Abigail means “Father’s Joy”
Born on 8 October 2016 at 1:01 in the morning
8 pounds and 8 ounces of perfect newborn squish
21 inches long
Since he was our first child, I fully expected John-Paul to arrive late. He arrived one day early. Having a second child, I expected her to arrive even earlier, especially since at my 38 weeks appointment I was 3 centimeters dilated and 80% effaced (and I felt so much pressure from her sitting so low in my pelvis). But kids, they never quite do what you expect, am I right?
Mama Heidi/Mimi arrived on October 2 and was scheduled to leave the 10. As my due date approached and passed, I started to feel anxious about not having our little girl before my mom left. I knew there was nothing I could do about it! I knew it would all be ok! I knew worrying was useless and unproductive! But worriers gonna worry. I so wanted my mom to be here for the big moment (and for peace of mind that I could leave on a moment’s notice and my mom would be here with JP). Trying to push the what-ifs out of my mind, Josh and Mama started taking me on frequent walks throughout the week, trying to get labor going.
What helped me the most is that I tried to remember that these moments with JP and Josh and Mom were precious and important. I didn’t want to wish the time away.
Isn’t his haircut ridiculously adorable? I digress.
After a day of contractions with no pattern or progression and lamenting “She’s never going to come out!” and “Is there even a baby in there? Maybe it’s just a watermelon?” and “I’m going to be the first human being to have a year long gestation!” labor kicked in. (I know. SO dramatic for a woman that is only ONE DAY past her due date. Mamas that go two weeks past their dates…bless ye.) I was just wrapping up some messages with Greta (Mod 7 forever) and it was about 8:45. My back started aching like it did when I was in early labor with JP. It was a slight shift, but I knew things were changing. Within the hour my contractions went from mild and 7 minutes apart to over 1 minute long and less than 3 minutes apart.
I thought I’d labor at home for a long time, but at 10:10 Josh and I decided we didn’t have time to spare. Our little lady decided to make haste! After what felt like the longest drive of my life, gripping the seats and trying to breathe as the contractions piled on top of one another…we arrived. After a very painful check in (why are you asking me all these questions right now?! Didn’t we fill out a pre-admission form for a reason?!) we were taken in to triage…which is a whole thing in itself because I was going to the natural birth center within the hospital and because I was in active labor I shouldn’t have gone to triage…but there we were. We waited for ten excruciating minutes as country music blared through the room (WHO CHOSE THIS MUSIC? NO ONE IS SOOTHED BY THIS). When a nurse finally asked “Is anyone helping you…?” we were assisted and the ball got rolling. I made it clear in no uncertain terms that I did NOT want to be checked and that I wanted to go over to Family Beginnings, stat. It was about 11pm when we got in the room, and I was already at a pain level that I wanted to hop into the tub for some hydrotherapy.
The pain got so intense and the timeline starts to blur in my memory. From this point on I remember things in general segments, having no idea how long things actually took. I know I was in the tub for a while, until I got to the point where the contractions caused me to feel like I had to throw up and the hot water made me feel worse. I got out of the water and tried some different positions, like leaning over an egg shaped ball while Josh or the nurse applied counter pressure to help with my overwhelming back labor. I was on the bed for a while I think? I know at some point I got up and sitting on the toilet and leaning forward helped relieve some of the pain. Then I felt an immense pressure in my lower back/rectum and I collapsed back onto the bed. I knew intellectually that some sort of squatting position would be better, allowing gravity to help bring our baby into the world, but that wasn’t going to happen. Because my labor happens primarily in my lower back, I felt as if my legs were paralyzed (they obviously weren’t, but they couldn’t bear my weight at this point). Shaking, I looked at Josh and said “If I’m not close, I want an epidural.” The nurse knew I was serious as a heart attack and she went out of the room to get my midwife, Neva. Neva, the calmest person in the world, checked me and told me I was 9.5 cms (10cms is when you’re ready to push). Although the pain rolled over me in continuous, almost unbearable waves, knowing I was so close made a world of difference. I still held onto the fear that I’d push for three hours like I did with John-Paul. I was afraid of tearing, too. But fear is useless and birth presses forward. I felt the urge to push. Neva told me to trust my body and away we went. I pushed and cried out that I couldn’t do it. I remember bits of their coaching – “grab your legs and curl into your legs with the contraction.” “Push all the way through the contraction.” “You can do it. You’re close now.”
Birth is crazy because you cannot quit. No matter how badly it hurts or how you feel you can no longer go on, you have to. Your body spurs you on passed your perceived limitations. I think that’s part of why birth, and in particular natural/low intervention birth, feel so empowering. Josh, Neva and Ashley (the nurse) all calmly told me I could do it and that I was close. I heard the same encouraging mantras over the course of three hours with JP, so I didn’t believe them when they told me I was close. I said don’t tell me that! I’m not close! Neva told me to reach down and feel the baby’s head, but I didn’t because another contraction came on. I don’t know how long it was but I felt that “ring of fire” and knew I was pushing the baby’s head through, and then the feeling of release and knowing her head was out. I paused in between the contractions. Knowing her head was out, I expected to hear her cry, but that’s not the case! With the next couple contractions her shoulders and body came through and then that beautiful scream of new life.
They placed her directly on my chest and allowed her cord to stop pulsing before Josh cut it. If I remember correctly, I kept announcing, “She’s here! She’s here! I can’t believe she’s here!” You dream about this little person for so long and then they come crashing into your world…naked, screaming and precious.
All in all, Abby’s birth took about 4 1/2 hours. After which we enjoyed a magical hour with our girl. At Family Beginnings, they encourage immediate skin to skin bonding between mama and baby. They do not take the baby away to measure or clean before you’ve had time to bond and try breastfeeding. When they do the measurements, they do it right next to your bedside and never take the baby out of the room. Additionally, you get to stay in your room that has a nice big bed and recover. No getting shuffled around and there’s plenty of room for daddy to sleep comfortably as well. Instead of sending the baby to a nursery, the baby sleeps in a co-sleeper bassinet right along side the bed. Family Beginnings truly helped us have the birth we desired (with the peace of mind that we could be taken down the hall to regular L&D/NICU if any complications came up!).
Having kids is challenging. Some days are really hard. When people ask me about motherhood, I try to paint a realistic picture because I don’t want to romanticize and create unrealistic expectations for new moms out there. Some people have said “you make motherhood sound awful!” But motherhood is alot like this birth story or any birth story. It’s a labor of love. Labor means WORK. Motherhood is hard work and some days are downright painful. But look at the joy and the love we receive. Look at that precious face! Look at that unique, unrepeatable body and soul that God entrusts to us. No matter how hard it is, no matter how much I pour out…I’ve already received much more than I could ever give.
Abigail Esther Dill, you are a joy, daughter! We are so glad you’re here. Welcome to the family!