I never realized that I was in early labor on Friday, my last day of work before maternity leave. Everything was so inconsistent and not the typical early symptoms like the famous bloody show and losing my mucus plug. After letting my midwife know what I was experiencing, I knew what she would say – rest and go about your day so I did. Let my doula know as well, to keep them in the loop. Most first time mom’s don’t go into labor until closer to their due dates or are late, and we still had almost a week and a half to go. I kept working while experiencing contractions and treated myself to some Mexican food. I got on my birth ball and worked for a while.
Around 5pm things began to intensify. I could still keep going about my day but had to stop and focus through each contraction. I took Lacey outside and learned quickly it was too much to walk her like normal. Sent off last bit of emails that I’m pretty sure sounded complete gibberish. Finally done and put myself to bed with the heating pad where Jamie found me – “Is it time?!”
He began making dinner of fish, veggies, and rice. I couldn’t lay down anymore, so I paced back and forth through contractions, and when dinner was served, the intensity of my contractions greatly increased. I became nauseous and tried to eat a few bites because I knew I needed the energy. Jamie began timing them – 5-6 mins apart! I no longer could talk through them. So I hopped into the shower, let the hot water spray onto my lower back. I had texted my midwife and doula who both told me to rest. Resting was no longer an option because it was time, and I was so confused why it was all of a sudden happening! It made it even more emotional because I knew I hadn’t rested or eaten a lot. I focused on staying hydrated.
Jamie called my doula who heard me go through a contraction over the phone and said “Ok I’m coming over.” Jamie lit incense and got my playlist going, and made me tea. My doula arrived to discover me in tears laboring on the toilet “I’m crying because it’s emotional and it’s all happening so fast!” She made a funny comment about how she wasn’t able to finish her chicken nuggets because of Keegan and I deciding to be over-achievers laughter needed!
We made our way to the living room where I got on my birth ball and sat at the coffee table, listening to my playlist that was titled “Baby O’Neil is Coming!” Jamie sat on the couch next to me and my doula on the ground right behind me. She gave me hip squeezes through each contraction as Jamie grabbed my hand. Lacey hopped up onto the couch and at some point made her way to Jamie’s lap facing me – I squeezed her paw through one contraction and she didn’t move. Arwen observed from a distance and slowly made her way over.
Incense was going. I meant to do a lot of things – light candles, eat snacks, have notecards out of encouragement and a couple pictures of some very special moments – like the time Jamie and I went on our first date where we knew we were meant to be, my Grandparents and sister at her baby shower – as one of Keegan’s middle names is my sweet Papaw’s middle name – Lowell. It all flew out the window because how fast everything was happening. Instead I focused on my playlist – imagining myself back at some of the concerts I went to. My playlist was quite the array – from Ray Charles to Lord Huron, from Relient K to Underoath, from Bon Iver to mewithoutYou – which speaking of and I mentioned it while I was laboring – mewithoutYou announced their farewell tour and I quickly snagged tickets the day I went into labor. A time of my life where I rediscovered myself through their lyrics, and now that chapter officially comes to an end as I prepare to embark my new self-discovery – motherhood.
My doula, Megan, had been keeping in touch with my midwife, Robin. Robin asked us to come in a bit early as Keegan was breech which presented risk factors. We decided to arrive at the birth center at midnight. Trying to get ready wasn’t difficult. I had Jamie text our family and also my friend Kami who would look after Arwen and Lacey. Megan suggested I put a couple drops of peppermint essential oil in a bowl for the car ride since I had been experiencing nausea. I did – game changer! I texted my sister and we texted back and forth all the way to the birth center and she said about my niece “Is this why Ruby won’t fall asleep tonight?!”
We arrived to the birth center at midnight. Got checked in, vitals taken, and situated in one of the birthing suites that had electric candles on & twinkling lights over the big king size bed. Its was incredibly comforting. Robin said all breech babies for the most part had been birthed in the room she put us in and wanted to follow suit – loved it! She checked me and Jamie hovered over my face telling me how strong I am and how I’m a queen. 3cm dilated, cervix pretty much all thinned out & 100% effaced – progress! She told us we could go home if we wanted or we could stay, and my gut instinct was to stay.
Megan helped me get comfortable in the bed with a peanut ball. I remember it being hard to relax my core muscles during each contraction in that position. She then asked if I wanted to get up and do some laps which I did. It gave Jamie a chance to rest and sleep. Beforehand, I tried eating some snacks but threw it all up – it even came out of my nose we walked the hallway together. She asked me how Jamie and I met, I opened up about my divorce – chapters closing around me quite authentically. I would stop in the hallway holding my belly up during each contraction as Megan assisted me. We go back into the room where I got on a birth ball and Robin checked Keegan’s heart rate which had remained so steady and strong, even when I was pushing. She asked to get an IV going in preparation for birthing since I was at high risk of hemorrhaging with him being breech. So we did, and it took a while to find a spot but compliments were made about my tattoos which was a helpful distraction.
Once again, it was time to check. Jamie hovered over my face again and held my hands, telling me how strong I was and how I was a queen. “Holy crap Marcie! You’re at a 9!” So uncommon for first time mom’s to be progressing labor that quickly – both Megan and Robin were surprised. Megan commented on how Keegan and I were over achievers which made me laugh. I asked to use the restroom and when I did, my water broke along with some meconium, which wasn’t a concern considering he was butt down first. I labored on the toilet for a while. Jamie joined and placed a cold wash cloth on my back.
