This was my third pregnancy. We had a wonderful water birth with our daughter, Coen, and we were looking forward to another one with this baby at Ste. Genevieve Hospital. Of course, because the hospital is an hour drive from our house the planning/preparing is always a little tricky. Starting around 38 weeks, we had the van packed every time we left the house, “just in case.” It was a pretty exhausting routine.
My due date was July 22nd 2014. It’s funny looking back, because now I can say that I went into labor just 2 short days later. But THEN… Then it felt like labor would NEVER COME. I was feeling very discouraged because I had consistent contractions off and on for 3 days prior to actually going into labor but my body just wasn’t kicking into active labor. This sort of thing didn’t happened with my first 2 pregnancies so, in a way, I felt like waiting for labor to begin this time around was an entirely new experience. I was concerned that I wouldn’t have a clue when I was REALLY in labor. I tried so hard to remain peaceful and keep a positive attitude but the waiting and the false alarms were so challenging! I definitely had a couple of teary meltdowns. Hormones can be so mean.
Finally, on Thursday, July 24th, I woke up at 7:30AM and had more contractions (just like I had been for days). Only now they finally started to get deeper and more painful, lasting about 6-8 min apart. I waited it out about 2 hours. They remained consistent so I called Robbie to come home from work around 9:30AM. I ate some breakfast and took a shower. The kids stayed with my Mom and we left for the hospital around 11:30AM.
It was a gorgeous summer day. Thankfully not too hot. We enjoyed a beautiful drive out to Ste. Genevieve, as we eagerly anticipated meeting our new little love. We got all checked in and settled in our room around 1:30PM. By that time, I was officially in labor and 4 cm dilated.
There is a sweet little garden in the middle of the hospital with a sidewalk and a pavilion. So I took my headphones and went out to the garden to labor by myself for a couple of hours, while Robbie took a nap to rest up for the real action to come. I walked around, listened to worship music and sang praises to God. These 2 hours, laboring alone with Jesus in this garden, were some of the most special moments I’ve ever shared with Him. It was so peaceful… so vulnerable… so intimate. I’m very thankful that I had that time. 2 hours felt like 5 minutes. I felt refreshed and ready for action!
By 4:30PM I was at 6cm and I decided to get into the tub. But after a couple of hours of laboring in the water, I still hadn’t progressed so I got out and started walking around again in an effort to get labor moving faster. By this time, it was around 7:30PM and my family and friends had arrived. So I went out to the waiting room and labored out there and enjoyed some time hanging out with everyone for a while.
Around 8:30PM, I went back to the room. Labor got pretty intense from this point forward. I wanted to make quick progress so I chose to continue walking around and standing during contractions. With each contraction I would lean into Robbie and he would help me work through it. I love laboring with my husband. We make a great team.
By 9:30PM I had only progressed to 7cm.
With only 1 cm of progress in 5 hours, I was trying not to get discouraged. My friend Julie suggested trying a technique called “Stomp-Stomp-Squat” to take labor up a notch and help bring the baby down. Basically, you stomp down hard with one foot, stomp down with the other, and then squat down as far as you can for as long as you can stand it. I felt pretty ridiculous so Robbie and Julie joined in and did them with me so I wouldn’t feel so silly all by myself. The nurses came in and started doing them with me too! Haha! It was pretty hilarious. (I wish we had that part on video too.) Well the exercise worked pretty well because contractions intensified.
At 10:30PM I got back into the water. I was having short strong contractions. I thought that I had to be getting close! At 11:00PM I got out of the water and did more walking and squatting. I was now barely 8cm. The nurse told me that my bag of water was bulging and causing my cervix to swell. The baby was not positioned in a way that was allowing the baby to descend low enough to press on my cervix and bring me to completion. She said that I could try to continue laboring on my own but that if I did that it would most likely take a very long time for the baby to be born. Or she said we could try to break my water and either one of two things would happen: (1) the baby would come down, turn correctly and I would most likely be pushing within minutes. Or (2) the baby may not turn correctly and I would have a harder labor for a potentially long remaining period of time (the bag of water makes labor a little less intense because it is more of a cushion). It was a gamble. I decided to labor for a little bit longer on my own and see what happened.
I got back in the water at 12:00AM and did lots of rocks, hip circles and squats to try to get the baby to turn and come down. After a half hour, I still hadn’t progressed any further and I was running out of energy FAST. I had worked so hard up until this point and really hadn’t slept well in days so I finally decided that I wanted the Doctor to break my water and see what happened.
Dr. Lam arrived to break my water around 12:45AM. As soon as he broke it I could feel the baby turn and drop… And I knew that I was about to push. I told Robbie to get in the tub with me. It was time. This moment is always so intense. This moment is one of the greatest challenges in life and also one of the greatest victories all wrapped up in one. I had had 2 completely different experiences with my first 2 deliveries. With Gideon, I never felt the “urge” to push. With Coen, nothing could have stopped me from pushing! So I didn’t know exactly what to expect. The Lord was so gracious to wrap me with His presence in this overwhelming moment. The song playing on my labor playlist was “Safe Place” by Enter The Worship Circle. This was the perfect song. It was as if The Holy Spirit was right there with me, saying, “I am here and I will keep you safe in this moment. Just trust me.” I was on my knees facing Robbie and holding on to him so tight. I prayed my way through the pain and with the next contraction I started to push. This delivery was more of an effort to push but I could also tell that I needed to. It was, yet again, a totally unique experience. Dr. Lam was behind me helping me deliver. And I really appreciated the help. I could tell that this was my biggest baby yet! With the next contraction I pushed out the head. While the head was out they flipped me over, facing forward with my back to Robbie’s chest. I pushed again and out came the shoulders. Then, with one final (BIG) push, I delivered the rest of the body at exactly 1:00AM.
They lifted our baby straight up to my chest and said it was a boy. I was so excited that I finally guessed the right gender! “I KNEW you were a boy!” I said. I was so relieved and so happy to see his sweet face and embrace his warm little body. He was 8lbs and 8 oz of wonderful. I couldn't stop kissing him. I told Robbie that I thought he had a look all his own. (But with every day that passes I see more and more of his siblings in his face and expressions.) He hardly cried at all. He was so peaceful, just like his name, Solomon.
Looking back now, it’s interesting to see how this labor seems to represent this season in my life so well. Even though it was so difficult and I had to work so HARD to push through the pain, there was a beautiful security and a confidence in the journey like never before. I had so much joy in the midst of the process. And while there are always so many unknowns about birth, I knew that my God was in control, my husband was by my side, and my baby was counting on me. My heart was fixed and my hope was sure.
Solomon is a wonderful overflow… Just when I thought that my life couldn’t get any more full, The Lord came in with His glorious abundance and said, “I have even MORE for you.” We love you, Solomon Gavriel, our peaceful strong man of God.