As my three-week old daughter naps next to me, I can’t stop staring at her sweet little face and thinking back on those last few days of pregnancy, when it seemed like I’d never get the chance to meet her. Little did I know, that chance would come 7 full days after my due date passed. This is the story of her birth.
It was Election Day. I forced myself out of bed and into the shower, upset at waking again with no signs of labor, but thankful that I’d be able to vote. This was a particularly meaningful day because it was six days past my due date. Since Everly was six days late, I never thought this baby would go past that. Everyone said that second babies usually came earlier. I was so over the calls and texts from friends and family that all said the same thing. “Where’s that baby?” “Are you STILL pregnant?” and “Anything happening yet?” I knew they all meant well, but it hurt to not have the answer they wanted to hear. After a good cry and a lunch date with my sister, I decided to stop feeling sorry for myself, and spent the rest of the day running errands and tying up loose ends.
When I went to bed that night, I noticed feeling a little off, but chalked it up to stress. I woke up around 3:30 with jolts of pain that shot through my lower abdomen. Although it wasn’t comfortable, I smiled and quietly told Marty that I was pretty sure I was in labor. I spent the rest of the early morning hours awake in bed, trying to get through each contraction as best as I could. An ultrasound the day prior had shown that baby was back in a posterior presentation (not an ideal position for birth), so I was content with trying some different yoga positions to encourage her to rotate. Around 6 am, I heard the familiar pitter patter of little feet padding down the hallway and heard her call my name in her sleepy voice: “Mommy?” It was just who I was expecting and exactly who I wanted to see.
A tear slid down my eye as I pulled her up into bed with me. I was so grateful for this peaceful morning moment with her, possibly one of the last moments of just having her all to myself, my one and only child. I was in pain but that was the only person, aside from Marty, that I wanted next to me during this. She snuggled in between us and fell back to sleep running her fingers through my hair, as she always did, while I did my best to get through the contractions.
By 10 am, I noticed my contractions were really starting to pick back up. I had been able to get up with Ev and make her her morning chocolate milk and cinnamon toast, but things were starting to get a little past the point of comfort, and I did not want Ev to see me in any sort of pain. I would sneak into another room when I felt a contraction coming on so she wouldn’t see me doubled over and trying to make it through the waves of excruciating pain that slammed into me with force every few minutes.
At that point, my contractions weren’t following any sort of specific pattern yet, so we weren’t quite sure what was going on. They would be 15 minutes apart, then 10 minutes apart, then 2 minutes apart, then 15 minutes apart, and so on. Deep down, I knew this was typical for a posterior labor, which was what I was desperately afraid of. If baby was still posterior, I knew I was in for a long, painful labor. We decided it was best for Marty’s mom to pick Everly up and take her for the day, in case things got serious. After she left, there were tears. Watching her from the window, it was a like she grew up a little in that moment.
I spent the next few hours drinking raspberry leaf tea, bouncing on a birth ball, and trying some different positions to encourage baby to rotate. Finally, after l had done everything I could to encourage baby to turn anterior, and when I was pretty sure that things were really picking up speed and intensity, we decided to head to the hospital.
Despite being an overcast, misty afternoon, Marty and I were both filled with butterflies at the anticipation that we might have a baby today. As we drove to the hospital, he reached over and squeezed my hand. I swallowed and tried to breathe through the contractions, knowing what was ahead of me. Stand By Me played softly on the radio and I said a prayer that God would keep us all safe and help me bring our little girl into the world, whichever way she was meant to be born.
We were admitted around 3 pm. About a half hour later, my sister showed up and sat with me through the contractions as we waited. About an hour and a half later, my nurse still couldn’t tell if the baby was posterior, but I decided it was finally time for some pain medication. My epidural was administered (and then re-administered when the doctor was too close to a vessel) around 5 o’clock; afterward a cervical check broke my water and revealed that I was about 4 cm dilated.
Around then, things really picked up and that’s when I don’t exactly remember the specifics. I just know that I went from about 4 cm to 7 cm within minutes. Despite getting my epidural about a half hour prior, I was still feeling intense pain and so anesthesiology was called back to take another look.
I remember crying out from the pain and seeing my parents arrive. Before long, my doctor arrived. “What are you doing here already?” I asked. “What do you mean, ‘what am I doing here already?’” she laughed. “You’re about to have this baby in a few minutes.”
She checked me and it was confirmed. I was complete: 10 cm dilated and 100% effaced. Right after I was checked, I started to feel a ton of pressure on my bottom and knew it was time. There wasn’t going to be an opportunity to fix my epidural, it was time to push. My doctor paged that we needed a baby nurse immediately, and the room blurred as things were set up and instruments were prepped around me.
When my doctor mentioned that it only took 12 minutes of pushing the last time, the nurse joked, “Well now you have to beat that and push this baby out in 6 minutes.” I wasn’t joking when I told her I would. One practice push later, I could feel how low my baby was, and my nurse told me that we were going to have a baby any minute. I remember pushing through the pain, and then hearing “OK stop pushing now!” The baby was crowning with her hand on her face. After she was adjusted, I didn’t have to wait for instructions for that last final push.
Amelia June came into the world at 6:40 pm, on Wednesday, November 7th, after a long labor and just four minutes of pushing. I felt a flood of relief and forgot every second of pain I endured as her tiny body was placed on my chest. Just as when Everly was born, it was the craziest and most magical moment of our lives. Marty and I were both at a total loss for words as we met our second daughter for the first time. It was unbelievable and unforgettable, and just as our family expanded in that very moment, our hearts also grew tremendously.
After some bonding time with the three of us, we opened our room up to our close friends and family who were waiting outside. I looked into the group until I saw her familiar face. Marty picked Everly up and brought her to my side to introduce her to the baby sister that we had been talking about for so many months.
I gave Everly the biggest hug and buried my face in her curls, breathing in her familiar scent and trying my best to hold back tears. It was the greatest feeling having her right there by my side and all of us finally being together as a family.
There only a few things in life that I am greatly proud of. Topping that list is most certainly creating and growing these two beautiful children, using my body as a vessel to carry and nourish them throughout pregnancy, and every second of agony endured in birthing them and bringing them into this world. It is such a great pleasure and privilege to be their mother.
There are many significant moments in life that will forever be sealed into my memory – that feeling when I ripped an envelope open to reveal my college diploma, the day Marty nervously slipped a ring on to my shaky finger at the top of Art Hill, how I desperately clutched my father’s arm as I peeked into the crowded church on that beautiful day in May, and how my whole life changed as I sat on the edge of my bathtub and read that first positive pregnancy test. But through all my years, I will never forget feeling of the wonderful weight of both my babies being placed on my chest on the days that they were born.
Everly and Amelia are my greatest joys, and being their mother is such an honor that I have been blessed with. Sometimes, I just can’t believe that this is my life. Amelia so perfectly fits into our family in a way that we never even imagined. We are fiercely, madly in love and incredibly thankful. This is our story, this is her story, yet this is only the beginning.
“You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.”
Read Everly Grace’s birth story here.