This is a REALLY helpful visual of the difference between effacement and dilation!!!
In honor of my baby girl’s second birthday, which just passed, I am finally posting her lovely birth story.
Change in Plans
We were supposed to be going to Nashville to visit with our friends David and Vicky that Friday after our morning appointment with our midwife, Debi. But there was tons of snow and ice in their area that would have made getting to their house impossible. Several people had expressed concern about us going over so close to the baby’s birth, but I was certain she would not be coming two weeks early. That simply was not the way it had gone any of the four previous times. Despite my assurance, they were all very relieved that the weather didn’t permit us to go.
Let the Messages Begin!
Our appointment with Debi was at 10 am. I messaged all my sisters with the update:
Debi checked me just a bit ago and her immediate response was, “Ooooh!” She said I was VERY soft and 3.5 cm. She felt lots of hair. 🙂 She said she wouldn’t be surprised if we had the baby this week. BUT I’ve heard that before with all the other babies, so I’m not betting on it. Her point was that in the spectrum of “green” (cervix not ready) to “ripe” (cervix very ready), I’m at the ripe level. As soon as I get contractions that are regular, this baby will be here. She suggested more dancing this Shabbat and said, “Let’s have a baby!” 🙂
By 12:17, shortly after getting home after the appointment, I texted Debi with a screenshot of my contractions, which were about 2 minutes apart and lasting between 30 seconds and one minute. I said, “I don’t know if this is because of the digging today, but I wanted you keep you posted. They are not stronger than usual. Just coming frequently. No more mucus yet. I’m lying down to see if they’ll taper off.”
I updated the girls. “We may have an impromptu erev here tonight if this keeps up. I’ll keep you posted here.”
“SEND SOMEONE FOR A HOSE,” Casey replied. A new hose to fill the birthing tub that would be blown up in our master bedroom was the one main thing I hadn’t gotten yet, thinking there was still plenty of time. But my mom was already on it. She grabbed one on her break that afternoon and was poised and ready to leave work at the next notice from me.
Lying down with Simeon did not stop the contractions. They were still rolling in every 2 minutes and lasting 30 seconds to 1 minute. Though I had been lying down the whole hour, I hadn’t been able to sleep.
Debi canceled her 2 o’clock appointment and told me to get up and see what happened.
“Could this really be it even though I haven’t lost any mucus?”
“Oh yes it could be…Even without the mucus.”
We decided we’d check back in an hour. But just a few minutes later, I checked myself and got nasty chunky bloody stuff on my finger. I texted her a picture, because midwives are down with that kind of stuff.
You’d think after doing this four other times, I’d be more sure of the process. But it’s never the same.
“The cervix is opening,” was her reply.
I sat down at Erich’s desk and cried. “I’m not ready.”
“Yes, you are,” he assured me. He reminded me of our Abba’s perfect timing and prayed for us. He was excited. “Let’s do this!”
My sisters who were all in the midst of Shabbat prep, began wrapping things up in order to position themselves to be here when I gave the word.
An hour later, at 2:49pm, my body was still cranking out contractions every two minutes, and I began to feel it a little more in my back. Debi decided to head this way. Mom did too. Even though I was still not convinced this was really it, I really wanted all my sisters here. (Turns out that wanting my mom and all my sisters to be with me is a sure sign labor is underway.)
“Mom is almost home,” I told them. “Debi is on her way. I don’t know if this is it, but contractions haven’t spaced out at all, so anyone who wants to come and who won’t be upset if this is a false alarm is welcome to come.”
The Birth Party
That was all the invitation they needed. The birth party was underway within that hour.
Kristina was in the kitchen cooking up a feast for the entire crew.
Mari was there, offering the perfect words of truth to encourage me at the perfect time.
Casey was making sure I stayed hydrated and took time to sort through the pile of girl clothes she had given me a while before, but which I still hadn’t gotten around to pulling out and organizing. She also caught the early moments of birth on video for us.
Farrah, pregnant with her first baby, was crying almost continually and asking great questions at every turn.
Laurie was cheering me on and praying.
Alex, a new friend who is a nursing student with aspirations to become a midwife, was there too.
