How is it possible?
My baby girl turns one tomorrow.
A couple months after her birth I wrote the events of her arrival but never shared. Since this is the day one year ago that I started showing early labor signs, how fitting is it that this precious story is finally told?
Hope this post is a blessing and encouragement!
Serenity Faye’s Birth Story
Thursday morning, August 27th, I had my 39 week midwife appointment. I was measuring 41 weeks and getting SO excited to be meeting my baby. Andrew and I talked with our midwife, Cyndia, to see what our options would be for naturally inducing labor once I hit my due date. I was a little nervous about going super late since Serenity was measuring so large. Cyndia was in complete favor of naturally inducing labor whenever I wanted. After our visit was over, we drove to the health food store to pick up some supplements that I decided I would start taking if I hadn’t gone into labor by September.
That evening I was sitting on the couch resting when I suddenly felt a strange gush (sorry, labor details just aren’t pretty!). I ran to the bathroom, realizing that I was losing a decent amount of fluid. After checking and seeing blood, I freaked out (and I mean *freaked out!*) and called my midwife. Cyndia assured me that everything was fine and that my water had probably just broken. She said to start watching for contractions and call if anything changed.
I called my family (who were on vacation in Michigan) and Andrew’s parents (who were planning to come to our house for the birth) and let them know what was going on. I also sent Andrew a text at work, telling him to give me a call when he had a chance (reeeeeeeally didn’t want to deliver the news that I might be in labor soon via text!). After that I went about my evening normally, preparing ravioli for our supper (YUM!). I experienced some light cramping, but nothing more intense or regular than the Braxton Hicks contractions I had been experiencing the entire third trimester.
Andrew called me and I told him what was going on. When he got home I still felt pretty good and hadn't felt any contractions, so we ate dinner and relaxed on the couch watching Netflix. Cyndia had told me to get some rest in case my labor was long, like for most first-time moms, but I was waaaaaay too nervous to sleep. Around midnight I had a sudden, severe contraction that felt *very* different from anything I’d experienced before. The pain rolled me off the couch and onto my hands and knees on the floor. I started sweating and felt a little nauseous. After the pain passed, I felt extremely discouraged, worrying that my entire labor would feel this way and this was just the beginning! I have a very low pain-tolerance, so the prospect of childbirth was always a bit terrifying. I had also decided on a med-free, home birth (eeeeek!). After the first contraction I didn’t feel another one for over an hour, so Andrew and I decided to go to bed. That’s when I started to have a constant, sickening gut-pain with diarrhea. I texted my midwife and she, once again, assured me that this was normal for some women. Lucky me!
I had one more excruciating contraction around 2am, followed by more time on the toilet in a cold sweat. I texted Cyndia again and she decided to talk to me on the phone to get a better idea of how I was feeling. I wasn’t having discernable contractions, just a constant cramp-like ache that would get worse every so often. Andrew and I hadn’t been able to time anything and were incredibly confused. After talking with me on the phone, Cyndia suggested that I soak in the bathtub with warm water while she drove over to check on me. I was somewhat worried that laying in the tub would make my labor stop, but once I was in the water, I didn’t care anymore. The relief was instant! Andrew and I weren’t sure how much longer we’d be waiting, but we decided to err on the side of caution and he started blowing up the birthing tub in our dining room (which was right next to our bedroom, in case I ended up laboring in bed at some point).
As I rested in the bathtub, I was finally able to tell when I was actually having a contraction or not; going from no pain to pain that built, peaked, and eased. The water helped so much in keeping me relaxed, so much that my contractions were quite bearable (in fact, much easier than some menstrual cramps I’d had in the past!).
Cyndia arrived sometime after 3am (there was no clock in the bathroom, so I have NO timetable from this point on, just estimates) and sat with me for a bit, just talking with me. Chatting and laughing were still quite easy for me, with slight pauses to deep-breathe when my contractions were at their worst. Once the birth assistant arrived, they decided to give me a quick exam to see how things were progressing. I was so nervous, expecting to only be 1-3 centimeters dilated. Especially being a first-timer this was my nightmare and what I was *certain* would happen, followed by a super-long labor. Instead, my midwife’s gaze met mine, wide-eyed with surprise.
“You’re at a seven, Rachel, and getting close to eight! You’re being so tough! Wow!”
