Tuesday, July 1, 2014

the birth story I prayed I would be able to tell: Stella Rae

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For a while there, I thought Eli's birth had ruined me. (part 2)

It was long, tiring, no- down right exhausting, and in many ways disappointing.

But it resulted in such an incredible child being brought into this world. And as time passed, that's all I could think about when I looked back on it. And soon the feelings of disappointment faded and the memory of the exhaustion and pain disappeared.

And 10 months later, we were pregnant with Stella.

I prayed from day one of her pregnancy that the Lord would give me the home birth I had so desired with Eli. I spent so much time in the word, preparing my heart, my mind and my spirit for her labor and birth. I sometimes worried that things would go exactly how they had with Eli. But instead of succumbing to that fear, I chose instead to submit all my anxiety to the Lord. I chose to believe instead, that He is ultimately in control, no matter what may happen. And I chose to believe that He would write my daughter's birth story and that it would be exactly as He planned.

I went into labor with no expectations. I wasn't longing for a super short labor (although I would have appreciated that, no doubt!) and I wasn't scared of having a terribly long and arduous labor. I was simply ready for whatever lay ahead of me because I knew with my whole heart that God is my help, my strength and would uphold me (Isaiah 41:10). I knew He would grant me peace (Isaiah 26:3) and patience (Colossians 3:12) as I needed them . And I knew that in Christ I have everything I need (Colossians 12:9,10). 

My roughly estimated due date was June 10. I had no idea what my LMP was and only a best guess of the conception date. Our 20 week ultrasound showed her measuring right around that gestation, but as we neared the end of her pregnancy, I was consistently measuring about 2 weeks behind that. But, I still guessed that she would be here some time between the 10th and the 15th. 

And turns out, the Friday (June 13) that landed during that week just happened to be the full moon.

I began having false labor that week, for about 3 days. By Friday morning I was beginning to get a little more than irritated and a lot tired. The contractions didn't hurt, and I could totally sleep through them, but they were annoying and not getting any closer together or longer. And all I kept thinking was, "it's that dang moon!"

By Friday evening they started to pick up. I put the boys to bed at 8 and it was around then that my contractions were becoming more consistent. Not very long, and not close enough together to get really excited, but they were at least doing something!

I picked up the house and started prepping things for when labor really began. I heated a crock pot full of water, added some lavender essential oil and filled it with wash cloths. We put our $1 thrifted sheet on the bed (that would likely be ruined) and a plastic shower curtain underneath it. I lit my favorite coconut candle in the bedroom. I made sure I was drinking plenty of water, grabbed a snack and then I laid down on the couch to try and get some rest. By now it was past 11 o' clock. And by now, I could not sleep through my contractions.

Each one woke me up and they were getting intense and closer together, but still not much longer.

In fact, they never did get consistently longer and closer together. Some were longer than others. Some would come back to back to back and then some would be 5 minutes apart.

At 1:30 am, I decided to take a shower and that's when things got really intense. Over the course of 30 minutes I had 6 contractions and they were serious. Like, I had to lean way over, squat super low and grit my teeth to get through each one. By 2 o' clock, when I got out of the shower, I was borderline feeling like I needed to push.

So I called my midwife. At first I was hesitant because even though the contractions were really intense and I knew things were moving along quickly, they still weren't a minute long and they still were 5 minutes apart. But we wanted to be sure, so she agreed to head over along with a colleague of hers and a student.

They arrived at the house around 2:30. I was laboring in our bedroom, leaning over the side of our bed and breathing through every contraction. Ben would put a couple of hot wash cloths on my back during each contraction, which felt wonderful. In between, I would lay on the bed on my side. Sometimes there wasn't enough time before the next one came to get on the bed. Sometimes I had a good 5 minutes to lay there and rest. At one point, a contraction came on while I was laying down and I didn't even have a chance to stand up to get through it (I had to be standing to get through each one!). And then it hit me, the nausea and I totally threw up. At that point I thought, "oh good, we must be at transition!" But I also thought, "ew, yuck, gross."

In case you're wondering, I choose not to be checked for dilation during labor. It makes me anxious to know how far along I am. If I'm not as far as I had hoped, I get discouraged and I just don't want that. Instead I choose to just follow the cues that my body gives me

From that point on I was squatting at the side of the bed during contractions. My midwives were monitoring the baby's heart rate periodically. And then my water broke. And I was definitely feeling the need to push. I tried to squat as I pushed but my legs were just too tired and jello-y so I ended up back in the bed. I labored on my side for a bit, pushing as hard as I could. 