And, of course, Myrna. Somehow, my body has waited until her arrival to kick into high gear these last two births.
The house was buzzing with sweet activity. I roamed around, having those stop-what-you’re-doing-and-wag-your-bottom contractions in the kitchen and in the living room. Once the tub began to be prepared, I transitioned up to the room.
My dear friends hauled up pots of boiling water for the tub. (Yes, we actually did need boiling water for this birth. I always thought the boiling water thing was a joke, but it was no joke when our hot water tank decided it couldn’t get the birth tub filled up in time.)
As I waited for the tub, I had the shivers, my tell-tale sign of transition. Debi checked me. Bag of waters was bulging. I was 6-7 cm, maybe even 8. I had full permission to enter the never-disappointing hot water of the tub.
I encountered the familiar, but ever-exciting, sensations of the baby rapidly descending. Knowing where I was in the process, and how quickly things would move from there, I sent word to the girls downstairs that whoever wanted to see the baby’s birth should come up quickly, because this baby was coming soon.
The room filled with all my loved ones. In just a few minutes, with a calm matter-of-factness, I informed Debi I would be pushing soon. Sure enough, that’s just how it went. After just a few minutes of pushing, I announced, “Okay, there’s the head. All done.”
Debi checked. “It was just the water.”
“Not the head?” I said incredulously. Then I whined a bit as I entered my next contraction.
Despite my disappointment, it was only about three minutes more before she was born.
And she was perfect.
We sat in the water together recovering from the whirlwind of activity we had just gone through. Then family introductions were made. Madeline, on the verge of tears, came to see her new sister. Kieryn, always full of empathy, felt badly that we were in a tub full of blood. Anson and Simeon greeted their new baby sister with eagerness.
Happy Endings and New Beginnings
Though Eden Naomi was two weeks early according to my due date, she came right on time:
Friday evening, February 20, 2015, 6:55pm.
8 lbs 8 oz.
I couldn’t have planned it better if I had tried. My entire family was present. Erich and I were overwhelmed by the support.
Shortly after the birth I sent out Facebook thank-you’s. I ended with Debi:
You are an incredible midwife. I have loved every appointment and labor I’ve had with you. Maybe we’ll do this all again in a couple of years.
And here we are two years later, preparing to start appointments again for our next precious gift!
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!
So many things about my fourth pregnancy were different.
For the first time, I would be giving birth in the fall, not the summer. This made me nervous. What would I do if I couldn’t bring my screaming baby outside for a walk in nice, warm weather? (I always have screaming babies.)
For the first time, I craved cheese. Slices of cheese, melty cheese, gooey cheese, cheese crumbles, cream cheese. The form didn’t really matter.
For the first time, I had evening sickness, which was really just gross, burpy nausea each evening. (Could it have had something to do with the cheese?…)
For the first time, I would be bringing a baby into the world in a different town. This was because we were living with my parents, which also meant that…
For the first time, I’d have my mom with me for the whole pregnancy, birth, and newborn time. My mom is amazing. Having her support through those tough early weeks of pregnancy kept our home from becoming the nightmare it had become during each of the other first trimesters. And knowing she wouldn’t have to drive an hour-and-a-half to try to make it to the birth was a great relief. On top of that, I’d have another set of arms eager hold the baby anytime I needed a break. Just a few extra reasons to rejoice that our family was living together.
BUT… for the time, I had a flash of worry that I might end up giving birth without my husband, mom, or midwife here to support me. It was somewhere mid-pregnancy when it occurred to me that I could very well go into labor when Erich was in Knoxville (an hour and a half away), when my mom was at work (40 minutes away), and when my midwife (who lived only 20 minutes away) happened to be somewhere further away. Last time I had only 20 minutes from the first “real” contraction to the time I held my baby girl in my arms. I assumed this time wouldn’t give too much additional warning. Thankfully, I have a sovereign and trustworthy God. When I placed my worry in His hands, trusting Him to bring the baby forth in His perfect time, I was able to rest knowing that whoever was supposed to be here would be here. On top of it, Madeline was excited about the prospect of assisting me through it all by herself. Given how mature and capable she is, I knew she would do a wonderful job! (Details on the actual birth are coming next…)
What remained unchanged this pregnancy was the miracle of it all. Even though this was our fourth pregnancy, none of the joy or wonder was diminished. The growing belly was just as exciting. The movements were just as exhilarating. Hearing the baby’s heartbeat was just as awe-inspiring.
