The baby was supposed to have been born on his due date – Friday, November 2nd.
We had it all planned out. We’d welcome in the Sabbath with all of our extended family present, enjoying our tradition of reading the creation account and several other passages of scripture. We’d sing, then I’d run upstairs, have the baby, and come back down for a great dinner and fellowship.
On top of that perfect plan, my good friend Mari had a dream that she was at my house asking if anything was going on with the baby. As I sat at our dining room table, I told her nothing had really changed and then immediately had the contraction to kick labor off. It was 2 pm. She saw our midwife, a young blonde woman, come.
Given that our midwife is youthful and blonde, and that Mari is always at our house on Fridays, which is when the baby was due, I was hopeful that she had been given a prophetic glimpse into the big day.
But 2 pm that Friday passed by without the start of labor. We thought maybe she misinterpreted the dream and that it was really 2 AM when things would kick off. But alas, 2 am came and went with no change in baby status. Mari and my other good friend, Katelyn, stayed at our house that whole weekend eagerly awaiting labor to begin.
By Monday morning, since still nothing had happened, everyone left to start their regular week. Erich and I had an 8 am appointment with my midwife that I was sure I wouldn’t need when we made it the week before. But there I was, waddling into her office three days overdue.
A Change in Status
As the kids played together on her enclosed patio, she checked me. I was 90% effaced and 4cm dilated – not nearly as far along as I had been at the end of my last two pregnancies. But during the check my membrane separated. That was a good sign!
Erich and I hung out and talked with her for a long time. At one point, she looked at my belly and noticed I was having a contraction.
Reaching over to touch, she said, “Wow! That’s a good one!”
“Really?” I said. “I wouldn’t count that as a good one. Decent, but not as strong as they get sometimes.”
“Well, be sure to let me know if anything changes. I won’t be at all surprised if you have this baby today.”
Today worked great with me. Today my husband was at home with me, and my midwife was close-by. Tomorrow he was supposed to be an hour and a half away and she would be an hour away. Not good news for a girl whose last baby arrived just 25 minutes after the first real contraction.
Glad that today might actually be the day, we loaded the kids up and left. During the 20 minute drive home, I noticed that my contractions, which were a very regular part of my pregnant life, were coming even more regularly. I payed attention to the clock for the next few. Sure enough, they were consistently 2 minutes apart. I waited a little bit longer just to be sure they weren’t going to space back out. When they didn’t, I called my midwife. Even though the contractions weren’t any stronger than usual, she said she would be over shortly. Her assistant would make her way over too.
Let the Party Begin!
I called everyone to let them know what was going on. They all began heading over, with the exception of Myrna. She was out running errands. Her husband said he’d pass the message along to her when she got back home.
Excitement energized me. I bustled around the house, moving laundry from the washer to the dryer, washing the sinkful of dishes, and reminding the kids of expectations for this home birth. Through it all, the contractions remained consistently spaced two minutes apart, but pretty mild in intensity.
The regularity of the contractions reminded me of my first labor with Madeline. With Anson and Kieryn, nothing was consistent until the contraction, the bottom-wagging, can’t-talk-through-it contraction that kicked off the fast sequence of events that brought our babies forth.
While part of me was rejoicing that my body was giving us enough warning to get everyone and everything in its place, another part of me was growing more anxious with each perfectly-timed contraction. If they were so closely-spaced now, what was going to happen when the one came? Would labor completely overwhelm me this time? Was I strong enough to endure it all again?
Mari’s Dream Come True
The flutter of activity and conversation kept me from entertaining these worries for very long. My midwife needed to check the baby’s heart rate. Mom was cleaning up from the lunch of quesadillas she made for the kids and was already beginning to cut vegetables for a stir-fry dinner. Kieryn was ready to go down for a nap. Erich decided to grab some rest too while things were still quiet. Katelyn needed to get some homework done. And Myrna had just arrived. It was 2 o’clock.
Myrna had barely settled at the dining room table where several of us were talking when I had the contraction. I was in the middle of a sentence. As the contraction warmed, I stood up to lead forward on the table and wag a bit. I was still speaking, but as it continued to rev up, it silenced me. I managed to say something like, “Hang on. Can’t talk.” I closed my eyes and breathed through it. I remember hearing my midwife say it was time to top the birthing tub off. I couldn’t have agreed more. As it faded, I told Madeline to go get Daddy. It was time.
