This pregnancy has gone much different from my previous ones which only made it more difficult in knowing what to expect. I had days with lots of contractions but no results. I had contractions on and off throughout the day and some rough ones started just as I got the kids in bed Sunday night. I was lying in bed and literally had to pull myself up out of bed to work through them. I looked at the clock and the next contraction came ten minutes later. Pulling myself out of bed again the second time, I thought to myself, “There’s no way I’m going to get some sleep in between these.” I lay back down and ten minutes later, another one hit. Lincoln knocked on my door and came in; He climbed into bed with me and said “Up here with you?” (as he does when he’s asking if he can cuddle with me). Of course, I couldn’t resist and lay back down with him. He was snoring seconds later and after twelve minutes this time, I had another contraction.
Pulling myself out of bed and this time, down on my knees, I began to pray and before I knew what I was saying, I spoke the words, “I’m ready”. I knew in that moment that I was ready, and I felt confirmation from my Heavenly Father that I was ready. I had been carrying this sweet baby. I had felt a connection from the very start, along with the answer that it wasn’t going to be easy but it would be worth it.
Rick was still out in the living room. He had been watching some television with his mom and dad. The next contraction drove me out of the room to be with him at midnight. They were two to three minutes apart then. I sat down and started to put make-up on. Don’t ask me why- I guess I thought it would be a good distraction. Within the next hour, the intensity of the contractions had increased and I wanted my mom. Rick suggested giving everyone a bit longer to sleep, so I waited.
Rick was keeping track of the time in between contractions when suddenly we both heard a loud thud and realized that Lincoln had fallen out of bed. Rick left to take care of him and then returned shortly after.
A bit after 2 a.m., I made Rick get my mom, wishfully thinking it would just be another hour or two and then this baby would be here. I hoped all along that the labor wouldn’t be a long one but I didn’t know what to expect with this one. I thought I was further along trying to compare the intensity of the contractions, but that wasn’t the case. I leaned on the giant Love Sac we have in our living room and lay my head down in between contractions. I was so tired ALREADY! It had been a long day and had I not taken a four hour nap earlier in the day, I probably would’ve died--not literally, but I was worn out and realizing some things I should have done differently. Why did I go for a walk earlier? What was I thinking when I decided to go on a cleaning spree of the entire upstairs?!...I quickly put these thoughts aside and worked through the next contraction. My body was shaking which made me think that my body was working through transition, but I never knew how far dilated I was. That’s something I would do differently next time. My mom was there gently rubbing my back while Rick prepped and put together the necessary things for the tub. Having my mom there was comfort enough to make the pain go away just a bit.
The hours dragged on. My mom, mother-in-law Liz, sisters, Shantelle and Jayna, midwife and her apprentice were all there and waiting through the night with me. We had the tub filled and I had gotten in and out of it a couple of times through the gruesome waiting hours, many of which were just a daze to me. The contractions were so intense for such a long period of time; I was falling asleep in between contractions around the seventh or eighth hour… I was so exhausted. I felt my focus slipping and I…. had hit a wall. I looked up at my mom and Shantelle who had been by my side the entire time and I said, “I need to know where I’m at, why isn’t this baby coming yet?”
Soon after, my midwife thought it was a good idea for all of my family to step out of the room for a moment. So after my family had left and it was just Rick and I, He gave me a much needed pep talk. He told me that he was told that I could do this. He knew I could. I knew what he meant having received the same confirmation that morning as I prayed fervently for strength and peace.
My midwife came in the room and asked me if it would help to know where I was – “Yes!”, I said, “I need to know”…. She then felt and said “Shay, the baby’s head is right there. Put your fingers up there and feel for yourself.”
I felt the baby’s head-she had hair! …That was motivation for me to hang in there but my energy was sapped. My midwife then decided it would be a good idea to do some pushing. I pushed and pushed to try to bring the baby’s head down. I wanted to get back in the tub at this point but never wanted Rick to leave my side so he got in with me. He was my Rock through all of it. I could not have done it without him. He was my cheerleader, my swim partner, my hand hold, my back pusher and in the end, the only thing keeping me afloat, literally.
The lack of sleep, energy and feeling completely exhausted was hard enough as I pushed with everything I had. I looked down at my belly; I felt my body working, all of my energy, every muscle working together to bring this baby into the world. I held a hand to my stomach through these last contractions as if to cradle and help this sweet baby get here. Several times did I whisper to my Heavenly Father to help me through the next and the next-He was my constant companion.
I could feel which pushes made more progress than others. I knew what my body was doing and that was a good feeling. When the baby’s head started to crown I said, “Oh, it burns”, but I was able to keep myself under control. It was with the next push that half of the head was there and I just about jumped out of the tub. Rick was facing me. He had been holding me up during squats and pushes and this push sent me into flight mode. They say it’s either fight or flight. Yep, I was flight. I wanted to run away from the pain and crawling up Rick’s arms was the way to do that. Little did I know that the moment I would start to come up out of the water, I’d be saying to Rick, put me back, put me back!! I heard Rick and my midwife talking to me, but none of what they said. I pulled every urge to run back into myself and forced myself to focus-I had to tell myself, relax, calm down, you can do this, wait it out. I paused and held myself in pain. It seemed as though everyone and everything around me, was not there for a moment-Just me; enduring, waiting until the next contraction. The next big push brought the baby’s head out.
There was a moment of relief when her head was there but also a lot of squirming on her part which was just kind of annoying. It was taking longer for the next contraction to arrive. In fact, it felt like forever, when in reality it was just a few minutes, but still a few too many for comfort, so my midwife told me to turn over on all fours and she said, you’re going to need to push hard, pull your bum in and curl up to give a good push. The moment I turned over, a contraction came and I pushed harder than ever. I did just as she told me, curling my body up into itself and with every last ounce of energy, I pushed. My face was so close to the water that my nose was touching it and my thoughts were, “Here we go! Were going under, so hold your breath!…. Just then, a feeling of relief as my baby Penny came out. I went limp but somehow managed to flip back over and was leaning against Rick’s chest in seconds. Rick’s hands still grasped hold of me and with one arm he scooped Penny up out of the water and onto my chest. My baby was here! In a single precious moment, she was finally in my arms.
Mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually-It was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life and the most rewarding. I hold my Penny in my arms and everything is right in the world. She has brought a special spirit with her and has blessed our home and family with a love all its own.
I received several blessings throughout this pregnancy, some during difficult times such as illness and physical inabilities, others during times of anxiety or emotional turmoil. Through all, I read back on the blessings given and for every blessing, the Lord saw fit to bless me with the strength needed to pass through the courses of that wine press. I feel the trying times of my pregnancy were preparing me for the exhausting, difficult labor I was to endure in order to bring this sweet spirit into the world. In all of it, I had the example of the Lord and His atoning sacrifice, to relate to, and grow from. I am grateful for this and for all that have expressed their love and supported me and my family through all of it.