Olivia's Birth Story
The Night Before:
The night of June 12th, I couldn't sleep because I had too much on my mind (oh, and Olivia was kicking and wiggling so hard I thought she was going to bust out kool-aid guy style - haha! ).
To keep myself distracted, I sat down and browsed the internet with my niece looking at items I thought I "needed" to prepare for little one's arrival. ( Aside from the fact we are trying to go minimalist, I kept having this urge to purchase more "stuff". For a while, I chalked that urge up to nesting. Spoiler alert: it wasn't nesting - it was a heart issue ).
I had all of these beautiful things in my cart, but it just didn't feel right to purchase. So, I closed my laptop and thought to myself, ".. we have two more weeks, I will just think about it..". I felt a little anxious and tired so I hopped in the shower ( all of the good ideas and chats with the Lord seem to happen there - anyone else? ). After a bit of "small talk", my heart started pouring out. I started speaking out anxieties I had about birth that I wasn't really even aware I had deep down in there. Thoughts like, "What if I end up at home alone with two kids and she comes super fast and there is an emergency?" or "What if I go past my due date? How am I going to handle any more nights with this discomfort?". After I laid out all of my fears, thoughts, anxiety, etc. I felt much better. I asked the Lord to continue to search my heart and keep purifying it, then two really neat things happened..
First, a memory suddenly struck me of myself sitting in the car with my sister on Christmas Eve. That memory was from a tough season. I cried at a stoplight expressing to my sister how I was nervous that I would never be able to have children ( this was after our first lost and being told my teen years I probably had endometriosis ). I remember crying to her about how beautiful it was that she brought her kids to visit. I remember that yearning for a baby in my womb. Grieving the loss I had. The desire to hear little baby grunts, hear the pitter-patter of little feet and giggles. I remember the warm salty tears flowing down my cheeks. I remember that night I told God that if it wasn't His will for me to have a child in my womb, that was ok. I became at peace with that. I laid that down, and it was the hardest thing I'd ever done. Exactly one month later we found out we were pregnant with Emilia.
Why was this memory important to share? Well, it brought my heart to a place of gratitude instead of a privileged mindset. I looked at my pregnant belly in the mirror, watching her little feet kick and my belly change shapes, I had a huge Braxton hicks contraction and a spasm that led me to have to squat to the floor... but this time... I didn't groan out in frustration and agony. Instead, I just cried tears of joy ( yes, emotions run wild when hormones are going crazy guys ). This is just real life.
I thanked God for the blessing of even being able to BE pregnant and I re-surrendered my will for His.
Second, I just had this visual of a flower bud in soil patiently waiting to bloom and was reminded that just as the flowers outside do not worry about when or how they will bloom, I do not need to worry because my God is good, He is real, He has perfect timing and no matter the outcome He will be there and will be glorified through it all.
I sat down on my bed and looked through the maternity session I had just done with the wonderful D'artagnan W. and finally felt inspired to write out a 38-week "bumpdate". I felt so much peace in my heart that night - even though I had a hard time sleeping because of the contractions, movement, and discomfort. I remembered that feeling of peace - it was the same calm I felt when I first found out I was pregnant with her ( & ironically, this is what her name literally means ). I can't wait to share the story of how she got her name - it is mindblowing and beautiful.
The Birth Day:
I wish I could say I woke up the next morning refreshed and ready for a new day, but truthfully, I was still uncomfortable and exhausted. I didn't flutter around the house handing out pancakes, eggs, and bacon - I threw some waffles in a toaster and handed my girls yogurt from a pouch with one kiss on each forehead. Although my heart felt a thousand times lighter, my belly and energy levels were not ( ha ).
"My Water Broke!" ( or did it? )
8:30am I sat down at the table, opened my laptop and started getting ready for what my girls call my "long work day" with EBB. Right as I went to check my e-mail I felt this warm sensation... I remember thinking, "Ok I did not just have an accident on my chair! Did my water just break?!" I got up expecting the floodgates to open ( similar to Emilia's birth story ) but nothing. I went to the restroom and sure enough bloody show! I thought, "YES! She's going to be here soon! Wait - I never bought that stuff! Oh well!". Since this was exactly how Adelyn's birth began, I started getting into "prep mode" - just in case this escalated quickly. I woke my niece up with a huge smile saying, "I am pretty sure my water just broke, can you call your mom while I call your Uncle Matt?". I don't think I'd ever seen this girl move so quickly - haha! We got ahold of Matt, my sister, and my doula. I was thankful for getting all of that anxiety out the night before because I was mentally prepared that if she came so fast I birth her in the house alone with children, I'd do it with peace in my heart.
