Baby Boy’s Birth

I just love birth stories. And I really enjoy reflecting on labor and delivery of my own kids. So, three+ weeks after the fact, here’s the story of my little man’s birth.

Note: I’m not going to go into crazy detail, but there are a few birthy-type words coming up, so be forewarned.

My due date was May 31st. I had an induction planned for June 1st. All my kids have been born past their due dates. But, up until the first few times that my OB checked my “progress” toward being ready to deliver, I thought I might go into labor early this time. My last two kiddos were breech until being turned at around 37-38 weeks. This little guy was heading in the right direction the whole time, which led to him being much, much lower than any of his sisters had ever been, to the point that I kind of thought he might fall out. Therefore, for a while I was sure I would deliver him early.

So, I was a bit surprised to find out that, at each OB appointment in the few weeks up to my induction, I had made almost zero progress toward being ready to deliver. One centimeter at each appointment. One. At my last appointment one week before my induction, I had to see a different OB because mine was out of town. He said I was at one centimeter “on a good day.”

This lack of progress made me a little nervous, because my doctor said she might want to give me some pitocin for my induction if I wasn’t any more dilated than that, rather than just breaking my water, which is what I had done for my last induction.

Knowing that I planned to deliver without pain medication again, I really wanted to avoid pitocin if at all possible. So I was really, really hoping to make a bit more progress before induction day. Fortunately, the night before my induction was scheduled, I started having some stronger contractions at about 3am. They weren’t regular or very close together (just enough to keep me mostly awake for the rest of the night), but they were much stronger than any I had had previously, so I was hopeful that maybe they were doing a bit more work than had happened up to that point.


The contractions never did pick up or turn into actual labor, so on induction day, we showed up at the hospital as scheduled at 6:15am.


My doctor came up to break my water at around 8 am. At that point I found out that the contractions from the night before had been working. I had progressed to 3cm, which was a big relief.


I asked my doctor to hold off on the pitocin, and she didn’t have any problem with that. About a half hour after she broke my water, I was about to get up and start walking to get things going.


My husband and I walked, and he hummed or sang “Take My Hand, Precious Lord” (a favorite hymn) as we went. With my previous induction, it took several hours of walking for my contractions to really pick up. This time around, it took much less time. It was only an hour to an hour and a half before I was ready to stop walking and stay in my room to manage the contractions on the big yoga ball. That’s what I did with my last labor and it was the best way to deal with the contractions then, so this time I figured I’d start out by trying what worked before.


The yoga ball was the most comfortable way to labor this time as well, though I was struggling a lot more this time with back pain during contractions, so they seemed harder. During each contraction I tried to offer it up for an intention from the list I had made. Offering the pain I was experiencing for the intention of another was helpful, but I did have a few contractions where I couldn’t seem to focus my mind enough to think of an intention to offer up (and by the end I lost my ability to focus on this technique at all!).

After a couple of hours, the contractions were getting really intense. The nurse checked me and I was only at 5-6cm, which was pretty discouraging. I think I was remembering my previous labor too much and how quickly that ended up, and hoping for the same fast resolution this time, which led me to feel disappointed when it wasn’t wrapping up as quickly as before.

My back was killing me. My husband was awesome. He kept reminding me to keep relaxed and to breathe slowly. Up until I got close to the end, I think I did a pretty good job with this, thanks to him.

After a little longer the nurse checked me again, or maybe it was my doctor, I’m not really sure, and I was at 7-8 cm. After this, everyone seemed to think that delivery was rapidly approaching. My doctor even stayed up on the delivery floor, not far from my room. So when the nurse asked me if I wanted to get out of the bed and back onto the labor ball, I said that I might as well just stay where I was.


