It's 9:30pm. Four years ago at this time my midwife told me to have a big glass of wine in hopes of slowing labor so I could get some sleep before what was sure to be the day I'd give birth to my daughter Stella. Twenty six hours earlier Jason and I were leaving the movie theater when I'd told him we should go home and call our midwife because I was in early labor. We were planning a home birth and so we spent those early evening hours prepping all the last minute home details. We defrosted the quiche, lasagna and cake I'd baked earlier in the week so to have delicious food for our birthing team. We were ready.
Our midwife asked us to get as much sleep as possible as the contractions were far apart, but there was nothing I could do to sleep that first night. I was about to have a baby! By morning I was in active, but manageable labor. It was clear that I wasn't getting any rest Jason and I spent much of the day going on very slow walks around the neighborhood stopping at many a neighbor's front fence to brace for contractions. All four grandparents were in the house playing cards and trying not to act nervous about our whole home birth process.
And so again we speed to about 9:30pm, 26 hours of labor and 26 hours without sleep. "Drink the wine Betsy. Work to slow labor again and please get some sleep. You'll need it for the road ahead," said Alice. Well I drank the wine, but the contractions did not lose any intensity. By the early morning hours the pain of labor had really kicked in. My birth team insisted Jason lay down for a bit and they took over keeping me hydrated and as strong and comfortable as possible minute by minute.
I don't recall the details of the 24 hours leading up to Stella's birth, but I do know me and baby stayed safe throughout labor, though it was very painful. I'm stubborn and sure of my convictions and had long dreamed of a drug free home birth, but as the hours ticked on Jason and my midwives began suggesting we head to the hospital for an epidural. I'd been in active labor for 49 hours when I finally agreed to go to the hospital.
What I didn't know was that the heavens must have been waiting for that moment. As Jason drove the few miles to the hospital my contractions just compounded one on top of the next. In the end we never had time for that epideral and I did have a drug free birth within 30 minutes of our arrival at the hospital on November 29, 2010. Our baby girl needed pediatric support in her first hour and being in the hospital was her very best birth. She knew it all along and was just waiting for me to get on board.
And now four years later I still get lost in the smell of her hair and her every loving touch. The 50 hour labor was just a preview of what sometimes feels like an impossible journey, though one that is every bit worth it and brings me purpose, love and compassion at the end of each day.
Happy Birthday to our star. Our awesomely silly, stubborn, sweet, smart and stunning Stella. And happy birthing day to me!