The evening of Monday, December 26, 2016 I started having some real contractions that seemed fairly regular. They picked up slowly before bed, so I figured that this was real labor and we’d be having a baby soon. I fully expected to wake up to full-blown labor. I had contractions all that night and early morning, but they didn’t get stronger, and at 4 am they totally stopped. Tuesday was more of the same. The contractions started at the same time and lasted until around 5 am. These ones were definitely stronger than the night before. I had to sit on the edge of my bed, breathing deeply through some of them.
After two nights of prodromal labor, it was no surprise when I started having contractions Wednesday evening as well. That afternoon I was hit with the determination to go grocery shopping, so we planned to do that after dinner. As I prepared to take the family out, my friend, Kristine, texted asking if I needed a break from the kids, so I took her up on her offer, and we dropped the kids off at her house to go grocery shopping alone. At this point it was about 7:45 pm and I started getting some good contractions on the car ride to HEB.
As we walked around the store, the contractions started picking up in intensity and frequency. We started timing them and they were between 5 and 7 minutes apart. There were a few times I had to stop and lean on the cart before we continued again. Still thinking that this wasn’t “real labor” I joked to James that people were going to think I was some sort of crazy lady who goes grocery shopping while in labor.
We left the store after 9 pm, and on the car ride home we decided that I should try to sleep while James put away some of the groceries and picked up the kids. I didn’t really get any sleep. When he got back around 10 pm my contractions were still strong enough to keep me from being able to lie down, so we pulled out some cheese and crackers and watched an episode of Star Trek: Voyager. Through the course of the show my contractions got stronger, and I was pacing and rocking during each one. At this point I still don’t think I really knew this was the real deal.
When the episode ended around 11 pm I went to pee and a lot of blood clots were coming out in the toilet. I wasn’t necessarily concerned, but I had never gone into labor on my own before and was always in a hospital bed where I had no idea what my own body was doing, so I asked James to call my midwife, Galyn. After some conversation and questions she said she’d come in an hour since I was doing well. (The time now being 11:30 pm.) Then she must have changed her mind—or was inspired by God—because she decided to come right then, just to check on everything.
In the 45 minutes to an hour it took Galyn to arrive, things picked up quickly. I no longer doubted that I was actually in labor. I could still handle my contractions, but in between I was shaking a little and needed to focus on calming down. Since I had never experienced non-Pitocin contractions, I had no frame of reference for what I was feeling or what I would feel as things continued. I seriously thought I was toward the beginning of laboring, and I didn’t think I wanted to go on this way if it was going to get worse. I told James that I thought I needed to go to the hospital for an epidural and that he should ask Kristine to come watch the kids. He did ask her to come, but he also tried to refocus me by telling me to remember to breathe and calm down between contractions. He reminded me of how much work I’ve done to prepare for natural birth and told me that he knew I could do it. It really helped to have someone remind me to focus on calming down instead of formulating hospital plans!
When Galyn arrived around 12:30 am I told her my plans to go to the hospital, knowing full well that she was going to figure out a way to change my mind and help me cope. I don’t remember exactly what she said here, but it calmed me even more. She asked if she could check my progress, and I thought that was a good idea and agreed. I was astounded when she said that I was at an 8 or 9 and definitely in transition! How could I not know I was in actual labor until nearly in transition? It’s just a testimony of how wicked Pitocin can be.
Galyn reassured me that I would be meeting my baby soon and there was no reason to go to the hospital. We all knew it would only make things worse at that point. Knowing that I was almost done gave me a huge surge of confidence, resolve, and joy. I couldn’t believe what I had already done. I told her I thought before that I was just weak and couldn’t make it through, and she told me that she didn’t think I was weak, that she thought I was really strong. I will always remember that. Her faith in women and in birth is contagious, and she helped me to build this same faith over the course of my experiences with her.
We soon filled the tub and prepared everything for delivery. Shortly thereafter Kristine arrived and started helping wherever she could so James could stay with me. His presence increased my strength. I labored for a little while in the tub, but my lower back was really sore and I just wasn’t feeling the whole water thing the way I thought I would, so I decided to get out and lie propped up on the bed. I don’t know if it was the best position for gravity to help, but it made my back feel so much better to lie down between contractions. I don’t know exactly how long I pushed, but it didn’t seem very long at all. When I knew his head was coming out I expected him to fly like my girls did, but his manly shoulders are a bit wide. With Galyn’s help moving a shoulder I was able to push him out completely, and Daniel Spencer was born at 1:24 am, weighing 8 lbs. 1 oz., measuring 20 ¼ in.
Birthing my child at home in the midst of only people filled with love and faith was better than I ever expected. I felt peace from each one of them, which is such a stark contrast from the fear that permeated my last birth. I praise God whenever I think about how He led me to overcome my mental obstacles and have a healing birth. I know He guided me to my amazing midwife and gave me the strength I needed to act in faith and not fear.