I had been wanting baby number three for awhile. A few seconds after I gave birth to our second child, I told my husband, Clay, how excited I was to do that again as tough and fast as it was. I just couldn’t get enough of the adrenaline high that came after the work of birthing a baby. And my son, Camden, coming unexpectedly at home in our closet made it even more exciting. I had been baby hungry again soon after having our boy, and my husband called me crazy, but we both knew we’d be adding another child to the mix sooner or later.
When we felt like the timing was good, it took 7-8 months to see that blessed positive sign on the pregnancy test. I was elated to tears.
But when I started bleeding at five weeks right before teaching my first Pilates class at my local gym, I was heartbroken to tears—positive I was losing our baby.
I had seen the midwives at Valley Women’s Health for each of my previous pregnancies and births and was happy to know they’d be with me through whatever was going on here. They had me come into the office to check the baby in an ultrasound. They were very gentle and reassuring. The baby seemed OK, but we were basically told all we could do was wait and see. When I hemorrhaged five weeks later, which I discovered as I stood up in front of my acting class to deliver a monologue, I was sure this was it. I cried all the way to the midwife’s office.
My sweet midwife, Josi, was there to meet me, even though it was after hours. When we heard and saw a strong heartbeat, we were both surprised and relieved. But nothing was certain, and that uncertainty was hard to bear when Clay and I wanted this baby so badly. It was an emotional pregnancy, full of uncertainty and ups and downs.
Finally, in my second trimester, the blood clot in my uterus that had been causing the bleeding appeared to be resolving itself and was no longer an issue. I was blessed not to worry about it anymore and went on to have a healthy, comfortable pregnancy.
Our other two kids were SO excited to meet their baby sister. They talked about her and to her, felt her kicks, sang to her, and asked how many more days until she came, every day.
Seeing their genuine anticipation for their sweet little sister made the pregnancy more exciting and joyful for me. Clay and were so anxious to meet her and get her here safely.
I told Clay I had a feeling I wouldn’t have this baby until October. October 4th or 5th, to be precise.
Funny how I thought I somehow had control over the situation but that life (and especially babies) have their own plans for arrival.
I was planning on having a third un-medicated birth, and went back and forth between doing a home or hospital birth, but ultimately felt best about having our baby girl at the hospital. Mostly to get a hotel-like break from being at home with the kids and having extra alone time to bond with my new baby.
Ever since I went to my High Fitness class last Thursday, I had been feeling more cramping and pressure in my uterus than usual. Exercising, which I’d been fortunate to do throughout my pregnancy, was starting to get less comfortable. Over the next few days, the cramping got worse and I started to feel some back pressure as well. I was starting to think I’d really be ready to get this baby out when the time came.
On Monday, I woke up remembering a dream I’d had that I was bleeding, and although I wasn’t super concerned, I knew I needed to get it checked out. In real life, I did have some fluid leak out, which I chalked up to cervical changes–especially after having that confirmed by a nurse at my clinic. But I still wondered, because it was so wet and consistent. And the cramping that came with it was consistent too. I had an appointment with my midwife, Elizabeth, the next day, so I just waited for that. After she checked things out, she confirmed that what was leaking was amniotic fluid from a high tear in my uterus, and she said it was important for me to get to the hospital and induce labor so this baby could arrive without the risk of infection. I was totally not expecting of that turn of events. I wanted to cry. Forcing labor with Pitocin was one of my biggest fears about childbirth and I had ruled it out of my birth plan.
I called Clay on the way home while unsuccessfully trying to reign in my emotions. Then I talked to my doula, Melissa, and she helped me feel much better about the situation and that it wasn’t as scary or urgent as it may have sounded and that I could wait it out, as many women with the same condition do without complication. She consulted the midwife I had decided I would go with if I were to do a home birth, and she said she’s seen many women’s tears heal over or at least stop dripping.
I felt so much better, because I did not feel settled about going in to the hospital to have my baby three weeks early that night out of fear for a risk that may not even surface in my situation. Plus, having to be hooked up to an IV and monitor with Pitocin sounded like a dagger in the natural birth I was so hoping for.
But after talking to Josi, the midwife on call that night, she was pretty adamant about me coming to have the baby asap and she mentioned that my risk of having a c-section would go way up the longer I waited. She said, “I’m low-intervention, but this scares me.”
I felt torn. Torn between what I wanted for me and my baby and what the midwives were strongly advising me to do. Torn between letting things happen naturally and allowing Haven to grow and develop more in my womb and between the “what if” she did need to come soon for her safety.
After a lot of thought, prayers, and talking to Melissa, we decided to go in and get the water break confirmed and start labor if we needed to. We figured waiting longer might make my situation scarier to the hospital staff and more likely to be a stressful, intervention-happy situation for us.
It felt strange to pack up, basically knowing we would be coming home with our sweet baby. It was so different from the plan I’d had in my head for this baby’s arrival and although I was excited to meet our long-awaited baby, I felt nervous and unhappy about the way it might go down.
