My sweet Livi. You are lying in the bed next to me as I begin typing this the morning after your birth. Your brother and sister are enamored with you. Your dad and I are in love with you. Our family feels complete…
Saturday morning the contractions I’d been having over the last 2 weeks started getting closer and closer together until they were 5 minutes apart. They were short 30-45 second contractions, but I called Deborah, our midwife, and she said, “We’re not gonna play. I’m coming.” We both expected a fast birth, and it was… eventually.
The house became a flurry of birth preparations – shower curtains on the bed topped with old sheets, your dad filling the tub halfway so it could be topped off quickly when I’d want in. The grandmas were folding laundry and putting away clean dishes. Aunt Zoe and her friend were playing with Gia and Asher and baking your birthday cupcakes.
And then the contractions stopped.
I’d been locked in our bathroom with worship music laboring by myself, but the amount of people and activity that I knew existed on the other side of the door was messing with me. I felt like everyone was in the other room just waiting for me to have a baby. It’s also likely your position stopped labor. You had favored keeping your back on my right side through the last weeks of pregnancy, and I think that’s what probably kept me from starting labor even though I’d been having legit contractions for over two weeks.
At noon my chiropractor stopped by our house to pick up her daughter (Zoe’s friend) and she was able to adjust me (as best she could on a bed). We had hoped that would help you change your position. Then your dad and I left the house to walk around the neighborhood, and I had a few more contractions. Though it didn’t make labor start again, it was super peaceful to be out walking just the two of us. The weather was gorgeous – sunshine, blue skies, and a breeze. We walked holding hands. It’s one of my favorite memories of the day.
When we got back to the house I was hungry, so I had a sandwich for lunch. It was the weirdest thing to come out to the kitchen and eat lunch with everyone when I was supposed to be in labor. With previous births once labor started, it didn’t stop. It was ready, go! Hello, active labor!
After lunch we decided I would try acupuncture. A week earlier I had gone, and it gave me strong contractions so I was hopeful this would get things going again. Deborah left for a bit and said to call her when we were back at the house. If contractions started again we could try the side-lying release to get you to change position. She checked me at this point and said I was 3-4 centimeters dilated. Well, I would hope so after weeks of contractions!
After we got home from acupuncture your dad and I laid down on the bed to rest, and Deborah came back to the house. Contractions were coming, but at about 20 minutes apart. Aye… So we tried the side-lying release which is 5 contractions with me on my side and my top leg hanging off the bed while Deborah pushed down on my hip. Then 5 contractions on the other side. Then 5 more contractions on my hands and knees. It took about an hour or longer to get through the first 5 contractions because they were so far apart, but when I switched to my other side the contractions came one right after another. Then I moved to my hands and knees and contractions started getting stronger.
I was leaning on the big exercise/birth ball and moving to get through the contractions. Deborah would massage or push against my low back. Then between contractions she’d use the rebozo (a long piece of fabric) under my belly to try to jiggle you into a different position. According to Deborah active labor started between 7 and 7:30 PM. You were born at 10:12 PM. We were right. You came fast… once you decided to come :)
I had one contraction on the birth ball that was super intense, and I asked for the herbal transition stuff. I don’t know what it is, but I bought it because I know what transition is like, and it about puts me over the edge. Deborah was like “why don’t we wait and see what the next contraction is like.” I’m sure she was thinking there’s no way this girl is in transition already. Except, I was. I felt the nausea, and then I got the chills, and I was like, “Give me the stuff.”
I have no idea if it worked. I did get up off the ball, because that was not working for me. I went back to my trusty “lean on the counter for support and move my hips and body all over the place” to get through contractions. But I ended up dropping all the way down to the floor and then I was on my hands and knees and, oh my word, it was so intense. And that was when I cussed for the first time during child birth haha (If you don’t know the backstory read this post)
With each child, labor has gotten shorter but way more intense. My body is going from 0 to 10 in a shorter period of time, so it makes sense. It’s just not fun. At this point the tub gets filled all the way with hot water, and I ask your dad to get me undressed and in my swim suit top. I literally cannot even stand up to undress myself. He’s like, “The tub is ready. Get in.” and I’m like, “Dude I can’t get there. You gotta help me out here.” So he puts my top on me while I am on hands and knees and then gets me the 20 feet from the bathroom to the inflatable tub in our bedroom.
When I get in the hot water the contractions seem to space out a bit for a much needed rest. In between contractions I actually fall asleep/doze off. I’ve never understood how a woman could fall asleep in labor, but I have now experienced it, and it is wonderful. I get cold washcloths for my neck and face, because I’m sweating from the heat of the water. But that hot water is so necessary. It makes the contractions slightly more bearable.
The contractions pick up the pace and gain intensity once more. Your dad stays by my side. Through every contraction he leans over me and pushes on my back. As I feel one coming I motion with with my hands for him to stand up, and he knows it’s time. In between contractions he gives me sips of water as I lean on the edge of the tub or wipes my face and arms with a cold cloth. He speaks to me. He tells me I’m beautiful. That man… he’s a good one.
Through this time I am just waiting to feel the urge to push. I keep thinking there will be relief when I get to push. Maybe I don’t accurately remember my past birth experiences, but there was definitely not relief when it came time to push! I knew it was close – I could just start to feel the urge to bear down as the contractions would finish and then… I was pushing. Deborah called the grandmas in to take pictures and record video.
I felt so out of control. This seemed like the roughest of the births when it came to pushing. Again, probably, because it was so fast – I think about 5 minutes. As I pushed I felt the pop of my water breaking and within the next contraction or two they saw your head. As I pushed through a contraction and your head was coming out, the contraction ended with your head partially out, but not fully, and I was like, “What the heck!” I did little breaths and kept myself from pushing to prevent tearing and used my hand to support myself and help stretch around you. This was all in a matter of seconds and felt so crazy but looking back at the video, it actually wasn’t as crazy as it felt.
The next contraction came fast, and I pushed your head out. Your dad was behind me supporting your head as I began pushing the rest of your body out. It seemed to take forever. Everyone says you came out with arms flailing and legs kicking. I raised my leg as I finished pushing you out and your dad brought you through the water to the front of me. I cradled you to my chest and leaned back against the tub, so thankful you were here and that the pushing was over!
Some of the first words I heard as you made your entrance into this world was Deborah saying, “You’ve got yourself a fighter!” I wonder about the significance of those first words…
Gia and Asher had gone to bed earlier in the evening, but were awake when you were born and came in to meet you. Your Aunt Zoe said she knew you were born because all of the loud noises finally stopped (ha!) I got out of the tub to birth the placenta and nurse you on our bed. Dad cut your cord, and then held you while I took a shower.
I loved having you at home. After showering I put on a nightgown and got into my own bed where they weighed and measured you and did all the newborn stuff. The kids were right there on the bed with me and loving every minute of it. Your brother and sister were overjoyed to meet you and touch you and kiss you…
You’ve been born into a family that loves you very much Livi Rae. You have a place in our family and in this world that only you can uniquely fill. I can’t wait to see all that God has for you, but for now I am content in knowing you are what God has for me. And I promise to do my very best as your momma.
I love you, sweet girl.