Tuesday, September 11, 2012

First Birth - Brother-Bug

Today is September 11th. It's a day that marks many things. Most importantly, in our world, it is Brother-Bug's Birthday. I thought that I would share the Little-Bugs' birth stories, starting today on his birthday; on the Birth Day that made me a Mama. Soon I will get Sister-Bug's story up. Someday Baby-Bug will arrive and have a story also. But this is Brother-Bug's story. 

Our Birthday-Bug last year. 


9 days past my due date and ready to have my baby. Papa-Bug fiddled on his computer. I took naps, read books, went on walks. My sister and her sweetie were in town, waiting...waiting...waiting...with us.

Finally, the night of September 10th my contractions ramped up. We cooked dinner. I danced and danced to Peter, Paul & Mary; my body didn't want to stop moving. We called the midwife to let her know how things were going. "Eat" she said. "Take it easy. These things can take a while." We ate and danced. Papa-Bug held me during some contractions. We called the midwife. "Rest. Watch a movie. Try to sleep. You're going to need your energy." we settled on the bed with my sister and watched the incomparable Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina. My contractions slowed and stopped and I fell asleep.

I woke up in the middle of the night, and heaved my body into the bathroom. As I stood up from the toilet, I noticed that something sticky and clear was leaking. It wasn't a gush of waters, but more of a trickle. We called the midwife and she came out to our house. She looked at me - hugely pregnant, exhausted, and scared of what might be coming next. "Well, this baby is coming soon, buy not yet. Would you feel better if I was here on the couch?" I nodded. She and Papa-Bug made up the couch while I went back to bed. The next thing I knew, it was 8:00 in the morning. The midwife poked her head in to say she was going home to check on her daughter, but would come back if we needed her.

Papa-Bug and I were so disappointed. We had been so sure we would be holding our baby - or at least well on our way there. But here was another morning and another day to fill with meaningless tasks while we


In the afternoon, my sister and I decided to henna our hair. We mixed the mud and applied it. We waited, now for the henna to be ready to rinse; a much less antsy waiting. She and her sweetie got in the shower to rinse off. I paced in the hall, now impatient to get this henna done and find the next thing to do. I just wanted the henna out of my hair. They finished and it was my turn.

Mid-hair washing, I was struck by a contraction that brought me to my knees in the shower. It passed, I finished and troweled off. I dressed and told Papa-Bug I had experienced this crazy-strong contraction. We should take a walk to try and keep things going. Papa-Bug agreed and went to find my shoes. My little brother handed me the phone - my dad wanted to say hello and how were things going? Another rib-twisting contraction caused me to toss the phone at my brother, crouching on the floor while it passed. I lay on the couch. Papa-Bug brought my shoes and I told him I wasn't walking anywhere.

We talked about the contractions, should we call the midwife, and another contraction rocked me to howling. Papa-Bug started timing. 13 minutes between each wave. I yelled and swore, not knowing how to anticipate or understand what my body was doing. Later, my sister's sweetie would remark that he didn't know the lyrics of the birth-song were "Jesus. F**K!!!"

We kept timing the contractions. The midwife had said that a good time to call her was when they were 4-5 minutes apart. My sister's sweetie and my brother left the house to give us space. My sister took herself out of our area, waiting in case we needed or wanted her. The contractions were coming closer together and each one seemed more ferocious than the last. Papa-Bug called the midwife and left a panicked message on her voicemail (she saved it and played it for us a couple dats later), then he called my best friend - a homebirth mother of two - who listened to my howls through a contraction. She gave me the best piece of advice I received in either birth - scream low. I changed my howls to roars and felt much better. The midwife called back, listened to the roars from me and the panic from Papa-Bug and said she would be right over.

The midwife arrived. She and Papa-Bug put the plastic sheet and birth sheets on the bed. I rocked and roared and roared some more. The waves of contractions were unlike anything I had ever felt. Once the bed was made I ended up on my hands and knees, arching and twisting through each contraction. Between contractions Papa-Bug and the midwife would try to get me to lay back and rest, but by the time I arranged my shaking and awkward body on pillows the next contraction would pull me, roaring, back onto my hands and knees.

