I wasn’t sure where to start when telling the story of Gwendolyn’s birth. The truth is, this experience has God written all over it and deserves some background context in order to truly convey how marvellous God’s mighty hand is. So, forgive me, but the story is going to take a few parts and is going to have to start a few days before we actually met our daughter. I hope you’ll stick around. I promise, the story has a great ending…
If you know me, you know that I like to be in control and that when preparing for the arrival of a new baby, this control flies out the window. I can’t control what they will be, who they will be, when they will come into the world, or how they will come into the world. And sometimes? This lack of control drives me nuts. Near the end of my pregnancy, I started to get very impatient about when the baby would arrive. Apparently I forgot about the fact that I felt this way near Evalyn’s birth and was quickly reminded that God was in control when she came into the world on the best possible day for my husband’s schedule. Again, Gwen’s birth is a repeat of that.
Along with the impatience, I was dealing with a lot of anxiety over what would be done with Evalyn during the birth of her sibling. Again, a result of my desire to be in control and my inability to let go and remember that God is in complete control. I joked with people that my ideal birth story would include going into labour after Evalyn went to bed and having her wake up to a baby sibling. And guess what? Evalyn went to bed in her own bed the night I went into labour because I had no indication it would happen that night. Gwen’s time of birth was 7:08 am. Evalyn woke up between 7:10 and 7:15 that morning. God has a funny way with these things.
In the days leading up to Gwen’s due date, I was noticing a lot of markers that labour could be imminent. I was having a lot of cramping and lots of Braxton Hicks contractions. Even though I never expected to have an early baby, all of these “tricks” were starting to get wearing on me. Constantly wondering if today was the day got old fast. At my 40 week appointment, my midwife offered to check my cervix and do a stretch and sweep if I wished. I agreed. She determined I was 2 cm and thin so she went ahead and gave me a good sweep. She told me things didn’t feel like I would for sure go that day, but it wouldn’t be surprising if I did either.
I went home and spent the rest of the afternoon hoping that things might get started. Nothing. Just a few cramps and a little bit of bloody show. Nothing unusual at all.
Thursday morning rolled around and Evalyn and I headed to the park with Caley and Connor. Around 11 at the park, I started feeling kind of funny and asked Caley to go home because I was feeling dehydrated. Shortly after, I started having more noticeable contractions – ones that felt ‘real’ according to what I remember, rather than just BH or period type cramps. The rest of the day was spent feeling these contractions intermittently. I never stopped to time them because they didn’t seem to getting very consistent, but they were there, and noticeable. By 3-4 pm, they were definitely noticeable, never with more than 7-8 minutes between them. Evan came home early and offered to make dinner while I rested (bless his heart) and said he wasn’t going to go work at the house, just in case. After dinner, we took Evalyn into town for ice cream and a trip at the park – thinking that this very well might be our last evening as a family of three. We made the decision to go ahead and put Evalyn to bed at Marcia and Linda’s. I was pretty sure this was going to be the real deal and I figured I’d rather have her sleepover there and it be a false alarm than have her at home in case it turned real. So, off she went and Daddy and I headed home to get some other things in order.
We went for a nice long walk, and then Evan’s nesting urges hit and he started cleaning (the bonus of having a false alarm, I guess). He scrubbed the patio windows, baseboards and cleaned the hard surface floors. I cleaned up dishes, finished getting a few things ready and brought in some food from the freezer in case I needed to feed birth attendants. In the meantime, I had called my parents to fill them in on what was happening.
They were intending to head to our place on Friday afternoon for the long weekend, regardless of whether the baby had arrived or not, to help with some things at the new house, so they decided they might as well go ahead and come down Thursday night so they’d be here for when/if things started picking up.
I had a bath and both Evan and I climbed in bed, hoping to get a little shut eye, fully expecting to be up through the night giving birth to a child. Unfortunately, as the night progressed, I realized this wasn’t going to happen. I didn’t sleep well because, although slowly down significantly, the contractions were still evident enough to wake me up, causing me to lay in bed just waiting (hoping) for the next one to come soon after.
Of course, this didn’t happen and by 2:30 a.m., I knew that tonight would not be our night…