Let me first start by saying that this whole pregnancy, labor, and birth were covered in prayer from the very first days I knew I was pregnant. I admit, in the very early days my prayers sounded more like “Why, Lord?!” But as I accepted the fact that I was going to have a fourth baby and began to get excited about it, my prayers changed. Besides the very general prayers for health, I decided to pray very specific prayers as well. Let me tell you exactly what they were, because you’ll see that as I tell this story, every single prayer was answered in the way that I hoped.
I prayed that the Lord would allow me to give birth naturally without any interventions.
I prayed that I wouldn’t go into labor until my mom got here.
I prayed that my water wouldn’t break until the very last minute (something that hasn’t happened for me before.) Contractions change quite a bit after the water breaks. They’re more painful, sharper. The bag of waters acts sort of like a cushion for contractions. For that reason, I prayed that it wouldn’t break until late.
I prayed that breastfeeding would be easy and seamless.
I prayed that my baby would not be jaundice (at least not enough to go under lights.) I just wanted to be able to bring home my baby with no complications.
I prayed for an easy-going baby that would be happy and just go with the flow of our days and our family.
I prayed that everyone, especially Silas, would adjust easily to this big change.
I even remember praying at one point, “Lord, I know I’m praying that everything would just be easy and You never promise that anything will be easy, but I’m going to ask for these things anyway because I know You can take care of it all!” He is so faithful. And even if things had not gone the way I hoped, He would still be faithful.
And here is how it all happened from start to present…
I told myself from the beginning of this pregnancy not to expect to have her early. That really helped me to not be impatient at the end. With Silas, I just expected to have him early and it drove me crazy in the last few weeks! I didn’t feel impatient this time at all. Also, it helped that this pregnancy was so easy, even at the end. I was sleeping GREAT and seeing a chiropractor twice a week so I really didn’t have many aches and pains! My mom got into town when I was 39 weeks and 7 days. I made it to 40 weeks and decided to try to self-induce at that point. I tried blue cohosh and it did nothing. So, after hearing from several people how well castor oil worked, I decided to try it the next day (40 weeks and 1 day.)
It was Sunday and we went to church as usual. I even saw my OB (Dr. Wood at Mercy) at church and told him I was beginning to feel a little impatient! (Yes, I go to church with my OB. Yes, it’s a little awkward. For me, anyway.) I decided against telling him my plans for the castor oil! Also, I wanted to ask him if he would be on call later that day, but decided against that as well. I didn’t want it to affect my decision to take the castor oil that day. At lunch I tried to eat light and stay hydrated in case the castor oil had a bad effect on me. After church I was so sleepy and knew I’d need rest, so I decided to take the castor oil after a nap. I made sure to communicate all of this with my doula, Rebekah, so she would be prepared as well.
Micah woke me up from my nap and told me, “You look so beautiful.” (Gosh, I love that man.) Then he asked, “Are you ready to do this?” So, I took 2 oz. of castor oil mixed with honey after my nap, about 4:00 pm. It didn’t taste as bad as I expected! Not great, of course, but not repulsive. I thought the blue cohosh tasted much worse. It took about 3-3.5 hours to take effect. I was having strong contractions, but after having weeks of prodromal labor, I wasn’t sure that they really felt any different. I walked laps around and around my living room and kitchen to keep the contractions going. I texted Rebekah and told her that they were getting stronger, I was going to take a shower and I would let her know how it was going after that. During and after my shower they continued to stay strong so I let her know that she could come over anytime!
As soon as I decided that these contractions were the real thing, I started praying. I prayed for strength, I prayed for my focus to be on God and His power in me. The word I wanted to remember through the whole labor was “strength”. I am strong, the Lord is strong, He makes me strong. During many of my contractions, I repeated the word “strength” in my mind and it really helped. I actually did felt a mental and physical strength when I focused on that.
When Rebekah came over I told her I still had not had any bleeding or seen any show so I was hoping I didn’t ask her to come over prematurely. We walked circles around the house over and over and my contractions stayed regular and strong. Rebekah hung a paper in the kitchen that said “I enjoy the birth of my baby” so that I would see it each time I circled though the kitchen. I was thankful to have that to focus on! I was making sure to stay hydrated with plenty of coconut water, and snacked on several Larabars. I knew I’d need the energy soon.
