Hey! Wasn’t I just writing one of these last year? Haha. As usual, I don’t even know where to begin with this one. I want to remember every single detail…not only the things that happened during Theo’s birth, but all of the thoughts, doubts, and fears I had leading up to it.
I remember so vividly the night I found out I was pregnant again. I sobbed…and it wasn’t a good kind of sob either. I was straight up ugly crying in Target, and Benji had to lead me out of store. For those of you that know me, you know I do not cry in front of people…ever. Well…unless I’m watching Lion King or Land Before Time, and sometimes Full House. Crying like that in Target was a big deal…that’s how out of control my feelings were.
I sobbed again when I visited my OB and it was confirmed that I was indeed somehow pregnant. It’s not that I didn’t want another baby. I definitely did. I’ve always wanted four children. But after having three births where something weird happened, I was just scared. I didn’t realize how much fear I was holding onto until there was another baby growing inside, and I knew he or she would have to get out somehow. I panicked.
I eventually came to terms with the fact that I was going to go through birth again, and made friends with my fear. I didn’t try to get rid of it…I just let it be. I didn’t really like any of my birthing options. With my history (you can read about it here), the most logical option seemed to be attempting a natural birth, but I really didn’t want to do that. At one point, I even considered asking for a scheduled c-section. I hated that option the most, but the recovery from that was at least predictable, though WAY more painful. I longed for another birth like Mae’s…to feel that joy again. To dance and smile as my baby was born! It was amazing and so very healing. But I was afraid of being reinjured.
The worst part of Mae’s birth wasn’t even that I was injured. Overall, the injury itself wasn’t *that* bad. It wasn’t painful, and didn’t interfere with me holding and caring for my baby, like my c-sections had. The worst part was just the unknown. No one seemed to have any answers for me and I had no clue when I would get better. It felt like I was flying blind, and that was scary for me.
I eventually decided that I would attempt a natural birth this time. The days and weeks passed quickly, and before I knew it, summer was over and September was upon us. I began having mini panic attacks whenever I’d think about giving birth without an epidural. I liked how happy I was when Mae came into the world, and I didn’t think that same happiness would be possible if I was focusing on making it through the pain. That made me sad. I did nothing to help my body progress, as the thought of laboring without meds scared me. I wanted to put it off as long as possible. I morphed into a hermit and dodged anyone who wasn’t in my immediate Village. At night, I would cry and pray in the bathtub. God revealed to me that I didn’t trust him, and I told him that he was right…I didn’t. I didn’t really know how to with this birth. I wrote angry prayers in my bible, and I begged God to show me how trust him.
He brought this verse to mind:
Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. (Philippians 4:6 MSG)
And so that’s what I began to do. I wrote down a specific request for every fear I had regarding this birth. I saved the list to my iPhone. Any time I would feel afraid, I would open it up and just meditate on it…and I would pray my specific requests:
– No complications whatsoever. Healthy baby. Healthy mama. No NICU. No paralysis. No Foley catheter needed.
-FAST. I want this birth to be fast.
-Lots of energy.
-Peace. I have a tendency to freak out mid labor and fear transition. I start to feel like a caged wild animal at that point. I don’t want to feel like that this time. I want to be peaceful, calm, and trusting.
-No knots in the cord.
-Theo to have a normal head size and weight (anything under 10 lbs).
Right around 39 weeks, I was 2.5 cm dilated and my OB asked if I’d like her to strip my membranes. I was certain it would work. That’s what had worked with Mae. So naturally…I was afraid to have it done because in my mind, it would bring on labor. Was I ready? I still felt afraid. I ended up telling her to make the call…LOL. She did it, and I left the appointment…anxious.
Then nothing happened.
Benji kept wanting to go walk and I would tell him I didn’t want to because I was afraid labor would start. He would tease me and tell me it’s going to happen eventually, so why not just get it over with. I eventually gave in and decided to go walk on a Wednesday. The membrane strip hadn’t brought any contractions on, so I didn’t anticipate that walking would do anything either.