The Power of Prayer
The worries that started to bubble up in my heart earlier began boiling hot. Instead of feeling like a seasoned birther, confident and ready, I was more fearful than I had been for any of my past labors – the first one included! Fear kept me from following the ebbs and flows of the contractions. Instead, I resisted them. For a few contractions, I had no rhythm. No peace.
Moments of clear connection with the outside world were interrupted by contractions that pulled me into a frenzied inner birthing world. I was aware that everyone was buzzing around with last minute activity – filling the tub, getting cameras ready, putting a movie on for Madeline and Anson. I didn’t think anyone could tell I was struggling to remain calm, and I didn’t have the time between contractions to explain it. But at that exact moment Erich held me and prayed for me.
I don’t remember what he prayed exactly, but I was reminded that I could trust the One who held me and our baby in His sovereign arms. He would be with me. I could trust Him. And I did.
My fear subsided, and the contractions became manageable.
I cried, held Erich’s face and said, “I’m so glad you are here with me.” My faithful God had heard my prayers. Erich was right at my side for this labor, just as he had been for all the others.
As I stood in Erich’s arms waiting for the tub to be ready, my sisters, Mari, Katelyn, and Myrna gathered around me to pray. More strength and peace covered me as truth further saturated my mind.
Another Water Birth
At 2:05 pm the tub was ready. As I lowered myself into the hot, buoyant water a familiar joy rose up, manifesting itself in a smile. Hot water surrounding a laboring body is a beautiful thing.
And this tub experience was the best yet. The unpleasant chemical smell from my first two births at the birthing center was absent. And unlike the last tub I birthed in that had hard sides and a confining shape, this tub was soft with a wide edge and plenty of space to move.
I was in for just fifteen minutes when I whispered through a contraction that it would be time to push soon. With the next contraction the pushing began, and my water broke. It was 2:20pm. Within one minute, his head was crowning.
“Good girl,” my midwife praised.
She grabbed my hand and put it on the baby’s head. Other midwives had offered to let me reach down and touch the babies’ heads, but I never took them up on it. Once I was in a comfortable position, latched on to Erich with all of my might, I didn’t want to move. But I was glad that she unlatched me so that I could experience touching my baby’s small head as it emerged from me. His fine hair felt so soft and sweet.
In another couple of minutes she told me to reach down and catch my baby. “That’s okay,” I managed to say between pushing. Touching his head was great, but I was interested in returning to the inner work of getting him out. Catching him was her job.
At 2:23 pm, he arrived in fullness. Like his sister Kieryn, he was a beautiful purple baby. It took him a while to get a good cry out, but he finally did and checked out perfectly healthy.
We prayed for a healthy and strong boy who would hear and see our Savior, so we named him Simeon Valentine.
Simeon is related to the Hebrew word, “shema” which means “hear and act.” It was the name Leah gave to her second son, saying that God had heard her plight (Genesis 29:33). Simeon was also the name of the righteous and devout man who was promised that he would get to see the Messiah before his death. Indeed, he did, and he rejoiced saying, “my eyes have seen your salvation” (Luke 2:25-33).
Valentine is related to the Latin word meaning “strong and healthy.” It was also the middle name of Erich’s grandfather who passed away just before Simeon’s birth.
At an even 9 lbs and 22.5 inches long, he is definitely on his way to fulfilling the healthy and strong part of his name.
As I caught my breath and left the inner birthing world, I noticed that Madeline and Anson were in the room. They had been down in the living room watching a movie, but Madeline paused the movie when she thought she heard something upstairs.
We had watched Kieryn’s birth video together the week before in order to prepare them for the sounds and sights of labor. Madeline recognized the pushing noises I was making.
“Hurry,” she said to Anson. “Mom’s pushing out the baby!”
Though Anson didn’t make it in immediately, Madeline arrived just in time to see Simeon’s birth. With tears in her eyes, she welcomed her new baby brother into the world. (I didn’t have any siblings, but Madeline makes it look just how I always imagined it would be.)
And in another demonstration of the kindness of our heavenly Father, Kieryn, who went down for a nap just before labor started, woke up just after I finished.
As if things weren’t great enough at this point, my midwife started running a soothing herb bath for me. AND as the water was running, she busted out a big Ghirardelli sea salt and almond chocolate bar as a treat for my hard work.
I told her she was pre-hired for the next delivery!