I've pretty much been praying over Cassidy's birth since long before she was even on her way. After the experience I had with Troy, I just knew that God wanted me to experience birth in a different way the next time around and just prayed that it would be so. Once we actually got pregnant, I started praying over all the specifics. And I was fortunate enough to have a number of women surround me in lifting up the same prayers. There were so many of us praying for this birth by the time I went past my due date, I'm still beyond overwhelmed! (So thank you to ALL of our family and friends who prayed for Cassidy's birth!) Truly every prayer prayed was answered.
With the third round of NST (non-stress test) and BPP (biophysical profile) tests scheduled for 41 weeks, 4 days on Monday, October 21, I knew that talk of an induction would be coming onto the scene. And I really, really didn't want to be induced. I knew that induction would be taking my chances for my best possible birth and making it just a little more unlikely to happen. I also knew though, that I wasn't comfortable going past 42 weeks. So this past weekend I started praying about what to "do". I feel like I had a lot of trust in God's timing, but I started to get worried and question things a little bit. Was there a way for me to "induce" myself so that we wouldn't have to go through the hospital's induction? Talk of castor oil came up around Saturday and something about it just made me so uneasy. It wasn't until I was praying about it late Saturday night that I heard God say, "You do that and you take away the chance that I can reveal tomorrow or tomorrow night as MY timing for your birth." Done. I went to bed with all the peace of mind (and some tangible physical signs that labor was close) I needed to get a good night's rest no matter what the next days brought.
Saturday night I didn't have as many contractions as I'd had some other overnights. Woke up on Sunday like normal, went to church like normal, had some great prayer from friends (Julie and Anne directly, I also know that a couple people had prayer "huddles" on their own during that day for me) that labor would begin and then headed out to the orchard to pick up some pumpkins. The three of us enjoyed the outing and even though I wasn't certain when labor would start, I felt like it was the last time it was just the three of us doing something like that.
After Troy went down for his nap I was texting my friend Holly, who had the brilliant idea to go get pedicures and relax that afternoon. We enjoyed a spontaneous friend date getting our feet pampered, toes primped and catching up. And not just talking about birth-related things either, which was refreshing for me :) She prayed for me when she dropped me off and we parted ways. (Thank you for dropping everything that afternoon to help me relax, Holly!)
Around 3:30, I went back inside and Troy was still sleeping so Mike and I were watching TV. I noticed I was having contractions but they weren't much different than what I'd been having. They were short and like at least 10 minutes apart. At 4:30 I texted Jill (my friend and doula) and said I was having contractions and praying they would stick. We were headed out for a walk to try to get things going. We came home and I started cooking dinner and went upstairs. They were definitely stronger now. While dinner cooked, I used the breast pump for a couple of times to see if they would strengthen even more. I think I only used it like 2 or 3 times for a minute or so and noticed they were getting stronger. This is when I started timing them (a little after 5:30). They were 4-5 minutes apart, lasting 35-45 seconds.
At 6pm, it was time to finish up cooking dinner. I went down and put the fajitas together and realized it didn't look good to me. Mike and Troy ate fajitas while I got out a bowl of cereal and an apple and kept contracting. They were definitely painful but not so awful yet. Went back upstairs.
Mike put Troy to bed. I tried not to scare him as he hadn't seen me having a "bad" contraction yet and I wanted to keep it that way, but also wanted to say goodbye/goodnight. Jill and Kristina (sitter) walked up at the same minute. I picked up my shoes and Jill told me to slow down and I heard her tell Mike she still thought I had awhile to go :) But then my body just went into overdrive. In the matter of one contraction we decided we were headed to the hospital right then. Mike drove our car and I went for a ride in the "doula mobile", AKA Jill's van with the seats out of the back, so I could just rest on the ground. I remember just a few minutes before Jill told me not to hurry to put my gym shoes on, but once we decided we were going, she told me just to grab flip flops and go! My how things changed.
I was dreading the car ride. I knew the hospital was about 8 minutes away and I would have at least 4 contractions in the car. I just prayed I could get through them and make it there safely. I found a comfortable position reclining on the floor of the van that helped relieve a lot of the pain I was feeling and pretty much stayed there the entire drive, contractions and all.
We walked into the ER the same time as Mike. I think it was something like 8:58 when I walked into the hospital. I remember sitting in the wheelchair and being annoyed we had to wait for someone to transport us. Then, the guy that transported us got lost trying to find the fourth floor (because, yippee! we were headed straight there!) The fourth floor is a very small wing for low-risk women who request to deliver down there. You stay in the same room from the time you arrive through delivery until you are discharged.
I was really relieved when we got upstairs. We found out I was the only person on the wing, so the two nurses gave me undivided attention. Yes, I wanted to be "far along" when we arrived at the hospital, but I didn't want to be pushing in my clothes when we rolled in far along. I was so relieved when I had time to change into a gown, get a thing of ice water and hook up to the monitor to hear Cassidy. I had wanted to get into the jacuzzi tub in the room but you had to have 30 minutes of monitoring first. And then the silly machine wouldn't print, even though it was recording data. So I sat on the ball. (Me giving the thumbs up between contractions below.)
And a contraction. Ouch!
