*Long birth story ahead. Scroll down for Fresh 48 and Newborn Photos if you want to skip ahead to the cuteness*
As I sit down to write out my third and final birth story, I am caught in my heart a little. I can’t believe this will be the last birth story I write. It’s been such a privilege to create, carry, and sustain these little lives that I feel my words will fall short.
Let me start out by being honest. Allison was such a surprise in every single way. We had not planned on completing our family at this time. But, I truly feel that our timing is inferior to God’s timing and He must know something that we didn’t. After adjusting to that shock, I began to plan for another unmedicated water birth. Then, at my 20 week anatomy scan, we found out that I had a complete placenta previa. I was devastated. Placenta previa has plagued all three of my pregnancies but this is the first time it was complete and that my midwives weren’t just positive it would move and it began to look like I would have a cesarean birth at 37 weeks. But, they were amazing and continued to encourage me and we kept scanning until it did indeed move at 32 weeks.
Our second born, Natalie, had arrived at 40 weeks and 1 day in just 4 hours. I had mentally prepared myself, not only for a 40 week delivery, but a FAST delivery. I poured over youtube videos of home births and car births, trying to prepare my husband and I for the possibility of an emergency unassisted birth. I was convinced that this baby was going to just fall out. I wasn’t afraid of this scenario, though. As a doula, I felt confident that my body was capable of delivering my daughter in any situation.
And this is where the story of the birth of Allison truly begins…
39 Weeks. I snap my weekly selfie and note the drastic lowering of my belly. I’d spent the weekend having a lot of Braxton Hicks contractions. I’m extremely in tune to my body and even speculated that I would be surprised if I made it to 40 weeks. Up until that point, I had been so sure that I’d not only make it to 40 weeks, but I’d probably go overdue just because I had ended up in L&D with preterm contractions at 35 weeks. I was HOPING to overdue as I was very much enjoying my pregnancy despite the awful heartburn and round ligament pain.
39 Weeks, 1 day. I wake up and spend the day wrangling my older 2 children while preparing for my parent’s arrival the following day. All throughout the day, I was experiencing consistent contractions. But, they weren’t lasting very long and they weren’t intensifying, so I dismissed them as being Braxton Hicks. In hindsight, I was likely in very early labor. I powered through the contractions while doing laundry, mopping and vacuuming floors, washing dishes, scrubbing toilets… you get the idea. I spoke to my husband that afternoon and told him that I felt like I would be going into labor within the next few days and it was a good thing my parents were going to be here soon. That evening, upon his arrival home, I told him that I had been having contractions 5 minutes apart but they still weren’t getting stronger or longer, so I was still convinced they were BH. He did look a little alarmed but I assured him I was fine and dumped the kids on his lap so I could go shower and relax.
39 weeks, 2 days. 2:30am. Natalie wakes up wanting to nurse. She had been nursing much more frequently in recent weeks. I brought her into my bed and nursed her on one side. I got up to use the restroom and returned to bed where she decided she wasn’t done yet, and nursed the other side. Being 39 weeks and 2 days pregnant, I had to use the restroom AGAIN, so I rolled out of bed and felt a pop. Immediately, I leapt up and
ran waddled to the bathroom. Sure enough, my water had broken. And it had meconium in it. This alarmed me slightly, but I was too busy being more freaked out that my labor had started with my water breaking which meant I didn’t have long to get to the hospital. It was 3am.
I woke my husband and we began to get ready. We had to wake our friends in the middle of the night to watch our kids since my parents were not in town yet. Natalie was already wide awake and once we woke Sebastian to let him know the baby was coming, the energy in the house just came alive. I felt very emotional about those moments of getting them ready and dropping them off. I knew they were going to be great siblings but there is still something a little sad about watching your babies become “big” brothers and sisters.
We dropped them off around 3:30 and hit the road. We live about 45 minutes from the hospital, but thankfully, it was the middle of the night so traffic was not bad. My contractions were coming closer, but still not terribly intense and about 7 minutes apart. This was a relief because I was really trying to NOT have my baby on the side of I-78 in my husband’s company car.
We arrived at the hospital around 4:15 and were placed in our room around 4:30. I had called my birth photographer as soon as my water broke so she arrived right after us. I was placed on the monitor for the standard 20 minutes (more like 45…every single time. Getting a reactive strip on my babies is almost impossible that early in the morning. They are sleeping in there!!) Finally my midwife comes in at 5:30 and checks me… I’m at 4cm…which means I still have a way to go.
