The amazing birth of Noelle Kathleen
I had a lot of prodromal labor over the weeks before her birth. Some call it false labor. I never will again. There was nothing false about it and every time I experienced a full blown version of it, I thought it was the real thing. We are almost an hour and a half from our midwife and I was so concerned that she wasn't going to get here in time.
On December 13th, my due date, I knew I wasn't going to have her. I just knew it. I was guessing the 17th or 18th. My mom mentioned that she had several things going on Saturday the 18th, so I was hoping for the 17th, but it came and went. With all the contractions here and there, I wasn't able to get much sleep in the weeks before Noelle's birth. My midwife recommended taking a Tylenol PM when I knew I needed the rest. I took one on the night of the 17th and got a lot of sleep.
I woke up on the 18th to a really hard contraction. This was different than what I had been having and Pete later told me that he knows it must be hard to differentiate the contractions when it has been a while since you've had a baby. I concur! But, this was indeed different. I got out my trusty contraction timer on my iphone. I didn't have another contraction. It seemed every time I got that thing out, the contractions would stop and I was convinced that it was the cause! Then, sure enough, another contraction. Hmm, maybe I would time this after all. About 8 minutes later I had another and I had a record of it on the app!
About this time I woke up Pete because they were about 8 minutes apart, but they were real contractions. Hard contractions. I began to know that this really was it. Fortunately he had gotten a good amount of sleep as well and said he felt rested and ready. I was hungry and told him I was going to get up and cut up a pear. He offered to get up, but my ulterior motivation was to see if the contractions stayed as intense when standing as when lying down and if they sped up any. They did – to 6 ½ minutes and still just as intense but not as much in my back, of course. I had a few bites of the pear. It was refreshing.
The contractions were still coming at this point, but all of a sudden that changed and were about 5 minutes apart. I thought it was time to call the midwife. April had told me that texting generally woke her up and that was a good way to get a hold of her. It's how we had been communicating ever so often, which made Pete laugh a little. He said that midwives were known to be a “get back to the basics” type of lady and the fact that I was texting mine was hilarious to him. April immediately responded and said that they were going to be on their way. She had to go to the birth center to pick up Rebekah, the student midwife that was training under her.
In the meantime I texted my mom and Tanya. I asked my mom to wake my sister and let her know not to post anything on facebook. I wanted to make sure this was the real thing before I let anyone know I was in labor. We have a lot of the same friends and I knew word would spread quickly. If mom hadn't responded quickly I would have called her, but she did respond and would soon be on her way. Tanya's Gramma had been really ill and we knew her death was coming soon. The Lord was preparing us both that she may not be able to attend my birth as we had both hoped, planned, and prayed for. To say that the final decision was disappointing would be putting it lightly, but she really wanted to be there for her mom and I completely understood.
Pete began to fill the tub and the kids started waking up. Christian helped get the boys fed and content while Paige helped prepare things for the midwives arrival and labor and birth. We had been keeping the house in order and the kitchen cleaned up. There wasn't much to do but wait. As I was making trips to the bathroom, the contractions would be very close together – a minute or two and I knew things were progressing quickly. I started to panic a little and texted my midwife that they needed to pick up the pace. She told me to lie down and not get up until they got there. I have a history of going really really fast and it makes things pretty stressful. Pete kept coming to check on me and Paige was close by. As Pete leaned over to check on me at one point I expressed my fears and started crying. I was afraid the midwives wouldn't make it and we would have to deliver the baby by ourselves. He assured me that everything was going to be fine and that we could do it. Paige had been through it three times as had he. He knew everything that was supposed to be done and could get April on speakerphone if need be. I asked him to get my labor book and start reading the verses for fear. He did and I was immediately calmed by his encouragement and his reading of the Scriptures.
My mom and sister showed up. They were shocked because they were there before the midwives and were kind of thinking “Uh Oh, I hope they make it.” They immediately started helping with Christian and the boys. Not too long after, April and Rebekah showed up. I was so relieved. Christian helped them get their things in and April came to check on me. I was a stretchy 4 ½! What???? I thought for sure things were further along than that. The contractions were definitely more intense feeling than that and I was shocked. I went to the bathroom as I had been dying to while they were making me lie down. Again the contractions were right on top of each other.
