Tuesday, July 14th, 2020. I had my 38 week prenatal visit with my midwife. I was 38+3 days pregnant, and so over it. Very tired and sore and hoping he would come soon. My midwife checked me and I was 3 cm dilated and 80 percent effaced, but I knew that didn’t tell me much about when I would actually go into labor (thus the reason I had refused checks until then). I decided to have her check me though, because she was going to be gone the weekend I was due, and our friends that were going to keep Glory would need to head out of town around that time too, so I was feeling all the pressure and just wanted something to let me know he’d be here soon.
My midwife said he was low and she swept my membranes. I left the appointment feeling excited and hopeful that labor would start soon as quite a few friends had said getting their membranes swept helped kick start things.
That night I expected contractions to start, but nothing. Same thing for the next two days. The only thing that changed was that I started to lose my mucus plug.
5:30 am Friday, July 17th, 2020. I woke up with what felt like a contraction. But it was very mild and I wondered if it was anything real. Still, the excitement kept me awake and I got up. Another came about 15 minutes later, and I got excited and started to try and time them. The tricky thing was that they didn’t come in a very predictable order and it was hard to always discern the start and stop of one. I bounced on my birth ball, went for a walk around our neighborhood, and ate breakfast, still timing the contractions. Just like with Glory’s labor, they were very all over the place as far as intervals between them. Ten minutes apart, then 4, then 7, etc. But even though they kept coming, they didn’t get any more predictable or intense pain-wise. I tried to go about our day as normal, but I kept wondering if this would be it, so I was on edge. We decided to take Glory out for a donut and coffee date, before we dropped her with friends. Because this was my second, and I was already 3 cm, I guessed that things could pick up quickly, so we decided to drop G off sooner rather than later.
After we enjoyed our last coffee date as a family of 3, we dropped Glory off and headed home. I figured things would pick up once I got home and bounced on my birth ball some more, and was in a familiar environment. This whole time, contractions were still coming, they just weren’t getting more painful or closer together. I tried to relax and trust my body, but I also felt the pressure of dropping Glory off and wanting things to progress. In the afternoon we took a long walk around our neighborhood. Eventually we decided to head out and get dinner together. Still unsure what my body was up to, but still having contractions. We had all our hospital bags in the car since we’d be nearby for dinner and our house was 30 minutes from there so we didn’t want to have to come back if things picked up. On our way I called my midwife and let her know what was going on. It was 5:30 pm at this point, so I’d been having contractions for 12 hours straight. She said to get dinner and then head to the hospital and she would check me. We enjoyed a date at a Thai restaurant, knowing this could be the last date for a while. While we ate we tried to predict Asher’s height and weight. I wrote down our predictions in between timing contractions (which still weren’t that painful).
Then we headed to the hospital, and once we got to Labor and Delivery, a nurse checked me. I was still 3 cm and 80 percent effaced. When she told me I was so disappointed, because I had been having contractions all day. I got so emotional at this point, because I didn’t know what my body was doing. I think because this was my second birth, I had hoped things would progress faster. They wanted to monitor me for a bit so we stayed and waited for my midwife. We ended up being there for 2 hours and by the end I was even more emotional and just wanted to go home. I thought this was NOT it, and was so disappointed. I figured he wasn’t coming. By the time my midwife checked me I was 4 cm, but contractions still hadn’t picked up. She told us this baby was coming tonight! She offered to break my water, but I was hesitant because if my contractions didn’t pick up I’d need pitocin or other interventions at some point. So we decided to head home to labor more. It was 9:30 pm at this point. I kept having contractions, and on the way home in the car I noticed they were getting a bit more uncomfortable. By the time we got home, they were more intense. I decided to take a bath, and that seemed to really get things going. When I got out I had to really start focusing on each contraction, making sure I breathed and stayed as relaxed as possible.
At 10:30, we headed back to the hospital. We got there around 11, and had to enter through the emergency room because it was after hours. While we were checking in, a man waiting overheard that nurse say I was in labor, and said loudly, “Lord have mercy! She’s having a baby.” (I don’t know if he thought I was just going to lie down and have the baby right there or what, but Nate and I smiled at each other. It wasn’t like I was gasping in pain or anything either, I was quite calm because walking and swaying helped with the pain). He must have felt bad for his reaction because when we were done talking to the nurse he congratulated us. 😉
We got upstairs to our room, and things started picking up more. I was a 4/5, and they put the monitors on me to track things. I felt bad, but I immediately took them off when the nurse left the room because I needed to get into the shower to help with the pain. She left and I all but jumped into the small shower and turned on the water. It felt so good, and immediately helped with the pain. I would sway back and forth, and lean on the shower wall through each contraction, breathing out and making low moaning sounds to keep my face and bottom relaxed.
The nurses came back and put cordless monitors on me, and I got out to sign some forms and get an IV put in (they just put in needle, then covered my hand in a glove so I could go back in the water).
At this point things ramped up quickly and time kind of runs in a blur in my mind, but I know the next time they checked me I was 8 cm, and I felt such sweet relief and joy to know this was actually it! Nate was so excited and cheered me on. My midwife hadn’t got there yet. I got back in the shower and just focused on getting through each contraction. Nate was right there with me, comforting me with his words and rubbing my back and shoulder. I listened to my birth playlist, as well as some tracks that a friend sent me of a woman praying and quoting scripture on topics of encouragement, strength, endurance, etc. which helped me so much.
