Abigail's birth story (detailed + pictures)

4:28 PM

As is Elijah's birth story this is a detailed post so if certain terms or anatomy makes you uncomfortable you shouldn't read on, though in my opinion birth stories should never be edited. The entire process is a sweet gift, one that I never want to take for granted.

At 4am on February 7th, her due date, I woke up with a weird pressure in my lower abdomen. It felt so similar to a period cramp that I ignored it until my spirit told me to get up and walk. Something in me knew what I was feeling but since I was induced with Elijah I've never felt labor come on naturally. Pitocin (the medicine they use to induce labor) brings on strong contractions right away so a slow and steady incline in labor was not something I knew or understood. I didn't even know what a real contraction felt like honestly. I remember the pain from Elijah's birth being so terrible because of all of the medicine used to induce his labor that I felt entire contractions through my whole stomach instead of just focused in the lower area. So, I trusted myself like I said I would if this happened and got up and started walking around our condo. Through the living room rounding the corner into the kitchen, back through the hallway and then into the living room again. Making a small but helpful circle I walked until 6am just listening to my labor playlist on my phone and concentrating on the noticeable but small pressure I kept feeling in my lower abdomen. I wondered if this was it and texted a friend saying I had been contracting since 4am. We texted for a while and per her advice I grabbed my birthing ball and started bouncing. After a few minutes I decided to wake Kaleb up. It was close to 7am which is usually when Elijah wakes up so I snuck into Kaleb's side of the bed and asked him if he wanted to have a baby today. He shook his head yes but didn't register what I was saying. So, I asked him again, stroking his hair to gently wake him. He rolled over and looked at me in disbelief and said yes again. I explained the weird contractions and told him it was probably still several hours from now but something was happening.

We continued through the day and decided to skip church that morning. Contractions were consistently 5-10 minutes a part. I texted a few other friends telling them what was going on. They all suggested the same things-taking a nap or getting in a hot bath to see if they go away. True labor won't change in these instances but false labor will. It felt like they weren't coming as often and they definitely weren't as strong so I prolonged the nap and bath until that afternoon. I started really doubting that she was coming that day but I did settle on this-my body was gearing up for the real deal so she would at least be here in the next day or so. I decided that was ok with me as I was so tired. I felt too tired to push out a baby. I wasn't rested. How would I do this? Man. Our bodies are so much stronger than we know. I called the hospital and Katie, the midwife I had just seen the week before was the one on call that day so we talked for a few minutes. She said even my voice told her I wasn't in true labor. She told me to drink tons of water and rest and that with second babies this can happen a lot, my body gearing up for labor but still not having a baby for a day or two. I mentioned to her that I was Group B positive so I knew I needed to get the antibiotics in my system so as not to harm Abigail. You have to have two doses, 4 hours a part. One right when you get there and the next one four hours later for it to actually take effect. She told me to call if anything changed which means stronger contractions and closer together. I felt as if my midwife was the deciding factor so when we hung up I just assumed today wasn't baby day.

I drank close to thirteen glasses of water that day causing me to use the restroom a lot and every time I sat down I felt this familiar pressure. It reminded me of Elijah's birth when my OB at the time told me his head was super low. I brushed it off every time and decided to try the nap and bath. Elijah was in a mood so I made him lay next to me. He passed out in about five minutes but as much as I tried to just rest I couldn't stop noticing the contractions. They were real and steady and I texted a friend to tell her I couldn't sleep because they were keeping me awake. She suggested the bath next so after Elijah was awake I left him with Kaleb and headed into the tub. It was closer to 5pm now so Kaleb heated up some dinner while I waited to see if anything slowed down. Nothing did. Steady, real, and getting closer together. They felt close enough at this point to really time on my contraction timer app. I sat down and started devouring a bowl of three bean chili stopping at every contraction to hit the start button. As it would slow and end I would hit stop and noticed they were only about 30 seconds long. I thought maybe they should be longer before I could consider it active labor. We sat on the couch and turned on The Office while I timed them some more. Almost an hour and a half of timing and I noticed they were 2-3 minutes a part lasting 30-45 seconds. I screen shot the progress and sent it to a few of my friends. All of them told me it was Abby day! I felt confident and had Kaleb call my midwife again and give her an update. She told us to head to the hospital now since we live almost an hour away. This was it. We gathered our last minute items and threw everything in the car. I called my mom and sister to meet us at the hospital and texted our friend Jessica who was going to be taking pictures of Abigail's birth. Everyone had a role, a place to be, a thing to do.

