I know some of you have asked me to share the details of Vera’s birth story, and some of you will probably have no interest at all! But here is the unabridged version for those who are interested. It’s a long story… but then, it was a long labor!
At my week 41 appointment, they scheduled me for induction (first a Foley Ball, then Pitocin) the following Thursday (August 19). I really, REALLY did not want to be induced, so I was praying HARD (and so were many others) that I would go into labor naturally before then.
I woke up on Tuesday, August 17 to find that I was starting to lose my mucus plug. I was excited, knowing that it meant things were starting to progress, but not overly excited, since I knew that some women lose their plug days or even weeks before labor begins. I felt tired and achy all day, similar to how I feel “that time of the month.” I had lots of lower back pain. I continued to lose my plug throughout the day, but experienced very few contractions.
Around 7PM, I started to have regular contractions. (This was not unusual, since for the past several nights I experienced strong and somewhat regular Braxton Hicks contractions.) At 7:30PM, Tad suggested I start timing them. They were 2-4 minutes apart and were lasting between 30 seconds and 4 minutes each. The contractions were not too intense, and I could talk through them. I made sure they weren’t Braxton Hicks by changing positions, drinking water, eating a snack, and walking around. Nothing changed their frequency.
Around 10:00PM I called my midwife to let her know what was going on. She said that it sounded like I was in early (real) labor and that I should continue to labor at home until the contractions were too painful to stand anymore and I could no longer talk through them (since I was planning a natural, epidural-free birth). She suggested I try and get some sleep if I could.
Tad and I went to bed at 11:00PM, but I was unable to sleep. As each contraction washed over me, I tried to visualize waves rising and falling. I could feel the contractions very gradually building in intensity. After about an hour of laying in bed, I got up and sat in my rocker and then at my desk for a little while. I headed back to bed around 12:30AM, but the contractions were intensifying and I suspected I might soon need to wake Tad.
At 1:00AM I decided I couldn’t stay in bed any longer. I went out to the couch, where I was able to semi-recline and get pretty comfortable. The contractions continued to get stronger, and I began to softly vocalize (long, low “oooo” sounds) with each contraction. Shortly before 2:00AM I took two Tylenol PM’s to hopefully take the “edge” off the pain enough so I could sleep a little. That didn’t work. My body did some “cleansing” work on its own (I won’t get into specifics) to help ready my body for labor.
At 3:15AM, the contractions were stronger, but still manageable. I found kneeling in front of the couch and swaying back and forth during a contraction helped keep me focused. I decided that I could manage the pain and that there was no need to wake up Tad since he was getting a good night’s rest and I wasn’t even close to needing to leave for the hospital.
All night I labored on the couch, vocalizing each of the contractions with long, low “oooo-ing.” The contractions continued to build slowly, but I could still handle them. Around 7:00AM I called my family to let my mom know she could probably start driving down anytime (she lives 5 hours away).
Tad woke up around 8:00AM and felt rested. I was thankful he got a good night’s sleep, since I knew things would be exhausting for him too. We ate breakfast and I continued to drink water. My contractions started to level out to 4-5 minutes apart, but they were consistently a minute to a minute and a half long and were gaining intensity.
Around 1:00PM we decided to head to my practice since I didn’t want to be traveling in the car (an over 30-minute drive) in the later stages of labor. At 2:00PM I saw one of the midwives and found out that I was 3 to 4cm dilated and 90% effaced. She told me I could go to the hospital whenever I wanted to, but suggested I “hang out” in town for a little while longer before checking in.
I checked into the hospital around 3:30PM because I decided that I didn’t want to labor in Chick-fil-A or walk around the mall while laboring. My mom had arrived at this point, and we were all settled into the hospital by 4:00PM.
During this stage of labor we all talked in between contractions, and I enjoyed listening to worship music that Tad played on his Nokia N800.
My contractions kept getting stronger, and I asked to be checked again that evening, around 8:00PM or so. They told me I was just 5cm dilated. I remember feeling overwhelmed at how slow things were progressing for how much work I was putting into it! I labored on the birthing ball as well as in bed, but found that the birthing ball was most helpful at that point. When they checked again at 11:00PM, I was just 6cm dilated. At that point I was very discouraged and wondered if I could continue laboring naturally for what seemed like an eternity more to come! My mom kept reminding me to just take it “one contraction at a time.”
My vocalization at some point transitioned from “oooo” to stronger “ho” sounds. I thought I was pretty loud, but my support team said I wasn’t that bad! I held Tad’s hand through every contraction and he helped stabilize me and keep me focused when I would waver. My mom and Tad took turns rubbing my back.
I decided to ask for Nubane around the 6cm mark. I had hoped to only ask for pain medication if I absolutely had to, and it was a difficult decision for me to make in the moment. However, the dose of Nubane was exactly what I needed to give me some much needed strength and rest. While on Nubane I still felt every contraction, but I also felt like my pain was manageable. While the Nubane was working, I labored on my side in bed so I could rest more in between contractions. Time seemed to move so slowly. I would watch the clock and think that it wasn’t moving at all! Around 12:30AM I believe, my water broke on its own. We were all so excited!
