On Monday morning, January 21, 2002, I lost my mucus plug. A very unreliable impending labor sign, I knew, but I was still slightly excited about it since I didn’t notice losing it with Moriah’s pregnancy. I had very mild contractions that day. I would have to touch my belly to see if I was having one since they were so mild.
On Tuesday, I was awakened by contractions at about 4 am. They were about 10 minutes apart and slightly uncomfortable. I went out to the couch to try to rest and allow Greg to sleep. I didn’t get much sleep and when Greg got up for work, I let him know that he might only have to work a half-day since I would probably need his help that afternoon with labor.
Moriah, my 3 year old, got up and thus we started our day. I ate a light breakfast, remembering that I threw up everything with Moriah’s labor. I was exhausted already and I wasn’t far into labor. This was not what I wanted. My contractions were 5 minutes apart but I could still talk through them. I wanted rest. I talked Moriah into taking a nap with me. Praise God that I was able to go to sleep. I slept for about 2 hours. I felt much better. My contractions had slowed to every 10 minutes again.
Cynthia, my mother-in-law and Moriah’s babysitter for during labor, called right after we got up to tell me she was planning on going to a ballgame that night. I informed her that I was in early labor and would call her by 2:30 to let her know if she needed to take Moriah that night or if it would still be a while.
Greg came home for lunch and I told him that I didn’t need his help with labor yet. He helped prepare Moriah’s overnight bag with the last minute items and got her car seat out of the van. I called Cynthia at 2:30 and let her know to come get Moriah. She arrived at 3:15 and they left around 3:45. This was to be Moriah’s first night away from us both. At this point, I had to concentrate on my contractions, but was able to breathe through them without pain.
I called the birthing center to give them a “heads-up” that I expected to deliver that night or early the next morning. I was supposed to call when contractions got to be 5 minutes apart but I wanted to wait until Moriah was gone to make the call. I didn’t want her to worry or get anxious. To her, this was an overnight visit to Grandma’s. She never knew I was in labor.
After they left, I was pretty bored. I couldn’t concentrate on much else besides the contractions since they were back up to 5 minutes apart. They were only lasting about 35 seconds though. According to a book I had, contractions have to be at least 45 seconds to properly dilate and efface you. I went up to play a computer game and received a phone call. A girl from my church needed some help with math. When she asked me how I was doing, I told her I was in labor. She was very excited. She said that she wouldn’t bother me then, but actually I was very happy to help her out with math as it gave me something to do to pass the time. She understood that I had to stop every so often and deal with a contraction and thus we were able to get her homework done.
I tried some different positions to see if any were more comfortable than my leaning against the wall. I found several that were uncomfortable and was just getting ready to try out the hands and knees position when Greg called. It was about 5:30. By this point I was just entering the “serious” emotional signpost and told Greg that I thought I would need his help soon and that he wouldn’t be going to work the next day. During his call, I had placed my hot rice bag on my back and was sitting on the loveseat. This position felt great so I just stayed there.
Greg arrived home and I asked him to prepare me some dinner as I hadn’t eaten since breakfast. This labor I was determined to listen to my body and not force myself to eat unless I was hungry. I had some mashed potatoes and homemade chicken noodles. I didn’t eat a lot but it was enough. I had Greg time some of my contractions while he fixed himself some dinner. I was disappointed to find out my contractions were still so short (about 35-40 seconds).
We cleaned the living room and I read a magazine. I was really bored. Greg suggested renting a movie and I told him I was willing but then we never did go get it. I walked around trying to get my contractions to go longer and they wouldn’t. Greg told me to settle down and let labor take its course. I needed to hear that because I felt I was wasting everyone’s time. I thought my CNM and her birth assistant would be waiting for my call. Greg was having to sit around and time my piddly contractions. Cynthia was taking off work to baby-sit Moriah. Greg and I decided to play a board game. During it, I would have to stop and breathe through contractions but I didn’t need him to rub my back or help me relax. I would joke around with him during the game and so we both thought I wasn’t very far into labor. According to my aforementioned book (whose guidelines worked well for Moriah’s labor), if you are able to laugh and joke, you are not very far along. After I beat him at the game, I figured that we might as well go to bed since it was 11pm. We debated calling Barbara (my CNM) just to let her know things were not going very fast but then decided she might be sleeping and we didn’t want to wake her to tell her that nothing was seemingly happening.
We went to bed and then my contractions got very intense very quickly. I entered the “self-doubt” signpost. I didn’t know how I was going to handle 60-90 second contractions when these 35 second ones were so intense. Greg had to rub my back very hard and even had to continue past the peak. My contractions got down to 2-3 minutes apart but still only 35 seconds long, Finally, I made a certain noise. This noise took Greg back 3 years. It was the same sound I made when I was pushing Moriah out. (He didn’t tell me this until later.) He suggested we call Barbara and I agreed. I was pushing a little against the contractions but I thought I was still in the part of labor where I am to allow my body to do its work by totally relaxing. I didn’t really think that my pushing with the contractions was a sign of anything.
