Our Birth Story for…Baby Girl #2!!

As a newlywed and new blogger back in 2011, I used to love reading other blogger’s birth stories, eagerly waiting for the time when I would get my turn! Over the years, I’ve shared three birth stories here on Richly Rooted. But now it’s been over a decade since I started blogging, and I wasn’t sure if birth stories were still “a thing.” Well, a quick Google search shows me that the tradition of sharing one’s birth story is still alive and well among bloggers! (In fact, written birth stories are now vying for search result space with Youtube birth stories…but that is decidedly not my calling.)

So, a mere five months (lol) after my new baby arrived, I’m getting it all written down so I can remember, and so I can share it with you my readers…

Pink rabbit blanket stuffed animal.

Well, I did it again. 

Grew another human being inside me, carried her day by day, and finally helped push her out into the world–first of all so that we could see her sweet face, and next so we could raise her and love her and get to know her.

Our family was waiting for her, and she slotted in perfectly. I’ve never seen such smitten, love-sick little boys as her two older brothers, who just gush with delight in her and keep coming back to kiss her head and hands again and again. They love to hold her and eagerly accept the rewards she bestows: funny baby sounds, big eyes, and a toothy smile (she cut two bottom-front teeth at four months!)

Her older sister is pleased with the new arrival, too. She doesn’t gush, but she gives careful kisses and loves to brush the baby’s hair as Baby lies on my bed. (Yes, that’s another thing–besides advanced teething, Baby was also born with a head of thick, dark hair!)

Eric has been invaluable many an evening in getting the baby to sleep for the night after I’ve “done my part” of feeding. In the early days, he would change her diaper and burp her in the dead of night while I raided the kitchen for food, after emptying myself for her.

Little baby girl is five months old now and we’ve settled into a rhythm, albeit one that still shifts and develops.

But let me back up and tell you how we got here.

It was always our hope to add another child to our home, but we had to wait quite a while for this one, almost as long as the wait for Baby Boy #2. It was deeply depressing for me, even though I’d been there before. Motherhood has broken down my patience, teaching me that I am not as forebearing as I thought I was, and has in turn slowly begun to give me what I now realise is a truer, deeper, stronger patience than I had before. 

But then, at last, we knew someone was on the way! It was going to be different this time, of course. My mother was gone and wouldn’t be there at my doctor’s appointments, much less my bedside during delivery, or moving about my house afterwards with food and help for the kids, or climbing in bed next to me to chat while I nursed the baby. 

As God’s timing would have it, though, one of my older sisters was again pregnant at the same time as me (due two months earlier), and we supported each other throughout our pregnancies, just as we had when we were awaiting our firstborns. Because she was having a boy, we wondered if I might be having a girl (we’re usually the opposite of whatever other family members are having!)

My sister and I both pregnant with our babies.

When the ultrasound “confirmed” it (I put that in quotation marks because I was still incredulous until I held her for myself), I started dreaming about what our family would look like now. Two boys and two girls?? Different birth orders, but this meant we were going to be a Pevensie family! Or a Melendy family

The pregnancy was harder this time, not just because of the missing emotional support of my Mom, but also I guess because I’m a little older than I was in my 20s. Or maybe because I have three other kids and thus my life includes more bending and lifting than I’d normally choose for myself, along with less sleep.

As my due date approached my nerves ramped up because I found myself in the strange position of having no definite person I could call on to take care of my older children while Eric and I were in the hospital. No Mom, and all five of my siblings tied up by distance, a new baby, or a scheduled vacation. My dad and stepmother also tied up by taking care of a different set of grandkids (between the two of them, they have a lot of grandkids now!) My calendar was a delicate web of logistics and changing scenarios: this friend can watch kids if Baby comes on X day, that friend can watch the boys but not the girl, etc.

Then, one week after Baby’s due date, I woke at 3:00 a.m. to feel a few small bursts of my water breaking. At last! I would meet her soon! I had had a few Braxton-Hicks in the preceding weeks, but this was something more definite. I went back to bed, and called my sister-with-the-newborn around 9:00 the next morning. “I haven’t had any big gushes of water, but lots of trickling,” I told her. “I’m pretty sure this is my water breaking. I hope I’m not wrong! I’m going to call the hospital next.”

“You know they’re not going to let you leave,” my sister said. “Once you go into the hospital, they’re going to want you to have that baby. So make sure you take care of everything you need to before you go!”

The hospital told me to go ahead and get checked in, and I told them I’d be there soon. Which turned out to be a lie, because it was hours and hours later by the time I arrived. 

