Birth story: Light of Joy

Motherhood surprised me again

I conceived my second daughter the night I got engaged. The first inkling of her coming happened about two weeks later, when I had a craving for, of all things, broccoli. I’m not known for my preference for vegetables.  I was a bit of a picky eater as a child, and to be honest, I’m not that much better as an adult. But it was so strong that I actually went out of my way, coming home from school (I was in college at the time) to purchase a head of fresh broccoli from a local grocery store. I’m sure I looked quite odd the whole bus ride home, smelling that broccoli, my mouth watering the whole time.

When I got home, I started preparing dinner. I looked at that broccoli and started chopping off the little florets, before it dawned on me that I didn’t have a clue how to cook broccoli. Did I boil it? Steam it? Could I just microwave it? I placed a call to my mother, and when I asked her how to make broccoli, I’m sure she was quite startled. There was a pause, then she gave me instructions on how to boil or steam broccoli, and then there was another pause. I was busy with my first daughter, almost 4, and I didn’t think much of it. Then she asked me what I thought was a rather odd question: was there anything I needed to tell her? I laughed and said of course not, and hung up to happily cook and eat my broccoli.

Maybe there was something to test?

It wasn’t until I was eating the broccoli, hugely enjoying it, that I almost choked. It finally dawned on me what my mother meant by that odd question. I thought about it, and thought about it some more. I decided to test in the morning. I’m not sure why I had tests in the house, but I did.

First thing in the morning, I did the test. And of course, two pink lines showed up right away. I stood there, shaking a bit in sheer joy. I came downstairs, waiting for my fiance at the time to come over after he had finished his shift, still staring at the test. When he walked in the door, I showed him right away. He didn’t have a clue what it was. I explained, and his eyes got really big. He was absolutely still for a moment, before dropping everything to hold me tightly.

Challenges during pregnancy

We had already set the date for our wedding, and he didn’t want to change it, though I thought maybe it would be better. But instead, I went shopping for a dress that would allow for an expanding belly, and 6 months pregnant, I walked down the aisle. It was quite a challenge to plan a wedding, attend college, manage morning sickness and prenatal appointments, while still parenting and housekeeping. But I accomplished everything.

After the wedding, my husband and I decided that we would move closer to his work, somewhere that was going to be a tad more affordable than where I lived. This was also a challenge. Our wedding was the end of March, our honeymoon the first week of April, and baby was due the long weekend in August. We moved for July 1. Yes, at 8 months pregnant I packed a house and child up, at 9 months pregnant we moved, and I was completely unpacked by July 10.

It was time

My birthday was the end of July, about a week before this child was due, and at a routine appointment, my midwife suggested doing some things to encourage labour — on my birthday. I really didn’t want to do this, but reluctantly I agreed. As it turned out, that wasn’t necessary.  We had planned on a home birth, so I had prepared everything at our new house, and my midwife handed me their “birth box” filled with all the supplies they needed.  Our old house was 20 minutes away from the clinic, but our new house was 45 minutes away.

July 21, my husband and I went to bed as normal. Just before going to bed, I waddled to use the bathroom, as every pregnant woman does frequently. As I was rising, I noticed a single drop of bright red blood on the seat. I stared at it for a moment, before cleaning up and going to bed. I wondered if that was significant.

Turns out it was.

About midnight, I felt a twinge. It was enough to wake me up, but I shrugged it off and rolled over to go back to sleep.  A couple of hours later, there was another. Again, I chalked it up to baby stretches and shifted position.  My husband got up around 4 am for his work shift, and as he was getting ready, I felt a definite, painful, cramp. When he left around 40 minutes later, there was another. I couldn’t sleep, and I was starting to feel a certain excitement.  So I asked my husband to keep his cell phone handy, just in case.

I went onto my computer, and did a search for a contraction timer. I’d never gone into labour naturally, but all the reading and conversations from my midwife told me that there is a rhythm to this process. Not only do contractions have a regular time between, but during as well, a sort of wave that peaks and ebbs. I logged into a chat room while timing things, knowing that my excitement wasn’t going to let me sleep. (Today, if I were pregnant, I would have gone back to sleep, lol!!)

It was time

By 7 am, I knew that these were real contractions. Not only that, they were approximately 5 minutes apart. I called my midwife. I told her my conclusions, and talked with her. She asked me when a contraction was happening, and when the next one came, it left me a tad breathless, but I was so excited I was laughing. Apparently you aren’t supposed to be able to laugh through a contraction. She asked me to come in to the clinic to be checked, because of the 45 minute drive, and she didn’t want to come out for what she thought was a false alarm.

