briana said I could start pushing, and all I could think was that I could do this, and I was DESIGNED to do this, and I wanted my baby so, so badly, and that I was bored of it all and ready. Galyn told me to feel my baby, and I did. And she was close, and she was real, and this was perfect.
And Briana told me to push through each contraction, and use them. Then I started to get so, so, so hot. Galyn suggested we move out of the warm water to the bed where it was cool, and I wouldn’t overheat. So I stood up, and NOPE, my body did not want to move. I couldn’t get my legs to work, so Miguel and someone kept pouring cold water down my back, and it felt so good and so annoying, and I just wanted my baby.
I kept trying to curl around my baby like Briana and Galyn kept telling me to do, but I couldn’t get it just right. And I was getting tired, and still hot, and then I saw Callie’s dark hair. My baby had dark hair! Miguel supported my body, but also kept talking and I couldn’t find the words to tell him to stop talking, but thank you for helping me. So I hit him and shushed him, and Galyn said “Hi baby!” and gently, her head appeared “and an arm too,” Briana said. I told Miguel to go get her, and then she was on my chest, and nothing hurt anymore and she was real, and alive, and had the biggest, brightest eyes, and all I could say was, “Hi!”
I held her, and felt her warm little body, and patted her back like I was told. She cried a few little cries and looked me in the eyes. Oh, how I didn’t want her to be cold, or alone, or afraid. Miguel sat in the folding chair next to the pool, put his head in his hands and sobbed. Why was he crying? Everything is so perfect. Callie snuggled close, and it hit me like an engulfing wave- I am her mama, and she loves me. I held her as close as possible, and snuggled her, and smelled her wet hair. Miguel came back over and cut her umbilical cord, and with that snip, this pregnancy was over. We weren’t connected to each other anymore. But her eyes were so inquisitive, and strangely reassuring, and she was so calm, and so trusting, and so alert, and crap. I had a placenta to deliver. The moment was over, and I asked on a scale of 1-10 how bad it was compared to the baby, 10 being the baby, 1 being barely noticeable. Galyn and Briana said in unison, “3.” Baby was passed to Dad, and a few cramps later, Galyn gently pulled, and suddenly, my abdomen wasn’t full anymore. Somehow, I was dried off, Galyn all but carried me to my sun-soaked bedroom, I laid down and Briana asked my permission before she touched Callie. She asked if she could hold her, if she could weigh her, if she could wipe the poop from her, if she could diaper her… and I felt safe. We all guessed baby’s weight- and I hit it dead on. And I felt proud. Briana laid her next to me, showed me how to nurse her, and I felt competent.
They came back a few minutes later with a cupcake and margarita. And I felt loved. Those moments of blissed ebbed on as the sun began to set, and goodbyes were shared. And the experience was over, and this chapter gently ended.
But quietly, I was mama, and I was the right mama for this perfect little miracle. I was so proud of my body; so in awe of my baby. And I would have changed nothing, and the gratefulness can never be explained. But my entire world and my entire self was made whole because of the countless blessings Family Birth Center gives.