I’m finally getting to Katherine’s birth story now that she is 3-and-a-half months old. Better late than never!
EARLY LABOR AND THE SUPERBOWL
On Superbowl Sunday morning (February 5, 2017 and one day before K’s due date) Chris took the kids to church. That’s when I started feeling some mild, steady contractions.
Later in the afternoon, my daughter and I watched Frozen. I sat through the entire movie (something I rarely do) and noticed the timing of the contractions was about 8-12 minutes apart. By the way, I recommend this movie when in labor! It’s all about releasing fears and letting it go!
Anyway, the contractions didn’t intensify all day so I wasn’t sure which direction this was heading. I took a stroll around 5pm and ran into a friend so we walked together. I didn’t even mention I was likely in early labor, so you can see how mild they were.
I came home and finished up the pot roast I made for dinner (which turned out great by the way! I seasoned a chuck roast with a natural onion soup mix, thyme and worcestershire and cooked it on low in the crock pot around 8 hours).
Then we watched the game which, as you probably know, was traumatic for us Falcons fans. My 10-yr old son took it the worst. After a fair amount of counseling we got him to sleep around midnight (on a school night!)
Immediately after, things picked up speed.
Chris packed his bag and tried to get a little sleep, which I kept interrupting (“what should I do?”) My 6-yr old daughter was born within an hour of me entering the hospital room and I wanted to make sure this baby wasn’t born in the car. But on the other hand, laboring at home is so much better than at the hospital.
LAST MINUTE SWITCH TO MIDWIVES
This brings me to a side story. At 37 weeks, I switched over from the beloved OB who delivered our other children to a midwifery practice, in hopes of a more progressive birthing experience. Our first two children were delivered at a hospital known for a high rate of interventions. I knew that some of my birth wishes would have been met with resistance and being older and having less fight in me I just couldn’t do it. So we decided I’d deliver at a hospital where the staff was more experienced with natural birth, but where an OB would be available if something went wrong.
CALLING THE MIDWIFE AND ROCKING
2:30am – I called the midwife. Contractions were 5-8 minutes apart but because I was talking through them, she thought it was too soon to come in. I wasn’t so sure. I had a feeling I was farther along than it seemed.
She said I might want to find a rocking chair and labor some more at home. Let me tell you, rocking chairs are THE BEST place to labor! I got into a rhythmic motion with each contraction and totally zoned out. Before I knew it, the contractions were alarmingly close together. Maybe every 2-3 minutes apart and 1-2 minutes long?
Incidentally, my labor mantra was “this is God’s work, not mine”. This helped me to be passive and faithful.
3:30am – I wanted to stay in that chair forever and probably would have had the baby right there if I hadn’t forced myself to get up. At this point, I could barely walk and by the time I made it to the bathroom I could barely stand up. So it was time to go!
AT THE HOSPITAL
It was my first time delivering at this hospital and we had no idea where to park and enter in the middle of the night. It was unnerving. Finally we parked and I started the long trek down to a side door. I was shuffling at a snail’s pace because life now seemed to be one long contraction.
It was very cold outside. I had recently finished reading Tramp For The Lord, Corrie Ten Boom’s follow up to The Hiding Place. She described an experience in Ravensbrück, the notorious German concentration camp for women, where they were made to stand in the freezing cold, two hours before roll call started. I thought about those woman and it fortified me.
Finally I made it inside the hospital and we convinced the nurses that I needed to go straight to the birthing room. They set up the birthing tub but I wouldn’t be able to get in until after 15-20 minutes of fetal monitoring. Lying in a hospital bed at the height of labor is not very much fun.
Some minutes in, the monitor fell off and there was an annoying beeping sound. When I couldn’t take it anymore, I unhooked myself and made an executive decision to get into the tub. I did something similar in my previous pregnancy so am probably known as the “bathtub bandit” in these parts. Oh well!
The tub helped a little due to the feeling of weightlessness it offered, but it was too lukewarm to make the contractions feel much less intense. I kept reassuring myself that the more intense the contraction, the closer I was to the baby coming out. Side note: I was also dying for a coke – weird!
KATHERINE IS BORN
About 10-15 minutes after getting into the tub, I reached my threshold. I couldn’t take it anymore and said it out loud. “I’m done with these contractions!” And I kid you not, they stopped. This is the glorious lull between transition and pushing.
Soon after, I was pushing. Chris was behind me (him outside the tub and me inside) supporting me with his elbows under my armpits. After a few exhausting pushes, Katherine Olivia was born at 6:55am, weighing 8 pounds 7 ounces!
Katherine (which in Latin means pure, clear) was with me for the first hour after she was born, the “golden hour”. I soaked her in, while gazing out the window at the sunrise shimmering against the Atlanta skyline. It was a redemptive birthing and bonding experience and I’m deeply grateful for it and even more so, for her.