Well, hi. I know I’ve been MIA for a couple of weeks now, but I have very good reason. Let me introduce you to our new son, Hawkins Isaac.
Our little man came into the world shortly before Christmas so we’ve had a lot to celebrate this season. And we’ve been super busy, if you can imagine. All of our family came to our house to celebrate Christmas so between that and caring for a newborn, I’ve had little time to think about anything else!
I did manage to finally get Hawkins’ birth story written down, though. It’s a bit long, so if you’re not into birth stories, you might want to skip this post. But if you, like me, kinda dig this sort of thing, read on. And while you’re at it, you can check out my daughter’s birth story here (hers was far more dramatic).
The Birth of Hawkins Isaac
It was about 1:00 a.m. on December 12, 2014 when I woke up what I thought were pretty intense Braxton Hicks. I tried to ignore them and go back to sleep for about 30 minutes, but they did not let up so I decided to start timing them to see if they were consistent. Eventually I moved into the living room so I didn’t wake up sleeping hubby. I knew if he woke to find me timing contractions, he’d freak out a little.
I sat on the couch in the dark and continued to time the “fake contractions.” They continued to be about 3 minutes apart and about 45 seconds long. I knew from my last visit with the midwife that if I were having contractions that close together for a consistent period of time, it was time to go as second babies tend to come faster than first babies. Still, seeing as I had a nearly 48-hour labor last time, I was not too concerned about getting to the birth center quickly.
Finally, I decided to wake up Garry and let him know that I thought this might be it. To my surprise, he remained very calm and just got to work getting everything in order. We moved about the semi-lit room quietly and quickly, packing the last of our things in our bags. It was a peaceful and exciting time…until I realized that the guest room where his parents were going to be staying was a disaster zone. Panicked, I told Garry I had to go upstairs and make the guest bed and left him standing there wondering what kind of crazy had just washed over me.
He followed me upstairs insisting that I go back downstairs and let him handle it. I insisted that he needed my help because only I knew where to put all the unwrapped Christmas presents and how to clean up my craft table so I didn’t “mess up” my chaotic stacks of fabric. He quickly realized how futile it was to argue with me so he just shook his head at me while I scurried around the room putting things away, stopping every three minutes to have a contraction.
Once the guest room was prepared to my satisfaction, Garry ordered me downstairs to rest while he called his Aunt to come stay with our daughter until his parents could drive in from Austin or we got back from the birth center, whichever came first. When his Aunt arrived, we made our way to the car and headed to the Woodlands. It was not a pleasant drive: we hit every cursed red light on the way and my contractions continued to intensify. I was slightly concerned that I would start pushing before we even got there.
Luckily, no pushing happened in the car. We got to the birth center safe and sound and quickly found our way to our suite. The midwife checked my cervix and found that I was at about a 5. I lay down in bed and closed my eyes, trying to rest between contractions. I don’t know how long I labored in bed but while I was there my photographer arrived and we all continued to laugh and joke and hang out. The atmosphere was pretty relaxed and I appreciated that.
After a while I knew it was time to get in the water of the birthing tub. I had experienced the relaxing effect of water during my last labor and I knew it would be a part of this labor from the beginning. As soon as I got in I felt relief. That’s not to say the contractions were easy, but the intensity was somewhat lessened by the warmth of the water and the weightlessness of my body. I labored in the water for what seemed like an eternity, falling asleep between contractions and then being shocked awake as soon as another started. I felt like I had been laboring forever and I began to worry that I was “stuck” at a 7 like I was last time. I voiced my concern to the midwife and she suggested that I labor for a little longer and then if I was still worried, she could check me again to reassure me.
So I continued to labor. And labor. And labor. And I began to feel that there was no way I could continue. I told my husband I was too tired. That the pain was too much. I told him that I was afraid I was stuck and that I couldn’t go through another labor like I had with my daughter. We decided it was time to have me checked again to make sure I was still progressing.
I got out of the water and made my way to the bed. As soon as I lay on my back I had another contraction and immediately wanted to get back into the water. The difference in pain was astounding. After the contraction ended, the midwife checked me and it felt like ages before she said, “You’re at about a 9.5.”
I cannot describe the flood of relief I felt. All of a sudden it was like a weight had been lifted from my chest and I felt for the first time that maybe, just maybe, I could do this without “failing” like I had last time. I started sobbing and praising Jesus over and over.
