*If you haven’t done so already, you can read Part 1 of this story here.*
Towards the end of my pregnancy, your dad and I began to anticipate your arrival with each passing day. By the time I was 38 weeks, we knew it could be “any day now”. As this was my third pregnancy, we fully expected that I would at least go into labor a little early. During the 38-week home visit from our midwife, she felt around on my belly and became concerned that you were in a breech position. It’s not a major complication, but one that would keep us from having a home birth. According to Louisiana law, breech deliveries must be done at a hospital. And so, we began to research and pray. Thankfully, I had a team of support to show me exactly what I could do to get you to turn. I knew right then that having a midwife was the best decision I’d ever made. Chances are, an OB would not have caught your position, giving us time to try and turn you around. And chances are – I would have had to get a c-section. I knew right away that God ordained our decision to birth at home for a reason. So we spent the next week or so doing everything we knew to get you head down. I made regular visits to the chiropractor that practiced the Webster method. My wonderful doula, Hailey, came over and rubbed peppermint essential oil on the top of my belly, and she coached me in how to do inversions. I spent so much time hanging upside down that your brother would often do it with me! We also talked to you, urging you to come head down, and prayed over my belly several times a day. A week after we’d discovered you’d flipped, I went to see the obstetrician that backs up my midwife for an ultrasound to see where you were. When she confirmed that you’d turned the proper way, a flood of emotion ran over me. I was back on track to having the birth I’d been praying so fervently for.
When I was just a few days away from being 40 weeks, neither one of us could believe I’d made it this far without even a hint of a contraction. I was uncomfortable, of course, but now that you were correctly positioned, everything as far as the pregnancy was text book. Waiting for you was just so difficult. We were both so anxious to meet you, and yes – I was so tired of being pregnant. My patience and trust in the Lord was tested every day past 40 weeks that you didn’t show up. But within that testing, my spiritual growth took on a new shape. We had made a commitment to wait on God’s timing instead of medically inducing and that commitment became one of the biggest lessons in how to trust that God was in control. It’s a lesson that He used frequently during my pregnancy, and one that I refer back to often.
Another week went by with no sign of labor. Finally, when I was nine days “overdue”, Daddy and I decided that it was time to go furniture shopping. We had to buy a new sofa, and we took every opportunity to walk around that we could to try and coax you out of your comfy little spot. In the middle of the furniture store, I began having some contractions that felt quite a bit stronger than the Braxton Hicks contractions I’d been having for weeks. Could it be?!?!?! We made our purchase and went home. Daddy turned on his app that monitored the duration and frequency of my contractions. After a couple of hours, we decided to give Emmy (our midwife) and Hailey (our doula) a call. We told them what was going on and they both agreed that it was time for them to head on over to our house. While we waited, Daddy blew up the birthing pool and began preparations for your arrival.
My doula, Hailey, sat with me during the contractions and Emmy monitored my progress and took notes.
And just like that – as quickly as the contractions started, they stopped. We waited a while longer for something to happen, but my labor completely stalled. Emmy and Hailey went home, and I got into bed, feeling more than a little defeated. My body was disappointing me, but I knew at the very least that the real deal was close.
We had a fetal non-stress test scheduled for Monday, so unless we went into labor during the weekend, we would head to our appointment. Momma sat at the machine on Monday while it monitored your heart rate and my contractions. We were given a clean bill of health and all signs pointed to the fact that you were doing great! So Daddy and I went back home and relaxed. It was actually the first time I’d felt at peace in two weeks. That evening, contractions started up again. We waited a bit longer before making any phone calls this time, but after a couple of hours, the contractions began to take my breath away. Finally….after so long – it was time!!!
Hailey and Emmy came straight over, followed soon by Grandma (my mom), Aunt Chris (my sister), Nonna (Daddy’s mom), and Emmy’s birth team. My support was in place and we were ready to get the show on the road. Your brothers, Jackson and Timmy were also there and they both served as a wonderful support for Momma. Timmy held my hand throughout many contractions before we finally sent them both to bed to get some sleep. As is the case with many births, my body began to labor late in the evening, so we knew sleep was necessary for whoever could get it.
