Dear Arlo, Your Day One

My dear boy, it’s nearly Spring. Such is life with 2 boys, I’m almost 4 months late in writing your birth day story. But I promise you this, your story will replay in my head until my last day, as one of the very best days in my entire life.

You gave me such an easy 10 months while you were living inside. But, the finals days leading up to your arrival were definitely the hardest on me, both physically and emotionally. Each day would come and go until we reached 10 whole days past your expected due date. I don’t why I convinced myself that you would arrive early, but of course I did. So my anxiety grew with each day that passed; so much so that I started to doubt my own strength and abilities. See, your Daddy and I decided very early on that you were going to be born at home. In the comfort of our home with the care of very skilled midwives, doulas and your own family is where we chose to bring you into this world.  It was something your Daddy and I felt very strongly about from the moment we found out we were pregnant. So for months, we prepared our home with all the supplies we needed to make it so.

Just 2 days before you were born, your Daddy took off work so he could bring me to our midwives appointment to check your heart tones. It was on this day that my clear head started to waver. I broke down as we spoke with the midwives about the possibilities of having to induce labor. Thankfully, both the midwives and your Daddy reminded me to trust my body and trust you…it wouldn’t be long now.  I also started to question my hearts ability to love any more than it already was. I wrote in my journal that I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to love another child as much as I did with Oliver. I couldn’t wrap my head around my hearts true capacity.

All of this led up to Friday, November 21. I woke up just like I had all the previous, sad that things didn’t start while asleep the evening prior. So, I decided to take things into my own hands and go for an aggressive acupuncture appointment. After that noon appointment, I sent Daddy off to pick-up Oliver from school and take him for a fun boys afternoon of bowling. I stayed home and went for a long walk with Portland. I stopped several times throughout the walk because I remember feeling intense pressure. It definitely was not contractions and so I kept brushing it aside and continued on my way. After arriving home, I got started on some homemade chicken noodle soup. Between peeling and cutting the carrots, I would drop to all fours to alleviate some of the pressure I was feeling. At 4PM I was still certain that I was not in labor.

Our plan was to have Auntie Kristin and Grandma Lala at your birth. Because I was convinced you would be early, they were with us the two prior weekends leading up to your birth. So at around 4:45pm I spoke with Lala, stating she was welcome to come down for the night but not to get her hopes up. She decided to come anyways to keep us all company. While on the phone with Lala, I stopped speaking for several seconds at a time as the pressure seemed too strong to even speak. But, I still reminded her that this was DEFINITELY NOT labor. Shortly after hanging up, I stood up from the chair and for the very first time thought, is something going on here….could I actually be in labor?  I demanded that Dave draw me a bath and bring me a glass of wine, as our midwives suggested this was the best way to really figure out if I was truly in labor.  Seconds after I got into the bathroom to get into the tub, I felt my first real contraction. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I decided to start timing a few of them so we that we would be able to share the information with our midwife, who Dave was about to call.

I remember speaking with our midwife Amy shortly after 5pm saying I was contracting every 3-5 minutes but I didn’t want her to come in case it was too early. I had a real fear or being in labor for a long time and having loads of people in my house just waiting around… on to hear how that CLEARLY was not the case.  Amy thought it was a good idea for her to head our way. It was rush hour on a Friday night and the Eisenhower Freeway is a nightmare at this time. I agreed she should come but still was not sold on the idea.

I spoke with our doula and dear friend Jenny minutes later, and remember her saying “this is the real deal, buddy.” Minutes later I demanded that Dave call Amy, the midwife again so that I could tell her I needed her to get here ASAP…it got real, really fast and I knew someone needed to get here.  I remember the moment exactly.  Oliver came into the bathroom to replace my wine with water and his sweet words warmed my heart.  “It’s going to be okay mommy, the baby is coming.” So wise he was.

What seemed like only seconds later was Annie (the midwife assistant) being by my side checking your heart tones. We’re guessing this was sometime between 5:45pm and 6:00pm. You sounded great so she asked to do a cervical check. At this point, I was still in the bathroom bathtub while your dad rushed around the house trying to get the birthing tub set-up in our bedroom. Annie thought I was around 7 centimeters dilated and that you were very, very low. I thought at this point that I was still going to have a chance to get upstairs and into the birthing tub before you arrived.

The contractions quickly went from being manageable to a tidal wave. I remember the chant I practiced prior to the labor, and I used it when I felt each contraction coming…”I am strong, I am healthy & THIS WILL END.”  Annie left the bathroom several times to get items out of her bag and each time she left I would yell for her to come back. I remember her sweet calm words exactly, “that’s it, Lindsey…breathe the baby down.”  I looked up and concentrated with all my might on the items hanging in our shower and repeated my mantra.

Oliver and Daddy were back and forth from the bathroom to the bedroom preparing everything. At one point everyone asked if I was ready to make my way up the stairs. I quickly shot down that idea and said I wasn’t moving.  A few contractions later, Annie asked if I felt like pushing. I shook my head no but only seconds later I felt an overwhelming urge to push you out. It came over me so intensely and I couldn’t stop myself.  With one great push, your head was delivered. And with just one more, the rest of your body was out and you were laid on my chest at 6:31pm.  The relief was instant. You were here and you were perfect and you were as calm as could be, lying on my chest.

I held you for a few minutes before Annie asked to give you to Daddy (who was sitting on the floor of the bathroom) so that she could make sure I was OK. Once she determined that both you and I were perfectly healthy, I walked with my awesome birth team (3 midwive assistants) from the bathroom to our living room, which was all set-up for us. Minutes after getting to the couch, Amy the midwife arrived, followed by our friend and doula Jenny, followed by my mom and your grandma Darla.

I still am and will probably always be in awe of how quickly you were born.  All-in-all our entire labor took only 90 minutes from my first contraction while making chicken soup to when you were laid on my chest.  I’m sure you had that plan all along and I just needed to be patient.

The hours that followed your birth were filled with hugs, happy tears, food, friends & family. Several hours after you were born we weighed you, dressed you and got cozy on our couch with our entire family. It was a dream. You’re a dream. And, I could not have been more wrong about my hearts capacity. You have filled my heart up in a way I never knew possible. This was your day one, Arlo. I love you. 

Lauren Elliott