In retrospect, I think this was a mistake, as laboring for that last little while on my back on the bed was really, really awful. I think the yoga ball would definitely have been better. The one good thing about being on the bed was that I was able to doze off a bit in between contractions. Since I had been up since about 3am with contractions and nervous anticipation, I was pretty tired. My husband thought it was pretty amusing that I was snoozing between contractions, and I think he was making jokes about this to the nurse. To which I replied, “I can still hear you” quite a few times. It seemed to me in the moment like a little bit of comic relief, though I’m not sure if it was actually funny.


^^ It’s quite possible I was asleep when this photo was taken ^^

Anyway, when I was awake and contracting, I remember praying for St. Rita’s intercession during this last part of the delivery. She’s my Confirmation saint, and I remember thinking that she had children so she would understand what I was going through. And also, I was praying for Mary’s intercession, because she’s Mary.

When I started to really feel like I needed to push, my nurse said I wasn’t quite fully dilated, so I had to wait a bit. My doctor told her to get out a labor ball thing they called “the peanut.” I had to try to roll over on my side, as much as that was possible given my enormity and pain level, and hold this peanut-shaped labor ball between my knees for a while. This was supposed to be some sort of magic trick to move things along the last little bit so I would be ready to deliver.

After doing this for a bit, my doctor came in and said the trick had worked. So, on the next contraction I started to push and then started to scream. I clearly remember having the thought that if I was screaming, I couldn’t be pushing very well. So I clamped my mouth shut and got to work. At least for a few pushes. I still yelled a lot, though, especially right at the end (my husband got a video of the birth and it was, um, intense). I think it was about 4-5 contractions after I started pushing that my little man came into the world, just over five hours after my doctor broke my water. He emerged with his fist up by his face, just like he often was in ultrasound images.


He was absolutely perfect at 9 lbs., 11 oz., and 21 inches.


It’s been over three weeks, and sometimes I can still barely believe he’s here.


 Welcome to the world sweet boy.


Baby Boy is due to arrive in seven days. If he doesn’t, he is due to be evicted in eight days.

That means I have no more than eight days left to be pregnant.

Since I feel like I’m ninety months pregnant, rather than nine, and I’m so eager to meet my little boy, I’m naturally very excited to know that he will be born soon. But, I’m also feeling a little bit like I want to freeze time (only a little bit!!), because I know this is very likely the last time I will ever get to experience pregnancy.

At this point, I’m enormous, and my back hurts, and I can’t get more than two hours of uninterrupted sleep because hip pain wakes me, and going up the stairs feels like climbing Mt. Everest, and my feet and ankles and legs are ridiculously swollen.


But I’m still trying to savor these last days, and I’m trying hard to smile and laugh about these things instead of being grumpy about them or bursting into tears (because yeah, I’m that tired and emotional and pregnant!!). I mean, check out that picture of my feet! I do look kind of funny:


And on a more serious note, I remember very vividly the many months that I prayed for this very cross, this beautiful cross that I’m currently so blessed to carry. So every time I’m tempted to be upset about these discomforts, I try to think about those months and those prayers and realize what a true and amazing blessing these small aches and pains are. That’s not to say I don’t have moments of self-pity or complaining. I do! But I try (really hard) to remember to offer them up for my friends who are suffering the pain of miscarriage and/or infertility, or those who are struggling with even more difficult pregnancy symptoms and sickness. They are never far from my mind.

In these last few days I’m trying to prepare for labor too.

My bag is packed and double checked. I got a pedicure. I have written out babysitter instructions and done tons of crazy grocery shopping for all the things we might need while I’m at the hospital for a few days. I’m reviewing and revising my old labor playlist. My Kindle is charged.


And I’m also preparing for an experience that is different in many ways than my other labors, because this time I recognize the hand of God in the creation of this little life and the beautiful process that is labor and delivery. I’m creating a list of prayer intentions and thinking a lot about redemptive suffering.

Before my conversion, I never thought of suffering as anything but suffering. I always just thought it pretty much sucked, period. Though of course I’ve always recognized that the suffering that happens during the labor and delivery of a baby is different from other situations, in that you know the whole time that it is for an awesome purpose. But still, always before it was just something to get through to get to the real prize.