9:15am Contractions were only about 7 minutes apart and manageable so I just took a shower, did my hair, and sat on my birth ball for a while. At this point, Matt and my sister were at our house.
Side note: my little toddlers were so precious through this! Emilia was rubbing my back, telling me how excited she was to meet her sister and sweet Adelyn started singing the song that goes, "I cast all my cares upon you...". Precious and melted my heart!
"I just stalled..."
9:45am My lovely doula, Grace arrived and I kept mentioning that even though the contractions were regular and coming closer, they weren't as intense as I remembered them being. I started to get a little anxious. So, I did some breathing exercises and laid down a bit to rest. The contractions started spacing out again so I looked at Matt and in true auto-geek form stated, "Babe, I just stalled.". So we decided it may be a good idea to go ahead and have everyone leave for a bit... ( Guys, DO THIS if you feel an ounce of pressure. Your birthing team is not going to take it personally. The birthing environment is a sensitive one. ). So, everyone left and I felt a little less like a fish in a glass bowl which helped me relax. The contractions stayed about 7-9 minutes apart with "meh" intensity so Matt mowed the lawn, I snacked on some lunch and played with our dog, Bailey.
10:45am I reached out to my ( amazing ) chiropractor, Dr. Delta, and asked if it would be weird if I came in for an adjustment. She was glad I asked and was able to fit us in within the hour.
10:50am I called my sister and talked to her about all of the emotions I was feeling. She prayed with me and the word that stood out to me the most was "expectations"... I marinated in that word a bit.
11:00am I arrived at the chiropractor's office and got adjusted. Guys, this was literally one of the BEST decisions that I made in early labor ( more on that later ). After getting adjusted the contractions started coming closer, I was able to walk around without a little limp and without any pelvic floor pain! It was heaven.
1:30pm My doula had been checking in on me through text and at that point, the contractions were about 4.5 minutes apart so she went ahead and came back over. Over the next hour, I remember feeling so normal that it freaked me out a bit. I'd look at Grace and mention how the contractions just weren't intense, I had a ton of energy still, etc. ( aka I was still in early labor ). I remembered that just the night before it came to my attention how nervous I was about this birth going so fast. Although a fast birth sounds like a blessing - and is - as with all things there are pros and cons. With Adelyn's fast birth it was beautiful, but I was slightly in shock after because I barely had time to mentally or physically process it (haha). With Olivia's birth, I started realizing how damaging expectations can be. So, I started to slowly release my grasp on them and lay them at His feet. As I did I stopped timing contractions, I stopped focusing on the eyes I felt were on me and I went into my "birthing place". Grace was amazing at making sure I was comfortable, hydrated, and well nourished through early labor - this was major! Guys - the body does crazy things in labor and so staying nourished and supported is vital. ( What I'm trying to say is: Get yourself a good birth team ! )
Headed to the Hospital & We're - Gonna Have a Baby:
2:30pm Within the hour contractions started regulating again and coming closer together with a slight increase in intensity. I felt like it was a good time to go ahead and head to the hospital because we weren't sure how quickly things would escalate. The ride to the hospital wasn't as difficult as I remembered, the contractions were still pretty mild and very manageable but I was trying to keep my mind off of the "stats" because they don't indicate how labor will unravel, they just indicate where you are in that second. I told Grace about how my mind kept drifting to the stats and she helped ease my thoughts - such an amazing woman :).
3:45pm We arrived at the hospital and I was having some decent contractions at that point. So, we are going up the elevator and walking down the hall and Matt runs into an old co-worker. I had to stop to get through a contraction and noticed he was still talking so I hollered down the hall, "Dude! Go get me checked in! Hellooo? Wife in labor!" Hahaha, Grace and I just laughed at him. He was so excited to share with someone that our baby was coming ( he is such an amazing father ).
I looked around and started feeling so nervous! I remember praying to God that I didn't stall, that He just provides a way for me to stay in progress. Well, that didn't happen ( and that is ok because not all prayers are answered in the way we expect them to be and it isn't up to us to pout about it - but to trust God that it ended up that way for a reason we just aren't aware of ). So, I got "checked" and was told I was at a 6 and they felt my bag of waters, so it was decided there was just a small tear at the top somewhere it hadn't "broke" in the way I was thinking.
