The morning of September 28th started like any other. The children and I woke up and had breakfast. I started having some serious contractions, about 5 minutes apart. After an hour, I woke up Rob and told him he might not be going into work that day, but we should carry on as normal because I’d had so many false alarms.
I got in the shower and the contractions disappeared. So I packed a bag for a day away from home with the kids, knowing it could be my last chance.
We drove Rob to work and headed over to my parents’ house, where my cousin, Laramie, was spending his last days battling leukemia.
About an hour after arriving, I lost my mucus plug but only had an occasional contraction.
I decided a nap would probably be a good idea, just in case, and I nursed my toddler down for a nap, too. Nursing her triggered a few good, strong contractions, but they didn’t stick around.
After telling my cousin that I was trying to get the baby out in time to meet him, I decided to take the kids to a nearby park and then go to the restaurant where my husband worked to have dinner.
As soon as I’d strapped all the kids into their car seats and climbed into the driver seat, I had a very strong contraction. It was so strong that I had to breathe through it, but we headed to the park anyway.
6:00pm. While we were playing at the park, I had another contraction. And then, another. They were still spaced pretty far apart, but they were strong. We decided to go get dinner.
After we ordered food, I told my husband that he might be getting off work early and coming home with us. As my contractions continued to get closer together, I told him that he would definitely be coming home with us.
We got home, and every one of us burst into action, getting ready to have a baby. My son swept the floors, my husband ran out for supplies, my daughters “helped” me set up the birth pool.
After everything was ready (except for filling up the pool with water), I put my two little girls to bed. I nursed my toddler for the very last time as “my baby.” The contractions really picked up after that, and I decided to hop in the shower. I was surprised by the intensity of my contractions already, because I’d had such an easy labor with Lorelei. In fact, I’d had such an easy labor with Lorelei that I’d invited a crowd of people to witness Jack’s birth, thinking I’d be able to hang out and chat for most of my labor.
After I got out of the shower, I told Rob it was time to fill up the birth pool. I was already having to vocalize through some contractions and starting to feel nauseated, which didn’t happen until I was a few moments away from pushing during my last labor. Slightly worried, I called my midwife and told her I needed her to come.
I had a snack and drank some Gatorade, turned on Dave Matthews on the CD player, and got into my birth tub.
I was surprised by how fast my midwife arrived. We checked my blood pressure and the baby’s heart rate. Baby sounded great, but my blood pressure was a little high, I think because I was so excited. The next time we checked, it was normal.
Suddenly, my house was full as my aunt, two teenage cousins, my friends, Lindsay and Jessica (two amazing photographers),and my parents arrived.
My contractions spaced out a bit, and my midwife suggested I get out of the pool. I went outside to walk around a bit. While I was outside, my daughter Eliza came out. I didn’t have to walk around for long, and Eliza and I both got into the pool again. I had to get out a few times to use the bathroom, and at some point, my son, Rivers, got into the pool too.
My labor started getting really hard, my contractions took ALL of my concentration, and my vocalizations were getting very loud. Eliza got out of the birth pool and I was glad because just the slight movements she made in the water caused me to bob up and down during contractions and I couldn’t handle it.
At this point, I silently wondered why anyone would choose to birth without drugs. I got out again to use the bathroom, and my midwife offered to check me. I declined because if I was only 5cm or something, I was going to call the whole thing off and go to the hospital to get an epidural. Thankfully, the end was near.
I started feeling a little grunty with a contraction. Hallelujah! I felt like my contractions started to space out a bit, and I rolled from one side to the other, and had another mini-pushy contraction.
And then, wham! The indescribable, irresistible urge to push was upon me. The force of my own body still astounds me. Pushing felt so much better than the contractions leading up to the pushing phase.
With my husband supporting me from behind, I was roaring my way through the contractions. My midwife checked to see where his head was, and told me to reach in and feel. It was amazing to feel my baby’s head moving down with every push. Soon, I was crowning, and I held myself against the tub with one hand, and held the top of my baby’s head with the other hand. I will never forget the feeling of holding my baby between worlds like that- his downy hair and soft skin, and his skull, hard like a baseball.
And then I heard, “Nyssa, get your baby!” and I was pulling him up to my chest.
He cried and cried, and I looked around, and there was Lorelei, too. I still don’t know if she woke up from all my bellowing, or if someone had gone to wake her up, but she was amazed by the baby. After a shower, a few stitches, and baby’s measurements had been taken, our new family of six was tucked into bed. And there I nursed my new son and his big sister to sleep for the first time.
John “Jack” William Retter
Born September 29th, 2013
8lbs, 8 oz., 20 inches long