Now I understand that the suffering in itself can be beautiful and purposeful. Both in that it leads to the obvious and most amazing outcome of holding a sweet little miracle at the end, but also that the suffering itself can be a way of growing closer to Jesus, if I look at it that way and offer it to Him. I love knowing now that I can embrace and offer this suffering, uniting it with the Passion of Christ, for the good of others.

This is both still a little bit confusing and something that makes perfect sense to me.

So, as I’m trying to prepare for labor and meeting my son, I’m praying a lot (this often just takes the form of a frequently repeated “Jesus, I trust in you”), and I’m trying to picture what it will be like this time. I honestly don’t know. I suspect there will be plenty of prayer, and also that it will be much less elegant than what I have in my mind now. I imagine there will be plenty of cursing and yelling just like before, even if I like to think I’ll be peacefully thanking God for each contraction (insert laughter here). I don’t really know.

What I am sure of is that I will feel God’s presence as I bring His newest little miracle into the world.

It won’t be long now!

5 Ways Natural Childbirth is Like Running a Marathon. And 5 Ways It’s Not.

When I was pregnant with Miss I read lots of things about preparing for childbirth. I remember in several instances it being suggested that moms think of labor as like running a marathon. At the time I had run two marathons, and I mostly just thought the suggestion seemed cliché. So I didn’t pay much attention to it.

Since then, I have given birth without pain medication twice. I’m not preparing at the moment to either run a marathon or give birth. But for some reason the comparison between the two experiences was on my mind the other day, and I realized that there actually are some ways in which natural childbirth is like running a marathon.

And then there are ways in which it is not.

Here are my thoughts on how they’re similar:

1. They can both be long and painful.

2. You have to remain focused on your end goal during both.



^Even in June, Lake Superior is like an ice bath.

3. They both require serious mental and physical endurance.


4. They can both involve lots of sweating and make you very tired.


5. They both sometimes involve throwing up (though I did not throw up during either of my marathons).

DSC_0012Here’s how they’re different:

1. You can practice for a marathon. Not so much for a natural childbirth. Not really anyway.

When you’re training to run a marathon, you run. You practice the act that you’re going to actually be doing, in increasing increments until your body is ready. Usually the longest training run for a marathon is 22-ish miles (if I remember correctly), so on the big day, you just add on 4 more and you’re all set. Now admittedly, that’s a very long 4 miles by the time you get to the end of a marathon, but you still trained for it.

You can’t practice childbirth. You can’t simulate contractions, no matter what they tell you about holding ice in your hands and breathing through the “pain.” Whatever. It’s not the same. And you sure as hell can’t practice the final push. No increasing increments. No.

Sure, breathing exercises, reading books, doing yoga and meditation, all that is great, but it is not true practice for the real deal. You just can’t practice that.

2. Giving birth is a completely natural process for your body to go through. Running 26.2 miles at once is not.

I guess this is reassuring, given #1.

3. When you’re running a marathon, you can stop running for a bit and walk if you need to. Heck, I suppose you could even sit down and take a break if you had to. You can get a drink of water, eat a banana, stop and go to the bathroom if needed. You get the picture.


You cannot do this during labor. It just keeps going. Walking is not an option.


4. After you finish a marathon, you can sleep for 12 hours if you feel like it. Not so much with a sweet newborn.


5. At least in my experiences, there is very little screaming and crying during a marathon. In fact, I didn’t observe any. I cannot say the same for my experiences with natural childbirth.


^This picture just makes me want to laugh. Somehow I had never seen it before going through to select photos for this post. I look so pitiful.

Can you think of any other ways these two insanely difficult and wonderful experiences are similar? Different?