While we were walking around the circle, I talked to Benji a bit about my fears regarding this birth. By the end of the conversation, I had decided to get an epidural this time. It was a pretty huge decision, as I had never actually gone into a birth planning to get one. It had always just happened once the pain/fear/fatigue became too great for me to handle. I told him that I didn’t want to labor without one, and that I wanted to feel happy and relaxed during my birth. I told him that I was going to get the epidural and just trust God that no complications would arise from it. I felt peace immediately. I had my first set of regular contractions later that night.
I’ll spare you the deets on Wednesday through Saturday. In a nutshell, I had contractions on and off that kept me awake every night, and would fizzle out by morning. I was woken up at 1AM on Saturday with contractions. I tried to sleep through them, but they were coming every 4-10 minutes, and I was feeling jittery. I hopped in the bathtub then eventually decided to clean the house since I couldn’t sleep. I thought these would be the ones that would lead to Theo’s birth, but just like the others, they too fizzled out at sunrise. I was exhausted and beyond pissed. I was moody all day and I cried a few times. I was scheduled to work from 12a-6p and I just didn’t know how I would make it through my shift being so tired. I was starting to wonder if perhaps Theo was posterior and that’s why my contractions were being weird.
My contractions returned about halfway through my shift. They were irregular and not too close together, so I decided to work through them. When my shift was over, I decided to do a round of Miles Circuit to see if I could get my contractions to regulate. They didn’t, but they did start to hurt more. I started to feel shaky and like I needed to at least get checked. I felt certain that I was not really in labor because my contractions weren’t coming at regular intervals and were still far apart, but something in me needed to go. I texted my mom to see if she’d come stay with the kids:
She and my sister came and arrived close to 10pm. I felt really bad because I thought it would be a pointless trip for them. I kept making jokes that we’d be home soon, and my mom told me she doubted it. She thought I would be further along than I thought I was and that they would keep me.
Benji and I left and headed to the hospital. On the way, we joked about how we had stopped by Redbox when I was in labor with Emrist. Everything felt so surreal. I was having flashbacks to the year prior, when I had been laboring with Mae. My contractions had slowed with Mae, so we went for a walk at Naomi’s house to bring them back on. My contractions were stopping this time too. I had maybe two on the way to the hospital, and I considered stopping for a walk to bring them back on again. We got off of our exit, and I told Benji to forget the walking. I was grateful for the break, and I really just wanted to know how dilated I was. If I wasn’t far enough along, I’d just go back home and hopefully get a good night’s sleep!
We arrived and went straight through triage. There were hardly any cars in the parking lot. I would later find out that I was one of only two people in labor that night – AWESOME! By this point, I was having no contractions at all. I started to feel a little embarrassed for insisting on coming to the hospital. The nurse checked me once we got settled in our room and informed me that I was 5 cm dilated. WHAT? Mom was right! I was in shock. I asked the nurse if she was sure and I told her “no freaking way!” when she said yes. Joy filled me, and for the first time in probably nine months, the fear completely left my body.
The nurse asked if I was planning to get an epidural. I wasn’t contracting or in any pain, so it felt a little weird to say yes, but I did. In the past, I’ve always been panicky before getting the epidural. I would get to a point where the pain and just moving forward was scary for me. I would freak out and insist on getting an epidural at that point. And then I’d have to wait. That wait was always horrendous for me. Knowing that more contractions were coming. Dreading them, curling my toes and fighting against them. Ugh…I honestly hate those moments from my other births. But this time was so different. I never had that panicky/fearful/painful moment. I got the epidural before I was in pain. I wondered at the time if it was too soon, but I just decided to move forward in total confidence that God would work everything out perfectly.
The epidural was placed around 02:00 AM and Benji and I went to sleep.
He will probably kill me for posting that!
Not much happened between 02:00 AM and 07:30 AM. I slept off and on. I was so excited that it was hard for me at times. At one point, a nurse came in and laughed at Benji being out cold. She said God knew that men would be the ones fighting wars and sleeping in ditches, so he designed them to be able to sleep anywhere and through anything. We had a good laugh over that.
My wonderful, beautiful, amazing OB came by around 07:30 AM. My contractions had returned…somewhat. They were still pretty weak and irregular, so I assumed I’d still be camped out around 5 cm. To my amazement, I was 7 cm. JLo broke my water and said Theo would be here by noon. I looked at the clock and was so grateful to only have maybe five hours left before I met my impossible baby. JLo said they would put me on the peanut ball (you can read more about the peanut ball in Mae’s birth story) and she would come back by in a bit to check on me.
