The waiting and wondering are over.
The anxieties over road conditions, getting to the hospital, and getting someone to the house quickly enough watch our kids are over.
First thing Monday morning, January 21, I went to my OBGYN for my belated 39-week appointment. Four days till due date day.
As planned, my OB did a membrane sweep (a natural way of kickstarting labor if the body is ready).
Apparently my body was ready (all those contractions I’d been having over the weekend had actually being doing something, taking me from 1 cm at 38 weeks to 3 cm that day), because between her office and home (a 15-minute time span), I had 3 contractions.
Even though I’ve done this before, I always have this irrational thought that I won’t be able to tell the difference between the mildly painful contractions of my prodromal labor and the real contractions of actual labor.
Hah. Like every other time, I knew. The real ones feel totally different.
I got home at 9:15 and asked my husband to keep working from home a little while longer, as I suspected labor was imminent. I set the kids up with TV and tried to rest, but the contractions were growing stronger. I got up and fiddled around the house, cleaning up here and there, stopping for contractions as they increased in intensity.
At 9:47 I started timing contractions. They were 2-3 minutes apart. This baby was coming, and she wasn’t wasting any time! After 20 minutes of this, I showed my husband the contraction log on my phone. He jumped to action – calm as a cucumber as always – to put our bags in the car and get ready to leave.
In God’s providence, my best friend was already on her way over to our house for a planned play date. She knew I was having the membrane sweep that morning and there was a chance I’d go into labor while they were over, so she was prepared accordingly. I texted her to let her know the contractions were coming quick (she later told me she drove, shall we say, not the speed limit. She thought she might be delivering our baby at our house! She is a NICU nurse and attends high risk deliveries, so she’s qualified).
Right when she pulled in the driveway at about 10:20, I suddenly had a 5 minute gap between contractions. For a moment, I was confused. Did labor just stall, or stop altogether? Surely those contractions were far too strong and close together to have been nothing! The intensity of the next contraction removed all doubt. In another measure of God’s grace, they remained 5-6 minutes apart from the time she got here until we got to the hospital. This allowed me to say goodbye to the kids without being mid-contraction (which may have freaked them out), and I only had to deal with one contraction in the car (car contractions are the WORST).
We arrived at the hospital around 10:40. As soon as we were in triage, the contractions started coming almost right on top of each other again. The nurse assessed me at 5-6 cm dilated, a huge change from the 3 cm less than 2 hours before at my appointment.
She asked if I wanted an epidural (she hadn’t seen my birth plan yet). As I do every time, I hesitated. She gave us a minute to think about it. I told Travis, “I’m not sure I want to do this without an epidural again. I don’t need to be a hero. I know I CAN do it; I just don’t know if it’s worth it.”
As always, he was supportive but also gently reminded me of the reasons why I choose to birth without. As with the previous 3 times, logic (and fear of the unknown, to be quite honest. I know labor without an epidural; I don’t know it with one) won over the feeling of pain and we turned the epidural down. Making that decision in the middle of the pain gives me stronger resolve as I recommit to the type of birth we want and the reasons for it (In hind sight, we probably wouldn’t have had time for one anyway!).
We moved from triage to our room, where the nurse assessed me at 7 cm. Shortly after, the pressure was mounting. 8 cm. My doctor came down. She said, “well that was fast!” Per our request, she broke my waters to speed things along, assuring me it would only take a few more contractions to be complete.
She was right. Maybe 3 or 4 of the most intense contractions of the morning, and I was complete. Two big breaths of pushes and Hammbino #4 was here! It was 11:53am. Less than 2.5 hours of true labor, 3 if you count from the first contraction when I left the doctor’s office. Despite the speed, the whole morning felt characterized by a sense of total calm and peace, and for that I am grateful.
We are exceedingly thankful for every aspect of this birth. God took care of each logistic and variable we had been anxious about. His goodness would be no less good had things not gone smoothly – even if the worst imaginable had happened – for His goodness is not dependent on the outcomes of the circumstances – He is just good, regardless.
But in this situation He chose to display His goodness by answering my concerns in kind with what I had prayed for. I have been growing in my prayer life and
learning to pray with specificity. I think He knew that I needed to see Him answer each of those specific concerns in order to grow my faith – and He did. He won’t always answer that way, but this time, He did.
There are many, many things we are thankful for with this delivery. She came on a week day, so my OBGYN was there. She came in between ice/snow storms, so the roads were clear. Because my best friend was already en route to our house, we didn’t have to worry about getting someone to the house to watch them until Grandma arrived. Travis was already at home. The house was relatively picked up and I’d just cleaned bathrooms the day before (those little things matter to me for sake of our sanity returning home!). I only had one contraction in the car. There are many more I could name, but we are most grateful that mama and baby are 100% healthy!
Psalm 127:3-5, ESV
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
the fruit of the womb a reward.
4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the children[a] of one’s youth.
5 Blessed is the man
who fills his quiver with them!