Back in the tub, I continued to labor for a while. I began to feel panicky and at the end of my rope. My water had not broken and I felt that I wasn’t making any progress. Irrationally, I worried that my labor would never end. I voiced my concerns to anyone who would listen and made it well known that I didn’t think I could do it anymore. The midwife and Garry continued to reassure me that I could do it and was doing it and that it wouldn’t be much longer but, of course, I didn’t believe a word of it. All of the strength and courage and self-confidence I had prior to labor starting had gone from me.
After several more painful contractions without my water breaking, the midwife suggested that maybe it was time to go ahead and have her break my water to get things moving. I knew the suggestion would be coming. With my last baby, the midwife had to break my water and had a heck of a time doing it. Evidently, I make industrial strength water bags. But my fear was that, like last time, we would break the bag and still no progress would be made and I would just be in even more excruciating pain with no relief in sight. At that moment, I just couldn’t make a decision. I asked Garry to make the decision for us and after a little quiet time and a quick prayer, he gave the midwife the go ahead.
After great effort on her part, the midwife broke my water and, as promised, my contractions came on much stronger and closer together. Eventually, the midwife suggested I try pushing through a contraction. I told her I couldn’t figure out how. It was as if all my stomach muscles had gone numb and I couldn’t access or control that part of my body. She told me that my body was doing most of the pushing for me, but I needed to try to bear down and help. She instructed me how to position myself in the tub and what to do when a contraction came and so we began the pushing stage.
At this point, I was in uncharted territory. I had never experienced this stage of labor before. Last time, after 40-ish hours of unmedicated labor, I had been transferred to the hospital for exhaustion where they administered an epidural and Pitocin. I never felt the contractions that accompanied the pushing stage nor did I feel what it was like to push a tiny being from my body. This time, however, I felt it. Boy, did I feel it.
To say that the pain of pushing was far more intense than I ever imagined would be an understatement. There are no words to describe it. I screamed and made noises that I didn’t know a human could make. I now have a greater understanding of why women choose to have a medicated labor, at the very least to get through this stage. Again, it felt like I was pushing for an eternity and, again, I feared that I wasn’t doing enough and no progress was being made. But the midwife continued to assure me that the baby was coming down and soon he would be in my arms. I didn’t believe her, but there was nothing I could do but keep pushing.
Finally, finally, during one particularly intense contraction, the midwife told me to reach down and feel the head of my baby. I screamed, “NO! GET IT OUT!” My husband moved into position to catch his baby in the water. When he saw the top of our son’s head he started clapping and cheering me on. Later, he admitted he had had way too much coffee. After the next contraction, I was again invited to feel the top of my baby’s head. This time I obliged and was shocked at how much of the head was out. It gave me the encouragement I needed to keep going, to believe that maybe I really could do this thing.
It took about two more contractions for our son’s head to be born. Then, finally, with one more set of pushes, his tiny body slipped from mine and he slid weightlessly into the water and into his daddy’s waiting arms. I watched in awe as he was lifted from the water and placed onto my chest. I remember feeling the weight and warmth of his little body resting against mine and I patted his back and encouraged him to take his first breath. After a few small gasps, our son let out a healthy, hearty wail and began to breathe pink into his skin.
In that moment I felt great relief at having been able to bring my son into the world the way I had wanted to. I felt a tiny bit of sadness that I had not been able to do the same with my daughter, but overshadowing that sadness was a feeling of redemption. With this birth, I proved to myself that I wasn’t a failure, and I was proud of myself for not giving up. Believe me, I wanted to give up so many times, but my husband and birth team knew that I could do this even when I was sure I couldn’t. I felt a great healing take place in me; I was finally able to forgive myself for not being able to give myself and my daughter the birth experience I had envisioned for us. I know, logically, that my first birth was all beyond my control and that my body simply couldn’t take more and we did everything that we needed to do for a safe and healthy mama and baby. But I am a perfectionist and it was hard for me to accept all of that for a very long time. Now, however, I feel like I can let that go. I think God knew that I needed to accomplish this and he gave me the strength I needed to get through it.
After 9 hours and 45 minutes of labor, Hawkins Isaac was born weighing 7 pounds, 15 ounces and 21 inches long. He is a healthy, perfect little boy and we are in love with him. His sister loves him and constantly wants to hold him. We are slowly learning how to be a family of four and while we are all tired beyond belief, we are so blessed.
Welcome to the world, little man. We are so excited to see how your story unfolds.