I know for some people, they try for months and years upon years to get pregnant. For us, this has never been an issue. Emerson was a surprise, and Etta Jayne was, well, a one shot wonder :) With Eliza, however, this was the first time we were "trying" to get pregnant, and it took 4 months for us to be pregnant with her.
I know it was just a mere 4 months, but in those 4 months, I was so frustrated. I received news that several other friends were pregnant, and I remember just wondering if God had forgotten about me. I have a timeline in my head, and if it doesn't happen the way I envisioned, I tend to get bluesy. But alas, God had not forgotten about me; He just had a different timeline than me. In December 2015, we found out that our little family would be growing by one. I am so thankful that God's timeline is not my timeline - our baby came into the world at the most perfect time, and I am forever grateful for that.
The first trimester of pregnancy was difficult with the fatigue, but it wasn’t all that hard. The second trimester was smooth sailing. I had the glow, my maternity clothes still fit, and I had energy. And then came the third trimester. The beginning wasn't so bad, but by the middle of it, I was ready to HAVE THIS BABY. Being very pregnant while taking care of two other energetic little fireballs is no easy task.
Because I had birthed our other two children early, we knew we had to be prepared early for this baby. Trice (who does gig-style work) cleared his calendar for the month of August because we knew that this baby would “most likely” come some time between July 26 and August 9… that is IF the baby took after her brother and sister. Out of town family took off work and made travel arrangements and bunkered down at our home and in the DFW area (starting somewhere around August 1), knowing that at SOME POINT, I was going to go into labor. Because we birth our babies at home, all of our preparations had to be done by 36 weeks, per our midwife’s instructions. That means that starting at 36 weeks, we had a birth tub and all of our birth supplies set up in our bedroom just waiting and staring at me every day, wondering when in the world I was going to go into labor.
So now the pressure was on. Family was in town. Birth supplies were set up. Trice had turned down a few gigs in case I went into labor. And nothing.
Part of me felt like this baby was going to come late, and I was completely okay with that, except that starting on August 5 (exactly TWO WEEKS before baby came out to play), I started having prodromal labor. We were on our way to an Olympics opening ceremony party when we had to turn around because I was having consistent, painful, timeable contractions. I called my midwife and we frantically drove home (during rush hour traffic), as we thought that this baby was coming! These contractions lasted for a couple of hours. And then... they just stopped. Then the next day, the same thing happened. And over the course of the next 14 days, my mind started to go absolutely crazy, because I could no longer tell if I was in labor or not.
So now, to paint the picture, by August 19th, my husband hadn’t worked in 3 weeks, family had been in town for almost 3 weeks, and I had had 14 days straight of thinking I was in labor when in fact it was not labor. And then each time my midwife checked me there was NO PROGRESS. I started to feel like everyone was watching my every move. My phone was going crazy with the amount of friends and family checking on me asking if I was in labor yet. I would wake up every morning around 3:30am and just spend a couple of hours in my closet crying and begging the Lord to please let this baby come out. Yet again, it seemed like His timeline didn't match up with mine, and so I was yet again frustrated and bluesy.
I pretty much started to think I was going to stay pregnant forever. I literally asked Google these things: “Is it possible to stay pregnant forever?” “Is there a condition that doesn’t let your body go into labor?” “Longest pregnancy record in a human” which, by the way if you are wondering, the record is 375 DAYS. A woman in California was pregnant for OVER A YEAR. Bless her heart.
And then the fear settled in. Fear started to tell me that something was wrong with my baby and that she wasn’t strong enough for labor. That's what happens when you shift your focus to what Google has to say instead of asking God what HE has to say. These thoughts sound extremely irrational now, but for the time being, they were real, and I lived the last several days of my pregnancy in a bit of a panic.
Then the advice started streaming in. “Apply clary sage” DONE. “Go see a chiropractor” DONE. “Get a pedicure” DONE. “Get a pressure point massage” DONE. “Drive down a bumpy road” DONE. “Have lots of sex” (yes, we do that!) DONE. “Break it down” (and make a funny music video while you are at it) DONE. “Sit on your birth ball. Take a long walk. Eat something spicy.” DONE DONE DONE. We even went so far as to go to the trampoline park - but don't worry, I only took a few bounces here and there!
