Birth Stories

Published on August 7th, 2018 | by Marion Ruybalid


Unrealistic Birth Plans and A Reality Check: On Giving Birth to Baby Number Five

I had my whole birth plan thought out with baby number five. Our bedroom would be almost dark except for a small rectangular shaped lamp by the side of the bed that glowed like a candle. My body would prompt me to know when Tim should fill the birthing tub and we’d enjoy every moment of the labor together, until I was around eight centimeters and we called our midwife, Carol. I wished that I could control details, such as the perfect time of day for the birth. If I could, she would arrive around midnight and I wouldn’t have to send any of my other kids to my parents. Instead, they would get to walk into the master bedroom in the morning and kiss their new sibling.

Of course, I knew that I couldn’t really control the time of a birth. And, I was not the type of client who could actually let my contractions get strong enough to not be able to answer the door. The second that contractions felt real, I feared that the baby would show up too fast. None of my previous births had ever been sudden, but this fear always appeared around the time I began to notice practice contractions. During Charis’ birth, I had been positive that Carol would walk through the door and deliver a baby soon, but her labor ended taking thirteen hours from the time my water broke until delivery. I had felt pitiful and promised myself I would wait longer to call the midwife.

The natural process began. Movies, music, and cold night air couldn’t distract me from knowing each stage of labor too well. Did I really have to go through that pain again?

My husband Tim decided we should call Carol. It was around eleven PM. She appeared close to midnight, but I was only five centimeters dilated.

“Please, get this baby out!” I screamed. I didn’t care that all my kids were sleeping. I was done with labor just as it was really beginning.

“You’re going to be fine,” Carol said, “We can work on positions to line up baby better if you want. I placed my hands and knees on the carpet. I felt baby’s head move lower.

My wrists tingled. “How much longer, this is taking forever,” I said. One would have thought it was my first child by the way I was behaving.

I put myself on a clock. By three AM, the baby needed to be born or the kids could wake up. That gave me a few more hours.

“Marion, your job is to give to birth,” Carol said to me. I was curled up like a kitten on our queen sized bed at this point.

Give to birth. I knew what she was saying. She directed me to the bed and instructed me to rest on my side. My husband Tim moved towards me, resting his body next to mine. The sound of his great behind me forced me to slow my mind down. Each muscle in my body felt softer.

“I know, I just can’t,” I said.

“Why not?”

“If I don’t have this baby soon, then my parents will have to come get the kids and I know it is better if I have the baby in the night.”

“Who cares,” Tim cut in. He was now lying next to me stroking my back.

“I hate letting people down.”

“You aren’t letting anyone down,” Carol said.

I cried. She was right. Tim was right. Why couldn’t I just forget about other people while I was in labor? It was my birth. Why did they get to pick what was best for them? Now, I was angry. Birth wasn’t supposed to be this burden that made people come up with the optimum conditions. It was supposed to create its own sacred space where nothing else mattered.

I felt the contractions change. I must have been closer to seven or eight centimeters. I could feel it based on the amount of pain.

“It’s time for the tub,” I whispered to Tim after a contraction.

Carol got her assistant who I’d forgotten about because she’d been in the living room most of the night and I hadn’t left my bedroom. She came over to me in the tub and checked the baby’s heart rate with a doppler. It was around four in the morning.

“Should we call your parents?” Tim asked.

“I’m really hoping we won’t have to,” I said.

We waited another hour. The kids began to wake up. I could hear three-year-old Dominic singing in his bed and my oldest kids Joel and Ellianna giggling. It became distracting.

“Call my parents,” I said.

My dad arrived and he knocked on the door.

“You don’t want to come in here,” Carol said.

Tim handed Carol’s assistant the keys and she slipped them through a crack in the door. I wailed and then heard our van driving away.

“There’s the head,” Carol said, “You are going to want to drop your head back and pant.” This was supposed to get me through crowning.

“I need to push,” I said.

“Okay,” Carol said. I pushed a few times. I tried to push slowly, but that never worked. Normally, it only took three pushes, but part of this baby wasn’t out after three. There was half a body inside, so I pushed again.

Carol reached into the tub and lift the baby out.

“Who do we have,” Carol said. She held up the infant so we could see if it was a boy or a girl.

“A girl,” I said. She was quickly placed on my chest to nurse.

“She’s so big,” Tim said.

“This is not one of your five-pound babies,” Carol said.

None of us could wait to weigh her. I delivered the placenta and got in the shower. When I began to dry myself with a towel, I heard talking. I found out that I’d missed the midwife placing our baby in the sling scale and waiting in anticipation for the red line to reveal my baby’s weight. “She’s seven pounds eleven ounces,” Tim said.

“Why didn’t you wait for me?” I asked.

I was pissed but also proud of myself. I’d delivered a seven-pound-eleven-ounce baby! She was huge.

“Do you guys have a name?” Carol asked.

“Bria Esme,” Tim and I said at the same time.

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About the Author

Marion Ruybalid’s work had also appeared in The Manifest-StationPANKPortrait of an Adoption-ChicagoNow, and BLUNTmoms. She also received her MFA from UCR Palm Desert.

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