Alternatively Titled: Why There is, Yet Again, an Adult Diaper in My Car
So, there’s good news and there’s bad news. The bad news is I have no clever writing voice for this birth story as I did Arrow’s. (Or maybe it’s good news that you won’t hear Bob Saget talking in your head?) But the good news is this birth story is less graphic than Arrow’s, as well! SO, if you are wondering if you’re going to be able to handle this, I’m going to put it somewhere in between Egan’s and Arrow’s in grossness.
Proceed at your own risk.
To tell this story, I am going to have to rewind back to February. Josh and I had discussed the fact that if we are going to have another baby, we should probably not wait too much longer to do it; you see, we have this dream of one day being able to sleep through the night again. However, I was a little nervous about pulling the trigger on “trying” to have a baby, so I asked if we could wait until I ran the 10K that I was training for before we decided. I figured that this was a good decision because A) I would rather not run a 10K while pregnant, and B) that would give us a reasonable amount of time to pray about it, as the race was on April 1st.
This was a solid plan. But then, PLOT TWIST, we found out we were pregnant in mid-March.
Not totally relevant to the birth story, but I did go ahead and run the race. Just putting that out there. Not that I’m proud of myself or anything.
After about a month of knowing I was pregnant, I figured it was time to decide what to do about prenatal care. Honestly, I felt very grumpy about it, because the fact that we had moved 6 hours from Tallahassee made using the Birth Cottage (where we had Arrow) a little impractical. And Kara does not do well with change. And I kind of wanted to move back to Florida for the month of November so that I could have my baby there.
Seeing how that was not really a reasonable thing to do, I contacted a doula friend and asked for help. As it turns out, there are only two birth centers in the entire state of Georgia, and the closest one is in the heart of Atlanta. Kara also does not do well with driving into the city. So we decided to take the plunge and attempt a home birth this time around. We found a team of two sweet midwives and began the home birth journey.
I realize now that I better fast forward to the birth itself because nobody has nine months to read a blog entry.
I was due November 11th. That day came and went…and no baby. I honestly wasn’t very surprised; I had suspected that my due date was about a week earlier than it should be. My mom came up on the 12th, committing to stay until the weekend after Thanksgiving. I think the idea was that I would have a baby in the first few days that she was there and that would give her a good chunk of time to help me with the new baby.
Another solid plan. Ahem.
I hit a week after my due date and still no baby…but I figured it would be any time as I had finally reached what I felt should be the actual due date.
Every day began to feel a little more ridiculous. I tried listening to my body. I tried not listening to my body. I tried taking it easy. I tried cleaning the whole house in one day.
I went to the 41 week prenatal appointment a little discouraged. It was two days before Thanksgiving, and I was concerned about what we would do with a long holiday weekend ahead of us.
However, my midwife, Debbie, had a plan. If I had not had a baby beforehand, she would come Friday morning and begin the process of a home induction. She didn’t even set up an appointment for me the next week because we were going to do our best to have this baby before then.
Knowing that there was a plan and there was an end in sight to this pregnancy put my mind at ease. I only hoped that this baby would come before my mom had to go back home!
Then Thursday morning came. Thanksgiving. I woke up at about 3:00 AM with moderate contractions. Honestly, this had happened several time over the past few weeks, so at first I did not worry about it. They seemed to be coming more regularly, though, so I went and found the Hibiclens. (We did not know whether I was positive for Group B Strep or not, so we were treating it like I was.) I was about to use it, and I thought, “I’m going to lay down and time these for an hour first.” So I did, and the contractions were about 10 minutes apart.
Honestly, I was pretty grumpy. I lay there and thought, “Of course. We have waited on this baby for TWO WEEKS, and he is going to come right at lunch time on Thanksgiving Day. THE MOST INCONVENIENT TIME POSSIBLE.”
But about 5:30, when I was planning to get up and use the Hibiclens, I was hit with exhaustion…and I fell asleep.
When I woke up an hour or two later, no contractions!
We had a nice Thanksgiving, and about 8:00 that night I felt like the contractions were coming back. We got the kids to bed, and I started timing contractions. Around 10:00 I texted Debbie to let her know that the contractions were back at 10 minutes apart, and she told me to go ahead and use the Hibiclens and then try to sleep.
(I’m so sorry, but I have to stop here and emphasize that I had to…wait for it…text the midwife! It’s like Call the Midwife for introverts!)
