On Sunday, February 10, 2013, I woke up at around 6 a.m. I stood up, and whoosh! Surprise! My water broke! I have never had a labor start this way, so I wasn't exactly sure what to expect. I texted my friend, Sharon Schmidt, who conveniently happens to be my midwife, to let her know what was going on. She was reassuring, and one of her texts to me said, "You're going to have your baby!" Wow. Yeah, I guess so! Quincy and I got dressed, ate breakfast, and started to make Sawyer's birthday cake. (He got a Paula Dean Turtle Cake, for those of you who know the tradition and are curious.) I had a couple contractions during this time, but nothing was really going on. The kids got up, and we fed them breakfast. Now, if you've read anything I've written lately, you know that we've been experiencing a circumstantial "bad streak." In the back of my mind, I knew that water breaking at the beginning of labor meant I was on a clock. If things didn't get going in the next 24 hours, I was going to the hospital. I was praying and battling my cynicism, right off the bat. I asked God to help me put it out of my mind, and to just enjoy the day.
It was BEAUTIFUL outside! Sunny and cool. Quincy and I started the first of many walks. Ephraim joined in on his bicycle. Aspen hung out with my parents. Contractions picked up a bit, but still were very manageable. Some time in the days leading up to labor, I hurt my foot on one of our walks, so I had to take a break every so often. We'd come home, sit on the ball, watch TV, and just hang out. The kids spent most of the day with my parents. Lunchtime rolled around, and I was hungry. I had a sudden, very strong craving for Subway. This is kind of random because I haven't had much (if any) bread in months... but I told Quincy that we were having Subway for lunch, and he obliged. As soon as we were finished eating lunch, I was ready to get walking again. We walked around the block twice, and on the second trip, I had 3 stop-you-in-your-tracks contractions in an 8-minute period. I thought, "Okay, I'm probably gonna have a baby today." :)
Since we love Sharon and want to take advantage of her and our labor time as much as possible, we let her know we were heading up to Fruitful Vine. Yes, it was much earlier than appropriate, but we just like her. :) I'm guessing we got to Fruitful Vine at around 1pm. We chatted a bit, cracked some jokes, and resumed our walking. That's when the paparazzi got this shot of me outside the office! I tried to hide my face, but you know how it is...
I felt differently approaching this labor than any of my previous ones. With Ephraim, I had taken Bradley classes and had plenty of "information," but no idea what to expect. With Ransom, it was a whole, beautiful, God story of love and loss, so I tend to put that in another category in my mind. With Aspen, again, it was this amazing God story, of His fulfillment of this crazy promise to me, but I still had some degree of hesitance about the physical pain of labor. With Sawyer, I felt more empowered and in control of the labor. It's totally a false feeling, and it may have something to do with the fact that this labor started in the morning, after a full night's sleep, instead of the middle of the night, but I felt ready to face it head-on. I took periodic breaks from walking, but I wasn't afraid to get this labor going. We used my hurt foot as a contraction gauge, because as the contractions became stronger, my foot pain became nonexistent! hahah Funny how that happens! It started to get hot outside, so we had a wardrobe change and started walking the halls inside. It was so nice that this labor was conveniently occurring on a Sunday, after church (Aspen called it, with a little help from Aunt Sharon), because the halls were empty. I'd feel a contraction, grip on to one of the bricks on the brick wall inside, moan and sway, and then keep on walking. Once it seemed that the contractions were close and strong, and I'd lost my usual hilariousness, I decided to get into the birth tub.
Oh, the birth tub. All women should labor in them. The contractions slowed a bit initially, and it was a nice relief. I guess maybe I got in the tub around 4pm? I don't know. I'm just making stuff up. I was paying no attention to the time. I asked Quincy to turn up the worship music. I got into a good squatting position, and we all started to worship. I have prayed, for months and months, that God's presence would be palpable during this labor. This has been a HARD year for me. I have struggled. I have not felt God's presence. He doesn't owe me anything. He's already given me SO much more than I deserve, but those dry spells are hard on any of us. We NEED God. He made us that way. As we sang and rode the waves of contractions, I cried. I cried and cried. It wasn't about anyone else in that room. It was me and God. He was reminding me of who He is. He was revealing Himself to me over again. He was pressing in close. I have no idea what anyone else was doing in the room, nor do I care. He was present, for me. He gave me something else I didn't deserve and wasn't owed, and I am GRATEFUL. Time is a blur, but I am certain that these moments with God will be the most memorable when I look back on the day He gave Sawyer to me. He gave Himself to me, again. I was praying, "Jesus, help me. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus." He was there. He did.
At some point, I indulged the inner raving lunatic as the contractions reached that unbearable crescendo, but this was very brief and short lived. In the back of my mind, I knew that survival was likely, but if you've been there, you know the feeling. I know I said, "Okay, I don't want to do this anymore." (as if I had the option) It was met with a round of, "You can do this." "You are doing so great." "You're almost done." Okay, true. I remember Sharon telling me at some point to "run into them." I thought, "Yes, that's exactly right." I had been doing that until these last few, and that made perfect sense. I kind of feel like with all of my babies, my transition and pushing sort of overlap. Now that I've had a very similar physical experience with each of them, I'm guessing that will be the case for all my babies. I won't get too detailed for the sake of the non-birth junkies reading along, but let's say that my last few crazy transition contractions and first few pushing contractions feel like one in the same. Lots of things happened in these moments, but suffice it to say that I turned and got into a comfortable pushing position, and very quickly, Sawyer Glen made his entrance into the world! I pulled him up from the water, and had that immediate demeanor change that is always so fun to watch during labor. One second you're hysterical, and the next, you're beaming and crying out, "OHHHH!! THE BABY!!!" :) Yep. That's what I did. "He's here!!!" He was a perfect, beautiful, 9 pound 4 ounce baby boy, born around 6pm. He has the same newborn face as both of my children, just the in-between size. Ephraim wore this face with much less cheek, and Aspen with much more! :)
While lots of circumstances have been hard this past year, and things haven't gone exactly how I would have wanted, this birth was a beautiful affirmation and reassurance to me. Life may not look like any of us expect, but He is still here. We may not always feel His presence, but we can trust His character. He loves us. He really, really loves us.
(Photo courtesy of Lori Lee Photography)