Thursday, May 9, 2013

Nora's Birth Story

Fresh from the womb

I think I've already forgotten parts of Nora's birth story and its only been 6 weeks! I need to write faster!

To begin with, I know that birth is an inherently spiritual experience for women. I just don't think you can get around that. Its a big deal and each and every birth experience effects a woman's soul differently and profoundly. I believe that completely with my whole heart. That being said, I feel like I'm too close to my experiences to really know how they've changed and altered me and what I've learned, so this post won't be too elaborative or beautifully deep like so many other great birth stories I've read. I think I'll be unpacking my birth experiences for a long, long while. 

So before I get to the nitty-gritty-get-ready-to-push part, I'll just explain that I was seriously battling anxiety towards the upcoming birth for about two months prior to Nora being born on March 25. I think my birth related anxiety is getting worse with each pregnancy which is weird and bizarre because each of my births have been getting progressively shorter and better overall. I've been blessed to have 5 natural births, three at home(or in the home of my in-laws), and these last two at a birth centre all with my fantastic midwife with no major complications! But I do think that simply being a mom longer, having more knowledge of childbirth, and maybe just being more aware of the importance and magnitude of pregnancy and birth can lead to a little more anxiety. Or it could just be me! But in a last ditch effort to combat my pregnancy cray-cray I ordered the hypnobirthing book at about 37 weeks and read it cover to cover as well as started to listen to some "birthing affirmations" on my iPod at night. Now I didn't expect the hypnobirthing book to completely make me have a pain free birth, I was more looking for help having a more relaxed attitude towards labour instead of immediately going into hyperventilation and general losing my mind at the thought or feeling of a contraction! I'd say the book helped reaffirm my feelings of how a natural birth is normal and that my body can do this thing, and the more I relax and let it happen the better it will be! I'm not sure if listening to the affirmations did much other than give my husband a break from telling me every five minutes that the labor would be fine, I'd do fine, everything would be taken care of, God was in control, etc, etc, etc.

How did you grow inside me??

Ok, onward!

I'd been having not-so-lovely contractions or "pre-labor" for a couple weeks at least, usually at night or in the evening when I was finally able to have a few minutes to myself and put my feet up. The couple days leading up to birth-day were no different. The Saturday night, or two days before she was born, I had had quite strong contractions fairly regularly from about 10pm, and I thought it was go time until about 2 am when they just stopped completely. Sunday night the same not-too-serious contractions started again as we were watching The Walking Dead, and I just ignored them and got ready for bed as usual. The contractions didn't feel too strong or regular but I couldn't sleep regardless. I tossed and turned till about 1am at which point I called my mom and asked if I was being a crazy person or if this was the real deal. Because calling your mom and asking her if your contractions are real is a completely scientific aproach to figureing out if you're really in labor or not. 

You see the problem with knowing if I was really in labor or not is important because we live two hours away from the birth centre where we wanted to have this baby, and with my last birth Max was born 20 minutes after we got there after a total of four hours of labor!! So we wanted to be on the ball with real labor, but I'd been having contractions for weeks, these didn't feel too strong plus I also didn't want to have to wake my poor sleeping husband to drive me into the city two hours away in the middle of the night, wake my mom to watch the kids, wake my midwife in the dead of night all for a false alarm! Also; when you're nine months pregnant all these things seem much more important and pressing and dire than I can adequately express!

After talking to my mom, who despite her usual best efforts isn't completely psychic and couldn't tell if my contractions were the real deal or not, I decided to wake up and freak out the sleeping spouse. He was pretty calm despite my mild freaking out and we timed the contractions for about half an hour and they turned out to be seven minutes apart at which point my husband decided we should leave. I had to have my early-labor-cry, which I always have(!), so I blubbered and tried to find everything I wanted to bring, then cried some more at the thought of having to leave my sleeping babies to have another baby.

We got in the car a little after 2 am on an absolutely freezing yet mercifully clear night. I had prayed frantically a couple days earlier when it was a full blown blizzard and the roads were dangerously covered in ice, snow, and a couple other deadly plagues, so a clear night and bare roads was a minor miracle. The contractions continued on not getting too much stronger or closer together on the drive, as I calmed down and tried my hypnobirthing relaxation and breathing while listening to The Lumineers and praying off and on.

That is one cute squishy crinkled face

While we were driving I could tell that this was really labor by those really strange baby movements, as you can feel the baby somehow moving lower...a completely weird and unique sensation, so that was a relief and we were no longer in false alarm territory. Finally-hurray!-we made it to the birth center and met the midwife. Oh yeah, my dear midwife happened to have to go out of town for only two days in the month of March for a course she was required to take and this was the new midwife who had just begun working with her who also turned out to be unbelievably kind furthering my supposition that midwifery is a vocation for extrodinary souls. But at this stage of the game I can honestly say that I didn't care who was there catching this baby because this baby was coming out! 