I’m finally off the monitor and able to get into the tub, which helps my contractions IMMENSELY. I had only barely made it into the tub with Natalie when it was time to start pushing, so I was very excited to actually labor in the tub this time. The water felt amazing and with each contraction, my husband was there to spray water on my back or provide counter pressure. In between contractions, we laughed and talked. My photographer was awesome to have there. She made us feel so comfortable and she got some amazing shots.
The midwife came in and checked me again around 7:40am and I was at 6cm. I labored in the tub until about 8:15am when I decided to get out and get on the ball a bit. My contractions were still consistent but I was still handling them extremely well and I felt like I needed to try to get into some different positions to encourage more progress. They also wanted to put me back on the monitor for a bit since I did have meconium in my waters and they wanted to make sure the baby was still tolerating labor well.
I believe I began to enter transition while I was on the monitors. My contractions began to intensify and were coming much closer together and in clusters. I so desperately wanted to get back in the tub or in the shower, but they weren’t seeing a reactive strip again. I chugged juice, ate honey sticks, and rocked into Robert and did hip rotations on the ball until FINALLY they were comfortable enough to let me off of the leash. I immediately went for the tub. I had to get back in the water. My contractions weren’t unbearable or too much to handle, but I knew I would be so much more comfortable in the tub.
I got back in the tub around 9am. (I think…time becomes fuzzy here) My contractions start to space out a bit. I knew from my experience as a doula that some women get a little “break” after transition before the work of pushing baby out. They spaced out and they changed. They were no longer wrapping around my back and into my lower belly. Now they were starting from the top of my belly and pushing down. I recognized this as the beginning of the end of transition and my body preparing for the pushing phase. At this point, the reality that the end of my last pregnancy was in sight, and it overwhelmed me to the point of tears. As I mentioned above… I LOVED my pregnancy. I loved my belly. I loved feeling all of my babies move and kick and hiccup. I loved dreaming about what they would look like and what their personalities would be like… and here I was, preparing myself physically, mentally, and emotionally to never feel that again. I was so excited to meet her. I couldn’t WAIT to have her in my arms…yet part of me wanted to say “stop. Hold on. Slow down. Let me feel one last kick. Let her somersault one more time. Let our hearts beat as one just a little longer….” And, as if my unspoken prayers were heard, I felt my baby give me a little kick and I cried tears of thanks. Throughout this emotional gauntlet, my midwife’s steady and reassuring hands cradled my face, wiped my tears, and she held space for me to process this very profound moment.
10:12am. My body decides it is time and begins to push. As easy as the contractions had been for me, pushing felt so much harder this time. With each surge, my midwife would gently tell me to let her come and my husband was there quietly encouraging me to breathe her out instead of pushing. To let go of my mind and let my body just do what it needed to do. It felt like an eternity, but at 10:17am, after 7 hours and 17 minutes of labor and only 5 minutes of pushing, Allison Charlotte entered this world. I had hoped to catch her myself, but my position made it hard to reach her, so my midwife assisted me and helped me bring her up to my chest, where I sobbed with every emotion I had coursing through me. But the emotion that was screaming from the rooftops was unimaginable joy. She was beautiful. A little strawberry haired baby with blue eyes. Through my tears, I could see my husband off to the side, telling me “good job, baby.”
We spent some time snuggling in the tub until the cord stopped pulsing. My husband then cut the cord for the last time and Allison and I became two separate hearts. As she was being weighed and measured, I got out of the tub and, thankfully, breathing her out meant I had a tiny little tear only requiring 2 stitches. And, full disclosure, even after just giving birth without any drugs, I was still scared to death of the injections of lidocaine they gave me before stitching me up. I will have 100 babies drug free, just keep those needles away!!!
We learned that Allison clocked in as our smallest baby at 6lbs 14oz. The same weight her daddy was when he was born, and just an ounce bigger than I was at birth. She measured 20.25″ long (20″ after her cone head went down… haha)
We are absolutely in love with her and while I feel I could have all the babies in the world, we feel she completes our family perfectly. It’s hard to believe she is 6 weeks old, today.
And, if you’ve made it this far…your reward is cute baby photos!