At some point I heard Mike talking to another person in the room and realized the midwife on call, Ray, had walked in and sat down on the couch to observe me. I really, really liked Ray and was very happy to see him walk in :) Knowing how close I was, Jill asked if she could fill up the tub even though I knew I couldn't get in yet since it hadn't been thirty minutes yet. Shortly after, i started feeling some pressure, so Ray asked if he could check me (my first and only cervical check during labor!) His response? "How would you like to have a baby now?" I was complete! YAY! We realized I wouldn't get in the tub. But I wasn't really disappointed. I remember him saying, we need thirty minutes of monitoring to get her in there and she's going to be holding her baby in far less than thirty minutes. WOO HOO!
Around this time, Mike stepped right outside the door of the room. We had talked and agreed that "when things got real" he could step out for the pushing part and come back in right afterwards. He says he stepped out, grabbed a coffee, prayed real quick and took a selfie on his phone while staring at the door :)
The amazing Jill (seriously, how did you capture all these photos AND doula me while pushing!?) took photos of the clock when I started pushing and when she was born. People, look closely because there's not much of a change in the clock!
I think I pushed like two times. My water actually still hadn't broken at this point. It didn't break until she was born, which means she was born "in the caul". Its apparently pretty rare and good luck :) I did hear Ray say there was meconium in the water, which means she had a bowel movement inside and the NICU had to be called. The chance of this happening increases the longer you're pregnant so I was familiar with the risks since I'd read up on it. Basically, they just wanted to make sure she didn't suck any of that gunk into her lungs with her first breath. Thankfully, since she was born in the caul, Ray was able to wipe it away from her face and suction her, so she didn't get any of it at all. Thank you Lord!
I had put in my birth plan that I wanted to catch her as she was born, if possible. I had no idea if I'd even want to in the moment. But everything worked out great and I did. Here's a photo from the moment she was born, screaming and clearly healthy. I heard Ray say to cancel the NICU, they weren't needed (the nurse was still on the phone calling them down). This photo is in black and white just of me because 1) there was baby poop everywhere and 2) I had gotten SO hot in that whirlwind that I had nothing on. Seriously, priorities were pushing that baby out and everything else was secondary.
Mike came in as soon as he heard her crying :)
Cassidy got to stay on my chest and her umbilical cord wasn't clamped for a loong time. Since Mike didn't want to cut it, I got to. It was actually really cool and I hadn't even thought about doing that myself when we typed up my birth plan. Ray spent a couple minutes finishing up with me (as for that goes, let's just say even though she was born so quickly, I was still in better shape than when I delivered Troy, which was a good thing.) He told us he was going to go spend more time charting about my birth than he had actually spent attending my birth now :)
Cassidy left my chest for the first time and was weighed and measured. Big girl! 8lbs 9 oz. Who knows how much more she would have weighed had she held that poop in a bit longer :)
After that, I breastfed her for the first time and Mike, Jill and I sat there just kind of stunned. It had gone so incredibly well it was hard to believe!
After her first meal, we both needed to clean up, so she got the deluxe newborn spa treatment and I hopped in the shower. Like 45 minutes after giving birth. It felt AMAZING! Best. Shower. Ever.
She got all sweet smelling :) Goodbye, yucky poop hair.
I couldn't stop grinning after we got settled back in bed. The room was all cleaned up. It was all over. Less than one hour after walking into the hospital, I was holding my perfectly healthy baby in my arms. We said goodnight and thank you to Jill and Cassidy was wide awake.
We had called my folks when we were on the way to the hospital. They decided to drive in to stay with Troy and relieve our sitter that night and got on the road. They were barely out of Chicago when they got the news she was here! Since Troy was sound asleep at the house and it was already late, they headed to the hospital upon arriving in C-U. And brought me McDonalds since the hospital food was shut down. It was so great to introduce them to Cassidy a couple hours after her birth!
As I reflect on what happened, especially towards the end of the pregnancy, I just can't describe how grateful I am to God for all He did through bringing this little person into the world. 10 days late doesn't seem like long at ALL when you get that kind of experience at the end of it. When I look back I think, how could I have ever wanted it any way OTHER than the perfect time God decided for her to be born? It was so evident that when it was time, it was time. And I'm incredibly, incredible grateful to have experienced it!
Short list of things I prayed (or friends prayed over me) in the weeks and months ahead of birth. You can see how every single one was answered.
- Mike would be in town (HA! He'd been in town for nearly three weeks by the time she was born.)
- Once past due date, that all tests would come back clear and she wouldn't show any signs of anything other than health in there!
- She would be in a good position (leading to shorter pushing stage/labor)
- I would be able to deliver on the fourth floor
- Labor would begin on its own, not by induction
- Water wouldn't break until I was in active labor (Another HA! Never would have guessed she would have been born in the caul.)
- Once labor begins, contractions would settle into a regular and strong pattern
- That we would have a natural, drug-free labor and delivery free of any complications whatsoever before, during or after!
- We would have extra doses of peace in the time leading up to the birth (no worries/stress)
- That it would be a redeeming, powerful and amazing experience.
- That it would "almost be fun!" (which those exact words came out of my mouth right after we were done.
- For God to get all the glory... not any old wives tale or anything I "did" (doesn't mean I didn't end up eating spicy food, pineapple, walking, bouncing on my ball.......)