Here we go again- another baby, another birth story! Everyone told me that baby #3 was a “wild card,” meaning you couldn’t really guess how things would go based on past pregnancies. It could go slow, it could go fast. So I really tried to enter into my labor space with very few expectations.
Many people know that I went almost two weeks past my due date with Levi and it was a long and grueling wait. So I was prepared to go past my due date with Eliza too. I was hoping to make it to at least 40 weeks. I know that sounds crazy, but those last few weeks in utero are super important and I still felt great!
*well, as great as you can feel at 40 weeks pregnant*
My best friend, Catherine and her family planned on coming down the weekend after my due date in the hopes that she would be able to attend the birth. Originally, I was going to have her do the birth photography, since she is an amazing photographer, and since the beginning of my pregnancy we have been talking about being at each other’s births. Had she not delivered Eliana while we were in Minnesota last summer, I would have driven to be there for her birth. But when Covid hit, their plans changed. They moved from Round Rock (just outside of Austin- a 1.5 hour drive) back to Dallas (a 4-5 hour drive from us, depending on traffic, stops, etc). Based on my last birth happening in about 3.5 hours, we didn’t know if it would be plausible for her to even make it to this birth, much less take photos. So we hired a birth photographer, but still threw together a plan for them to come and decided we’d give it a shot! Catherine asked me to guess when Eliza might arrive (as if you can actually guess) and they were going to commit to coming down and staying for the weekend. If she wasn’t born then, we’d reevaluate the plan.
So the story begins on Saturday, December 5- two days past my December 3 due date. We waited for Justin, Catherine and the crew to arrive. They arrived mid-afernoon. Jedi sat and tracked their phones, counting down the miles until his buddy Eli would be here for the weekend (and unforeseeable future until the baby was born). I had been praying that baby would wait until this weekend (at least) to be born, but honestly craved a bit of time to spend together before Eliza’s arrival. Saturday was pretty chill- we had big plans to barbeque, but the day ended up being cold and rainy. So we ended up ordering burgers in and getting a pizza for the kids. We chatted while the kiddos played and had a nice leisurely evening together. Catherine and I did some curb-walking and took a brisk walk outside. I felt relieved that they were here and excited for our time together. Word for the day- “relaxed.”
Sunday came and it was beautiful outside! After Eliana’s morning nap, we headed out to our favorite park- Crescent Bend Nature Park- for a hike. We had a great time- we saw an armadillo, a bunch of deer, and lots of interesting insects. The boys brought their magnifying glasses and enjoyed exploring together. I enjoyed the fresh air and walking! Catherine and I took what would be our last real “bump picture” together before baby would come (she is 32 weeks here).
We came home and fired up the grill, made some awesome kabobs and had a late lunch/early dinner. The kids played until bedtime and then Justin left to head back to Round Rock where he would work until the baby came. Catherine and the kids stayed behind to await baby Eliza’s birth. After the kids were asleep, Catherine volunteered to keep an eye on the boys while Trent and I went out for one last date. We decided to go to Chili’s (we had a gift card from my birthday)- we ordered an appetizer and dessert and just sat there enjoying the quiet and each other’s company. We were home by 10 and we all retired “early” for the night, “just in case my water broke at 2am.” Well, joke was on me- first for going to bed early. Levi woke up with bad leg cramps (growing pains) and I ended up rocking him until nearly 11:30. So it was midnight before we were in bed. And second because it was nearly 2am when…
I woke with a start at 1:42 (according to the clock by the bed, which was three minutes fast, so really at 1:39am) to a gush of water. I quickly got up and ran to the bathroom. Just like last time, I was pretty sure that my water had broken, but wasn’t entirely so. I put on some incontinence undies just in case and crawled back in bed. A few minutes later, I felt a bigger gush- rushed to the bathroom again and it was definitely my water breaking! Everything was clear (literally- clear fluid), so I hopped back in bed, on a serious high and gently woke Trent to tell him that my water had broken! I then proceeded to call my midwife, doula and birth photographer and let them know. They all told me the same thing- “try to rest as much as possible and let us know when things start to happen.” With Levi my water had broken in the early morning, but I still slept for another two hours before any contractions started. Well… I was way too hyped up for sleep! I couldn’t help but think that if Eliza followed the same timeline as Levi, I’d be holding my baby just as morning dawned! It sounded perfect! Finally I nodded back off and slept until nearly 9 the next morning. I was a bit disappointed that nothing else had happened during the night, but was sure that as I got up and moving, things would start to happen.
