by Joni Hargrave, Tree of Life mama
Ok, so it wasn’t exactly a bar, but it had kombucha on tap, the girl was me, and the “ouch” was more of a series of ouches 3 minutes apart, but we’ll get to that later.
The morning is January 17th, 2017. I’m exactly one week past my due date, swollen, anxious and making all sorts of irrational interior decor decisions for our house. Driving to Vista (twice) in a rain storm for a freaking cactus is just one example.
Conner, my husband decided to stay home for whatever reason that day and join me on a standard check up at the birthing center. When we arrived, we were greeted with loud and long birthing groans. Not exactly what you want to hear when you've never given birth and could pop any day. For anyone familiar with Hypnobirthing, I turned on my Rainbow Relaxation (the British version!) and tuned out the sound of new life. We decided we'd come back later and let the midwives and the soon-to-be mom do their thing. I was in no rush.
Fast forward a couple hours and we were back at the birthing center. The building was quiet, rooms were empty and I had to use the John for the thousandth time. It was here I witnessed what a mucus plug looked like. I had done my google prep of labor signs, but just to confirm I called my midwife, Ashley in to take a gander. Got the thumbs up, then parlayed that with a little membrane sweep to get the party started. Mid sweep, Conner asked if that could potentially break my water. Her response? “In my 9 years of membrane sweeping, I’ve never broken… GOOOOOSH...
As I was saying, in my 9 years of experience, I’ve only seen the water break once:)”
At this point, I’m a human waterfall, scared, excited, game on! Ashley sent us off to get some food and directed us to come back when contractions were close and I was ready to meet our little boy.
Back to the bar I was telling you about earlier. The “bar” was Eve, an organic, vegan, typical granola spot in Encinitas. Diaper was on, hair a mess, my walk was more of a waddle—I was lookin’ pret-ty good. Long story short, contractions hit 3 minutes apart when we reached the front of the line. Hunched over, head shaking and speechless was mistaken as a painful debate over which budha bowl to choose. The friendly employee empathized with the tough decision but assured me I really couldn’t go wrong with either bowl. "And bonus! If you like us on Facebook, we’ll give ya a buck off!" As Conner is timing my contraction, friendly employee attempts to take over his phone and direct him to their Facebook page to secure his discount. I’ll never forget that order or the friendly employee that made it so memorable.
In case you were wondering, I went with the Machu Picchu bowl.
It’s about 3 o’clock in the afternoon, I’ve “labored” as much as I could at home and by now Rainbow Relaxation has been chucked across the room. I was ready to hand it over to the pros at Tree of Life. I could not have asked for a better setting to have my baby. The oversized bath was drawn and the Sun Room was all ready for an intimate birth with my husband, my midwife… my mom, two sisters and my sister’s 9 week old.
My husband joked he was surprised the neighbors didn’t get an invite.
Alright, I promise this birthing story is almost over. From here it goes fast. Did I mention Ashley was amazing? She kept me calm along with my entourage, when I/we had no idea what was going on. I moved from tub, to shower to bed to ball—even fit in a few rounds of arm wrestle with my sister (read somewhere that it would help with contraction pain). If anything, it just made me feel good to finally beat my sister at the dumb game. I digress.
It’s almost 9pm. For the past 5 hours, my husband has been by my side, breathing just as loud and as deeply with me, holding me, encouraging me, confidently taking me through this incredible ride. I’m back in the tub now, my one sister is fanning me from above, the other, scooping up floating, miscellaneous objects in the tub (use your imagination), and mom is ever-so-calmly rocking the baby to sleep.
Breaths are getting deeper. I can feel my baby make his way down. So close! After 30 minutes of pushing, I got a little frustrated at my bundle-of-joy and finally let out one last phrase “Just. Get. Out!”
And so he did. Good boy.
Just like that, we were parents. Forever caring and loving for this 8lb.11 oz. precious baby boy. I’ll never forget the moment Sullivan’s little body was placed on my chest. His bright eyes locked with his daddy's and then to mine.