After the first dose of Nubane wore off, I labored on the birthing ball some more. I had another examination and they told me I was at 8cm. Around 2:30AM or so I got another dose of Nubane. I labored in bed during that time, and everyone except for Tad left the room so I could rest in between contractions. We turned off the worship music at that point as well.
When I could get up again, they finally convinced me to go walk around in the hall for a little bit. I think I was between 8 and 9cm at this point. When I came back in the room I began experiencing very intense contractions that seemed to never end. My mom was timing them and said they were a full two minutes long EACH. It felt like the next one started immediately as the one before was ending. I felt like I was having one constant contraction. I made intense, low, guttural noises with every contraction, and I felt a strong need to push. They kept telling me to hold off on pushing or I would put too much pressure on my cervix and actually slow things down. This time between 9cm and 10cm felt like the longest period of my whole labor. I threw up towards the end of that time, which was unusual since most people throw up in transition (7-9cm).
After what felt like hours upon hours of trying not to push, they told me I was just about at 10cm and was nearing the time to push. My midwife helped me get the rest of the way dilated, and then the pushing began.
I never thought I would push on my back. I always expected I would squat or stand or something. But with a nurse and Tad helping, I held my legs and pushed. My midwife was great at directing my pushing (she told me to push when each contraction was strongest) and helping stretch my perineum. Although the pushing was hard, it felt so good to finally be doing it! The time went by quickly for me. I remember someone asking how long I had been pushing and someone else said almost an hour. I couldn’t believe it. It felt like less than half that time. During the entire time I was pushing, I was able to watch in a mirror. That helped motivate me, I’m sure! We could see her head and it was covered in lots of dark hair!
When my midwife called for the baby nurses to come in and start getting things ready, I knew I was so close to meeting my baby girl! It didn’t matter how tired I was. I did my best (longest, strongest) pushing right there at the end. We were all shocked when our baby girl’s face was up as she emerged. I think she must have turned face-up in the birthing canal. As soon as her head was out, the rest of her body came as well. I was surprised, since I thought I was going to have to work as hard to get the rest of her body out as I did for her head. (Guess I should have read the chapter on pushing!) I did not have an episiotomy, and I only needed a couple of little stitches a few places.
They laid her beautiful body up against mine right away. Those moments of skin-to-skin time were so precious. I think they cleaned her as they handed her to me, because it was as though I blinked and she was perfectly clean and red, lying naked on my chest (well, except for her little hat!). I held her and couldn’t get over how completely beautiful she was. I was so deliriously happy. Tad announced her name to everyone in the room after a few minutes. Vera stayed on my chest for a long time before they weighed her. She weighed 7 lbs., 10.8 oz. and was 20.5 inches long. She nursed a little bit right away.
Vera Evangeline was born at 5:53AM on Thursday, August 19. I had been in labor for 35 hours, and awake for 47 hours. To break it down further, it took me 19 hours to dilate 4 cm, 9 hours to dilate from 4cm to 6cm, about 6 hours to dilate from 6cm to 10cm, and an hour to push her out! It was a loooong labor!
I would like to recognize and thank the amazing support team that I had while I was in labor.
First, Andrea, my friend and official family photographer 😉 was there from 4pm Wednesday until an hour or so after Vera’s birth! I don’t think she counted on being there that long! (In my defense, I did warn her that I thought things were progressing slowly…) Andrea took all of the beautiful pictures in this post and we absolutely treasure all of these pictures of such a special time! She also kept me company in early labor, and was happy to go get more ice chips for me all throughout my labor. She also prayed with me at some point (sorry…the details are fuzzy and I don’t remember exactly when that was!) and I know she was praying during the whole labor. Thank you, Andrea, for being such a great support!
I had wonderful nurses as well, particularly Katie, who was with me for most of my labor and delivery. My midwife, Carolyn, was also amazing! I couldn’t have asked for a more supportive, encouraging midwife.
My mother was a HUGE support to me during my labor! With her living 5 hours away, logistically we weren’t sure if she would be able to make it for everything. But God graced us and allowed her to be there for everything! She prayed over me as well and read Scripture to me during labor. She gave me the strength I needed at some of the most difficult points of my labor! I felt so privileged to have her there with me. Thanks, Mom, for your wonderful love and support!!
My biggest support was my amazing husband, Tad. He was so strong for me and I pulled so much strength from him. I know he was exhausted, yet he stayed so focused and involved in each contraction. He let me squeeze his hands until I thought I might break them, and he kept me from wavering and losing control. He was everything I could have asked for and more! Thank you, sweet hubby, for loving me and for laboring WITH me!
A few other random notes about the birth:
-We kept the room temperature around 55 degrees the whole time. Everyone else in the room was freezing while I was still sweating! I even had a fan turned on me as well (thanks, Emily… it was a lifesaver)!
-As I mentioned before, we listened to worship music while I was in labor. We listened to lots of hymns, Sovereign Grace music, and Indelible Grace. It was so uplifting!
-I wore earrings for my entire labor. 🙂 I realized later that they were the same earrings I wore on our wedding day (pearl studs). I remember towards the end of my labor they were getting uncomfortable, but I felt like it would be more work to take them off than just leave them on.
This might be the longest post EVER… but I hope you enjoyed it!