I talked with my Dad and stepmother, who much to my relief announced they would be back in town within a couple of hours! Next I called Eric to come home from school, then made calls and texts to work out the kid drop-off and pickup logistics. When this flurry of communication was settled, I finished packing my suitcase, checked the kids’ suitcases, and did other urgent last minute things like putting the bread in the freezer and dumping wilted flowers out of vases so they wouldn’t be even moldier by the time I got home from the hospital. 

The two middle children got picked up, then Eric and I dropped off Oldest Boy’s suitcase with the friend who’d be picking him up from school. The next order of business was Food, which naturally I got to choose whatever I wanted, considering my condition. My choice was a hot Philly cheese steak from Jimmy John’s, with some salt and vinegar chips. After our date, we arrived at the hospital fashionably late, wondering if they would chide us for being hours behind “schedule.” But no. They seemed quite surprised to see me when I announced myself at the reception desk. “Are you in labor?” 

“Probably?” I said. “I hope so. I haven’t had any strong contractions, but my water broke. I think. They told me to come in…didn’t anyone tell you I was coming…?”

“We don’t have you on the list. But we’ll get a room ready. You can wait in triage and someone will come see you.”

When the doctor who saw us in triage confirmed my water had indeed broken, I was flooded with relief. I felt like since I’d informed my entire friend and family network that I was about to have a baby, I had better deliver. Now, the lack of strong contractions was still a bit of a concern for me, but the doctor told me that they would induce so I was going to get that baby regardless. 

An hour or so later we were settled into the birthing room (it was now around 2:00 or 3:00 in the afternoon), and I started a very low dose of Pitocin. My actual doctor was away on vacation (like she was for the last baby!) but I felt in good hands with another doctor from her practice, and I had a great nurse. Eric and I started watching The Office, and when I felt the first truly strong contractions I celebrated! Let’s get this show on the road! I wanted to have the baby before midnight so she could be born on a Thursday like me and all her siblings. I doubted it would be a problem, considering how hyper fast my last child arrived. Because I was expecting a fast labor, I had left behind most of my coping mechanisms for an epidural-free birth: I had no CD player with soothing mixtapes, no essential oil diffuser. 

But labor dragged on and on and the pain grew intense. I was sharply reminded of my oldest son’s birth, which was also a Pitocin birth. Although that time, I was so tired I was almost numb to the pain, and would fall asleep between contractions, even when they were only minutes apart! 

To make matters worse, I had begun to shake uncontrollably. I couldn’t multitask enough to both quiet the shaking and manage the labor pain, so I usually chose the latter. Not that I was very adept at that–I writhed through every contraction. As the hours dripped by I thought of Psalm 71, a Psalm about God’s faithfulness over the course of a lifetime, from the womb to old age. I thought about calling my sister, but by then it was late at night and I didn’t want to disturb the precious hours of sleep she might be getting between newborn feeds. Eric was a wonderful support as always, saying encouraging words I don’t remember, and rubbing my back during contractions–a touch I didn’t even register because I was in so much pain. 

Depressed and discouraged and close to midnight, I asked how much longer and the nurse told me maybe another hour. “Another hour? I don’t think I can do this for another hour!” I asked about getting an epidural, but was told it was probably too late/I was shaking too much to get it in. 

I don’t think it ended up being an hour, though. Soon after that conversation I felt mentally and physically ready to push and instructed the nurses to summon the doctor.

They did not follow my directive.

Another nurse came in and informed me it wasn’t quite time, they would wait for full 10 centimeter dilation before calling the doctor. I was not pleased and reiterated several times that I wanted the doctor and surely she wouldn’t mind, since it was her job? 

The nurse said that the baby didn’t quite have a clear passage yet, but when she pushed back my skin I instantly dilated the rest of the way and finally they decided my doctor was allowed to be called from her less-pressing duties. 

So I pushed. This is a wonderful part of labor for me. Painful, yes, but such a welcome change from the contractions of the first stage of labor. It was painful and exciting and purposeful now, not just the endless build-up but the actual finish line. And this part always goes fast for me. Just a few pushes and I’m done.

Above the bed, they had bright lights set into the ceiling behind glass panes, and I titled back my head so I could see my body reflected in the glass. I could see her beginning to emerge, her head black with the hair the doctor had promised. Not many pushes and she was out, everything climaxing quickly, quickly. They passed her up to my waiting arms and I said “thank you.” One of the nurses smiled a little at that, probably finding that an amusing thing to say and not realising I wasn’t thanking her

Eric and I holding our newborn baby girl!

