It’s been awhile and given the subject of this post, it will be awhile again, but this is the easiest way to share the story of our little Raina Ann with my widely varied audience.
Let’s start on Friday the 27th of February. Ali and I were spending time hanging out, making food and watching too much tv while Jarell worked to get the house cleaned and ready for my mom and step mom’s arrival that evening. They were driving from Denver on their way to their new temporary home in Ohio and as luck would have it, our house was a perfect stopping point for the night. I also had an appointment with my midwife that afternoon and Ali was excited as always that she had so much company to look forward to.
At my appointment with my midwife, my blood pressure was a little high and I was showing signs of getting a UTI, but otherwise all was well and I was excited to hear that baby’s head was down and fully engaged. I’d been having bouts of contractions off and on for a couple weeks now so knowing that she was moving into position was reassuring. I was pretty sure we’d be meeting her the following week around the full moon and this went along with my theory.
We made plans for my next appointment to come the following Friday unless she decided to join us on Thursday like I was guessing.
My mom and step-mom arrived late that evening after dealing with some nasty storms and we spent a bit of time chatting, enjoying some homemade gluten free bread and chicken gumbo soup that I had made for dinner. They went to bed, exhausted from all their travels, with 2 more days on the road ahead.
We were up early next morning and I made a big batch of pancakes and some farm fresh bacon for us all for breakfast. We ate, spent some more time visiting and then got ready to get them on the road again. Jarell, Ali and I spent some time in our basement rec room playing old school Super Mario Bros. 3 and then we went upstairs to get some more cleaning done. A big snow storm was coming in and we enjoyed watching the snow fall while just hanging out. I was starting to get a cold which seems terribly unfair at 39 weeks pregnant and I could feel the beginnings of a sinus headache so I took my usual precautions of using some of my favorite essential oil blend for headaches. Jarell made us a big casserole for dinner since I was really uncomfortable and we ended the evening watching Big Hero 6.
We headed to bed after our movie, but that sinus headache that had been trying to get started flared up full force as soon as I tried to lay down and baby was moving down low causing me quite a bit of discomfort. I tried in vain to sleep, but between my forehead throbbing and baby’s antics, I was miserable. Jarell got up to try and help me come up with a solution and eventually I settled on Tylenol and a hot shower, because the cold compresses hadn’t helped and I was suddenly hit by a case of the chills. A distant part of my brain wondered if this could be a sign of labor, but the idea was so ridiculous that I didn’t give it a second thought.
The shower was exactly what I needed and soon the headache was nearly gone while my shivers had abated as well. I headed to bed for some much needed sleep, not knowing the night was far from over.
At 39 weeks pregnant, getting up to pee every couple hours is a fact of life, and with the baby that low and a full bladder, accidents happen so when I hoisted myself out of bed and felt a small gush of fluid, I assumed I’d peed myself. I completed my trip to the bathroom, changed my clothes, and went back to sleep. When I woke up around three and the same thing happened I decided to investigate. Hmm no smell, no color, wrong consistency for urine. Interesting. Jarell was getting Ali to the potty so I mentioned that I thought my water might have broken and headed to pee again. As I was walking back to our closet for yet another change of underwear, I had a sudden gush of fluid run down my legs. Still in a sleep fogged daze, I was pretty calm when I told him that, yep my water just broke.
While he worked to wrap his brain around that bit of information and what it implied, I went looking for the information sheet on when to call my midwife, pretty certain this was on the list, but in enough shock that I didn’t really think how silly it was too question whether I should call or not. The list confirmed I should call, so I did, let her know I wasn’t having any contractions, and we agreed to touch base as soon as something started happening. I told Jarell to try and get some rest, but neither of our brains was ready to shut down by this point so I laid down while he started setting up our birthing supplies and just getting things ready all around.
Around 4 my contractions began, but they were mild and not very consistent. They were enough that I couldn’t quite fall asleep in between so I went to our living room where Jarell and his mom were sitting and talking. I joined them and we talked about birth stuff while I timed contractions on my phone every so often to get an idea of what they were doing. Around 7 I let my midwife know my contractions were now 6 to 7 minutes apart and 40 seconds to a minute long and she said she’d head our way since the snow would make things take awhile longer. I sent a couple prayers requests out and talked to my doula, who lives much closer, a little before 8 and she said she’d get ready and head over soon as well. I was pretty sure we had plenty of time so the snow issue didn’t worry me. I called our birth photographer as well since she lives an hour away with good roads and ours were anything but. I felt really foolish calling everyone so early, but I figured better safe than sorry. My mom and step-mom were flying back to Kansas City from Indianapolis and scheduled to arrive at 9:35 so I knew labor needed to last at least a couple hours longer than that, but I figured we had plenty of time left and a couple hours was nothing.
My midwife got here around 9 and my doula arrived shortly after. I had been hanging out in our big comfy recliner, but I knew I needed to get up and moving if things were going to get going and my midwife said the same thing. My solution to getting moving was to make pizza. My midwife’s apprentice arrived somewhere around the time of this decision and we all migrated to the kitchen where I began gathering ingredients to make a double batch of pizza crust. Jarell grated cheese and started cooking the sausage I had made the previous Friday. I walked and when the contractions would hit I’d stop to breathe through them. They were getting stronger pretty quickly and without my being aware of it, Jarell and H the apprentice had started getting the birth pool ready. I was focused on what I was doing and it provided a nice distraction, but I had no idea what time it was or how much time was passing.