Well, the word for this day would be “anticlimactic.” We stayed close by- did some more curb walking and lunges- but nothing major. I had my normal 40 week appointment that afternoon anyways, and since nothing was happening, Trent, Levi and I headed to “Mrs. Nikki’s” to check on baby. (Jedi stayed behind to play with Eli). Everything looked good with baby- we did a non-stress test, listened to her heart rate and made sure she was still moving well and had pockets of amniotic fluid. FYI- I didn’t know that the body continues to make amniotic fluid even after your water breaks- it does! I left feeling better- still hoping for her to make her arrival that day- but remembering to just be patient. Babies come in their own time!
Side note- I never got “checked” this pregnancy (or the last). I didn’t know how dilated or effaced I was, I was just trusting my body to do its thang. That might seem crazy to some, but with Jedi I was at 3cm and 50% effacement for WEEKS and WEEKS before he was born. It gave me a false sense of urgency that made the wait for him feel like an eternity! I have since learned that there are so many factors (more than just those two) that signal to the body that the baby is ready to come and reliance on those things really doesn’t mean much. Being checked, especially after the water breaks, only increases your chances for infection.
I had a sweet friend from my Bible study check in and ask how things were going. I had messaged my fellow leaders asking for prayer when my water broke and everyone was wondering how things were going. I told her that everything was looking good but we were just going to wait for things to happen, and of course, that requires a lot of patience. She reminded me that “God knows! He sees! And she’s almost here.” It was a sweet reminder because we had just studied the story of Hagar and I absolutely love when God comes to her, meets her where she’s at, in the middle of aaaallllll her mess, and assures her of his provision and blessing. She responds by calling him “El Roi,” “the God who sees me.” I can’t tell you why, but those words were such a comfort to me!
We came back home with Chick-fil-A for everyone. We ate together and all went to bed early. After all, we knew that it could happen at any time!
…Tuesday morning came. I dreamed all night that I was in labor and that I had waited too long to tell anyone. I think I did have a few actual contractions, but nothing serious. I woke up and nothing happened. NOTHING. We sat around all morning- I drank coffee, we watched the new Mulan movie, Eli did his home school lessons, Trent inflated the birthing pool.
I had two contractions between 9 and 10, then a 45 minute lull, another few before 11 and then another big lull- only one contraction between 11 and 12. I sat on my birth ball and tried to keep things going (Jedi came and snuggled with me for a little bit). By about 2pm, they were coming a bit more regularly. About every 10 minutes, but they still weren’t long, consistent or intense. My midwife suggested that maybe I try to use the breast pump to stimulate labor. That did speed things up a bit. They were coming more frequently, and starting to intensify, but were still short- only 25-30 seconds. I decided to text my doula, Shelby, and our birth photographer, Joy, to come.
During this time, I saw a text from a good friend reminding me that, “Sister, you’ve got this. He is with you.” It was funny because the song playing on my playlist as I read it was “Tu estás aquí” (You’re here) by Jesus Adrian Romero. It was just a sweet confirmation that things were going the way they were supposed to. I should also probably insert here that I had so many people praying for me and Eliza and for this birth. That brought me such great comfort!
3:40- Shelby and Joy show up.
By the time they showed up, things had tapered off again. I felt almost bad, greeting them fully able-bodied with nothing really happening still. Shelby took me back in the bedroom and we joked that she had time to give me a massage this time (last time she arrived right as things were getting real! There was no time for any “extras”). Her assistant Vanessa came shortly thereafter. Trent came in and we all chatted there in the bedroom a while. I had a few contractions start to pick up but again, nothing major.
4:20- Catherine and my mother-in-law popped back to check on me and Catherine suggested that we go for a little walk to “see if we could get things going.” Again, nothing was really happening and it was a beautiful day outside so I was game. I needed a little change of scenery and a little fresh air would do me good. We headed out and walked to the end of the block. As we neared the end of the block, I had a contraction that made me want to double over, but I just kept walking through it.