I let those stats discourage me, not because I was "only at a 6" - I knew that could change any second - but because I was scared that I wouldn't be supported in an evidence-based way. All of this was justified in my mind as I thought, "Wow - there is nothing like moving to a new state that is last in all things birth ( in a negative way ) and going to a hospital I had a terrible experience with earlier in pregnancy ( in the ER, not L&D ). Guys, I wasn't placing my trust in the Lord. The result? Fear started to creep in. I started wondering, "am I on the clock now to them? What if we came too early?". My adrenaline kicked in and labor stayed where it was for about an hour until I got my heart right and placed my trust not in my own understanding but in HIM ( Proverbs 3:5-6 ). Result this time? I started getting acclimated to the environment and felt safe. My body relaxed.
I feel like I arrived like a little kid with arms folded and eyes tightly shut just tensed up and the Lord just whispered into me, relax, I am here. Open your eyes, sweet girl, I am here. Trust me, I am here. Let go, see what is around you. Open your eyes - and find me in this...
I opened my eyes and my perspective changed. I saw a kick butt birth team around me. I wasn't in the "worst state for birth" anymore I was in the presence of some of the "best in the state". I had a husband who was able to be there, but not only that - he was above and beyond present - he was a part of this birth. I had a doula who was basically a mind reader in the ways she was present, full of encouragement and calm. The nurses there were above and beyond amazing, one even held the monitors one me so I could move around in labor during the 20-minute strip. My OB was incredibly supportive of everything we requested, no judgment, no scoffing but full of confidence. Not only did I feel supported, but I felt safe in her care. I am so thankful to God for providing some of the best in the state to be near me during this birth. It was such an honor and blessing.
( Ok - this is where I start to lose the clock, but I know estimates )
around 4:45pm Grace started giving suggestions for positions, the nurses were encouraging of birthing choices, I had no pressures on me, etc. I felt so supported and once that began to sink in - guess what happened? More progress! I labored in the shower a bit, got dried off and for some reason, there is something about the shower that really gets labor going for my body because right afterward I started really moving into active labor. At that point Grace and Matt gave me some snacks. I said it - I snacked during labor and wasn't slapped on the wrist ( Yes! ). I needed that nourishment to power through the next few hours of laboring. Side note: In true laboring mama fashion, apparently I had the room set at about 52 degrees and I had a box fan blowing on me ( My poor birth team - haha ).
I remember talking to Olivia during contractions and encouraging her. This really helps during labor because my mama instincts kick in and help me remember I'm not the only one going through weird sensations and intense feelings. It kept everything in perspective, and that perspective was this wasn't all about me - I had a little baby who was working hard making her way out into a big world and needed me to stay calm, healthy and ready. She needed me to just breathe. I thanked God for the progress we had made that far. I had that vision of a flower in bloom and tears rolled out of my eyes. How silly I was to worry - it all was happening in HIS time - His perfect time ( Ecclesiastes 3:11 ).
Pause: You may notice a lot of readjusting of mindset during this birth story - it was a long one - although active labor was about 3.5 hours in my mind it was all day because of the anticipation... Guys, we have to take up our cross daily - we have to deny flesh - we have to abide in Him... We don't just get saved and everything comes easy. This is a daily thing and some days are tougher than others. The struggle is real, and I share these details to transparently say - I struggled this birth. I didn't keep focus every step, I had to redirect, but the thing is... I didn't stop fighting and there were moments where He had to lift me up. I hope this encourages you that if you are in the midst of something and feel like you keep falling down, don't be discouraged and don't give up. Keep getting back up and if you can't get back up - humble yourself and call upon Him because HE will lift you up in due time ( 1 Peter 5:6 and Psalm 145:14 ).
Resting in the Rhythms:
around 6:45pm I was glad to be able to be upright and active the whole time at that point - but I started feeling exhausted and something inside me told me I needed to rest. So, Grace got her peanut ball and I laid down for a while ( these things are amazing! I highly recommend it ). When I got up I had more energy and knew it was just what I needed - considering what happened right after...
Let it Rain... Open the Floodgates of... Wait What?!
around 7:15pm I sat up at the edge of the bed for a few minutes since the contractions started becoming on top of each other.. Matt stood in front of me and I leaned into him through the contractions - he was such an amazing support - tucking my hair behind my hear and saying encouraging words like "You're doing great babe.", "She's almost here!"... and "MY SHOES!" ( haha more on that in a second )... Grace was so encouraging, too! Man, I love her. Guys you have got to get yourself a good doula for birth! They know what's up. She was putting counter pressure on my back at that point and it was a major relief. I didn't have to ask for a thing, she was present and aware of all stages of birth and knew just what would help. We had praise and worship music playing the whole time as I zoned out on the lyrics to relax through what I believe was the transition phase. I mean, the birth groan was there through the overlapping contractions. I was zoned out and had to focus. Time was warped. I started feeling "over it"... ;) So, funny part: One of my favorite songs came on, Let it Rain by Michael W. Smith. It always gives me chills and just takes me to another place. I closed my eyes and listened to the words, which are pretty good for visualization relaxation because I was imagining the lyrics as he spoke:
"Clouds and thick darkness surround Him
Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne
A fire goes before Him and consumes His foes on every side
His lightning lights up the world
The earth sees and trembles
The mountains melt like wax before the Lord..."
