My blog has been a little silent recently, but I have a really great 7-pound-11-ounce reason, you guys! On the 4th of July our daughter Joie Flannery made her debut. It took me a long time to write and have the nerve to publish Rowan’s birth story from 2+ years ago, but — as I said then and even know to be truer now -- reading birth stories while pregnant was really helpful for me personally. So sharing this topic is important to me.
Birth is a CRAZY thing, y’all. It’s insane how it can even be possible and how *differently* it happens with each mother and each baby. I expected things to go similarly (or at least partially the same) as Rowan’s birth, so I was really surprised with how unique it was.
And cue the DISCLAIMER: This is a natural birth story that went the way I was hoping… which is not how all births go. I hope this journal is encouraging for anyone fearing birth or wanting a natural birth to know that sometimes it CAN go just as you plan and hope. I also don’t like for people to call me a hero-mom for having a natural birth… All moms are heroes for undergoing the most life-altering experience that exists. Those who endure complications should get way more props than me. I’m a proponent of being patient and trusting God with your birth — and then (when 100% necessary) welcoming the help from modern medicine when it’s needed.
So… the arrival of Joie…
On June 1st, at almost 36 weeks she was head down, and I was 0.5cm dilated and 0% effaced.
6/07 - 37 weeks - 1 cm + 20% effaced
6/14 - 38 weeks - 1.5 cm + 50%
6/20 - 39 weeks - Still 1.5cm + 50%
6/28 - 40 weeks - 2 cm + 75-80%
On June 18th (Father’s Day) and July 2nd I had prodromal contractions long enough to feel like I needed to time them, but obviously neither day resulted in any action.
From June 30-July 3rd I had prodromal labor every gosh darn night, but it never became consistent enough to sound the alarms. THIS WAS VERY ANNOYING and a lot more stressful than you would imagine. I didn’t even know “prodromal labor” was a term and just thought you had braxton hicks contractions here and there until one day your labor finally started. (That’s how it went with Rowan anyway.) I had no idea you could be on a 2nd pregnancy and STILL be asking the “am I really in labor” question.
Every time there was a labor sign like the show I saw on the 29th or intense sciatica that was happening that weekend, I would text my mom that it was a “code yellow”… (like a tornado watch rather than a warning haha) since they were going to be our first responders to pick up Rowan.
But every time I would get in the shower or think about timing the contractions, they would get too irregular or die off.
I took so many showers, you guys. I was very clean.
So around noon on the 4th of July, I ate my La Paz veggie quesadilla leftovers for lunch, and afterwards we got Rowan down for his nap. Obviously we were hanging close to home since we knew these contractions could decide to be the real thing at any point, BUT I was also trying to chill and not be disappointed that another day was going by with no action.
Around 2pm, contractions returned along with some spotting. Basically as soon as they began they were consistent and growing in intensity, so I went ahead and alerted the Rowan-troops ONCE AGAIN that this might finally be the real deal.
I timed the contractions for the hour while we let Ro continue napping, and they didn’t slow down. So there I went ONCE AGAIN into the shower to wash my hair and make sure these weren’t fake-outs.
But they stuck around. So around 3pm we started getting ready to leave for the hospital — all while Zack kept asking “Are you sure?” Are you sure this is the real thing and that we aren’t going too soon?” And then he tried cracking a joke I can't remember… But seeing as I could hardly walk around while getting dressed, I snapped something really sweet back at him like “Stop talking to me.”
4pm - We arrived at the hospital. This was so different than Rowan’s full moon birthday when you’d have thought it was a baby Black Friday sale in L&D. We actually got the front row “in labor” parking this time and waltzed right into a very chill and quiet maternity ward. They said all of the babies there had already been born that morning, and so I was the only one in labor at that point.
4:30pm - After getting checked out in a triage room, I was nearly 5cm and was moved into a regular birth suite. This was also SO different than arriving basically during transition at 7cm last time, and I definitely preferred it this way!
My nurse got a birth ball for me, an essential oil diffuser (kind of a lame one - but still), and we sat around texting updates to friends and family in between contractions. We even had time to make an on-the-fly playlist since I had forgotten to do that this time.
This is where the birth story gets a bit boring, because all I did was just ride out those contraction “waves” for a few hours…
8pm - I was around 7cm and had to fully hand over the family correspondence to Zack as I hit transition.
