Selah’s Birth Story

You know the old phrase “silence is golden”? As a now mother of two, I can attest to that! I am currently sitting on my couch enjoying probably about twenty minutes of alone/quiet time while Zemirah has rest time in her room and the baby naps in her crib; I’m eating some peanut butter lactation bites (recipe coming soon!) and washing cloth diapers. It seemed like the perfect time to revisit an old TV sitcom, but I thought it might be fun to sit down and write! I have a couple of recipes in the works, but pictures aren’t edited so I thought for my first blog back I would write out Baby Girl’s birth story! You can read about my first, second, and third trimesters, and if birth is your thing, you may also be interested to read Zemirah’s Birth Story, then hang onto your hats because this one is completely different!

Let’s start at the very beginning (a very good place to start…) which was week 38 of pregnancy. I had accomplished everything on my baby to do list, finished up with work, and the new shelter-in-place orders were in effect for my county. A scary time in the world, everything was shut down, and as if feeling trapped at home isn’t hard enough, imagine waiting for a baby, too! Zemirah was born 5 days before her due date, and everyone says second babies come earlier, so I was expectant; however this same “everyone” also says second babies come quickly – everyone lied.

Fast forward to forty weeks pregnant – yes I made it to my due date, and I was not happy about it. At my 39 week check up, my midwife said everything was looking very soft and ripe and she thought it would be any time now and likely go quick. Again, a lie. *insert eye roll emoji* At forty weeks and one day pregnant, I was bouncing on my birth ball watching church online (what a time to be alive), trying to get Zemirah to sit semi-quietly so I could at least hear the pastor, and I was noticing some contractions. I had been having them irregularly for weeks, so I didn’t think much of it. However, after about 30 minutes, they were still consistently coming every five minutes, so I thought this might be the real thing! The contractions were not yet painful, but just a crampy, tightening feeling. After timing them for a little over an hour, they were consistently 4-6 minutes apart, so I called my mom to come pick up Zemirah. Saying goodbye to my firstborn, knowing our relationship was about to change, our lives would be different, and she would no longer be my baby, was such a bittersweet moment and I can’t explain the complexity of my emotions in that moment. There was no looking back; I handed my parents Z’s overnight bag, and David and I stood on our driveway waving goodbye with happy tears in our eyes.

Now that David and I were alone it was officially baby time! We packed our last few items for the hospital bags, kept timing my contractions, and headed out for a long walk around the neighborhood. We walked, talked, and day dreamed about what life with two girls would be like; contractions were still coming regularly, but still not powerful. After a good 3 mile walk, we decided I should nap to gear up for what was to come; well after a nice nap, contractions had all but stopped. Unacceptable! We loaded up the car for not just a walk, but a hike! For two and a half hours, we walked the nature trails at a local nature preserve, and my contractions were definitely intensifying. I still wouldn’t call them painful at this point, but there was a lot of pressure. Finally, they were about 2-3 minutes apart for about an hour so I called my midwives. Again, they told me “second labors are usually quick” so they advised me to head to the hospital.

We arrived at the hospital around 7 PM, we were screened for Covid and immediately escorted to a room. Being monitored, my midwife confirmed that I was indeed contracting every two to three minutes, but after having sat down for so long I told her I wasn’t feeling them anymore. She checked me, said I was almost 5 centimetres dilated and 75% effaced; I was so excited that I was almost in active labor and thought I could have my baby before midnight. Boy was I wrong… IMG_8008

Due to Covid rules, I was not allowed to walk around the halls, so, like a caged animal at the zoo, I paced anxiously back and forth. We also sadly discovered that due to Covid rules I would not be able to get my birth tub. So we continued pacing, dancing, watching Ellen’s Game of Games while bouncing on my ball, getting Baby monitored every 30 minutes – all of this happened for hours and still my cervix remained the same. We now had our night nurse and midwife, and the midwife advised me to lay on my side with a leg up in a stirrup because Baby was stubbornly stuck up high on my left side, and for me to get more intense contractions, I needed her to change positions. It was around midnight at that point, and though I was still contracting, they were not yet painful so she said we should get some sleep. Try as I might, I could not sleep for more than 30 minutes at a time because every now and then a painful contraction would be so intense it would wake me up and have me moaning, then I would get excited they were more intense and try to walk around to get them more intense, but to no avail.

Finally, after a long night, my midwife came back around 6 AM and checked me; she said I had made a little progress and it seemed like Baby was in a little bit better position. Again, things were still slow and not intense, so we just enjoyed our morning watching Golden Girls on the hospital TV and eating breakfast. My labor was intense enough at this point that I was slightly nauseous and unable to eat or drink much, which was an encouraging sign.

