10 lbs 8 oz.
As I sit here and reflect a week later on the birth of my son I'm in awe.
I'm in awe of God. His mercies. His promises.
I'm humbled by the strength needed to become a mother...no matter the birth experience.
And I'm amazed at how I could have never imagined the peace this birth (its highs and its lows) would bring me after my two previous.
I am truly blessed.
At 3:30 am, on my due date, I sat facebooking my midwife wishing her a happy birthday. And asking for labor inducing vibes.
By 6:30 am, that same morning, I was in early labor.
What started as just mild (but regular) contractions quickly turned into what was undeniably (no matter how hard I tried) baby day. I had full intentions of easing into my contrations. Making egg salad during the breaks and taking my oldest to school. But none of that would happen. I was feeling the tub calling my name. I was on the phone calling my husband home and my doula to meet us at the birthing center.
The birthing center is an hour away so as soon as my husband was home, we loaded up the girls and started up the road. I had no idea how hard it would be to labor in the car. My contractions took on a whole different personality as we drove. And with each one I would sob. It would start, rising up my bump, then wrapping around my waist and I would cry out tears of joy and fear and excitement and dread. I didn't know what I was feeling. As soon as I could name that particular surge so as to work through it accordingly, it would be gone and so would be the tears.
We got to Jon's mom's house to drop of the girls and then we made the last 10 minute drive to the birthing center.
As soon as my feet hit the parking lot pavement I felt relief and thought to myself, "Great! All that for this to stop right here and right now!?!"
But upon getting in and getting checked, I was 5 cm dilated. It was indeed baby day.
My doula had met us there, so with more time on our hands and managing fine at that point we went to the mall to walk around and grab a bite of lunch. This was fun for about 5 minutes. Then people wanted to stop and chat. Oogle at my hugness. And relive their own birth expereinces with me. Endearing. Well-meaning. But really annoying to this laboring mama! And I was in noticible labor at this point. We stayed long enough to buy some shoes, do a lap and me eat a reuben sandwich then we headed back to the birthing center to get in the birth pool.
When we got there I was almost 7 cm.
I have to note here that were it not for my doula and husband at this point, I would not have been able to embark on the journey that was quickly approaching. In these early hours, I doubted both myself and my decision to have a natural labor and delivery many times. But they were unceasing in their encouragement and patience with me. Even when I was ready to give up. When I was full of what-ifs, they stood idly by, giving love and a gentle touch when I needed it.
Hours went by and my head began filling with fears of a long labor just like I had with my girls. I was asking questions like what if he got stuck. I was terrified of breaking my tailbone like happened with Emma. All of this hateful emotion started welling up inside of me and at that point it was no longer a quest for natural childbirth, but a quest to squash any and every fear and insecurity I had ever had.
So went my labor...tub, toilet, bed...and lots of prayer in between.
These contractions spurred on thoughts of all the women who had birthed before me, both known and unknown. Past, present and future. I envisioned their strength. Their resolve. And I prayed Jesus would give me the same through the entire process.
My prayers coincided with my husband's. Though in the same room, I felt physically worlds apart from him...as that was how I wished to labor. But every word from his mouth. Every look from his eyes. He spoke a comfort into my being that only he can do. And I knew, everytime, we were as close as a husband and wife could be in those very moments. He was supporting me the way I wanted to be supported and we were both petitioning God at the same time for peace, protection and favor in the birth of our son.
Well into the evening and after my water had broken I was surrounded by five angels. Angels in my eyes and this side of heaven anyway. My husband, along with my two midwives and two doulas were there lined up by the birth pool cheering me with each contraction. Though I felt weak and ready to give up, they kept me going.
Hours went by and basically as things progressed my mind wondered whether I would ever feel the urge to push. I wondered if it would ever end and if I would ever see my baby.
I distinctly remember looking up and at the five faces surrounding me saying,
"This is the dumbest decision I have ever made."
I was given the go ahead to try a couple practice pushes and believe me when I say, if a laboring mama hasn't felt the urge, knowing which end to push from ain't easy to figure out. But when it happens, your body takes over. This primal and innate thing inside of you permeates from your core and you move when your body says move. You push when your body says push. You get out of your own way and you have your baby. It's go time and no time for second guesses.
When that feeling hit, fear was no more. Everything that caused doubt in me, everything that caused pain...it bubbled up in me and then it disapearred. It was not even a goal to work through contrations anymore. It was a goal to have them...scream, grunt, sigh, whatever, through them in order to get my baby out. Looking back, I can't believe it was me. Sometimes I wonder if it was me. Surely this person I'm referring to is someone else, because I'm not that strong.
Fifteen minutes of pushing and my son's head was out. I watched it happen. His hair floating in the water below me. I felt his head. And I pushed harder to get him into my arms.
At that point, without even knowing for sure, I said he was stuck.
The next five minutes were a whirlwind.
I was then on all fours in the water. But Collin's head had come to the surface...I had to get out of the pool to deliver my baby. On the floor, again I was on all fours. And his shoulder was stuck.
Tension filled the room and a once comforting and gentle midwife, she became all business, orders and authority. We had to move quick.
With each push she gently tried unlodging his shoulder.
Then I was on my back and again as I pushed, she pulled.
I had no time to be afraid.
I had nothing but fight in me.
God would protect us.
My baby was almost here.
And with one last surge, he was out. On my stomach. And coming around from the shock of such an abrupt entrance into this world.
I was helped to the bed, the placenta was delievered and I once again had my baby in my arms, him ready to nurse and me reeling from all that had just happened.
I can't begin to describe the emotion pulsing through my veins at that point. It was indeed scary. Had I not had the team in place that I did, who knows what would have happened.
But at the same time, it was exhilerating and joyous...he was here. We were ok,
So did I get the gentle waterbirth I desired? No
But did I conquer what I thought I could never do? Yes
And I have a beautiful healthy boy out of the deal.
Not to mention, I found Jesus in all of it.
God blessed me with an amazing support system and birth team. He claimed all my fears. He brought my son safely into this world. I couldn't be more thankful for this experience and for the people that journeyed with me in it.
In this last week, Collin and I have adjusted well to one another.
He is a voracious nurser, just like his sisters were. He is starting to sleep well at night. And we are enjoying figuring out what a family of five looks like.
The Lord has been good to me.