To say it was a relief to know we had gotten to the birth centre and not had this baby on the side of the highway in minus double digit temperatures would be a huge understatement! In light of this relief my husband fell fast asleep on the beautiful bed in the birthing room. Well, we both fell asleep, sort of. Since I was pretty tired from being up all night and the contractions still didn't feel that bad I thought I'd try and lie down and chill out. The midwife turned down the lights and left us to napping. The birth centre isn't as great as home for birth, but it still is wonderful to be able to lie on a huge bed next to your husband while you're in labor. I think I may have even slept between contractions although they were picking up by now, as it was about 4:30 am when we arrived at the birth centre, I was partly thinking how awesome I was for not completley freaking out this time, for taking things easy, for relaxing.

The midwife had popped in a couple times to ask me how I was feeling and to listen to baby's heartbeat but I was still feeling decent and lying down felt good and my husband seemed to be sleeping well so  things were rolling along pleasantly it seemed. But I looked at the clock at 6:30 and thought this is starting to take too long and I don't want to be in labor forever! So I got up, went to the bathroom, prayed that this birthing train moving, and basically told my body to get going! After that things picked up really quickly. Within twenty minutes I was in "transition" (one of the worst words ever in the English language!), contractions were starting to really, really, really hurt and I wanted to be in the shower. I always go for the shower at this stage of labor...I always think I'm going to choose the peaceful looking tub and go for one of those zen water births but I always turn out heading for the hot shower and getting really intense with profanity use. I have no idea how long I ended up being in the shower or what was going on otherwise but I decided I was done with that and headed for the bed again. At this point I was at that ridiculous point where everything is hurting all the time and who knows when a contraction begins or ends! I also have no idea what to do with myself physically. I don't want to lie, crouch, walk, kneel, I just want the baby out! Somehow this led to pushing within a couple minutes...its really a blur. I pushed for about 15 minutes, trying to not push too hard if that makes any sense, and then completely miraculously a baby comes from all that pain! The midwife handed her right up to me and I was completely shocked by the amount of beautiful dark hair, even though my husband had said she'd have lots the entire time! We also knew she was a girl but didn't tell anyone! Selfishly I wanted to keep that to ourselves and it practically killed my husband not to say anything, and I was a little shocked that the ultrasound was right and it was a girl.

Her lips and cheeks are still this sweet and adorable

Of course I completely burst into really blubbery tears as soon as I got her in my arms. Blubbery, adrenaline laced tears of joy and relief. Really, the best feeling in all the world! The marathon pregnancy, and all the long weeks leading up to birth made the relief of finally having the baby in my arms so sweet. Birth is so strange in that you're hugely pregnant then in a matter of hours a whole perfect little person is here to look and hold! Its really an amazing miracle...requiring a lot of pain...but worth it.

Nora was born at 8:04 am at a perfect 6 lbs, 15 oz, and healthy-I'm not nearly thankful enough for 5 healthy babies but I'm working on it. It took us till the afternoon to realize that it was the feast of the Annunciation, except that this year it was Holy Monday. I sort of love that I had a baby on the feast of the beautiful Annunciation to Mary that she had conceived the Son of God by the Holy Spirit, its some nice spiritual/baby irony. We gave her the middle name Marie in honor of the Blessed Mother, and after the scads of grandmas and aunts who share it as well. It fits perfectly for our little sweet pea.

Now, more than six weeks later I'm still so happy birth is over and she's here! Going through pregnancy and birth five times doesn't seem to have increased my enjoyment of either, but it has increased my thankfulness after a beautiful new child is in my arms each time!

Where are all the pictures of me in labor and looking awesome two minutes after pushing out a person, you ask?? I was up all night and just gave birth-all photos of my face shall not be seen for a good twenty years.


  1. Love it - I've got hypnobirthing on my list for next time too! I've got some serious anxiety about birth to, because all I know is a horribly painful induction ending in in a c-section.

  2. "I think my birth related anxiety is getting worse with each pregnancy which is weird and bizarre because each of my births have been getting progressively shorter and better overall."
    Christy this is really normal for mums of large families, I've talked to many women about this and we all suffer this, it is weird. I know when pregnant I can't read birth stories thoroughly, I have to skim certain parts or I'm back there and yet my experiences, like you aren't too bad. In my early days of parenting I'd read birthing books to prepare, now I can't pick one up, no breathing refresher courses for me!

  3. Beautiful! Birth is definitely a very spiritual experience...I talked on my blog about how the only thing that got me through labor was the prayer "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner." I just prayed it for about 4 hours and meditated on Mary's sacrifice for Jesus. Definitely not an aspect I expected, but it stands out clearest in my mind.

    And your pjs are the cutest ever! Also your little one's swaddle. Very stylish. :)

  4. First timer here, hopefully Little Mister will arrive in about 3 weeks. I just know that this is exactly how it is going to play out for me: "I always think I'm going to choose the peaceful looking tub and go for one of those zen water births but I always turn out heading for the hot shower and getting really intense with profanity use. " Especially the last part and doubly so if Little Mister refuses to play nicely with labor. Thanks for sharing!!

  5. Beautiful. And I second the shower during transition. Though my profanity-laced showers are always followed up by a big 'ol epidural jammed in mah back. You win. She is so beautiful!

  6. Love, love, love the the name Nora!


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