As I write, my newest baby girl (L) is currently sleeping soundly in the Moby wrap. She is 11 days old. As I disclaimed on my first birth story, if you aren’t interested in the graphic details of childbirth, I suggest you skip this post. Otherwise, enjoy.
This birth story starts very similar to my first. It was about 1:30 AM on Friday when I began having minor cramps and bleeding. With the pending snow storm, I immediately called my parents and asked them to begin the six hour drive to our house. Of course, my mom had told me multiple times that she would have her phone by her bed in case I went into labor in the middle of the night, but I think she was quite surprised when I really called in the middle of the night!
Our toddler had been sick and was sleeping in our bed that night. So, I got back in bed and got the best night’s sleep I could, considering. She would wake up intermittently coughing and crying. It certainly felt like the worst time to be going into labor–a snow storm on the way and a sick older sibling. And at the same time, it seemed like the perfect time, too–my great-grandmother turned 106 that day. Not to mention, I was over the whole being pregnant thing.
My parents got on the road about 3:00 AM. The snow had already started and was further south than was expected. They hit major snow showers just a couple hours into the drive. Thankfully, my dad drives a large truck and was able to maneuver the treacherous terrain.
I woke up the next morning with the same symptoms, but nothing regular.
My parents arrived around lunchtime. What normally takes six hours took nine.
After a day of irregular contractions, I finally called the birth center that afternoon to let the midwife on call, Elke, know what was going on, especially considering the weather conditions. There was nothing notable happening, but I at least wanted to be on her radar. We decided that when my contractions were regularly ten minutes or less apart, I would go in. Since we live outside the city and it had been snowing for hours, we allotted an hour for the drive to the birth center.
My contractions got closer together as the night went on, but again… not regular. I called Elke again and she suggested that I drink a quart of water over the course of 90 minutes and see if that slowed them down–that would give an indication as to whether or not I was legitimately progressing. Much to my disappointment, the water trick worked and my contractions got farther apart again… really?
I tried to get some sleep, but although the contractions were irregular, they certainly weren’t comfortable. And K was sleeping in our bed again that night. The hope of having my girl born on my great-grandmother’s birthday was slipping away with each (what felt like) useless contraction. The midwives recommended that I take Benadryl or Tylenol PM to try and get some sleep, but as a personal conviction, I had no interest in taking any medication while pregnant.
About 1:30 AM, my contractions had been consistently under 10 minutes apart (although not getting closer together), so I called Elke to let her know. We decided it was time to go in. It took us a little while to get out the door and I was afraid that this baby was going to come in the truck. Everyone kept telling me how fast second babies come… I could just see it now… Chris and my dad delivering the baby in the truck, in the snow, in the middle of the night. Please no.
We made it to the birth center around 2:45 AM. As you’ve probably guessed, baby girl did not make her appearance in the truck.
Elke checked me and I was three centimeters. Three. Y’all. When I got to the birth center with K, I was seven centimeters. Seven. And she was here within about four hours. Four hours of active labor and a ridiculously long transition. There was stuff happening. This time–nothing. I was exhausted. And discouraged. I was pleased that the nurse on call was Jane, the same nurse we had when K was born. We are big fans of hers. (We discovered that we live five minutes from one another and had no idea! She has a farm just down the road from us. Details–God’s in ’em.) She came in and checked L’s heartbeat every hour. I eventually ended up laying on the bed and sleeping between contractions. They weren’t getting any closer together and I saw no end in sight. I would awake each time at the peak of my contraction, reaching for Chris’ hand and squeezing it tight as he watched the clock. This went on until morning.
Elke and Jane went off call and Emily and Asha came on. Jane came in and gave me a hug and told me good luck. Around 8:30 AM, my dad decided to drive back to the house and get my mom and K and bring them back to the birth center so they could be there when L was born.
