This is the story of Ariella’s labor and delivery. It’s not graphic but, still, it’s a story about birth. You’ve been warned :)
For about a week, I had been having contractions every night around the same time. Every time, I tried to simply go to sleep so that I would be rested in case it was the “real” thing. But until the night of the 29th, they never progressed in intensity or proximity. Then on Tuesday night, I texted my doula (Ashre) to let her know I was having contractions. I tried to keep it pretty nonchalant, just in case, but I suspected that this was the beginning. The next morning, I called her to let her know that this was indeed the real thing, although I knew it was pretty early on.
For the rest of the day, I just tried to relax and have a normal day. I finished up a few things and emailed some friends with some last-minute labor prayer requests. That afternoon, I was even able to sit in on my weekly virtual team meeting. Throughout the meeting, I sat on my birthing ball and would just breathe through the sporadic contractions I was having.
Two hours after that meeting, I started crying for no discernible reason. Then, I really knew we were getting somewhere. I immediately called Ashre and told her I was ready for her to come. My mother-in-law had also just arrived, and Ashre had warned me that my labor would probably progress quickly once I knew she was here and that Eden would be taken care of for the night. It’s crazy how our bodies just know! Sure enough, pretty much right when my mother-in-law walked in the door things “got real.” Jason had been casually putting things together and getting ready to go. When he told me he would put the carseat in after dinner I said, “No. Do it now please.” I knew there would be no dinner that night.
I was incredibly emotional at this point, and feeling very sentimental about it being the last bedtime routine that we’d be a family of three. So I tried to make it through the books and songs of our nightly routine with Eden. When that was over, Ashre arrived and we grabbed our things and left for the birthing center. It was harder to stay on top of the contractions and I knew progress was being made. On the way to the center, I told Jason how happy I was with the way that labor was going. I knew I’d hired the doula I needed, and I felt like many of my prayers were already being answered. In addition, I just felt very in tune with what was happening. Although we weren’t timing contractions, I knew when it was time to call Ashre, and I knew when it was time to leave for the center. Later, I would tell Ariella “it’s almost time, sweet one.” No clocks needed!
When we arrived, we were put into the room they had open (which was the room I wanted) and it turned out that the midwife I wanted to attend my labor and delivery was the one that was on-call. More answered prayers! I was checked pretty immediately, and was dilated to a 5 or a 6. Not bad for just a couple of hours of “real” work! (It was around 7pm when we arrived.) I had already cried tears of gratitude, and I would do that several more times. Everything just felt so perfect. I felt so loved and the birthing room was so calm and peaceful – just Jason, Ashre and me along with the midwife’s watchful presence. Between contractions, I was given water, encouraged and kissed. I saw my amazing husband “studying” the letter I had written him filled with tips and words he could say to encourage me. I wanted to tell him how much I loved him for doing that, but I was past speaking at this point. Still, it filled my heart and gave me strength. Ashre said, “there’s a lot of love in this room.” And I felt it. It was overwhelming.
A little before 10pm, my water still hadn’t broken and things were getting really really hard. I was crying a little from the pain, was vocalizing more and felt a bit more out of control. I looked at Jason and said, “I feel like I’m failing.” He assured me that I wasn’t and it was during a contraction very soon after this that I let out a vocalization that sounded close to a growl. My midwife immediately got up, knowing that things had changed.
Because of a risk factor I had, I was praying that my water wouldn’t break until very late in labor. It still hadn’t broken at this late stage and after my semi-growl, my midwife checked and I was completely dilated. My water broke right as she checked me, then it was time to push! I got into the bed and began to push my sweet Ariella into the world. As her head was coming, I held back and we took things slowly to minimize the trauma to my lady-parts :) Her head emerged and I reached down to feel and hold her as we waited for the next good contraction. When it came, I pushed, reached down and delivered my baby into the world and into my arms. She was so beautiful! So tiny and perfect and beautiful!
Just 15min after my water broke, it was over. I just kept saying, “My beautiful Ariella! My perfect baby!” and let the tears of joy flow freely. All of my prayers had been answered. Not only was she healthy and safe (the most important thing!), but the birth was exactly what I wanted and, as I would tell some friends later, far more than I deserved. I will never forget those moments.
She was born at 10:15pm, and she never left my arms until it was time to do some footprints quite a bit later. Until then, we just rested and enjoyed our new family member. By 6am the next morning, we were packed up and leaving the birthing center to go rest in our own beds. It was such a difference from the unplanned hospital birth we had the first time around!
Of course, Eden’s birth was wonderful too and definitely what I needed at that time in my life. It was during that process that I gained so much confidence in myself, God and a woman’s body. I emerged from that experience absolutely convinced that there was nothing I could not do. For Ariella’s birth, though, I knew I wanted and needed something different. The Lord granted me that, and I had the beautiful, connected birth that I had prayed and prepared for.
And now I’m watching my perfect girl sleep. She looks so much like her sister, but not! She has different eyes, but the same hairline, nose and mouth. And though she is tiny because she’s a baby, she was 8lb 6oz and 22in long at birth. Another big girl! I don’t know what it is but, despite our relative size, I guess Jason and I grow big babies.
Thank you for praying for us. Please keep praying for Ariella to stay healthy and for our family as we transition. We feel so loved and we’re thankful for you!