We have a girl! Can you believe it? I mean really, can you? Because after three boys I can’t, hahaha.
I took this photo the day I went into labor, at 39 weeks and 4 days, just a few hours before we went out to have Thai for dinner- which is either the best or worst thing (???) to have when you’re on the verge of going into labor.
But as it turns out, gauging the start of true labor was tricky this time. I’d been having what seemed like real contractions mixed with a lot of intense pelvic pressure for weeks, so we were definitely in a bit of suspense and uncertainty by the time the real thing started. It was during dinner on the evening of September 9th that another bout of seemingly real contractions began. I didn’t think too much of them until a few hours later, once it was obvious that they were coming regularly about every five or six minutes. By 9pm it seemed like it was real labor, but I didn’t really feel ready to go into the hospital yet. The last thing I want to do when having a baby is to go in too soon, but since we’re 40+ minutes from the hospital here in Germany, since my babies tend to come fast, and since we had to have a neighbor come over to stay with the boys, we didn’t want to risk waiting too long. And after my last delivery being such a bad experience, I really, really, really wanted to try to labor in the tub, and that requires getting to the hospital with some time to spare! So, we left home around 9pm and got there only to find out I was still not dilated (like, at all). And then my contractions stopped. Womp, womp… So- seriously disappointed, deflated, and sad- back home we went.
We climbed back into bed around midnight. Our neighbor and her daughters were sleeping downstairs and naturally I felt incredibly ridiculous that we were already back home, with no baby. But as soon as I laid down, things started again. I dozed for about fifteen minutes, then laid there counting contractions until 3am. Honestly, the last thing I felt like doing was going back to the hospital, but the possibility of, an unplanned home birth didn’t seem like a great alternative either, so I woke Thane up and we jumped back in the car.
The drive back was dark and serene. There was a stunning half-moon that lit up the sky and seemed to hover just ahead of us as we drove through the night.
We pulled up to the front of the hospital at 3:40am and went straight in. I was put into a room to be monitored while Thane left to fill out paperwork and move our car. I laid down and waited, and a few minutes later my wonderful doula Jasmin arrived- for the second time that night, bless her- and right about the time she walked in things went from not-too-bad to serious. My very favorite part of labor- transition! (insert sarcastic eye-roll)- was starting. She held my hand as I breathed through a couple of very strong contractions, and told me she didn’t think I would make it to the tub. I just nodded and smiled back at her. It was a funny calm-before-the-storm kind of moment, because a few seconds later the baby was coming.
At this point I’d only been at the hospital for about 15 minutes and I hadn’t been seen by a doctor or midwife or officially checked in, so Jasmin got somebody in there as fast as she could. A few people came in, I had my dilation checked, and the next thing I knew I was being pushed out of the room. My water broke in the middle of the hallway and Thane had come back into the ward just in time to see me being rushed into the delivery room.
I climbed onto the delivery bed and stayed on my hands and knees. Usually- for me- the pushing phase is much easier than transition…like it actually feels like a relief- even sort of good- to push. But this time it came on so suddenly that all I could do was scream! I’m usually fairly mellow during labor and I never, ever want to be that woman who’s just yelling her head off uncontrollably, but that was totally me this time, hahaha. But it was intense…like tidal waves of unimaginably heavy pressure and pain pressing in on me from every side, and there there was absolutely no way to manage or even partially hide it without letting loose and just yelling at the top of my lungs.
I pushed with all of my might through each contraction, but she was a little harder than the others to move down. I even felt her move back up a little at one point! But it was fast. After just a few pushes she was crowning (at which point I had to stop and wait, ahhhhhh). Strangely, I can’t actually remember the moment she was born, only that soon after the midwife was handing me a vivacious little girl who kicked and screamed as I held her in my arms.
It was 4:10am, and I’m not even sure what I was thinking at that moment. It was a bewildered mix of joy and relief and a little amazement. Even though she’d been fooling us into thinking she was on the way for weeks, what felt like a long wait for real labor to start turned into an unpredictably fast and dramatic birth. I was still on my knees, wearing the same t-shirt I’d arrived in, not hooked up to any machines, no IV or hospital bracelet around my wrist. Just me, her, and a room of people standing around that I barely knew were there.
I’d been hoping and praying for God to bring us to this moment for what felt like the longest nine months of my life. This is another story for another time, but anxiety was my constant companion throughout this pregnancy. I didn’t even realize how bad it was until I came out of it, but it was dark, crippling pit. Maybe I’ll share more details about it later, but for now, I just want to thank God for the beautiful little girl who took us by such surprise. After having precipitous labor with Finn and feeling so traumatized, I’d been hoping and praying for months that God would redeem my view on birth. I honestly didn’t think I could do it again, and hadn’t planned on trying, hahaha, but of course He often works through our fears and weaknesses for the exact purpose of showing us that He is strong, and He is capable, and it’s Him that we must learn to trust. Not ourselves. And He absolutely did redeem my view on childbirth! As crazy as it was, it was so so joyful and I’m incredibly grateful for it. To God be the glory.
It’s been a month and I still can hardly believe she’s here! Praise the Lord for carrying us through, and- of course- for our very unexpected but adored little Lilah.