We parked at the hospital, and Clay commented on how much more calm this drive to the hospital was from how he’d envisioned it going — speeding there so I would get there in time to push the baby out. That was kind of a nice feeling.
We walked in at about 11 pm and headed up to the labor and delivery floor. We checked in with a kind nurse and I was grateful for how calm I felt and that this wasn’t my first rodeo. We were checked into a room and the nurse did a test to confirm whether my leaking fluid was amniotic or not. While we waited for the results, I told Clay I was sure they’d be positive and that they’d want to start Pitocin on us right away. It still was so far from the way I’d hoped this birth would go, but I was trying to find the bright spots about the situation and wrap my mind around the fact that my baby was most likely going to be born that night.
Josi came and told us my water had definitely broken and the doctor on call who she was required to consult with advised starting a full dose of Pitocin and getting the baby here as soon as possible. At that point, we felt that that was our best option—despite it not being what we’d planned for. I felt nervous, but tried to hang on to the reassurance I’d felt more than once that Heavenly Father would help Haven get to us without complication.
I was hooked up to fetal monitors on my belly and an IV in my arm for fluids and Pitocin. Josi checked me and I was at a 2, 80% effaced and baby in -2 station before Pitocin began. Just minutes after the Pitocin IV started, I felt the contractions. In less than half an hour I was having to breathe through them and move around a little bit. Within the next half-hour, I was really having to stop and have some touch to help me. From then on, I needed support and back pressure with every contraction. They came every 45 seconds to 2 minutes the entire time. They got intense quickly and I felt like they came on so fast and hard, like a tidal wave crashing into the beach. I got checked and was at a 3.5 and I started wondering how long I could do this.
The contractions were more intense than I’d ever felt contractions and I really felt them in my back and had to rock and move with them but no position seemed to ease the pain and I was beginning to breathe low and loudly then hyperventilate a little through the pain. I was rocking and moving, trying to fly above the intensity, but it grabbed on to me and pulled me down like a demon. I told them I did not want to do this anymore, that I wasn’t doing well and did not care to feel those crazy contractions from hell anymore. They were unlike the ones I’d experienced in my previous labors, which seemed so much more manageable in comparison. Although I mentioned wanting some sort of pain relief at several points, Josi and Melissa told me I was doing so well and didn’t think I needed an epidural and kept giving me goals, like getting through 15 more minutes or 5 more contractions. But I was done. I was kicking, throwing things and writhing through the contractions that felt like they were right on top of each other and didn’t give me time to breathe. I felt claustrophobic and short of breath. I felt out of control and resentful towards the induced pain.
Despite them turning down the Pitocin (and eventually off), I felt no relief. I still asked for an epidural, and was at a 6 now. Melissa thought I’d be having the baby within the hour but I felt I couldn’t make it through another contraction without feeling like I might die. Or at least wanting to. The nurse hooked up a pre-epidural IV for me, and I continued to barrel through the contractions, not finding relief in any position, wishing for the bath I couldn’t have because my water had been broken for several days, and crying through the overwhelming surges that felt like they were attacking my body. This was so different from the natural contractions from labor that had previously come to my body on its own. That’s certainly not butterflies and daisies either, but it just doesn’t feel quite as violent. I told Melissa I was pushing, and when she asked me to confirm, I cried, “yes!” knowing I wasn’t getting no pain relief and would have to just get the baby out. Only 8 minutes had passed since I was checked and was at a 6, and here I was suddenly and forcefully pushing Haven’s little body out. It took 30 seconds for her to slide out of my body. I was lying on my side and apparently keeping my legs closed, probably because I had mesh panties on still. Melissa said Haven was halfway out with that underwear still on and my legs close together. Josi had stepped out but was now back in just in time to catch the baby. The relief and joy I felt when I felt her body slip out of mine was indescribable.
I went from feeling despair and wanting relief more than ever in my life and praying for a miracle (both before we went to the hospital and throughout labor) to holding my baby, in eight minutes. I got my miracle and felt so grateful to Heavenly Father for that. Also, she was healthy, and so was I. I’ve never felt such relief. I held my sweet crying baby on my stomach and couldn’t believe what I’d just been through and how fast that last, intense bit of labor was. I couldn’t believe I’d made it through the hardest thing I’ve ever physically done and was grateful to Melissa and Josi for believing I could do it, despite me wanting anything but that in the moment.
Our baby was blue and choking a bit on fluid, so they gave her some oxygen and she did fine after that. She had sweet brown hair and full lips just like her siblings. I was instantly in love with her and thanking her for coming quickly.
She nursed well and I enjoyed soaking in the feeling of my long-awaited daughter on my skin and the ecstasy of being DONE with the pain I’d felt just moments before.
Now I am sitting in my quiet hospital room with my sweet baby, who is so beautiful and perfect and healthy, and I feel speechless with gratitude that this little one, who we weren’t sure would make it to us in the beginning, was protected by our Heavenly Father in a safe little haven despite the complications along the way. That’s one of the reasons we named her Haven.
I am soaking in this precious, sacred time where I get to know my new baby and enjoy time alone with her and Clay in the hospital.
This is the joy of life. I love it.