(you can read Henry’s birth story here and Oliver’s birth story here.)
I spent the dewy August morning hours weeding, watering and raking our yard: husband by my side, babe in my belly. It was the day before our due date and the squatting and sweating felt oddly wonderful.
As I searched through five different stores, I found myself waddling in an embarrassingly obvious and unavoidable way. I could not walk normal if I tried. The back pain persisted, especially when I was sitting. I tried to lay on a heating pad when I arrived home, but could not find a comfortable position. I tried to take a bath but laying down hurt. I remember thinking, this back pain is so weird because it is coming in waves.
We had planned to go out with my parents for dinner that evening but invited them to our place as I was feeling “a little yucky”. I tossed a salad and set the table, still in complete denial about what was actually happening. I ate pizza and salad while sitting on an exercise ball, the pressure and cramps in my lower back becoming more intense. Every 5-7 minutes our dinner conversation would halt as I would have to bend over and breathe through these strange “back cramps” I seemed to be having.
After my parents left, we went for a walk where I would stop every 2-4 minutes to grab onto something (husband, tree, stop sign) and bend over or squat down. As I stopped for several seconds in the middle of the street because the tightening was immobilizing, Cory gently suggested that we should head to the birth center.
I jumped OUT of the car as we were backing from our driveway because I could not handle the cramps while sitting down. (I insisted on calling them cramps until someone who knew something would call them a contraction. Until then, cramps. Until then, not really in labor.) The drive was brutal, with no room to squat, kneel or relieve this pressure that seemed to piling up on itself. The short walk from the parking ramp to the hospital was stacatto as I would stop and drop to the ground every minute or two.
“She’s 100% and at a seven” the midwife declared upon our arrival.
“So….we get to stay?” Cory asked hesitantly, our greatest fear was being sent home at this point.
“Stay? You’re having this baby tonight! Let’s get you moved next door.”
It was 11 pm, and it suddenly became very real. I was going to be a mom–tonight! I was going to meet this babe–tonight! As I saw that we had one of the few rooms with the giant whirlpool tubs, I felt God smiling down on this experience, filling me with a warm calmness. The lights were dimmed and worship music filled the room. I felt so at peace.
The contractions (THEY WERE CONTRACTIONS, PEOPLE!) continued to increase in length and intensity, but I felt so peaceful. I kept repeating my chosen labor verse, “God did not give me a spirit of fear, but of love, power and a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7) Cory was the perfect doula and would run hot water on my back to relieve pain during each contraction. I thought about my daughter. I imagined what she would look like and how it would feel to have her in my arms.
When it was time to get out of the straight-from-Heaven-whirlpool tub, everything became instantly more intense. Cory’s shirt seemed brighter, the floor seemed harder, the music seemed louder, the dark night seemed darker. Everything more contrasted, more irritating. I made it through the remainder of the contractions kneeling and on all-fours on the floor since I still could not sit or lay down.
My midwife discovered I was losing meconium, she would need to bring the pediatric team in to check the baby right away after birth. I knew that I could not worry but needed to focus on getting her out as quick as possible. Love. Power. Sound mind. I began to slam my fists and feet into the floor, trying to distract myself from the pain. Love. Power. Sound mind. I asked the nurse politely, “Can I just have a ten minute break, please? Then I’ll do it, I promise.” She responded, “This is it — you need to push through the pain!”
The pediatric team had to take her, but I saw loads of dark hair and slick, rosy skin and was flooded with calm and absolute bliss. They told me she was eight and half pounds and 21 inches long. She was healthy and there were no complications.
And then, I held Audrey Lauren, her skin on my skin.
Her body removed from but so much still a part of mine.
I knew that this girl was my girl, forever, and nothing could ever, ever change that.
I knew I wanted to protect her, nurture her, teach her and love on her.
I knew that I had never seen Cory glow like this, and I knew our new family was a beautiful, wonderful thing.