Fast and Furious – Sis’s Birth Story

Baby Sis arrived yesterday, beautiful and perfect, after a labor that started out very ho-hum and ended up with a crazy fast finish.  I had agreed to be induced yesterday morning, fully believing that she would arrive before then.  Of course she didn’t, so we got ourselves all ready and came on over to L&D.
Because of my history of a c-section with Miss, it isn’t safe for me to be induced with pitocin.  That is entirely fine with me, as I would prefer not to have medication said to make contractions even more painful than they are naturally.  So, for me, an induction consisted of having my water broken and hoping labor would start.  I felt pretty confident that it would.  In fact, I was surprised by how slowly it got going.  I kind of expected the contractions to start up right away.  They didn’t.  But once they did, things happened fast.
My doc came up and broke my water at around 8am.  I had to stay in bed to be monitored for an hour.

Then I could get up and move around, though I still had to carry the monitor with me.  I put my lovely hospital-issued “track shoes” on and my husband and I got to walking.

We walked for three hours, almost nonstop.  We did have to pause for a minute after each lap around the L&D floor so our nurse could monitor Sis’s heart rate, because the mobile monitor wasn’t working well while I walked.  After three hours, we took a little break.  I didn’t want to stop, because every time I did, my contractions, such as they were, would slow down, but we were hungry and just needed to sit for a few.  So I hung out on the labor ball, my hubby got lunch and I got some Italian ice and Jello (and snuck a few of his fries), and we took a short break.

We got up and walked some more after lunch.  Labor had started, in that I was having somewhat regular contractions, but they were pretty mild and my husband and I continued to joke and chat as we walked.  After a bit we had to stop again for monitoring because of a deceleration in Sis’s heart rate, so I sat on the ball some more.  As you can see, my labor was still not too difficult at this point.

In fact, my husband and I were lamenting how slowly things were moving and trying to gear ourselves up mentally for another really long labor like Lass’s.  At 1:30 the nurse said we could get up and walk again but she wanted to check my progress first.  I didn’t really want her to, because I just knew I had not progressed much, but I let her anyway because I’m cooperative like that.  I was only 5cm.  I had been 4cm when I started at 8am.  This did not encourage me.

But things began to change rather quickly after that.  We got up and walked a bit more, though I think we only made it one and a half laps or so.  We were going much more slowly and I was having to stop for each contraction.  The contractions were coming much more closely together and I told my husband we needed to go back to the room.  When we got there I sat back on the ball and things got serious.

We weren’t joking and chatting anymore, and by about 2:30 it was all I could do to stay focused through each contraction.  As he was during my labor with Lass, my husband was awesome.

I decided I wanted to try something different, so I asked to get into the tub.  The nurse again said she wanted to check me before I did.  I was feeling kind of discouraged and thinking I was not going to be able to continue without an epidural the way things were going if she told me I hadn’t progressed much, but I agreed to let her check me.  As soon as I stood up, she almost didn’t need to.  I immediately had an overwhelming, all-consuming need to push.  This urge came with two conflicting but equally strong thoughts, “Oh my gosh this is pure torture!” and “Woohoo!  I’m almost done!”  The nurse checked me and sure enough, I was ready to get the job done.  Unfortunately, the room was not set up and my doctor wasn’t there, so I had to wait a bit before I was allowed to.  This was the worst part.  My husband and nurse kept reminding me how to breathe to keep myself from pushing.  The best thing that my husband said to me, many times during that short period of intense labor, was “This will end.  Just get through this one contraction.”  That was the perfectthing to say to help.  Even so, it seemed to take forever (though I’m sure it was only 10 minutes or so) before everything was ready and my doctor was there.  Two or three contractions later, Sis was born!

Then she peed on me.

Born at 3:06 pm.  9 lbs, 7 oz, 20 inches of gorgeous.  As you can see she is just perfect.

I am going home later today after my husband gets off work.  I can’t wait to see my big girls and let them meet their baby Sis.  I am so thoroughly blessed.

One Year

One year ago, I was arriving at the hospital, in labor with Lass.

