My birth was above and beyond what I imagined or expected. Words escape me when I think of it. As strange as it may sound, I would love to re-live it. Birth is beautiful. Glory’s birth was beautiful.
The days leading up to Gloriana’s birth were difficult. Illness struck our household. We had been staying with my parents since Christmas. On Monday, at 40 weeks, 3 days, I came down with a yucky G.I. thing. I was hoping that it was the beginning signs of labor but as the day went on, I knew I’d caught something. Thankfully it was just a 24-hour thing. However, Wednesday, my mom and I came down with a cold. I just kept praying that we would feel better before I went into labor and praying that no one else would get sick. It’s a daunting thought…the thought of going into labor feeling ill. So I rested and tried all my homeopathic remedies and by Friday, I felt much better and so did my mom.
I never expected to go as “late” as I did. While I was hoping to go a little bit past Christmas, I had no idea I would be pregnant at 41 weeks. As weird as it sounds, you really start to believe that you will be pregnant forever. I tried to enjoy the end of pregnancy, knowing things get a little crazy postpartum. I spent my time playing with my girls, cherishing the time with them before their sister arrived.
On Friday, I headed to the birth center for my 41 week appointment. During that appointment, they perform a non-stress test to make sure baby is ok. I had been having a few labor signs at that point: loss of mucous plug, increased intensity of Braxton-Hicks contractions. I knew in my heart that my time would soon come. As I sat in the birth center while they monitored baby’s movement, I knew I would be back shortly…
On Saturday, I had the rare treat of sleeping in. Derrik woke with the girls and let me keep sleeping. However, at 8 am, I woke with a contraction. I didn’t think much of it seeing as how I’d had contractions every day, several times a day. I tried to sleep some more but woke about 15 minutes later with another contraction. I had a feeling that these might be “the real deal” so I waited to see if I would have another. Sure enough, 15 minutes later, another. At that point, I decided to whip out my handy dandy app to start timing those suckers. And again, 15 minutes later, another. I laid in bed for 30 minutes more, resting and timing contractions to see if I could safely say that I was “in labor”.
Of course, being so late, I was partially in denial. But my heart was telling me it was the beginning of labor. I made my way upstairs to see my family and announced that I was fairly certain I was in labor. My brother was moving that day so the timing wasn’t exactly ideal. The contractions continued to come anywhere from 8-15 minutes apart. They weren’t terribly painful. Strong, but bearable. Everyone was a bit in denial, like myself, that I was actually in labor. So we just went about the day. My brother packed up to move. I sat around and did very little outside of playing with my girls and resting.
Throughout the day, I waited to see if the contractions were getting closer together. But they continued to be erratic all day. They lasted anywhere from 30-45 seconds and came every 7-15 minutes or so. They were uncomfortable but mild. I could still talk through them. S0 I waited. And contracted. And waited. During this time, it began to snow…. The snow continued all day. I started to grow a little anxious in the afternoon as it was clear the snow wasn’t stopping and coming down harder.
Since my contractions weren’t getting closer together, I was unsure how long this stage of labor would last. I posted to the Mountain Midwifery Mama’s group on Facebook: What would you do? I’m 41 weeks 1 day. I’ve been contracting since about 8 am. The contractions are lasting 40 seconds and coming about every 12ish minutes. This weather is making me a little nervous. I don’t know if I should try something to speed up my contractions or if I should just relax and let myself progress as my body wants. Many women suggested I just call the midwives and sit tight. Great advice! I called and Rachel (the midwife on call) said that it was a little early – based on my contractions. She suggested I talk a bath, relax, and go to bed slightly early. She told me to call her before I went to sleep so she could gage how I was doing.
After a nice hot shower, my contractions started to slow. This was a little discouraging to me. Having contracted all day, I was hoping to meet my baby girl sooner than later. I was also trying to mentally prepare myself that I may have a full night of contractions ahead of me as well. I tried not to get discouraged, but having labored through the night with my other two births, I was fearful of the total exhaustion that could potentially follow. I decided to crawl into bed and watch “Call the Midwife” (ironic, I know). As I lay watching, my contractions were only coming every 15-20 minutes. However, they were stronger and lasting longer. These contractions had me wincing in pain. There was no way I would be able to sleep through them. Derrik came to bed around 10:15. Not 2 minutes after he laid down, I yelled for him to get a towel. I was fairly certain my water had broken…
The first thing I did was to go upstairs and tell my mom. She had just went to bed. I told my dad and my brother as well. Next I called the Rachel, the midwife. She told me to give it an hour to see what my contractions would do since they had slowed down. As soon as I got off the phone, my contractions started to speed up. I started to get ready and formulate a plan. The plan up until this point had been that my mom would come to the birth center with us. But now we were faced with a dilemma considering it was the middle of the night. Our concern was that Derrik, my mom, and I would return home with the new baby completely exhausted which would leave just my dad and brother to care for Bella and Selah. It seemed that the better idea would be for 3 well rested adults to watch those sweethearts. As we discussed options, my contractions grew stronger and closer…I knew we needed to leave soon, especially with the weather. We snapped a couple of pictures, prayed as a family, and Derrik and I were on our way. I called the midwife once we hit the road. She was a little surprised that we were on our way without chatting with her first but when you know, you know. And I knew. We needed to go. She said she would be ready for us when we got there…and that the birthing tub would be ready too.