I couldn’t believe it and was both relieved and terrified: actually giving birth was SO much closer than I’d expected! (Funny note, apparently my water hadn’t broken yet. We joke now that it’s a good thing that I thought it had or else I wouldn’t have had any warning before my labor began! Even funnier note, I still don’t know when my water broke. Cyndia didn’t have to break it, so it must have happened sometime between her checking me and Serenity being born! Never felt a thing!)
Cyndia, Andrew, and the birth assistant quickly started prepping the house for Serenity’s arrival. I continued soaking in the tub. My contractions were a few minutes apart and, while painful, were still manageable. Andrew’s parents were notified and they started their hour drive to our house. We all hoped they would make it in time!
There ended up being some trouble with getting the hose hooked up to fill the birthing tub, so Andrew had to run to Walmart (which sent me into a *teensy* panic). He wasn’t able to find what he needed but couldn’t go to another store since Cyndia didn’t think he would have enough time. They pulled a “MacGyver” and were able to fill the tub.
At almost 6am, I started to feel some pressure. We decided this would be a good time to move me to the birthing tub. I tried to use the restroom, but being out of the water made it too painful. I was helped into the dining room and was SO happy once I was back in the water (can I use the word “water” too much? Not in this case! It was such a life saver!). A little bit after that Andrew’s parents arrived and his mom, Janine, came to join us while dad stayed in the safety of the living room.
We quickly turned on my laptop and started Skyping with my mom, sisters, and grandma. I was only able to say a few words to everyone before I suddenly felt a strong urge to push.
The first pushes were incredible. My body completely took over and within a few minutes I was told Serenity’s head was visible! For the next fifteen to twenty minutes nothing changed. Every time she came close to crowning, she would slip back at the end of the contraction. I was also experiencing intense, sharp pain while pushing, which I was later told wasn’t normal. Andrew kept holding my hand and wiping my forehead with a washcloth the whole time. He was so encouraging, talking softly to me and telling me how brave and strong I was. <3
Finally Serenity moved forward and didn’t slide back! I was able to reach down and touch the top of her head, which was such an emotional moment! Cyndia squealed that she had a ton of hair, which I was able to feel. The pain and urge to push intensified to the point of nearly crying between contractions, just wanting it to be over. I *did* end up yelling while pushing… quite loudly. For me it was the only way to vent the amount of pain I was experiencing. I kept looking at Andrew; at one point he was crying, so overwhelmed by how much hurt my body was going through. Everyone kept encouraging me, there in the room and on Skype! I did have a moment of worry that my noises would be frightening for my sister, Samantha (age eleven), so I assured her between contractions that I was going to be okay, just wasn’t feeling so great at this moment.
It took two contractions to get Serenity’s head out after she had crowned. When it finally passed, Cyndia unwrapped the cord, which had gone once around her neck and wrist (Cyndia informed me afterwards that was the reason pushing was so painful for me, since I had to deliver her head AND hand/arm at the same time), started to ease her shoulders out, and told me to push once more. My contraction was fading, so I forced out a weak push while Cyndia gently helped and Serenity was born at 6:47am on August 28th (and she was a whopping 9lb 4oz)!
Rennie began crying the instant she was out of the water and within seconds was handed to me. She wrapped one arm around my side, placed the other up on my chest, rested her head against me, and peacefully drifted off to sleep. I was in complete shock that she was here, in my arms, with me! Andrew cried and grinned and told me how much he loved me. I didn’t cry, just stared at her in awe (don’t worry, I have cried my head off many times since then out of absolute joy!). I was so exhausted and still hurting, but so thankful to have my sweet girl safely here! After Andrew cut the umbilical cord, he got to hold Serenity while I stood up to be moved to the bed… crazy story I won’t go into vivid detail about how I didn’t make it and had to go through the third stage of labor on the floor in my bedroom doorway… Anyway, once I was settled, I was able to hold her again. I lost a lot of blood, so I was given a shot. The next hours were rough, as I needed stitches, then almost passed out when I tried to stand, then couldn’t use the bathroom and had to have a catheter… much lack of fun… But every time I was just sitting, peacefully holding Serenity, it was all worth it.
And a few days later Andrew was able to take the unopened bottle of supplements back to the health food store, informing the employees that they certainly worked since all we had to do to get me into labor was have them in the house! *wink*