In honor of Isla's 2nd birthday today, I'm sharing the story of her birth.
She came on a Thursday.
The day before she came we saw our midwife for what I hoped would be the last weekly check with her in my tummy. I got my wish.
All day Wednesday I had contractions that were annoying - mostly because I had a ton to do to get the house ready for baby and house guests. You see, we decided to do ALL THE THINGS in the 2 months before she was born. Those things included planning a vow renewal ceremony (read: mini wedding) for our 10th wedding anniversary and completely renovating our kitchen. We had been living in complete chaos and disarray and our new flooring had finally been installed which was the last major part of the renovation and this momma was in full nesting mode. My sister and brother in law were there keeping Evie while we went to our doctor's appointment and they stayed and helped me get the nursery and guest rooms cleaned and prepped just in case baby girl decided to come a week early - unlike her older siblings (Silas came right on time and Evie was a week late).
I timed a few contractions while I was cooking dinner, but by the time dinner was over they had tapered off a bit so I decided to go on to Bible Study at a friend's house. The contractions kept me uncomfortable, but they weren't steady enough to time. I asked everyone to pray specifically that real labor would start that night and said that I would be pissed if I was able to meet with them the next week (which was my due date). I was ready to have her in my arms.
On the way home I had the first contraction that made me cuss. It's a 20 minute drive, and I had 4 contractions. Apparently those ladies did some praying. :)
I got home and the big kids were asleep and I told Justin that we should probably pack for the hospital just in case they didn't taper off this time. I took a shower and fixed my hair (between contractions) while he got our bags ready and there was a palpable energy in the house. We were both excited and hopeful that this was IT. They stayed steady at 5 minutes apart for a couple of hours, and I got in bed to try to get a little rest. Justin was trying to sleep but I couldn't so I just looked at Pinterest and mentally willed my body to keep going. All of a sudden, with one contraction they went from 5 minutes apart to 2 1/2 minutes apart and grew in intensity with each one. I called the on-call midwife with my practice and she confirmed that it was time to go to the hospital. As soon as my mother in law arrived to keep the big kids, we took off. We were so excited and happy. We listened to Rend Collective Experiment and sang along all the way there (except for when I was breathing through contractions). It was midnight, so there wasn't any traffic, and it was a strangely peaceful drive (unlike Evie's labor drive, where I thought I was going to die before we got there).
We parked where we usually did at the hospital only to discover after we had walked all the way to the door that it was inoperational and we had to get back in the car and drive to the other side of the building and go up in the elevator to The Birth Center. They put me in triage (thankfully we were the only ones there) and got me hooked up to everything and did a check. I was at 3 1/2. Leslie and Magda had arrived (they were to be present for the delivery) and Justin went to make sure they were comfortable (as much as possible) in the waiting room until they could come into a private room with us. While he was gone I had a very scary contraction that was incrediblyintense and that caught me so of guard that I wasn't handling it at all. I was alone, and couldn't get on top of it. Usually I could just focus my mind and breathe/pant/sway/hit something enough to maintain some management of the pain, but this one was different and I could barely breathe. Suddenly the door flew open and 3 nurses came running in to me. It was obvious that something scary was happening and they rolled me onto my left side and moved me all around and I was being so mean and ugly because it was incredibly uncomfortable and I was scared and out of breath. The head nurse said that the baby didn't like that contraction and wasn't handling it well so I had to do what they told me so they could try to get her heart rate back to normal. They gave me oxygen and made me stay on my side. Justin got back in the room and that was the first time I cried. I suddenly felt not ok, and was still scared that they were going to send me home since they hadn't put me in a room yet. Irrational fear, but it happens to me at some point with every labor. I was being super snappy and mouthy to the nurse, but in my defense her bedside manner left much to be desired. Justin kept gently reminding me to show grace and he prayed over me several times. That calmed me down.
After that scary contraction, they stayed intense and I started having a weird pain in my hips. With Silas' labor all of my pain was in my tummy and with Evie I had insane back labor. This was different from those, and I remember being frustrated that I was going to have to figure the pain management out as I went yet again.
