Trying on nick names is a little like trying on clothes: some fit right away, some you grow to like. Well, I think “Speedy” is going to stick for my daughter. At six weeks old, she doesn’t seem to share the same no-holds-barred attitude her brother has, but she certainly picks her times to be quick! It seems fitting, given her birth story.
I’ll be honest — I’m a little nervous to write this.
I never thought I’d share my kids’ birth stories like this. In the past I have admired the birth stories I’ve read — it takes confidence and vulnerability to share such an intimate event. And I never figured I would have the nerve (or need) to do the same.
And yet here I am.
Can I also confess something else? I was terrified for labor and delivery. Sure, I had a little over 36 weeks to get used to the idea (I found out I was pregnant at 4 weeks), but the fear never really went away. Why? This was my second child, after all. I had already lived through it once.
I had big — perhaps unrealistic — expectations for my son’s birth story.
Picture this: late-twenty-something woman, fit and stubborn as all get out, determined not to let pregnancy (or being a mom) slow her down. So in her mind, labor and delivery would go smoothly, quickly and without complication. Period.
Yup, that was me.
Really, I was quite blessed. My pregnancy with Zoom was very easy. There were no concerns from my midwives and I was planning a natural, medication-free delivery at the birth center. Sure, I knew anything could happen, but I coasted on the mindset that I’d labor like my mom. And since my mothers’ longest labor was two-and-a-half hours, I wasn’t worried.
But things didn’t go quite according to plan.
I spent early labor with Zoom at home, then at 5AM we drove to the birth center. Instead of the wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am quick labor I expected, I stalled in transition. Our little firstborn wasn’t shifting where we needed him to go.
Positioning exercises didn’t help, my water wouldn’t break and I had waited as long as I could bear. After being stalled for about 4 hours, I made the call and transferred to the hospital for some additional help so we could avoid a C-section.
When all was said and done, our son was born at 5:45 PM. He was a solid 8-pounds, 11-ounces and perfectly healthy. Aside from an epidural so I could rest, we managed to avoid all other interventions.
And yet, deep down I felt like I had failed. As though somehow it was my fault I had stalled. That I did something to screw up his positioning. I was ashamed for resorting to pain medication. And even though I talked this through with my midwife (who attended the delivery at the hospital), I still carried the fault around for a long time. Even up to pregnancy with little Speedy.
Then it came time for #2…
I will forever appreciate my midwife for this.
When I found out I was pregnant with kiddo #2, I went back to the same birth center for prenatal care. Right around 12 weeks we had our first appointment and she looked back in my son’s chart and read her notes out loud to me. I don’t remember exactly what she said, but I know enough medical terminology, and the truth sunk in:
No, things didn’t go according to plan with Zoom.
But it wasn’t my fault.
I don’t know why hearing it that day was different. It just was. And it was so freeing. Even though I was still afraid history might repeat itself, I was able to release the weight of unnecessary guilt.
Between releasing that guilt and the health changes I had made over the past couple years, I felt more equipped for labor and delivery. Aside from the pesky fear.
The due date came…and went.
As expected. Babies tend to arrive late in my family. Zoom himself was born 15 days overdue. So when I didn’t feel any rumblings, I really wasn’t surprised.
But that didn’t stop me from trying any “natural” labor inductions I could. I firmly believe that baby ain’t coming until they are ready, natural inductions are simply gentle suggestions to get the ball rolling. And starting at the 40-week-mark, I stared suggesting like the dickens. Every morning I rubbed the “labor” acupressure points on my feet and ankles with SclarEssence essential oil, ate spicy food at lunch, and gave my aching obliques a Lavender essential oil rub at bedtime.
Everything about pregnancy has an emotional element, mmm-I right? Especially at the end. Not sleeping, aching joints, anxious to meet the baby… Oh yeah, I was feelin’ it. But I had a moment somewhere when I was overdue where I was able to just surrender. It was during my normal devotion time when, for a few seconds, I was incredibly aware of God’s loving control. Over our situation, the baby and each of our lives. No amount of anxiety, begging or trying to “make it happen” was going to change that. I could keep worrying about being overdue, about how much longer “this was going to take” and all of that noise, or I could trust Him.
