If you’ve heard the birth story of our fourth child, Roxanna, this story is going to sound faintly familiar to you. The thought may even cross your mind that we must have wanted to do it this way on purpose. But then you might want to check your Crazy Pills prescription, because nobody would want to do it this way again on purpose. We even made a most concerted effort with our fifth child, Tanner, to make sure that it in fact didn’t happen that way again. Plus why would anybody consciously decide to pay for the loving care of a midwife, and then not invite them to come over for the love and care? And then why would you do that twice?! That’s like experiencing a very unique movie, and realizing it was certainly a once-in-an-odd-lifetime experience, and then finding out there is an unnecessary sequel. (Weekend at Bernie’s II, I’m looking in your direction.)
Well, it all started with a single contraction on Friday night. I was on my way to a "Weird Al" Yankovic concert with some of my other home-nerds, so you can imagine my relief when Katie said she was sure it was nothing and gave me the green light to rock on with Al and his accordion. (Speaking of once-in-a-lifetime odd experiences, I had seen Mr. Yankovic in concert in 1987 and had assumed that would be the only time. So I should have seen this as a sign. But I was too busy wondering how My Man Weird is able to do so many costume changes in one concert. The man is truly an artist, obviously dedicated to his craft.)
True to her word, Katie had no other contractions. Until Saturday morning. Yes, beginning around 6:30 a.m. Katie started having extremely mild and completely irregular contractions. This continued through the early afternoon, when some ol’ college friends of ours who were in town for the weekend brought lunch over.
Katie was feeling so great, she was able to be social and casual and showed no signs of ever being uncomfortable. She would still have the occasional contraction, but these were the most gentle and docile contractions ever recorded, according to Katie. The contractions weren’t getting any harder, they weren’t getting any closer, they didn’t seem to be progressing at all! I could have had these contractions, and I have a very low tolerance for pain. (I also have a low tolerance for large crowds of Weird Al fans, it turns out. But this isn’t about me. Or the fans.)
Around 2:30 p.m. Katie slipped into the downstairs bathroom just to tinkle. The rest of us were on the couches, chatting. Katie called for me and said, “Can you come in here for a second?”
I tried to open the door, but it was locked. “Can you unlock the door?" I asked.
“Nope,” she answered.
“Well, we’re going to get going,” said our college friends, leaping from the couch to gather their kids from upstairs, and, in the process, easily breaking the Olympic qualifying time for the track and field hurdles.
I picked the lock and opened the door to see my cute, sweet wife on the potty. “My water broke,” she said. “I need pads and dry clothes.”
I retrieved the goods from upstairs, but I was actually quite casual about it because while Katie seemed energized that things were finally moving, she didn’t seem overly anxious or concerned about the immediate moment we were in.
I walked back into the bathroom with her stuff and she said, “Why don’t we call the Midwife. I think we’re going to have this baby tonight.” Now, our standard go-to Midwife that we have used for our last four children is Margie. Margie is wonderful. Margie knows her stuff. Margie makes you feel comfortably at ease. Margie was on a cruise in the Bahamas. We had three back-up midwives to select from.
“Sounds good,” I said. “I’ll call one of the back up midwives. Did you want to say goodbye to the Muirs? They’re leaving now.”
“Uhm…no. If I get up, I just know I’ll have a contraction.”
I left the bathroom, said goodbye to the Muirs, and was walking over to the phone to call a midwife when I heard Katie yell for me again. This was a different yell. This was a familiar yell. This was a “For the love of heaven, get in here and catch this baby” yell.
I opened the bathroom door, this time to find Katie pushing out a baby. Katie’s head was down, her eyes closed, her arms stretched around her front with her hands holding the bottom of her stomach. She seemed remarkably peaceful. Focused. I have never known anybody to be able to understand their body like Katie. The room seemed entirely still and silent
She looked up at me and said, “Tell me it’s a head.” This was a legitimate concern, because if it was a bum, a leg, or anything but a head, we were up an afterbirth creek, without a paddle.
I dropped down on my knees and saw the head out, just above the eyes. “It’s a head,” I said. “Are you ready?”
Katie started pushing again and the head came out. She pushed some more. “Is it further out?” she asked.
“No. Still just the head.”
She pushed some more.
“I can see a shoulder, here it comes.”
And she slipped right into my arms. She was covered in vernix, and now I was too. I held her so close because I thought she was going to slip-slide right out of my hands. She wasn’t crying at all. I couldn’t believe I was holding her. We had waited so long for her.
It was 2:36 p.m., and all of our kids were peering from behind the bathroom door at this point, wanting to see what was going on. They came in to see her, and everybody oohed and aahed, except Tanner, the 2-year old, who had a very concerned look on his face. After he saw that Katie was okay, he seemed fine with the situation. And has fallen in love with the baby.
We called our friend and neighbor, Jonelle, who has been to a number of births. We knew she wouldn’t freak out at being up to her ankles in…stuff. With the baby in Katie’s arms, the placenta in a bucket, and Chux pads on the couch, Jonelle to came over and helped me help Katie make the move from the bathroom to the living room.
Katie sat down on the couch and started nursing the baby right away. We cut the chord and called the backup midwife, but she was with another woman who was laboring. We called the second backup, and she was in Boulder City with another woman who was laboring. (Which, honestly, how long does it take? If they are like Katie, we should have had a midwife arriving in about 15 minutes.) But she sent her apprentice over. She showed up about two hours after the birth. We sat there for two hours like it was the most normal, Saturday afternoon thing to do.
When the Apprentice arrived she weighed the baby. According to the scale, she was 16 pounds. According to the Apprentice, the scale must be broken. So we had Abbie stand on a normal scale, and then handed her the baby, and then figured the difference, which is about 10 lbs and … something ounces.
We’ve named her Rebecca. (We call her Becca). She is lovely. I adore the smell of her newborn head and sweet breath. I love her dark eyes and quiet nature. As always, I am absolutely and in every respect overcome with wonder at Katie. She is powerful, soft, and warm. She is beautiful, secure, and poised. I wonder if we should have named the baby after her incredible mother. Or we could have named her “Weird Al”berta Craig.
P.S. I am leaving the Comments on, if you would like to wish Katie congratulations!