Surrender to the Waves
Name: Jacqueline Garcia (Check out her Blog Cheers to the Sky here)
Baby’s Name: Ivy Nicole Garcia
Length: 22 inches
Birthday: April 12, 2018
Gestation: 39 weeks
Time of Birth: 8:45pm
Place of Birth: San Diego, CA
I recall posting a very pregnant picture of myself the day before Ivy was born. I was done. I was walking around town as though I was holding a bowling ball between my legs. She was LOW. So very low. I could fit both hands between the top of my bump and my boobs.
It was a Wednesday when I felt I was ready. I surrendered to the waddle. I surrendered to the exhaustion. I had just had a prenatal appointment at the birthing center and gotten the green light from my midwife to “try all the things”. I had expressed some fear to her about Fernando not being home when I went into labor so she said that as of 39 weeks, try all the things.
Now I’m no rookie. I knew spicy food and pineapple juice weren’t going to cut it. I needed to call in the “big” guns. So after some very minimal coaxing, and spewing stats about efficacy and safety, Fernando performed his very husbandly duty. The prostaglandins in sperm are known to soften the cervix and along with the oil of evening primrose I’d been inserting for a couple weeks, soften it did.
Back story as to why I was afraid he wouldn’t be here. Fernando was working on a project at an uppity mall in Orange County that only allows night work. He would leave around 10pm and get home sometime before noon the next day. Both times before, my labor started at night. So, I was sure this one was also going to start at night. After all, evolutionarily speaking, most labors will start at night.
Anyway, Thursday morning, I wake up around 5:30 and immediately feel slightly crampy. I figured I “slept” wrong and just drank a big glass of water and went about my morning. Dehydration can cause you to contract so I didn’t want that to fool me. I dropped Zoey off at school and stayed at the playground so Imani could play for a while. I was just sitting on a bench, reading “The Fourth Trimester” but stopping every few minutes to close my eyes and take deep breaths because I felt some movement. Slight contractions but nothing like with my previous two. “I must be having Braxton Hicks” was my thought. “It’s daytime. I’m out here, functioning. I’m not in labor”. As I’m talking to myself, a classmates mom comes up to me and says “Amiga, estas bien? Parece que vas a dar a luz aquí mismo” (( my friend, are you ok? You look like you’re going to have this baby right here right now))
I opened my eyes and told her I was fine. Just so tired. Slight cramps but nothing crazy. Going home to lay down.
Imani and I got home and Fernando was there already. The waves were getting stronger, but I was still in denial. I sat on my yoga ball, just bouncing and tearing up. I was tired. Looked at the time and realized I needed to go to my chiropractor. Started to gather my things and Fernando said he’d rather take me. I refused, told him he needed to sleep. But he insisted and went with me.
On the drive there I spaced out a bit, just breathing through the waves. I got adjusted. I’d been having major sciatica pain. Fernando was asleep in the car this whole time. Poor guy. Anyway, we are about to leave as he gets a call from work and they need him to pick up this “super special” paint from San Marcos. So. Off we go. On the drive there, I began to realize, that these waves were progressing. But. Not intense. Breathe. Just. Breathe.
I’m waddling around the paint store, out of breath. I found a 5 gallon bucket to sit on. Sat there. Quiet. Breathing. And the first big wave hit me. I took deep breaths. Opened my eyes and I saw Fernando from across the store, wide eyed, staring at me, looking very perplexed. Then, an older woman came up to me and said “I’ve been watching you. Are you close to home? You’re having this baby soon.” I said “yeah, some time this week, I’m due”. She said, “no honey, you are having your baby today. Go home”
Fernando came and helped me up. I slowly walked to the car and another wave hit. At that point I started timing them. 15 minutes apart. Ok.
By this time, we needed to pick Zoey up from school. I called the midwife and she suggested I go home and take a bath. If the water calmed things down, it was false labor. If things kept progressing in the water, we should go to the birthing center.
