How we found out: I was finally getting into a good routine with my two boys. Jenkins was coming up on his 3rd birthday and my sweet Delano was about 11 months old. We were in the thick of the holiday season; planning visits to family and shopping for Christmas presents. I remember that I was feeling just a little different and knew pregnancy was definitely possible. But so often, my body will start acting weird for whatever reason and pregnancy is always the first thing I think of. So I kept my assumption quiet for a while. Previous pregnancies and breast feeding make it hard to know what is going on. But as Delano’s birthday approached, I felt very confident that I was, in fact, in “the family way” once again. I never even took a pregnancy test! Though I shouldn’t brag about that because I have been wrong before. But I just waited and watched my belly grow. According to my guesstimations, it was looking like we were going to have a summer baby!
The Pregnancy: Having a baby in the dead of winter (like we had with both our boys) was night and day different than having a summer baby. I spent most of my days pushing my boys in the double stroller up and down hills as we walked to the park. During the first trimester, I was a good bit sicker than I was with the boys but I gained weight in all the right places. With Delano, I had swelled up all over. This time around, it was all belly and I felt great. Except not so great when I was running to the bathroom to throw up. But that, of course, ended early on. I wore shorts and maxi skirts and loved every minute of it. I didn’t have to squeeze my thighs into maternity jeans aka saggy crotch torture pants. I was active and full of energy.
We even started looking to buy our first house during this pregnancy. After the typical, frustrating process, we moved into our first home right after I started my third trimester. I was ready to nest! And I did, constantly and somewhat obsessively. I had lists everywhere with instructions about the birth, what to do after the birth, and emergency numbers posted in case everyone’s cell phones died and we had to use a landline. Our house was rearranged almost daily, and all baby clothes had been gone through and in “if its a boy” and “if its a girl” bags. (My girl bag didn’t have much in it except a few white onsies.)
Because I never had a cycle between Delano and this new mystery baby, my midwife couldn’t pin down when the due date was within a three week time frame. She recommended that we have an ultrasound so we could find a more accurate due date. This was a first for us. We have been very blessed with healthy, by the book pregnancies so there hasn’t been a need to have a peak inside before the big day. Unlike everyone else (or it seems like everyone except us), we like to be surprised by the gender at the birth. So sonograms have never tempted us before. But now that it was recommended, we went ahead and had one. It was just the basic 2D ultrasound. But boy, were we impressed! It really is amazing how awesome technology is. We could see our sweet little baby sticking his/her tongue out. Incredible! We got a more solid due date and were actually able to make it out of there without revealing the gender. Though, I must be honest. I did try to sneak a few questions to the doctor, hoping I could read his response. That didn’t work, much to all of our family members’ disappointment. But we got what we came for; the due date. The baby was actually due on my husband 30th birthday!
Birth Day!: On the morning before my due date, I woke up after an incredible night sleep. I had not been sleeping well at this point because of being so uncomfortable. I slept straight through the night and woke up at 7am (which that is a miracle in itself. My boys usually are ready to face the day by 6:30am). I went to the bathroom (as you do in the morning) and found that a tiny pink trickle came after I was done “using” the bathroom. This trickle was followed by a strong contraction. Not the kind that really hurts yet, but one that let’s you know what it is without making you wonder. “Mmmm…” I thought, “Could I actually be going into labor before my due date? Unheard of!” So I put on a maxi pad and went into the kitchen to start breakfast. I told my husband what had happened and I sent a text to my midwife just to let her know. I knew that this was probably my water trickling. But with both boys, my water broke moments before their heads were delivered. I know births are all different but after having two, its hard to believe that something out of the ordinary will happen.
I had a few more contractions, but they were only about 30 seconds in length so I sent my husband off to work without a second thought. He was working a chess camp that week and would be home a little after noon so I didn’t think I would need him before then.
By 8am, my contractions were certainly coming closer together but they still weren’t very long. I knew they needed to be longer before things got serious so I kept telling my midwife I wasn’t ready for her. I hate the thought of sweet midwives just sitting around waiting for labor to really get going. Plus, my boys were keeping me distracted with the usual morning routine. I knew my contractions would get my attention when it was go-time.
Around 8:30ish, I realized that I needed to stop and focus through each contraction. I put a show on for the boys and went to make sure everything they needed was in their bag that I had packed weeks ago (the nesting that I referred to earlier). All was in order so I texted my mother-in-law to come get the boys. She was tied up with work. “That’s fine,” I thought, wondering if I should freak out. I went to the second name on my list (even though I knew all the info on the lists, I found comfort seeing the game plan in front of me. Am I the only one like that?). I called my brother-in-law who lives less than a mile away. I think I woke him up. But he was over to my house in a few minutes. I could tell he was wondering if he should freak out or remain calm. He is such a sweet guy.
I gave him the keys to my mini-van and I kissed my boys. I had given them the run down of what was happening so they seemed prepared for a change of schedule for the day. I remember even getting into the van to buckle the boys car seats. A mother’s work is never done even when in labor. It’s a strange feeling knowing you need someone else to look after your children during a time like this. I already missed them so much as I watched them drive away.