Contracting in the car was hard for the 30-45 seconds that it lasted but then I would have my 2-3 minute break and I felt it wasn't so bad. This was the glorious part about going into labor on my own, the small but needed break between contractions. I didn't have that with Elijah. When we arrived to the hospital I checked in by myself while Kaleb waited on my mom to come get Elijah. That was the only moment he was away from me. Once in the room my midwife checked me and I was 5cm dilated and 90% effaced. AMAZING! Knowing I was halfway through already put my mind at ease as my midwife started my first round of antibiotics. My blood pressure was going up a lot so they monitored that for a little while, waiting to see if it would go down so I could get out of the bed and labor on my own. Unfortunately when your blood pressure is high you have to stay on your side in bed which is what I had to do with Elijah. It makes laboring hard and it would have prevented me from getting to have a water birth. Thankfully after taking my BP three more times all was well. We moved down to the room with the birthing tub and I was positive it wouldn't be long before Abigail would be in my arms. Just getting out of the bed and walking down the hall made labor speed up and my contractions get stronger. I was told not to get into the tub until I was in transition as it can stall labor for some women. Kaleb asked how he would know I was in transition which was funny because I was wondering the same thing. With Elijah it wasn't until after I had him that I could pinpoint when transition was happening so I thought it would be the same with Abigail-I wouldn't know until after I had her and thought back to the events. She said my eyes wouldn't open and there wouldn't be a break between contractions. I had no idea how soon I would know what she was talking about.

I moved between the couch and the sink listening to my labor playlist and the sound of the water filling up the tub. Standing up seemed to bring her down more so I tried to stay standing as much as possible but during a contraction it was hard to do. My midwife pushed on my tailbone and my hips to see if either helped relieve some of the pressure, it didn't. She was just so low and close to coming out at that point that nothing helped except Kaleb's hand for comfort. In the course of one contraction I was starting to freak out. It felt like she was going to fall out of me and everyone in the room started moving. Charlotte grabbed my sports bra and both her and Kaleb started taking off my gown and helped slip the bra over my head. Kaleb and Katie helped me into the tub and Katie asked if I wanted to be checked. Since I assumed I would be at a 9 or so I said yes and found out I was a "stretchy six." I'm still not quite sure what that means but I almost felt defeated at that point. I thought I would be so much closer with all of the movement and contractions. They told me to move onto my knees on the other side of the tub while my midwife went down the hall to discharge a patient. I'm sure no one in the room knew that this one simple movement would change everything. The minute I hit the other side of the tub I was moaning loudly through contractions and almost crying. My midwife was back by my side again and I could hear the sound of Kaleb throwing up. I heard someone give him some juice and suddenly he was back by my side just as I started to scream. I wasn't pushing on my own but my body started to and it was all so sudden and overwhelming. People started pulling me back to the other side of the tub again so I could sit back. I screamed as she crowned for several minutes. I couldn't get control of my body to push down instead of screaming. One nurse told me to breathe for my baby, another nurse was telling me to hold my own leg (*rolls eyes*), and I could hear Kaleb in my ear telling me to push. I listened to Kaleb and finally started to push. Once I got control and started actually pushing she was out within a few minutes, if even that.

She was here! At 11:07pm on her due date she made her arrival. She slipped from my body and into the water so beautifully and my midwife scooped her up and placed her in my arms. She was pale and so small. Her eyes were wide open and she was so alert. She took my face in and I took hers in as well. I was finally looking at the feet that kicked me for so many months and the head we worried wouldn't be down in time for delivery. I saw the face of the little girl who early on we thought might have down syndrome. I felt the heartbeat against my chest of my daughter who use to have a hole in her heart. All of the scary tests and anxiety that came with this pregnancy sunk into the water while she made her claim over my life. She was perfect and that's all I knew.

No one wiped off her vernix, no one clamped her cord. They didn't take her away to weigh her and give her a bath. Instead they gave me one of the most precious moments of my life. They just let me and her be together. Katie drained the water while I sat there holding my daughter. After a few minutes it was time to birth the placenta so we waited for the cord to stop pulsing and then Kaleb cut it like a champ once again. Katie told him to take his shirt off so he could have some skin to skin time with our daughter. I watched my body birth the placenta and it was hands down one of the coolest things I've ever seen! Abigail had a poor latch for our first nursing session yet it was still everything I imagined it would be. I later noticed she had a tongue tie hence the poor latch but nothing took away from that moment of her first time breastfeeding. I'm so thankful that I got the birth I wanted. I know so few women can say that and that's why I will forever cherish Abigail's birth. 

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