Grace is two months old and I’ve finally sat down to write out her birth story. It wasn’t how or where I planned to give birth but I’m so thankful for the beautiful and precious outcome!
I apologize, this is going to be long but I want to tell the whole story.
We found out we were pregnant at the end of April. I was worried about the two week transatlantic cruise we were going on in May; being morning sick and sea sick at the same time. That didn’t sound enjoyable. But I was still so excited to see those two little lines on the pregnancy test. I was pretty sick on the cruise and continued to be sick until about 20 weeks. With John’s pregnancy I was sick the entire 41.5 weeks so I was pleasantly surprised when the nausea subsided. We had our 20 week anatomy scan and they asked if we wanted to find out if we were having a girl or a boy. Matthew didn’t want to and I was on the fence so I asked them write it down on a piece of paper so we could decide later. Well, they scanned around and said that the baby wasn’t in a good position to find out. They had a guess and wrote that down but it wasn’t 100% certain. I wasn’t keen on going off of a guess so we decided to just have another surprise baby like we did with John. We really enjoyed not knowing and finding out that “it’s John!” after pushing him out.
The rest of the pregnancy flew by, especially with all our trips to Disney and chasing a very active toddler. We had been going to a freestanding birth center for our appointments and had planned on delivering there. They asked me to get a EKG to make sure my heart was healthy enough to delivery outside of a hospital. I had a heart problem that was discovered and remedied when I was in highschool. I haven’t had any issues in 10 years so I was confident I’d have a good EKG reading. I went in at 28 weeks for the EKG and the cardiologist said I was totally fine. I did have a faster heart rate but that can be normal during pregnancy due to the increased amount of blood circulating. He said I would be totally safe to deliver the baby safely in the birth center. The weeks passed and the midwives at the birth center didn’t mention the EKG reading so I assumed everything was fine. However, at our 38 week appointment I was informed that due to the fact that I had a history of a heart problem and currently had an elevated heart rate, I had become too high risk for a birth center birth. So at 38 weeks I was frantically trying to find another place to deliver our baby. We decided to go with a midwife group that delivered in Jefferson Hospital in Pittsburgh. We met with them for a 38/39 week appointment and got a tour of the delivery rooms. I wanted to labor in a tub if that was an option and thankfully this hospital had one room with a tub! I was happy with switching to their care even though it was crazy to have to switch so last minute.
They scheduled me for another appointment the day before my due date. We went to this appointment on December 28th, 2018 with John in tow. We had a normal visit and everything looked good. We all assumed I’d go late since I went late with John. At the end of the appointment I asked if they could test me for a yeast infection because I thought I had one. Matthew took John to the waiting room while I waited for the results. They came back to the room and told me, “the test was negative for yeast but you had some really nice ferning”. I was very confused. Ferning? Am I growing plants? They explained that a ferning test was a test to see if you were leaking AMNIOTIC FLUID! And I passed! My irritation was not from yeast, I was leaking amniotic fluid and had been for at least a week! They told me that I might have a very slow leak from a high tear and that I needed to have this baby soon, like today. I was in shock and asked them to grab Matthew and John so I could break the news to them. Matthew came in and was equally as shocked. They told us that we could go home, get child care for John, grab our hospital bags but we had to come back today to be induced. I was dumbfounded that I was going to meet this baby sooner rather than later. I definitely thought I had more time to prepare. Truthfully, I really hadn’t packed my bags. So Matthew dropped John off at a friend’s house, I called my mom who got on the road to come to Ohio to watch John, and I packed our bags!
We drove back to the hospital and on the drive I began to cry. I was so nervous about another induction. I had so badly wanted to go into labor on my own, to labor at home and then deliver in the hospital naturally. I was so worried that another induction would mean pitocin and unbearable pain that would lead to me asking for an epidural. That’s how John’s birth went and I felt so defeated afterwards. I was happy with a healthy baby boy but I felt so out of control during his birth. I had wanted this to be different and now I was going to be induced again. Matthew suggested I put on some Praise and Worship music on the drive to collect my thoughts and calm down. It really helped a ton and set the tone for the whole birth.
Labor and Delivery:
We arrived at the hospital around 6pm and got settled into our room. This is the only pre-birth photo we got but as you can see the rooms are HUGE! And I got the room with the tub.