Now I was all alone in the house. I didn’t have anyone to be brave in front of or to help get a cup of milk. It was just me and this new baby on the way. For a split second, I thought about what I would do if I was all alone when it came time to deliver the baby. That was a bit overwhelming so I didn’t linger on that thought for long. I called my husband and my midwife. Both were making their way to me. My contractions were just a few minutes apart but hadn’t increased much in length until after I made my phone calls. Suddenly, they were the real deal and were about 90 seconds long. When my husband came in, I was laying on the couch on my side, concentrating through the contractions. It was somewhat after 9am, I believe. He kissed my head and started filling up the birthing tub and doing a few other preparations that we needed. I don’t remember talking much to him.
The rest of the time table is a bit blurry. I remember my midwife and birthing assistant/church friend came in and said sweet things to me as they got all set up. I asked my midwife if she had ever witnessed a painless birth. I had read something about them once and wondered if they were real. Like one wonders if unicorns are real. She said no and I went back to work in a contraction. I remember getting into the birthing tub when labor really kicked up a notch. I wanted to push to make the pain stop. I never have an overwhelming urge to push like some women. I find myself always guessing if it is time yet. I know that it relieves some of the pressure when you push. At this point, relief was the only thing I was after. My midwife checked me and said that I was not fully dilated yet and I shouldn’t push.
I have some weird insecurity about this not-knowing-when-to-push thing. It’s amazing how you can’t really hide from your fears or pretend like they aren’t there when in labor. It brings them all out in the light so you can see them for what they are. I must have said something about not knowing when to push because my midwife then told me that she had never witnessed a painless birth but had seen women give birth without pushing. I had never heard that before and it kind of blew my mind. But only for a moment because suddenly I was back in another contraction and needed to concentrate. Soon after this I was able to start pushing and I did, though I wondered what it would be like to not push at all.
I remember muttering something to myself like “This is for my baby” as I tried to focus through the pain. I never want to think of labor as anything but an amazing privilege. Having had two kids already, I knew the adrenaline rush of preparing myself to leap over obstacles, lift cars, and rip bricks apart to get to my children. The reason I was working hard now was for another precious one just like them. And I wanted to get to this baby no matter how tiring or all-encompassing the pain was that throbbed in my body. Keeping my new baby at the center of my focus helped me to remember why I was hurting.
When I was having my first son, I wasn’t convinced I had a baby in there even when I was in labor. I had a hard time imagining the labor ever ending because I had never known what was on the other side of it. This time around, I wanted to continually remind myself why I was working and for whom I was working to bring into the world. But it was starting to really hurt and I was getting tired. I had no idea how long it had been or even if it was day or night. My midwife asked if I wanted to feel for the baby’s head because sometimes that helps moms at this late stage. I didn’t want to. I just wanted it all to be over.
Then the most glorious thing happened! I felt that terrible ring of fire. Have you heard of it? Or felt it? It happens when the baby’s head is crowning and everything down there is stretched to it’s max. It is truly so incredibly painful. The last thing you want on fire is your down-unders. Am I right, ladies? But the moment I felt it, I was on cloud 9! I remembered this horrible feeling and it seems to proclaim in audible words, “You are almost done! You will soon meet your baby!”
I don’t have actual memories between that realization and when my baby was finally delivered. It seemed to have happened pretty fast. I reached out to hold that precious, crying newborn with gladness and thanksgiving in my heart! Someone asked what the baby’s gender was. I checked, expecting another boy. “My Pamela!” I exclaimed! And I quickly checked again because I couldn’t believe it. “Oh Pamela!” my husband whispered through a smile. I had never known how badly I needed a girl until that moment. She was perfect at 8lbs and 4 oz. It was only just after 1pm and the labor had only been 6 hours from the moment I woke up that morning until the sweet birth of our daughter.
The name “Pamela” came from a dream my husband had before we were even expecting our first child. He dreamed that he woke up in the morning and left the room for a moment and when he came back, I sat in the bed with long, angelic hair (that would be a dream) and held a small babe in my arms. I looked at him and said in a calm, dignified voice, “Her name is Pam.” My husband cried and said “Oh Pamela”. Ever since that dream, he has been dead set on having a daughter with that name. It took me some time to come around to it. But now, I can’t imagine a better name for our sweet Pamela.
Later that day, my parents came driving in on two wheels to meet our sweet girl. My mom, upon hearing the news, ran to Target because I didn’t have a single piece of girl clothing in the house. Even gender neutral stuff always looks more boyish to me. She texted saying she was coming to town in a “cloud of pink”. It was such a special day.
My boys met their sister the following day. Jenkins was pretty disappointed that she wasn’t a boy. But the moment he saw her, he had nothing but sweetness and love for that little girl. Delano was only 18 months at the time so he was a little freaked out about someone else laying in his momma’s lap. He even shunned me for an entire week as a protest about the newcomer. But after that, he finally came around and loved holding his little sister (with constant supervision, of course!) It’s funny. Del and Pammy are still pretty competitive for my attention. But they definitely have their sweet moments with each other. I love how a new baby makes the entire family feel a little more complete and no one can imagine life without this new, precious creature. Thank you, Jesus, for babies.
This is just the first birth story of a series I will be posting from friends and family members who choose to participate. I thought this would be a good way to gear up for my next birth that is just 10 weeks away! Unreal. Be looking for more birth stories on my The Honest Truth page. Because nothing is more honest than birth. Thanks for reading and God bless!