My midwife came and said hi, but left me to myself, which I appreciated.
While I was in the shower, I got teary thinking about how Asher would be there soon. I prayed for strength. I asked Nate to pray too, and he did. I got out of the shower a couple of times, to lie down on the bed for a bit. This was more painful, but I needed to rest my legs from standing.
They checked me again and I was 9 cm. After getting in the shower and then getting back out to lay down and rest, I knew I was getting so tired and didn’t know how long it would take me to dilate all the way. My water hadn’t broken on its own, so I asked my midwife to do it. I was sad that this meant I wouldn’t be able to get back in the shower, and things would get more intense and painful, but I also was so ready to have him in my arms. This was around 2:45 am. I lay on the bed, trying to get comfortable, but I eventually stood up again because that felt better. My lower back started to hurt, so my midwife and Nate rubbed peppermint oil on it. Transition is such an interesting time mentally. It’s like you’re there, but also not. I was in the zone, just thinking about each contraction and trying to stay calm and collected.
My midwife had me lay down on the bed, kind of on my belly, but kind of on my side. This position would help him turn and move down. The contractions while I was laying there were the most intense and I wanted to jump up and off the bed, but she and Nate held me there and helped me get through them.
Then they checked me and I was a 10. It was time to push finally! I didn’t feel the urge to, but I was so ready at this point to have things over with! I wanted to push standing up, next to the bed, but my midwife said because I had been standing up for so long prior the one edge of my cervix was swollen and that laying down on my back to push would help with that. It’s not what I wanted, but I trusted that she knew what to do. I lay down and the nurses helped hold my legs. At this point it was around 3:30 am. Pushing felt impossible. It was so hard I wondered if I could do it. At one point I remember seeing the nurse’s watch and it was 3:40 am. I thought it would be funny if he was born at the same time as Glory (3:43). Like I said it was hard work. Nate, my midwife, and the nurses all cheered me on. They fanned me and put a cold cloth on my forehead. My midwife helped to stretch things down there and put warm olive oil on. Finally, in a few pushes his head was out, then in the next push his body came. With my first birth Glory just shot out in one push, but Asher was bigger and this time I experienced the “ring of fire” that women talk about. I didn’t care though because it meant he was so close to being in my arms. All at once he was out and my midwife handed him to me. As he lay on my chest the sweetest joy and relief spread through me. He was born at 3:49 am, July 18th, 2020. A moment I will treasure forever. All the pain and hard work and emotions and guessing all done. He was in my arms and oh, what a sweet relief!
When I saw him for the first time, I had a brief moment of surprise. He didn’t look like Glory, which I guess he would. He was his own little man, and I loved it! Nate and I marveled at how long his fingers and toes were, and that he had dark blonde hair. He was perfect, and we loved him so much it hurt.
I tore down there, over the scar from Glory’s birth so once the placenta was delivered my midwife stitched me up. I felt bad but during this time I was shaking like crazy, and couldn’t stop. All the crazy adrenaline and after birth hormones are no joke! The nurses made sure Asher was fine, but thankfully they did all those checks while he was on my chest, so we could enjoy that sweet golden hour. My midwife finished up, congratulated us, hugged us while we thanked her, and then she and the nurses headed out to give us time alone with our new little guy. This was such a sweet time together, just soaking in the skin to skin and talking to him and each other. I’m so thankful the nurses waited to weigh him and things so we could have this special time. Asher lay on my chest, crying here and there, but mostly just chilling and being the sweetest boy ever.
Eventually the nurse came back to help me get cleaned up and go to the bathroom, so Nate held Asher and did skin to skin with him. Then she weighed and measure Asher. 7 lbs 12 ounces, and 20.5 inches of sweetness. I checked my phone to see which of us had a closer guess, and I won! haha! Mother’s intuition, maybe? I guess he’d be 7 lbs and 20 inches long, Nate guessed smaller. 🙂
After birthing my son I am even more convinced of the beauty and wonder of how God designed women’s bodies to give birth. I am so thankful for the constant stream of His sufficient grace to get me through each contraction and help me stay calm and focused. This birth seemed harder mentally and physically, because of how tired I was from all the guessing and wondering what my body was up to in the first stage of labor. I struggled because I expected to feel totally in control the whole time and that my body would quickly progress. Even though Asher’s birth was different than I expected in some ways, I’m so thankful for how the Lord answered my prayers for another unmedicated, intervention-free birth without complications. I’m so thankful Asher wasn’t in any distress throughout labor, and that he came out healthy as well. Another answered prayer: our amazing birth team! Birthing in a totally new-to me environment, plus all the Covid-19 craziness had me nervous, and I prayed for a good group of nurses and that my midwife would be there since she is the only midwife that works in our hospital. My midwife was there, and she and our nurses were kind, supportive, and knew what they were doing. Praise the Lord!
We are so in love with our sweet Baby Asher (as his sister loves to call him), and we are so happy and thankful that God blessed us with him.
Thank you for reading!