In just three short days, our sweet Zemirah Capri will be 2-years-old! I can hardly believe it! It’s true what the wiser and more experienced parents say: the days are long, but the years are short. There have been some difficult and long days (and nights!) these past two years, but there has been so much growth through the difficulty. The Lord has used Zemirah to sanctify both David and I; we have learned so much about ourselves and about our Good Father through this short journey of parenthood. I look back so fondly on her birth day – where the pain, sacrifice, love, and beauty of parenthood started – that I wanted to share her birth story with you all.
Zemirah’s Birth Story
Finding out I was pregnant was an unexpected surprise, but we were excited to become parents, and did looooots of preparing. We read multiple books, went to all the doctor’s appointments, took a couple months worth of classes, re-did the budget, and stocked up on all the essentials. I say “we” in all of this because David is my greatest gift and blessing from the Lord and was the most supportive partner I could have hoped for. Anyways, we felt prepared. However, at 38 weeks pregnant, the midwife asked if I was going to go all natural and I said “I’m going to try.” I did not feel prepared in the area of labor and delivery, but knew I would like to have a natural, un-medicated birth. Sure, I did my yoga and practiced my breathing, and we watched natural birth documentaries together, but it was all so overwhelming and scary.
Cut to January 30th, 2017; I was 39 weeks and 1 day pregnant. I was up around 3 AM because of cramping; I had been cramping for a couple of weeks now so I thought it was still Braxton Hicks. But because of the discomfort I could not go back to sleep, so I finally got out of bed around 4, went to the bathroom, and saw a little blood. Rarely does someone get excited about bleeding, but this was one of those times! I woke David up and said “I think today’s the day!”, called my mom, who instantly started looking up flights, texted my in-laws, sisters, friends, and was so excited just bouncing on my birth ball, drinking coffee, and watching the sun rise with David. He called into work and told them I was in labor (in hindsight, he definitely could have gone to work that day. Ha!) so he could spend the day laboring with me.
We definitely should have been taking advantage of the little pain I was having and kept sleeping, but we were too excited. We ended up taking a little nap around 9 AM, but that slowed my contractions down, so after waking up, we went on a two mile walk. On the walk, I noticed a change in my contractions. They felt like when you get a muscle cramp, but in my groin and hips, and I felt a lot of pressure, but they were still very bearable at this point.
Later that afternoon, my mom called to give me her flight information, so we did laundry, got the pull out couch ready, and went to the grocery store all while timing my contractions. They were about six minutes apart at that point and still very mild; however, we felt certain it was real labor. After the grocery store, we just stayed at home watching Netflix, eating light foods, and timing my contractions. David rubbed my back and feet like the wonderfully supportive labor partner he was.
By the time my mom got there that evening, my contractions were about two minutes apart but still mild, but we thought it would be wise to head to the hospital. Around 9 PM we headed to the hospital; we were excited, and I thought I was one of the lucky ones that didn’t have much pain in labor. Wrong! So we (my mom included) carted all of our bags and baby paraphernalia up to the L&D ward and I got checked in triage. What a disappointment to find out I was only three centimeters dilated and 60% effaced! The nurse sent me to walk around and told me to come back in two hours to get checked again. During this walk, things began getting more intense. I could no longer walk through my contractions and was starting to feel nauseated. We walked all around the hospital while my poor mom napped in the waiting room, I would lean on walls for support during contractions, and David would put counter pressure on my hips and remind me that my pain had a purpose. We were going to meet our daughter soon!
At 11:30 PM we went back to triage to get checked again, hopeful they would admit me and we could get comfortable in our room. I was still at a 3… the nurse suggested taking a Benadryll and napping. We went back home disappointed, but I knew things were changing. I almost vomited on the short drive back home because of the pain. When we arrived home, I took a Tylenol PM and David and I laid down. It was midnight at this point and we were exhausted. However, sleep was not in the near future.
