“Tell me something,” I said to my husband, Derek, as I sunk down into the tub. I was 39 weeks and six days pregnant and going on my seventh hour of labor with my first baby. My doula was taking a break, getting herself a bite to eat while I lounged in the tub, waiting for my water to break and the more active part of labor to start. Derek leaned against the tub in silence.
Uh oh, I thought. This may be an even longer day than I thought it would be. He took a long inhale and then he started talking.
“Remember when we saw the sun rise at the Taj Mahal, the way the light hit the building, like it was something from another world? I just kept taking picture after picture not able to stop myself until you made me put down the camera and just look.” He went on, retelling stories from our year long trip around the world right before we planned to get pregnant and settle down. The stories lulled me as I closed my eyes, leaning my head back against the tub. We laughed and chuckled, and in my mind, I could see all of the places we had gone, all of the time we had spent together. We were a team again, just like when it was us against the world on our trip.
When I stood up, there was blood running down my thighs.
With my second baby, we had an emergency home birth, so there wasn’t any time for idle chatter or couple connection. Derek was too busy ripping down our shower curtain to put over our white rug and rummaging around for other items for the actual birth. Since only the student midwife was there at first, we had the paramedics and firemen cheering me on from the stairs, even though I don’t remember hearing a thing from anyone, as I was so in the pushing zone.
(A funny tidbit: the doula told Derek to get a bowl for the afterbirth. He brought back a little cereal bowl and she laughed, “What do you think this baby is living in, sonny?” He brought back our big chip bowl that we use when we have large dinner parties. Now we call that bowl the Placenta bowl. Chip anyone?).
With my third baby, I took a cab to the hospital while Derek waited at home for the babysitter to show up to take care of our other two kids. He made it to the delivery room just in time to see the crowning. With my fourth labor, I was adamant to remain as centered as possible and be in the moment to really experience what labor was. The first three times were too surreal and everything seemed to be going too fast for me take a seat on a speeding train and experience my surroundings. The labor pains started on my fourth labor and as I was crouched down over a pillow on the floor, I told Derek, “Just tell me I can do it over and over again.”
And he did.
We are lucky to have E.C. Tang as our premiere guest writer. We are excited to be featuring the work of writers, doulas, and other parents in our community as a regular feature on our blog.