And having three older kids to share in it all was super-fun!
I love it when we see God’s wisdom through his perfect design! I have a special appreciation for it in the realm of birth.
The trailer for the documentary, Reducing Infant Mortality and Improving the Health of Babies, is below. Without directly giving glory to God, it does reveal his wisdom. Many medical experts speak about the dangers of intervening in the “natural” birth process, which Christians know to be God’s designed process.
Unnecessary Interventions (which lead to more interventions)
Man never makes things better when we add to, or take away from, God’s perfect ways. Admittedly, sin and sickness affect his perfect ways, so I do believe we are blessed to have skilled doctors able to intervene when there is a true need. But only a fraction of the massive amount of intervening we are doing in the US is in response to true need.
In addition to being unnecessary most of the time, interventions often create a need for more interventions. Consider this fact presented by one of the experts in this documentary, “If you get an induction that is unnecessary and you’re not really in labor, there is a 40% chance you will end up with an emergency section.”
Nearly one in THREE women giving birth in a US hospital will end up with a c-section. Sadly, only a small fraction of them would have been necessary if the birth had been allowed to unfold naturally, at its own pace.
Medical Model vs. Midwifery Model
Even more stunningly, for all of the medical know-how we have here, the United States ranks 46th in infant mortality rate. This means 45 countries have better statistics than we do. Our medical performance is on par with that of Guam, Cuba, Croatia and Belarus. We have over double the infant deaths compared to the top 10 countries of the world according to the CIA World Factbook.
In contrast to our medical approach to birth, and its dim success, is the midwifery system. Midwives attend the vast majority of births in the industrialized countries with the best outcomes. Yet in the United States, midwives are the principal attendants at only a small percentage of births.
“The United States is the only industrialized country in the world that uses surgeons to attend normal childbirth,” states Marsdsen Wagner, MD Former Director of Women’s and Children’s Health in the World Health Organization.
US Women Fear Birth
Why aren’t more US moms using midwives to assist them with birth? Dr. Geeta Maker-Clark, a Family Practice Physician, thinks it’s because most moms in our society believe that they could not have a baby without some kind of medical intervention. She says, “We’ve gone so far off course in our prenatal care and in our public policy messages, that most women don’t think they can deliver a baby without technology-driven interventions. And we know certainly that that is just not true.”
Those of us who have seen or experienced midwife-assisted births are saddened by this fear. Jennie Joseph, LM, CPM, and Executive Director of Commonsense Childbirth, Inc. says, “Of all the experiences you have in your lifetime, having a child is one of the most miraculous and amazing times. And I am so saddened by the amount of fear, and trepidation, and concern, and worry that surrounds that event.”
Questions and Answers
How much better off would mother and baby be if the events of birth were left to unfold without the restrictions of time, convenience, or fear of liability? How can we reduce the infant mortality rate and increase the health of babies? How do we educate women so that they are free to enjoy the birth process without the fear that so many in our society automatically have?
This 17 minute documentary, Reducing Infant Mortality and Improving the Health of Babies, explores these questions and proposes solutions.
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!!!
My actual labor with Kieryn was the fastest I’ve yet experienced. In fact, I don’t believe it could have been any faster. But the whole story of her arrival turned out to be much longer than the other two birth stories, so I decided to break it up into two parts – the events leading up and the actual birth.
“Third babies are often the anomaly,” my midwife, Lisa, said right from the start. And she was absolutely right. The first trimesters with my first two pregnancies were beautiful. This time, I had nauseous moments that I wished would lead to cathartic vomiting sessions, though they never did. I was hungrier than I had ever been in my entire life – so hungry, that even after two ultrasounds showing just one baby, I often wondered if there was a second one hiding in there. Warm-up contractions started during my 22nd week of pregnancy – way earlier than they had with the other two. And though I made early labor progress with Anson, it took much longer this time around to kick into actual labor.