Suddenly the contractions started picking up in intensity and coming closer together. I was starting to moan and my doula must have taken that as her cue because without my needing to ask, she started applying counter pressure on hips whenever a contraction would start. I’m so glad she did because it made all the difference in the world. H listened to baby’s heart beat at one point during all of these stronger contractions and as she was doing that, baby moved down about an inch. My midwife, K, also told me they were about 4 minutes apart at some point in there, but they seemed much closer and I was already entering that stage where I was zoning out during contractions and having a hard time coming back to earth in between. I got one pizza crust baked and K got the other one in the oven for me when I couldn’t focus for long enough to get it off the peel and onto the pizza stone.
My time frame is fuzzy here. I know my photographer arrived somewhere in there, around the time we started the pizza process, but I can’t remember when. I looked at my phone at 10:37 and saw that my mom and step-mom’s flight had made it in and they were en route with an eta of 11:30, but where that time fell in the grand scheme of things is beyond me. I was really surprised when K told me I could get in the tub now, but I told her that sounded heavenly and was really eager to get in. Jarell and H were still heating some water so I went to the bathroom one more time and by the time I was finished with getting through that and a couple of double contractions that Jarell helped me through, the tub was full enough for me to get in. I went ahead and ditched all my clothes except my nursing bra at this point because I didn’t want to have to get out again to take them off. H also told me that getting in the tub could throw me into transition so we agreed it was a good idea. I figured I still had a ways to go but I wasn’t taking any chances. The contractions were strong, but nothing like the ones I’d had in my labor with Ali so I knew I probably had awhile before that happened. Or so I thought.
Upon entering the tub, I was immediately soothed by the heat of the water. My doula found a way to wedge herself between the pool and the wall to continue applying counter pressure during contractions and everything kicked up in intensity. K was wiping my forehead with cool washcloths and someone was pouring water on my back, but I was totally in my own head by this point and aside from noticing that I was having to make some noise with my contractions I wasn’t there enough mentally to know who was doing what. K called Jarell to come take her place sometime during this phase. He came over and started diligently scrubbing my face until I explained that he could just gently wipe it to help cool me down. I know my mom and step-mom arrived because K asked if I wanted to see them and I couldn’t decide, but I knew I wanted my mom in there (I later found out they arrived at 11:35). My doula checked to see if I had the purple line because we had discussed it at my blessingway with another friend of ours, and I was very surprised when she said I did and K said it was one of the most prominent ones she’d seen. The photographer got a picture of it so I guess I’ll see when I get the pictures.
K also told me I could try pushing if I wanted to, and my brain was just baffled by this, but I didn’t feel like I needed to yet so I told her that. I came out of my fog long enough to tell them I didn’t think my body remembered how to push which wasn’t quite what I meant, but they reassured me that I’d know when I was ready. It wasn’t long after these conversations that
my contractions started coming one on top of the other and I was having to really vocalize through them. I figured I was in transition and would soon be getting a break because I did while in labor with Ali, but they just kept coming, getting deeper and deeper while I started to feel Raina moving lower in the birth canal. I kept wanting to say something about needing a break but I couldn’t get the words together to do so. I managed to tell them my legs were asleep and they got me standing to help get the circulation back, but as soon as the next contraction hit I had to be back in the water.
I began to feel the urge to poop which had me equally dismayed and excited. I didn’t want to obviously, but I knew that the urge was probably caused by baby descending. Pretty soon my body took the decision out of my hands as it started pushing and everything started moving. I remember I said, “Damn” at this point and there was a definite feeling of amusement at my response, but mostly I was focused on the fact that I knew her head was coming down. I suddenly had the desire to reach down and I was so in awe when I realized I could feel her head right there. If I could have spoken I would have told my husband who was holding my other hand, but I couldn’t form the words. Two pushes later and her head was born, and with one more push so was her body. I flipped over from my kneeling position to sit down as I caught her and all I could think to say was “You’re here!”
It all went so fast, and the pushing stage had been so long with my first labor, that I was totally shocked that I was already holding my beautiful baby girl. I wasn’t in pain and things never got as intense as I’d been expecting so I really had thought I had a long time yet ahead of me. Raina was born at 12:25 pm, just over 3 hours after my birth team arrived. She immediately gave a couple of short cries and started pinking up right away and just calmly took in her new world while everything was checked out. Someone brought Ali in to see her new sister and she was just overjoyed to meet her. Once her cord stopped pulsing, Jarell cut it so I could give her a chance to nurse and not long after that I delivered the placenta.
Before I knew it I was getting cleaned up in a quick shower and then getting snuggled into my own bed with my new girl. The rest is a blur to me, I was to caught up in meeting my girl and helping her nurse to take the other details in. H weighed and measured her and we learned she was 7 lbs 3 oz and 19 inches long, making her the same length as, but half a pound lighter than, her big sister, with a 13.5 inch head where Ali’s was 13. Soon the birth team was heading home and it was just our family left to enjoy our new precious girl.
I know there are gaps in this, gaps that I might fill as I see pictures and talk with my birth team, but my memory isn’t perfect so some of them will remain. This experience has gone such a long way in mending the scars left by my first birth experience and for that I am beyond grateful. My memories of this day will forever be filled with laughter and joy and that is a wonderful thing to be able to say about birth. I’m thankful beyond words for my amazing birth team, my wonderful and supportive husband, and our family who stood behind us in this decision. Most of all I think God for the gift of yet another beautiful daughter who is already so intrinsically a part of our home that I cannot fathom a life without her. Welcome to the world, Raina Ann!