Here’s the birth part of the story. For the events leading up to the birth, see this post.
Around 8pm on Thursday, August 12th, Lisa came for another home visit. I had been having regular contractions all evening, but when she checked me, I was still at 4 cm. Then my water broke. Because Kieryn’s head was so low, it was only a slight trickle. In fact, if Lisa hadn’t been there to tell me, I wouldn’t have even guessed that my water had broken. The other two times it happened, I was in the birthing tub, just about to push when my water broke. Both times it felt more like a gush to me. But Lisa confirmed that the bag had broken, and because of how ready my body was we knew it was only a short matter of time until we finally got to meet our baby.
Preparations began immediately. The house buzzed with activity. I called one of my best friends, Alyson, to let her know Kieryn was on her way so she could be here for the birth like she was for Madeline’s birth and Anson’s birth. To my extreme delight, both Mom and Memere were here already. They made sure cameras were charged and in place, the house was picked up, and the two other kids were ready for bed. (Madeline was going to try to stay up to watch her sister be born, but we weren’t sure she would last.) Lisa and her assistant midwife, Cathi, made up our bed, warmed up towels for Kieryn once she arrived, and checked to make sure that all of their emergency equipment was ready should they need it.
All along, they were keeping track of my contractions. But the contractions were still remarkably mild. I think we were all a little surprised that they didn’t immediately get intense once that water broke. To encourage things along, Lisa sent me up and down the stairs. I eagerly obliged. But the contractions still didn’t become “bottom-wagging” ones as I call them. “Let’s go!” I said to my body. “Bring on the REAL contractions!”
Since the stairs weren’t doing the trick, Lisa sent us off on a walk. Our sweet neighbors, Lawrence and Marilyn, had seen our midwife’s car and were already stationed outside our house with their glasses of wine awaiting news of Kieryn’s arrival. Marilyn walked with us for a bit before we returned to let Lisa know that the contractions were still relatively mild.
Though all the activity got me to 6 cm, official labor still alluded me.
Since Lisa had just had a minor surgery the day before, she laid down in our bed to catch some sleep while the rest of us played a card game and waited for the real show to begin. By midnight, we were still waiting. Lisa checked me again, but I was still hanging out at 6cm. She decided she was going to head home to rest in her own bed and that we should all get some rest too. She would head back the minute we called to let her know things were finally rolling. Alyson, who had a class to teach the next day, went home then too. Cathi stayed with us just in case. After all the waiting and false alarms we had already had, this was such a let-down. We headed to bed without a baby to hold.
Almost two hours later my eyes suddenly popped open. I must have had a contraction that woke me up. It was extremely common for me to have contractions during the night that would wake me up, but this one was different. I don’t remember it being particularly strong, but I was wide awake. I remember laying frozen for a moment before rubbing Erich’s back to wake him up. He jolted awake thinking it was already morning, but it was just 1:55am. I told him that I thought this was it. He asked if I was sure. I had another contraction, a powerful one, and brokenly communicated that YES, this was it! He bolted out of bed, started filling the tub and then ran downstairs to let mom and Cathi (who were on the couch) know.
My memory of the next few minutes is fuzzy. I had no regular warm-up time like most laboring moms, who follow a nice curve of ever-increasing contractions. I woke up in transition, the most intense part of labor. I went from weeks of mediocre contractions right to the powerful, core-rocking, all-consuming contractions of transition. They were coming fast and required every ounce of strength and attention I had.
As soon Cathi got upstairs, she checked Kieryn’s heart tones. They were strong. I moved to the bathroom and had another contraction or two and lots of shaking shivers (like I always do in transition) before the tub was ready. When I eased into the water, the tumultuous waves of labor suspended for just a moment. I made eye contact with Erich and smiled. I LOVE giving birth in water! But the moment of bliss was short-lived. The next contraction forced my focus inward again.
These contractions were coming so much harder and so much faster than I remembered with the first two. At a couple of points I feared that the waves would overtake me. I was squeezing Erich’s hand so hard that for a moment I felt bad for the pain I was sure I was causing him. Then the moment of my consideration of his feelings was over as another contraction wave came upon me. I continued squeezing his hand and grasping his arm, drawing an indescribable strength from him to ride the waves as they swelled and eased.
Then I felt the urge to push. I briefly let everyone know, and with the very next contraction, I pushed. There were a few contractions that came back to back. I pushed and pushed and pushed again. Cathi asked me to pant to slow things down a bit while she felt to make sure the cord was not wrapped around Kieryn’s neck. There was no wrapped cord, but Kieryn did have her hand up next to her face. This made pushing her head out a bit more uncomfortable than usual. For the first time, I felt a slight twinge of the “ring of fire” that many moms describe the baby’s crowning to feel like.
But as quickly as the feeling came, it left as I pushed the rest of her head out. Just another moment later and her whole body slipped out of me.
Our baby had arrived!!! She came exactly two weeks after I lost my mucus plug, one week after Lisa swept my membranes, and three days after my due date. Though she held on to her uterine home as long as she could, when she finally was ready to meet us, she came fast. It was just 25 minutes from that first real contraction around 2am Friday morning until she was born at 2:25am. The speed of her arrival caused her to be quite blue for several minutes, but she pinked up pretty quickly.
At 8 pounds 7 ounces and 22 inches, Kieryn Joy was our biggest baby by far.
Anson was 7 pounds 2 ounces and 21 inches.
And Madeline was just 6 pounds 3 ounces and 20 inches.
God is good!!!