Eva December Baer was born on a cold, winter morning. The sun was low, there was snow on the ground.
She was born on her due date. No one was surprised except for me. I thought she would wait. I thought I had a little more time.
I woke up the day before with contractions every 15 minutes. They lasted all day and were fairly mild. I dismissed them as pre-labor, did the dishes, and took my son to Hershey’s Chocolate World to ride the free ride and see the singing cows. We held hands. I tried not to look at the time.
Austin came home mid afternoon to study. I mentioned that my water might have broken but I couldn’t tell for sure. Things didn’t feel right. We kept shrugging our shoulders and pretending I wasn’t in labor. We discussed hamburgers for dinner.
I tried to nap, but instead consulted Google’s horror stories and decided that maybe someone should check to see if my water had broken. I called the midwives as I assembled dinner and they said, “Come in right now.”
I went alone. I didn’t want anyone to think this was it if it wasn’t. I didn’t want to be the girl-who-cried-labor. Too much pressure on my uterus, too much pressure on me to know if these were real contractions and if this was real amniotic fluid.
I tried to stay breezy.
Austin said, “Please let me come along. We’ll call my parents.” I said no and quickly kissed my son goodbye. I left my packed bag behind. I said I’d be right back.
I cried the whole 45 minute drive there, checked into triage, and cried the whole time I waited for a midwife. I was uneasy and scared. My contractions had started to worsen in the car and I didn’t get to have the goodbye with Waylon that I’d wanted. Austin tried to FaceTime me so I could say goodnight, but I just sobbed and said, “Please don’t put him to bed. They have to let me come home.”
When the midwife finally came in to check, she verified that my water had not broken and that it was just a mild infection that looked a lot like amniotic fluid. I tried to thank her but was too busy having a contraction. She said, “Wait, are you in labor?”
They let me leave.
I told the midwife I didn’t know when I’d be back and she just smiled and said, “I’ll see you in a few hours.”
I’d told my parents not to come, that this wasn’t real labor, but they ignored me and had been on their way for over an hour. They passed the birthing center just in time and my mom was able to drive me home. She drove ten miles under the speed limit. The contractions were now five minutes apart.
As soon as I got home I felt deep and sweet relief. Now we could get started.
I hugged my son, told him his baby sister was coming, and rocked him to sleep in between heavy breathing. My contractions were 3-5 minutes apart, but I could mostly talk/swear through them. I ate a hamburger and tried to make jokes. My dad tried not to pass out.
Austin started putting our bags in the car at around 2 minutes apart, but I stopped him. I wanted to wait. I knew it would be more comfortable to labor at home.
But the contractions got worse and fast. Austin asked if he could do a cervical check to see if I was progressing and I let him. We left immediately after. He said, “It’s time.”
The car ride was fun! (No). I tried to stay cheery, but my driver kept singing Christmas carols in a high falsetto and acting like nobody was in labor. Finally I asked him to kindly stop singing OR I WILL THROW MYSELF FROM THIS CAR.
No one was surprised to see me come through the doors. I’d left at three centimeters dilated and returned at five.
As I labored in triage, I didn’t think I’d need or want an epidural. The contractions were strong, but things were moving quickly and I still felt like I was in control.
Then the nausea set in!
This hadn’t happened in my previous birth so I was confused why I suddenly had the flu. The room was spinning. I was weak in the knees. Every contraction was suddenly much worse because I couldn’t breathe through suppressing the urge to vomit and hard labor at the same time.
And so I said, without shame, “I’ll take that epidural now.”
And it was so.
I never stopped being nauseated, but I was able to rest. Normally they would have broken my water right after the epidural to keep things moving, but because I was positive for Group B Strep, I required two doses of penicillin and had to wait.
The nurses turned all the lights off and took turns holding my hand in the dark while Austin slept on a cot in the corner. It was a cozy night and I felt at peace with the birth and excited to meet my baby.
They broke my water around five in the morning and she was born by six. My body was ready. I felt the urge to push only minutes before she started crowning.
At least twice I reminded the room that last time I tore so badly I could barely sit for months, so could we all work together to ensure this doesn’t happen again? Everyone just smiled and avoided eye contact. A nurse offered to take pictures.
I pushed for ten minutes and at 5:57am, Austin delivered our daughter into my arms.
She became part of me as soon as I saw her face. Her eyes and mouth were Waylon’s, her nose was mine. She was hearty and healthy, letting out an earnest cry before she was all the way born.
I took deep breaths. I felt all the feelings.
The rest is as you expect. Second degree tear (which feels much different than a third degree tear praise baby Jesus), a lot of severe postpartum cramping, and a backache I still can’t shake. Since Austin was able to deliver her, the midwife held my perineum together and helped coach me through controlled pushing. She was amazing. If I saw her today, I’d probably weep. As it goes with women helping women.
We left the birthing center 28 hours after she was born. I wanted to sleep in my own bed and our baby girl was eating and pooping and showing all the signs of being a wonderfully healthy human. It was nice to be home.
We named her Eva long before her brother was born. It means life, the first woman, the creation of a soul. Her dad thought of December, my favorite month of winter. A time of magic, of heartache, of healing. A time of astounding joy. We welcome her with heavy, happy hearts. Another beautiful life.
And that is the story of how Eva December was born.
She is loved.