One month ago (yesterday)..., Christopher was placed in my arms for the first time.
I’ve wanted to write out Christopher’s birth story for, well, a month now, but a crying baby and the need to really process that event has prevented me from doing so.
The weeks leading up to his birth, I thought a lot about the birth of Christ and what it must have been like for Mary.
Was she already having contractions while riding in on the donkey? What must it have been like to know know where you would give birth, only to find out it would be next to a bunch of animals and their poop. No birthing tub full of warm water, no yoga ball, no soft bed. I imagine it wasn't a silent night— not as she moaned and screamed along with the noise the animals were making along side her. All was not calm in my mind.
But there she still was, birthing the Savior of the world in the most unexpected of places.
This, being a mother, having Christopher, is something Ive longed and prayed for, for so long.
This child, my son, is an answer to so many prayers.
This experience of growing a child in my womb and birthing him was a miracle when you think about the fact that I really did nothing. I didn't tell my body how to nourish him or how to grow an arm or a brain. God designed my body to just do that. I didn't tell my body to start the contractions. Good thing too, because I am sure I would have told them to stop and not start again! And while I did push, it was because my body was telling me you must push now. God knew what he was doing when he created my body and it really is quite amazing as I think about it all.
And on the flip side, I think Satan knows exactly what he is doing as well. The guilt and fear and lies have been and are in full force. I think he knows that exhausted mothers are easy prey. And it has taken me four weeks to get past the shame I felt (and to a degree still feel) that my birth experience didn't go how I wanted (when does anything go how we want?!), because I didn't feel like I was a strong as I wanted to be. I didn't handle the pain as well as I wanted to. But I am now telling those voices and thoughts to shut it. I had a natural, unmedicated birth, after 30 hours of back labor and I am proud of that.
My due date was November 9. At the beginning of the year when I realized that the 9th was the day last year, the doctor told us we were loosing our baby, it felt like a promise from God that he is bringing healing out that moment. Knowing the chance of delivering on my actual due date was slim, I still kept hoping he would come that day. But with each day that passes, I got more and more and anxious. Then November 14th came—the day we actually miscarried—there was still no sign of Christopher. The physical and emotional pain of that day last year played over in my head and continued to play into the days that followed.
I read this the day after he was born online and it felt so fitting. “ It comes in waves. The disbelief and wonder that she is here and we made it. The sadness and grief. The joy and peace. I don't run way from them any more, I let these waves come. This is nourishing for me, healing.
Last year, right around the time of her birth, I was miscarrying…again. There’s a weird conflict knowing that if I hadn't miscarried then, she wouldn’t, our rainbow baby, wouldn't be.
There is an odd comfort in that. A bittersweetness that cant be avoided. And that nourishes my heart a little. A heart that holds both the bitter and the sweet.”
Even though I was still well in the ‘normal’ range, fear took over and I worried he would never come and would need a medical intervention. I tried everything—special tea, walking, taking stairs two at a time, spicy food, and I even went and tried accupuncture. Still nothing.
Birth Story begins here—stop reading if you don't want to hear about placentas, mucous plugs and the like. Plus its long…30 hours worth of a labor story!
My contractions began about 7pm on November 15th. Chet and I were sitting on the couch watching one of our shows when the first contraction came. I pulled out my phone and opened the app I had downloaded to count them. I didn't even tell Chet until I had had a few, for fear that it would be a false alarm. It wasn’t.
We went up to bed, knowing that once we told our midwife, she would tell us to get some rest. I sent her a text about 9pm when my contractions were consistantly about 10 minutes apart and sure enough, rest was what she said.
The contractions continued to increase in frequency and intensity. I soon realized I was having all back labor, so laying down was no longer an option as that just made them hurt more. Chet tried to get some sleep and I took a bath. I sent our midwife another text about 1am letting her know we were now about 5 minutes apart. I could no longer stand during each contraction and I would just pound on the bed until Chet came over to put counter pressure on my back. We thought we would be heading into the birthing center that night. We were waiting for that magic 4 minutes apart that would let us know it was time to go we were almost there.
However, the contractions became 6 minutes apart, then 10, then 15. Exhausted, because I never got more than a 15 minute break, and because the pain was in one spot on my back, we realized we wouldn't be having a baby that night.
The rest of the night and more of the next day was the same, erratic contractions. I called my midwife around noon, in tears, because I thought labor had stopped. I was still having minute long, strong contractions, to the point where I would vomit almost each time. Again, she said, rest, and to eat a meal. To which I laughed, then cried at the rest part, then immediately threw up what I ate.
Around mid to late afternoon, they started to become more consistent again. Hovering around the 5-6 minute mark. I sat on the yoga ball, crying and moaning while Chet put pressure on my back. Our midwife checked in about every hour at that point and each time I prayed she would say come on in. Around 8pm, she called again, I made Chet answer the phone because I couldn't talk and she gave the go ahead. We grabbed our bags and trash can and jumped in the car.