Calm descended, even as the nurses and doctors were busy about their tasks. I was breathing normally, no more shaking, no more moaning, just the constant “shhhhh…shush…it’s okay, little one,” and planting a million kisses on her head. Eric cut the cord after a bit and did who knows what else…kissed the baby, probably, answered nurses’ questions, told me I did a great job. Third and fourth stages of labor commenced, but honestly everything around me was a blur, with my baby the fixed center. It was seventeen minutes past midnight, pushing my baby’s birth to a Friday–not a Thursday–but now she would share a birthday with her aunt (with whom she also shares a middle name) so that also seemed fitting!

The remainder of our hospital stay was relatively pleasant. We had good food and good care, received many visits from hospital staff that had to do All The Things, read books, and picked out Crazy Rich Asians to watch from the movie options. Our older kids were brought for a visit, which was an incredibly precious time. I alternated between marveling over what an amazing family I had and marveling how big my other children’s heads were.

My three older children gathered around my hospital bed with me, meeting their new baby sister.

I did grow more antsy in the hospital this time than in past stays. I just wanted to be home, but they wanted to keep us a little longer than typical, since I’d delivered so long after my water first started breaking and an infection was a remote possibility. When we were finally cleared for takeoff, we headed home, touching down for burgers on the way so I could replenish my iron levels. The other children arrived an hour or so later, and our family was complete. 

******

So, that’s our story. In retrospect, there are a few things I felt I learned, or would’ve done differently if I could. First of all, for the first time I regretted not having a home birth. Midwives have been decriminalized in Alabama again–about time, too–but initially I saw no reason to do anything differently, since I love my doctor and have enjoyed my hospital stays with the other births. 

But this was the second baby my doctor didn’t get to actually deliver. With a homebirth, I would’ve probably had the same midwife all during pregnancy and labor. I also believe my labor and recovery would’ve been more comfortable in my own home, and I’d certainly have more options to do things how I wanted to. I wouldn’t have so many people disturbing me during recovery (although one plus side to these disturbances when you’re in the hospital is that you get all those little things–screenings, Social Security, evaluations–taken care of right there so you don’t have to do them later around town with a newborn in tow.)

If I did do another hospital birth and not a homebirth, I would want to be better prepared for pain management. I would want to wear my own clothing during delivery. Those hospital gowns are cumbersome and huge, and they get all tangled around you. I also would spring for a doula, something I always wanted but was afraid to spend the money for hiring. (If you’re in a similar boat, ask friends if they can contribute to the cost as a shower gift.)

Because this labor was so painful and took so long after my water broke, it was a bit scary and I felt like I got a taste of how fragile this process is and how quickly things can change. It was a good reminder to me not to take things for granted.

These regrets are small in the grand scheme of things, but I want to note them while they’re still in my mind. It was not my “best” labor. Labor is not something that gets better with practice–every birth is going to be different. And regardless of the preparations you make, you also have to cede control–or realise it’s not your fault if things don’t go the way you’d planned or expected. You do your best, you give the rest to God. In fact, that’s pretty much the blueprint for all of motherhood. So if you can embrace that during labor, you’re on the right track for the years to come.

Holding my newborn baby girl outside in the backyard, with fall leaves in the background
Here’s my baby girl a few days after birth!
Holding my 4-month-old baby girl
And here’s my baby girl now!

Preparing for Pregnancy

If you’re expecting your own little one, Mama Natural has a great due date calculator, as well as weekly pregnancy updates (you can choose to get updates via email, TXT, or Facebook messenger, whatever floats your boat!)

And if you’re wanting to go the natural route for labor (or just learn more about the labor process in general), you can’t go wrong with the bestselling Mama Natural Birth Course. It’s all self-paced and you can watch it in the comfort of your living room!

My Other Children’s Birth Stories

By You I have been upheld from birth;
You are He who took me out of my mother’s womb.
My praise shall be continually of You.

Psalm 71: 6

4 Comments

  1. Oh, you have a beautiful family! Congratulations! It’s fun to read this because my children are 28 and 31 yet it brings back memories of my own experience. Thank you and I pray God’s blessings on you all.

  2. Elsie, congratulations on your beautiful new baby girl! You have such a lovely family. I am so happy for you. I enjoyed reading your birthing story; it brought back memories of my 3 daughter’s births. Although you never really forget those times. My girls are in their late 40s and early 50s and have given us 10 wonderful grandchildren to love and spoil!!

    1. Thank you, Carolyn! My births with these babies were so fleeting (even though in labor it doesn’t feel “fleeting”!) that it makes me treasure those moments all the more. But I can’t believe my oldest is 9 now and we are in quite a different stage than we were as new parents! But my kids are already saying I’m a grandma because I am a grandmother to their stuffed animals, i.e. their “children.” (: I’d rather things not move quite that quickly!!

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