It was the perfect song for that moment, not just because of the relaxation and help that it brought me, but also because clearly, God has a sense of humor... Matt recalls that after the chorus of "open the floodgates of heaven", one rather intense contraction came along with that instinctive birth hum and... well... the floodgates sure opened. My water broke and it sounded like someone did a cannonball into a pool *SPLASH*! My eyes were closed at that time but all of the sudden I heard Matt say, "My shoes!" I looked up and guys, the expression on his face was priceless! Yes, my water broke - all - over - his - shoes. Just keeping it real over here guys, because birth isn't always little rainbows and butterflies with zen candles or what not... sometimes funny stuff just happens. I love the variety life gives us! Well, attention was quickly diverted from that moment by another contraction that had a grunt that indicated to the room this baby was coming sooner than later.
around 7:25pm Everyone was scurrying around the room, and everything was moving fast. My OB barely had time to even put her gloves on - haha! Baby girl was wasting no time at that point. I fell in love again with my OB as she asked what position I wanted to push in, but for some reason, I had an intense contraction and all that left my lips was a super classy, "I don't know - I just want her out!" I had to laugh at myself and thought, "Well, at least I was being truthful. I mean, I don't want her sitting here crowning all day..." ( haha ). I tried side-lying position, but wasn't having it so I went into somewhat of a squatted position and progress was made! I heard, "Look at all of that hair on her head!" and so I reached down to feel her and not only did I feel her full head of hair, but she rotated! Coolest feeling ever. My heart racing, as I thought, "She is going to be on my chest in a few minutes." Tears of joy and anticipation filled my eyes as I felt another contraction start to surge, I simply grunted, "Here comes another one!" and tried to put all of that grunt into a big breath while imagining the letter "J" as I pushed her out trying to keep lips and jaw loose all at the same time. The contraction subsided and there was her head! Her sweet little fat cheeks were the first thing that caught my attention. "One more push for her body!", someone said, as I laid back against the upright back of the bed to catch a rest before the next push.
Just like the wave of an ocean, I felt that very last contraction start to swell and it was slow motion in my brain... I imagined a giant wave and I was in front of it. I wasn't scared. I was ready. I wasn't tense. I was relaxed. I wasn't running. I was embracing. Here she comes, the wave got bigger but no bigger than I was. The wave went to peak and as I pushed I visualized my reflection in the wave right before it crashed and surrounded me - I was the wave and the wave was me. I looked down and grabbed her under the arms and brought her to my chest as she let out a hearty cry and I said, "There you are!" I looked over at Matt and he gave me a look that I cannot articulate, but it said more to me than any words ever could. I smiled back and held his hand as he turned his attention to our little scrumptious baby. I thanked the birth team in the room, and they kept the support and encouragement going. It was beautiful. The staff was fantastic even after birth, I couldn't have asked for more. All of that worry for nothing... as is all worry - for nothing ( Matthew 6: 15-34 ). We flourish and thrive best when our trust is in Him.
Man, two weeks early.. I wasn't anticipating her arrival, and I wasn't expecting this type of birth but my goodness it was beautiful. It wasn't beautiful because it was zen peaceful and everything went my way - because it wasn't and it didn't. It wasn't beautiful because I had a ton of documentation or photos to look at to prove it - because I didn't. It was beautiful because God placed this little soul in my womb and I had the honor to meet her, to see her, to hear her cry out ( and man she had a set of pipes! ), to feel her heartbeat on my chest, to count her toes... It was beautiful because that entire day pushed me to my limits, which grew me as a mother in ways I cannot explain other than in the story of her birth and as I live out being her mother. That is where this growth is best shown. Guys, I am joyful for struggle, for trials and for being pushed to limits - and I will thank God for these times ( James 1:2-4, Romans 5:3-5 ). They aren't easy, sometimes not very "pretty", not always what we expect.. but if we just relax and open our eyes to find Him in every situation we will find beauty. I journeyed through a birth that didn't meet my expectations or my fears. I stood up and fought fear. I was determined to not let circumstances surround and intimidate me. I fought to stand the challenges and I found purpose. I found meaning. To God be the Glory - our baby girl Olivia is here.