Gearing up for childbirth was a confusing thing for me. I have been through doula training and attended a number of births, but did not know what to expect for myself. On the one hand, I was confident in my knowledge of what to do (positions, breathing, massage, etc.), but on the other, I was afraid that my knowledge was giving me a false confidence. I was concerned that I would go into it with great confidence that I would know what to do and be totally taken off guard by the intensity. God is so good though. He was so good to have met me right where I was and take it from there:
I was going on week two of “overdueness” and was super ready to have this baby. I was doing all I could think of to get him out and be free from the huge head wedged in my pelvis making moving VERY difficult and walking almost impossible! It didn’t really help that it was an arctic tundra outside and all I WANTED to do was cuddle up under warm blankets- BUT I knew that he would stay in there forever if I did. My sister Kim and I even took to walking the stairs at the movie theatre before Avatar. That really got my heart pumping! I think what finally did it was me just RELAXING. I know everyone says to, and I really thought I was, but when I really thought about it, I could tell that I was holding him in (kind of like when you are holding yourself to not pee your pants). I was holding him in because when I let go, he moved down and THAT was NOT comfortable. So, when I finally made this discovery, I did all I could to remember to not hold him up and in. I remember one day I was out with my mom and she would constantly remind me to relax those muscles and let go. I did and that day I got my “show” at Kid2Kid (how fitting!). That night I was up all night with what felt like really bad gas pains but they were every 20 min. I now know that they were labor pains! The next day was a Wednesday- Scott was off and he went to Central Market around 3:00 pm while I took a nap. I woke up to contractions coming every 10 minutes or so. I called him and he rushed home. I told him that it was likely that nothing would happen for a long time and just to chill (he was ready to call the midwife! Ha!). Well, telling an expectant father whose wife is in labor to chill is like……well it wasn’t something that he was able to do. So he cleaned the house top to bottom, got snacks ready for me, rearranged the furniture to make room for the tub, and everything was good to go. Then my contractions slowed to about 20 min apart. This was frustrating. We watched the Princess Bride and Arrested Development to try and take my mind off of it. It helped a little, but hardly took my mind off. These were intense contractions! They were long and strong, just not close together. Sleeping was impossible- the rushes would wake me up every time and varied between being 5 and 20 minutes apart. They completely stopped at about 9 the next morning. I was exhausted already and frustrated. We went about our day with no action until that night. My chiropractor and one of my midwives, Cindy, suggested that I get an adjustment to help the contractions stay steady. It was possible that Asher was not in a good position and thus not applying even pressure on my cervix to make contractions regular. So Scott and I headed over to the office in Hurst at around 6. The bumpy drive on 161 was awful! Contractions were every 10 minutes now and I could not talk through them. Cindy was called out to a birth so Jim Bob adjusted me. He wanted us to wait around for an hour and for me to walk to see how my body accepted the adjustment and if he needed to do it again. This was the most intense part of my entire labor. Jim Bob was teaching a seminar in the room next door and I was so afraid that everyone could hear me mooing like a cow! Scott was my absolute hero through the entire labor. Every time a contraction would come, I would grab onto him around his neck, moo, and sway. That was my happy place. The seminar went a little long, so around 8:30 Jim Bob adjusted me again. That really got things going and the ride home was very hard. I do not suggest riding in the car during active labor. When we got home, my midwife Christy suggested that I take a bath and have a glass of wine to relax and try to sleep. I did (this was around 10pm) and woke up at midnight to my water breaking! It wasn’t a gush, more like a steady trickle. I checked the color and it was a little green/yellow which meant that there was meconium in it. Even though I could have freaked out about that, I really felt peace and knew that he was fine. For whatever reason, my contractions became less intense after my water broke (it actually only broke partially).
We called my mom and Christy at around 2 am- rushes were every 4 minutes and I remember telling Scott that I really needed to go to the bathroom (#2), but really I needed to PUSH! Christy was on her way and Scott started to fill up the birthing tub while my mom labored with me. When Christy got there about 30 minutes later she checked me and said, “Kate, do you want some really good news?” I definitely did. When she first checked me I thought I was probably at a 4 or so but was pleased to hear, “You are already at a 9!” Woo Hoo! I got in the tub (which felt SO good) and labored there for a while. We wanted to wait until Cindy got there before I started pushing.
I’ll stop here to say what an extremely peaceful experience this time was for me. I had my birth mix of worship songs playing, candles burning, the lights down low, a nice warm tub, and the best support imaginable. I also felt the Holy Spirit unlike any other time in my life. With every contraction I would hear, “This is for your baby, I’m going to get you through this, my Grace is sufficient, and it is Well!” That was my mantra. I was so at peace and had no doubt in my mind that everything would go well. God was SO near. How great is our God to show up and care about ME and my little labor! But show up He did.
Cindy came and my sisters were there as well and I was ready to push. I never really felt a transition period which was a huge blessing. It was so peaceful and really not that intense. Pushing a baby out is a learned art. After the first hour of pushing, I realized that I wasn’t really pushing and that it was going to take a lot more. I think then was when we began thinking that this baby was a big one. At this point, the exhaustion of not having slept the last 2 nights was setting in. I knew that this baby wasn’t going to come out unless I really put everything I had into it and I was afraid that I didn’t have the energy. Christy and Cindy assured me that my body could do it and that God would give me the strength. They suggested that I squat when I pushed. So when I felt a contraction coming, I would stand up, hold onto Scott’s forearms, and squat down and puussshhh.
