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September 6, 2011

Labor and Delivery, Part 3

In the movies, it's a cliche- pregnant women are always portrayed as writhing and screaming through contractions. In contrast, all of the documentaries I watched over the past nine months depicted natural birth as something calm, even soothing. I took those experiences to heart and developed a picture in my mind of a natural delivery, something I expected to be painful and yet peaceful. It would be an event where I would be the one in complete control.

I couldn't have been more wrong.

Jonathan stood by my side in the delivery room, continuing to remind me to breathe slowly, but by that point, any semblance of control I'd had was long since gone. I had become the pregnant woman in the movies, literally screaming through each contraction. I heard my midwife gently tell me that if I couldn't control my breathing and stop hyperventilating, they would have to give me something to help calm me down.

That was the motivation I needed. I held the unconsciousness at bay long enough to slow my breathing and insist that I was fine without medication.

In that moment, my body took over. I wasn't trying to push. In fact, I wanted nothing to do with pushing, but suddenly in the midst of a contraction, I felt my body bearing down. I screamed out that I had to push and the nurse quickly told me that I couldn't until my body was ready. My midwife must have recognized the desperation in my eyes because she calmly intervened and asked if I was feeling the urge to push. That marvelous woman was all of two feet away from me, but I yelled at the top of my lungs that I was indeed feeling the urge. By then, a pack of wild horses couldn't have stopped me from pushing.

With the next contraction, Deb checked my progress and quickly determined that we were ready to have our baby. I grabbed my legs, held my breath and pushed. The sensation was unlike anything I'd ever felt before, even while delivering my son. I remember looking at Jonathan and begging him to do something to help me. As the contractions peaked, I pleaded to be done. Jonathan and Deb continued to remind me that I was moments away from holding my child.

Deb told me to reach down and feel the baby's head and in that moment, I knew that I could do it. I looked at the clock and my memory flashed back to my first delivery. When I stared at that ominous white dial on August sixteenth, it was just after ten-thirty.

As I felt another contraction building, I held my breath and pushed as though my life depended on it. I felt every bit of pain as I delivered the baby's head. I knew it was almost over and I kept pushing for what seemed to be an eternity. Finally, I felt the moment of relief as my baby was born.

Immediately, they placed the tiny, vernix-covered baby on my chest and I looked at my child for the first time. As the nurse began to clean the baby resting in my arms, I heard that precious cry and looked down, expecting to see a little boy but only able to see an umbilical cord blocking my vision.

Then I heard the nurse say, It's a girl.

I was laughing and crying simultaneously as I held my daughter for the very first time. There are no words to describe that moment; I was in awe.
First Snuggles
My baby girl was born at 8 pounds 8 ounces and 20 inches long. Initially, she had some temperature issues, but a battery of tests only showed that she was perfectly healthy and, much to our relief, everything regulated itself within a few hours of her birth.
On the Monitor
As we sat in the delivery room after the hospital staff discretely exited to give us time together as a family, Jonathan and I thanked God for our little girl. Though we had gone into labor with names chosen for both genders, we decided that the name we had picked wasn't right. So after much discussion, we named our daughter Evelyn Ann, a name that we agreed fit her perfectly.

Looking back, I can say without a doubt that my labor was exactly what I had spent nine months hoping and praying it would be. At the same time, it was nothing like what I expected. It wasn't the peaceful, calm experience that I anticipated and it was something that I didn't realize I had the strength to conquer. By the grace of God and a painfully obvious stubborn streak, I had the labor experience that I wanted, one without medication. Undoubtedly, it was one of the most difficult things I've ever done in my life, but also one of the most worthwhile.

For my sweet little girl, I would do it again in a heartbeat.


  1. Congratulations, Mama! She's absolutely beautiful! I'm glad you had the birth experience you were looking for. If you have another baby do you think would try to go without meds again? Just curious.

  2. Thanks Verna! And yes, if I had another baby I would absolutely do my best to go through labor without medication. Not only was it a huge confidence-booster for me as a mom with regards to what I am able to do, but I felt a hundred times physically better after having a natural birth than I did with a medicated birth! I definitely recommend it to anyone who has the option to go that route!

  3. Congratulations to you and your family! Such a cutie! Thanks for sharing your birth story, I love reading these. I am happy you were able to have the birth experience you wanted!

    Were you expecting a girl from the slip-up a few weeks prior? It surprised me you said you were expecting a boy because I thought someone accidentally told you a few weeks ahead of time.

  4. The ultrasound tech DID slip after using "it" to refer to the baby for most of the ultrasound, but the real kicker was that she slipped and said "his" when she was referring to the baby's position. Because of that, both Jonathan and I were expecting a boy, but we were thrilled to find out that we had a girl!!

    We got our surprise after all :)

  5. Okay, I have another question. What do you think helped the most in acheiving a med free birth? The tub sounded like it helped a lot, but was there anything you read that made the biggest impact at the time? Or where you just holding it together the best you could?

  6. those pictures are precious! I love her name and I have to say you can definitely tell that she and Nathaniel are siblings...

  7. Verna, I think there were a couple things that really helped, the top two being a very supportive birth coach who was willing to listen to me during labor and be flexible with what I needed at the time and also the hot water in the tub. Truthfully, without being able to sit in the tub and have the showerhead aimed directly on my belly, I don't know that I would've been able to tolerate the pain that long.

    All of that said, once I had to get out of the water, then I was just holding it together as best as I could which, for me, included a whole lot of screaming. I feel bad for the other ladies who were giving birth that day! I think I probably scared more than a few people!

  8. I am so glad you got your surprise after all! :)

  9. Thanks Julie! It was a fantastic surprise!!!

  10. Thank you so much for sharing. And I just have to tell you--you look AMAZING in that photo. Seriously, stunning!

    Congrats, so happy for you! :)


  11. I'm just now getting to read your whole story but I wanted to say congratulations again! Such a sweet picture!!!

  12. That was a beautiful labor and delivery story! Congratulations on your little girl. I love her name. :)