Now, God’s hand was all over this night, and from here on out I cannot help to sing His praises. I do not fall asleep quickly, and it’s pretty much impossible for me to fall asleep if I’ve had any kind of adrenaline rush. But that night, I put my phone down and went to sleep.
About 11:30 I woke up to my water breaking. Josh came up to bed about this time and found out he would be having a baby instead of getting sleep!
The contractions got more intense immediately. When I started timing them they were five minutes apart and one minute long if I was sitting and two and a half minutes apart and thirty seconds long if I was standing. Poor Debbie got to experience my indecisiveness about whether or not it was time for her to come over. She finally asked if I would have left for the hospital by now were this a hospital birth, and I said “Yes.” To which she said, “I’m on my way.”
Debbie, a student midwife, and our friend Brandi arrived around 1:00 AM. And to be honest, I’m not sure about times after this point because I immediately stopped looking at my phone once everyone I needed was there.
So I’m going to have to rewind a little again. Humor me, I’m sleep deprived.
If you knew me three years ago or if you have read the blog, you know that Arrow’s delivery was a difficult one. It was a long (for me) labor, I pushed for three hours, he had a gigantic head, and I had a third degree tear. I ended up hospitalized for a night because of the suturing required, and the recovery was as fantastic as you can imagine.
The one thing I really regret from that day, however, was how I responded to what happened. I had not prepared myself at all for the pain, and I feel like I pretty much complained and screamed for ten hours.
I really didn’t want to do that again. I mean, I had gotten on my own nerves.
So as I neared the end of this pregnancy, I had not a little anxiety about this delivery. (That would be a lot. A lot of anxiety.) However, I dealt with that by putting effort into spiritual preparation for labor.
First, I sent an email to a group of ladies to let them know they were being voluntold to pray for me during labor. When I was having Arrow, I could have asked people to be praying for me, and I did not; I just did not think of it. Most people didn’t even know I had been in labor until well after he was born. This time, I was determined to let my circle know when it was time to pray.
And then I did a lot of praying about how to keep my focus on Jesus during labor. I really missed the mark in this area with Arrow; the only thing I really remember praying for was poop. (In my defense, constipation during labor is pretty awful! But really, “Dear Lord Jesus, help me poop, oh PLEASE help me poop,” is not exactly the most inspiring prayer. Bless my 2014 heart.)
I had read a blog by a person who had quoted Psalms during contractions, and I thought that that sounded like an amazing plan. My original intention was to memorize a chapter, but of course, that is not something I got around to doing. However, I asked God to guide me to verses He would have me use, and the results were a little surprising; instead of bringing me to verses that are about me or even my identity in Christ, He brought me time and time again to verses that were about HIM. About His sovereignty and how He is creator and controller of all things.
This labor was not supposed to be about me at all. It was about Him. He created, He fashioned, He positioned…and He was going to deliver.
So when contractions hit, this time, I turned to the Word. A favorite was, “Lord you are good and your mercy endureth forever.” (Although when things got more intense, I was definitely asking God to “take me to the rock that is higher than I.”)
The Word was amazingly effective in helping me relax during contractions…which is saying a lot since it is basically impossible for me to relax on demand.
I had spent a lot of labor in a rocking chair because that helped me relax my back between contractions (back labor is a pretty big problem for me,) but after standing to make a trip to the bathroom, I felt a definite change. I didn’t feel like pushing, but I felt very different, and I asked Debbie to check me to see what kind of progress we were making. She checked it out and said I was almost complete, there was just a little lip of cervix left, and if I wanted to push she could hold it out of the way.
The problem was, I really felt no urge to push. This was a surprise; when I pushed with Arrow, I really had no control, my body HAD to push and I was just along for the ride. It was so strange to know I was dilated and COULD push, but to have no desire to.
Debbie was so amazing. Even though things probably could have moved along faster if I pushed at this point, she saw that I wasn’t ready and was basically like, “OK, this is your baby.” She suggested that I lay on my side and let my body continue to bring the baby down.
Major home birth perk: I was on my own king sized bed, so Josh could lay with me. I was hanging on to him and Debbie squeezed my back with contractions (I don’t even know, but it really helps so much!) Although remembering Psalms may have been out the window at this point, with each contraction, I would pray. I had to do it out loud, couldn’t really help it. I know there was a lot of praying for God to help me to push, because I **still** wasn’t feeling any kind of urge to do it.
I finally gave a sort of practice push, more out of frustration than anything else. When Debbie saw I was ready to give it a try, she had me change my position, assessed the situation, and announced that she really felt like we would have a baby soon if I did some good pushing.