My first contraction in the shower was around 6:15. At first I had a sense of time, but as the contractions pushed and pulled at my body I lost all sense of everything except the process and rhythm of contraction-breathe-contraction-breathe. My only clear memory of this time is looking up and seeing my midwife, sitting on her toolbox, holding me in the most loving, glowing smile I have ever seen.

I really didn't think I could do it. As the baby moved down and the labor intensified, I cried and roared. It was as scared as I have ever been, sure that each contraction would rend me in two. I found out later that as I roared, full volume through each contraction, the neighbors dogs would howl and moan, another neighbors birds would chirp, and the alley cats would meow. I was, apparently, leading a chorus of creatures.

Finally I came to transition. I threw up, the amniotic sac finally broke, flooding down my legs, and I was (and still am) deeply grateful for the midwife who lovingly cleaned my body as it released everything un preparations for the baby's release. The midwife called my sister from the other room as she saw baby was getting close. She knew Papa-Bug needed to be behind me to catch the baby, but he had been supporting my shoulders, holding me up through the contractions. My sister came in and I gripped her shoulders as the baby's head moved lower and lower.

After several eternities, the baby was crowning. I know it hurt, but by then I was so deep into the process and do far out of my body that I am unable to describe the sensations. I do remember that the feeling was so intense bit my sister on the shoulder. It wasn't hard enough to draw blood, but I did leave a mark that lingered for eventual days, which she proudly showed to everyone including the clerk at the grocery store.

The baby's head came and somewhere I heard the midwife note the time (head delivered at 11:10 PM) and exclamations from Papa-Bug. Another contraction and the midwife adjusted the shoulders. Another contraction and the baby's body slid from mine into Papa-Bug's hands.

The midwife had coached us on what to do once the baby had been caught, but Papa-Bug faltered, somewhat shocked to find a whole, tiny person in his grasp. I heard "Let's pass that baby to the Mama." and Papa-Bug agreed. He tried first to pass the baby around my side, forgetting that we were still connected by the umbilical cord. "No, pass the baby through her legs, then help her lean back." But he tried to pass the baby sideways instead of head-first, bumping the wee head into my thigh. Finally the midwife helped him orient the baby just right, and I found myself looking at this tiny being. The first thing I said was, " Are you my baby?!"

Papa-Bug and the midwife helped me shift to lounging with pillows. We just looked at the baby for a minute or eternity, eventually realizing we wanted to know who this was. We looked and saw we had a little boy. The midwife lit candles, wrapped us in blankets, and left us for alone for the first getting to know our small son.

We traced his cheeks and the way his back curved. His tiny fingernails seemed so perfect and so ridiculous. His face was chubby and somewhat swollen from his birth, so he had a deep wrinkle between his eyes, making him look very serious. This was bliss.

Eventually the midwife and my sister came back into our bedroom. I delivered the placenta and helped our boy with his first nursing. My sister helped me to the shower while Papa-Bug held baby and the midwife put clean sheets on the bed. We weighed and checked out our baby: 8 lbs, 12 oz., 20 1/2 inches long, and (ouch!) a 14 1/2 inch head. He was perfect in every way.

I am still so in awe of how small he used to be, how he once fit inside my body. It seems un-real.

The midwife finished helping clean up, my brother and my sister's sweetheart came back and newborn gazed for a time. The baby, Papa-Bug, and I curled around each other. Everyone went off to bed, and our family let ourselves float in the bliss of our first night with each other.


  1. Miraculous. Thanks for this visceral description.

  2. Pass the Kleenex. I didn't know that you threw the phone at your brother during Grandfather-Bug's phone call. How awesome!

  3. oh how I love a good birth story and you do such a great job of transporting us there!

  4. Thanks for all the thoughts. It's one of my favorite stories, ever.