Each of us has our own unique story…a story written by the Creator Himself, even before time began. We are not here on earth as a random, nameless, faceless part of humanity, but we are we here as part of something more grand than we could ever fathom. We were made uniquely and personally by God Himself and were made to fit perfectly into a story that is much greater than ourselves.
I love the stories of my children. All 3 of them have come into this world under very different circumstances, different places in time, and different seasons of life.
There are many moments and places in life where we find ourselves stopping and thinking, “I never thought I’d be here.” This third blessing was one of those moments. One of those “wow moments” where we both laid eyes on our precious third child for the very first time and simply cried. Tears of overwhelming joy, tears of gratitude, tears of two people and one small family being the main characters in a story of such intense mercy and favor from God. I never imagined we would be here, at this time, in this place, basking in the passionate pursuit of a loving and compassionate God.
We almost named her Mercy.
His mercy. Our story. Her story.
The addition of Penelope Mae represents so very much, so much more than just adding a child to a family, and for that, words fail to describe our thankfulness.
My due date was April 6th, and little munchkin arrived right on her due date, just like her big sister Evie. What are the odds?! Crazy, right? It’s something like only 4% of babies are born on their due dates? And so far, we are 2 for 2 with our bio babies arriving right “on-time.”
Friday, April 4th, I wasn’t feeling well most of the day. Kind of nauseous, kind of sick to my stomach feeling. Basically the same way I felt with Evie the day or two before she was born. Jon and I went out to dinner together, without the kids, and I was uncomfortable most of the time, having contractions on and off, but nothing super substantial, and I honestly wasn’t even really sure if they were contractions. I was also exhausted. I was so uncomfortable, we basically just ended up eating quick and going back and getting the kids from Grandma’s before heading home. We got home, Jon put the kids to bed, and continued working on some projects he had going in the house. I plopped down on the couch and relaxed, watched TV, and then we eventually went to bed.
I don’t remember much about what we did on Saturday, April 5th, but I did write this status on Facebook. “We’ve just arrived at the point where we can sleep in on Saturday mornings and our kids can get up and turn on the TV and still be alive when we get up. And then we decide to add a newborn to the mix very soon. Oh the circle of life.” Little did I know “very soon” would mean, the next morning!
Around 7pm, we were sitting at the table, finishing up pancakes for dinner (the kids favorite)! I didn’t have a big appetite and felt a bit queasy trying to force myself to eat some dinner. Same thing happened with our first delivery the day my water broke. So we are sitting there, chilling out, and all of a sudden I heard and felt that infamous “pop” sound, and a slight, super miniature “gush” happened just like with Evie, except much, much less. So much so that I wasn’t quite sure if it was my water this time, but I definitely knew it was the start of something. I just didn’t know how quickly “the start” would get moving. I told Jon, and we immediately went into “get house ready mode.” I just knew in my gut this was it. There’s nothing like having an entire birth team at your home to motivate you to get your house in order and keep it clean pretty much every day for the last couple weeks “just in case” today was the day.
I set about packing the kids bags to go to Grandma’s (still unsure if we would send them right then, or if we put them to bed and see what labor brought, since we had no idea how long this whole thing would be). I was having mild contractions off and on, but nothing real consistent at first. Jon gave the kids a bath while I continued to pick things up, and make sure stuff was in order if this was really it. I started texting back and forth with Heather, a good friend whose homebirth I attended with the same team, almost two years ago. She was an amazing help and support person throughout the entire pregnancy and world of homebirth advice. After we got the kids settled in bed, I called Penny, our midwife, around 10pm, and told her what was going on. She said, “could be labor starting now, or it could be signs labor is coming soon.” Then she basically told me to wait it out a bit, try to get some sleep, and call her if it picks up steadily. So at this point, I was kind of in denial that it was happening, and also still wasn’t sure.
I began timing contractions around this point (because I still was not entirely convinced this was happening), and they were fluctuating between 4-5 minutes apart. My labor with Evie was so different in that the only stuff I really physically remember was when I was on pitocin, so I had nothing to compare it to. Heather was a tad concerned that because my level of what I knew to be labor (which was on pitocin) was not normal, that I might wait too long to call Penny and Daddy might end up delivering.
I took some Benadryl and tried to sleep. Um yeah, no way that was happening. I still wasn’t quite sure how long this was going to be, is this it, etc. I didn’t want to be the false alarm girl, so I refrained from letting anyone know I thought I was in labor. I got out of bed and got into the spa. It was definitely a good source of pain relief. I got in the spa around 11pm or 12am, and actually watched an episode of a favorite TV show while trying to relax through contractions. I still wasn’t sure how long this would be. I kept thinking, “am I only 1 cm and being dramatic about this? After that episode, I was no longer able to really watch TV and do this thing, so I shut it off and spent the next couple hours in the spa, concentrating on contractions. I told Jon to try and get some sleep because I would be needing him soon. He laid down for a bit, but was up and down, checking on me, and doing things here and there. Finally, around 2:15am, I called out to Jon who was sleeping on the couch and told him he needs to call Penny. He called and told her he thinks they need to head out this way. And within minutes, they were off!
