The wild card birth. How many times have I heard that in the last year? Yet, in my mind, that meant you’d come fast and furious. I just thought for sure I’d be a pro at this and you’d just come right out! After all, Carter’s labor was less than 1/4 of the length of Ellie’s! Surely that trend would continue. Why did I EVER think I had this figured out? I guess you wanted to be memorable. A completely unique journey from your siblings. There’s no distinct beginning to your story in the traditional sense. I wasn’t in labor for 2 days, but I also labored for 2 days. On and off. Kind of. Confused yet? Me too. I still don’t know how to write this story. So, here we go.
On Monday, July 30th, I was on the couch and got hit with a coughing spell (I didn’t have a cough) that made me instantly sick to my stomach. I had to run to the bathroom and had (sorry TMI) an extremely violent puking situation. I guess I’d mark this as a sign of my body preparing for early labor because I ALWAYS vomit in labor. Philip came home from work to take care of the kids while I rested. Nothing really happened until around 1am. I kept waking to contractions from then on throughout the night with the frequency and intensity increasing. When Philip’s alarm went off, I told him I had been up in early labor and I wanted to shower to see if things would speed up or slow down. They instantly sped up and grew in intensity. Because I assumed my labor would be fast, and the birth center was an hour away, I called the midwife on call (Tiffany). She told me to come in when I felt ready. So, we got the kids ready for daycare (well, Philip did).
I took one last photo with Ellie thinking it would be our last moment before I saw her with Judah in my arms. He took them in (this was their last day anyway since it was supposed to be my last day of work) and came home to get me. We went to the chiropractor on the way for one final adjustment. It was then that I noticed things were slowing down a bit, but my doula and photographer were already on the way and I figured as soon as I settled again it would resume. (Nope)
I got to the birth center and found out I was only 2cm dilated. Which is what I was at my last appointment. CRAP. So, we decided to go to the nearby “mall” and do some walking and see what happens. It was determined Judah was OP (sunny side up) just like my other two babes. So, the goal was to turn him if possible. Labor and pushing would be much more effective and simpler if he did. I wasn’t convinced my body would birth a baby in ideal position, though. I knew I could do it either way.
We met my doula, Mary, at the mall and walked all over that stinky, hot place. I’d stop for a contraction and lean on Philip and sway back and forth while all the mall walkers stared. It was…great. LOL After a short while, I decided I wanted to go back to the birth center and spend some time resting on the bed with the peanut ball. Contractions were still spaced and not as intense and I was feeling frustrated and discouraged and tired after being up most of the night. By noon I was checked again and had maybe progressed to about 3cm. I decided I wanted to go home, rest, and see my kiddos.
That night after trying to go to bed, contractions started picking back up. Again, I took a shower. This time, I had to get out to throw up. I thought for sure THIS was my transition to early labor. The contractions were 2-3 min apart. We couldn’t get a hold of anyone to answer their phone to come stay the night with the kids. We finally tried our friend Emma. She was able to come sleep on our couch. Again, we headed to the birth center and so did the rest of our team. Tiffany was still on call and met us there. We arrived around midnight. To keep this story moving, I’ll summarize the next 5 hours. We did lots of different techniques as I worked through contractions. Rebozo, hip squeezes, peanut ball, in Philip’s arms, in the shower. Eventually, as things started to fizzle again, we were given an hour to try and rest and see if giving ourselves a break would allow things to intensify again. I slept in and out through contractions and then was checked for progress. I was sitting right at about 5cm. You’d think I would’ve been in decent labor there. NOPE.
**all photos from here on out were taken and edited by Amber of Amber Denae Photography and Birth Services.
Now we were faced with a decision…did we want to go all the way home or get some rest at a local hotel and see what would happen? We decided we didn’t want to journey all the way home yet. The kids would be getting up soon and we were completely exhausted. We went to a hotel and slept for a few hours. I kept waking up randomly with a really strong contraction but things weren’t speeding back up. We went back to the birth center to get my vitals and dilation checked. When we left earlier I had had a slight fever. We suspected it was from dehydration so I had been drinking and snacking as much as I could handle. I was nauseous the whole journey, though.
