Did you see last week’s post about what not to say to a pregnant woman? I was feeling pretty weary of the questions and comments after going overdue with our little one. I was dreading our induction on Monday, especially since I prefer to have a natural labor if possible.
Thankfully, God sent our little baby a day before the induction, and she was born naturally on Sunday morning. Our baby’s gender was a surprise, so it was an extra special blessing to find out that our daughter has finally gotten a little sister!
Many of you know what life with a newborn is like… long nights, tired days, unpredictable schedules… What does this mean for themeasuredmom.com? You can read more about that here.
But for those of you who love birth stories, read on...
This was a great pregnancy. I don’t get nausea, just fatigue – but even that was hardly noticeable this time around. Instead I had tons of extra energy to work ahead on my blog, do learning activities with my kids, and get the house organized. At 36 weeks the doctor told me I was measuring smaller than with my other kids. I needed the chiropracter only once. I didn’t feel like I was at “advanced maternal age” at all.
Then week 38 hit.
Suddenly my belly grew before my eyes. I was so round I couldn’t get comfortable to sleep. My legs swelled (something I’d never experienced in pregnancy). My ribs hurt so badly I walked around with an ice pack. Driving was so painful I thought I’d pull a muscle. The baby was so low I could hardly walk. I eagerly anticipated my due date.
Then I watched it pass me by. Day after day after day. For someone whose latest pregnancy only went until the due date itself, this was extremely difficult. I started most days in despair that I was still pregnant. I was dreading natural childbirth, which had been exceptionally painful with my fourth. Even more I feared an induction. Most days began and ended with tears.
I spent hours in prayer, reading Bible passages, and praying that I wouldn’t give in to worry and despair.
Many, many friends were praying for me that I could overcome my fears, that I would deliver before an induction, and even that I would choose an epidural if that was the right decision.
Contractions began at 10:15 PM, 11 days past my due date.
I was dismayed that they were pretty intense from the beginning, but thankful that they were quite far apart. Finally I woke up my husband at 11:45. The contractions were about a minute long and 6-10 minutes apart. We called the doctor and decided to head to the hospital. I prefer laboring there rather than in the house where our other four kids might wake up. Thankfully my mom was here from out of town to mind the troops.
When we got to the hospital I was 6-7 cm dilated and feeling in control. The contractions were manageable with deep breathing. But I was still smarting from the last few weeks of my pregnancy. I knew we were in for another all nighter, and I wasn’t sure I had it in me — natural labor, that is. For the first time I seriously considered an epidural.
I talked to the nurse about the pros and cons. I met with the nurse anesthetist. I signed the papers.
My husband said it was my choice, but I knew it wasn’t his first one. I’ve spent years reading about natural childbirth and telling him about the health risks of an epidural. Most of all, he knew I loved the freedom natural childbirth gave me and the fact that I could be on my feet shortly afterward. I was all set to get the epidural.
I came this close.
Then God gave me a second wind and I headed to the shower. From about 2 in the morning until 5:15 I was in and out of the shower, sitting on the bench and feeling the jets on my back and stomach. And do you know it really wasn’t that bad? My husband coached me through deep breathing, and I could do it. It was kind of unbelievable. Sometimes he couldn’t even tell I was having a contraction. They were painful – but completely manageable.
The nurse said to call if I was feeling pushy. At 5:15 the doctor checked me. I was 9 cm dilated and 100% effaced. And I still didn’t feel like I was in transition. I started getting this crazy idea that maybe I was going to miss that crazy, out-of-your-mind pain that I had for hours at the end of my fourth’s labor.
For the moments that I was heading to the bed, waiting to be checked, and not back in the shower — they were torture. Intense, tear your body apart contractions. But I had fewer than 10 of them. When I sat in the shower, the pain was reasonable again.
However, it became clear that if I wanted this baby to come, I was going to have to change position. The nurse suggested standing and moving my hips. “I don’t think so, lady!”
The hours passed by, and I was finally ready to try something new. I worked up the courage to get down on my hands and knees – which I knew would be excruciating but would probably do the job. Sure enough, two contractions later, I headed to the bed and was ready to push.
I hate pushing. I really, really, hate it.
How do you women do it, who push for hours? My pushing has always been quick — fewer than fifteen minutes — but each push brings deep, searing pain. This time was the most painful of all. With my husband, doctor, and nurses all yelling at me from different directions —
“Take a deep breath first, Anna!”
“Wait, we want to ease this baby out – not all at once!”
“Could you please stop pushing on my hand with your foot?” (from an unpleasant nurse)
“You’re doing great!” (from everyone else)
“I can see the head, Anna! You’re almost there!” (my husband)
“Right here — push right here!” (the doctor)
My husband said it took five minutes.
The longest five minutes of my life.
And then, at 8:20 AM, that glorious moment when the baby’s body slips out, my husband leans over me with excitement (“It’s a GIRL!”) and I collapse knowing that we’ve done it. The pregnancy, the labor, the pushing. It’s DONE. And we have a second daughter! Praise the Lord!
She was a little blue, so after taking care of her breathing they set her on the scale. Everyone watched with great interest, because it was obvious from the get-go that this was no small baby.
I was expecting at least a 10-pound newborn, but even I was shocked when we heard the verdict: “11 pounds, 12 ounces!” And with only a second degree tear. Praise. The. Lord.
Soon I was able to hold my little sumo wrestler – for that’s just how she looked, with her tiny forehead, slanty eyes, and giant cheeks.
And she was beautiful.
*Update: Our little girl is a great eater and an extremely good-natured baby. She’s also lost all of her newborn puffiness. At her four month check up she had only gained a pound since birth, but she’s still a healthy baby with just the right amount of pudge. 🙂