Where do I even begin? This birth story and laboring experience was an absolute gift to both my husband and I. My labor and delivery of Lúthien, though it did not go as expected, still profoundly impacted myself and mine and my husband’s relationship. Childbirth has an incredible way of showing you a new vulnerable part of yourself, as well as a deep inner strength. Yet despite the positives of my labor with our firstborn, even a year and a half later I was still left with bitterness, self-doubt in my confidence, and sadness over the complications of a bad hospital experience and the separation of my baby from me in the NICU. Surprisingly this labor and delivery of Rainer ended up being a healing experience in many ways from the last birth, as well as a blessing for today.
*Note: For those reading this that do not care for the details of birth, please feel free to just not read this story. I love reading other people’s birth stories, but here’s your warning. 😉 *
If you read my previous post, you might assume that I kept up my high spirits for the remainder of my pregnancy – but no, I definitely still struggled with patience in waiting and frustrations from outside pressures. Mother’s Day morning (day after my due date) for instance was rather difficult. Throughout Sunday Mass, I seemed to notice more and more pregnant ladies in church, reminding me of how I felt like I shouldn’t be pregnant anymore. Those women had the pregnant glow, but me? I felt huge, struggling to sit like a normal person. Then I noticed all the young babies, reminding me of how I still didn’t have mine with me yet. And THEN I saw our friends who knew that I was past my due date – making me want to go hide my still pregnant self, like something was wrong with me. Pregnancy hormones, whew!! I eventually lost it and broke down during Mass, I was such a mess!
With each day following my due date though, I began to feel better. Each day was just another day closer, and Ross constantly reminded me to think positively. Finally Thursday came, my doctor’s appointment day. Ross had a half day, so he was able to accompany me while Mimi looked after Lu. Everything looked normal and fine. I had been planning to ask my doctor to check me (I hadn’t had any cervical checks yet), and when it came down to it she offered to strip my membranes too. I was sort of taken back because I had assumed that she thought it might be too early, but we excitedly jumped at the chance.
By dinner time I was definitely feeling “crampy” but nothing was consistent or even felt like period cramps. I mainly felt uncomfortable. After we put Lùthien to bed, we prayed a rosary together; and I asked for the graces to accept whatever will come, whether that will be labor or another few days of waiting. Around 8:00pm I started to have mild cramps while we were watching a rock climbing documentary on Netflix (hah!). Ross and I went to bed early in case they were to continue. Sure enough they did, and they began to feel like mild contractions throughout the night as I woke up every now and then. By 4:30am I couldn’t go back to sleep anymore so I timed them for a while. They were coming every 5 minutes, but they were still pretty tame and they spaced out as soon as I began to walk around. Once it was 7am I gently woke Ross up telling him that “we might have a baby today.”
With Ross home, the three of us had a relatively peaceful day together. It was so wonderful to labor in the comfort of our own home and to be with our daughter, as compared to my experience last time. I was so much at ease, and I took resting breaks on the couch or bed often in order to conserve my energy. We read books to Lúthien, Ross and Lu worked outside, we watched Finding Nemo as a family, took a nap, went for a walk. At some point in the late afternoon, I let Lúthien nurse – partially because I wanted to nurse her one last time as my only child and partially to see if it would speed things up. Throughout the day contractions were irregular, sometimes every 5, 7, or 8 minutes. Right after Lu nursed though, sure enough they began coming every 3 minutes but they were shorter, only 30 seconds long. We decided that it was probably time for Lu to be picked up. While we were waiting for Ross’ mom to stop by, I began getting emotional that Lúthien was going to leave us. I was afraid of the unknown, afraid of the big change about to happen in our family. She turned to me as I was crying, put her hand on my arm and said, “Mama, are you ok?” It was too sweet.
Ross’ mom came around 5:00pm to drop off dinner and pick up Lúthien. However, by that time contractions had decreased in intensity, and I was able to walk and talk through them. I grabbed this as another occasion to rest, but we eventually moved back into the living room anxious to get things moving. By this time it must have been 7 or 8pm, and I was trying so hard to not get discouraged. It had already been 24 hours since labor started, and I was nervous and dreading another long labor like my last. Ross tried to distract me and get me laughing by reading cheesy jokes to me which slightly helped. Around 8 or 9pm, my doula, Mrs. Karen (also a good family friend), came to check on us. Having her presence with us was reassuring and calming. She let us know that it was normal to have a long labor and that we should enjoy the time that we have together laboring.
At this point, contractions were certainly coming much stronger and I began to have a lot of back labor. During each contraction I preferred bending over while Ross applied pressure to my back. It was then that I began to moan during contractions. Though they were strong, they were still several minutes apart, and Mrs. Karen suggested that we get some rest. She went home (only 10 minutes away) while Ross and I lied in bed.
I don’t know how long we stayed in bed, but it must have been about 2 hours. Ross was able to get some much needed sleep for me, and I was able to doze off between each contraction. As time went by though contractions were closer together and coming on more strongly and powerfully. I began getting really irritable that Ross was sleeping, but he started waking up during each contraction to help me breathe, reminding to relax my body as they came. This was essential throughout my labor: having Ross constantly affirming me to let go to each contraction and allow the surges to do their work.
At some point I couldn’t take laying down for the contractions anymore, and I could feel more intense pressure on my back. I knew something was different and that as soon as I would stand up labor would pick up for sure. My body began to shake a little and I sensed that I was getting closer to transition. With this knowledge and the sense that something was truly changing, I regained my motivation and confidence and I began to welcome each surge.
We both got out of bed and I immediately noticed that I was spotting. I was spotting a lot. As I was walking around contractions came closer together and stronger with back labor still present. They were about 3-4 minutes apart, lasting around 50 seconds. Ross called my doctor, the hospital, and my doula. Compared to my previous labor where we left our house uncertain over whether it was the right time to leave, I knew for sure that the time was now and we would meet the baby in a matter of hours. Ross packed the car and we left into the quiet night for the hospital, but not before turning around and retrieving our birth plan that we forgot. 😉
Continue onto Part 2.