By now we had reached about 5 am, and everyone thought we were getting quite close to show time. The secondary midwife had arrived. Taryn told me she called her a little earlier than normal, because she was that confident that this baby would be here soon.
About this same time, my head started playing tricks on me. Looking back, I think it’s safe to say that she probably would have been born earlier but psychologically, I let things get away from me and started playing mind games with myself. First of all, I started watching the clock. I was nervous about not giving birth before Evalyn woke up and that the closer we got to her normal wake up time, the lighter her sleep would be, and the more likely that the commotion and the noise I was making would wake her up. Needless to say, I did not need to be anxious about these things (here I go again with always needing to be in control of things that are out of my control).
My mom knew that this was a worry of mine, so around 5:30, she whispered in my ear that my Dad had arrived and was parked in the truck outside, just waiting to whisk her away in the event that Evalyn woke up. Yet still, for some reason, I kept thinking in my head that I had to get this done before she woke up.
Along with this, as my labour got more and more intense and I knew we were getting close to the finish line, I just wanted to be done. During Evalyn’s birth, once I made it through transition and had reached completion, I only had to push for 20 minutes before she was born. I envisioned this baby’s birth to be similar. And, so, I kept telling myself that once I started pushing, it would be over. I would be done. My baby would be here.
It was these thoughts that really started tripping me up. It was as though I was willing my body to be ready to push. Thinking that I could make myself be ready. If my body told me it was time to push, it would be time to push and this pain would be over.
So, as soon as I felt the pressure increasing and felt the slightest urge to push, I told my midwives I thought I was ready. They told me to listen to my body and if it was telling me it was time to push, then we would try pushing.
I got back to the bed and got in the same position I delivered Evalyn in – on my hands and knees. Again, I envisioned this working again just as it had for her. I pushed a few times but I could just tell that it was ineffective. I knew what my pushes should feel like if they were going to bring my baby out and I knew that these pushes were wrong. Yet, I continued to push a few times. Finally, I asked Taryn if she thought this was working. She decided it would be best to check and be sure my cervix was fully dilated before continuing in order to avoid unnecessary pushing and avoid potential swelling that could make things harder in the end.
When the student midwife, Rebecca, checked me, she told me hesitantly that I was not complete. In fact, I was only 8 cm. I still had 2 cm to go. Clearly, I was not ready.
Discouraged, frustrated, and tired, I continued to labour in a variety of positions. On the bed, on the birthing stool, on the exercise ball and standing up, with Evan supporting under my arms, practically holding me up. At this point, Taryn suggested I not go back to the toilet because she didn’t want to risk the baby coming out while I was in there.
After a few more minutes, I had myself convinced, once again, that I was ready to push. Again, it was psychological. I knew I wasn’t really ready. But it was getting closer and closer to ‘morning’ time and I just wanted to be done.
This time, I decided to try to push on the birthing stool. I did maybe three or four pushes and once again, didn’t feel as though it was effective. Taryn asked me if I wanted her to check me to be sure everything was ready before I wasted any more energy. I agreed. Again, she told me that I just wasn’t quite there. There was a tiny amount of cervix that still needed to go back before I would be fully ready to push.
This time, it was her suggestion to return to sitting backward on the toilet and breath through some more contractions. We did just that – and let me tell you, that was the most intense, difficult twenty or so minutes of my life. The contractions were right on top of each other and I was having to force myself to breath through them, when my body was trying to tell me to push. Through the entire time we sat there, I needed Evan, Taryn and Rebecca to be there with me through every single contraction. My body was telling me to push. The midwives were telling me to breath through them. Taryn told me to be open and listen to my body. That as long as I physically could breath through the contractions, I wasn’t ready to push. When it was time, I would know. I kept asking her how many more contractions she was going to make me go through. She said she didn’t want to talk about numbers, she hated numbers, and we were going to let my body lead the way. She was sitting behind me, supporting my weight as I leaned back on her through each contraction. Evan was sitting to my right, whispering to me and helping me through each wave. He kept repeating, “Be still and know. Wait patiently for Him. Your babies are your gift” – all things that I had been repeating to myself over and over again for the past 6 hours. Rebecca was on the other side of me, offering her hand to me through each contraction.
