As is my tradition, I am documenting my birth story. If not for anyone else, I like to remember how each child entered the world. So, read if you like, but also know that there may be what some consider TMI (too much info). Read with caution. ha!
First, I want to share a couple of pictures of a note that Abriella had written quickly in a class at church a few Sundays before the birth. I kept this on our dresser after she gave it to me so that I could see it. “Hope” has become such a meaningful word to me over the past year and a half.
So, having had babies earlier than the due date comes with some challenges. Mental challenges. (Some might say I have mental challenges ALL the time). Then, when the physical signs start coming, the challenge comes stronger. So, on Wednesday night, the 19th, I had a few hours of mild contractions. They were not braxton hicks. These were actually contractions that were in my back, which has only ever happened with my “real” contractions. So, I laid awake, wondering if these would turn into anything, but they didn’t. I went to sleep.
On Thursday, the 20th, I had sporadic contractions throughout the day. I visited the chiropractor and she said my pelvis was definitely more mobile than it had been in the previous week. She did some adjustments to also try to encourage proper positioning of the baby. Ridley and I also went grocery shopping. What an uncomfortable shopping trip!
Historically, I’ve never had contractions before it was actually labor time. So, I wasn’t sure what to think about these. I did send a text to my midwife, Sandra, around 4:40pm to let her know what had been happening. I told her I wasn’t sure if they would turn into anything more or not and I was still continuing on as usual. Later, she texted me to see where things were—if she should stay at the birth center (to be closer to me) or go home. I told her to go home as there was no action on my part. That was at 7:30 pm.
So, I had been “planning” for a while to make it to this particular weekend of 37 1/2 wks before giving birth. Funny, I know. It was a goal to get to 37 wks and then get through the 1st week of school for the kids. Certainly, I was trying to be ok with going past that, too. The hard thing is that I also really wanted this rainbow baby in my arms, safe and sound. Once you enter the baby loss community, you know all the stories. All the very sad and hard stories. You know, without a doubt, that there is no safe period in pregnancy.
With that being said, I was also to the “I’m done” point of pregnancy. I’ve reached this with every pregnancy and the baby was born shortly thereafter. It’s kind of odd how that has happened. Well, I’m not sure I had hit that point with Ridley just yet that I had verbalized it. The others, I had verbalized it in some form or another to Stephen. I had reached that point with this one. It’s kind of pitiful how soon I reach that point. Like, seriously, I have no sympathy for myself when I get to that point at 37ish weeks! But, it’s when my pelvis is seriously aching, more pelvic pressure, waddling takes on full force, etc.
OK, fair warning: TMI ahead. Skip this paragraph and the next if you want to miss this part. Of course, now, you’re all curious… Â So, one part that I never wrote in my birth story for Colby (totally should go back and add it before I’m too old to remember how it all actually played out) was the last thing that happened before his labor started. I had been trying all day to go into labor with him without any success. So, my last attempt was to end the pregnancy the way it had started. So, that’s what happened, and then about 30 minutes later, the whirlwind labor started. HA! The husband was pretty pleased with himself.
So, this pregnancy, I was asking for the same ending on this particular night. Stephen had not touched me in a few weeks in this oh so loving way (can’t say I really cared to anyway–too uncomfortable!). Â He was not wanting to because it wasn’t his chosen night for me to deliver. HA! I told him that it was mine! And, I said I doubted it would work anyway. He confidently said it would. haha. Anyway, about 30 minutes after… I had a contraction. On the second contraction, I felt 2 little pops way low. I thought, hmmm, that reminds me of when my water broke with Colby, except it was way more dramatic with Colby. I pushed a tiny bit and a little gush of fluid came out. I went to the potty and there was a little pink with the clear fluid. Bingo. That was at 10:10pm.
So, I still always have a small doubt of my water breaking and want to be confident of it before notifying anyone. Anyway, I wasn’t contracting very often. They were like 10 or so minutes apart and mild. So, I just laid in the bed for a while watching the clock. Then, I decided to go sit in the rocking chair in the living room. Stephen was sleeping through this part as I hadn’t told him anything. (Later, he told me he knew something was going on because, in his words, “you were doing your thing.”). About 11:45 pm, I decided to finally let him know. I told him I was pretty sure my water had broken… He said, uh huh, yep. Kind of like, I told you this would happen! HA! I texted Sandra a few minutes later, just before midnight. Told her that possibly my water had broken (still doubting myself as it wasn’t a ton of fluid) and that I was contracting, but still easily manageable, but they were about every 3-5 minutes now. So, she said she’d better head my way (she lives like 45 minutes away).
