“I will not go a day past my due date. We have an understanding, this kid and I, and we will both be done with our living arrangements by the 25th.” The midwife smiled at me in a way that wasn’t condescending, but it wasn’t convincing either. I have since given hundreds of women that smile, as a doula. Most women believe they will deliver ‘early’ as they can’t imagine still being pregnant past that magical date on the calendar. My midwife handed me a prenatal appointment card for the 26th, the day after my EDD, then she winked and said “Perhaps it will be a postpartum appointment?” There was that smile again.

It was the night before my first child’s EDD and I was less than thrilled to still be pregnant. I thought we had an understanding, after all. My husband, Patrick, offered me a massage, which was not something he had ever done before and not something I would ever say no to. It was lovely and I had no problem melting into a puddle of sleep afterwards. For a few hours anyway….

I found myself waking up to contractions at 2am. They were totally manageable but impossible to sleep though. I was so giddy at the prospect of not passing my “due date”. I even fantasized about the midwife telling me “Well didn’t you call that one!”. I wanted my husband to sleep so I grabbed my birth ball and settled into the other room with a bottle of water and a candle. With a pillow under my knees, I rested my upper body on the ball and stared at that candle for hours. 7 hours to be exact. Occasionally my husband would come to the door and ask if I needed anything but I would always say, “This could be a long road and someone should get some sleep!” I knew I would need him later and I was coping beautifully, at the time, on my own. I unintentionally found myself hypnotized by that candle, with it’s flickering flame as my only focus. I have little remembrance of those 7 hours other than that flame and my plea for husband’s sleep.

Daylight came and the candle’s light was no longer bright enough to hold my attention or distract me from the contractions that were now much more intense. I needed to move! My husband was an amazing doula and followed me around the apartment as I tried to find something that relieved the discomfort. The comfort measures that we had learned in class were still rather fresh in my mind but some other rather important tidbits were lost to me. For example, that building pressure that made me think I needed to poop, but couldn’t? I tried to relieve that with bran cereal! The spoon was halfway to my mouth when it came to me, the words from my childbirth instructor: “As the baby descends further, the pressure of the baby’s head makes one feel like they need to poop.” Oh. My. God. It’s time to go!

Did I mention that Puget Sound Birth Center, 45 minutes away, was where we had decided to give birth? Off we went! I don’t remember most of that drive. I recall some encouraging words from Patrick and running the tips of my fingers along the roof of the car, over and over again. Without the freedom of movement, I relied on the sensations created from that fabric on the roof of our car. I’ll never forget the moment we pulled up to the birth center. Not because of the flood of relief I had expected to feel, but rather the look of confusion on Patrick’s face when I locked the door as he tried to open it for me. Had I lost my mind?! That look was priceless and will be with me forever.

I had gotten so use to my position in the car that I was a little scared to move. I knew that being upright would intensify my contractions and that wasn’t something that I wanted. My confused husband fetched the midwife and brought her to the car. She tapped the window and asked me to roll it down. I love that she didn’t ask me to open the door because I felt safe in the car. She simply told me that she had filled the birthtub and that it was nice and warm. Sold! A warm tub was all it took to get me out of that car. Before getting in the water, my cervix was checked and we all rejoiced at the 9cm that was discovered. That would explain the intense pressure!

Patrick and I got in the tub and he started the counter pressure that I had wanted the entire car ride. With all the muscle of a construction worker, he applied the double hip squeeze like a professional for every contraction in the next hour. This amazing man only took one break. He waited until my sister arrived, got into position, and had her hands in the right place before sitting back and taking a long drink of water. At that moment, another contraction hit and my sister’s strength couldn’t match my husband’s. My earlier calm and collected approach to labor was out the window by that time and I screamed at him “Put down the @#*?&$@! water bottle and squeeze my @$$!” He did just that.

(Learn more about my adventures as the Pregnant Pirate!)

After I had been in the tub for about an hour, my water broke and I began to have the urge to push. Interestingly, I had just had an argument with the midwife about how I wouldn’t know what to do when that happened and she had insisted that I would know just what to do. Sure enough, I didn’t have a choice when my body started responding to this urge and I could only help. After 30 minutes of pushing, swearing, resting and yelling, Silas was in my arms! My husband and I sat in the tub, totally in awe of the gift in my arms. I also remember how amazing it felt to have all that pressure relieved! After cleaning up, I snuggled up with my son in a comfortable bed while the labor dust settled and our health was assessed.

Silas James O’Dwyer was beautiful! He had a head full of shiny, jet-black hair and dark, steel blue eyes. His cheeks were chubby and his limbs were long. Everyone went on and on about how he looked just like his dad. They also let me know that my 9lb 11oz boy came out with a hand on his ear, which meant that I delivered more than just a head, but his forearm as well. Ouch. Still, I didn’t need stitches and we were both in great health. Within a few hours we were cleared to go home. Here is where my fantasy came true. Before we walked out the door, I turned to the receptionist and the midwife and said, “I will have to cancel my prenatal for tomorrow, I look forward to seeing you at my house instead for our postpartum.”

I told you so.