So I let it go.
Ding, bread’s done!
On a Saturday morning — just 5 days overdue — labor started. The contractions teased me quite a bit: they started at 5 minutes apart, then became irregular, then back to regular. I chatted with my midwife and we agreed I should wait to go in until they became stronger.
So we puttered around, did groceries, and waited. And waited. And…well, yeah. I decided to go to bed early, even though I knew I wouldn’t really sleep.
Then it got to that point. Where I wasn’t comfortable resting anymore and started popping in and out of the shower for comfort. So I woke up my poor husband — who had gotten only a couple hours of sleep — and we called our friends to come stay with Zoom while we were gone.
Even when we got to the birth center at midnight, things progressed…slowly. It took both the midwife and my husband to talk me into relaxing and just being peaceful with waiting. So we all cozied up and tried to get more rest.
…the contractions kicked up. At 4AM I got in the tub. We hadn’t planned on a water birth, but the tub is nice for pain relief. So I sat in the warm water and rode out the transition period.
There’s no way to put it nicely — when it comes to pain, labor is it’s own animal. And my contractions have a nasty habit of stacking on top of themselves before taking a break. Three seems to be my lucky number. With Frankincense in the diffuser, I did my best to stay relaxed and breathe (WAAAY easier said than done).
I’ll be honest, at the end I was pretty sure I was going to lose my mental grip. I was holding my husbands’ hand — and probably squeezing too hard — when he was just finishing praying and I had a total God-moment. I knew the baby and I would be fine; God created my child to be born and my body to deliver them. Pure and simple.
There was a catch
I don’t know another way to describe it. I was mid-contraction and suddenly I felt a “catch.” Like an involuntary knee-jerk, except in my abdomen.
It was the first push. And by golly, it made the contraction hurt less, so I was all for it!
Now at this point, my plan had been to get out of the tub, dry off, then lay on my side and deliver in bed. Yeah, right. I was NOT moving — even after my midwife gently informed me she couldn’t see.
She coached me in checking the baby’s progression while I didn’t waste a single contraction. I lived for this “pushing” thing. But I was a little too focused, because my husband had to repetitively remind me to breathe.
Once the baby was crowning, my midwife reminded me to slow down. Boy, that was not what I wanted to hear, but I obliged and guided the head out myself. And this is where my memory gets really hazy. There was more pushing until it was almost impossible to handle the little body one-handed. According to my husband, by the time I shifted so my midwife could finish catching, I had delivered three-quarters of my baby by myself.
I was preoccupied, so I’ll take his word for it.
At 5:26 AM, just 11 minutes after I started pushing, little Speedy was plopped on my chest and rubbed until she was crying and pink. Remember how I said there are emotions attached to everything? Yup, in that instant I completely broke down. I can’t even tell you what I felt — relief? accomplishment? exhaustion? — but it was all-encompassing. My reaction was the most undignified thing I have ever done, and so soul-soothing.
Remember how I said everything about pregnancy has emotions attached? Yup, in that instant I completely broke down. I can’t even tell you what I felt — relief? accomplishment? exhaustion? ouch? — but it was all-encompassing. My reaction was the most undignified thing I have ever done, and so soul-soothing.
It’s a girl!
Did I mention we had no clue what we were having? Yup, birth was when we found out we had a little girl. Well, not so little. When she was first put on my chest, I recall thinking, “Surely she’s smaller than her brother was…”
Nope. 9-pounds, 4-ounces. 22 inches long. Oy…
Despite recounting all of this to you, there is still no way to really describe the event. I don’t know the words to explain the emotions. Or to relay the physical sensations. Especially for those first moments sitting in bed, holding that little body. Or watching her daddy hold her for the first time.
And to be honest, I wouldn’t change a thing about her birth story — or her brothers’. Because at the end of the day, I got to hold each of them. And that is all that mattered.