I may have asked, “How soon?” I’m not trying to be a hero.
Debbie explained to me later why I wasn’t feeling the urge to push, and it sounded very smart, but of course I can’t remember what she said. She provided some pressure for me to bear down against, but even with that and some pretty intense contractions, I’ll be honest that it was really a struggle to find my center and push. HOWEVER, pushing really didn’t last very long! I was actually surprised when I was told that he head was delivered and I had to push out the shoulders. Apparently the “ring of fire” is not so bad when your previous experience involves a third degree tear.
Before I knew it, at 4:50 AM, there was a baby on my chest! He was on his belly, and it was a few minutes before Josh and I even knew who this child was. My Mom finally assured us that this was a boy, and we got to introduce Oliver for the first time.
After a few minutes, I noticed that his face was a little gray. Although he was breathing and crying, he was breathing very quickly and making sort of gasping noises. Debbie explained that this was called Transient Something-Respiratory-Related (I know, my memory of all things medical is terrible. I have other gifts!) and that it usually will resolve itself when the baby is left with the mother. She had me doing skin-to-skin with him and indicated that we would just hang out and make sure his breathing resolved before doing anything else.
So for about an hour, everything froze. Josh and I just held Ollie, still attached to the placenta (which was in a bowl next to me,) and kind of were just hanging out with him. About 30 minutes after he was born, Arrow woke up, and we got to introduce him to Ollie before sending him to lay down with Ava. We nursed and talked to him in the quiet of the early morning.
His breathing did even out, and we discovered that his other end had been functioning, too! I was sent to take a shower, and Josh took the baby to introduce him to his other siblings who were just waking up. (Another home birth perk: you get to use YOUR OWN SHOWER, and when you come back all the birth things have been whisked away and your bed is all ready for you!)
Then Debbie examined me to see if I had had any tearing. I had not been looking forward to this part, as I have always had tearing to some extent. When she announced that the only damage was so minimal she thought that it would be better for the tissue to let it heal naturally than to suture it, I was one happy camper. I may have immediately texted three friends to share the good news.
Then came Oliver’s newborn exam, and we discovered that this baby who seemed so small was actually 8 pounds, 5 ounces. (But he really was so small!)
By 8:30 in the morning, the midwives were heading out and I was eating a fried egg on toast. Josh and I got to spend the rest of the day in bed with our new little man while my parents took care of the other kiddos downstairs.
And this is the part where I just have to gush about the goodness of God. Oliver’s birth had so many factors that demonstrated His hand on the situation. Such as:
- We were able to birth AT HOME. Remember the breech baby debacle?
- The speed of labor. Josh said later that the whole time he had this peace that things seemed to be going really well. This was probably the fastest labor I’ve ever had.
- I did NOT have a baby at lunch time on Thanksgiving Day. Everyone that attended the birth (including us!) got to enjoy Thanksgiving with family before things went down.
- I labored through the night, and the kids slept through it! My hope had been that the kids would go to bed one night and wake up with a sibling, and that’s what happened! Even Arrow, who sleeps in my closet and often wakes in the middle of the night, slept through the whole thing!
- I was able to deliver on the bed. I know it sounds silly because women birth anywhere and everywhere, but I had really been hoping to not have to birth, say, next to a bathroom sink, this time around. As fun of a story as that can make.
- NO MAJOR TEARING. Hallelujah, Amen!
- My Mom was there.
- Brandi was there. She was there because she’s a friend, but she also happens to be our Children’s Minister. What a blessing to Oliver that she has been ministering to him literally from the moment he was born!
- We had an awesome midwife! I love the midwife that delivered Arrow, and I was really not a happy camper to have to find another one, but God led us to just the right person. Debbie’s calm spirit helped me so much through labor, and I will forever be thankful for the role she played in bringing Oliver safely earthside. (It also doesn’t hurt that she is OK with texting and can talk Doctor Who. Ahem.)
I was wrapping up our study of Human Anatomy with the kids yesterday, and the conclusion of the book included some verses about God’s design for people. I was just a little blown away by Isaiah 44:24, because it so well encompassed the focus that I felt God lead me to for this pregnancy and delivery:
“This is what the Lord says—
your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb:
I am the Lord,
the Maker of all things,
who stretches out the heavens,
who spreads out the earth by myself.”
The Maker of all things also took the time to form each of us, individually, in the womb.
Soli Deo Gloria!