(written by Lara Nobles Costa, about the birth of Presley, 04.12.11)
The tale of Presley's birth started on the first day of my 37th week of pregnancy. That morning, I arrived at work at 5AM. Shortly there after, I had a contraction hat stopped me in my tracks. These contractions continued at varying intervals until I went to lunch. And then they ceased. This little game continued for three weeks, contracting all morning and then nothing after lunch.
On April 11th (40 weeks plus 5 days), I went for an appointment with June and Priscilla. I had continued working 50-55 hours a week at a my rather physically demanding job, and I was spent. I was about 2 cm dilated and about 80% effaced, as I had been for about a week. Harmony entered the room towards the end of the appointment and, with all of the wisdom of Solomon, suggested that the stress from my job was keeping my body in a perpetual state of pregnancy. She encouraged me to start my maternity leave immediately. After some serious encouragement from my husband, I acquiesced. As soon as we left, we called our jobs (we both are managers at Publix), explained the situation and told them we would no be returning until well after the baby arrived.
With that burden off of our shoulders, we had lunch with both of our mothers, got haircuts, walked around the mall; all the while I was having contractions every ten minutes. Later that afternoon, we returned home and the contractions stopped…again.
At this point, I was certain I would be the only woman in recorded history to remain pregnant forever. They would write about me in medical journals. Oprah would invite us on her show and give us a free car, possibly a trip to the Bahamas. It wouldn’t be that bad. So we watched a movie and went to bed. Just as I was counting my last proverbial sheep (around 12:20 AM), my water broke. Even though I was still dubious about labor ever starting, I called Harmony to inform her of the goings-on. Knowing that labor could still be hours away, she told me to try to get some sleep. And so I did. For exactly five minutes, and then we were off to the races.
With my contractions moving from every 5 minutes to every 3 minutes seemingly quickly, I walked around our condo for about an hour. Then I remembered something Mlisa had said in one of our childbirth classes. She said the most unbearable thing ever was to be in active labor and have contractions in the car. With this thought piercing my mind, I decided it was time to awaken Mike and call Harmony to tell her we were ready to go to Rosemary. When I called her just before 2AM, I was totally unaware that she was headed to another birth. We arrived at the birth home just after 2:30 at the same time that June did. I found it mildly satisfying that when she saw me, she smiled and said “Oh, you’re definitely in labor!”
When June checked me around 3 o’clock, I was 4 cm dilated and fully effaced. This was the point at which the concept of time became completely lost on me. We walked around for a bit. We got in the tub for a bit and all was well with the world. Then June came in to rain on my parade. By this, I mean she suggested I get out of the tub and try to go to the bathroom and spend two contractions out of he water. So I did, and then hurried my naked self back to the safety of the warm, buoyant water.
Being a long distance runner, I can’t help but relate the experience of childbirth to a marathon. After the first few miles you think “This isn’t so bad. I can do this!” Around mile 13, you realize how fatigued you are becoming, but it’s okay because you’re half way finished. And then, around mile 18, you hit THE WALL (or TRANSITION). For me, this is a place of self-pity and self-doubt. The inevitable “What the hell was I thinking?!?” moment. Luckily, I am all too familiar with this place. I let the fear hold me, but just for a minute, and then I remind myself how strong I am and that I trusted my body. Pain is nothing but misunderstood energy. The final 6.2 miles (pushing) are accomplished through acceptance. That of the task at hand. The race will be finished one way or another, so you might as well embrace the energy and work with it instead of fearing it. With the help of June and Heidi, Mike and I brought Presley into this world at 7:46 AM on April 12th 2011 (6 days “late”). She didn’t cry once.
Sometime after Presley arrived, Harmony called to see how things were progressing. After having just left Mateo’s birth, I’m pretty sure she was ready for a double-header. Since all was well, she went home and (hopefully) got some sleep. Presley was greeted by an environment filled with love and encouragement. Where no one told us how to do what is the most natural and sacred event of all. For this, we are forever grateful.
Seven hours and twenty-six minutes. Best marathon ever.