Althea Harlan

by Leslie Lytle on December 16, 2011

Hi Leslie,

Althea Harlan R. was born Tuesday October 9th at 7:50 pm. I almost made it to class that night, but instead decided to have a baby.

Tuesday morning began with a visit to my midwife. I was 41 + 3 days, 4cm dilated, 80% effaced and the baby was back to 0 station and in a perfect position. I was so ready to go and talked to my baby a lot that day, letting her know it was safe for her to come.

After picking up my son from pre-school, we went out to do some errands. I was having contractions, but nothing out of the norm, or overly difficult to deal with, so I continued on with my day. However, after a little while I started to feel antsy and was easily agitated. I decided it was time to get home and relax.

When we got home, I was not only feeling antsy but really wanted to have my husband around. I couldn’t quiet explain why I wanted him close, but something inside me said to give him a call at work. He was home within five minutes.

Because my son, four years earlier, had been born so fast (2 hours for a first baby) my midwife and I had talked extensively about recognizing labor before it started and treating it as if I was in labor. My biggest fear was going into labor so fast that Stuart and I would have no time together.

So here I was Tuesday afternoon, having contractions, but nothing crazy, and yet something was different. I took my need to be close with Stuart as my “sign”

that labor had begun and we sent our son off to be with a friend down the street. Meanwhile my husband and I spent some quiet, alone time together. We walked around the neighborhood, watched a movie and kept a casual track of my contractions. I was having roughly 14 an hour, but they were still very manageable. Then around 6:00 things seemed to fizzle out. I started to feel like maybe this wasn’t “it” and considered heading off to yoga class. I called my midwife to give her an update and she told me to continue on with my evening and maybe things would get going again when the sun went down.

At 6:30 Stuart and I decided to go get some food and headed into Shockoe bottom. On the way to the restaurant I called my family to tell them nothing was going on and arranged to pick up our son after we ate. Then, at 6:45, on our way back home, I felt a pop while sitting in the car. Immediately my contractions came on fast and furious. I called my midwife and told her it was time and told Stuart to get home fast.

As soon as we pulled up to the house and I stepped out of the car, a gush of water ran down my legs and I immediately felt the urge to push. I walked back to the bedroom, laid down a shower curtain and got on all fours, rocking my pelvis and concentrating on not pushing. While pregnant I had envisioned myself as a wolf giving birth, but in labor, my body instinctually behaved like a horse. On all fours, I swung my head and hips back and forth, like a horse swatting flies and breathed with horse lips. Meanwhile Stuart calmly filled up the birth tub and wiped my forehead with a cold rag while we waited for the midwife to arrive.

When our midwife arrived roughly 20 minutes later, my baby was crowning, so she asked if I wanted to have the baby in the bedroom or in the tub. I decided to give the tub a try and walked into the living room where we had the birth tub set up. I sunk into the hot water and was immediately in a world of my own. All at once I felt euphoric and relaxed and ready to push my baby out. Three pushes and 10 minutes later, Althea arrived. She weighed 7lbs 10oz and came out alert and content.

Althea is absolutely wonderful, and I have been given great support over the past several weeks. The first time we stepped out of the house was to go see the pediatrician six days after she was born. I have felt like a mama in a cave, just focused on taking care of my baby. The world will continue to move on, but for now, and for as long as I can help it, I am focused on my baby and family…everything else can wait.

Thanks for the wonderful class and good luck to all the new and expecting mamas!

Adrianna

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