"Do I need to call Anna?"
"Ohhhhhhh, ohhhhhh, ohhhhhh," I responded mid-contraction. I was on all fours on our bed, doing my best to be quiet so Edie stayed asleep but finding it incredibly difficult all of a sudden. I had been breathing through the waves almost silently for about half an hour, rocking back and forth from tabletop to child's pose on our bed as the rest of my family slept. But that contraction called for vocalizing, and it woke Daniel. "I don't know. It's probably early. Not yet."
My water hadn't broken like it did in early labor with my first daughter, so I wasn't sure.
But as soon as I had told him to wait, I was overcome and moaning again, this time louder.
"I'm calling Anna."
She answered just in time to listen to my third loud contraction. Later she told us she was shaking while getting her things together out of fear she wouldn't make it before I hit transition.
It was just before one in the morning. I told Daniel we could move downstairs and wait for Anna so Edie could continue sleeping. "Because this may not even be the real thing," I told him. I was 41 weeks and four days and had experienced several false alarms since my due date, but nothing like this.
Daniel laid my pillow and an old comforter on the couch and I dropped to my knees for the next wave, my upper body resting on the cushions. I felt relief in my back and intense discomfort in my belly simultaneously, but ended up staying in that position for the majority of my quick labor. Anna arrived and asked to check me, "to have a reference point." She said I was at a seven to a nine. "We're going to have a baby."
"Oh, I was so worried we got you up in the middle of the night for nothing! I'm so glad!' I told her. I felt so calm and almost delirious in between contractions, like I had forgotten the severe pain I had just endured and knew was coming again.
I returned to my knees on the floor. I had zero concept of time at this point, but our doula Allie came in shortly after my one and only cervical check. She swapped out with Daniel and they took turns pressing on my hips as I leaned over the couch, and it took so much pressure out of my core. My team tried to get me to eat apple slices, which I nibbled on unenthusiastically between contractions but at that point they were so close together I don't think I ended up finishing half a slice.
Anna asked if I'd like to get in a hot shower. I felt like she had read my mind--I had been trying to muster up the energy to ask for a shower but thought maybe it would slow things down if I got too relaxed.
It ended up doing the opposite. I stripped down slowly between back to back contractions and struggled to get my leg up over the side of the tub. Shortly after the water hit my back, I felt a distinct shift and knew I was in transition. I felt intense pressure and the first urges to push and stopped caring that my hair was getting wet and I wouldn't get a chance to let it dry before baby. I could hear myself getting louder, and when I turned off the shower Edie was screaming for me and Daniel was telling her I was working hard so we could meet baby sister. I somehow managed to pull my bra back on before making my way back downstairs and falling onto my side facing the back of the couch. Our bedroom was the designated birth space--we had collected beeswax candles and set it up as a sacred place to meet our baby, but I never made it back up the stairs. I felt my lower half curl forward against my control, closed my eyes, and said, "I think my body is pushing."
And it was--it was doing that beautiful thing I had read about but was not sure I believed. I continued breathing with my eyes closed and tuned in as my body curled into a C again. Anna sat down on the end of the couch and asked Daniel if we had any type of oil for perineal support. She put on gloves and with one of my next pushes told me she could see baby's head and I could probably get it to clear my bone with the next contraction. My body did just that and I could feel my baby coming.
"If at any point you want to look down and see your baby, I have a mirror down here," Anna said.
I was tempted but kept my eyes closed and gave in to the next contraction, which brought Reed to crowning. My water broke and went all over my team and the couch. I didn't look down--I didn't want to try to start controlling the process.
Edie was rubbing my back. I asked Allie to hold my leg so I could crush Daniel's hand.
I held my baby's head at crowning and breathed before bringing it out, and then her body. My body knew exactly how to handle this bigger baby so I did not tear. She had a tight cord, and I heard Anna tell Daniel she would have to move it so he couldn't catch her. I continued to feel so calm.
I didn't open my eyes until Reed was on my chest. "Hi, sweetheart. Hi. Talk to me, sweetie." I heard myself come to reality when she didn't immediately cry, but after half a second of being rubbed a bit she became vocal and all was fine.
Edie climbed up behind me on the couch to get a look at her new sister. I tried to allow Reed to latch but she struggled. Anna let my placenta come when it was ready and we kept baby attached so I could take a photo. Edie joined Daniel on the floor to cut the cord, something we had been discussing with her for months.
Anna prepared a smoothie for me and I drank it sitting up on our soaked couch, holding my new baby. We then moved upstairs for a quick herb bath after my failed attempt at trying to pee. I rinsed off in the shower, the pee came, and we were able to crawl into bed for the newborn exam.
Anna was quick to check Reed over and give her back to me. She weighed eight pounds, three ounces and measured 21 inches long. We listened to our postpartum care instructions before Anna and Allie cleaned up downstairs and left us to sleep just before six in the morning. I stared at my girls, wide awake on a birth high, and let the healing wash over me as the sun lit up our bedroom and I saw my new life in the daylight for the first time.