Because we started this blog when Milo was a few months old, I somehow failed to write about his birth story. Recently, in an attempt to better organize the blog, I came across Oliver’s and Emil’s birth stories, and re-read them. Each time I revisit the birth of my sons, I am overwhelmed by my feelings about becoming a mother. And becoming a mother again. And again! Somehow, each of my experiences in birth directly relates to the personalities of each of my boys: Milo came out screaming before he was even fully born- and was my fastest labor even though he was my first (like his labor, Milo is living life full-speed ahead); Oliver was slow and steady, taking his time to enter the world and to explore it once here; Emil was easy and sweet, and seemingly prepared me for a month ahead of time for his impending arrival. These stories help to define my family. And so, without further ado, here is Milo’s birth story. The story of the beginning. The story of how I became a mom.
Baltimore, September 3, 2007. Later that night, I would go into labor with Milo (it was Labor Day, after all)
The days and weeks leading up to Milo’s birth were extremely eventful. I look back on the changes we were going through and I cannot believe the whirlwind of events we so gracefully accepted instead of stressed about. Only months before, we had been married after a long engagement. I was 5 months pregnant with a child we had planned before we worried about the details of a wedding. My job as a school social worker ended as summer arrived. We sold our house in Philadelphia, moved to Baltimore for Andrew’s job, and found a row house to rent in a beautiful area of Baltimore City. We changed our minds about hospital delivery and quickly found a birthing center with midwives not too far away. I met with the only male midwife in the practice (and anywhere I have heard of!) a handful of times and formed a close attachment, hoping he would be on call when my little one decided to arrive. We quickly hired a doula (the first one we interviewed) and explored our new city while we waited.
Andrew’s birthday (my due date) came and went, and after some frustrating attempts to start labor on my own (spicy pizza the night before, long walks around the Inner Harbor, etc.), we sat down in the nursery/spare bedroom and watched The Wire on Andrew’s laptop. Then, at 9pm, BAM. Like a light had been switched on, I started having painful, intense contractions every 3 minutes. Each one found me doubled over, toes curling, on my hands and knees. We called our doula and explained the contractions. She said to have a small glass of wine and try to get some rest. I laughed into the phone, explaining that there was NO WAY I was going to be able to sleep through these. Still, knowing that first babies often take a long time to make it into the world, she reassured me and told me to call her back in a half hour if they started to intensify.
I called her back 15 minutes later.
By the time our doula came, I was in the living room, working through each contraction doubled over the exercise ball and trying not to panic as the pain overcame my body. She helped me try to relax my body (“Uncurl those toes! Breathe!”) and she assessed my progress through my behavior. I complained of strong back pain. It was as though my lower back was on fire in addition to the pain of contractions. Each time a wave of pain flowed over me, my body took on a hands-and-knees position and I literally could not handle it in any other way. She suggested the shower. On the second floor. I will never forget crawling up those steps, having two contractions before I even reached the second floor, bracing myself halfway up. Pressing my forehead into the carpeting of the narrow stairway. I don’t remember how I made it into the shower, but I sat on the exercise ball and let the water pound down onto my back. Hot water. I started to shake uncontrollably. I called the doula in, and then started to wretch. Upon seeing my shaking and wretching, she realized I was moving FAST with this labor, and between Andrew and our doula, they somehow got me dried off, dressed (barely) and into the car for the 30 minute drive to the birthing center.
That car ride was insane. I thought I was dying. Unable to sit down, I kneeled over a towel in the back seat of our Honda Civic facing the back window. I screamed through contractions. It must have been so scary for Andrew, not knowing what was going on or how to handle this crazy woman bellowing in the back, while trying to get to the birthing center on time.
We made it in time, and our beloved midwife David met us at the door. I barged through like an elephant and the look of surprise on his face showed us that he was clearly not expecting such intensity. My water broke as soon as I walked into the birthing room. They filled the tub as I knelt on the bed screaming in agony about my back. David performed three sterile water injections at the base of my back, and I felt some relief from the back labor. Turns out Milo was descending so rapidly, his head had not had time to turn into the optimal position.
Once in the tub, I entered transition quickly. I was in so much pain, and so overtaken by the whole experience. It was like being strapped into a roller coaster ride and just going. It did not occur to me to ask for anything for the pain. I was in another place, and this thing just seemed to be happening to me. I flopped around in that tub like a fish; trying to stay on my back through contractions was impossible. Because David was having trouble seeing anything with me in such awkward positions, he requested that I either get out of the tub, or just drain the water so he could see. I got out and I swear, RAN to the bed. Two pushes later, Milo’s head was out. Screaming. With the next contraction, I pushed our first son into the world. The physical relief I felt was miraculous. Just like that, all the pain, all the intensity was over. And there was just peace. Peace, and a screaming, healthy, pink Milo.
The nurses and David placed Milo onto my chest immediately and the three of us checked each other out for several minutes before I attempted to breastfeed.
It seemed to come naturally. I cannot explain these moments. The first moments as a brand new mama, as a brand new family. Immediately, just like that, there was another person. A person I would have given my life for. Just like that. To say we were in awe would be the understatement of a lifetime.
7 lbs., 13 oz. born after 6 intense hours of labor at 3:11am on September 4th, 2007
We left after the obligatory 4 hours of observation to make sure both of us were fine, to be followed up with at home in my very own bed the next day. Though I don’t remember the drive home, I do remember pulling up outside our little city home and watching in amazement as the school children marched into the school across the street from our house for just another day. It was 7:30am. Just another day to everyone else. And I had given birth only hours before. The three of us shut the blinds (I remember it being such a bright and sunny day) and climbed into bed together. We tried to sleep, but we couldn’t stop staring at our new baby, and calling everyone we could think of to spread the amazing news. One of the best days of my life.
We love you, Milo!