It was raining and cold and the 30 second walk from the car to the front door was a bit much as I stood there shivering uncontrollably. Marilyn, our midwife, immediately turned on the shower and had me get into to warm up. After several minutes my body finally began to settle down a bit and she was able to do her initial vitals check on me and the baby. Laying down was next to impossible for those few minutes as the contractions were so strong and I kept vomiting. So as soon as she was done, I climbed in the giant tub. The warm water felt good as I still had the chills. She suggested that I have some IV fluids as she could tell I was quite dehydrated. Two bags later and I felt much better…as better as one can when in labor. I continued to labor in the tub for a while and I finally lost the mucous plug. I was amused at how excited everyone, including me, was.
Once the fluids finished, I was visibly feeling better, so she said she would go ahead and do an exam and see how dilated I was. When she told me I was about 8.5 centimeters I started crying. I feared she would tell me I was only 3 cm. I was already so exhausted, having not slept at all the night before and we were already half way through this night where I knew I wouldn't be sleeping. I was so relived so much progress had already been made. I would dose off in the few minutes between contractions and I remember freaking out and telling Chet I thought I stopped breathing each time I did that. And each time he assured me I was still breathing. It was at this point that I told Chet we wouldn't be having any more children.
I wouldn't have been able to do anything without Chet. Beside the fact that he was constantly holding me, letting me dig my nails into his arms, telling me I could do is and encouraging me, he was quite literally reminding me to breath.
With each contraction I yelled. Then the yelling turned into screaming. All I kept saying its a good thing we were the only ones there. I was still in the tub in the middle of a contraction and I yelled my water just broke.
Time became a blur and even when I would ask the time, they wouldn't tell me. It’s probably a good thing they didn’t! Soon it felt like I needed to begin pushing. I tried for a while in the tub, but the positioning just didn't work for me, so they had me move to the toilet. Yes, the toilet because your body has been training to push when you sit down!
Chet continued to press on my back as I had each contraction. And with each contraction I would push. They assured me I was making progress as I felt like nothing was happening. After pushing for a while on the toilet, they could tell I needed to change positions again and moved me to the bed where I held onto a yoga ball and continued to push. Over and over I continued to say I cant do this any more. And all I wanted was to just stop and go home. Turns out they wouldn't let me go home as they could now see his head.
After what seemed like an eternity of pushing, pain like I have never experienced (and I have had more than my fair share of pain over the years) and the ring of fire that seemed to last for days, Christopher Everett was born at 2:19 am on November 17th.
The first few seconds I just laid on the yoga ball, crying, gasping for air and trying to talk, saying “I cant talk, my voice is gone”. I finally rolled over and they handed me our 7 lb 14 oz son.
Relief was all I felt for a while. The pain was gone...mostly, the pushing was done, and our son was here, safe and sound. After doing the initial check, to make sure he was ok, they left us alone for a few minutes. So there we laid, me covered in sweat, Chet supporting me from behind, and Christopher, still attached to his umbilical cord. Our new little family. Overwhelmed with gratitude and 'oh my gosh we have to take care of this human'.
Our midwives came back in and my placenta was now ready to come out. They bagged it up, still attached to Christopher, and waited until it stopped pulsing to cut the cord. They checked me out and saw I needed some stitches. After they took care of me, they gave Chet the scissors and he cut the cord.
They asked if we wanted to see the placenta and of course I did (I did decline having them encapsulate it for me, don't worry!). So we watched as they checked it out and made sure everything looked good. They showed me this thing that kept my son alive for 9 months. This amazing thing that nourished, protected, and kept him safe.
We were left to rest for the rest of the night. And even after being up for close to 48 hrs now, I couldn't sleep. Chet on the other hand has the gift of falling asleep as soon as his head touches the pillow. So there we laid, Chet and Christopher asleep in my arms as I tried to begin to process through all that just happened.
A post partum midwife came in and helped with nursing and also brought us some breakfast. We eventually showered then crawled back into bed before we could go home around 7 that night.
We were at one of our follow up appointments this last week and they went through the notes they took. They mentioned how quickly my labor went. I laughed and said if 30 hours is quick I dont know want to know what is considered long.
Apparently the first 22 hours wasn't considered “active” labor, but prodomal labor. I don’t care what she says, I was actively laboring those 22 hours. And what felt like the longest part, pushing, was in reality only an hour.
One month in we are exhausted. That month has had its fair share of rough moments. We both have spent much time in tears. He slept for 4 hours straight last night and I am excited! This whole parenting gig is so much harder than I ever imagined, but its worth it. I am torn between wanting to get past this sleepless night stage and soaking in every moment I get to rock him to sleep.