Her heart rate stabilized, and after a couple hours in triage they checked me again and when I was at 4cm they moved me to my room and ordered the epidural. Praise sweet baby Jesus for epidurals. It was a couple hours before I got it though, so I asked for something to help me cope while I waited for it. They gave me a little drug cocktail (Staydol and Phenergan, I think) and it made me feel drunk. I couldn't open my eyes because they were too heavy, but I was aware of what was going on around me so I kept trying to talk to Magda and Leslie but my speech was super slurred. I'm sure that was entertaining for them. They let Justin nap for a while and held each of my hands and let me squeeze during contractions. The drugs didn't work nearly as well this time as they had with Evie's labor.
Finally the anesthesiologist arrived, and he was all business. I like when people will joke and laugh with me - especially when there is pain involved, but he was having none of it. He did his job, and the epidural gave me some relief for about an hour. We all tried to sleep in the FREEZING room. I never slept. I tried to manage the contractions on my on for a couple hours so everyone could rest because both Leslie and Magda had to go to work the next day and it was 5am at this point.
At some point the contractions got too painful for me to manage on my own, and the midwife on call came to check me. I was getting close. She broke my water, and I braced for the intensity that would follow that. My hips felt like they were breaking in two. Not too long after that they checked me again and it was go time. The door flew open and all of the lights came on and in came DeeDee - the midwife on call (there had been a shift change at 7am) and she was like a bright ray of sunshine and the energizer bunny rolled into one. She said, "Who's ready to have a baby?!!" and all of us screamed and the energy level in the room jumped up several notches with that one question. We were all so exhausted, but DeeDee ushered in a rush of adrenaline for everyone with her upbeat personality.
It was time to push.
By that time the epidural had mostly worn off, and it was too late to give another dose, so I knew that this might really suck. But I was ready. DeeDee said that she would let me deliver her myself if I wanted to try.
I wanted to try.
We forgot to ask for the mirror so I could see what was going on, so Magda held my phone up for me and it served as my mirror. Thank you Apple. :)
I pushed with the next contraction, and knew immediately that this was going to be much much different than my other two deliveries.
I felt like she was stuck.
I was pushing harder than ever before, and was actually legitimately concerned that something very bad was happening to my hips. They felt like they were splitting, and it didn't seem like she was coming.
Everyone was cheering me on, and I just kept pushing.
Leslie was standing on a chair at the foot of the bed so she could take pictures and at one point she was actually jumping up and down and cheering. I don't think that I laughed, but had I been able to I would have.
After the 4th or 5th push I remember yelling (as much as I could in my out of breath state) that I just wanted her OUT.
There was no relief between contractions at this point.
I was so confused - I pushed 3 times with Silas and Evie and they were out and that was that. I didn't understand why this was so hard or what I was doing differently that was messing things up.
Finally her head was born and it became clear what the problem was: she was sunny-side up.
Babies are meant to be born head first, face down - that's how they naturally fit through the birth canal.
She was face up.
DeeDee told me that I was delivering a baby in the most difficult way possible, and just knowing that it wasn't something I was doing that was making this harder was enough to help me rally and get ready for the next hard part.
All of that was happening very quickly.
The cord was around her neck so I had to wait until they slipped it over her head to push.
I was certain that my hips were broken. That pain was from her facing the wrong way.
When it was finally time, DeeDee told me I could deliver her so I reached and pushed and she finally came and I put her on my tummy.
She was crying before she was all the way out.
Amazingly enough, my hips stopped hurting the moment she was out.
I have never felt such relief.
I wanted to look at her, and I did, but I had to lay my head back and just breathe for a few seconds and recover from the hardest work of my entire life.
She laid on my tummy until the cord stopped pulsing, and then Justin cut it and I moved her up to my chest. She was loud. :)
Eventually they weighed and measured her. I thought for sure that she was going to be the biggest of my 3, but she was the smallest at 7 pounds, 2 ounces and 18 inches.
It was 7:39am on Thursday, September 25th when she finally arrived.
Leslie and Magda left for work, and eventually we were moved over to the Mother/Baby side of The Birth Center. We rested for a few hours (after we ate!) and then the big kids came to meet their new sister. It was adorable. They were both smitten right away.
We had a party in our room with our dearest friends - at one point there were 12 of us in there! We loved it and were happy to have people there to celebrate her first day with us.
We went home the next day and began life as a family of five.
She is our beautiful surprise baby.
She is a physical reminder that God redeems.
Beauty from ashes.
Isla Joy Moon
The Lord has done great things for us and we are filled with joy. Psalm 126:3