Anyway, Stephen and I turned on the lights and start getting things in place in our room. I set up my essential oils diffuser, too. Diffused Balance with Wild Orange all throughout. Contractions came here and there, but they were just not that strong at all. I think Sandra arrived around 1:00 am (Friday the 21st now). I had talked to my friend, Bergen, somewhere around 12:30am or so, and learned she couldn’t come. She was home with her little boy, and her husband was gone that night. If birth had been imminent and Sandra wasn’t going to make it, she would’ve come. I told her that it was fine and we’d be good!
So, when Sandra arrived, she got all her stuff in the house and then started checking me out, taking vitals and listening to baby, etc. I then told her that Bergen wasn’t coming, so she called for someone else to come assist. Her name was Bethaney. I had met her at the birth center previously. Not sure what time she arrived exactly. I really didn’t keep up with the time much during the night. Â This was a picture that we took before anyone arrived. I look to be in hard labor, right!? HA! Bit of trivia: I have worn the same set of pants and shirt for all of my labors and Stephen has worn the same shorts. They’re our labor clothes. haha!
So, as stated earlier, I had been doubting the reality of my water breaking. But, I did start getting more obvious gushes of fluid so that there was no doubt. The contractions still weren’t anything to really write home about. Interestingly, the last few weeks leading up to birth, I had prayed for a peaceful labor. The entire pregnancy was much more stressful and emotional, occurring after 2 of our babies went to heaven. I just wanted peace and calm for the ending. Something about being chaotic and crazy fast like Colby’s labor didn’t appeal to me. I wanted all parties to be present and ready. I didn’t want any drama if possible. God answered this prayer.
So, some are aware of my involvement with a group called Hope Mommies. Well, they have some song playlists on Spotify. Â One of the playlists is called Everyday Encouragement. I turned my phone onto this playlist. It went for the entire night. I just can’t explain some of the emotions that went along with hearing some of those songs throughout the night. Several songs meant so much to me since our babies went to heaven. It is well by Bethel is a hugely meaningful song to me. It played towards the very end while I was in the birth pool (more on that later) and it brought tears to my eyes. O Lord by Lauren Daigle is another one of my favorites. Oceans by HillsongÂ is another one that means a lot. All of these songs are associated to different parts of my journey in my mind. To have them playing during labor and delivery spoke to me in some very special ways. It was a reminder to me that God was definitely with us.
So, as the night progressed, I started to get a little impatient. Just seemed to be taking longer to me. Again, I wasn’t watching the clock, so no idea how long things were really active labor like. I did have to stay up and moving for labor to be very effective with this one. When I would sit or lay down (like to check my vitals and baby’s heart beat), the contractions spaced out tremendously. That was an interesting part to me in this labor. Just standing up and even moving my legs up and down would lead to effective contractions. So, up we were. I tried at one time to walk up and down the stairs a bit, but something in one of my legs started hurting doing that. Would’ve been fine if I had put some shoes on, but who wants to do that?! ha! Clearly, I didn’t.
So, positions included walking around downstairs, hands and knees, sitting on an exercise ball (contractions stopped when sitting on it), doing some dancing moves with my legs that we did in a class at the birth center, and you know, getting down and up from the potty (that’s pretty difficult at some points, and it always seems that brings on a contraction!). The birth pool was set up in our room and it was just there mocking me. HA! I didn’t want to get in it too soon so as to slow down labor.
Around 5 am, we decided to wake Abriella up, since she had wanted to be at the birth. This is when we decided I could get into the pool. For those that wonder, I was never checked for dilation during pregnancy or during labor. I just went with what my body did, and Sandra, in her very knowledgeable ways, can tell based on what I’m doing about where I am in labor. I love that. Leading up to this time, contractions were definitely harder to work through. I was really depending on Stephen to apply counter pressure to my back and support me during this time. Stephen has always been so good for all of my different labors, whether that was coaching from the front seat of a van while driving who-knows-how-fast, or applying counter pressure, or praying over me, or just verbally encouraging me. He said a super sweet and powerful prayer over me at some point during this labor towards the end. I can’t remember when exactly.
I always have back labor for whatever reason. I figure it’s the way my body is made. But, this labor, I had even more painful back labor. The reason why is probably because this baby really was posterior for most of the labor. Something in my pelvis rotated him at the end, so he came out anterior. This might also be why this labor was a little slower. But, oh my back. There is just no describing how intense that is.
So, Abriella came downstairs and she was very confused. She told us later that she had actually been dreaming when Stephen woke her up. She had been dreaming that I was having the baby and that it was a boy. So, she said she actually pinched herself to make sure she wasn’t still dreaming. Bless her. (But, hey, she guessed it was a boy!).
