I am not sure how this happened, but my baby is a month old today. It's been a blurry whirlwind. I know all parents say that, but given the events of the last month, mixed with having a newborn, truer words have never been spoken. I thought, since I didn't get to it sooner, that today would be an apropos day to finish her birth story.
Eliza's due date is still a mystery to me, though I am sticking with my guns that her actual due date was October 18. Her chart at my OB still says October 15. So depending on who you believe she was either 3 or 5 days late. Friends couldn't believe that with all of the stress in my life, I didn't deliver preterm, but I kept saying that she was waiting for it to be safe to come out, waiting for me to secure us a house, waiting for it to be calmer.
In the weeks leading up to her birth my OB's talked frequently about induction. The first time was because her fluid was looking low, but they waited and checked her again a few days later and my fluid was better. The second time was because I was already 4 cm dilated and full-term, with a history of laboring fast. They warned me there was a good chance I wouldn't make it to the hospital. But I really wanted to have a gradual labor, with time spent at home, I wanted her to come on her terms. I wanted it to be just like the movies, where a woman's water breaks and she smiles and says, "it's time!" and gets driven to the hospital by the frenetic, but lovingly concerned husband.
The week of her due date I had an appointment to see my therapist and I talked to her about the lady at the pizza place and the night in the bathtub. We had already talked about my reiki sessions and the idea of spirit guides. Sidenote, what I love about my therapist is that she believes in spirituality and the law of attraction, but is also a real LMHC. In a conversation that I believe was no accident, she told me that all of the things I have been practicing and reading about were all based on a book called A Course in Miracles (which I have since downloaded but, sadly, have yet to read). She told me about Gabby Bernstein, who wrote a book called Spirit Junkie, and said that Gabby was fun to follow on Instagram.
The night I went into labor with Eliza, I climbed into the tub at the end of another long day, and began scrolling through my phone to entertain myself, as I often do in the bath. After surfing Facebook and clearing out emails, I hopped on Instagram. I remember feeling overwhelmed with life and wondering if this baby was ever going to come out. And I thought about my conversation with my therapist and remembered the suggestion about Gabby Bernstein and searched her profile. Her post that day was this:
I started thinking more about why Eliza had yet to come. As of my 40 week appointment I was 5 cm dilated and 70% effaced. I had been progressing steadily from week 37 on, and each week my OB's scratched their heads at how she was still hanging tough with my body so far along. I thought about this mantra, and wondered if my own fears were holding me back from delivering her. Fears of how I would survive as a single mom of four under four; fears about whether I am enough for these babies; fears about how raw it would feel to labor with her dad, who was no longer my husband, by my side; fears about being wide open and vulnerable and alone; fears about being homeless. So many fears.
I decided to give it a try. I sat back in the tub, closed my eyes and began to breathe. About a half hour later my phone buzzed with a text message from my brother asking if I was still awake and if I wanted to talk. It was 9:42 p.m. I jokingly told him that I'd call him when I got out of the tub so that it wouldn't be awkward, and we had a bit of stupid sibling banter (that I'm including, because the whole convo cracks me up).
Eliza James was born on October 21 at 11:27 p.m. weighing 7 pounds, 13 ounces and was 20" long.
My perfect, spiky-haired, gorgeous baby girl came into the world 1 hour and 45 minutes after I opened my eyes in that bathtub.
Because I had no IV, they couldn't push pitocin to deliver my placenta and that took almost a half hour. I actually felt guilty for holding up my OB, but when my body was ready I could feel the contractions start again, and I pushed through one contraction and the placenta passed me, the room cleared out, and I was alone with my baby girl. Joe came back from calling his parents and our nanny and said goodnight and we were alone together again. My miracle baby and I, holding onto each other.
I now understand why people preach about natural births. I'm so glad I held out and let her come on her own terms. From beginning to end, her birth was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. Once I let go of my fears, it was so peaceful and so natural. I understand now why I was given the gift of this child, this little healer, this tiny warrior. I am thankful each and every day.