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…
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.
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.
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