On the 2nd or 3rd attempt to leave a message with Barbara’s answering service, Greg was successful. I kept calling him back to help me with a contraction and thus it took him that many attempts. When she called us back, she tried to talk to me but I was in a lot of pain and couldn’t. I was very loud too. She said she would get to the birthing center at 1:45am. That was about 15 minutes. Greg told me that we better get started since I couldn’t move very fast. He got my shoes on me and we made it to the van , stopping for a contraction or two on the way. He loaded up all the last minute stuff. I really wanted him to rub my back some more but told him I thought I could forego it. I sang songs and breathed through my contractions as best I could. With Moriah’s labor my contractions seemed to be lighter on the ride over, but this time they did not slow or ease up any.
We arrived at the birthing center at 2 a.m. and Greg went up to make sure the door was open. He came back to get me and I barely made it in the door before another contraction hit. We dealt with that and then I went back to the bedroom. Greg was trying to unload the van and thus Barb tried to continue the backrub in Greg’s stead. I wanted it done very hard. She also took at my vitals somewhere in there and paged her birth assistant (Lori) at 2:06am. I was complete with a bulging bag of waters. I asked if the birthing tub was ready and Barb said she didn’t think I was going to make it to the tub. I told her I wanted a waterbirth. She agreed to run the water but informed us that I couldn’t get in the tub until her assistant arrived as she didn’t want to do a waterbirth by herself. Her assistant had at least a 30 minute drive and reported later that she didn’t think she would make the birth when she heard the noises I was making. Lori arrived at 2:34. My water was broken. We waited for a contraction or two before I was ready to move. I remember them trying to take off my socks and that really irritated me, like I thought I would wear my socks into the tub. I got in the tub and they directed me to push. I gave the usual comments about how I couldn’t and that I wanted the baby out. I finally listened enough to tuck my chin in and gave a few good pushes. One of the pushes got the baby out to his eyebrows and the next few contractions got him the rest of the way out at 2:55am on January 23, 2002. He was whisked up and put on my chest. I commented that I was glad he wasn’t twins (Moriah’s prediction) and asked what gender he was. Greg looked and we found out he was a boy. When asked to guess his weight, Greg and I both guessed about 8 lbs. Caleb was 9 lbs, 2oz! He was 22 inches long.
Just as with Moriah’s birth, I couldn’t have made it through labor without Greg. He provided caring comments, an accepting atmosphere, patience, and a hard backrub. I am also thankful for Barbara and Lori for allowing me to have my waterbirth, giving forceful directions and encouragement and their skills for attending birth.
God was very faithful during this labor. I had many promise Scriptures for this birth. Here are some of them and how they were fulfilled.
Is 40:29 “He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength.”
When I didn’t think I could push Caleb out, I was given strength.
Pro 10:22 “The blessing of the LORD makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow with it.”
This the Scripture I relied on for a painless labor. “Sorrow” also means pain, hurt, toil, or hardship. I viewed this pregnancy as a blessing of the Lord and I was not going to expect any sorrow to come with it. Labor is hard work, but I believe that God was going to allow me to not have pain added to the hard work.
Psalm 37:4-5 “Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.”
God placed the correct desire in my heart and He was bringing it to pass. I wanted a painless labor and I believe God placed that desire in my heart. When my labor wasn’t painful, I thought it wasn’t working. My labor had to get painful for me to believe it was working. God was keeping up His end, yet I didn’t believe. Next time, if there is a next time, I hope to trust in God and His ways more. I hope I have another chance at painless labor.
Is 66:9 “ ‘Shall I bring to the time of birth, and not cause delivery?’ says the LORD. ‘Shall I who cause delivery shut up the womb?’ says your God.”
This was my promise that once labor started, it would progress. It would not stop or be unfruitful. It would dilate and efface me perfectly. Again, I didn’t fully trust in this when labor was occurring. I thought labor was too easy and the contractions too short for it to be effacing and dilating me. God again kept His promise. My labor worked perfectly to allow me to deliver my baby.
2 Tim 2:13 “If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.”
This is the Scripture that underlies the rest. God is the Word. His promises are always true and He always keeps up His end of them. Even when I was doubting, God was working. He allowed me to see this after the birth.
I learned several lessons from this birth and have grown from the experience. God has proven Himself faithful, once again. I hope that I will lean more on Him and His Word in the future, not just with labor and birth, but in all aspects of my life. I am more willing to expect and accept His blessings. I don’t have to listen to what “everyone” says will happen. God may have different plans for me and He is in control.
Wife to Greg (5.21.94)
Mama to Moriah (8.7.98 ), Caleb (1.23.02) and Isaiah (2.24.05)