So on the morning of August 18th, I woke up bright and early (again), and got ready to bring my little sister to the airport. I was furious. My heart’s desire was for my little sister to be here for the birth, and now she had to go back home. After dropping her off at the airport, my parents watched our kiddos, and I went and wrote in my journal at my favorite coffee shop. I wrote out all my frustrations and pled my case to the Lord once again. Finally, I chose not to listen to the fear that was trying to speak into my life, and I revisited God's promises that He had spoken throughout my pregnancy. Promises that I WOULD enjoy the fruit of my labor. Promises that He wouldn't let me go into labor until baby was ready. Promises that my children, including the child in my womb, would flourish. Promises that His breath would fill her lungs. And then I did the hardest thing- I surrendered to His perfect timing.
Basically, what I learned is the more I tried to will myself into labor, the more I realized it WAS NOT GOING TO WORK. I pretty much learned through this pregnancy that when I cannot be in control of something, I try everything I can to gain control. I tried to control the timeline. I tried to control who was in town. I tried to control the time of the day I went into labor. But the beautiful thing about pregnancy and labor is that babies come when babies come. You can try to make all the stars align just right so you have a perfect time of delivery, but that baby's birthday has been pre-determined, and there is really not much we can do to make that baby come out before its appointed time.
Out of all the tricks I had tried, the one trick I had failed to try was SURRENDER. Surrender to God’s timeline. Surrender to your body’s cues. Surrender to the lack of control. And trust that God will take care of you. I really think that because I was trying to control so many variables that my body was very tense, and that's why I had several weeks of prodromal labor. It was when I surrendered to the Lord's timeline, that my body was able to relax enough to go into labor. So for all of you mamas who are overdue or are nearing your due date and are ready for that baby to just come out - you can make a silly music video and eat hot sauce all you want, but the best method of labor induction in my opinion is SURRENDER.
After I got home from the coffee shop, my kiddos had to go to swim lessons. I had everyone go to swim lessons and let me just have an hour of being by myself at my house. As soon as my house was quiet, my whole body just completely relaxed. I was laying in my bathtub at about 3pm, and I started to feel a few contractions again. I told my midwife I was having contractions, but by this point, I had been having contractions for 2 weeks, so I was not sure if it was just another bout of false labor. She suggested that we have everyone leave for the night to just let me continue relaxing, and so our amazing families took our kiddos from the house and let Trice and me just have the night together. At 7pm my midwife came over for my prenatal appointment that had been scheduled for that day and she found that I was 2cm dilated and 80% effaced, but still no solid signs of me being in labor. She told us to take it easy, slow dance, snuggle on the couch and take a nice nap together. Isn't she the best? She said she would come back over to check me before bed if I was still having contractions. So she left and we just put on worship music and cuddled and relaxed into a very amazing nap on the couch.
When we woke up around 10:30pm, I told Trice we should just go to bed because my contractions had slowed again. But my midwife decided to come check me one more time before we went to sleep. When she checked me at 11pm, we found that I had dilated another centimeter. Because there were no signs of active labor, she told me that this could still be false labor and to not get my hopes up just yet. But because I was having some contractions, she decided to just hang out at the house for a little while to see if I would progress any.
My contractions were definitely stronger at this point, but they weren’t unbearable. Trice and Jenee spent the next bit of time making preparations in case this was the actual thing, while I sang worship music and breathed through each contraction. One of my favorite things about home birth is the comfort of being in your OWN HOME. I feel 100% safe and secure in my home, and I think that is one of the reasons why my labor was so peaceful. When I was having contractions, Jenee and Trice would take turns rubbing my back and my arms and encouraging me. Each time I had a contraction, I would talk to my baby and tell her how good of a job she was doing. For a few contractions, I got to sit and write a little pre-birth note to our sweet girl in her baby book. I enjoyed several snacks that we had purchased specifically for the birth (Cheez-ITz and trail mix for the win!). I worked through several contractions by sitting on the birth ball. I spent time meditating on the several Scriptures that were posted on our wall and worshiping to Amanda Cook’s latest album (now I can’t listen to it without crying!)
Around 12:30am I told them I was ready to get in the birth tub, although they were hesitant to fill it at first. Because I was still so relaxed, I think they both thought maybe I was faking ;) But I told them to do it anyway. I spent the next several contractions in the warm birth tub, which has definitely become my best friend during labor. If you have never tried a birth tub during labor, you totally should! If that's your thing.
At 1:50am I told my midwife I thought she should check me again. She made a deal with me and told me she would check me at 2am since she had already checked me at 11pm. She told me that looking at my face, she was concerned that I wasn’t making any progress since I was still chatting away and giggling with them through my contractions. At 2am she decided she would go ahead and check me, but she wasn’t going to tell me how far I was in case I had not dilated anymore.