Finally, Taryn told me we were going to get through two more contractions on the toilet and then we’d go back to the bed. Once we did this, they lifted me and helped me to the bedroom.
I laid down on my side and once again, she told me she wanted me to breath through a few more contractions. If I felt the need to push, she wanted me to do tiny, grunting, practice pushes, but to try not to bear down. She kept repeating that I needed to listen to my body. My body would know what to do.
By this time, Evan had donned his third pair of gloves because Taryn knew it was important to him to deliver the baby himself, just as he had with Evalyn, so each time we had thought it was time to push, he got ready. I also made it clear that when it was time, I wanted the mirror in sight.
I managed to breath through a few more contractions laying on my side in the bed, having my right leg supported by Megan, the secondary midwife. Finally, my body told me that there was no way I could breath through another contraction. I apologized to Taryn and said, “Sorry, but I’m pushing. This baby is coming out”.
At this point, I had Evan in the tightest headlock known to man, and Taryn later said that she had tried to swap places with him, since she knew he wanted to catch, but that she quickly realized that there was no way she was getting him out of that hold.
With the next few contractions, Megan lifted my leg for me and I pushed, all while watching what was happening in the mirror. I know many women don’t have any interest in watching what is happening, but for me, it was the best decision ever. I was able to put a visual to the sensations I was feeling and push more effectively. I’m confident that watching her be born contributed to the minimal damage that was done to my body during her birth.
I pushed one strong push during a contraction and saw the top of her head crowning. I remember praising God and saying “My baby, my baby, my baby” over and over again. I could see her. She was right there.
Right at this point, I also started vomiting. Sure, it doesn’t make for a pretty end to the story, but it happened so I am writing about it. I turned my face and threw up, and almost immediately, and miraculously there was a bowl placed there. A bowl which I missed as I continued to throw up through the rest of the delivery. Later, after she was born, Evan let me know that in the midst of this puke fest, while I had him in a headlock, I was actually vomiting down the side of his face. And yet, he stood there, let me pin him down with puke on his face, and cried as he also watched our child enter the world. That, my friends? That is true love.
With the next few contractions, I watched as the crown of her head turned into an entire head and face and then, with tears streaming down my face and phrases of awe and praise coming from my lips, I breathed as the rest of my baby came into the world.
Once I got over convincing myself I could have control of this labour, and let my body take the lead, she was born in seven minutes.
She was immediately placed on my chest and I looked to see that she was a girl. I, along with Evan, both of our mothers and Taryn, were all shocked to see that she was a girl.
I gave thanks to God, and started kissing and loving on my Gwennie. She was perfect.
And suddenly, every single contraction, every single pain – every little bit of it – was gone. My baby was in my arms. Safe. Healthy. Beautiful.
My sweet baby girl.
7:08 am was the time of her birth and her Big Sister woke up just before 7:15 am (again – can you say God moment?). When she woke up, our bedroom door was shut and she was greeted by one of her Nana’s and taken outside to meet up with Grandpa and Papa for a fun day of breakfast at the truck stop, playing at the park and going out for pizza for lunch.
Over the next few hours, we spent our time getting to know Gwen. She nursed wonderfully for the first time. In fact, the midwives asked me if I was still nursing Evalyn because the amount she was gulping was unusual for a first feed. She had her newborn exam and was weighed at 8lbs4oz and 21.5 inches long. She met her grandparents. Snuggled with her Mommy and Daddy and then later in the day, met her big sister for the first time.
Her birth was perfect. An indescribable reflection of the beauty of God’s creation. A miracle, really.
We praise Him, for we are fearfully and wonderfully made.