First of all, I want to start by saying every birth is beautiful. I know some women have difficult ones, traumatic ones, short labors, long labors, Cesareans and more, but bringing a life into the world is incredible. For doing that, you are strong and brave. It is a great blessing to co-create life with God, house that life in your body and then nurture him or her outside of the womb as well.
I was so nervous about the birth of my first, James, and what it would be like. See here. I had planned an un-medicated delivery and ended up being in a lot of pain for weeks and weeks that followed because of some side effects of interventions I had not planned (ie. episiotomy and epidural). While I made peace with how his coming into the world went, I still hoped for something a little different with my second.
My hope and ideal was an unmedicated birth, without my water breaking first. My water breaking means unbearable back labor for me, and immediately having to go to the hospital because I was Strep B positive and needed one dose of antibiotics. I preferred to be able to labor at home for a while and wished for anything shorter than a 24+ hour labor. I was also hoping I didn’t have to go to the hospital in the middle of the night and not be able to say bye to James or go into labor before my mother in law was there to help.
This second birth for me was redeeming. I prayed and prayed for these certain things above to come to fruition and particular fears to be alleviated. And while God doesn’t always answer prayer how we want it answered, God answered each one of these birth prayers very specifically! I was nervous once again about the birth itself but also adding a second child to our family and how I could ever love the next child as much as James.
My mother in-law arrived on Monday, April 1st and had two days of “training” on how to do nap time and bedtime routine, which are pretty extensive (first child problems). On Tuesday evening, I noticed my Braxton Hicks were coming maybe every 20-30 minutes. They didn’t hurt at all so it wasn’t thinking too much of them other than it was different than the random ones throughout the day. I must’ve been in early labor during the night because I woke up Wednesday morning April 3rd with an upset stomach. As Ryan ran out the door for class that morning, I told him I felt weird and it was probably just all the chocolate I ate the day before. I texted my doula my symptoms and she said she had a feeling it was baby day! At 8am was around when I realized the tightening of my belly was coming with heavy cramping at the same time, and they were already 4 minutes apart.
In between hanging with James and my MIL and working through the contractions on the stability ball, I was keeping Ryan updated via text.
In birth class you usually learn to head in to the hospital when your contractions are roughly 5 minutes apart, 1 minute each for 1 hour (5-1-1). By 10am, mine were already at 3 minutes apart, but I felt like I was managing the pain pretty well and I was trying not to over think it! I didn’t want to have a baby in the car, but I also didn’t want to get turned away from the hospital for not being far enough along…When would be the sweet spot?!
I decided to call Ryan home from school after only an hour and a half of being gone. He got the car packed while I was eating a snack and the pain was getting worse. I said goodbye to my precious James before his lunch and we got to the hospital by 11:30am.
When checked at triage, I was 6cm, 90% effaced. Whoohoo! Let’s GOOOO! Our nurse walked in and introduced herself. She was one of Ryan’s classmates’ wives! She was super sweet, made us feel very comfortable, and it was just another confirmation that God was watching over us!
We settled into the room around Noon… got my labor playlist going, got back on the bouncy ball, and was chatting it up with my midwife and nurse between contractions. They hurt really bad, but I was in a good head space. My doula was massaging my back and Ryan was speaking scriptures over me.
The midwife checked me around 2pm, while I was standing up (SO COOL I didn’t have to climb back into the bed on my back while in pain for a check). I was 10cm, fully effaced!
WHAT!!! AMAZING! HOW DID I GET HERE!
2 hours had flown by with singing, breathing deeply, and offering up contractions out loud for prayer intentions. I was calm and supported and God was with us in that room as I battled the pain with love and joy to meet my child. This was when I realized how deeply spiritual labor and delivery can be.
My water was still intact. The midwife said if I wanted, they could break my water and baby Joseph would come very soon after.
After my water broke at 2:20pm, in came the TERRIBLE HORRIBLE NO GOOD VERY BAD stabbing back pain. I distinctly remember this song “Warrior” coming on my playlist. I literally got chills. It was perfect timing for these lyrics.
Take a listen- super motivating!
I started feeling urges to push and climbed up on the bed in between a contraction. My face fell into a pillow while on my hands and knees, and I squeezed it hard as I was hit one after another with intense waves of pain. I stayed on all fours and began to sweat profusely! I had just about finished my one dose of the antibiotics. Yet again, perfect timing.
“Ahh he’s coming!!!” I was glad I had my face down because I didn’t want to focus on how crowded the room was. Ryan was holding my hand. The midwife was holding me up and occasionally pushing on my back. A student, the midwife, a resident, and two nurses were all doing who knows what, touching me and talking to me.
I started to push… and SCREAM. Yep, I was a screamer. I couldn’t help it. I didn’t care if people were judging me at that point! It was honestly the worst possible pain I could ever imagine. I tensed up. I started joking (sort of serious!) about really wanting the epidural NOW. Of course it was too late. Another contraction, another push, and another scream. I tensed again and made no progress.
Everyone was telling me I could do it, and all I could do was yell, “Jesus, Jesus help me!” The midwife then said, “Hold on Rosemary, he’s right here.” I replied, “Joseph??”, and she said, “No. Jesus.” HA!
I knew that Joseph had to come to us one way or another, and if I could just focus on getting him out instead of resisting, the pain would stop. One big final push and he was born at 2:53pm.
21 inches. 9lbs of chunky goodness.
We did it! He was here! And the pain was over!
Joseph, Ryan, and I enjoyed an hour of uninterrupted time with skin to skin, breastfeeding, chatting, and basking in the whirlwind that just happened. We looked at our SECOND little boy and we were in awe of the result of our self-giving, life-giving love.
I literally just took a lunch break and had a baby. SO FAST. SO INTENSE. And now, so peaceful.
There is probably some extra dose of assurance with mothering a second kid because hey, it’s your second time around. But, I really feel like the empowering birth experience gave me such a positive spirit and confidence with each step after that, staring with his birth, his first latch, and moving into how to get to know and calm this new little babe.
My physical recovery was yet another blessing and answered prayer. I was up walking around pretty easily an hour afterwards and other than normal uterine cramping, felt great. I guess God knew I’d need to be able to have the strength to hold my needy toddler AND my baby at the same time when we got home. This was so different from the first birth’s feeling of overwhelm and defeat.
Honestly, the biggest struggle going from one to two kids hasn’t been things like how to get two kids out the door, how to manage their schedules (yet), or how to get anything else done- this is close to impossible, but doable… It’s been my heart figuring out how to love both kids in the ways they need to be loved at the same time. People told me my heart would naturally just expand, and it didn’t come that easily to me. I felt my heart tearing in two separate directions with two different very loved kids who had very big needs. The first two months were a painful stretching period and we ALL had to learn more patience. While the adjustment was really hard on James, it has gotten noticeably better now that we are nearly 3 months in. It is the sweetest thing to hear James tell us how much he loves his brother and say, “shhh shh, it’s okay Jo-fuf!” when he’s fussing.
Joseph is proving to be a generally calm and silly little one. His smiles light up our life. We love him so much! Thank you for all of the support as we grew to a family of 4!