It began like many births do, without much of a warning and early. Six days early. The night before I stayed up drinking wine (one glass! midwife reccomended!) and eating cookies at Ladies Night. I went to bed while listening to my Hypnobabies audios. Usual.
The contractions started around 3AM. They were about seven minutes apart and felt like bad period cramps. Nothing to phone home about. I resumed my Hypnobabies tracks and slept – on and off – until about seven AM, when Eve rose.
“I don’t want to alarm you but…” I told Bradley about the contractions, which were still coming consistently as he left for work. “If anything changes, I’ll call.” And he was off.
(Big sis is ready to meet baby brother.)
I spent a typical morning with my girl – we had breakfast, played, and read. A few times I got down on my knees for a contraction and Eve, thinking I was playing, saddled up on my back and had me give her a ride around the living room. Before noon, we headed out to Whole Foods and CVS for a peribottle, hibiclens, and probiotics. (I’d tested positive for GBS, but after a lot of research and discernment declined the antibiotic. Instead, I planned to do a hibiclens.)
Things weren’t slowing down, but they also weren’t picking up. So, I still wasn’t convinced this was it! “It could still be a few days,” I told Mom. “It won’t be a few days,” she confidently replied. Throughout the day Brad stopped home a few times to check on us.
Around 4PM the contractions began to require more concentration to ride through and release. I thought about texting Bradley asking him to come home within the next couple hours. (Otherwise, he expected to work a late night.) But before I could reach out he surprised me with a rap on the front door. Just in time it seemed. Having him there most’ve helped me relax because things picked up even more.
(Kissing my our baby girl goodbye for now.)
Shortly after, Katrina called to ask about picking up Evey. I felt like maybe it was still too early – was this really it? (It was. Bradley could see it. I just didn’t want to get too excited.) Regardless, I packed up an overnight bag for Evey and sent her off. (Katrina surprised me with a crucifix that resembles the crucifix I had for Evey’s birth. I lost it just a couple weeks prior by letting Evey walk around with it in the thrift store. It was super special for me to have it.)
Around this time I realized I hadn’t eaten since breakfast and I was huuuungry! Bradley picked us up Jimmy John’s. (Why didn’t we order delivery?) I’m a #15 gal, on wheat. Between contractions I was ravenous. So, I’d take a few big bites of my massive tuna sandwich and just as I got it down another contraction would come on. I leaned over the medicine ball, riding the pressure, trying to relax/release but purely thinking I’d puke. I hated myself for eating! What was I thinking?! But then the pressure would ride out and I’d realize how hungry I was again. This cycle continued until half of my #15 was gone, and that was all I could stomach.
We watched the funny movie Daddy’s Home while Bradley massaged and coached me through each contraction. Humor during labor was awesome. Even though I wasn’t laughing during the contractions hearing Will Ferrell in all his hilarity made me joyful and distracted me from the pressure.
Around 8PM, Bradley read the signs and suggested it was time for the hospital. Because the contractions were not as intense as I remembered them to be with Eve, I put it off. I still wasn’t convinced this could be it! But I only made it through a few more before I agreed – it was time to go.
Halfway between the car and Labor and Delivery doors, and smack-dab in the middle of the road, a contraction stopped me in my tracks. I held onto Bradley’s neck as he rubbed my back. It ended and we headed to reception. While Bradley checked us in another wave came. I braced a low table and relaxed through it. The staff member called for a nurse to bring me in and she was surprised when I opted to walk instead of take the wheelchair ride. At this point, I still wanted to do everything in my power to move things along naturally.
In triage, they checked me and I was 8 CM. I can’t tell you how empowering this was. Especially so because I wouldn’t describe the contractions as painful up until this point. Discomfort? Yes. Increasing intensity? Yes. Increasing pressure? Yes. But, pain? No…
Bradley corresponded with the nurses and hospital staff, allowing me to just relax and listen to Hypnobabies.
They transferred us to a birthing suite. We walked around a bit as our nurse filled the tub. (Ooh, how I love me some birthing tub!) Relaxing in the tub I didn’t feel like things were progressing, so I out I got. Walking around helped baby move down and kneeling over at the foot of the bed, my water broke. Less than an hour after arriving I was 10 CM and back in the tub. When my midwife Susanna checked me she found the bag of waters was still partially intact. I knew this was providing extra cushioning but that this also meant he couldn’t fully engage. She offered to break my bag of waters but fear of the pressure held me back. Instead, I choose to wait things out and continuing laboring. (Little did I know, if I wasn’t so fearful I could’ve saved myself an hour of tough contractions.)
Between contractions, I would fall asleep. It felt like I slept for hours when truly it was only a few minutes. I was so tired – I’d been awake since 3AM and was getting in quite the workout. By this point, I began feeling desperate. “I don’t want to do this anymore,” I told Bradley a few times. I thought to myself how next time I’d just get the epidural. I cried because I was so tired and so done. I continually asked for Bradley and Susanna to “talk to me” and “say nice things.” (Lol.) The contractions were intense, and fear of how bad it would become gripped me tightly. I prayed for guidance and then knew it was time to let go and let Susanna break the bag of waters.
They helped me out of the tub and onto the bed. (Getting out of the tub suuuuuucked.) I was beginning to drift mentally. Bradley had me focus on one bird, a cardinal, which was part of the painting hanging above the bed. This grounded me.
My midwife broke the bag of waters. Bradley reminded me of Oma’s advice to grab your leg. This gave me the power I needed. Just a few contractions and nine minutes of pushing later baby was born.
Immediately a rush of gratitude washed over me. With intensity this awareness and gratitude lingered for days after his birth. With Evelyn, I will never forget the overwhelming bliss of those first minutes, hours, and days. With Ronan it was gratitude. He was here. We did it.
At 11:14PM on April 21, 2017 our son was born. He weighed 7-pounds 12-ounces and measured at 20.5 inches. It wasn’t until the next day, at about 12-hours young, he was named. (We were torn between three names that we equally loved.)
Ronan Daniel Harrington. Ronan, in strong company with at least twelve saints. Daniel, after his grandpa Papa Harrington.
Big sister Evey met her brother 12-hours after his birth. Like us, she’s enamored.
All of the photos were taken by my sister-in-law Katrina who, together with Chris, has made our world go round since Ronan’s birth. Thank you so much.
Ronan, five hours young and in my arms. No sleep in 26-hours but the energy of joy and gratitude burning bright. You’re one of my life’s three greatest achievements. In company with Bradley and Evelyn. We love you, little man. We are so grateful for you.