Eventually, I switched to sitting on the birthing ball, doing circles with my hips while she put pressure on my lower back during each contraction. Micah put on Pitch Perfect 2 for us to watch while we sat there (so now that movie will always remind me of my labor!) Rebekah made sure my birth affirmations were laid out visibly on the coffee table and chair by me so I was able to read them over and over as I sat there. It really helped to say those affirming things in my head! We didn’t get too far into the movie because the contractions got a lot closer together and more painful. So we decided to go ahead and make our way to the hospital. Our babysitter, Liz, was able to come over and stay with the kids so that my mom could come to the hospital with us. I was so thankful for that she could come with us and be in the room for Finley’s birth!
We got to the hospital at about 11:00 pm. They took me to a small observation room to see how progressed I was. When the nurse checked me, I was absolutely surprised to find out that I was only dilated to 2 cm and was still posterior. That’s what I had been for weeks! I felt so disappointed, frustrated, and discouraged. After hearing that, I thought we had come to the hospital too early, and I was wondering if this was even the real thing! Maybe the castor oil had just given me more prodromal labor! The nurse told me that she would monitor my contractions for an hour and then check me again and let me know if I should stay or go home. So, for the next hour I sat on a birthing ball in that tiny room through each contraction and just prayed. With every contraction I prayed, “Lord, please allow this contraction to bring her down further. Please use this contraction to open me up even more.” I tried to picture her coming down more with each one. The contractions got more painful throughout the hour but I didn’t know if they were being very effective. Later, the nurse came in to check me again. I was shocked when she announced, “You’ve made a lot of change! You’re at a 7!” God was certainly listening to my prayers in that small room!
We moved to a bigger room down the hall where I would deliver. The nurses put a hep lock in my left hand and were a bit concerned at the amount of blood that was gushing from my hand and wouldn’t stop. They blamed it on the heparin shots I had been taking for a month. They mentioned that they would keep pitocin on hand in case I didn’t stop bleeding after the birth. (All of this is the reason that I cannot have my babies in a birthing center or at home like I would prefer.) The nurse wanted to hook me up to an IV, but I told her that Dr. Wood had said it would be fine if I only had the hep lock in without being hooked up. She said, “Well, Dr. Wood is not the doctor on call, Dr. Rainwater is. So, I’ll have to ask her first.” I’m not sure if she ever asked Dr. Rainwater, but I was never hooked up to an IV.
I labored for a while, switching between standing and leaning on the birthing ball that was placed on the hospital bed and sitting on the birthing ball on the floor. Either one felt much better than being on the bed. It felt better to make deep moans through each contraction, so that’s what I did. I continued to pray throughout all of this and could hear Rebekah praying behind me as she kept the pressure on my lower back. That pressure on the lower back is wonderful, by the way! I really felt like I was able to relax and feel present during these contractions. Huge answer to prayer! Also, during this time, I was praying for strength and I specifically prayed for transition to come soon. I was ready. After that, I prayed and asked the Lord for a short pushing time. I remember that in between some of my contractions, I was able to rest and sometimes I felt like crying. I probably felt like crying because of all the hormones, but also I just kept thinking how I felt God’s presence in the room, I knew He was hearing my prayers, and I was so happy we would be meeting this girl soon! The oxytocin overload was strong at that point!
About an hour after we got into the room, another one of my prayers was answered. I had been praying during this whole pregnancy that my water wouldn’t break until the last minute, and that’s what happened! My water broke and I felt the contractions change immediately. I knew by the intensity, the pain, and the noises I was making, that this was transition time. It took about four awful, horrible, completely terrible contractions until I felt ready to push. During those contractions I had to focus more than anything on staying present and relaxing my body as much as possible. The nurse told me that I needed to get on the table so she could check me (not sure why, since I had just told her I needed to push! I was obviously ready.) I wish more than anything that she would have left me alone, but she needed to let the doctor on call know where I was at. So I climbed on the table and she checked me. I had another contraction while laying flat on my back and there are NO WORDS to describe that pain. It was SO much worse than the pain I felt standing up. I don’t even like to think about those moments on the bed because it was the worst pain I’ve ever felt IN MY LIFE. She said she needed to get another nurse to double check me (seriously?!) and she ordered me (pretty rudely, actually) to stay put and that I could NOT get up. I remember trying to say, “You can’t do that!” But I don’t think the words came out, too much pain. I begged for her to let me up. Looking back, I wish I would have just sat up to ease the pain even a little but I just stayed there for more contractions. I knew I needed to push, and once more, I was ordered by her, VERY sternly, to NOT push! Well, if you’ve ever been in labor and felt the need to push, then you know that there is nothing on earth that can stop your body from pushing when it needs to. You just can’t control it. I was told to blow through my contractions instead, so I did “horse lips” through them and tried not to push but my body continued to push anyway (and I was still on my back!). I wasn’t paying attention to the nurses at this point, but I think they realized by now that they would have to deliver the baby themselves because the doctor still wasn’t there. I finally felt her crown and then I pushed her head out. They unwrapped the cord from her neck, I pushed again and her shoulders came through. I pushed again and she was here! They put her straight on my chest and I was exhausted!