When she checked me, her eyes got really big and she very quickly grabbed her phone to call her assistant. I asked her what the big deal was, and she told me I was already dilated to an 8! I got back in the birth tub, and we called my photographer friend at 2:04am and told her to hurry on over. She arrived at about 2:20, and I rose and gave her a hug. At this point the contractions had been completely manageable with the help of my husband, my midwife and my Jesus. If ever they had to walk out of the room throughout the night, I would just quote 2 Timothy 4:17- “But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me,” and imagine Him right by my side.
After giving Ricae (the photographer) a hug, I sat back in the tub and the next two contractions I had were extremely intense! After those 2 contractions, I told Trice that I was nervous about pushing, and he started reading all the verses on the wall to me in my ear. At around 2:26am, I felt the urge to push. With Etta Jayne, pushing was really intense, but after her head crowned, everything else just came out very easily. But while pushing this baby, it seemed like it was taking forever. I was in a lot of pain and pushing with all my might, but it just seemed like she was taking her sweet time. My midwife told me to reach down and feel her head, and when I did, I just started bawling as I realized how close she was to being out. I finally got her head out, but the next push was also very difficult. It was at that point that we realized that her little shoulders were stuck. Jenee told me that with the next push she was going to have to help me since Eliza had shoulder dystocia. And with one final push and some assistance from my midwife, Eliza Grace was gently born into the water at 2:31am. Thankfully Jenee was able to guide her out without any damage to her shoulders, and without any damage to me- thank the Lord! God protected me and my sweet girl, just like He promised me for the last several months that He would.
After pushing, I immediately scooped my baby in my arms and just cried and hugged her. Because it was such a swift delivery, and because of the shoulder dystocia, sweet Eliza needed a little bit of help transitioning. They stood me up to move me to my bed, and as soon as I stood up, she got a big rush of oxygenated blood and let out her first cry. There is nothing like hearing your baby cry for the first time. It is the most beautiful sound in the world. While Jenee took care of our little girl, Trice and I got to hold her and love on her. We prayed over her and sang worship songs over her. Never once was our baby taken away from us or roughed up. Everything was calm and peaceful – just like we wanted it to be. Even with our sweet girl needing a little help transitioning to this big new world, never once were Trice and I panicked or afraid. The Lord had made and kept every promise throughout labor and delivery, and we knew that she was safe. In a matter of minutes, she was plump and pink and crying and ready to nurse for the first time!
Because everything happened so fast, Jenee’s assistant totally missed the birth! But when she got there, she stepped right in and helped Jenee do all the fun stuff that midwives do after a baby is born :) Then she fed me while I fed my baby. I’m telling you – you just cannot beat the level of care that you receive with midwives. They are so gentle and loving.
If you read Etta Jayne’s birth story, you can read more about some of our reasons for choosing home birth, but one of my FAVORITE things about home birth is the herbal bath. After Eliza nursed, it was time to soak in the tub. The water was nice and warm, the candles were lit, and the worship music was on. Eliza and I soaked in the tub while I just stared at her. Three babies later, and that moment never gets old. That moment when you just get to take her all in and examine her little fingers and toes, the angle of her nose, and the curve of her lips. That moment when you see God's marvelous craftsmanship in its fullness. It's like finally opening the gift that God has been secretly crafting especially for you for the past 9 months.
After a long relaxing bath, it was time to do Eliza's newborn exam. We knew she was bigger than my other two, but didn't know by how much. Emerson was 6lb 8 oz and Etta was 6lb 15oz, and we all guessed that she was somewhere in the 8-8.5lb range. Much to our surprise, sweet Eliza tipped the scales at 9lb 5oz and measured 21 inches long!! Her head was 14 inches around -- no wonder pushing her out hurt!!
Everything looked good during the exam, and it was time for the midwives to leave. They started our laundry for us and tucked us into our big bed, with baby beside us in her bassinet. I can truly say that this was one of the most beautiful, God-breathed nights of my life.
Through this birth, I learned to trust the Lord and believe that He keeps His promises. I learned that God's timing is not the same as my timing. I learned how to worship through discomfort and uncertainty, and I learned to surrender to the Lord's will and to the process of childbirth. I praise the Lord that we have another beautiful, healthy baby girl, and that our family is now a family of 5.
God is good. All the time!
Eliza Grace, you were such a joy to bring into this world. Your daddy and I pray and hope that God will be your satisfaction, just as your name means. We can't wait to see the plans He has in store for you, sweet girl. We love you so much!!
To see more pictures from Eliza's birth, check out the gallery below. HUGE shout out to my sweet friend Ricae for taking these amazing pictures. Seriously, you are THE BEST.