With 8 pregnancies behind me, you’d think maybe I would have this whole thing pretty much figured out. Not so! Granted, I was planning a home birth for the first time and so that was untried territory for me. Still, I didn’t really expect any other surprises – but got a few at the end anyway!
Not only was I overdue for the first time in my life (40 weeks and 2 days), but I had my shortest labor yet (3 hours) and our new baby girl weighed 9 pounds (that’s big for a Sweden!).
Here’s how it all happened.
Just before midnight on Wednesday, January 26th I was awakened by a sharp pain in my pelvis. It felt like the baby had lurched or twisted inside me and was so intense that I actually made a loud sound and sat up. But before I had time to contemplate what it was, a mild contraction followed soon after. “Here we go again,” I thought to myself. “More Braxton-Hicks!” I get them constantly in the final weeks. Turns out, my labor had started. I lay there for about 20 minutes in the dark and had 5 more in that short time. They were painful, but not too bad.
I assumed there would be many hours ahead of me; my last two labors had been 5 and 6 hours respectively. So I got up and started doing little things around the house as quietly as I could. One hour later, at 1:30 a.m., I was bending over the countertops to cope with the pain. It was time to wake up my husband – and call the midwife!
At this point, I was especially grateful for the fact that we didn’t have to go out in 20 degree temperatures for a long, grueling car ride with me in the back seat working through intense contractions. Or that we had to wake up any of our children. At this hour, all 7 were sound asleep; I had closed their doors and turned on fans for “white noise” to cover up any racket I might make during delivery. 😉
Jeremiah’s obviously a veteran when it comes to my labors; he knows the pattern and how things tend to progress. When I woke him up, his first questions were “How far apart?” and “How painful?” I told him they were about 3 minutes apart and it was getting hard to talk through them. He went to set up a twin mattress in our bedroom with a waterproof cover and sheet; I went to call the midwife. I think she could tell over the phone that I was in pain, and I had 2 contractions during our short 5 minute conversation. We decided it would be good for her and the assistant to head on over. “I’ll be there within an hour,” she said, and hung up.
Just after 2 am, while putting on a gown, I had about 3 bad contractions very close together. It struck me that I was actually in transition. What that means for me? The pushing phase will follow close behind! I sent a panicked text to my midwife about how intense things had gotten and headed straight for that mattress.
Jeremiah seriously thought he was going to have to be my midwife this time around. But as the pains cranked up yet another notch and I felt that old familiar pressure, there was a soft knock on the door and help had arrived.
As I knelt on the mattress with my head resting on our bed, behind me the ladies were buzzing with preparations. I concentrated on praying and working through the horrible pains in my stomach and back. One of the mental tricks I use to stay on top of the pain is constantly telling myself those colossal contractions are necessary for getting the baby out. The bigger the better, so bring them on and let’s get this over with!
Just twenty minutes after my labor assistants arrived I had a huge contraction – the big one that usually pushes the baby out. Except that for the first time in all my labors (yep, another surprise), the baby’s head got hung up for a short time. At this point, the pain was almost unbearable, and worried that everything was going to stall when we were so close, I cried out “God help me!” The midwife advised me to go from both knees down, to putting one knee up. The next contraction came just seconds later and was just as big as the previous one; this time, it got the job done and our baby was born at 3:01 am. She was a bit purple in the face from that momentary snag, but the rest of her body was beautifully pink. After a few lusty cries her facial coloring improved dramatically. The midwife surmised that she had her little hand tucked near her face and that’s what caused her not to slip out so easily. In fact, there was a little pink mark on her cheek that I think was caused by the pressure of her hand.
The names we had picked out (Genevieve or Bridget or Alice) just didn’t seem to fit. After many hours, we both settled on Mary Kate. We love that it follows the double name tradition, a nod to both of our Southern roots. She weighed 9 pounds 1 ounce and was 20.5 inches long.
It was so fun to watch the children waking up that morning, wondering into my bedroom and discovering a new baby in there. My parents and in-laws were also taken aback by our calls that morning; no, I wasn’t in labor – the baby had already come!
Having a supportive family was an important part of this birth. My mother took all the children to her house that first day; they slept over and returned the next morning. So we were able to have a full 1-day “babymoon” with peace and quiet and lots of rest. Then came the food and the help with housework and so on. Our parish provides meals for a week or more through fellow mothers in the area. We are incredibly blessed in this regard!
Here’s Mary Kate with big sister, Susanna:
Now it’s time to try LOTS of newborn cloth diapers on her and share our experiences with you! Watch your inbox for updated reviews and a big giveaway as well.