On May 2nd, at 10:15pm, all the boys were tucked in for the night, I'd had a nice warm shower and was sitting in the rocking chair in my room with the heating pad on my back catching up on Grey's Anatomy. Chad was in the living room just getting started on an estimate when I felt like I peed on myself... this 3rd pregnancy had done some crazy things to me, but peeing on myself wasn't one of them. So I stood up and hurried to the bathroom and realized my water had broken. I yelled for Chad and he came in excited... it was go time! I was a little over 39 weeks, and earlier that day, my midwife had left after my weekly check up with the departing words "I'll be hearing from you very soon." I didn't believe her, because I thought the baby was coming in mid-April, and by this point, I was convinced I would be the first woman in the history of ever to remain pregnant forever. And I wasn't taking it well.
But despite my sour attitude, Margaret was right... I called her with the news, and then we had to call the grandparents. Chad's parents had their motorhome parked on Lake Allatoona just a bit up the road, and they came to get Gabe, and my parents came to get Max and Jack. All the boys were a little surprised to be awakened after being put to bed, but nobody cried and freaked... except me! I was so emotional to send all the boys off, knowing that the next time I saw them, I would be holding their new sibling. I was a hot mess- but in a good, excited way.
I had also decided to have 2 special friends at my birth-- Anna, my friend from college who has no sisters had asked way before I was pregnant to be in on my next birth... people with no sisters have to stick together so I said sure... neither of us knowing what I'd be getting us into with a home birth! And then I asked my friend Lisa who has had both of her babies naturally, and is known for her encouraging spirit to be a part of it as well. She knows all about relaxation and breathing during labor- and she should seriously become a doula someday once her own babies are a little bigger. Also, Anna and Lisa are such prayer warriors in my life- when something is going on, they pray. So they're just who I wanted there supporting me. So I texted them to let them know that my water had broken and that we'd be in touch once it was getting close to the actual birth. Honestly, I thought this would be early morning-ish- but no one really knew how things would progress.
While we waited for grandparents to come claim the boys, Chad and I ran around taking care of all sorts of last minute things-- I had asked Chad to mop the kitchen floor when I went into labor (not sure why this was a big deal, but it was, ha!) We stripped our bed and got the sheets in the wash so we'd have fresh, clean linens after the birth, and I cleaned bathrooms and picked up and straightened everything. After all the hustle and bustle, and sending the boys off, I was having full fledged contractions. They were 10 minutes apart, but they had a bite and I had to stop and breathe through them. About this time, my midwife also arrived. We of course knew that it would be a while before the baby arrived, but she preferred to come on and check the heartbeat, make sure the baby was tolerating contractions well and set up camp. Once all this preliminary stuff was done, she encouraged us to try to rest. We did tried... Chad succeeded for about 2 hours but I was so anxious, plus, hello, the contractions. I ended up getting in the shower for a while, hoping that it would even make me sleepy, but it didn't really work. Around 2am, Margaret checked me, and I was only 3cm and 65% effaced- which was basically what I was before I went into labor. The only good news was how low and engaged the head was. To say I was annoyed is putting it lightly- it reminded me too much of my labor with Max, long and hard with little to no progress... I wasn't impressed. Margaret instructed me to walk around, sit backwards on chairs, climb up and down the stairs, squat during contractions, etc... all to put pressure on my cervix. She explained that if I could just get to 100% effaced that the rest would go quickly. So I did just that. I moved about for a while, but with each contraction, the intensity got a little greater and I began to swell. Apparently this is normal- it's fluid retention and actual muscle swellage due to contacting. I seriously began and ended labor at 2 completely different sizes.
Around 4am, I managed to fall asleep for about 20 minutes and Chad went back to bed for a while. Margaret was insistent that he rest well, because he would be my "nurse" after the birth. And honestly, especially at this stage of the game, there wasn't really anything anyone could do-- that contractions were constant and hard- about 4-5 minutes apart, but they were still manageable with breathing and relaxing, all on my own. By early to mid-morning, I was sitting at the table having oatmeal and just chatting with Margaret. I was asking her all sorts of questions about her life and her relationship with the Lord because even not in labor, I love hearing that stuff, but in this situation, it kept my mind off the ebbs and flows of contractions that kept coming at me every few minutes. During this conversation, they began to get an extra "bite" as Margaret put it. Apparently she could just tell by watching and how I worked through them. Around 8am, I went for another shower- I loved the shower because it relaxed my muscles and the change of scenery often game me a quick break. But towards the end of that shower, something changed and this big wave of contractions came upon me one after another-- I felt myself lose control- like I was no longer managing the contractions and working through them. I came out crying and told Chad I needed Lisa here, stat. At 8:36am he sent her a text that said "head over please". Once I got dried off and dressed, Margaret checked me again and I was 5cm and 100% effaced- we all knew that this meant game on- especially in light of my other labors, during which hitting 5 seemed to make my body go into top speed and spit out a baby quickly.
Within a few minutes, Lisa was there working through each contraction with me, and then Anna arrived, armed with scriptures and prayers, and then Margaret called Jenny, who is another midwife who does home births. They work together and assist each other-- on Margaret's births, Jenny acts almost like a "nurse" assisting and taking care of everything. They are both wonderful and work so well together- it's like a well-oiled machine. It was amazing to me how quickly 11pm to 11am had flown by- I literally had no concept of time and couldn't believe we were already so far into a new day and couldn't understand how I already needed more food (according to Margaret- I was by no means hungry). But that feeling was about to change drastically.