For the next few hours, I walked around, ate miso soup, and even slept in between contractions. It wasn’t a deep or long sleep, but I was baffled at how my body would shut down during those several minutes to allow me some rest and renewal in time to get through the next contractions. I had developed a breathing routine that worked really well for my pain management. Deep, guttural moans got me from the beginning of the contraction, through to the peak of the highest mountain of pain, and back down to relief again. All the while, I worshiped my heavenly Father for creating my body so perfectly. With each contraction, I imagined my cervix opening just a bit more. This helped me significantly, because it would guide me through the contraction and keep me focused on the purpose behind my pain. What a loving Creator we have that would mercifully give us purpose to our pain. Such a picture of his love for us.
After several more contractions, I was eager to see if any progress had been made in dilation. I asked Emmy to check my cervix, and her report was less than favorable. I was only four centimeters! What a bummer…all of that labor and I still had quite a bit more to go. She checked me on my bed, so I just opted to stay there. The pain was causing me to have the chills, so someone covered me with a blanket. Grandma, Nonna, Aunt Chris and Hailey each massaged me through the contractions as Daddy kneeled on the floor before me and read God’s word to me. He quoted scriptures repeatedly to encourage me to continue working with my body to bring you down. What a beautiful moment that was. As Hailey explains it:
You moved around the house until finally, you surrendered. Laying on your bed, covered in a blanket and praying hands! I rubbed your feet, your sister rubbed your face, and your husband repeated Bible verses into your ear.
Let me add something here… Your dad was my rock. He supported me in whichever way I needed him. He gave me cushion for my knees when I felt the need to labor on the floor. He held my hand and supported my body when I felt the need to move around the house. When I felt sick, he was there. He was never more than mere inches away from me. There is an overwhelming peace knowing that my partner in this life was right there next to me, waiting to do or be whatever I needed. He was the same man during my labor and birth that’s he’s always been – before and since. I could not have done this without him.
Emmy noticed that I was getting far too comfortable on that bed, so she encouraged me to get up and go to the bathroom, to keep labor from stalling any further. I did just what she asked, and then moved to her birthing chair in the living room. At this point, I asked to get in the water, so Nonna began filling the pool, and went in to wake up Jackson. He was present from that moment on, and loved being a part of your birth. During an intense contraction that caused me to scream, he began to weep. Daddy turned to him and said, “Now do you see why I hate when you guys disrespect her? She has been so strong through all of this and it’s not easy.” Jackson nodded “yes” in agreement. Thank you, sweet girl, for helping him understand that perspective.
I sat and labored in that birthing chair for a few minutes with your Aunt Chris in front of me and Daddy behind me. Contractions were almost unbearable but being in that seated position helped tremendously. There was little to no time between contractions and it burned. All of the books that I’d read explained it as the ring of fire. I was in transition. My baby would be coming soon. I felt like I had less and less control over each contraction at this point. I looked at your Aunt Chris and told her that I didn’t think I could do this anymore. She locked her eyes with mine, looked at me and said,
Karen…you ARE doing it.
I wish I could explain what she meant to me during that birth. Your aunt has had five kids of her own, so she knew better than anyone else what my pain felt like. She breathed with me, and moaned with me and it was her name that I repeated over and over during each wave of pain. She was my birth coach and her encouragement and support was invaluable.
A few minutes later, I heard a strange noise and felt a gush of warmth between my legs. I shouted to Emmy that it felt like my water broke. She ran over and looked to make sure that the fluid was clear, which it was. When she tried to get heart tones, my position made that nearly impossible, so they hoisted me up onto the sofa to check your heart to make sure all was well. Well…your heart was fine, but there was no time to get into the pool. You were coming and it was time for Momma to push! Just a few strong pushes and you were here!!! I couldn’t believe it. There were cheers and tears all around the room.
All of my hard work paid off….you were the most beautiful thing I’d ever laid eyes on. I just could not believe that I did it. It was the hardest and yet most rewarding thing I’d ever accomplished.
You see, my sweet child…we were a team that day. You and I had been working together to grow your perfect little body for ten months and then for those eight hours, we worked together to get you out. The bond that I have with you because of that is undeniable. Watching you grow and develop over the last year has been just a constant reminder of how hard we worked to get you here. It’s the big payoff for every ache and pain that I felt that night. And now – you’ve grown into such a delight.
Your smile is infectious.
We are stopped nearly everywhere we go because of this “thing” you have about you that I can’t even describe. I don’t know what it is, but it’s magical, and just being around you is a joy.
Thank you, my daughter, for teaching me that waiting is worth it, that hard work pays off, and that there is purpose in our pain. I will be forever grateful to you for that.
Here’s to the next year of life with our sweet Mary Violet!
I love you,
***Here is the complete photographic slideshow of our beautiful home birth.