A few cool things to note --
1. The birthing ball was so comfortable, but it seemed to keep my contractions slow and steady. Anytime I would stand up, things would kick into a higher gear.
2. I got to use the wireless monitor around my belly button. Every now and then it would lose signal for a second or two, but it was SO much better than the old belly monitors.
3. They let me have ice chips and then apple juice on ice… I felt like I had so much more energy this time, and I actually had no sore muscles. (Last time I felt like I’d run 3 marathons.)
4. My nurse was very hands off. She only checked me a few times, would offer suggestions, and basically just let us go with the flow.
5. This one isn’t a cool thing, but it’s a random detail… My IV was put in very crooked, and I wished I had just asked them to redo it a third time. In the moment I just wanted them to leave me alone, but having a slanted IV stick proved to be pretty painful and distracting amidst an UNMEDICATED birth. Ha!
They had asked me earlier if I wanted my water broken to which I replied... "Um doesn't that make this business hurt even worse? Newww thank you!"
Then at 9:45pm - My water broke!
During a contraction when my nurse had suggested I stand again, Zack was helping to brace me and boom! There went the water all on the floor and his shoes! (That reminds me— I think we still need to throw away those shoes. Ew.)
I was getting too tired to fully stand, so my nurse suggested I get on my knees and lean on the back of the bed. She also checked me at this point and said I was fully 10cm!
I remember that the Sara Groves version of “Eyes on the Prize” came on the playlist, and the lyrics were definitely carrying me through. I was basically just whimpering and mildly crying rather than screaming… but these contractions were doozies.
(ALSO as if this moment wasn't dramatic enough, we could hear the fireworks blasting outside!)
My nurse pushed on my tail bone for counter pressure, and Zack was petting my back to comfort me for a few contractions.
Then, we still aren’t sure why, but my nurse walked out for some reason.
I asked Zack to do the counter pressure that the nurse had done, but either he didn’t know his own strength or Joie just decided to make a move, but as he pushed I felt the most extreme pain and SCREAMED for the first time “NO NO NO STOP STOP STOP!!!”
Just then I felt a giant pop as the remaining water came out, Joie dropped, and I felt the urge to push for the first time! Having never experienced that (since the end of my labor with Rowan was while lying on my back) — I screamed, “SHE’S COMING OUT! SHE’S COMING OUT!!” Even in my state of delirium I was also freaking out that Zack was the only one in the room.
Before I could continue my panic, the room filled with multiple nurses rushing towards us seconds later. My nurse thought she could see the top of her head, so they alerted the doctor. (Sadly my doctor was out of town for the 4th, so I had the doctor on call who I had luckily at least met one time.)
The doctor arrived just as they were realizing they were actually not seeing her head, and it was a bit awkward — as if they were all thinking that they called her too soon. Just then I had my second urge to push. AND LET’S NOT FORGET I am still facing backwards on this bed and have no idea what’s going on behind me! ha!
The doctor also wasn’t loving this angle that she was going to have to catch the baby, so as they saw the head she asked if I could turn over on the bed. I remember trying to barely twist my upper body to turn. There has never been anything in my life to feel more impossible than that moment! I yelled, “NO I CANNOT DO THAT!!! I CAN’T I CAN’T” just as the next contraction/third push was coming… I stayed rooted to my spot…
It was a very long push as one of the nurses counted…
A nurse quickly told Zack to get his camera ready…
10:07pm - and then THERE. SHE. WAS!
So much relief… but I remember my body still feeling so locked up and coming out of shock as I gripped the bed and the nurses called out to me to “turn around and see your baby!!!” I craned my neck as best I could and saw the tiniest, little sweet pea! Zack cut the cord, which he said was kind of stressful as Joie kept kicking her legs all around. haha!
I don’t know how long it took me, but I inched down onto the bed as they handed her to me.
She looked just like her brother but smaller and with very long hair — almost 2 inches long with a legit mullet in the back. No lie. And praise the Lord the glorious mullet is still around and hasn’t fallen out yet!
The grandparents and Rowan were dying to come in the room but had to wait for a bit of clean up and for her temperature to rise under the warming lamp.
11pm - Rowan met his baby sister with the sleepiest, drunken-eyed grin on his face and then immediately passed out asleep one minute later in Zack's arms.