I remember hearing Cindy say, “During a push, you are going to get to a point where you think you can’t go any further, but you have to push past that.” I think that was what really taught me the kind of pushes that were going to get this big boy out. I continued like that for a while, but A’s massive head was having a hard time getting under and past my pubic bone. Christy suggested that I get out of the tub and try pushing on the toilet.
That REALLY helped and I made good progress there. She then said that I should probably get back in the tub unless I wanted to birth my baby on the commode. No thanks. I got back into the tub (which was lovingly refilled with warm water by mom and Kim) and pushed for a while more there. Things slowed down so we went to the toilet again and then to the bed so that Christy could check my progress. Back to the tub to have the baby! Through the entire pushing process, Asher’s heart rate never went below 128. Now THAT was God and I was so thankful every time they would check it and I heard the sweet sound of my little (or big) baby’s healthy heart!
I could now feel his furry head and see him coming out with the mirror they placed at the bottom of the tub. What a crazy feeling! I got on my hands and knees and was ready, after 4 and a half hours of pushing, to get him out! The pushing really didn’t hurt; I can just explain it as the hardest I’ve ever had to work. So with lots of coaching on when to push and when to pant, I got his head out and was working on his body. It got to this point where I knew that his head had been out for a while, his cord was being squished, and I had to get him out even if that meant tearing (my biggest fear throughout my entire pregnancy and labor). So I pushed past the feeling of tearing (the only thing I can say actually hurt) and out he came COVERED in vernix. It was 9:00am on the dot. Christy put him on my back so that Cindy could suction him since he did have meconium and they didn’t want him aspirating it into his lungs. I remember feeling this little monkey on my back and I wanted to turn around so badly to see my baby! No one was allowed to say if it was a girl or a boy until Scott and I saw. When I finally turned around and held him in my arms, “A beautiful boy!”
The feeling of holding my baby for the first time is something that I cannot put into words. If you are a mother, you know. After everything we had been through with trying to get pregnant and a difficult pregnancy, he was here and he was perfect! It was so magnificent and the most intense moment of our lives. We got to hang out in the tub for a while to wait for his cord to stop pulsing before they cut it. He was so sweet and just cuddled up next to me. Christy decided that she wanted me out of the tub to deliver the placenta so that she could monitor my blood loss. When I stood up and stepped out of the tub, everything went black, I was falling, and blood was pouring down my legs. They laid me down on the floor and Christy worked on getting my placenta out because they thought I might be hemorrhaging. Placenta came out, and I was still bleeding. They gave me a bunch of herbs to stop the bleeding, some IV fluids, and I was able to nurse and cuddle with Asher.
Cindy and Scott weighed Asher, and to my surprise, was 10 pounds 9 ounces! Whoa! He was also 21 and ½ inches long and had a 15 inch head. It was then discovered that I wasn’t bleeding from my uterus but from my 3rd degree tear. Awesome. But God used even this to show me how He was in control, I was not, and to just trust Him. The tear was more severe than could be repaired at home, so Christy told me that we had to go to the hospital. I was pretty bummed, but nothing could have bothered me with my new baby in my arms. She also said that if I could stand up without fainting, we could drive ourselves, but if not, we would have to call an ambulance. I stood up, and couldn’t see or hear anything. Hello 911. It wasn’t an emergency, but we didn’t want to risk fainting and things getting worse by trying to drive ourselves. So here come like 20 huge paramedics into my living room (Richardson doesn’t get to see much action) and I’m lying there with it all out. They hoisted me onto the stretcher and wheeled me out to the ambulance, trying to dodge my noisy neighbors. My sister Kristen got to ride with me because she is an ICU nurse while Scott, Asher, and the others followed in the car. I hated that my 3 hour old baby had to ride in the cold car! We got to the hospital (no sirens, darn), went up to L&D, the doctor on call stitched me up (OW! Worst part of everything), and I got my blood drawn to check my H&H levels after all of the blood loss. Levels weren’t great so I had to stay for observation and IV fluid until later that night. The nurse said, “The doctor would really like for you to stay overnight, but understands if you feel really strongly about going home.” Bye Bye. We went home and I finally got to snuggle up with my, at this point nameless, baby boy and hubby.
The first night home was so magical. I remember drifting between being awake and sleeping and seeing my darling boy relaxed at my breast, staring up at his mama. The recovery has been slow trying to build back up my blood volume, but we are getting there. I can say that after 6 weeks, being a mom is the most challenging and amazing experience of my life. I am forever changed and I cannot wait for all of the fun seasons with my sweet Asher. By the way, Asher is Hebrew for happy and blessed. And we definitely are.
And Leah said, “Happy am I! For women have called me happy.” So she called his name Asher. -Genesis 30:13
And of Asher he said, “Most blessed of sons be Asher; let him be the favorite of his brothers, and let him dip his foot in oil. Your bars shall be iron and bronze, and as your days, so shall your strength be. -Deuteronomy 33:24
All in all, my birth was such an amazing experience and, even with our little hiccup, I would not have changed a thing about it. God totally used it all to teach me to rely on Him and His strength to get me through. I do believe that the Spirit came and took away my pain so that I could birth my big boy. How else could birthing an almost 11 pound baby not really hurt? I’ve had more painful bowel movements. Too much info? Sorry. I am so thankful for every part, and especially every person, that made up the birth of my perfect Asher Scott. God is so good.