A Birth Story: When the Orchid Blooms

Well my life has been changed once again by the preciousness of a newborn! I have learned so many lessons throughout this pregnancy and now postpartum.  All the ups and downs of hormones and pregnancy have been well worth it to get to be apart of this little one’s life. I feel like a first time mom all over again as I am having to relearn how to do things like get those sweet little arms in and out of long sleeve onsies.  I am constantly reminded that I don’t really know anything and have had to struggle along when I feel like I should be really good at the whole pregnancy/birth/newborn phase by now. This story has all the usual birth story stuff  but it is also about learning patience and how to let go of things that don’t really matter. And, of course, this birth story is about meeting the most spirited and precious baby #4.

Because I knew I would be posting this birth story, I was constantly thinking of titles for the post. Toward the end of pregnancy, if I sneezed, I would think, “It Started with a Sneeze,” or if it rained, I thought, “A Light Through the Storm.” I love thinking of titles.  But as the days continued to fly by, I realized that my orchid, which has basically been a pot of big, dark green leaves most of its time with me, had just grown two new stems covered with buds. I thought that as the buds grew and my belly extended that there must be some connection. Like E.T. and Elliott. I would not go into labor until the orchid bloomed, I decided. This, of course, is absurd. But waiting for a finicky flower to bloom was much like waiting for labor to start and it was less emotional for me. Plus, it made an excellent title for this blog post. Won’t you agree?

To tell the story in its entirety, lets go back to about 12 months ago when I first began telling people that I was indeed in the “family way” once again. Keep in mind that my sweet little bundle is 12 days old today. For those of you who aren’t mathematicians,  12 months is a particularly long pregnancy. I will explain.

Last March, I decided that I must be pregnant. My breast milk was low, my body seemed to be telling me that things were a-changing, I was emotional to put it nicely, and every now and then I would feel the tiniest precious flutter in my belly. I hate taking pregnancy tests because it feels wasteful when they are negative. I also pretend like I understand what my body is telling me so I just went with it. I was pregnant. I started telling a few people here and there while always throwing in a little disclaimer that I could be wrong but felt pretty sure that I was. After a little while, I got really confident and just told people straight out. I contacted my midwife, I figured I was around 12 weeks or so, I wore very belly bump friendly dresses to church while putting my hand on my belly occasionally, and even told people I was already feeling movement.

But one morning I woke up and just didn’t feel super pregnant that day. So I took a test. Negative. Next morning, Ol’ Aunt Flo came for a visit. Embarrassment seemed to slowly spread over me like a thick, suffocating tar. No belly bump. Just belly. No sweet baby flutters. Just gas. Ugh. So humiliating. I had to go un-tell too many people. I just emailed all the ladies in my Sunday school class and then didn’t go for a couple of weeks. Oh the shame is still painful! Why did I just relive it to tell you!? Oh I know why.  When I do something like this, it makes me feel better when as many people know about it as possible. Then no one ever thinks that I don’t do really embarrassing things which means no one will think I am normal only to find out one day that I have done things like rubbed my none pregnant belly in public.  “I yam what I yam”, people. Popeye knows what I am talking about.

I tell this part of the story because obviously my body was trying to get back into the swing of things which made me feel emotional/hormonal, crampy, and just uncomfortable. I have only had about 5 periods since March 2011 so you can see how I could be confused. After months of feeling my body getting back to normal, I actually did get pregnant at some point and quickly confirmed it with a pregnancy test before telling anyone! In fact, I got to announce it at Pamela’s first birthday with all family present. Mentally and physically, I still feel like those extra three months seemed to be added to this pregnancy.  By the time the real due date rolled around, I was more than ready to go into labor.

I know my hair is a bit messy. This is a picture of honesty. 🙂

The actual pregnancy was not exactly a walk in the park. The first trimester was riddled with nausea and migraines. My sweet family had to put up with a grouchy, non-productive mom for a few weeks. But we made it through. The next trimester was much better like many are. I seemed to “bloom” quite quickly but that’s no surprise since this was my fourth pregnancy.  So I wore maternity clothes about 20 weeks sooner that I usually reserved for the end of pregnancy . It really didn’t bother me much. I have been in a constant state of weight gain and loss for the past five years so I know it comes with the territory. By the time the third trimester came, I was feeling pretty big and my energy seemed low. Keeping up with the older three kids was taking its toll. I had good and bad days. I had lots of encouragement from my sweet husband and precious family and friends. I was more than ready to meet this new baby and I also desperately wanted to play with my older kids again without having to be careful all the time. But I had to be patient and wait. Assuming this baby would come early since the other three had paved the way, I wondered if I would even make it to full term. There probably wasn’t much keeping this baby in there after all. Based on my emotions and how I felt physically, I decided that I would give birth the day that I hit 37 weeks, which was a Sunday. On the Tuesday prior to this date, I went to my midwife appointment. After feeling around on my belly, asking other midwives/assistants to do the same, my midwife concluded that the baby, who had been head down for weeks and weeks, was now breech (apparently due to a pendulous uterus. Because I haven’t done anything to strengthen my abs between kids, my uterus tilts forward. This can encourage baby to be breech. More on that in a future post). At first, I was hardly phased by this information. But the more it set in, I realized this could throw a major wrench in my plan to give birth at home. My midwife even told me that she had not delivered a breech baby yet (except for a twin who came second) and did not know if she was comfortable with doing so.  My wheels spun and I tried to figure out a plan but ultimately, I ended up crying on the shoulder of the sweet birth assistant. I was not in control and I had to accept that.

