When I booked the reservation at the hotel, something told me that my little girl would cut our visit short. I completely relaxed during that final day, and perhaps that is what coaxed my littlest love to arrive: a mommy’s body doesn’t cooperate well when it is in a stressful situation.
(*See footnote for explanation of “Ding Dang Baby.”)
My contractions began at around 11pm, and I just continued to read while relaxing in bed. They seemed pretty steady though, and I mentioned them to Victor about an hour later. He asked if I wanted to go home. I didn’t really see the need of abandoning our hotel room until we knew for sure this was it. I also wasn’t in a hurry: Ale took forever to be born, so I thought we had plenty of time ahead of us.
Ale was asleep, so I just continued to monitor the situation without waking her. Finally, I decided I would use the app on my phone. It helped me to realize that maybe we were further along than expected. Around 2:30am we started the process of cleaning up and packing up the hotel. Ale awoke and couldn’t understand why we couldn’t go swimming. She had started the day wearing her swimsuit and tutu, and at this point was dancing around the hotel room wired. I had been telling her for a month that her sister was “coming soon,” so she was pretty unphased. That is until the contractions were strong enough for me to need to stop and breath. “Mama, stop! Stop doing that!” she said more than once.
This was our last family photo before Josie was born. Victor was a little irritated that I wanted a photo during my labor–so there was no time for a retake!
Victor called his mom to let her know I was in labor, and I called the midwife as we were leaving the hotel. I also notified my mom and sister, as promised. Clearly it was the middle of the night, as both of them asked me if I was going to go home… Umm, no, I thought I would I would just use the bathtub here.
This chat spans a couple of hours.
I not-so-patiently checked out of the hotel. Contractions were pretty strong, and I had to stop to breath through them several times during the process. I would feel one beginning, and tell the middle-aged man behind the counter, “Excuse me.” Then I would turn my back on him, walk to the wall, hold on, and breath for a minute. When the contraction subsided, I walked back, smiled, and apologized.
The taxi arrived and I joined my family outside. (My husband must have been a little nervous. He let my toddler pee in front of the hotel before getting in he taxi. No time for a bathroom break! No sir!) The ride home was pretty quick. I sat in the front seat just to continue making middle-aged Mexican men uncomfortable.
We arrived home and began getting the room ready. Remember when I said I thought we had plenty of time? Well, we didn’t prepare the room before leaving for the hotel… So there we were, 3:30 in the morning getting everything in order. I went through the baby basket and cleaned off the table in our room. (By “cleaned off the table,” I actually mean I swept everything into a bag and stashed it in the closet.) I am pretty sure Victor swept and mopped. Finally, I took a permanent break from getting the room ready to concentrate on getting my body ready.
My contractions were strong. I know this next part sounds crazy, so don’t judge me: As a contraction would start, I would imagine a tall skinny man. That’s what it felt like. The contraction was like a long line that went down my back. With my hands braced against the wall, I would start at his head and breath my way down his body. Weird, I know. It helped though, a coping mechanism of sorts. I also nodded my head as I breathed, so I am pretty sure I looked nuts too.
The bathroom was nice because it was dark and private, but at this point it felt good to stand up. I didn’t want to bend over, lay against the sink/wall, squat on the toilet, etc. It felt good to stand straight pushing out to my sides with both hands against the doorframe. My midwife arrived and did a quick check on the baby.
She, her crew, and Victor worked in the bedroom to get the pool set up and filled. I literally didn’t see my husband again until the baby was born. My labor was requiring all my concentration, and I didn’t have a break or all the time in the world to chit-chat like I did with Ale. Finally I asked if the tub was ready, and continued my labor there.
I have sweet memories of Ale during this time. She would check on me during contractions. A couple times I remember her getting right down in my face and smiling a big, fake, slightly terrified looking smile. I was aware that she was there and needed some reassurance. I would smile back (I think, although it was probably more of a grimace.), tell her I was fine, and let her know baby sister would be there soon. She joined me, bathing suit and all, in the birthing tub. My midwife showed her how to pour water on my back during the contractions. At some point, she got out and fell asleep in the next room. Later I found out that she refused to remove her bathing suit before sleeping.
