I love birth stories. I find them fascinating and beautiful. During my second pregnancy I compared everything to my first. After all, it’s only natural to reference what’s known. With my firstborn son, Triple A, I was due July 13th and surprisingly enough Little Girl’s due date was July 14th. I easily tracked my pregnancy and even wondered if the kids would share a birthday. Still every pregnancy and baby are unique so I knew my daughter would have her own story to tell. Here is Little Girl’s birth story.
Carrying my daughter was more physically and emotionally taxing than my first pregnancy. In my third trimester I began to fear, did a difficult pregnancy mean a more difficult birth? I had such a positive birth experience with my son I worried that somehow my daughter’s birth would disappoint. Ridiculous, I know but the pregnant brain often plays emotional tricks on you. With a lot of prayer and positive thinking I began to turn my fears into grateful anticipation. I so wanted to meet my daughter. I so wanted to be done with this pregnancy!
Starting around 38 weeks I began feeling as if my body was gearing up to give birth. I had more frequent and stronger Braxton hicks contractions. Things started to feel directional and very low, like Little Girl was settling into my pelvis. My son was born at 38 weeks and five days so I started getting quite excited. Addmitedly I was disappointed when 38 weeks and five days came and went. I kept reminding myself, this is her story be patient.
On Tuesday, July 7th, one week before my due date, I woke up with contractions at 4:20am. While the timing was intermittent, the contractions weren’t going away. After a very early breakfast I went back to bed. The mild contractions continued but I was able to rest. Around 6:45am my husband woke up with Triple A, while I stayed in bed. I knew this could take awhile because with my first birth I had almost two full days of “warming up“before going into active labor. On the other hand, I also heard second babies typically come faster so I called my mom, who lives two hours away, told her come down just in case things picked up. Best to be prepared, babies come in their time, not ours!
Throughout the day things progressed slowly. I was tempted to be frustrated, but I knew it was important to surrender to the birth process and accept that a long warm up period was what my body needed. Having a long warm up to labor forces you to be patient and hold things with an open hand. You also learn to be truly thankful for each contraction because each contraction brings you closer to finally meeting your baby.
My contractions slowed down when I was up and about, especially when I was around my son. Surprisingly, when I laid down the contractions picked up and came consistently.
Still, I knew moving would help Little Girl settle into a good position for birth so my husband and I took a walk while parents stayed home with our napping son. Since my contractions were fairly mild we had a lovely time walking, talking, and daydreaming about becoming a family of four. I cherish the time my husband and I shared during both my labors.
By the end of the day things slowed down significantly. As I got ready for bed I made peace with having to wait at least another day to meet our baby girl. Little did I know my body had other plans. Shortly after laying down in bed a strong contraction came and then, pop! My water broke! I got out of bed and more fluid rushed out. Having my water break at home was new territory for me. Should we go to the hospital or do I have time to labor at home? While I showered my hubby threw our sheets in the washer, told my mom that my water broke, and called labor & delivery to ask when we should go to the hospital. They said that if contractions consistently picked up I should go ahead and come, otherwise they wanted me to come within an hour or two from when my water broke.
It didn’t take long for things to get going after my water broke. Contractions started consistently coming 3 to 4 minutes apart and there was certainly no talking through them now. We gathered our things and called the hospital to let them know we were on our way. Riding in a car while in labor is a doozy. Thankfully we live close to the hospital so it was a short drive. I turned on the heated seat, braced myself with the door handle, closed my eyes, and listened to the Mozart symphony playing on our stereo as I breathed through the contractions.
We parked and my husband helped me waddle into labor & delivery, stopping every couple of minutes for me to manage another contraction. We checked in and a nurse helped us settle in the exam room. My active labor definitely started after my water broke and the fetal monitor confirmed my contractions were strong and steady. When my midwife checked me I was only 3cm dilated and still had same effacing to do. With the contractions coming so intensely and quickly I assumed I was further along. I fought the feeling of disappointment and mentally started buckling down for what I thought would be a long haul.
