I woke up one night, week 40+3 of my pregnancy, noticing that the practice surges I had been experiencing on and off appeared to be coming regularly. I felt a rush of excitement.
Could this be it?!
I got out of bed around 3:00 in the morning, without waking my husband, and went to the balcony. I sat quietly, listening to my body, trying to figure out whether our daughter was finally deciding to come and join us in the outside world.
Throughout the morning, the surges seemed to slow down. I tried not to feel disappointed. Instead I kept myself busy with calm distractions.
As the evening arrived, the surges became regular again. I didn't want to put too much thought into it in case it was just false alarm anyway, so I decided to keep myself distracted by crafting a mobile to hang over my daughter's crib.
As time past, the surges kept coming every 15 min. My doubts slowly drifted away and gave space for certainty. I knew it was time. She was coming.
Around 21:00 the surges started to ask for my attention. With each surge I had to stop what I was doing to focus on the surge. It wasn't painful, but it was as if my body was telling me that it was time to turn my attention inwards. So I decided to listen.
I left the mobile half done there on the table and went to the bed. I sat down comfortably in my pillow nest (accompanied by our cat and our dog) and allowed myself to relax completely.
As time past, the surges became more intense and arrived more frequently. My husband was sitting by my side. In between surges we sometimes exchanged a few words, but as soon as I felt a new surge coming, I closed my eyes and focused on relaxing and taking slow and deep breaths, breathing up with each surge.
Around midnight I decided to lay down and try to sleep a bit. I drifted in and out of sleep in between the surges, saving my strength.
After a couple of hours I became restless. I got up and took a warm shower. The movement and flow of warm water over my belly helped me relax.
By early morning I was having surges every 4 minutes, so we decided it was time to head to the birth center. As if my daughter wanted to confirm our decision, my water broke the second after. So with some towels for protection I got into the car and my husband drove us to the birth center, which was a 5 minute drive away.
When we arrived, the nurse did not believe I was very far along because I was so calm and relaxed. She was surprised when she checked me and noticed I was already 8 cm open.
After a 20 min monitor of my daughter's heart rate, I was moved to an empty room to wait while the birthing room was being prepared. Some nurses came to peek in through the door, making whispering comments about how relaxed I looked. I paid very little attention to my surroundings at that point, but my husband later laughed about how the nurses gathered to see.
Once I entered the birthing room I took off my clothes and stepped into the Jacuzzi to let the warm water relax my body. As I was sitting there in the water, things suddenly changed and my body entered a new mode. My body started pushing automatically with each new surge. I could feel my daughter's head pushing downwards, eager to come out, and suddenly I felt a wave of mild panic flowing through me, interrupting my calm. I realized I was about to give birth, and my brain suddenly screamed "Wait, stop, I'm not sure I want to do this!"
In the back of my head a voice reminded me that I had been told that most women go through a stage like that - of panic, irritation, fear, or a wish to stop - just before they give birth. It's often a sign that birth is near, adrenaline flowing through the body. So I held on to that thought, allowed it to calm me, and went with the waves of my body.
My daughter was indeed born a few minutes later.
As the birth center did not allow water births, I got out of the Jacuzzi and walked over to the bed when I felt it was time. I got on all four, and I gave birth to our daughter. It only took a couple of more surges from there on for my body to push her out.
The moment her head was out, she took her first eager breath and started to scream, as if she wanted to let us know that she had arrived. Her body soon followed, and the midwife handed her to me. I grabbed her little body, careful not to lift her too high as she was still attached to me with the umbilical cord, and I looked down at her wrinkly face.
I am not sure what I felt at this point. But naming the feelings also didn’t feel that important.
This little human, my daughter, had spent the past 9 months growing inside my belly. She was very much a part of me. And yet, she also felt like a complete stranger as I looked down at her that first time.
Who are you?
It was the most surreal experience. I felt an enormous respect for myself, for my husband, for our daughter, for nature, and for the things my body is capable of.