A Wednesday in July

It was a Wednesday in July, in the middle of the week and in the middle of the day.

My son sticks his head in the living room door, screws up his face a little and asks: “What’s that?”

“That’s the placenta,” replies my midwife. Do you want to have a look?” “Nah,” says Janosch, and dashes out again. We laugh and are happy about life. About the big – and the small. My youngest daughter Juno Marie is less than an hour old.

24 hours earlier, I’m sitting in our kitchen with my midwife and a student midwife. “Well, the way you look, it’s going to take a while,” he says. I think so too. I’m due date +4, but I don’t really feel like giving birth yet. We make an appointment for the day after tomorrow, for acupuncture. ‘The day after tomorrow is good’, I think. Let’s do acupuncture the day after tomorrow and give birth in the evening. Sounds like a plan.

But plan made without Juno.

I start having contractions at night. It’s my third child, but the first time I’ve gone into labour all by myself. With Janosch I had my waters break prematurely and then no contractions at all for ages. My midwife coaxed my middle daughter Milu out with acupuncture at due date +14. I was always a bit worried that I wouldn’t be able to recognise the contractions so well or that I would confuse them with preterm labour, but my worries were unfounded. Yup, I know them. They are real contractions. No doubt about it. It’s about 4 am and I briefly wake my boyfriend: “Here we go,” I say. “That’s nice!” he replies. Turns over again and goes back to sleep. Wonderful …

I try to go back to sleep, but I’m excited and get up. But I don’t really know what to do with myself … What am I going to do now? Oh, I know what! I get a pile of postpartum pads, put some arnica gel on them, wrap it all in cling film and put it in the freezer. So good for the postnatal period!

Then I call my midwife and say: “I think we’re having a baby today”. He catches a contraction on the phone and says: “Ok, we still have a bit of time. Just keep me up to date. Eat something and get some rest!”

Food. Good idea! I’ll do that. And that’s when the kids wake up: “Mum, mum, mum! I’m hungry and I want a cuddle and mamaaaa, look!”. Phew, phew, phew … contractions gone. I am overwhelmed. Small breakdown. I can’t do this! I can’t do this! My last few months have been really hard, not because of the pregnancy, but privately. I’m afraid that I won’t have enough strength to give birth. And anyway, I wanted to do it the day after tomorrow! The day after tomorrow! Not now!

And painter’s film! Fuck, we don’t even have any painter’s film for the sheet-film-sheet preparation yet! How am I supposed to do all of this without painter’s film?

After my little meltdown, I’m feeling better again. Of course I can do it. But not like this! If this is going to be another birth today, then I need a bit of rest. And painter’s film. So, write a nice postpartum shopping list, kick the kids and dad out! Close the door. Quiet. And now?

I have my two big ones at home too, I’m hardly ever home alone. That’s great! The contractions are also getting stronger again. And now? I’m taking advantage of the hour and … watching the latest episode of “Handmaid’s Tale”. But I already know that I’ll have to watch it again. By now, I have to take a break every five minutes, and then breathe contractions away. But I can still manage.

After the episode, I’m quite well settled in labour, but I’m a bit irritated: I feel the contractions very strongly in my back this time! I’m not used to that from other births. Anyway, let’s get on with it.

Then I’ll call my midwife. I really want him to have a look now. Is it progressing? Are the contractions productive? Is the little one doing well? “All right, I’ll be there in half an hour”, he says. And then he arrives.

Great initial findings! The cervix is already well dilated. The little one is lying with her back against my back, which isn’t quite ideal, but we manage. So, off we go into the all-fours position, bum up nicely and gyrate! Wow! What a relief! It feels really good and takes the pressure off my back. How lucky.

I hadn’t prepared so much for the birth this time, I had done a lot before the first births and now I didn’t really know what else to do. But I watched a lot of spiritual videos, Eckhart Tolle, Wayne Dyer, Oprah. And that helps me now. “The pain comes, the pain goes. The pain comes, the pain goes. But I am not the pain”! That becomes my mantra and it helps so much!

The breaks in labour are like a holiday, so quiet without my two rascals. My midwife is there, but only says something when I say something. So good!

At some point, the painter’s film crew comes back. “So, are there five of us already?” my partner asks as he comes in. Not quite yet. My kids try to talk to me again, but I really don’t have time for that now. Later, sweeties, later again! I tell them that too. And they understand. I’ve prepared them well for the birth, they know. Later, my partner tells me that they grabbed their ‘fish and chocolate book’ and regularly checked how far along the birth was and what was coming next. I only notice that they flit in and out every now and then. Janosch was probably there when the little head was already born. I don’t notice any of this, I’m far too engrossed in my labour.

In between, I have to go to the loo. “I have to go to the loo,” I say, “but I don’t want to get out of my all-fours pose.” Everyone laughs, but I’m completely serious! “Do 2-3 contractions in the loo”, says my midwife, “it’s a really good position!” But no, no! He can breathe away one himself in the loo if he wants to. Certainly not me! I want to go back to my all-fours!

That’s what I do. The contraction comes, the contraction goes. The pain comes, the pain goes. But I’m not the pain! It works well until I slowly lose my patience. Enough is enough! I don’t want any more! I really don’t. I could somehow push too … I say the same thing. “Go on,” says my midwife. In the meantime, the second midwife has arrived and so has the student midwife. Full house. But okay for me. Of course he asked me beforehand if it was ok for me. It’s ok for me.

I personally have a bit of a problem with pushing contractions. I don’t like them. I think it feels like you have to poo a coconut. This pressure! This blatant pressure! But this time I manage to do something: “Let go!” “Open up, let go!”, says my inner voice and lo and behold, it’s still not my favourite thing in the world, it really isn’t, but it’s okay.

And then the miracle happens. The head is born. The little head is born! I’m almost crying (and now I’m crying again)! Hello, my little one! There you are! Hello! I stroke the little head and am already happy. “One more,” I say. “One more!” says the midwife. And there it comes, the one last contraction and with it my wonderful, amazing, magnificent daughter. There you are, my child! My miracle. My gift from heaven.

It was a Wednesday. A Wednesday in July. I’ll call you Juno anyway. My little Juno Marie. Thank you for being here. Thank you for being with us!

Thank you for making our lives a little brighter every day. I love you. So much.