Sunday, November 6, 2011
I Trusted Myself by Chelsea Torres
Believe it or not my labor began at Ikea in Emeryville. I had spent the prior two weeks wanting desperately to go into labor, and had become obsessive and a bit down about the waiting period. But that morning I woke up feeling bright, if not a bit humble, acknowledging that at just 39 weeks, it wasn’t up to me when it would happen. I wanted to get out of town with my 2 boys, at 2 and almost 4 they also needed an adventure to get through the day. I had a nesting urge and so the adventure was Ikea: picture frames, plants, and shelves, here we come! It felt great to walk and let the boys run through the showroom, and at some point while testing beds we didn’t plan to purchase, I felt the first sharp cramping sensation. I stayed calm, remembering it could mean another week as easy as it could mean today. So I casually checked the time and moved onto the café. 15 minutes, another one. 12:30pm. Still, I was calm. On to curtains and frames, another one. On to plants and checkout, another one. Every 15 minutes, sharp cramping, but totally manageable. I just relaxed, took a breath, knowing it wouldn’t last more than a minute or two. I could manage anything for a minute, right? Back to the car. As we are driving out the boys notice the railroad tracks. Please can we watch for a train? I didn’t know if they came sparsely or frequently, but everything felt a little magical and so, Yes. Yes, we will wait for a train to go by. First another contraction, then I hear the train, I think I am as excited as they are! We all watch as it speeds by, right in front of our eyes. I feel very connected to them, like we are all sharing the same feeling together. In this euphoria we head home, the contractions are shifting between 10 and 15 minutes. At home the nesting begins: framing photos, cleaning, hanging shelves, and then at 7-8 minutes apart, I call my husband. It’s 4:30. I give the midwife a heads up, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself. Sure I need to pause when the rushes come, but they are not dominating me, yet. Paul gets home and I decide we need to go to the grocery store. I want the house well stocked for the birth and beyond. On the drive I get a call from an old dear friend I haven’t spoken to in months. She is a apprentice midwife and she is pregnant! I tell her I’m in labor and we both giggle at the coincidence of her call. She gives me her blessings for a beautiful and safe birth and we say goodbye. In the grocery store, who do we run into but our midwife, Maria! What a surprise, and another lovely serendipitous moment. We agree we should all head home to eat dinner and catch up afterward. We get home and call our close friend, Dave, to watch our boys. Now, at 5-6 minutes apart, I am wanting to hold out until our children are sound asleep. I get into a warm bath and munch on celery and crackers. I turn out the lights and the boys come in to tell me they are getting things ready for the baby. I realize I need my husband and ask that Dave put the children to sleep. This is a leap of faith because we are the only ones who had ever put them to sleep, but magically, without a single cry, they fall asleep. I lay in our bed, lights out, some candles burning, as my husband massages my back. We laugh at the moment: candles, massage, nudity, and it makes us giggle that labor could seem so romantic! Now, at 3-4 minutes apart, I ask Paul to call Maria. She arrives just as a thick fog rolls in. She checks me, I have a feeling I’m 3 centimeters. I’m right. I don’t feel discouraged, I know things will move quickly now. Dave sets up the labor tub and I get in. From there I just follow my instincts. I stay loose, I stop timing contractions, I stop looking at the time at all. I simply remember, stay loose, you can handle anything for a minute or two. And that’s all I focus on, just the moment at hand. From the outside my path seemed a little aimless. I meander: first to the tub. Then on to the floor. Then to the couch. Down the hallway. Stopping at each spot for a contraction. To the bathroom, to the bedroom. 5 centimeters. From here I’m not sure what happened. I wasn’t afraid, and I trusted myself. I could feel her moving down, I felt at every moment I knew exactly where she was. Then I wanted to push. Everyone said that sounded like a great idea. I thought so too. Dave has a solid frame so I asked if I could hold onto him while I pushed. What are friends for? And like this, with a couple pushes, out came our beautiful baby. Her cry sounded so sweet, like a little song. We actually didn’t know she was a girl yet. We didn’t check right away. We just savored the moment that this beautiful, whole being had been born. What’s more is she was born at 12:45 a.m. on September 21st, which happened to be her brother’s 4th birthday! The name came to us immediately: Francesca Olga Margaret. Yes. That’s it!