I moved to the exercise ball that Pete had blown up for me to use before the water. I couldn't get comfortable because it was too stiff but did have 3 contractions while there. I asked April if I could move to the water because I knew it would take off some of the pressure and I would be able to relax more. The thing with the water is it can slow labor down and April wanted to make sure things were progressing before I got in. She said things were definitely steady so I was welcome to anytime. I immediately got in.
Several weeks before labor I had a prodromal labor and that afternoon Pete and I were running errands. I had gone in to Lane Bryant and purchased a tank just for birth. I wanted to be able to be modestly covered during labor so that I could visit with the kids and have pictures that I felt comfortable looking at later. The shirt I got was so perfect. It was long and felt good in the water. So, into the water I went.
The water was the relief I needed. It took much of the pressure out of the contractions so that I was just dealing with each contraction by itself and not the back pain. Contractions were steady 3-4 minutes apart and I was dealing with each one fairly well. Pete was right next to me almost the entire time. He was so awesome, as always, but this time things were different. I had very specifically asked him not to leave. I needed and wanted him there during this amazing time. He has felt it necessary to keep everyone happy, but we had worked together on the birth plan and my sister and mom were doing everything that he usually does. It was so wonderful because the kids were happy with Grandma and Kimbo and they were still able to come in and out and check on me. Emilie and John, Pete's mom and step-dad, showed up not longer later with donuts!!
At this point a donut sounded great. I have a hard time passing up a donut and mom brought me one. Emilie came in to check on me as well, but left pretty quickly. She was so excited but she said that she didn't want to be there when I was having a contraction. Mom had brought me that donut, but the next thing I know I am having another contraction and the donut no longer looks good. I set it down never to return to it. Ha. About this time things are getting really intense and I asked Kimbo to start reading Scripture from the labor book. She gets an explanation about what phase of labor I am in and I smile at her interest in the whole process. She has also been there for 3 of my last 4 births but as she gets older and nearer to child bearing she becomes more interested and that made me happy. As she was reading, she comes to Psalm 36: 5, 7, which reads “Your lovingkindness, O Lord, extends to the heavens, Your faithfulness reaches to the skies. How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.” I ask her to read it again, and again, and again. I found much comfort in that verse.
About this time I remember that I have the Jim Berg CDs from Quieting a Noisy Soul. I ask Pete to put the CD in so that I can listen. I love the mix of the truths that he speaks straight from the word along with the beautiful piano music in the background.
All the while, in the kitchen, Grandma is answering questions that Christian has about the whole birth process. He was really interested; more so than he has ever been before. I thought that was very special and realize how much he is growing up.
After some trouble getting the CD going in the computer, Pete starts it up and it plays through and I ask April to check me to see how far I have dilated. I was at a 7. It had not be long (despite the detail above and what sounds like many many events) and I was pleased realizing that we would be holding our little Christmas blessing very soon. Within a few minutes I have an extremely long contraction. We guessed that it was about three minutes with 3 very distinct waves and I know that I'm quickly coming into transition. I was able to keep up conversation in between contractions up until this point.
Right about this time I realize that things are changing quickly. I'm not longer interested in talking at all, just getting through the next contraction. I wanted all the Scripture reading/playing to stop and wanted the labor playlist music turned up on the ipod. Pete had at some time gone to get his swim trunks and shorts on. He had been sitting at the side of the tub with me leaning on his legs, but that all of a sudden become uncomfortable and I wanted him in the water with me. He was able to get behind me and lean on the tub with me leaning on him. April told him that once he got there he would be kind of stuck. Our original plan was for him to catch the baby, but this would prevent him from doing so. I asked Paige if she would catch. She wanted to, but her finger had been fractured and was in a splint. I told her that I felt like it would be fine to remove and splint and catch the baby. She was excited but a little scared. She tried to put the gloves on but when it moved her finger decided that she couldn't. I told her to wash her hands really well and get ready.
The birth pool was amazing. I was able to lean over the side during contractions with my belly completely submersed in the water. My knees were comfortable with the bottom of the pool inflated and I was as happy as a laboring woman could be. I had come up with a rhythm for contractions – I would hang my hands over the side of the pool with my head resting on the side (on a towel). I would tap my fingers to the rhythm of the contraction, going faster the more intense it became, and slowing down as it went away. It was helping me to stay focused and I realized that I had never done that particular method before. It was sort of amazing to me that I was able to think through these things as they were happening and I came to the conclusion that each natural birth I had, I did something different for working with my body and letting it do what it needed to do. I was praising God that He has given us the ability to do this and that He made our bodies do all of this naturally. The true value of the pool then came when it was time for pushing.