I was excited about her impending arrival but scared and nervous at the same time. I had only been in labor with Miss for about four or five hours before I had a c-section, so I had very little experience and naturally I was apprehensive about my plan to have an unmedicated VBAC.

Little did I know how long that night and the next morning would turn out to be. Little did I know that Lass would be 10 and a half pounds of perfect. Little did I know how much joy she would bring to my life and our family. One year ago, when I got to the hospital, ready to get the show on the road and meet our little Lass, I had some idea about the joy part at least. I knew she would be wonderful and we would love her. I knew it would be amazing to have two little girls and a sister for Miss. But that night, one year ago, in my last few (okay, many and agonizing!) hours as a mommy of one little girl, I couldn’t even imagine how much. How wonderful. How big our love. How amazing.

Tonight I’m reflecting on that night, just before Lass came into our lives and made our happy family happier. I’m remembering being a little scared about how Lass’s arrival might affect Miss. I’m smiling at how it did affect her, and at what a fantastic big sister she is. Tonight I’m choking up thinking that my baby will be a year old tomorrow. I’m cringing slightly remembering the pain of getting her here (who the heck says you forget that, by the way?). I’m reminiscing about how great my husband was and what a great team we were that night.
Tomorrow Lass will be one, and I’m all sappy and sentimental thinking about it tonight. It’s amazing the difference one year makes in the life of a family. I remember feeling like Miss grew up practically overnight between the time I put her to bed on this night one year ago and the time she walked into my hospital room to meet her baby sister.
This is Miss, one year ago.

This is her a few weeks ago.

I love to see how much she’s grown.

I mentioned above how it seemed like Miss grew up almost overnight when Lass was born. Today was another day that made her suddenly seem so much more grown up.

Today she went for a visit to her preschool. Preschool. It wasn’t her official first day of school. That will be after Labor Day. Today she just went to check things out and was only there for about an hour and a half. She seemed to be having a blast when I left (she gave me a kiss and ran back to playing with blocks and toy dinosaurs with another little boy) and when I came back (she was happily drawing a picture). Her teacher said she had a little rough patch, but over all did great. When I asked Miss how she liked school she said, “I cwied because my want you.” Stab to the heart. Twist. Gulp. I have to remember how much fun she seemed to be having for the majority of the time she was there. She was very interested in the science area with the birds’ nests, rocks, seeds, and other various objects from nature (she couldn’t stop talking about the birds’ nests and seeds). She got very excited when we talked about trying to find something at the farm next week that she might be able to take to school to add to the collection. She talked about new friends she got to play with. I know she’s going to love school. She’s so confident and inquisitive. It will be great for her to have her own “thing” to do twice a week, without me. Hopefully her first “full day” (three hours) will be a little easier in a couple of weeks.

Lass and I will stay nearby just in case. Today we went two doors down to a bagel shop and met up with the Daddy (who is on nights this week and came from work) for breakfast and coffee. In my last post I mentioned that Lass was feeling under the weather. When she woke up with a fever again on Saturday I took her to the doctor and found out she had strep throat! I suspect she picked it up on the plane home from Florida. She’s been taking her antibiotics and is back to her happy little self now.

My little almost-one-year-old at breakfast with Mommy and Daddy:

A Birth Story – Lass’s Arrival

I know that I always like to hear about other people’s experiences in the childbirth process. Here is the story of Lass’s birth:On Monday, August 23 I started having strong regular contractions at around 5:30 pm.I began timing them at about 6 while we were eating dinner on the deck.I knew the contractions felt strong and different from those I had had previously (I had to stop and breathe through them as they got stronger) and was pretty sure labor had started.I gave Miss a bath and put her to bed.When the contractions continued to get stronger during this time, I told my hubby to get our things in the car, I called our babysitter and the on-call nurse, and we left for the hospital.

