Thursday, April 12th, 2012

Ace of Sticks β€” Tarot of the Absurd

Jessica Rose Shanahan

The Events of April 5th, 2012
A Birth Story


My contractions began around 10am, possibly earlier. Around 11am or so I drove to a local printer. He gave me a tour of the shop. We talked about paper quality, different inks, and ways to lower the cost of printing my tarot deck. Every once in a while as we were talking, I would have a contraction. When the shop owner asked me a question I would give a delayed, thoughtful answer beginning with β€œUm, well, I think…” and wait until the contraction was over until actually thinking. I was there for an hour or so.


I went home, took a walk, called some friends, did a few loads of laundry, then called a very close friend on the phone. She’s quite wise in the ways of childbirth. After we talked on the phone for an hour or so, I finally mentioned to her that I was having contractions every five to ten minutes. I didn’t mention it was more often five than ten, and that it had been this way for a few hours. That was about 3pm or so.


My friend said, β€œThat’s great!” She mentioned that, at this time of day, I might not have the baby. Possibly I’d just have contractions on and off throughout the night and I’d have the pleasure of trying to sleep through them. β€œBut you should do something you really want to do,” she said, and listed a number of possibilities, none of which really appealed to me. I didn’t want to have to think about what I was doing.


β€œI really just want to talk on the phone with you,” I said. So we talked for a while longerβ€” we really can talk for hours about nothing or anything at allβ€” and at last agreed there were things we needed to do.


Four o’clock or so I wrote my boyfriend at work to make sure he still wanted to have a baby. I didn’t mention the contractions. Martin wrote back to say he was up for it.


Around five-thirty I went for a walk and met Martin as he was driving home. He pulled over and I got in a bit stiffly, in the middle of a contraction.


β€œAre you in labor?” he asked.
β€œNot entirely,” I replied.


At home, I began to pace furiously. There were a dozen things to do. The secret code for when to call the midwife is 5-1-1: contractions five minutes apart lasting for one minute for a duration of one hour. We set out to time my contractions. I don’t own a timer, so Martin found one on line. I was pacing furiously, peeing almost every contraction.


The contractions averaged two minutes apart or less, lasting for a minute each. We timed for forty minutes. Meanwhile, we were trying to clean the house and set up the birth tub. It is difficult to accomplish anything in minute intervals.


I called my doula and explained what was going on. I asked if she could come over and whether I should call the midwife. She said yes on the midwife, and that she just had to drive home, drop off her family, then drive to my house. β€œOkay,” I said, and we hung up. From where she was, she could take an hour. I called her right back. β€œCan you come right over?” I asked.


I called my midwife, who subjected me to what seemed like a 20-minute interview between contractions. She said she’d be over, she just had to go home and have a bite to eat.


By the time my doula got hereβ€” her husband dropped her off on the way homeβ€” I was no longer bothering to put my pants on between contractions. I labored backwards on the toilet and had brief bits of coherent conversation between contractions. At one point I said, β€œI really just want to take a shit.”


My doula replied, β€œYou know, that might just be your baby.” I refused to believe the baby was that close to coming, because then I would have to admit I was having a difficult time.


When my midwife arrived, I reluctantly left the toilet and went to the bedroom where I shamelessly took off the rest of my clothing and my midwife did midwife-things.
β€œI want to go back to the bathroom,” I whined.
β€œYou can go back to the bathroom,” said the midwife, β€œbut this is a much nicer place to have a baby.”
I did not have the energy to say, β€œI’ll come back to the bedroom when I’m ready to have a baby,” and no one offered to help me up, so I stayed in the bedroom, kneeling on the bed, laboring while leaned over the birth ball for a few more minutes.


Iris was born at 9:15pm, three and a quarter hours after Martin picked me up on the road. She was 7 pounds, 21 inches long. She opened her eyes and lifted her head.



Iris DaphnΓ©e

8 Responses

  1. cassandra022 says:

    you’re kind of awesome, and congrats :]

  2. Bernie says:

    Jess – you are one amazing lady!! Your pictures are awesome! Your new family will make you very happy!! Love ya

  3. Jessica says:

    Thank you, thank you! I am in love.

  4. Katie says:

    I would send you many hugs and blessings if I knew how.

  5. Garret says:

    Congrats Jess and Dad, I am really happy for you both. Thanks Jess for the 411 on your labor. I will sleep well tonight knowing you’re ok and baby is fine. Best wishes! Garret

  6. leo says:

    The best moments in life are upon you and your family.
    Enjoy the bliss, and peacefullness.

    AND those May flowers of course.

  7. jin-wah says:

    So so excited I am about to explode!! Your lovely story calmed me down a bit. Beautiful delivery.

  8. Hildegerd says:


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