By now I have no idea what time it was. I flipped to my back and continued pushing through each contraction. Ben was coaching me to push and I was beginning to wonder if anything was happening. At this point with Eli and Isaac both, I would push, they would move down and then as soon as the contraction ended, they would slip back up and I could feel it happening. This time I was wondering if the same thing was happening, although I wasn't feeling her move back. Ben and my midwife both assured me things were happening differently this time. She was moving down with each push and she was staying put. Part of me didn’t believe them. But part of me thought, "okay, we're so close, let's get this baby out!" 

I was exhausted, so stinkin' tired. There is a reason it’s called labor after all. I would look up at Ben between contractions and tell him I couldn't push anymore. To which he would reply both sternly and lovingly, "yes. you. can." I prayed for the strength to get through the last bit of this labor and kept going. At some point Ben turned on music. One of my midwives held my hand and with just a few more pushes, she was out. That last push, I tell ya, I did not think I pushed nearly hard enough and yet, there she was. Ben said she was crying the moment her lips touched the air. And with one more push she was completely out and laying on my tummy. Born at 4:45 am and I did it, all on my own! No assistance from a vacuum required.

And she was so tiny!! That's the first thing I said to Ben. Because she was! She was a whole pound smaller than Eli.

The next few moments were my favorite part. She stayed with me, all was calm and peaceful, my favorite pandora station playing, Ben by my side. No beeping, no nurses running around frantically, no rush to cut the chord, no one asking me a zillion questions about the vaccines and eye ointment we chose to deny. Just us, able to enjoy this new little life, uninhibited. This incredible blessing: our daughter. 

I nursed her soon after. She was a natural. Then we got to measure her. She weighed 7 pounds, 5 ounces and was 20.5 inches long. A tall skinny little lady like her momma.

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My incredible midwives cleaned up and were gone within the hour. I am so blessed to have had a great team of women by my side, helping me, assisting me, and encouraging me during labor and throughout my pregnancy.

My mom showed up around 7 to pick up the boys for the day- who, to our surprise, didn’t wake up once during the night. And their room is next to ours! I thought for sure at some point Isaac would hear something: me yelling, someone walking back in forth in the hallway or see the lights on and want to check out what all the raucous was. But no, he and Eli slept soundly through the night and woke up to a meet their brand new baby sister.

While my mom fed the boys breakfast and held the new baby, Ben and I were able to get a short, but wonderful, post-labor nap in our own bed. It was glorious. She headed out soon after to leave me, Ben and the baby alone for the day.

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We spent the entire day on the couch, watching the World Cup and eating turkey sandwiches (always my first meal of choice after labor. I mean, hello, I’ve gone 9 months without it!).

I can’t even tell you how nice it is to just be able to stop, have a baby and then get right back into the swing of things. Obviously I took some time to rest afterward, but life still goes on, especially with multiple kids. Children still need to be fed, changed, bathed and tucked in to bed. The house still needs to be picked up. Meals still need to be prepared. I love that we didn’t have to stay overnight somewhere else and that even though we had people who were willing to keep the kids overnight, we didn’t have to. We were all able to sleep in our own beds, eat food from our kitchen, take a shower in our bathroom, use our potty, grab fresh clothes out of our closet and rest in our home.


All in all, it was a pretty uneventful birth, which is exactly what my heart desired, and what I had hoped for all along. In many ways it was redemptive, after 3 previous births that didn't go how I had expected. In many ways it gave me relief, knowing that I am capable. And in many ways, it was exactly what my heart needed. Praise be to God. He is so faithful. 

And how fun that we can say this little lady was born in the same place she was conceived?!!

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4 comments:

  1. What a great story! And Baby Wise for the win when two toddlers sleep through the night during a home birth! Can't wait to meet Stella!

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  2. My sweet daughter, I am so proud of you and so glad that your prayers were answered by our faithful God. The glory is all His!

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  3. She's adorable!! Congrats on your delivery.

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  4. Congratulations!! What a beautiful girl! And wow, you look great. I had a difficult hospital birth with my first and an absolutely perfect homebirth my second time around, and, like yours, it was redemptive. This story just warms my heart. God is so good!

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