The day midwife, Taylor, came in around 8 AM (at this point, we had been through 3 sets of nurses and midwives – eye roll) and checked me. She actually said it seemed like my progress had gone backwards, and we needed to talk about our options to speed things up. After a long night of laboring and not being able to sleep, that was incredibly discouraging, but I was certainly eager to speed things along. The options she gave me were: go home (heck no!), break my water, or start me on a low dose of pitocin to see if that would get things going. I didn’t have to have pitocin with Zemirah’s labor so I have no experience with it, but have heard it makes contractions essentially unbearable. Because I wanted to have an un-medicated birth, I knew I didn’t want pitocin because of it being medicine but also because I was afraid it would lead me to an epidural. At this point, I had been laboring for almost 24 hours, and was not getting anywhere, so even though it was intervention I wasn’t expecting to need, I had Taylor break my water. Upon breaking my water, Taylor commented that I had a large amount of amniotic fluid which is likely why my contractions hadn’t been intense yet; that made me feel confident we made the right decision and hopeful things would begin to speed up.IMG_8007

A couple of hours later, contractions were more intense; lots of vocalizing and swaying when a contraction surged over me, but they were still far apart enough that I could take little micro-naps in between. Then Taylor came in to break the news that a mom at their birth center was in labor and she would have to leave – she told me who would deliver me instead because she was confident I would have this baby soon. We just kept doing what we had been doing – walking, swaying, bouncing – and a couple of hours later Taylor was back. The birth center mom had the stereotypical second child birth and delivered so quickly that she ended up delivering in the birth center parking lot. I was so jealous! I can’t help but laugh about it now, and I know that mom has quite the story to tell!

Around 1 o’clock PM I decided to get in the hospital bathtub just to relax and rest some more. At this point, the contractions were so far apart that the tub slowed me down even more – I only had one contraction while in the tub. Taylor and our amazing nurse, Kiersten had suggested I try pumping because nipple stimulation releases all the happy hormones and contracts your uterus. So I hopped out of the tub, sat on my birth ball, and pumped for just 10 minutes. I was delighted to see some little drops of colostrum coming out, but even more delighted for the four back to back contractions that came over me like waves of power. I got another cervical check after pumping and I was finally in active labor with the baby’s head at 0 station! It was go time!

I was contracting powerfully and basically one on top of another for a while, but the pain wasn’t nearly as intense as it was with Zemirah’s labor – I could easily breathe through each surge. Eventually, though, my lower back was in excruciating pain; Taylor did rebozo on me to help move Baby down and help relieve some back pain. I felt vaguely like I needed to push, but wasn’t sure. Taylor had me sit backwards on the toilet for a while to help move Baby down even more, and that was definitely effective! The contractions were so strong and powerful, but I didn’t have an overwhelming urge to push like I did with Zemirah. After some time, I would guess around 2:20 PM, Taylor checked me again and informed me that I was 9.5 centimetres dilated – my cervix still had a lip on it, and my baby was still completely on my left side. This is why I wasn’t feeling the urge to push yet, but she told me it was still time. They say (who are these people and why do they always tell us things?!) that mothers forget the pain of childbirth when they hold their baby, but I’m not sure I can ever forget the feeling of what happened next. Taylor had me lay on my right side, pull my left leg up; she then reached inside of me, pushed my cervical lip aside, and told me to push against her hand. With all my might I pushed, multiple times, my lower back was screaming at me – I felt like it was going to rip in two. I vomited.

Finally, Taylor had me flip onto my hands and knees, pulling down on the top of the bed for support. It was in this position that I continued my strenuous pushing; my husband David constantly encouraging me and me saying “I can’t do this!” over and over. I have a vivid memory of at one point feeling three hands on me – one from Taylor, one from Kiersten, and one from David – and I felt so supported and cared for. Their caring touches gave me the strength I needed.

If I felt like a caged animal when pacing in early labor, now I was a lioness freed of all inhibitions. I screamed – no, roared – as I pushed with all my might. At 2:52 PM, Selah Jade Mills was born, and though I couldn’t physically see her right away, I instantly heard her strong cry! She was passed between my legs, and I clutched her to me. The long, hard work was worth it! She was here in all her soft, slimy glory.selahjade1 (2)

She instantly peed and pooped on me, but I just laughed as sweet Kiersten wiped us down. Though I won’t quickly forget the pain of trying to get her in the right position and pushing through that last half centimetre, I also won’t quickly forget the smell of that freshly born baby, or the feeling of nursing her for the first time, holding her close for that first golden hour while we both dozed after our hard work of birth. I won’t quickly forget David’s strong arms around me as I worked to bring Selah here, I won’t forget the tears in his eyes as he gazed lovingly at our new daughter, and I won’t forget the feeling of immense love between us as we realized how blessed we were to take part in another miracle.

Because that is what pregnancy and birth is. A miracle! And the Lord graciously allows us to take part in His magnificent plan for life.

“For everything comes from Him and exists by His power and is intended for His glory. All glory to Him forever! Amen.” – Romans 11:36

Zemirah’s Birth Story

 

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.