Emily came in and asked how I was doing. I told her that physically, I was fine, but emotionally, not so much. She asked me to elaborate (bless her) and I told her that I was discouraged and felt like nothing was working. She had read in my birth plan that K’s head was asynclitic (crooked) and proceeded to check L’s positioning. She discovered that she had a hand up by her head. Not ideal. She immediately went to work–they bound up my stomach, suggested that I hop in the shower and do some pelvic exercises, and then had me labor on my hands and knees–all of these measures can naturally help a baby get into a better position.
By 9:15 AM, I was eight centimeters. Transition came and went and at one point, I was laying in the bed talking and laughing with Emily and Asha between contractions. I didn’t even really think about how funny this was until they both said what a good thing it was that I could still smile at this point in labor. What a difference from my first birth experience where my transition lasted nearly two hours and between contractions, I prayed that I wouldn’t have any more and that God would make it stop. This time, I was talking and laughing. My one desire with this labor was that I would feel more in control. The Lord was gracious and granted my request.
Chris texted my dad to let him know that things were progressing well. I continued to labor on my hands and knees and it became apparent to everyone that it was getting time to push. I stayed on my hands and knees as I pushed. Just six minutes before L arrived, my water broke (this was a big deal… I’ll explain later). That contraction and the next one were incredibly intense, but I felt like I was able to manage the remaining contractions by slowing my breathing and lowering my vocalizations. I just really felt present this time. (My water broke much earlier with K and I think that partially explains why my labor with her was much more intense and mentally/emotionally difficult.) Per Emily’s suggestion, so that they could immediately put L on my chest, I turned over onto my side for the final two pushes. Emily and Asha said that she opened her eyes and looked around before she was fully born…and that she looked like her mama. 🙂 By 9:36 AM, she was here. My dad had stopped to get some breakfast and wasn’t even through eating by the time she arrived.
After hours of early labor, I progressed through active labor, transition, and pushing in one hour. I guess second babies do come faster, once they decide to come. She wasn’t born on her great-great-grandmother’s birthday, but that’s okay. She was born on hers. ❤
She immediately started nursing and hasn’t stopped yet. 😉
Chris was wonderful–steady and dependable, holding my hand and watching the clock. I’m so thankful for his even temperament and consistency. And he loves his girls so well.
Emily and Asha were amazing. They took into consideration how I was feeling emotionally and were very intentional to encourage me and took proactive steps to naturally move my labor along in the right direction. I am so thankful for the birth center and their model of care.
Back to my water breaking–so I tested positive for GBS with this pregnancy. I was so upset. With K, I tried to be very proactive about probiotics and I tested negative. With L, I took for granted that I had been negative before and was not as proactive with my probiotic intake. After some ugly crying and major mom fail self-deprecation, I did some research, talked with a precious lifelong friend and fellow mom, prayed, talked to family and discussed at length with a trusted midwife. Carefully considering each piece of information, Chris and I decided to waive the antibiotics in labor. This decision was not made lightly. For us, the risk of L contracting GBS disease was much lower than the risk of antibiotics destroying her healthy newborn microbiome and stunting her immune system. I began taking a probiotic orally and vaginally every day. I retested after doing this for a week and tested positive again. Although I was discouraged, this didn’t change our position on GBS and antibiotics.
There are three risk signs that a baby will contract GBS disease–premature labor (before 37 weeks), fever during labor, and PROM (premature rupture of membranes or your water breaks 18 or more hours before the baby is born). L was born at 39 weeks and 5 days, so she wasn’t premature. I didn’t have a fever in labor. And my water broke SIX MINUTES before she was born. Six. Minutes.
If I had my way, I would’ve tested negative for GBS. That would’ve been how I answered the prayer for a healthy baby. God decided to grow my trust in Him and kept my waters in tact until the very last minute, almost literally. God is good and faithful and even if my water had broken early and L did contract GBS disease, He would still be good and faithful.
3 Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
the fruit of the womb a reward.
4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the children of one’s youth.
5 Blessed is the man
who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame
when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.