By 11am, my contractions were a minute apart and literally took over my whole body. They would start in my back and come around, squeezing and burning like fire. But I had the added bonus of contractions that started in my hips and went down to my knees, literally causing my quads to swell and clench. Let's just say, I'd prefer to squat 100lbs all day long to that torture. Just a few days before going into labor, my friend Danielle asked if I'd ever had contractions in my legs and I literally looked at her like she was crazy. I take it back, D, I take it back! Those leg contractions are flat out horrifying. At this point, I would work through a couple contractions well and then lose it and require Chad, Lisa, and/ or Anna to talk me back to sanity and control. This kept going for what seemed like 100000 years. I kept asking "didn't I just have a contraction" and "isn't this part over yet?" During this stage, I got nauseous several times and would dry heave several times between contractions. Chad and my ladies would put cold clothes on my neck and face that felt heavenly, but as soon as the next contraction came, I would through them away like a child throwing a temper tantrum, because anything "extra" on me felt like the weight of the world. Chad and Lisa both tried to put pressure on my back and squeeze my hips, like labor books teach you, and I would yank away-- during my first labor, I loved that pressure, but not this time. I literally didn't like anything touching me. I also changed positions frequently-- I'd have a few contractions standing up and swaying and then have some leaning over onto the bed or bathroom counter. Then I switch to the birthing stool, then on my hands and knees, and then the toilet. There was no rhyme or reason- I just kept changing, hoping for relieve I guess. I did ask Margaret where the pause button was and she informed me that they had yet to find it... bummer.
Everyone knew at this point that we were close- and we all knew that I was transitioning, which is hell on earth. What we didn't know was how long it would last. "Most" people transition within a couple minutes to an hour-- especially on 3rd babies. I am NOT most people. I hung out in hell for what seemed like an eternity. And this is when I lost it. I would say "I'm done I'm done" and "I can't do it" and "God, please get this baby out"-- this caused Chad to panic-- especially when I told him I was going to die... something about raising all these little kids alone wasn't working for him! But by "I'm done" I didn't mean that I wanted to head to the hospital or anything like that- that thought seriously never entered my mind-- instead I mean someone get me out of this body-- I wanted to run away from myself! When I think back to where I was in these moments, there honestly wasn't much space in my brain to process much, but the main thing I felt and needed was to be done-- I needed and pleaded for it be over. For some reason, during birth, I'm 3 for 3 in NOT experiencing that anger you hear about-- shouting at people, blaming my husband, screaming horrid things-- I just don't have that emotion in labor, but this time, I did experience feeling like I couldn't do it- like I didn't have it in me to finish what I had started. Somehow I must've communicated that fear, because I remember Chad whispering "well there's not really anything you can do about that." All my people were so encouraging- I remember Lisa saying over and over "but you ARE doing it, you are!" Everyone knew the baby was almost here- everyone but me.
Finally, a little before 1pm, Margaret talked me onto the bed to check me again- she informed me that baby was all the way down and that I was 9.5 cm-- I just needed that last lip to dilate. I stayed on the bed, kind of on my back and kind of sitting up- this was pure torture- I hated this position throughout the entire labor, it just never worked well for my contractions- but at this point, they were just one after another and I literally couldn't move to another position. Margaret tried to push the lip over the baby's head and that so did NOT work. Holy horrible pain batman! And then all of a sudden the lip was gone and I got more than 2 seconds before the next contraction... that could only mean one thing... time to push!
My first few attempts to push were lame- I knew I wasn't making progress and I just wasn't doing it right- I kept saying so and they kept encouraging me, but I just knew it wasn't working. But of course in the midst of contractions and pushing a baby out, there wasn't really time for me to delve into what I was trying to say. But someone got it, because all of a sudden Margaret put a warm washcloth against me and said to push towards that-- and within 2-3 pushes the baby's head was coming out.... a baby's head and it's hand because apparently this little baby was a thumb sucker and decided to enter the world with it's hand in it's mouth. This brought new meaning to the "ring of fire." If that phrase is foreign to you, then only look it up if you dare. It may scar you. Because you body has to stretch at this point, my midwife was holding the baby in, while my body was literally thrusting me up to a sitting position trying to get the baby out. At this point, I thought my eyes would bug out of my head and that my body was literally ripping in half. I happy to report that it did not, and at this moment, Jenny, the other midwife, made eye contact with me and did these teeny hyper-ventilating breaths that she had me copy that would basically allow me to live through those next 30 seconds. And then a push and the head was all the way out and another and.... IT'S A BOY!!!!
And I just gushed with pride and joy. It was all over, my body was at complete peace, and I had felt every ounce of my son's birth. There was nothing like it. There are no words to explain what it felt like to have that baby placed on my chest. It was love- so much love- and just like that every single bit of it was absolutely worth it. Upon arrival, my sweet baby Sam was perfect. He arrived at 1:31pm, weighing in at 7lbs 1oz and 21inches long. And he had hair, so much bright blonde hair. And all of a sudden, my only care in the world was soaking him in.
My birth story didn't go exactly how I thought it would-- it was much longer. And I didn't expect it to be that intense for that long- although don't hear me say that I thought it was going to be a breeze or anything. But there is not one bit of it I would change. God set up that labor and those midwives and my friends and my husband for such a time as that-- I felt so loved and encouraged-- I felt so supported and I had done it. I came full circle that labor- starting our with joy and excitement, entering into empowered and all "I am woman, hear me roar" which slid right into broken and overcome, only to experience a birth- my baby's birth- as I had never done before and I found myself right back at the beginning-- basking in more joy and excitement than I had ever felt. And I'm still not over it.