4:26- We crossed the street to come back along the other side and I hit another one. Again… way more intense. I relieved the pressure a bit by curb-walking for a minute. Then Catherine suggested I take one last bump pic by the brick wall of the school across the street. I hit another one that made me stop and grip the wall before I hit a pose and we kept going.
4:27- Last bump pic!
4:33- We get to the end of the block and I’ve had another two contractions in the time it took to get there. The latter of the two I had to grip on and hold on to the fence outside the ag barn. It belongs to the school district, so there are always teenagers driving up and down our street. Well, one drove by (or I’m totally aging myself and assuming so because the window was down and the music was blaring) and I jokingly called out, “Use birth control!” HAHA. I thought I was pretty funny. I probably scarred them for life! We were about to continue another lap, but Catherine suggested we go back and check in and maybe call the midwife.
Later I would learn that Trent and Shelby saw me out the window as I passed by and watched me walk through one of them- they could tell that I was having a contraction, but we had no idea how real it was about to get!
4:43- We walked in the door and jokingly told my doula and photographer that I had definitely hit active labor when we were walking. “Take a walk, they said, it will be fun, they said…” were the words that left my mouth right before another contraction left me gripping the edge of the kitchen table. I heard the sounds leaving my mouth- things had changed again. It was getting serious. At that contraction, Shelby told me that she was messaging Nikki (my midwife) that we had turned a corner and that she should come. She also called to Trent to start filling up the birthing tub.
4:47- I had a few seconds of reprieve before another one hit and it literally dropped me to my knees. I had another contraction there on the floor and I remember realizing she was crowning. The crazy thing is, all I could think about was the fact that my pants were still on. Shelby leaned over and asked me if I felt a pressure, and I let her know that yes, I did and she was definitely “there.” Next thing I know, she’s calling for Catherine- aka “best friend”- to come over and help get my flip flops and pants off. Trent is still trying to fill the tub. As soon as my pants were off she was calling the midwife and letting her know that “SHE’S COMING.”
Another side note- Shelby has been there for all three of our childrens’ births- she has been training to be a midwife since Jedi was born just over 5 years ago. So I was completely nonplussed at the fact that she would most likely be delivering my baby and that Nikki would probably not make it.
4:51- only 2 inches of water in the birthing pool…
What I DO distinctly remember saying is, “Well I guess I’m not going to make it in the water.” (If you read Levi’s birth story, you’ll know that I was DESPERATE to get in the water and even climbed in while his head was nearly half-way out- you can read his birth story here). What followed was a re-assigning of roles as I hit all fours- We got Nikki (midwife) on FaceTime, Shelby (doula) got ready to deliver, Catherine dropped by my head and encouraged me as I pushed, my mother-in-law was assigned the role of watching the time and Trent was told to “assume the position.” We would laugh about it later as Shelby told me how Trent came over and immediately dropped to his knees with his hands cupped and ready! This isn’t his first rodeo y’all!
4:54- Eliza was crowning and I began to push
4:56- Two minutes and 47 seconds later- she was here! 5 days past her due date… nearly 40 hours after my water had broken… on my dining room floor about three feet in from the front door… a mere 13 minutes after I walked in! It was not the way I envisioned her being born, but I wouldn’t change one bit of her story. I get this crazy adrenaline high when I think about how crazy and fast it all happened… after waiting for what felt like forever!!! HALF AN HOUR, y’all… from not even being in active labor to holding my precious baby girl! Good thing we came back when we did- otherwise it would have been a street birth instead of a home birth. Lol.
As we were sitting there on the floor waiting for Nikki to arrive, Vanessa (the doula’s assistant) walked in with the Chick-Fil-A that she went to pick up when we left on our walk and she saw us on the floor and was like, “I missed it!?!” Shame. She had been looking forward to attending this birth.
The nice thing about a home birth is that you just walk to your own bed and everything else happens there. Lots of skin-to-skin time, delivering the placenta, cutting the cord, nursing for the first time, newborn check, the kids meeting their baby sister. This is where it all happened! I’m so thankful for my amazing birth team and so excited that Eliza Grace is finally here!!!