Getting all the measurements.

My midwifery team gave me lots of exercises to do to encourage the sweet kid to flip before they tried to manually turn the baby. I spent about a week doing these exercises like laying upside down on a tilted ironing board (check out spinningbabies.com if you are in a similar situation). Not super comfortable but I wanted to do anything I could to get baby to flip. I cried on the phone to my mom who was so sweet and reassured me that this baby was going to be head down and to not worry. I always say that if the safest place for me to have a baby is in the hospital, then I will go, of course. But now faced with the reality of possibly having a hospital birth (which in a breech situation would probably mean c-section), I realized I was all talk. I was not happy about the idea and I carried the weight of the possibility on my face. I hate when I see a momma who can’t even pull it together to smile when looking at her children. Now I was seeing that momma in the mirror. I was all sorts of overwhelmed, worried, and depressed. I hate that a little bit of not so great news had this kind of impact on me.  This news had defeated me.  I am not against hospitals and definitely am thankful for them and modern medicine. There are just things that I want to avoid that can typically happen in a hospital birth. I also love the comfort of being in my own home during labor and delivery. But the biggest thing that I was struggling with was the unknown. Giving birth in the hospital is completely foreign to me and I am a wet noodle in new situations.

Throughout the next week or so, I felt the baby’s head on my right side and then later on my left side and sometimes in the middle pushing on my ribs. This baby clearly had plenty of room to move around even at this late stage of pregnancy. The Sunday I had decided to give birth came… and went. Predicting when I will go into labor is not something I am gifted with. I relaxed and finally was able to let go of thinking that I could control anything. I enjoyed time with my family again and just waited for my Tuesday appointment to see if my exercises and all the prayers had had an effect on the baby’s position. Much to my relief, it had! The baby’s head was down and nestled in. Just in case, my midwife told me to stop all the exercises I had been doing and to wear my belly band to hopefully keep baby from flipping again.

Baby was in the right position and I was ready to go into labor. For the next 3 weeks, I waited for any little sign that labor was starting. For the next 3 weeks, I had no signs that labor would ever come. More lessons of patience. I was getting pretty tired and awkward. I had to sit more than I am used to and let my husband do my usual jobs around the house. He brought lots of high fructose into our home, which is the one thing I refuse to buy. We aren’t health nuts but not buying HF is my one rule. My husband has no rules. The day he brought fruit loops home is the day I sobbed on the couch. Hormones were a major factor here. But I also had to learn to let go again. My children would be fine. I knew this. I am a pretty laid back person, I like to think, as long as things stay within the boundaries I have set (that doesn’t sound like something a laid-back person would say). My boundaries are pretty wide so I don’t often have issues with them being crossed. But when they are, I become a puddle of emotions and uneasiness.

My due date was on the Sunday before Spring break. On the Friday before,  I started feeling some pretty regular yet light contractions every 20 minutes. Nothing major but slightly more noticeable than Braxton Hicks.  I called my husband at work to let him know. A couple hours later, nothing had changed but I called my husband again to ask if he could come home early as  I was having a rough day and didn’t want to be exhausted if I did go into full labor. I hardly ever call my husband at work and have never ever asked him to come home early for me. I don’t like needing help with my kids and with chores. I have serious issues asking for help even if he is just in the other room. I had to let this go. I had to admit that I couldn’t do the things I normally do. This is hard, ya’ll! I don’t want to be any less than awesome for my family. I had to let this expectation of myself go.

