Your story began in the middle of the night on September 21. I’d been having cramping off and on for several days, but it was this evening that uncomfortable contractions started. They were infrequent, maybe one or two an hour. I woke up the next morning feeling great and full of energy. The contractions had stopped, but I knew they would likely return again within the next few hours or days. Daddy left for work as usual, I dropped Hannah off at her preschool, then, headed up to Niceville for my appointment at Gentle Birth Options (GBO). After meeting with my midwife, Cindi, I saw the chiropractor for an adjustment. I’d been getting adjustments every 2 weeks throughout the second half of my pregnancy. The chiropractor told me you might have just been getting yourself into a better position for labor and that contractions would probably pick up again soon. She was right! Around mid-afternoon, uncomfrotable, but tolerable, contractions began. I made sure to rest while Hannah was napping. After nap we skyped with Grandma. Contractions continued and were becoming more frequent. It was around this time, about 4pm, I needed to stop and breathe through them. I didn’t have much of an appetite but knew I needed to eat something, in the event I was in labor all night. So, I fried an egg and ate it on top of a sweet potato, a staple in the Ray house. After dinner we went for a walk at Oak Tree Nature Park. I trailed behind Daddy and Hannah while stopping for a contraction every 10 minutes or so.
Once we got home, Daddy called Cindi to let her know we were, indeed, in labor. We then put Hannah to bed around 8pm, finished packing our bags, and put on a movie to distract ourselves. After 30 minutes of contractions on the birthing ball, I decided to take a shower for some pain relief. Little did I know this shower would speed my labor up quite a bit! I turned on the worship playlist I made on spotify and began praising God for the miracle of childbirth. I was filled with thanksgiving to be given the priviledge of carrying you, to have had such a healthy and uncomplicated pregnancy and to be delivering in a peaceful and beautiful environment. I meditated on Deuteronomy 31:6, “be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or terrified…for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” I felt so empowered to be in labor! In the midst of the pain, I knew this was God’s design to bring new life into the world and I was ready to tackle it!
Contractions were coming very close together now and I spent most of them on my hands and knees or leaning over a piece of furniture. I also tried side lunges, abdominal lift and tucks, pelvic tilts and some squatting to progress labor. Daddy called Cindi at 1030pm to tell her we thought we were ready to head up to the birth center. We knew we needed to get to the birth center at least 4 hours before delivery because I tested positive for group beta strep and needed IV antibiotics. We called our sweet friend Shelagh over to spend the night at the house with Hannah and arrived at GBO at 11pm, the same time of day we arrived during Hannah’s labor! After the antibiotic was done infusing, I laid down to rest for 15-20 minutes. Contractions were very painful, so rest was difficult. I decided to try the birthing tub. I sat in the tub in a squatting position for maybe 20 minutes before realizing it was slowing down my labor. Urgh! The birthing tub wasn’t helpful during Hannah’s labor, and to my dissapointment, it wasn’t during your labor either. Cindi and her 2 birth assistants came back in my room and assisted me with side lunges at the base of the bed. Soon after, I needed to empty my bladder, so Cindi sugested we try some contractions on the toilet, using the squatty potty to prop my legs up. In theory, the toilet progresses labor not only because of the positioning of the pelvis but also because it facilitates muscle and mind relaxation. For me, it was pure torture! It takes the discomfort of labor contractions to a whole nother level. Cindi insisted I sit there for at least 3 contractions, as it takes the body 3 contractions before adjusting to a new position.
It was now after midnight and Cindi suggested I go home becaues I might still be in the early stages of labor. If we stayed we’d wear out the birth team and be chasing labor. What?! No way! I was so dissapointed to hear this, but not surprised. Throughout most of my labor I never felt “in the zone” as I did while laboring with Hannah. I was still able to talk and laugh between contractions. Also, contractions were not much longer than 30 seconds with most being several minutes apart. I felt bored of being in labor, like I was ready for it to be over. I dreamed of my cozy bed at home and how I longed to just lay down and rest in peace. Of course, in order for me to do that I knew I needed to get you out! Before potentially sending me home, Cindi oferred to check my cervix to reassure me that my body was progressing. I was 6-7cm dilated, which she said was too far along to go back home. Hurray! At this point I was feeling sleepy and desperately wanted to rest. While resting on my left side I prayed for God to intervene and help move things along.
After about 15 minutes of horrendous contractions Cindi came back in my room and said I was making grunting sounds like my body was pushing, and that if I wanted, I could try pushing in the position of my choice. Thank you, Lord! Daddy and I got up from the bed and I leaned my arms over his shoulders while squatting on the birthing stool. My body began to push with each contraction. What an answered prayer! I never felt the urge to push while laboring with Hannah so Cindi had to coach me through 40 minutes of pushing until she was born. I REALLY did not want to go through that again! Before each contraction Daddy would whisper words of encouragement and affirmation in my ear. “We’re going to meet him soon! You can do it!” After a few pushing contractions I felt a burst of pressure pass through my bottom. I stood up quickly and shouted, “his head is out!” It was quite a shock because I never felt any stretching or the infamous “ring of fire” pain. Daddy was holding your head while I pushed as gently and intensely as possible to get your body out. I made an effort to pant rather than hold my breath. I’m not sure how effective my panting was, but I know I was LOUD! With the next contraction you slid out into your Daddy’s arms at 0149. When I looked down at you I saw a yellow water balloon looking thing over your head. You were born en caul! 1 in 80,000 babies are born this way. You were special from the moment you entered the world. :) Could this have been why your head shot out with no pain or stretching sensation? Whatever the reason, we are praising God for an easier labor and a healthy mommy and baby!
When I finally saw your face, I held you in amazement, with shaking legs and a racing heart. You were quiet and peaceful. While holding you I walked to the bed, and when the cord stopped pulsing, Daddy cut it. I put you on my chest and looked at you with so much love. We are overjoyed to have you in our family, Wesley James. You are our treasure and we will love you always.