They got me hooked up to an IV and I answered all the typical hospital questions. The midwives came in around 7pm and said their plan was to just break my water and see how things progress. I was happy with that option since it was the most natural approach to induction. They broke my water around 9pm and I started to feel contractions. But nothing regular. They recommended I rest and see what happens. At this point I was 40% effaced and 3-4cm dilated. I rested from 9pm-2am, sleeping in between contractions. They would range from 30 mins apart to 15 mins apart. They were not terribly painful but still too much to actually sleep through. At 2am the midwives told me to get up and walk around to see if we could get things started. Matthew and I walked the halls of the delivery unit for about 30 minutes and that’s all it took to get me into active labor! After 30 mins my contractions were 3 mins apart and about 60-90 seconds long. I went back to our room and labored in there in various positions and in various parts of the room. All throughout my labor Matthew had my labor playlist playing on shuffle. It was comprised of songs from Audrey Assad and Matt Maher. At one point the song “Good to Me” by Audrey Assad was playing and I was looking at my little focal object. It was a tiny manger scene, just Mary, Joseph and a little baby Jesus. I was grasping it and gazing at it through each contraction, while listening to the words:
And I lift my eyes
To the hills where my help is found
Your voice fills the night
Raise my head up and hear the sound
Though fires burn all around me
I will praise You, my God
And the foxes in the vineyard
Will not steal my joy
Because You are good to me, good to me
You are good to me, good to me
You are good to me
Labor really became a prayer. I have never had such a profoundly spiritual experience as laboring and giving birth to Grace. And having this music playing so I could mediate on the words helped the pain be more bearable. Around 4:30am I decided to use the tub which had jets. It felt great in between contractions. I was able to relax and really let myself ride the wave of each contraction. During each contraction I had Matthew doing a double hip squeeze and that helped tremendously. During the early stages of labor it almost completely took the pain away and during the later parts it helped so much with pain management. Around 5:30 I began dry heaving while in the tub (sorry TMI but hey its a birth story!) and the midwives told me they wanted to check my progress. I had forgotten that dry heaving/throwing up was a sign of transition so they wanted to see how far along I was and if I was close to pushing. I got onto the bed and they said I was 100% effaced and 8cm dilated! Definitely transition! I continued to labor on the bed, all the while Matthew was doing the double hip squeeze like a champ! During the end of transition, when I hit 10cm I felt the deep urge to push. However I was just so tired and I remembered how I pushed for 45 minutes with John. I didn’t think I had the strength to push for 45 minutes. I asked for an epidural since I was so tired and done with the pain. The midwives said “Oh there’s no time for that! The baby will be here before they can even get you one”. I didn’t believe them. I just wanted to be done. But they kept saying “just push, your baby is right there!”. I could hear in the background Matt Maher’s song “Lord, I need You” playing.
Lord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You're the One that guides my heart
Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You
Where sin runs deep Your grace is more
Where grace is found is where You are
Where You are, Lord, I am free
Holiness is Christ in me
I prayed silently, “Lord I need you. Right now. I’m tired, weak, so done with the pain. But you suffered and died for me, enduring incredible pain for me. Please make my pushing effective and make this short and quick”. And I began to push. It was so difficult but I prayed between each contraction, begging that each push would be the last. And finally, after 10 minutes of pushing, it was done. I felt such relief and I heard Matthew say to me “It’s Grace! We had a girl!”. I looked down at the baby they were handing me, shocked that I had a little girl. My Grace Noelle. I cried so much, holding my sweet daughter. Labor was done and she was in my arms. I looked up at Matthew and said “I did it, I can’t believe I did it.” I had a completely natural labor and I felt triumphant. This was the labor and delivery I had always wanted.
I didn’t tear which was a huge blessing however delivering the placenta was difficult and I ended up hemorrhaging and losing 2 litres of blood (that’s close to 40% of my blood). But the midwife team was awesome and I didn’t end up needing a transfusion or any surgery. They were able to stop the bleeding and I recovered very quickly. My mother brought John to the hospital to meet Grace. He was probably more excited to see Matthew and me. He missed us so much and we had only been gone for about 15 hours. We stayed in the hospital with Grace for 36 hours and then headed home with our daughter! The pictures below are ones we took right before we left the hospital. I was so tired and so happy. Grace has been such an easy baby from the start. She sleeps a ton which allows me to play with and focus on John. She loves to be worn in a wrap which keeps my hands free to do laundry and dishes. She nurses well and smiles a bunch. She is my precious Grace Noelle, born on her due date (December 29, 2018) and this is her birth story.