Raj definitely chose his own birthday. I had been expecting him for weeks, since his sister came early. But five days after his “guess” date, Tony, Axa and I went to our appointment with Adele, our midwife. I thought I was going to be pregnant forever. She said, “maybe tonight!” Sure enough, at midnight I awoke to regular contractions, quite a bit stronger than the teasers I’d been feeling for months. They were ten minutes apart, and maybe a minute long. I woke Tony at 12:30, and we went downstairs to fill the birthing tub part-way. I had a snack, and then we went back to bed. I turned on my hypnobirthing cd (two selections from Les Chansons de Roses, with Tony’s voice coming in every once in a while with a hypnobirthing script) and dozed between surges. It wasn’t as comfortable to be in bed, but I was so tired I got back in bed anyway. My main thought was that I hoped I would have the baby soon so I could go back to sleep. At 5:30 we called Adele to let her know I was in labor. I felt a little bad calling her so early in the morning, since she’d been up all night at a birth the night before. My surges were still quite strong, but neither longer nor closer together. We also called Nora’s mommy, who was going to come over and help occupy Axa during the birth.
Then we got out of bed and went downstairs for breakfast, and turned the hypnobirthing music on down there too. I relaxed through each surge on the birthing ball with my eyes closed, rocking gently back and forth. Closing my eyes was the signal to Tony that I was having a surge, so he should be quiet. In between surges, we resumed conversation. At around 8:30 we took a shower together. I had some surges closer together, and I told Tony maybe we should have the midwives come over. I was still a little embarrassed to have them come over, since my surges were so far apart, but I didn’t want them to miss the birth either, just in case it happened faster than I anticipated.
Adele and Eiris arrived an hour or so later, and set everything up. I thought it was funny they were acting as if they thought the baby might come soon. I was sure I was going to be in labor all day, or possibly even just stall and not have the baby that day after all. In fact, I was getting downright annoyed that my very strong surges were not getting closer together. I was sure they weren’t doing anything. So I decided it would be a good time to walk to the grocery store to get roses, since I had wanted to scatter rose petals in the birthing tub. Maybe the walk would get things going a little faster. I went upstairs to put on socks. While I was there, I decided I should probably go to the bathroom before we left. I sat down on the toilet, but it made me have a very uncomfortable surge, and I decided it would be impossible to pee there. So I got in the shower and ran the warm water for a while. Finally I was able to pee in the shower, but I thought it was a little weird. I mentioned it to Adele and Tony as we were about to leave. Adele said maybe it would be a good idea to check my cervix. So I lay down and she checked it.
She got a funny look on her face and said, “your cervix has gone missing.” Missing! What was that supposed to mean? Hopefully I had a cervix in there, or else what did my body think it was doing trying to open it up? At our quizzical looks, she laughed and told us I was dilated to a ten. “But am I effaced?” I asked, sure that I couldn’t possibly be all the way dilated and effaced with my pokey once-every-ten-minutes surges. She said I was completely dilated and effaced. So I decided to get in the pool right away. I’d been wanting to get in that pool for five weeks, ever since we went and picked it up and set it up in our living room. But I’d been afraid it would slow down what I thought was my already slow labor, and I’d never have my sweet little baby who obviously liked to take his time with things. And I hadn’t really felt like I needed any coping techniques besides my lovely hypnobirthing music and my birthing ball.
Tony filled the pool the rest of the way up with warm water, and I got in. At first, I sat perfectly still through the surges, in a loose cross-legged position with my fingertips on the bottom of the pool, facing the living room and closing my eyes during surges. They were stronger now, and I could feel the tightening all the way up my ribcage. Tony helped Axa fill up her pool too, and she played around in it. After awhile, Tony got in the tub too. He asked if I wanted him to try the hip squeeze that I found helpful during Axa’s birth. I turned around and faced out the window, and we tried it for one surge. It wasn’t really helpful, in fact I didn’t like it at all. I didn’t want to be touched. So no-one did except Eiris, who periodically checked the baby’s heartbeat. During each surge, I would lean my arms on the edge of the pool and rise up a little out of the water, as if I were riding the surge. In between, I rested my head on the side of the pool, looking out the window into the field behind our house. It was beautiful, with the long, tall grass waving gently in the wind and the sun glinting off the white daisies.
My hypnobirthing music had been playing the whole time, creating a calm, peaceful atmosphere for everyone. I asked them to turn on the script of Tony’s voice again. I was starting to feel very tired, and slightly nauseated. It occurred to me that I must be in transition, since that’s how I felt when I was in transition with Axa. I didn’t actually throw up this time though, which made me happy. Tony felt for the baby’s head, and said he was close. I felt too, but he didn’t seem that close to me. Then, during a surge, I felt a weird pop and kind of a swish. I asked what was going on. Eiris said, “your water just broke. The baby’s coming.” A few surges later, I felt my body pushing the baby’s head out. I didn’t want to tear this time like I had with Axa, so I just melted with the surge and breathed down. Eiris asked if I wanted someone to apply counter-pressure, and I said yes. A few more surges, and I could feel that his head had slipped out, and I felt much better, and said so. After a few minutes, my body started pushing again, and his body gently slipped out. I moved back from the side of the pool, and suddenly there he was in front of me (I didn’t know how he got there, since he came out behind, but Tony said the midwives gently guided him between my legs). I pulled his wet, slippery body out of the pool and looked at him. He had a wrinkly forehead, and kinky dark hair. He was crying a little, so I snuggled him, keeping a tight hold of him so he didn’t slip out of my arms. Axa was standing just outside the pool, watching, so I asked Adele to lift her in. She came into the pool, and we were all together, our little family. At that moment, and for quite a while after, I felt a completely physical euphoria, which was at the same time deeply spiritual.
Raj Dominique Familia was born at 11:29 a.m. on Saturday, June 16, 2007. He weighed 7 pounds 12 ounces and was 20 inches long.