So, the water felt great! We added some new hot water. Abriella and Bethaney got some of the colder water out with a big pot. I was on hands and knees, squatting, 1 leg out to the side while kind of on the other knee, I laid my head on the side of the pool, etc. It felt really good! When the contractions came, they were intense! As Abriella later stated, “I didn’t know mama could groan that loud.” ha! While I was in the pool before pushing, It is Well started playing on my phone. I started crying while it was playing. Sweet Bethaney was offering me a towel to wipe my nose every little while. This was a powerful reminder to me at the perfect time. It.is.well.
I don’t know when I started pushing. I don’t know how long I pushed. I don’t think it was very long, although it might’ve felt like it. I don’t know anything other than back labor, so can’t say personally what it feels like otherwise. But, with back labor, it does not feel good to push. I have to very much just push into the incredible back pain that goes with the pushing, which is against what every fiber in my body wants to do. And, I don’t know if he was rotating during this time or what, but it was more intense than the others (well, Abriella was just different, so can’t compare hers) during this pushing. This is when I became more vocal.
At one point, I did reach down and feel, and indeed, his head was there, so that gave me extra motivation. After his head was born, his body didn’t come quickly. I said something to the effect of “Get the baby out!” This is the only time that Sandra really laid hands on me. I don’t think she was worried, but just seeing what was going on. She told me later that his head was there, but his shoulders were way up–not a shoulder dystocia though. I repositioned myself (I don’t know if someone told me to, or I just did), and then he came on out. Stephen and Sandra both had hands on baby. Oh, sweet relief!! Born at 5:56 am on August 21st, 2015.
We placed baby on me and placed a warm wet towel on him. He quickly began to wail! Such incredible joy and relief and…well, it was just super emotional! I just couldn’t stop crying. I think it was a couple of minutes before we even looked to see gender. Abriella asked, of course. So, we peeked and she assured us she was fine with a boy when she learned the official gender. She had told us that before, but I know in her heart, she really wanted a sister. Sweet girl. We waited until the cord stopped pulsating (I remember it was quite a while–maybe 15-20 minutes) before cutting it. Abriella was able to feel the pulsating cord, which she thought was cool. When it came time to cut, she got to cut the cord. Placenta delivered shortly thereafter. Then, Sandra gave Abriella a mini lesson about placentas. I moved to the bed shortly after this and just loved on our boy! For my remembering only, I did tear in that same place that I always tear a little. But, it wasn’t even bleeding. I’ve never needed stitches with any of my births, thankfully.
Here are some pictures. You’ll notice in some of the pictures that Charlie’s face is quite bruised. That’s what happens coming through my birth canal sometimes! Ridley was like that, too! It was pretty much gone by the next day. Around one of his eyes, he was slightly swollen for a while longer.
First one, I love that Stephen and Abriella both have their hands on the new baby. The next few pictures…oh the emotion!
Abriella cutting the cord below and then standing proudly with her proud daddy! Love this picture!
The big weigh in. 7 lbs 2 oz (not bad for 37 wks 3 days). This is our awesome midwife, Sandra! I think I’ll have to take a picture that she’s ready for at our 6 wks visit! 🙂
The boys got to meet their baby brother! Ridley was a little irked that he wasn’t woken up for the birth. He said, “I wanted to see the baby come out!” We actually knew this, but we were going to only consider this if the birth occurred during his waking hours. Both Colby and Ridley were super surprised to come downstairs to a new baby!
We were incredibly blessed through this birth. It was such an emotional one for me. But, as Stephen said, “It was our most successful birth,” meaning different things that we had desired actually occurred. Â Truly, we’ve been blessed with all of our births. Even the birth of Tiny felt sacred when it occurred. I finally got a waterbirth, it was not crazy fast, it was a peaceful pace, it was at night which I just like better than day (Ridley was our only daytime birth, and it just seemed odd for some reason, ha!), Abriella got to be there like she wanted, and most of all, we got a very healthy little baby!
I felt a bit of healing perhaps through this birth. I thought about our babies that are enjoying heaven throughout the labor, and I still think about them daily. I don’t know when or if there will be a time in life when I don’t think about them and wonder. I think that’s ok. One day, Charlie will know about his siblings that didn’t live before him, too. I think it’s possible his older siblings might even tell him one day before me. I imagine Colby would be one to tell him. I guess we’ll see one day.
We are just so thankful! We are at 1 month and a day since Charlie was born, and it just seems like he’s always been with us in many ways. He’s such an incredible blessing as all 6 of my children are. The babies that aren’t with us blessed us in many ways, too, some of which we haven’t even fully realized yet. Thank you for all of you that have prayed us through this. We ask that you continue to pray for us as we parent our children as long as we are given with them.