The roads were terrible. They were slick and it was still snowing. My contractions were strong….stronger than I was comfortable with still being so far from the birth center. I told Derrik to make sure and drive safely but to get us to the birth center as quickly as possible because I didn’t want to have the baby in the car. Thankfully, we arrived safely at the birth center at about 12:20 in the morning. I was so relieved. We made our way inside. We were the only ones there (besides the midwife and nurse) and it was quiet and dark – very peaceful. First things first, I had a pelvic examine to check my progress and make sure my water was broken. Oddly enough, my water was in tact! (which means, I may or may not have wet the bed…). I was already completely effaced and 8 cm dilated. It was almost time. Rachel asked me if I would like get in the birthing tub yet. I decided to wait a bit. Rachel gave me some cotton root bark to help my contractions remain consistent. Then, Derrik and I were left alone to labor for awhile in privacy. We set our camera on a tripod so we can capture the birth on video. I turned on some music (All Sons & Daughters) and we made ourselves “comfortable”.
My contractions were intense. It wasn’t long before the midwife was back in. She could tell by the sound of my voice during contractions that I was progressing toward the end. She asked if I was ready to get into the birthing tub. I told her I was going to wait a few more contractions. I was nervous it would slow my labor. After one more contraction, both her and I knew I needed to get in the tub. So at around 1:40 or 1:45, I climbed into the birthing tub. It was so wonderful. Rachel gave me another dose of cotton root bark. I contracted…and it was tough and intense. Rachel asked if I was having the urge to push and I told her I wasn’t sure I would. I hadn’t gotten the urge with my last two labors. Like my birth with Selah, those contractions had me calling on the name of Jesus. To my surprise, during my second contraction I had in the tub, I started to get the urge to push!
After that second contraction, I told Derrik to go hit the record button on our camera. I knew it wouldn’t be long at all before we would be meeting our baby girl. He returned quickly and I waited for another contraction. Rachel called Karen, our nurse, into the room too. They were preparing for our sweet arrival. A few minutes later (3 minutes after Derrik hit “record”). I contracted again and the urge to push was compulsatory. I pushed and felt my water break. I looked down and knew we had a little problem – there was meconium. Meconium isn’t good and at the birth center it means that you may have to transfer. Rachel told me I needed to get out of the tub. Frantically, I told her I couldn’t…my body was bearing down. Sure enough, Rachel checked me. My baby was in my birth canal. She calmly told me that my baby would be born the next contraction and that I needed to push hard. The next contraction came and I pushed…and then, at 1:53 am, she arrived!
I go into a bit of shock after labor. I was in shock as she was brought up to my chest. The intensity of the contractions and pushing end so suddenly. I am left in shock and awe that my body just accomplished the task of bringing a baby into the world. I am also shocked that my precious babe who has been growing inside is now earthside. It overloads my brain a bit. The first thing I said was an apology to Rachel for not being able to get out of the birthing tub when she asked. She laughed it off and assured me it was ok. What a silly thing to say as I gazed into the eyes of my new babe. Our new baby girl took her sweet time to breath. In the end, they decided to give her a couple breaths to help her out. Her cry was so precious and little. She was itty bitty. We moved to the bed and I just held her close. I was still in a little shock and absolutely enthralled with our little miss as well. Rachel asked what her name was. Of course, we didn’t have one picked. I laid in the bed next to Derrik with our new lovey while the midwife attended to me. Thankfully, I only needed 6 stitches. For some reason, I had a severe case of the chills from the adrenaline which was annoying. I couldn’t stop shaking. Derrik and I gazed at our little girl. She was bright eyed and alert. She started nursing with little help from me. I couldn’t believe how little she was. Her buns were tiny!
After all of my postpartum needs were taken care of, the three of us were left alone to snuggle and relish in the moment. That first hour together is amazing. Baby and I lay skin to skin while she nursed. Derrik and I began processing all that happened. I couldn’t believe that pushing had gone so smoothly and that she arrived so quickly. Derrik was shocked too. It was so different than Selah’s arrival! I was so thankful and praised the Lord for an easy delivery. It was more than I could have hoped.
After an hour or so, Derrik cut the umbilical cord. Then I took an herbal bath while Derrik, Rachel, and Karen did the newborn examine. She weighed in at 7 lbs. 11 oz. and measured 19 inches long. Her perfect head was 13.5 cm. After a nice soak, I couldn’t wait to have that baby in my arms again. Eventually, we gathered our things together. Derrik left to go warm up the car and I had some precious moments alone with our girl. I held her close and sang to her. Those moments are some of my favorite memories. Soon enough we were headed back to my parents’ house. It was 6:00 am when we left….exhausted but so full of joy…and so excited to introduce Bella and Selah to their new sister.
Birth is something shared. Not only is this birth part of my story, it is part (and in some ways the beginning) of Gloriana’s story. I’m beyond blessed that we were able to share this. Birth is just the beginning. I’m excited to see how the rest of the story unfolds.
Father, thank you for Gloriana. Thank you for how you protected us during pregnancy, delivery, birth, and hereafter. Thank you for the gift of motherhood. Lord, give me grace and wisdom to raise her well. Thank you for this privilege. May I rely on you for the strength required. In Jesus Name, Amen.