HUGE SIDENOT/SHOUTOUT: I had a birth photographer for this birth. I almost didn’t have one. Back in the spring, I had decided to hire Aubrie with Hello Baby to take pictures. I’ve always put Benji in charge of capturing our births, but this time, I wanted him to just be able to be present. Unfortunately, we had a TON of things happen over the summer including, but not limited to, car wrecks, car breakdowns, sicknesses, and hospital stays, that made hiring a birth photographer not a responsible decision once August rolled around. I wrote Aubrie and told her we wouldn’t be able to move forward with using her because of our finances. I had made a non-refundable deposit to her back in the spring and I anticipated losing that. She is friends with me on Facebook and had seen all that we had been through. She was so very gracious to me and returned it in full. I was shocked and so touched. It was a huge blessing for us. Around the same time, I talked to a friend of mine whose sister had had a VBA2C over the summer. She had photographed her birth and was interested in getting into birth photography. Her name is Morgan, and she runs Photos By Moe. She graciously agreed to step in and take photos for me for practically nothing and a little LuLaRoe on the side 😛 It was just incredible how God worked it all out, and I’m so so thankful because I have some truly amazing photos that I’ll cherish forever from this birth.
Okay, back to the story.
The hospital staff had told me to text my photographer around 7 cm. I texted Morgan at 07:31 AM. She arrived at 08:07 AM. Not long after that, the nurse put me on the peanut ball. She told me that if I started to feel any pressure, to let her know, and she would check me. Otherwise, she would check me every two hours. I don’t know how long I was on that ball, but it wasn’t long before I started to feel weird in my nether regions. I had the epidural, so I wasn’t sure of what I was feeling. I just knew it felt different. I sheepishly requested that the nurse come back in to check me. I always stall at 6-7 cm, so I really thought I was wasting this poor nurse’s time having her recheck me just minutes after my last check. But no…her fingers bumped into Theo’s head. I felt it. She told me I was complete and ready to push. Holy. Hell. YOU ARE JOKING! Again…complete and utter shock.
Morgan caught the moment:
The nurse is busy telling me that Theo’s head is right there and I’m busy laughing because there’s just no way that’s true. I mean…that was my face for the entire birth! Everything just seemed too crazy to be true. IMPOSSIBLE.
Everyone came back into the room and started to get ready. I just kept laughing and saying no way and SHUT UP. Morgan told me later that as everyone was getting dressed and ready, she could see Theo’s head already starting to emerge. Insanity.
My contractions were still irregular and not close together, but it seemed like my body was doing it’s thing regardless. Everyone got into position. The overhead lamp was turned on, and I remember that it felt very warm and comforting. We talked about turning my dance mix on that I had playing during Mae’s birth, and laughed that there hadn’t been enough time for it this birth. My feet were placed in the stirrups. I wiggled my toes around every second that I got to insure that I could still move them. Everything felt so fast…and fun. There were so many smiles in the room, and I think mine was probably the biggest one of them all. I was getting the fast birth that I had prayed for! We started to push, and it seemed that as quickly as we started, we were finished. I pushed three times before I felt a pop…which I think must have been her head coming out. She was here. 08:36 AM. Twenty-nine minutes after Morgan arrived. One hour after being told I was at 7 cm. It was amazing. And so beautiful. I was in total and complete shock! Morgan captured that moment too, and it’s one of my favorite pictures of all time:
When they placed her on me, it was just incredible. She had the thickest, darkest hair…and it was slicked down with vernix. She was gorgeous!
I feel like the whole theme of this birth was just shock and surprise.
I mean…I laughed the entire time because THIS COULD NOT BE HAPPENING. Even the pregnancy itself. Everything was impossible, from the moment of conception, to the moment of her birth! She was 7 lbs 13 oz…yet another impossible thing, considering that I usually have 9 lbers AND I carried Theo longer than any of the other three. God is just so so good. He went above and beyond to scream “I love you” to me through this whole thing…even while I was doubting Thomas.
Theo. My goodness…we love you so. I’m so glad you’re here. You were worth every bit of fear I had to fight to meet you. I can’t wait to see what you are going to do with your impossible life, baby girl! ❤