Along with having a sweet baby, one of the rewards of giving birth is getting to tell the birth story afterward, right? I mean, it’s like a badge of honor among women. And it should be! No matter what kind of birth you have, it really is a life-altering experience every time.
JW’s birth was actually different from my previous births in several ways. The first was that it was a VBAC, since our special-needs girl was born via c-section. Having had four completely normal births, I felt like I had a good handle on how it would go, but there was always a little bit of a question mark in the back of my head, knowing that a VBAC could be a very different experience.
We had arranged to have the baby born in Spokane, about four hours away from where we are living this summer. Part of the reason for this was that my parents live in Spokane, and the help would be huge. About 10 days before JW was born, we travelled to stay with them and await his birth.
If you ask me how many hours I was in labor, I could honestly give you about three different answers. Labor really started about a week beforehand, with Braxton Hicks contractions pretty consistently, and a backache that would not die. I did a lot of walking that week, trying to get things going, but it never turned into real labor. Unfortunately, my attitude during much of this was not to trust God, but to get very frustrated every time the contractions would die out. It was an emotional week.
About 24 hours before he was born, things started a little more in earnest. I was awake most of the night, having contractions every 10-15 minutes. I was able to catch a few hours of sleep in the wee hours of the morning, but woke up sorely disappointed that things were not moving more quickly. My parents, seeing my exhaustion the next morning (and it being a Saturday, so my Dad was not working), took all five of our big kids for an all-day adventure, and my husband and I spent the day perusing a used book store, having lunch together, and driving around looking at houses for sale (does anybody else do that obsessively in any town you visit?). By the evening, contractions were still 10 minutes apart, so we ate a light dinner with my family, and then walked all the kids and the neighbor’s kid down to the park. I purposely pushed the stroller J. At the park, things finally changed. We stayed about an hour, and then walked back up the hill to my parent’s home. By the time we got there, I was having to stop walking during contractions. We hung out another half-hour, and then decided to give the hospital a call. The nurse my husband talked to was completely unimpressed by the fact that I had only been having strong, consistent contractions for an hour, and told me to take a shower and wait another hour. I complied, but by the time I was out of the shower, I knew we needed to go. I have had several babies born very shortly after getting to the hospital, and driving during transition is not my favorite activity, so we called the nurse back and told her we were coming in. We got to the hospital at 10, met the doctor on call, and two intense hours later, he was born.
JW was a chunk, for me—he was 7 lbs, 12 oz, which is our second biggest baby. There are so many things to be thankful for in his birth—a successful VBAC was such a blessing, the doctor was very kind, and very skilled. My husband was my support and companion throughout, and transition and pushing were so short that he didn’t even make it all the way through Psalm 139. The doctor saw our open Bible, asked what we were reading, and told us that his church sings a version of that Psalm. That is the second birth for us where the doctor has been a spiritual encouragement (the other one was our special needs baby, where the surgeon asked if he could pray with us before she was born). The hospital staff was kind, and because they were really busy, basically left us alone. We got to go home the next day, and two days later we drove back to the cabin.
I’m slowly settling into a new routine. I’m definitely feeling the pressure—with so many, there is always somebody who needs attention, and JW has decided that from 8-11PM is the best time for him to want to nurse constantly. Last night I squeezed in a shower before this happened, and I was able to just curl up in bed with him and go to sleep. So far that seems like the best solution. I’m trying to remember that the first two weeks are all about survival, and remember to take it one day at a time!