In the pool my contractions changed. They weren’t a tall, skinny man anymore. They morphed into a short, fat man. Instead of long pain, it was horizontal and stretched across my back. The short, fat man wasn’t nearly as nice as the tall guy. The coolest thing is that depending on my pain, my midwife knew where the baby was. She didn’t make me get out of the water to check the progress, because she could tell the labor was progressing. She also didn’t check to see that I was dilated, so I have no idea how far along I was.
It seemed like I was in the birthing tub for hours. Later, Tirsa (the midwife) told me it was only about an hour. I laid down a while, like one might in a bathtub. Then Tirsa said it could help to change my position and move my hips. I would ask questions like, “Why is there no break?” “Why does it only hurt on one side?” She would just answer, and we would rest until the next contraction. She applied counter pressure to by lower back and hips during the contractions, as well as pouring the warm water over my back. I was on my knees while lying against the side of the tub. I remember somehow working my way from one side of the tub to the other.
I didn’t voice these thoughts aloud, but in my head I thought, “Never again.” “I understand why women like drugs,” etc. When I started getting the urge to push it seemed unreal. With Ale I would push, then fall asleep in between contractions. With Josie, there was no time! I remember telling everyone I felt like I needed to poop. (A bit embarrassing now…) Tirsa said, “That’s because your baby is coming!” Someone got my errant husband, and he held me at the end. Three contractions back-to-back and Josie arrived! I was on my knees, so they helped her swim between my legs to the front. I laid back, and put her on my chest. Wow. That feeling. Even writing about it now makes me tingle inside.
The hours after her birth were amazing too.
I had watched this really inspiring video about the breast crawl, and I wanted to see if it worked. We moved to the bed and placed Josie on my chest. It was totally cool! Within 30 minutes she latched onto my breast. I delivered the placenta, but it was just placed into a bag alongside of us. I don’t remember when we cut the cord, but it was so calm in the room, it wasn’t a big deal! I moved to rest against the wall, and we continued to work on breastfeeding. I had (mistakenly) thought that after nursing Ale for 2 years and 4 months, I would be a pro. Wrong. Feeding a newborn is no task for the faint-hearted!
I feel like I should reiterate how calm it was. Maybe I felt calmer because it was my second baby, but the general atmosphere of the room (and the people present) was peaceful with Josie. I had a home birth and water birth with Ale, but it wasn’t exactly the calmest environment. In fact, Josie’s entire labor was MUCH calmer. When it was over, I almost immediately felt like I could do it again.
Ale meets her sister, Joselyn Victoria. (Josie’s name is a combination of my brother, Joseph, and my sister, Jenny Lyn. Her middle name is in honor of her Papi, Victor.)
I have so enjoyed looking back over the photos. The following photos are of the hours/days following Joselyn’s arrival:
Josie is one day old! (Yes, she’s at McDonald’s. We took her sister there after registering Josie’s birth with the powers that be…)
Ale’s special Big Sister cake that she helped to make. (Because only BIG girls get to cook with Mami–not babies.)
Daddy and Josie!
Sister still likes to poke the baby’s cheeks! I blame that on old Mexican women who always grab her cheeks. 😉
Abuela and Josie; My mother-in-law is something special. Upon meeting Josie, she THANKED me. It still makes tears come to my eyes to think about it!
Los Abuelos! Having them here for Josie’s birth was really special.
* “Ding Dang Baby” is from a Jacqueline Woodson book, Pecan Pie Baby. I read the book when I was pregnant, and I sat and cried in my office. It is all about a sister who isn’t overly excited about the birth of her sibling. She calls him a “Ding Dang Baby.” I was really worried about Ale being hurt or feeling replaced by Josie. After reading the book to my mom, we often referred to Josie as the “Ding Dang Baby.” This is an AMAZING book, by the way.
** I am SO happy I have these text messages with Mama and Jenny. Not only do they remind me of details, but they provide quite a bit of comic relief!