I have thought about it, and I think the BEST feeling I’ve ever had in my life has been the moments my children were born into the world after all that hard work. The work is finally over, there’s relief, and my baby is here! That hard work is so satisfying at that moment. The relief is so great. I remember thanking God over and over that she was here and thanking Him for a short pushing time. I told Micah, “I kept praying for a short pushing time and God answered!” I was so incredibly happy. They were able to get her to cry a bit and let the cord pulse for a few minutes. Dr. Rainwater arrived just minutes after she was born. She came in asking questions of the nurses and didn’t bother to say a word to me. She just sat down and began pushing on my stomach without warning. When I grimaced and mentioned how it was hurting she only said, “Oh, this is nothing compared to what you just went through.” Yep, in those are the only words she chose to speak to me while in the room. I delivered the placenta and then she left! I’ve talked to a few ladies who really like her and a few ladies who don’t care for her, but Dr. Rainwater didn’t leave a good impression on me.
My doula sent me this timeline after Finley was born (I’m loving the emoticons after each one):
For the most part, the nurses were wonderful. They referred to my birth plan the whole time and followed my wishes. I was able to take my placenta without a peep from anyone, I just had to sign a paper. Also, they allowed me to keep her skin to skin for over an hour and I’m so thankful for that! I never felt rushed or pressured at all to hurry and nurse. She snuggled and nursed so well for about an hour. The nurse that had been a little rude during labor suddenly became very sweet after I delivered, I’m not sure why! She made sure I had plenty of snacks and water. Also, she made sure to follow my birth plan as far as how I wanted my baby to be treated after the birth. Before we moved to a new room, I got up and took a shower, got dressed and took pictures of my sweet, new girl all while Micah slept!
My mom stayed with us for a week after she was born, that’s as long as she could stay since she had to get back to work. We are just so blessed to have her! She cooked, cleaned, grocery shopped, let Micah and I go out one night (with Finley, of course), and did crafts with the older kids. She is such a huge blessing and I don’t know what we would have done without her!
Finley Joy has lived up to her name in every way. She is an absolute JOY. She is just so sweet and laid-back. She was not jaundiced enough to go under lights. She is the ONLY baby we’ve had that we have been able to just take her home and enjoy her without going back to stay at the hospital. I can’t tell you how nice that’s been.
Overall, she has been sleeping well (only waking once at night!) and rarely cries. Going from 3 to 4 kids has been the easiest transition so far. Micah had to go back to work right after my mom left to go home so I was thrust into days alone with 4 kids right away. It’s been much easier than I imagined it would be. (I MIGHT have almost had a nervous break down one day towards the end of my pregnancy, just thinking about how hard I thought it would be.) She sleeps a lot now, so when she’s more awake things could change!
She is nursing so well. It hasn’t been hard at all and I am loving it. It has been effortless. Breastfeeding with Silas became so difficult eventually, that I made a goal to get to 6 months, at least. Well, we made it to 7! My goal for Finley is a year, and if she wants to go longer, that would be wonderful.
I’m just so thankful in every way for how this whole pregnancy, labor, and birth went. God was so faithful in all of it. There were a few moments during pregnancy where I felt very afraid to do this all again but when the time came, the Lord provided me with confidence and a sound mind. I’m so thankful that I had Micah and Rebekah there with me and that my mom could see her birth. She’s been in the room for all four! Like I said, this whole experience has been covered in prayer and I have seen His fingerprints in every moment. He is a good, good Father!