Because of the early progress with Anson, we knew my body liked to get going well before the baby was actually ready to arrive. So we didn’t get overly excited when I was
1 cm and 80% effaced at 35 weeks, or
2 cm and 90% effaced at 36 weeks, or
Between 3 and 4cm and 95% effaced with Kieryn at +1 station at 38 weeks.
Because Kieryn was well on her way down and her head was in the way, Lisa couldn’t get a really good estimate of my dilation at that appointment on Thursday, July 29th, but she said she could have probably gotten me to 5 cm with a little help. We didn’t feel the need to “help” anything along at that point, but we did start getting a little excited.
My Memere was scheduled to come up on Tuesday, August 3rd (one week before my official due date) to stay with us so she could see the birth and help out afterwards. But in light of the progress, my mom convinced my Memere to move her flight so instead of arriving on Tuesday, she would arrive on Saturday morning, July 31st. We didn’t want her to miss the “imminent” birth.
If we were just a little excited on Thursday, we officially became overly excited on Friday, July 30th when I lost my mucus plug. At that point, Lisa said it was just a matter of time before Kieryn came, though she couldn’t say exactly how much time. My mom gave me strict bed rest orders so that I’d keep the baby in until Memere arrived the next morning. Once she arrived, the orders swung from bed rest to vigorous activity: walking, cleaning, swimming, and hiking up and down the stairs to fetch any item that was needed. We were ready to meet this baby!
On many occasions the contractions would be so strong that I swore I could feel dilation/effacement occurring. Often, they would be 5-7 minutes apart for an hour or more, but then would fade out. Like her big brother, Kieryn was very content to stay in her womb home, despite our best efforts to coax her out.
There were a couple of days, August 3rd and 4th, where I was really sleepy. I asked Lisa if it meant anything. She said it meant that I needed rest for the big event that was coming up. But she still couldn’t estimate when exactly that would be. She just kept faithfully saying that the baby would arrive on her birthday.
By Friday, August 6th I was fully effaced and 4 cm dilated, but Lisa said she could get me to 7cm! Knowing that we were ready to meet our baby, Lisa asked if we wanted her to sweep my membranes in order to encourage Kieryn out. It’s a step that happens naturally right before labor begins. Since there were no risks involved with it, we asked her to do it. She guaranteed that the baby would be here within the next 24 hours.
But following the 3rd-baby-anomaly pattern of this pregnancy, I was the ONE woman among the 600-something others in Lisa’s experience and an untold number of other women in two other midwive’s experiences who DID NOT follow the rule of labor starting within 24 hours of the membranes being separated.
At that point, mom was at the end of her vacation time. So, she began driving 1.5 hours up to our house after work to stay the night in the hopes of being here for the birth. Then she would turn back around and drive the 1.5 hours back the next morning. The end of Memere’s visit was in sight too. Cell phones were constantly ringing with people looking for updates on my status. We always answered with, “NOOOO baby yet. . .”
I felt the pressure (however self-imposed it may have been) growing steadily each day and entered a zone of frequent discouragement. I felt like I was wasting my family’s time and energy and disappointing them with my lack of performance. Even if they weren’t disappointed, I was. I was so excited to experience the wonder of another labor. I struggled to remember that the Lord would bring our baby girl to us in His good time.
I was also getting a little bit stir-crazy. Knowing how fast everything would go once labor actually started, and because this was going to be a home birth, I didn’t want to be more than 2 minutes from my house. So, I didn’t leave the neighborhood for weeks. Literally. I was so glad to have my mom and memere around to keep me company. But still, I was eager for more freedom again.
On August 10th, my official due date and a full FOUR days after my membranes had been separated, Lisa came over to check me again and said the baby could not be any closer to arriving than she was. She even got heart tones in the spot you normally get them when the mom is actually pushing! This solidified our suspicion that this would probably be my fastest active labor yet! We spent about a half hour reviewing what Erich should do if everything ended up happening in a 15 minute span from first contraction to birth and Lisa didn’t have time to get here. He took notes like crazy!
But two more days passed and still no Kieryn. . .
See this post for the rest of the story.