I called my husband. His work was normally at 15 minute drive, but he made it home in about 5 minutes. I woke my daughter, and got her dressed. He was frantic, almost to the point of panicking. I was excited and full of joy. But, I also knew we had to remember some things. I grabbed the things I had set aside for baby, and a change of clothes for me, and packed a bag for my daughter. I asked my husband to call his parents, who were to watch my daughter for us. They agreed to meet us at the clinic.

Needed to hurry

By the time we got into the car, the contractions were about 2 minutes apart, and stronger. Much stronger. We got onto the highway for the 45 minute trek into the clinic, and now I was the one urging my husband to hurry. I didn’t want to have this baby in the car on the side of the highway!

We got to the clinic about 8 am. I had to pause every few steps for the contraction, and the clinic was on the third floor, with no elevator. When I walked into the clinic, my midwife took one look at me, and apologized. She said she had no need to check to see if I was in labour, but asked if she could check to see if we had enough time to go home for the home birth I had wanted. A few minutes later, she regretfully told me that we would just “borrow a room” at the local hospital, which happened to be across the road.

Borrow a room

Slowly, we walked across the road, and walked right into the hospital. She had me walk into the maternity ward, and by 8:30 we were all checked in. My husband met his parents, with my daughter, and updated them. My midwife handled all the paperwork that I hadn’t filled out, not planning on a hospital birth. By 9 am, I was in a bathtub, laboring hard, my husband anxiously holding my hand. A first time father, he was on the verge of panic almost the whole time, and very emotional about the whole thing.

By 10 am, I hit transition. I was shaky, emotional, and my midwife calmly led me to the bed to lay down. The contractions were nearly constant now, and I could literally feel my baby sliding down the birth canal. The urge to push hit like a truck, and I couldn’t help it. I moaned and yelled my baby out, and just two pushes, the rush of wetness and release came. My water broke with her crowning and she came out all at once, screaming, at 10:22 am.

She was so much bigger than my first daughter, all of 6 lbs 14 oz. She was bald and had the bluest eyes I’d ever seen. The midwife put her on my tummy, as the placenta was delivered, and asked my husband if he wanted to cut the cord. He deferred, as he was literally sobbing almost as much as our daughter was.

She was here!

She and I were each all cleaned up, and she was settled in my arms so we could get to know each other. Those eyes were so bright, so clear, that I just stared into them. Her father went to call the important people, his parents, then mine, and shortly after, my daughter and his parents arrived to meet our newest. My older daughter wasn’t actually all that impressed. She promptly told me she’d ordered a baby brother, not a baby sister. We all laughed, and I had her sit in a chair, so she could hold her new sibling. It was pure joy.

After everything was cleaned up and calmer, I got up and showered, and dressed. The difference between my first birth, and this one was remarkable. I felt amazing, despite the lack of sleep and having just had a baby. My midwife said that in an hour or so, we could go home!

Oops!

15c58-zariellesarah11That led my husband to go down to the car to get the car seat for our new baby. To my surprise, he sheepishly came back up shortly. He confessed that in the excitement and joy of the moment, he had left the car seat at home.  My midwife stared at him. I just started to laugh, and reminded him that I’d asked him to install it a few weeks early, and he hadn’t done it. The midwife told him that we couldn’t leave until she had seen our baby in the car seat, strapped in properly, so off he went. It was going to be an hour and a half at least before he could return, and he took my oldest with him.

The midwife and I hung out in the hospital room, while I just cuddled with my baby. I dressed her in my going-home clothes, the same outfit my oldest had worn home from the hospital. She had nursed some, and then fallen asleep. The midwife couldn’t leave me there, but because she was there, I wasn’t bothered by any nurses or attendants. It was one of the best experiences outside of my home birth I could have had. There was so much joy in that waiting period.

Ready to go

Finally my husband came up with the car seat, and we were ready to go quickly. My daughters and I and my husband .. one small happy family.  I felt so awesome after this experience, that we were in church the next night! It was pretty cool to show up with our newest baby in my arms, to greet our friends and acquaintances with this new baby, just a day and a half old. But what better place to take a newborn than to church?

There is joy

We named our daughter a princess name that means light of joy. My little girl, now almost 9 years later, despite challenges and delays, frustration and fear, has been such a joy. She reminds me daily that even the smallest things can be celebrated, that joy can be found in the details, and that no matter what the circumstances, there is joy.

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