I finally made my way to the bed where I got on all 4s, hanging over a yoga ball, rocking back and forth. When a contraction came on strong, I would roll towards my butt and moan real deep out loud. I labored there until my legs were almost like jello. I turned over onto my back for a bit and labored there for a while. Robin wanted me to get Keegan down as much as possible before moving again, telling me to push her fingers out and I remember thinking “Where are her fingers?!”
Once we made some more progress, we switched it up where I asked to use the birth stool, as I wanted to try squatting when pushing him out. Jamie sat right behind me all snuggled up. Robin sat down on the floor with her shoes off – I remember thinking how comfy that was as I had my tie dye socks on that she complimented on. Megan was right next to her. Contractions started slowing down a bit, so I was given this shot where I had to rest it underneath my tongue for 10 seconds and then swallow – GROSS GROSS GROSS “What on earth is that?!” Robin said it reminded her of a bird cage which made me laugh “Now how on earth do you know what a bird cage taste like?!” Lots of laughter. My face expression said it all. Jamie had my water bottle & gave me water, also in between contractions.
I remember thinking how incredibly hard it was to push, trying to remember to hold my inhale in for as long as possible as I was pushing. “Why on earth did God make child birth so incredibly hard and painful?!” More laughter, more consuming water. At one point I wanted to give up as doubt began creeping into my mind. I got really dizzy and light headed, hence the oxygen mask, even though my vitals were perfect and Keegan’s heart rate spot on. Jamie told me he wouldn’t stop holding me and coached me in my breathing. I tried to listen, but I began tuning everyone out and focus on my playlist. One song in particular came one that was screamo, during a time I was pushing, and I used that as a source of coaching, as Megan called my playlist anxsty when doubt crept into my mind, instead of eternalizing it, I let it out “I can do this!” Jamie told me to find my inner power and let it all out.
I was given more “bird cage”, made more hilarious facial expressions after swallowing it. Jamie snuggled up to me was incredibly comforting. He slipped his arms in between mine and told me to squeeze them as I’m pushing. Robin was incredibly encouraging and also straight to the point which I needed. I remember locking eyes with Megan and knew she believed in me. Feeling more determined, I knew it was time to get him out. A contraction so strong came over, and I began pushing and squeezing Jamie’s arms “Is that all you got?!” He said. I squeezed the shit out of them and it was working! “THERE you go! I’m not letting you go!” He said.
Robin, Megan, and my other midwife Julie were cheering me on as I felt like I roared so loud, it reminded me of a lion – I don’t know why it just did. I was encouraged to reach down and touch him “Is that his butt?!” Back to pushing. His butt came out, along with his legs, I felt them flop out. At that point I knew we were in the home stretch. So I kept going. His arms slipped out, and all was left was his head. “It burns!” Robin told me to keep going so I geared up and squeezed Jamie’s arms even harder. He was sobbing and cheering me on. Then – instant relief. I collapsed as I looked down and saw Keegan. Jamie and I both looked down at him together as Robin & Julie began looking him over.
Jamie was cheering him on to cry and when he did “There you go!! That’s my BOY!” Keegan was handed up to me, and I leaned completely back into Jamie as he held us both. Raw. Vulnerable. Beautiful. Authentic. Our family had officially grew. I remember thinking how excited I was to bring Keegan home to meet his fur siblings. I didn’t cry, just overwhelmed with happiness and in shock I just birthed Keegan breech, an art that is looked down upon and not considered normal these days. There’s a fear about it, but when we found out that he was breech, and even though I did all things possible to flip him, I also was very much at peace about delivering him that way. Jamie and I talked about it and agreed. His way of agreeing “Either way he comes out of you, you’re gonna get wrecked yeah?” I surrendered myself to my body and Keegan guided himself out.
All of us made our way to the bed. Keegan was getting weighed and measured while Jamie watched. I was getting checked out. 2nd degree tear and borderline hemorrhage, but my body reacted quite well and my uterus was doing its job. Robin and Megan were there with me. I remember distinctly Robin high-fiving me, telling me what a rockstar I was! Jamie had his time with Keegan skin-to-skin which melted my heart completely into a bazillion pieces. Before Robin stitched me up, she got me a padsicle and helped me get situated in bed, followed by Megan helping me with breast feeding and offering helpful tips, making sure Keegan latched on well. Once he did, everyone left the room and gave us our space with Keegan. Purely magical that golden hour.
I had switched my playlist to The Lord of the Rings soundtracks on shuffle. Jamie began texting our families as I snuggled with Keegan. We still hadn’t come up with a name so we began to think about it. Megan came back in to check in on us and offered us either coffee or tea. She then parted ways and took my placenta with her. Our phones were blowing up from friends and family with congratulations and job well done. Robin and Julie came back in to check in on us all and shortly left again. Name discussion continued. We had it narrow down to 4. Then to 2. Robin and Julie came back to finish looking over Keegan and stitch me up, which I received the play-by-play so that I would know when to expect pain. We all talked about names, followed by all the restaurants and foods I wanted to consume. Lots of laughter. Got situated back in bed again for a bit longer to make sure all was good after being stitched up. Julie came back in with some papers and we had decided officially on his name which she was ready to write it down – Keegan. And then followed by all the middle names. Our little fire, born butt first, with some hint of red hair. Robin came back with discharge instructions. Shortly afterwards we were on our way home as a family of 3 after an episode of me feeling light-headed and dizzy which went away quickly after a couple snacks and some juice. Robin and Julie helped us out to our car and saw us off.