Leah's story about the birth of Joaquin
I was not a glamorous pregnant person. I threw up almost every day for the entire duration of my pregnancy, and worried that I spent more time stressing about my recurring nausea than fostering a deep prenatal bond with the baby growing inside of me. Somehow, despite this, I felt a sense of intuition that the baby was a boy, and we should be expecting him before his due date.
At my 38 week visit to The Midwife Center, I told Kara, the midwife, that I was concerned that I had never felt a Braxton-Hicks contraction before. She felt my belly and informed me that I was having a contraction at that very moment! I had thought that tightening of my stomach was the baby doing some kind of roll or kick. From then on, I recognized that my body was having practice contractions daily. It was a good thing that Kara reminded us of the protocol for when labor begins, even though we said we didn’t have any questions, because we wouldn’t be coming back for any more prenatal appointments!
Over the next few days, I was aware of our baby resting very low inside of me. That weekend, I felt a sense of urgency to get things done. I cleaned the house, I baked cookies and cooked extra dinners for the freezer. I made my husband Alberto run errands with me and bought a lamp for the bedroom and yarn for crocheting. On Sunday, I felt an unfamiliar cramping feeling, and told Alberto that if I was feeling the same the next day, I would stay home from work. I crocheted a baby hat with a cute pompom on top and wondered if the baby would come soon.
Later that evening I noticed that I was spotting blood, and that my cramping was becoming more regular. By 10:30 that night, I finally realized this must be labor and called my family to let them know. Alberto timed my contractions for me until he got sleepy around midnight. Kara had reminded us that one of the most important things to do during labor is rest, so I focused on sleeping between my contractions while Beto slept. I sat in my rocking chair all night, rocking and sleeping. When a wave of a contraction began, I would stand up and hold onto the wall, rocking my weight from side to side, and moaning an “oh” or “ah” sound. I had been worried I wouldn’t know how to cope or breathe through contractions, but these things made me comfortable, and with each “oh” or “ah” I could feel my body opening a little more.
By early morning, Beto was awake, my contractions felt close together, and I was dreaming of that hot tub at The Midwife Center! I took a shower. I noticed that I was a little leaky, but it didn’t even occur to me that my water had broken. Beto dried my hair. We called the midwives to see if we could come in. It was a shift change, so we waited another half-hour for Abby to call us back to make our plan. She suggested we labor at home another two hours, and then come in. I felt really ready for that tub, and a little grumpy to wait another two hours, but looking back, I am so happy I did!
Beto packed his bags and got things to the car. After two hours passed, my contractions felt so strong and I felt so much pressure, I couldn’t imagine sitting down for the car ride, but somehow, we made it to the Center and were ushered back to the Desert Room by Priscilla and Abby.
I don’t know why I always pictured myself lounging in that tub eating popsicles! I was seven centimeters when I arrived at the center, and there was no time for that! I labored in the tub for about an hour sipping apple juice before it was time to break the rest of my water and start to push. As I prepared to get out of the tub, I asked about “transition”—wasn’t the most difficult part still to come? Priscilla and Abby assured me that I had already passed that stage—I was ready to push the baby into the world!
Abby broke my water, and coached me through the pushing, which was far less intuitive than I expected. But I was surprised by how long the breaks in between contractions felt now, and how amazing it was to rest before each push. When the baby’s head was visible, I didn’t want to look, but I asked if he had black hair—I had been dreaming of a baby with black hair. “Of course he does, what did you expect!” Just when I thought I really couldn’t do it, I felt a huge wave of relief and exhilaration as our baby was born and Abby caught him!
Right away, Abby placed my baby on my chest. I could only see the black head of hair, and it was Alberto’s job to announce whether it was a boy or a girl. He was so moved and emotional, we all had to ask him again and again, “What is it?! What is it?!” Finally he announced, “It’s a boy! It’s Joaquin!”
Our little family, Alberto, Joaquin, and I, snuggled in together in the Desert Room to get to know one another. Abby and Pricilla gave us just the care we needed—oh how I loved those cheesy eggs- and also just the right amount of privacy to soak in the specialness of the day together.
We are so grateful to The Midwife Center for guiding and caring for us so that we could experience the birth of our dear little Joaquin with peace and confidence. What I didn’t know the day he was born, was that the hardest parts were yet to come, as we struggled over the first month to get breastfeeding established. We continued to rely on The Midwife Center, and the support of the midwives and lactation consultants. I believe that we persevered and overcame those challenges because we could draw on the empowering memories of Joaquin’s beautiful birth.