Saturday, December 20, 2014

ME's Birth Story

Last Saturday, we rested. I felt a cold coming on, and the pregnancy was really wearing on me, and mercifully, there was just nothing pressing for any of us to manage.

So, I spent a lot of the day on the couch and the kids and BB were wonderful to keep things clicking along in the house.

I'd been wanting to do a movie night for the big girls, who have all read the Hunger Games books, but had not seen the first two movies. It was my hope that we could pull off the movie night before Baby came. That morning, the three bigs and I looked at food ideas online, so that we could put together some fun Hunger Games themed eats. Later on, they walked to the store (yes, we have one that close - it's wonderful!) and bought the needed items for our little movie party. Oh, and the younger set got to choose a movie as well that they watched together upstairs with some special snacks.
LC had been planning to make this Christmas treat for some time, so we decided to have it with movie night: homemade chocolate cupcakes with glossy white (green!) icing and Christmas-y sprinkles. Delicious!!

Food prepared, BB and I sat down with the oldest three and watched our (very interrupted - that's how movie-viewing goes in this house) movie. When it was over, BB insisted we carry on and watch Catching Fire, too. I was so, so tired and didn't know if I was up to staying up that late, but I didn't get off the couch, so we (and the youngers upstairs) were all treated to a double feature! It was fun.

But as soon as it was over, we all stumbled into bed, near midnight, and crashed.

Oh, but before we crashed, BB and I prayed together, and one of my requests to the Lord was for contentment with His birth schedule for me. I was truly at the point where every little twinge was becoming important, only to see that it wasn't, and to have to bring myself back to the reality that Baby could come as late as Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

As was usual, I awoke before too long for a bathroom visit and turned over to get out of bed. As I shifted to my back to roll over, POP! my water broke! What an awesome surprise! It was 1:20am. This baby is coming today, hooray, on her due date! Quite stunned, I smacked BB and told him the big news, twice, because the first time didn't register, he said, because he was having Hunger Games dreams.

I sent him running for a towel and started trying to think clearly about what to do next.

Remembered to snap a last-minute belly shot

After making sure the fluid was clear and such, we talked about how to proceed, and decided to lay low and watch to see whether I'd go into labor. BB wisely suggested that we try to get some rest. Very wise, yes. But who can sleep when a baby's coming today?! I lay down next to him and tried. But I was obviously on pins and needles, paying a lot of attention to my body. I did start contracting weakly, about every 20-45 minutes. I was really nervous about things progressing quickly and having the baby at home. I am always nervous about something, and often it's things that are highly unlikely to occur, you know?

After several hours of the contractions, we decided to ask BB's mom to head our way from Back Home, about a 3 hour drive, because we knew that whether labor progressed or not, we were going to need to head for the hospital at some point in the morning.

BB was able (so lucky he is) to go back to sleep, but I was starving, so I went downstairs and made myself a huge breakfast. I ate in the quiet, then went back upstairs to get a shower around 6:30am. The kids were waking up, too, and while I showered, BB told them the big news, which set everyone aflutter, of course!

I'm so grateful to the Lord for His tender mercy regarding the timing of all of this. Going into labor in the wee hours on a Sunday simplified so many potential complications for us. It meant Gramma didn't have to fight traffic heading into town to get to us. The same was true for us - a Sunday morning drive to the hospital is an entirely different prospect than a weekday trek. It would be quick and simple and parking was likely to be easy.

Also, we'd asked the oldest four girls if they'd like to be present at the birth, knowing that all kinds of weird, unexpected factors could cause that to not work out. But how beautiful, that they got to have a decent night's sleep, get up and have breakfast and get ready to go (mostly calmly) along with us!

Gramma arrived around 8:30am, bless her sleepless night heart! We put the last few things in my hospital bag and loaded up with the big 3 girls (LC declined the offer to attend the delivery). Again, just so grateful for the calmness of it all.

We left with a hint of anxiety about whether the hospital would admit me, since we've had two odd experiences with that so far in which no one could prove my water had broken, at least not for a long time. Talked to the Lord about that and asked Him to allow this to be drama-free. People were praying for us on this, asking Him to let them just believe us.

We arrived at the hospital and BB dropped me off at the labor and delivery entrance. I walked on in and he went with the girls to park. By this point, I'd stopped having contractions. I wasn't sure what that would mean to the powers that be, how they'd assess that and factor it in to their decision on whether to admit me or not.

But again, tender mercies of God: I filled out the registration paper work and they put me in a room. Just like that. What?! This is for real! I guess I was pretty burned last time when it took 11 days to convince the medical world that I had ruptured membranes and was dangerously low on amniotic fluid, so being ushered right in was a relief and a joy, truly.

 Before any real action...signing a pile of paperwork, texting a few people

The nurses let me know they were at work finding out who was on call from my practice and meanwhile they did their part to get us admitted.

