It's a girl!! Hope Abigail, 6 lbs. 7 oz., 18 inches, born April 3 @ 4:13 AM. She's so precious....and 3 weeks and 2 days "early" - our little "surprise"! Here's her story... (What follows is a BIRTH story, with all the accompanying details, so consider yourself forewarned.....)
On Saturday afternoon I had a baby shower, hosted by the ladies at our church. It was a beautiful baby shower, my favorite part being the prayers and words of blessing that were spoken over me. When one of the ladies asked if there was something specific I wanted to ask God for concerning this birth, I told her about my previous long labors and how I would just like for God to give me a short labor this time. If you remember, I also mentioned wanting to make a pink blanket for this baby, in case it was a girl, since I already had a blue blanket made, and I really wanted this baby to have something made just for him/her. Well, things got busy and I was never able to make that blanket, but a dear friend made a blanket for me, not knowing my heart's desire. It was so wonderful to see how God cared about such details in my life!
I had taken a nap every day for the past 2-3 weeks because I remembered how exhausted I'd felt when each of my other labors started. Saturday, however, was such a busy day, with the baby shower, then church, that I didn't get to take that nap. I should've seen the signs. :)
During church I was feeling contractions pretty regularly. I even remember thinking, "I'm having lots of contractions tonight.", but I didn't say anything to my husband, because I've done this for weeks before a birth in the past, so I knew it didn't mean anything. And they weren't strong contractions. We went out to dinner afterward, and still, the contractions continued. I commented to the friends we were with that I was probably just tired, and my friend, a mother of many children, suggested I drink lots of water and get some rest. Sounded good to me.
On the drive home, the contractions were getting uncomfortable. I remember telling my husband that I was SO ready to get out of that car! I drank some water and immediately took a hot bath, trying to get contractions to go away. They still didn't. I tried laying down, but the contractions were only getting stronger. I was having to breathe through them and wanted Jeremy's hand. I think I was still a little in denial that labor was starting, and Jeremy definitely was, since I was not even 37 weeks along. During one contraction, as I was breathing through, I said, "ah!", like something hurt suddenly, and then next contraction, I felt a gush. Water broke...this is really happening, I thought. When I got to the bathroom, I saw blood. "There's blood, call Ann!" I said, and I began to get concerned. Once on the phone, Ann asked if the baby was moving. I think that was the longest moment of my life as I poked this baby and tried to get her to move. I almost don't notice her movements much because I'm so used to them, so I really had to concentrate. Finally, I could answer, "yes." She seemed to feel that my water had broken, and that everything was OK based on the answers I gave. I told her I wasn't ready for her to come, yet, so Jeremy and I labored together for a while more. I wasn't able to take a bath for relaxation until labor really picked up, so I just picked various positions that felt comfortable.
At one point, I asked Jeremy to turn on some music. He put on a lullaby worship CD that I'd played for Hope almost everyday the last few weeks, trying to get her to turn head down. The first song that came on was "I Can Only Imagine." I just began to weep - so much that I could hardly breathe. Jeremy walked in and said, "Are you OK?" I told him that I don't think I've ever felt the presence of God more than I did right then. He said, "Stop. You're going to make me cry, too." It also made me think back to a Scripture one of the ladies read to me at the shower, about how Jesus was with God at creation and they were pleased with what they were creating. How God is pleased when another baby comes into the world. I began thinking of how this baby would get to be with us forever with Him, if we teach her to love Him. I seemed to be more at peace with the fact that I was in labor, however uncomfortable and unprepared for it I was at the moment! I was starting to moan through contractions, a sign that things were picking up. We called to ask if getting into the tub would be OK at this point, and she said it was. I was so relieved! I had reserved a birth pool, which wasn't to be picked up until 38 weeks, but I knew they would bring it over for me if I requested it, but I felt like there wasn't time. At my previous birth, labor was in full swing when we called the midwives, and once they came, labor stopped. I was so afraid of that happening, that I wanted to REALLY wait before having them come over. I didn't want to have that "watched pot" feeling.