I called my mom to come hang out with the girls while I took a bath and Fernando napped. I sat in the tub for about an hour and things did not get better. About 9 minutes apart at that point. Called the midwife and told her we’d be heading down. I stood up and my mucus plug came out. And all of a sudden, I felt the waves take a turn. It was serious. I woke Fernando up and told him we had to leave. NOW. My mom took the girls to her house. I said goodbye to them and told them next time we saw them, they’d be big sisters! Imani was really sad she couldn’t come with me. She had gone to appointments and watched water birth videos with me. But, I knew I wouldn’t be able to focus if she was there. I’d want to mother her and comfort her, not work through the labor.
It’s 6:15 and it’s traffic time. It. Was. Horrible. Fernando is driving down to San Diego with the hazards on, trying his best to weave through traffic, all whilst I’m contorting in the front seat, moaning and growling through the waves. The 13 minute car ride to the birthing center when I had Imani was excruciating. But this, this unworldly torture was ridiculous. An hour of contractions in a confined space is something I never want to live through again.
We got to the birthing center at 7:15, the tub was filled. She asked if I wanted to know how dilated I was. Waves were 2 minutes apart and I was 8 centimeters.
I immediately got in the tub and felt slightly relieved. Fernando set up the diffuser. Put on the playlist. Rubbed oils on me. I felt safe. I felt ready. But I was so exhausted. I wanted a break.
The midwife had mentioned a student midwife to me in my previous appointment, asked if I was ok with her being there to gather hours for her certification. She wasn’t new, she was a midwife in Australia but moved to the states and needed her license. I was really struggling at this point but she came in and I swear to you, I saw this glowing pink aura around her. She was an angel sent to help me through this. Her voice was so calm. Her presence was just, peace and love. As much as Fernando could help, I think women are meant to help other women through their births.
I got out of the tub for a bit because I wanted to try the birthing stool. Oh my god, just reliving this in my head right now is making me queasy. Sitting in that position and getting out of the water really fast tracked my labor and I went into transition. Transition is like, the gates of hell. It’s a brick wall. It’s your body feeling so much pain, your mind says “no, I can’t, I can’t do this.” This means you are so close! I remembered a paragraph in one of the birthing books that said the pain during transition is meant to give you an adrenaline rush, to give you that final burst of strength you need to birth your baby. My Aussie midwife (angel) said “If you want to have your baby in the water, we need to get you back in now. I can hear it in your voice. You’re almost there.”
I was delirious at this point. I said. No. I can’t. I need a break. She said “you’ll have your break very soon.” Fernando and both midwives got me back into the tub. He got in with me. I squatted and leaned back into him. He was holding me up, I was pulling down on his shoulders. Aussie angel put a mirror into the tub to see what was going on. Not even 3 minutes back in the tub and I felt this baby between two worlds. I reached down and felt a head full of hair. At this point the waves were back to back to back. One wave, head was out, another wave, body was out. I pulled her up on my chest and fell back into Fernando.
Tears. Tears of joy. Tears of relief. Tears of absolute love. The rush of oxytocin is the most intense high I’ve ever felt. Literally nothing like it in the universe. We stayed in the water for a bit while the tub drained. They wrapped us up and got us into bed. They checked her as she curled up on my chest, snuggled into me. So careful not to disrupt those magic first moments. I birthed the placenta with her on my chest, not skipping a beat. No interruptions. We waited until the cord was white, meaning no more blood was flowing through, to cut it. And there we were, the three of us. Exhausted. So high. So happy. Another perfect, healthy baby. She was born at 8:44 pm on Thursday, April 12th, 2018. She did not have a name until a week later. But, it didn’t matter. She was love. She is love.
My birth experience with Ivy, in retrospect, taught me that I should’ve surrendered earlier to the waves, gave my body what it needed, and rested. I was expecting to go into labor during the dark of night like with my previous two, so having it start in the morning upon waking, I didn’t honor it as I should have. I went about a busy morning, doing the things I was scheduled to do instead. It didn’t look like what I wanted it or expected it to look like. I was in denial. But, once I surrendered to the waves and realized my baby was coming soon, the journey took an exciting turn.