The birth story of Lainey Nicole starts on her due date, Thursday, October 4th. I woke up that morning to some spotting and hoped that meant my cervix was starting to change. The anticipation and excitement quickly set in as I knew labor could truly start at any time even though my husband and I had some important plans coming up the next few days. That afternoon, we had an appointment to pick out plumbing fixtures for the new house we’re building and while we were there, an intermittent low back ache set in, the start of mild contractions! After that, we picked up Kevin’s tux for a wedding he was in that weekend and grabbed a delicious dinner at Chili’s. It was such a sweet little date and I just remember laughing a lot that day. By the time I went to bed, I was having very mild contractions at about 8 minutes apart and fell asleep peacefully.
I woke up around 12:30 that night, October 5th, and lost my mucous plug. Contractions started coming quicker then but still irregularly. Some of them were harder than others. At times they were 4 minutes apart and I got shaky from all the adrenaline but then they would calm down and I could sleep. I got in some super sweet cuddles with my 2 year old and she held me as I breathed through contractions. By 6 am they calmed down completely and we slept until 9. My mom and I went to Walmart that morning to grab a few last minute things and that afternoon I saw the chiropractor to try to line everything up in my pelvis in preparation for birth.
That night Kevin and I had a rehearsal dinner for our friend’s wedding and contractions started again while we were there. Mostly they were manageable but some of them required Kevin to discreetly apply counterpressure as we ate lasagna with the rest of the bridal party. Our daughter spent the night with her grandparents and we went home. I had contractions all night long but slept well in between them until about 6 am when I realized they were coming about 5 minutes apart. I stayed in bed until 7 and then started getting ready for the wedding. Contractions kept coming so I also got our bags all packed. They were getting more intense and I started to think it was finally happening for real. When it came time to decide if we were going to the wedding or not, I took my blood pressure. Even though it wasn’t high enough to be considered hypertension, it was just high enough to scare me into thinking my body might not be able to handle labor and suddenly contractions stopped almost completely. I was so disappointed, a little shook up, and I sent my husband to the wedding. An hour later, I decided to get dressed and go as well.
At the wedding I sat with Chick and Janice Lengacher, the parents of Emily Lengacher, who was a good friend and roommate of mine in college. We lost her in a tragic car accident our senior year and our lives have never quite been the same ever since. Kevin and I knew that if this baby was a girl, she would share Emily’s middle name, Nicole, in honor of her. Because of that, it was so special to see her parents that day and hear they were praying for a safe delivery, especially because they live five hours away and we don’t see them often at all. I am so thankful God orchestrated that beautiful meeting into this baby’s birth story.
Contractions still hadn’t returned with much regularity so I then decided to take my toddler and go an hour away to the wedding reception with my husband and a friend of ours. My daughter danced her heart out by herself on that country line dance floor and I so enjoyed watching her. But after a couple trips of walking her to the bathroom and getting us both food, I started noticing contractions coming a bit more intense and close together. I was sitting at a table with no one that I knew during dinner and discreetly timing them at 5 minutes apart while also trying to hold a conversation with strangers. It was just crazy enough to make me laugh throughout it all. We stayed for the first dance and by then, I could no longer hide the fact that I was in pain so we quickly started the hour drive home.
Laboring in the car was certainly not a fun experience especially because it was clear by then that I would have mostly back labor. We had a friend in the car with us so I tried to keep it together as much as possible and I kept my focus on the ETA our GPS was giving us. When we finally got home, I did some stairs, a few abdominal lifts, and laid in the Texas Roll Position to try to get the baby in an anterior position because I assumed a posterior position was the reason for the back labor. Unfortunately, this didn’t seem to be the case and even though contractions had spaced out to 8 minutes apart at that time, they were as intense as I ever remember them being before the epidural in my first labor. My body was shaking uncontrollably and I started to doubt my ability to labor unmedicated. I finally decided to call the midwife at 9 o’clock that night. I told her that I was confused about why the contractions were so strong at only 8 minutes apart but she assured me that she has seen women fully dilate with irregular contractions. She suggested I get in the shower and would call me back in a half hour.
The shower was absolutely brilliant and completely took the back labor away while I was in there at least. I got the relief I needed to keep on laboring at home awhile longer. My mom and my sister left the campsite my family was at for the weekend and made the hour drive home. For the next couple hours I leaned over the birth ball while my husband watched Notre Dame football. He applied counterpressure on my back during contractions which made all the difference in the world. My mom, my husband, and I kept throwing around the idea of going into the birth center but I kept feeling like it wasn’t quite time yet. I had had so many false starts in the last couple of days and I was really afraid of going in too early. Finally, after an hour of contractions every 3-4 minutes I was convinced to go in, especially because I thought there was a chance my water may have broken, so we called the midwife once again and planned to meet at the birth center at 12:15 am on October 7th.
Arriving at the birth center was like a dream come true for me. As a doula, I absolutely love working at our local birth center. The calm and home-like atmosphere makes it a pleasure to work in and I truly believe it makes the birth process go so much smoother. However, in my last pregnancy, I developed preeclampsia and had to go to the hospital to be induced so I was constantly worried that something similar would happen again this time. (Read my first birth story here.) I told the midwife right away that I was nervous about being checked and having my blood pressure taken but I knew I had great support and had prepared myself to take things as they come. Because of all that, I was completely overjoyed to find out that though my water hadn’t broken, my cervix was 6 cm dilated and my blood pressure was good! I was admitted and rode that excitement through the rest of my labor.