So I labored a little longer, and I remember somewhere in there saying, "I don't know if I can do this anymore. I'm so tired. Please call Ann, I need some encouragement." Ann later told me that Jeremy called and said, "We can't do this anymore" and then she was on her way. I knew that this usually means a woman is in transition, but again, because I felt like this during Faith's birth before I called, and then labored another whole DAY before she was born, I still was in denial about how far I really was. I remember feeling the urge to push a few times in the bathtub, but again, feeling that for hours with Faith, I still was worried I had a long way to go yet. I was ready for Ann to get there, but not because I was concerned the baby was about to be born, but because I needed that encouragement to keep going! I got out of the bath (where I'm usually the most comfortable) and onto the toilet (where I usually do NOT want to be because it makes contractions SO intense). The next contraction, I could not hold back, I HAD to push! Ann walked in just then and said she wanted to check me, to see if I was complete. I didn't know if I was or not, I was just doing what my body was forcing me to do.
I did not want to move from where I was, but I agreed to get on the bed, and asked if hands & knees was OK. I don't remember what she said, I just knew I'd better get there fast before the next contraction, and that I did NOT want to be on my back! The next contraction was completely overwhelming, totally intense, and I did NOT want anyone touching me. All I could do was push with all I had (it hurt NOT to push!), and I couldn't remember why Ann had her fingers on my cervix. I just remember begging her to stop - it had not occurred to me that I perhaps wasn't already dilated and maybe shouldn't be pushing - I just knew that I wanted it to stop! I was so overwhelmed, I felt like I couldn't breathe, but then Ann reminded me to take deep breaths for my baby. It's amazing the things I can forget to do while in labor - so glad she was there to remind me. I think there were only two more pushes after that before the baby's head was out. I just remember saying, "I just need a break", as the contractions just seemed to come right on top of each other and I couldn't get any relief. She said, "You're about to get a break here in just a moment as your baby is almost here." I didn't believe her, because I have had births where I pushed for hours, and people would keep saying, "I see the head!" On one push I remember feeling that burning, where typically, I'm supposed to stop pushing to allow my body to stretch. Ann is usually there coaching me as to what to do, and she didn't say anything, so I said, "Should I push or not?" I later found out that they weren't talking much because she was trying to get Michelle (the assistant) to throw her birth supplies frantically, since they could tell baby was almost here! Eventually she did tell me to keep pushing. Then she said, "Baby's head is out!" I believed her this time, because I could feel them moving her head around, trying to suction her out. They told me to stop so they could suction her. Very hard to do that! Then they told me to push, and with one good push, she was out! My first thought - and words - were "What relief!" Then, before I had a chance to even think about what just happened, Jeremy, I could tell through tears (remember, I can't see anything because I'm on my hands and knees still) said, "It's a girl!" I remember just crying and thanking God that my baby was here. They helped me get turned around and on my back so that I could hold that precious baby! I couldn't believe how tiny she was, and that she was a girl,and that she was actually here! A few minutes later the other midwife and assistant walked in happy to see the baby, but disappointed to have missed the birth. I found out later that I pushed for 11 minutes, about the same amount of time that they'd been there. It seemed like forever to me!
The only thing I was a little sad about was that, since I was on hands & knees, I didn't get to see her emerge, didn't get to catch her or see that she was a girl, and didn't get to see my husband's expression! But because her birth was so short, I was OK with all of this. It was only a few moments before I actually got to see her.
I was so thankful to God that He'd given me the short birth I'd prayed for, that my "preemie" was totally healthy,and that whatever caused the bleeding (subchorionic hematoma, slight placenta previa and subsequent slight placental abruption, or whatever it was) caused no harm to the baby. God is faithful! And sweet little Hope is truly a gift and a blessing!