Since I was only with this ob/gyn practice for half of the pregnancy, I really didn't have the benefit of having built relationships with any of the providers. It's a doctor and midwife group and I'd chosen to see mostly midwives. In the days before my water broke, it occurred to me that I could quite likely be delivered by someone I'd never even seen, which isn't the end of the world, but it got me talking to the Lord: Father, just let it be the right person for us and our situation, our needs. I pray it might be a midwife I've seen more than once (which was only one or two of them).

Eventually, the nurses let me know that the on-call midwife was nearby and would head for the hospital soon. And guess what? I'd seen her two or three times, and all of those in very recent weeks! The nurses said the midwife wanted them to start pitocin, which we knew would be the desired protocol, and I was fine with that, but had a request: Could I get an epidural along with that? Having done one induced labor without an epi (pretty intense), and knowing how fast my labors have gone when my water's broken already and augmented with pitocin, I was hoping to get both going simultaneously. This combination worked beautifully with a few other of my labors.

The nurse didn't like the idea, but promised to ask the midwife before they started the pitocin. Thank you! More prayers at this point: Lord, please allow the midwife to be okay with this idea, to know that I know my body.


When the nurses returned, they said we had a green light to start both the pitocin and epidural close together. They checked me to see about dilation (I'd not been checked the whole pregnancy, for lots of reasons). I was at 3cm. My body had started contracting over the hour or two I'd been in the hospital bed during admission and such. They were not close, but some of them were very long and tight. I knew they were accomplishing things! One surprising thing to me was that none of my contractions so far was truly painful.

The epidural relaxed me a lot, but it also made me shiver & tremble a good bit 

At about 12:30pm the very chatty and gregarious anesthesiologist rolled in. Chatty and gregarious is good, because it helped pleasantly distract from the procedure. I enjoy the results, but don't love the icky strangeness of what it is they're really doing to you when you have an epidural.

Once that was in place, the nurses started the pitocin at 12:45pm. Oh, and all this time, my big girls were in a waiting room outside. We were planning to have them join the process once I'd gotten my pain management in place.

The midwife arrived not too long after the girls came into the room. She was so kind and calm and I loved the way she interacted with our family. Her plan was to place an internal monitor so she'd have a better sense of what each contraction was accomplishing, but she checked me first and found that I was at 7cm. Yes! Upon discovering this, she said, Nevermind, we won't be needing that. I'll go ahead and let the nursery and others know we need to go ahead and start setting up in here.

She sat there at the end of my bed for another moment or two chatting with us and as we talked I could feel the baby start to make her way out of the womb. Wow! That was fast! She checked me again and confirmed what I was feeling, hopped off the bed, stuck her head out the door and got everyone moving double-time for this imminent delivery.

I started to cry - happy relief and disbelief - and the midwife stood there as they put her gown and gloves on and said, Oh, I know your last pregnancy and delivery were scary. It makes so much sense that this would be emotional for you as those hard memories return. Yes. And how discerning. I was very touched by her observation and sensitivity, especially given that we'd spent little time together.

She asked BB if he'd like to help deliver the baby (no one had ever offered this before!). He was all about it and happily stepped aside so the nurse could help him get the (too small) gloves on his hands.

This was the fourth epidural I've had and was by far the strongest. I could not feel a thing, except for those moments of realizing the baby was moving into the birth canal, so when the midwife said Push, I sure tried, but I think the baby's emergence was mostly just my body doing its work and not my "pushing!" She directed BB on what to do and explained what all she was doing. As the head was born, I started to cry again and once more, the midwife spoke beautiful truth: Ahh, it's okay, those tears. This is your healing birth. Yes and amen, indeed. Praise be to God for this miracle.

And just like that, after only a moment or two, Baby Girl was out and gurgling, then screeching, all gray and slimy and tiny and so very present and so very ours.

Insert a happy sigh here. An exhale.

All's well. They gave her to me. BB cut the cord. The nursery began cleaning her up and examining her. BB and the girls got to stand near and watch the process. I always hate being way across the room during those moments, but soon enough they brought the little one back over to me.

Was it Mary Poppins who described herself as Positively Perfect in Every Particular? I am not sure, but that describes Baby.

We were able to leave the hospital after about only 24 hours post-birth because Baby and I were both doing so well. And this week has been a sweet time of holding her and getting to know her.

Oh, and after great debate and prayer and difficulty (and being told we couldn't be discharged from the hospital until we did so), we finally chose a name that we love. Her name here will be ME.

One last thing: photo credit! AH was the superstar birth photographer. Most of the labor and immediate post-birth photos are hers, and any picture including BB, of course. What a blessing to have these snapshots of such precious moments. Thanks, AH!!

Just the TEN of us...God is good.


  1. She's just beautiful Beth. Wishing you guys patience, peace, and sleep as she settles in. Hope your Christmas is lovely too. xo

  2. such a beautiful story - so glad for the blessings and God's gentle presence. xoxoxo