We had to wait for a delivery room so I labored in the exam room. The nurses giving us some space, which I appreciated because we wanted a natural delivery. I was surprise by how strong and painful my contractions were this early in the game. I so badly wanted some tools, like a birthing ball and squat bar, to help me manage the pain but we had to get creative and make due while we waited for our room. My husband turned off the lights and put on our labor playlist of relaxing music.
With only the glow of the computer screen illuminating the tiny space, I sat on the desk’s rolling stool while my husband held me from behind. When a contraction came he put pressure on my back and I leaned into him as I tried to let each rush come over me and do its work. I tried some other positions. Standing while leaning over the sink was the most intense. I could literally feel myself opening as I bent my legs with each contraction. During my pregnancy I reread the birth stories in Ina May Gaskin’s book, Guide to Child Birth. As things got more and more intense, I imagined myself laboring with the midwives on The Farm. I thought about what they would encourage me to do… Relax my face, let out low moans, surrender to the rushes, and trust in my body and the natural process of birth. I reminded myself that the pain had a purpose, that each contraction brought us closer to meeting our Little Girl.
We labored in the exam room about an hour before being taken to a delivery room. When we got to our room I settled on the bed, laying down on my side. I wanted to mentally and physically preserve my strength because contractions were relentless and I thought I had a long way to go. After getting in bed I had one excruciating contraction. As I tried to collect myself another contraction started. Suddenly I felt a pulse and a lot of pressure between my legs. “Pressure, a lot of pressure!” I panted. “Oh okay, well the midwife is in another delivery but I can check you after this contraction,” the nurse said calmly. I’m sure she read my chart that said I was just 3cm about little over an hour before and assumed that I had a ways to go.
Once the contraction lifted I rolled on my back so the nurse could check my dilation. Just as I got onto my back another intense contraction started to pulse. Then with one of the pulses Little Girl started to crown! “Oh, OH, no, no, wait, wait!” The poor nurse pleaded. “I can’t!” I panted. I wasn’t trying to push and Little Girl had other ideas. She was coming NOW! “Oh, stop, don’t push,” the nursed said nervously as she ran to the door. “We’re having a baby here!” she called out into the hallway.
Ready or not here she comes! While our nurse was at the door another strong pulse came and Little Girl plopped out of me and onto the bed.
There was no time for someone to catch her! I couldn’t believe it, everything happened so fast. Little Girl waited for no one. I now joke that she and my uterus were in cahoots because I didn’t push at all. Little Girl came rushing into the world all on her own.
Meanwhile in what I think was an unnecessary moment of panic the poor nurse hit the code button. A flood of people rushed into our room. Luckily one of the doctors put Little Girl on the chest so I could finally meet her. As I gazed into her sweet eyes I joyfully laughed in disbelief at what just happened. The other doctors on the code team were anxious to examine our baby so my husband cut her cord and followed as they took Little Girl to the other side of the room for examination. She wasn’t crying as vigorously as the code team wanted so they poked and suctioned her until she started to wail.
I delivered my placenta after which another nurse massaged my uterus to help it come down. Wowza is that unpleasant, necessary, but unpleasant! I was bleeding more than what they wanted so they gave me a shot in each leg. One shot was pitocin to help my uterus clamp down, I don’t remember what the other shot was. I had a minor tear where I tore with my first birth. While a resident stitched me up one of the pediatricians placed Little Girl on my chest. It’s easy to tolerate someone poking and prodding you down below when you have a fresh baby to cuddle. My husband held her tiny hand as I studied her precious face and kept saying, “You surprised us sweetie!” I couldn’t believe she was here. Little Girl’s birth was so unexpected. It was powerful, and like her, beautiful.
Children are a gift on loan from God. I’m so grateful for the sweet gift of our family. I pray that by God’s grace my husband and I will love our children in such a way that they will know the depth of Jesus’ love for them. That someday they will grow to know and love Him in return. What are your hopes for your children?
Wife, work at home mom, and bassoonist, Laura Ankrum lives in Iowa City, Iowa. Prior to the arrival of her two children Laura taught elementary music and band in the Boston area. Now her home is her classroom and music studio. Laura is passionate about education, encouraging other moms, and eco-friendly living. She is the social media coordinator at Thirsties Inc.