The light contractions lasted from Friday to Wednesday with not much change. I slept great and wasn’t super bothered by them. The only thing that bothered me was that I went passed my due date! That is not suppose to happen with kid #4. Alas, I had to be patient. I know there is no way to hurry a baby who is snug in my belly and I know that any sign that labor is starting isn’t a real sign. Labor starts when it hurts. That’s my only sign. Wednesday night, we put the kids down and I had a few contractions that had a little more bite to them. I started checking the time and realized I was having them ever 7-9 minutes. Improvement! I told my husband and we began transforming our bedroom into a birth room. The inflatable pool was blown up, the desk and night stands were moved around. I got out my boxes of items I had prepared for labor like clean towels and wash cloths, clothes for baby, and my birth kit. I made several half peanut butter sandwiches in case I needed some food during labor. Everything was ready. So we went to bed. Around 3:30am, a contraction woke me up but I was able to go back to sleep. Around 4am, Delly woke me up because his blanket was all twisted. I tucked him back into bed and had to grit my teeth through a few bigger contractions. Nothing serious, but they were getting uncomfortable. At 4:30, I was ready to admit that this was actual labor so I decided that going back to sleep was not an option. I went to the kitchen and chomped down a pb&j or two to give me energy. My husband got up with me and started filling the birth pool as well as texted my mother-in-law who was going to take the kids to her house during labor. At 5am, I texted my midwife to let her know what was up. My labor increased in intensity. My husband made me a massive plate of eggs and toast. Between contractions, I hammered my breakfast as quickly as I could. The thought of having to chew while having a contraction seemed horrible and probably dangerous. I asked my husband if we had heard back from either my midwife or mother-in-law. “Not yet”, was his response. I was concentrating pretty hard at this point so I didn’t have time to worry about it. My husband is pretty good at not looking concerned when he is. I had no sense of time but it was creeping up on 7am now. Kids were waking up. My midwife arrived at some point during this time, apologizing profusely that her phone was on silent which never happens. I know this is true because she always responds promptly. At this point though, I had learned a serious lesson of letting things go so even if she had not made it in time, I think I would have been fine with it. I was just ready to have that sweet baby. I could hear my kids in the kitchen having breakfast between my contractions. One of my biggest fears about having a home birth was my kids hearing me in pain. I let it go because I had no other choice.

I asked my midwife if I could get in the birth tub and she said I absolutely could. I then asked if it would slow labor down. I knew I was working hard but thought I was far from the end. She and the assistant kind of laughed and said labor would definitely not slow down at this point. I got in. It felt so nice. My husband was in and out of the room, wanting to be with me, but also tending to the kids in the kitchen or checking the temperature of the water in the birth pool. I had a few contractions in the pool and then the training midwife checked to see how far along I was. She told me I could push whenever I wanted to. If you have read my other birth stories, I always have an insecurity about knowing when to push. I never have a huge urge and always try to push a little early or second guess myself on how hard to push when it is time for it. Earlier in my pregnancy, I told my husband that I planned to not push at all this birth unless I actually felt an urge. Luckily, my husband heard the training midwife say that I could push if I wanted to. He grabbed my hand and whispered into my ear, “Don’t push until you have to.” I am so glad he was right there with me at that moment, squeezing my hand. I remembered to wait for the urge to push. I let one contraction go without pushing and it felt like the baby’s head was pushing down hard.

“I think I am going to push this time!” I kind of yelled. I pushed and I felt something strong. “Something popped!” I screamed. As the contraction left and I felt like a normal person again, I realized I was half naked, sitting in water with four very concerned people starring at me. I assured everyone it was just my water breaking.

I pushed again and felt that horrific and glorious ring of fire! I knew I was close to the end. I let the next contraction go without pushing. I couldn’t believe I was already to the ring of fire!

“Here comes the head!” I screamed on the next push. I like to keep everyone informed of what’s going on.

“One more!” I yelled! And out the sweet baby came. I was on my knees with my elbows on the side of the tub. My husband was near my face holding my hand while my midwife, training midwife, and birth assistant were behind me. The baby came out in the water and I was the first one to pick up my sweet little one. This was a first for me and it was so special. I was overjoyed! Then I heard the training midwife say something about “she”.

“It’s a girl?” I asked. All three ladies smiled and nodded. “It’s a girl! Oh my sweet Faye Louise!” I screamed. I was absolutely over the moon.

Apparently while I was pushing my mother in law was loading the kids up in the car. My husband ran out to tell them the good news.

My sweet Faye Louise was 7 lbs and 12 oz of pure sweetness. She is our smallest baby which I was convinced she would be our biggest. I should learn that anything I assume, the opposite is usually true. Pammy loves being a big sister and wants to help with everything. Sometimes more aggressively than I wish.  The boys are so sweet with little Faye but get tearfully overwhelmed with her cries.  We are so thankful and feel extremely blessed by a successful home birth and everyone in good health. It is as if we have always had precious Faye in our lives. She has already changed us all.

Her first name is my husband’s mother’s middle name. I am so proud to give her that name for my mother-in-law is so dear to me. It also means Faith while Louise means warrior. She needed a strong name if she was going to be the fourth kid in our family. I learned so much from my nine months with her and now a couple weeks with her being earth-side. Patience will forever be a lesson I must learn. But learning how to let go of the small things and cherish the time I have with my sweet family hopefully will stick with me. The time they are little is so short and new babies need us to be in the moment with them. Thank you, Jesus for this sweet girl and all she has already brought to our family.

Thanks to everyone who wrote a birth story for my blog! I originally planned to post one story a week during that last weeks of my pregnancy. Not everyone I asked to write a birth story got a chance to send them in. Apparently motherhood means you are a bit busy.  Don’t I know it! If you still want to, please do! I love posting everyone’s birth stories. Each are so unique. If you missed any of the birth stories, check out The Honest Truth page. Thanks for reading and God bless!

6 Replies to “A Birth Story: When the Orchid Blooms”

  1. Beautiful mom, beautiful story, incredibly moving!
    You have such an ability to voice all of our (moms) common and similar thoughts, experiences and feelings! It takes me back to when I first met you. How incredibly lucky I am?!

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