My vitals were good and I was still sitting at 5cm. No surprise there. We left to head home…again. My midwife Nicole told me she was going on call (she attended Carter’s birth…so I felt super comfortable in her care too!) and that I should keep hydrating and take a Unisom and try and sleep as long as I could. Philip somehow managed to care for the kids and got them out of the house so I could just sleep. I slept about 4 hours but still had those random hard contractions waking me. I spent time with the kids resting on the couch since I was still a little drugged feeling from the Unisom. Around dinnertime, those hard contractions seemed to pick up. I was leaning into my couch and loudly working my way through them and very much confusing Ellie. She kept asking what I was doing. Philip had to explain to her as best he could and told her not to talk to me when they were happening. I was so down emotionally and so tired that I was honestly mad that I was having to deal with these contractions. I wasn’t in the mood. At all. I decided I was going to get in the bathtub and dump as much epsom salts in there as I could in hopes that they would stop and I could rest. I was in complete denial about the fact that labor was ramping up.
Philip came in to check on me and I was very stern with him when I said I was NOT going to the birth center and if I was going into labor and not going to get a good night’s sleep, then I was going to the hospital for an epidural. I was NOT going to have a natural birth that night. I was dead set. Philip tried to talk sense into me because he knew my true heart’s desire. I didn’t give a crap.
He got the kids in bed and it became painfully clear that these contractions were too much to do at home any longer. We got more help with the kids for the night and I called my midwife. She told me I’d be having that baby if I came in. We’d break my water if that’s what I really wanted. PS I kept saying the whole time that I thought he’d come if they just would break my water but everyone felt strongly my start and stop labor was him trying to get better positioned and that breaking my water would keep him from turning. I told Nicole I wanted an epidural and she later told me she knew I was going to have him because of me getting so defeated. Midwives know, y’all. They know.
Surprisingly, my amazing photographer, Amber, and doula, Mary, made the trip out there for the third time. They were completely supportive angels through this whole thing and never once made me feel guilty or like an inconvenience. Everyone had so much respect for whatever my birthing journey was going to be. It was wonderful.
We arrived at the birth center and Nicole had the tub filled and warm. I laid down to be checked and I swear you could’ve heard a pin drop in that place. We all held our breath. 7cm and thinned out. I felt like I had won the world series in that moment. It was FINALLY going to be time to have this baby! Somewhere along the way I had resolved to stay at the birth center and go with my natural birth as planned. God gave me supernatural strength. That’s all I can explain after this long journey.
Labor for the next hour and 45 minutes went from joking in between intense contractions in the tub to needing complete silence to recover in between. I labored a lot on the toilet (never understood why people liked that in my last two labors but this time it REALLY worked for me). My bag of water was bulging but by about 11pm it still had not broken. I was past 8cm and was frustrated sitting there laboring on the toilet. My midwife came in and suggested I bear down and see if my water would break. I did this and she went to help push the lip of my cervix a little bit during a contraction and POP water finally broke. It was time to get in the tub and have this baby. I could sense he was close now.
The next 15 minutes were the longest probably of my life. He moved down so fast after my water broke that I thought my back and hips were going to break in half. There was no break between contractions. I didn’t even distinguish when they were happening I was in such intense agony. Everyone in the room was cheering me on. Telling me I could do it. That he was coming and I’d be meeting him soon. I reached down and felt his head after I sensed that ring of fire feeling. He was right there! I was kneeling at the edge of the tub pulling against Philip holding his hands. I felt the progress of my pushes and was so SO motivated just to get him out. I didn’t want to waste anything and pushed as much as I could. A few minutes later (felt like hours), he was out and Nicole was lifting him up to my chest out of the water. It was 11:18pm on August 1st.
He was so peaceful in his transition from my womb to the world. He just looked around. We waited what seemed like a long time, but I’m sure it wasn’t, for his first breath. I felt such great joy seeing him breathing and content in my arms. What relief it was. It’s amazing the strength that was inside of me to endure through those days both emotionally and physically. I know my team and God’s hand on me were the reason it was possible.
My recovery was amazingly easy (other than the fact that after birth contractions are 10x worse the third time around) and I was home by 3am. I can’t express how wonderful it was to be home in our own bed resting so soon. I love Natural Beginnings Birth Center so much!!! This last labor was a true test that was hard to make it through, but I look back grateful for my support system and that I stuck with it and got to have the birth I desired. Judah Samuel, my surprise but not at all an accident, we love you with ALL that we have. We can’t imagine our family without you in it!
<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/283097513″>Birth of Judah Samuel</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user14084234″>Amber Rhodes</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>