It went from tolerable to intolerable in a matter of minutes, and so I absolutely knew this was it. By the time I knew this, I wasn’t even able to text or call anyone to let them know baby was on its way, except a quick text out to my mom and sisters. Naomi, a birth assistant was the first one here, and I was so relieved to see someone. She quickly saw that I was having super bad back pain and started counter pressure. As soon as she heard me say, “I feel like I’m going to throw up” she called Penny. Penny said to get out of the tub. I was at the point where moving sounded like the worst idea ever and I was quite annoyed at this. It took me what felt like an eternity just to get out of the spa. Once I got out I looked at Naomi and said, “Can I just lay on the floor here. I can’t move.” So she covered me up with a blanket on the floor. I must’ve looked ridiculous! Haha. I labored there for awhile and ended up back in the spa by the time the rest of the birth team arrived. I was so relieved to see them. Naomi and Megan, two of the birth assistants, switched back and forth for hours doing counter pressure on my back. Jon stepped in a few times and I said, “Ok, you’re bad at that. I need one of the girls.” Haha. Poor Jon. He didn’t take offense. I also got very annoyed at the monitoring a few times, and even refused one of the assistants checking my blood sugar with a, “Just stop touching me.” That is so not my personality.
Sometime in the early morning around 8 or 9 maybe, the back labor was so awful and I honestly thought I might die from the pain. I never understood why people used the word “intense” when describing labor. It’s like a weird, mystical version of trying to convince yourself that you aren’t about to die from the brutality happening to your body. At one point, I cursed Eve from the garden of Eden, and at another point, I all out just cussed. I’m sure it was comical. I’m sure they’ve heard worse. For the most part, I was able to stay in control, and on top of it, but there were definitely moments of panic in terms of pain, but luckily being able to even vocalize “I’m losing it here” and “I’m so exhausted” was helpful mentally to know where I was, and where I needed to get back to. Around this time, Penny got me out of the tub to see how far dilated I was, see how things were going, etc. At first I refused to move, because I physically could not even fathom getting up, but we finally got to our room, and I was fully dilated. I think that was the biggest relief of all. It was my first check the entire labor, which I was very glad for. I remember not wanting her to even check me because I didn’t want discouraging news. I kept thinking to myself, “If she even says that I’m only 4cm, I honestly think I’m going to pass out.” But to my surprise, she said 10cm and I was so relieved mentally, but in the worst pain physically. And as it turns out, my water had not really broken the night before.
At this point, I was begging her to break my water. It’s something they rarely, rarely do, and have even had babies born in their amniotic sac. Wow that would’ve been crazy. She agreed to do it and it took her several attempts to actually break my water because the bag was so strong, which apparently is a really good thing. When my water actually fully broke it was the weirdest feeling ever, and I actually felt the baby drop down hard.
I got back into the spa for about another hour or so. I knew I was 10cm, was still having painful contractions, but really no urge to push. Anytime I pushed I felt nothing, no progress. I was so discouraged and started to panic.
To my surprise, I never once feared my VBAC status during labor, nor did it ever even cross my mind. “Baby getting stuck” kept crossing my mind over and over again since I was told by several doctors I’m too small to deliver a baby vaginally.
Penny wanted me to get out of the water to see if that would help my body feel what was going on, etc. This was when things suddenly changed. We loosely planned on birthing in the water, but I didn’t care either way where the baby came out, so getting out of the water wasn’t a big deal to me. Besides, at this point, I just wanted it all to be over.
This was the complete turning point and it felt like a whirlwind from there. I ended up in a sitting position and could finally feel the pushing. I have honestly never worked so hard in my entire life, and that includes a lifetime of gymnastics training and college track and field. Once I felt her head with my hand, I was determined more than ever to get this baby out. 28 minutes of pushing and she finally came out! She was a little stunned and they had to puff her with some oxygen before she let out a cry. At this point, I was on my back and waiting to hear her cry. She was perfect! Daddy was crying and I kept asking, “Is it a girl?” “Is it a girl?” (We did not know gender and we really wanted a girl). Through his sobbing Jon finally said yes, and they laid her on top of me, and we both cried. Penny doesn’t have the cord cut until it stops pulsing, so we laid for a bit while Penelope tried to figure out what in the world just happened to her. The baby’s cord is not quite as long as you would think, so she was only able to lay right across the middle of my belly, which made it difficult to see her, but the first thing I noticed was of course her full head of hair, and her gorgeous, kisssable pouty lips, just like her big Sis.
For the next several hours, the midwife team was doing all their stuff with me and the baby. I was quite impressed with how quickly they moved, how efficient they were, and how everybody had their own specific jobs they were tending to. It was amazing. I ended up having an IV run because I was just so exhausted and feeling pretty light-headed from the long, hard working labor. After the IV I started to feel much better. They waited about 3 hours before weighing and measuring her, which was great because I got to snuggle her for the first 3 hours before anyone took her out of my arms.
I cannot speak highly enough of the excellent care we received. The medical attention to me and Penelope, and even just general care, was amazing. They did all of our laundry, folded it, cleaned our bathroom, washed the dishes, and picked things up. They left our house completely spotless. The after care was amazing. At one point, everyone was sitting on our bed, just hanging out, talking, and laughing. That definitely did not happen after my c-section in the hospital. We are so thankful to the staff of Believe for a great experience with Miss Penelope’s birth. It was one I never in a million years dreamed of doing at home.
April 6, 2014
7 lbs. 11 oz
20 inches long