When we got to the hospital, I was monitored for a bit to make sure I was really in labor and we finally got into our room around 9:30 pm. Here I am in the triage room still:

In our room at about 11 pm:

We got a big yoga ball and I sat on that for a little while and then we went out to walk around the hallways. My contractions were definitely stronger and closer together when we walked the halls, but I was more comfortable when I was sitting on the ball, so we alternated these two things for a while. When I had a contraction, I faced my hubby and put my hands around his neck and kind of “danced” with him and breathed through the contraction. After a while I tried lying on my side and trying to get some rest, as it was getting really late and I was very tired. I continued to alternate resting and walking for a few hours. Then I got into the tub for about an hour and a half or so in the very early morning.
The nurse said that the on-call doctor would probably want to break my water around 7 or so in the morning to get things moving, so at that point I decided to try to stay in bed and get as much rest as possible for the last few hours, since I figured I would not get much rest after my water was broken.  Through all of this, my hubby was great, reminding me to breathe slowly through the contractions and relax.
Some time in the wee hours of the morning:


The on call doctor came in and broke my water at about 7:30 am (I think). At that point I was only 4 cm dilated. Of course, once my water was broken my contractions became much stronger. My hubby really had to help me get through them at this point. I got back into the tub for a while and sat on the ball some more.

I started to feel a little unsure that I would be able to continue without pain relief.I think I said to my hubby a few times something like, “I don’t think I can do this.” He continually encouraged me and told me that I could do it. It was probably around 10 am when the nurse offered to check my cervix to see how far I had progressed. We agreed, hoping I had made progress and it would help me to feel more certain that I could proceed without medication. When the nurse checked me she said I was almost 7 cm, which really helped me to get my “second wind” and I again felt certain I could do it.

A while later the nurse checked me again and said I was 8, almost 9 cm, with just a bit of cervix left. Around that time I started really feeling the urge to push with each contraction, though I couldn’t push because I wasn’t completely dilated. The nurse suggested I try getting on my hands and knees or lying in the “recovery position” (on my side with top leg forward) to help get my cervix to dilate the rest of the way. The “recovery position” was very uncomfortable and made my contractions more painful, so I spent quite a while on my hands and knees.

I was so tired I almost dozed off and face-planted several times while in that position. The urge to push continued to get stronger, and I would say this was the worst part of my labor, needing to push but not being able to. I think this went on for at least 45 minutes or so. The nurse checked my cervix a couple of times with minimal change.

Finally she said she could check with the doctor about whether she could stretch my cervix enough to allow me to push, and she called the on-call doctor (my doc was on vacation). The on call doc happened to be the doctor I had seen the previous day for my appointment, so I was familiar with her, which was nice. She came in and said that she would be able to stretch my cervix enough that I could start to push, so I did. It took a few tries to get into the right position and push the right way, but I got it pretty quickly and seemed to be making good progress.

I got great feedback from the doctor and from my hubby that I was doing a great job, which really helped. I was so tired I was dozing off in between contractions. I pushed for about an hour and a half, according to my hubby, though it didn’t really seem that long to me (maybe because I was sleeping between contractions??). Finally:


As soon as she was born, the doctor placed Lass on my chest, which was amazing. It was the best feeling ever. Unfortunately, she was not breathing very well right away and she wasn’t really crying, so I didn’t get to hold her for long, but the few moments I did were the best.

They had to take her and do lots of suctioning to help improve her color and get her breathing better. She did start to look better pretty quickly and she started crying more, which was good.

Man, she looks huge in these photos.

They ended up needing to take her to the nursery for monitoring for a few hours, but she turned out to be just fine and was back in the room with us after about two hours.

I’ve written a dissertation and earned a PhD. I’ve written a book. I’ve worked in various prisons with dangerous criminals. I have trained for and run two marathons. Going through 20 hours of labor and giving birth to a nearly 10 and a half pound baby without any pain medication was by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I could not have done it without the help of my husband. No way. It was an incredible experience to go through with him, and I am so glad I got the opportunity have that and that our girl was healthy and perfect.