With Pete behind me and Paige, April, and my mom at the other end, I was ready to push. I don't remember much of anything at that point, who was beside me and what sounds were going on in the room. I was tuned into my baby coming out – quickly! Emilie had taken the boys outside to play and I was very glad. Christian was inside and came to check on me with a quick look inside the room. Because of the shirt and the fact that the water covered me completely, I felt comfortable with him in there, but he left very quickly.
I felt like this part would be fast. Because of the fact that I had let my body go into labor naturally and I had not had trouble pushing any of my babies out before Aiden, I knew I could do it and the pressure was very intense. Probably more so than any of my other babies. It occurred to me that my water had never broke. I thought for sure that Noelle would be born in the caul. As best as we can figure, my water broke as I was pushing. Her head came out with 2-3 big pushes. April reminded me to reach down and touch her head; something I always forget to do because I become focused on getting rid of the pain and pressure. I was so glad she did because it is a feeling that is indescribable. I felt her shoulders rotate and I had the uncontrollable urge to push and not stop. I absolutely couldn't stop and April asked if I was having contractions. I wasn't, or at least I didn't think I was, but I had to push and my one and only goal at that point was to get her out NOW. I was making, what seemed to me, a very loud yell. She slipped out easily and Paige reached down, with April's help, and grabbed her baby sister from the water and placed her on my tummy.
All I could say was “my baby, my baby, oh my sweet baby.” She was here! After the months of anticipation and the weeks of contractions here and there. The nights without sleep because of bathroom trips and the trips to the chiropractor because of my hip – she was finally here and it was all so worth it. Every single contraction was a praise to our incredible Father in Heaven for forming a precious being in my womb. She felt so small. She was blue, but she was crying and then she was quiet. My mom commented on how she was so calm and April said she was because she was happy and born at home. She quickly started pinking up and I was mesmerized by her head full of dark hair. As they had lifted her up to my belly, I had seen her little girl parts, but mom kept asking if she was a girl and April tried to look but she was too curled up to see. At the time, I was speechless and couldn't say anything about seeing that she was a girl. Finally they flipped her over to look. I really pushed for about 5 minutes. I had tried to do some pushing before then, but wasn't in a comfortable position and knew it wouldn't be effective.
After Pete got to touch Noelle and we ooed and awwwed over her for a few minutes, I handed her to mom to wrap up and dry her off. We saw that there was a true knot in the cord. She had, at one point, early in the pregnancy flipped herself around and created a knot in the cord. April explained that there is a special jelly that God has placed in the cord to keep it from becoming tight. She checked on me throughout the entire labor and birth. So, we had no fears. Things were peaceful and wonderful.
As Rebekah did her newborn exam, we watched and waited. She was perfect. Her coloring was coming in more by the minute. She was so calm. Pete got to weigh her. He always does that and loves it. She was 9 lb. 2 oz. April had guessed low 8's, but decided that she would no longer guess. Everyone had told me that she looked like she was going to be small. I had spent the entire pregnancy working on my abdomen muscles so that we wouldn't have a repeat like Aiden's birth. So, I carried her really tight in, but she was hiding! She was a big girl. I knew she would be long and I was correct at 21 ½”. I could just tell where she had her feet and how high her hiney was that she would be a long baby.
Less than 5 minutes after she was born, she had her fingers in her mouth and was sucking her thumb! I was glad that we had decided to try pacifiers this time or I might have really been dismayed and intimidated by all that sucking! She is also a very happy baby. She really doesn't cry. She doesn't need to. I know when she is going to be hungry because we decided to try a schedule this time. She is sleeping so peacefully in her bassinet next to our bed. We are in awe that the Lord has blessed us again with another child and the fact that she is a girl is even more amazing. My labor was 5 hours total. Pete was by my side almost the entire time. I needed him there. He was amazing and kept telling me wonderful encouraging things. Birth really draws a husband and wife closer together when he is able to experience it alongside of her. April did comment that I was a pro at this and had it down to a science. I just have learned to let my body do it's thing. If I don't fight against the contractions, they can be effective. I'd be lying if I didn't say it hurt super bad and pushing is HARD work. But within minutes you forget about it and you are holding your sweet babe. It's priceless!