I first spent a good 30 minutes laying on my side with the peanut ball as my sister, my photographer and my doula joined my husband, mom, and I. After that, I spent quite awhile on the stairs doing lunges and some squats to open my pelvis and move the baby down. I kept my focus on fully recovering in between contractions and tried to feel as normal as possible when not in pain. I made small talk, told jokes, and relied on my husband who is an expert at keeping the mood lighthearted. Because of this, contractions came and went quickly and they felt much more manageable.
My doula and midwife then got the tub all ready, complete with dim lighting and beautiful candles surrounding it. I climbed in and turned on my labor playlist which was a combination of worship music, hypnobirthing tracks, the Childbirth In the Glory album, piano instrumentals, and the sweet love song I walked down the aisle to, Songbird by Eva Cassidy. The water and music was so soothing and I loved being able to fully relax. I sat in a variety of positions in between contractions but always always always, I made sure to get on my hands and knees at the beginning of a contraction so that my doula and my husband could easily apply counter pressure. I cannot say enough about counter pressure. Without it, contractions were nearly unbearable, but with it, they were much more manageable. I needed it every single contraction from beginning to end and I’m so thankful I had a great birth team who could make that happen for me. They’re the real MVPs.
After the bath I got out and paced around the cozy living room for awhile until I started to feel more pressure in my bottom from the baby moving down. I spent the rest of the first stage of labor leaning over the birthing ball in bed with someone doing rebozo sifting on my belly. I became increasingly vocal during contractions but man, I feel like it helped so much to use my voice through them. I would often let out one or two long, low groans, and then blow air out through my lips like a horse for the next few breaths as the contraction ended. Internally, I kept reminding myself that each contraction passes quickly, that I was making progress and would see it soon, and I got glimpses of some of my other clients, who were so strong and powerful through their labors, which encouraged me to keep pressing on.
Finally, I felt the strangest feeling of my tailbone moving out of the way and I knew things had changed. Around 4:40 am, I started feeling an urge to push and we got the birth stool set up. I asked if my purple line was there and indeed it was so I chose not to do a cervical check at that time. In hindsight, I should have listened to my gut and gotten checked but I was so excited and ready to push that I suppressed that feeling for fear of being told it wasn’t time yet. So I began following the urges my body was giving but it was fairly clear that I wasn’t making much progress. Furthermore, those pushing contractions were way more painful than any I had experienced so far. I couldn’t remember ever having a client say anything about such terrible lower back pain with pushing and I couldn’t understand why it was happening to me. Usually, I tell clients that most people almost “enjoy” the pushing phase because they get to actively do something with a contraction. How wrong I was, I thought to myself. I became so very loud during this phase, roaring at the top of my lungs with each push. I couldn’t help it and it provided relief. At one point, thunder shook the sky right after I pushed and I felt a sense of amazement, as if God and the Earth were pushing with me. At other points I simply yelled “I’M SO MAD!!” because these contractions were so painful and I didn’t seem to be making progress. There was also a time when I got a bit panicky and whispered to my husband that I really didn’t think I could do it. He of course, assured me that I could and that I would and I continued to press on. After an hour of that, my midwife checked me and found that I indeed had a little anterior cervical lip left which was blocking the baby from coming down. Lesson learned. Through the next couple contractions she had to try to push the lip away while I pushed, which was definitely a painful process. But the relief when she told me we had moved the baby through the cervix was so rewarding.
During one contraction, I pushed as hard as I could when all of a sudden my bag of waters popped “like a water balloon” as my husband described it. It was the absolute weirdest feeling but I was relieved to be making progress. I had already switched positions a couple times from the stool, to hands and knees, to the toilet, to leaning over by the tub throughout that first hour. After I truly was completely dilated, I was about to climb into bed for all fours when a contraction hit so I ended up pushing standing up beside the bed. In the next 22 minutes I could feel so much more progress with each push. All at once I felt the ring of fire we hear so much about and yelled “IT BURNS” loud enough that all my in-laws waiting patiently in the living room knew we must be getting close. I tried my best to breathe through that feeling like I instruct my clients to do but it was hard. I just wanted the baby out. I was slightly in shock but laser focused when they told me the head had came out and I would birth the shoulders in the next contraction. With a big push at 6:14 am, the baby came out “swinging on the umbilical cord” according to my husband (I told you he keeps things lighthearted). They handed the baby to me and we found out we had another sweet baby girl! I was so happy, so relieved and yet I couldn’t show any emotion on my face at that point.
I moved to the bed where we got Miss Lainey Nicole all warm and dry, cut the cord, and waited for the placenta. I was so shocked and relieved to find out I didn’t need any stitches. My oldest daughter Blakely got to come in and see us right away which was so special. She’s such a happy big sister. All of our family members and birth team left soon after to get some rest. Lainey eagerly latched on 15 minutes after she was born and nursed for around 90 minutes. She then had her newborn exam where we found out she weighed 6 pounds 12 ounces, was 19 inches long and had a 13 inch head. Next she cuddled up skin to skin with her daddy and they both slept for about 4 hours straight. I ate several pieces of homemade bread, a Burger King breakfast sandwich and took a healing herbal postpartum bath. Then we packed all up and we were home by 1 pm. The whole experience was truly surreal and honestly a dream come true for me. As someone who absolutely loves birth, I’ve spent the last 7-8 years hoping to have such a wonderful experience and words cannot express how thankful I am to God, to my birth team, and to everyone else who was praying and cheering us on. Bringing life into this world is the most humbling and rewarding gift and I’m so honored to be this little girl’s mama ❤️