We have taken photos of our son. I just haven't put them on the computer yet. So, here's the birth story...cute baby photos to come. :)
Joshua had been threatening to come for weeks--even before I reached full-term status. Pressure and contractions had left me wondering several times over the past weeks if they would turn into active labor. But, my due-date came and went and still no baby!
When I woke up in the wee hours of Monday morning, the contractions I was having were different. They actually hurt quite a bit (“Oh, yeah—this is what real contractions feel like!”), and they came every 8 minutes for nearly four hours. I didn’t really wonder whether they were it. At 40 weeks and 5 days, I “knew.” Until they slowed way down around 7 and I went back to bed. Throughout the day on Monday, I continued to have strong contractions, but they were 20-30 minutes apart for most of the day.
By late afternoon, I tried to take a nap and the contractions woke me up about every 15 minutes. After my nap, I texted my midwife with an update. I think we all assumed labor would probably become active during the night. Both my midwife and her partner were headed to births, so I learned that another midwife was on-call for me.
She called me just to get an idea of what was going on and to introduce herself. At that time, contractions were still about 15 minutes apart. She asked me to call her back with an update in an hour. By that time, they were about 8 minutes apart. They weren’t lasting a full minute, but during my labor with Benjamin, they never did—so that didn’t mean much to me.
We were heading out the door to go to my in-laws’ farm to celebrate a birthday. They are only half a mile down the road from us, so I wasn’t worried about it, and the midwife agreed it might be a good distraction. We enjoyed a nice dinner together and while we were hanging out afterword, I had one really strong contraction and decided I wanted to come home. Ben stayed with the kids (I had made Katie finish off her dinner with a promise of birthday cake, so we decided he would stay with the kids until after cake unless I needed him home sooner) and Mom and I came home and played Yahtzee.
As we played, contractions kept coming but they were still spaced pretty far apart—even going beyond the 8 minutes to 10 and 15 minutes apart. I called the midwife to check in, and she said to just give her a call once they were at 5 minutes apart for an hour.
Ben and the kids got home a little before 10 and we rushed through the bedtime routine and crawled into bed ourselves. We turned on Netflix and I tried to sleep in between contractions. For about an hour, they were 20 minutes apart, so I was able to get a little bit of rest. However, the intensity was picking up, so once they got closer together, I just couldn’t keep laying down.
By about 1:20, the contractions were still far apart (8-12 minutes), but they were becoming increasingly difficult for me to cope with. I also started getting shaky like I typically do immediately post-partum. Ben suggested maybe I should go ahead and call the midwife. I was reluctant because I didn’t want to bother her in the middle of the night if it wasn’t real, active labor.
I assumed the contractions weren’t accomplishing much since they were not very close together. At the same time, in the back of my mind, I knew that with my previous births I had dealt with my contractions pretty well until the very end—and the shakiness had me wondering also. I was feeling pretty discouraged because I had been awake for the better part of 24 hours and because my contractions were so spaced, I figured I still had a long time to go. The other thing I was distressed about was the lower back pain I was starting to feel. I worked this pregnancy to keep my back in shape, hoping to avoid the awful back labor I had with Benjamin and I was just really worried it was going to get really bad.
In any case, I decided to go ahead and call. The midwife who had been on-call for me told me that my midwife (Leslie) had been home from the other birth for a couple of hours, so she called her and Leslie called me right back. We talked for about two minutes and she said she would head over. This was at about 2 AM on Tuesday.
Knowing Leslie was on her way really helped my state of mind. Ben started setting up the tub in between rubbing my lower back during contractions. I was sitting on the exercise ball, and began praying that my contractions would get closer together so things would progress because I was just really worn out. And I was worried that I had called the midwife too soon and really didn’t want to waste her time if it wasn’t real, active labor.
Within 20 minutes, my contractions were 4-5 minutes apart. Then, at 2:48 my water broke. This was a big surprise for me because I’ve never had my water break before I was pushing. My initial thought was that my midwife might miss the birth because I knew she was still 10 minutes away—and once I start pushing, my babies come quickly (Katie was 11 minutes, Benjamin was less than 2).
I also thought I might be being too optimistic by assuming he was coming that soon, though. My contractions had only been close together for about 20 minutes and even though they hurt a lot, it didn’t seem like they hurt enough to be transition contractions.
Leslie came in the door at 3 and called the birth assistant immediately when I told her my water had broken. She started setting things up. Because my water was broken and because of my history (I was only 5 cm an hour and 45 minutes before Benjamin was born), she decided not to check me for dilation. I was sort of disappointed, but also relieved—I had been dreading lying on my back so she could check me, and the inevitable contraction that would happen. And I figured if I wasn’t very dilated, I would just be discouraged.
With the next couple of contractions, I began to really feel like the baby was descending and I started saying I thought he would be coming soon. I was worried I was being too optimistic again, but at the same time, it’s a pretty unique sensation.
I had one contraction on all fours on our bed and then I got into the tub at about 3:30. I hadn’t planned to necessarily give birth in the water, but I was looking forward to the relief the hot water would bring. I was on all fours in the water and with my next contraction, I started pushing. He crowned and I was able to reach down and feel his head coming out with the next push.
At that point, it was all pretty euphoric. My baby was coming, and I was able to touch him as I worked with the next couple of contractions to get his body out. Pushing was different this time than it was during my other births. There was meconium when my water broke with Katie, so they had me push-push-push instead of waiting for contractions. With Benjamin, I didn’t really have to push—he just came out. So even though I only had to push for four minutes with Joshua, I felt more burning because he was stretching my perineum longer. I was concerned I had torn.
Joshua was born at 3:35! As soon as Leslie lifted him out of the water, he let out a sweet little cry. I turned around and sat down and she placed him right on my chest. I held him there for a while, was able to nurse him a little bit and only handed him off to Ben because my placenta just wouldn’t come out in the position I was sitting in.
Once the placenta was out, Leslie and Dorcas (the same assistant who helped at Benjamin’s birth—unfortunately, she got here a few minutes after Joshua was already born) helped me to the bed. I was so relieved to hear that, for the first time, I hadn’t torn at all (with Katie I needed stitches, with Benjamin the tearing was slight enough that I didn’t). Once I nursed a little bit more, Leslie helped me get cleaned up and dressed and then weighed and measured him. We all thought he looked and felt a bit smaller than Benjamin was at birth. He came in at 9lbs., 3oz. and 22 inches long. He’s a little smaller, but not by much (2 oz. and ¾ of an inch)!
Joshua’s birth was so perfect. My whole labor and delivery were filled with so many answered prayers, a beautiful testimony to me of the kindness of God. In addition, it was by far my easiest (or, least difficult?) birth and my recovery so far is going really, really well.
We are so thankful to the Lord for a healthy labor and delivery and of course, for the incredible gift of our precious son. Our prayer for him, as for his older sister and brother, is that God would grant him faith at a young age and that he would live out all his days in service to Christ.