Well, where did we leave off? It was the hour between 2 and 3 am, after paging my midwife, waiting for she and her student to arrive. Taryn (yes, our midwife shares a name with our baby – I'll get there eventually...) arrived right around 3:00 on the dot. My mother and father in law also pulled in right around this time. I can't quite remember who was first. Taryn quickly busied herself setting up after chatting with me for a quick second. I remember feeling like she seemed very business like and efficient, much less laid back than usual, but I think in retrospect I can now see that she knew she best get herself prepared to welcome a baby into the world in a short time. She told me after the birth that based on my composure when she walked in the door, I could have been a 4 or I could have been a 10 – that it hardly seemed like I was phased by the labour, but that she was fairly confident in the noises I was making and the way I was breathing that after seeing me give birth twice before, I was nearly there. I remember expressing my concern to her about being fearful that I wasn't progressing very far and she just calmly told me, “We'll check in a bit and see what we can do”.
Her student arrived a few moments after she did and together they finished all the set up. Fiona did all the necessary checking of my vitals and listening to the baby, I'm not sure how many times, but at some points during it all.
I heard her ask Taryn “Are we even going to check her?”. Taryn said, “I don't need to but I think she really wants to know”. My mom also told me later that based on seeing me give birth twice before she knew this was the end, simply because of the way I was breathing and moaning.
One thing that was so very different about this labour (aside from everything) is how I coped and managed the contractions. I have oodles of “labouring” photos from both Evalyn and Gwen's birth – me on the ball, Evan and I walking around, me zoned out laying in bed – this time, I have one photo of the labour process and it is not appropriate for the public eye. The thing is, I just laboured on my own. I laid in bed the entire night until 3 am and even after that, I wasn't doing all of those things that had helped me coped the first two times around. My mom and MIL were hardly in the room this time, I didn't use Evan for support until 2 am and it was just so – different, all together.
While Taryn and her student were setting up, most of my contractions happened while I was laying in bed or standing up with my arms resting on Evan's tall dresser. He kept encouraging me to sit back onto the birth ball to relax, but I just couldn't. For some reason, my body wanted to stand up and sink down into the contractions. I would stand up facing his dresser with my arms crossed on top of it, praying and silently working my way through each contraction.
Just like always, he was the most amazing partner. Any time he saw me slipping away during one of the contractions, he brought me right back down … encouraging me to follow my body, to sink into the contractions, to relax and let it out through my toes. If my face scrunched up, he urged me to relax my shoulders. If he saw me clench my bum, he reminded me to let my legs go free. Without him, I would have never managed.
It was about 3:40 when Taryn and Fiona were done setting up and told me they would go ahead and check me. Fiona was the one to do the exam, said everything was nice and soft and that the baby's head was really low. She said she figured I was about an 8. Eight. Okay, yes. I could handle that for sure. Later we were told that Fiona was fairly certain I was actually complete during that check, but didn't want to say so in case she was mistaken. When the membranes are still intact, sometimes it is difficult for them to fully check dilation all the way around the back, and so she couldn't be sure if there was any remaining cervix to dilate.
Taryn asked me if I would like her to double check Fiona's assessment and also see if she thought that breaking my water would be a feasible option to help things move along as quickly as possible. I said yes, I'd like that but that I needed a break between exams to work through a few more contractions and then she could check. She agreed.
About two contractions later, I had the strangest sensation that I can't even describe. Something between pressure and pain and then suddenly, relief. My water broke. Taryn joked later that I had now done labour almost every possible way – during Eva's labour, they artificially ruptured my membranes when I was 7cm. During Gwen's labour, my water broke spontaneously before contractions. And this time, my water broke near the end on its own. Another contraction, and another little gush. I cannot even describe the amount of relief this gave me. It was as though I was suddenly weightless, the whole midsection of my body felt as though it immediately dropped and was no longer causing discomfort.
I remember saying to Evan, at some point, whether it was now or not doesn't matter, I suppose, that I couldn't believe we'd be meeting our baby. And soon. So soon. Assuming we still had 2cm of progress to make, Evan asked if I'd like to move around a bit and go wash off in the shower before the big show. That sounded like a comforting idea to me, so I asked Taryn, “Are you still checking me?” “No, there's no reason to now”. “Is it okay if we have a shower?” “Yes, but it will have to be quick”. Later she told me she wanted to laugh and say, “There's no way you'll make it to the shower”, but of course, she refrained and just let us do our thing.
Now, brace yourself because this is where things start to get crazy. One of the strangest things about this labour to me is having no idea how/when/how fast my progress was made. Since Fiona's check was my only internal check, I have no gauge to know how my dilation occurred. Was I consistently dilating all through the night Friday and the day Saturday? Or were those contractions for practice? Did most of the dilation occur in those last hours/minutes? Of course, I'll never know.
So, Evan got his shorts ready to get into the shower with me and between contractions, helped me ease my legs off the edge of my bed. I put my arm around his shoulder and stood up to make my way to the bathroom.
I can't even remember what it felt like or how I knew. I just remember saying, “Uhhh, umm, baby!” And it's a good thing his instincts kicked into gear, because he placed his hand down between my legs and said, “The baby's head is out!” And he wasn't talking about a little bit of crowning. When he reached down, he was holding our child's head in his hand. He quickly, very quickly, eased (or maybe it was more of a forceful push) me back onto the bed. He said as he did so, he saw the baby's head go back up a little. When I fell back to lean against my pillows, I missed the pillows and laid flat on my back and as soon as I did so, her head was out again. He and my mother and mother-in-law all started cheering, “baby! There's the baby!”, I immediately reached down and could feel her. I could feel her face, her nose, a head full of hair. I took one more deep breath in and as I exhaled, my baby was earth side. Taryn didn't even have a chance to pull on a pair of gloves. Instead, she sat back and watched as she let my husband deliver his baby. We have one photo that we absolutely love that shows him delivering her, with Fiona racing to get gloves on and Taryn sitting back with a huge grin on her face. She knew he had it under control.
When she came out, I was immediately thanking God and reaching down to lift her to my chest. Evan could see that she was quite pretzeled up in her cord – which was once around her neck and twice around her legs - so together he and Taryn got her all straightened out. When I lifted her up, he (or maybe someone else) said, “Well, take a look”. I looked and saw that I was holding in my arms my third, beautiful baby daughter.
More tears. More praise. There is nothing in my life that could ever top the moments that I have met my girls. There is no time in my life that I feel more closely linked with my creator and more in awe of God's work.
I told the room that we had another beautiful baby girl. My mother-in-law asked if this beautiful baby girl had a name. I looked at our fabulous midwife and said, “Yes. Her name is Taryn Ruth”. Evan and I had decided a few months back that if we had another girl and we were blessed enough to have Taryn as our attending midwife at the birth again (she has been at the birth of all of our children) we would name her Taryn. There couldn't be a more fitting name.
The next few moments were spent with me snuggling this tiny human that God has so graciously entrusted me with. I spent those moments taking in every little bit of her. Her jet black hair (explains the 700 bottles of Tums), her tiny fingers and her tiny toes. Another beautiful girl. A baby sister for my children. The most beautiful blessing.