I was starting to moan with the contractions and David reminded me not to fear them; they were good, and the pain was temporary and purposeful. Instinctively I knew I needed to get in a warm tub. David drew me a bath and I spent the next two and a half hours in there on my hands and knees “vocalizing” (it was a horrifying, guttural moan that probably sounded like a cow dying) while David, and at one point, my sweet mother, poured warm water on me and whispered prayers of strength over me. I vomited twice and, at one point, felt like I was going to faint. It was at this stage I said, “I can’t do this”, but David reminded me that I was made for this and I COULD do it!
Around 3 or so (no idea of exact time lines at this point hehe) we decided to go to the hospital. I did NOT want to get out of that tub and get in the car, but knew that labor was nearing a close. When we got to the hospital I could barely walk and needed a wheelchair to get down to L&D triage – I’m not sure why the Naval Hospital thought it would be a good idea to have L&D be on the second floor and waaaay down the hallway! I got checked and was at a six so I could be admitted. The nurse asked me, “Do you still want to go natural?” This was my fork in the road… I said “yes”.
As we were getting set up in the room, I asked for something to be sick in; the nurses calmly handed David a barf bag which he frantically tried, and failed, to open. Looking back now, we both laugh about that moment! After thirty excruciating minutes of laboring in the bed so I could receive my antibiotics for Strep B, I could finally get up and get in the shower.
David spent the next hour and a half praying over me, putting lots of counter pressure on my lower back, and spraying me with warm water. I’ve never been so in love with him as I was then. I knew he was so exhausted, yet he was constantly at my side supporting me through my labor; I absolutely could not have done it without him. I was reminded of Jesus washing His disciples’ feet when David knelt down on the cold hospital bathroom floor to lovingly wipe the blood from my legs.
My mom was waiting (well, pacing, really) out in the hall for all of this; she knew it was almost time. She was also incredibly loving and sacrificial in all of this; I know she was praying, too. I definitely could not have done the first week postpartum without her!
I began feeling monumental pressure and felt that I needed to push; David called the nurse, but she said to wait because my water hadn’t broken. Trying to wait and not push was honestly the most painful part of all. At one point, David and I were hugging facing each other and while trying not to push I accidentally BIT him! Another moment we laugh about now haha! Finally, David called the nurse again and said he thought it was time. They checked me and asked “are you sure your water hasn’t broken? Because it’s time!” To this day, I still don’t know when my water broke, but at that point really didn’t care; I was so ready to deliver our sweet Zemirah.
The doctor came in around 5 AM and instructed me to do a few “practice pushes”, then left to go check on her other patients. But my body knew what it was doing and didn’t need practice. The nurses raised a bar up on the bed so I could squat. Suddenly they told me to lay down and frantically called the doctor back in. David overheard one of them saying “I’m not about to catch this baby!”
I felt such relief to finally be able to push with all my might that the pain went away, the contractions slowed down, and instead of pain, they came with a wave of power and strength. In between each push, David would give me a sip of water; he was right by my side the whole time, telling me I could do it, and when Zemirah was almost earth side, he looked at me with misty eyes and excitement saying, “babe, I can see her head!” After pushing through the “ring of fire”, at 5:26 AM, she came out in one swift motion, and before I knew it was on my chest. She was finally here!
We spent that first “golden hour” together skin to skin, practicing getting a good latch (thanks to the help of my wonderful mom!), while David and I ooed and awed over the little lady we were finally getting to meet.
Though painful (and long!), I am so thankful for Zemirah’s birth and the way it played out. It is truly only by God’s grace that we had such a wonderful experience; it strengthened our bond and helped us bring our daughter into the world the way we dreamed.
Zemirah’s name means “song of joy” and in those moments immediately after birth we were both truly feeling the joy of the Lord. We were sitting there in awe as the sun rose on the morning of Tuesday, January 31st, 2017 holding our darling Zemirah Capri, our song of joy.