Sunday, September 4, 2022

In God's Time: A Birth Story

"When's the baby due?" 

"The middle-ish of August, but she's not allowed to be born until August 19th or later." 

This was a common exchange between me and other people. Months ago, I signed up for Catechesis of the Good Shepherd Level 2 formation: a three-day course that would take place when I was forty weeks pregnant. No problem, right? I'd just give birth after the course--on August 19th or later. 

Could the baby just come early? 

Maybe if she came a week or two early, she'd be old enough and I'd feel well enough to attend the course. Yet, I was pregnant with a girl, and historically speaking, my boys have come "early" and my other daughter had come "late." So, the odds of her coming at 41 weeks (after my formation course) were in my favor. 

However, as we journeyed through July, something interesting happened: our August schedule prior to my CGS formation began filling up. I realized that I really could not have this baby any earlier than 41 weeks, because I simply had too much going on. 

With all of this in mind, I waddled into the second week of August. 

Two days before I hit 40 weeks.

Each time I made it through an event or accomplished something on my "to do list" and was still pregnant, I felt a bit of relief. Take meal to friends who had a baby? Check. Fill out Baptism paperwork? Check. Attend priestly ordination? Check. Wedding anniversary? Check. Art museum field trip? Check. 

On Friday, August 12th, I was forty weeks +1 day pregnant. My midwife and her assistant came to my house in the evening so I could have an appointment (my appointment that week had been cancelled, rescheduled, and cancelled again due to other women needing the midwife while they gave birth). I told my midwife that the baby's position felt strange-very tight, compact, and cramped. After examining me, my midwife reassured me that the baby's position was "perfect," though her head was not engaged in the pelvis yet. 

So, I was a bit surprised when my midwife asked if I'd be okay with having the baby before the upcoming Catechesis of the Good Shepherd training. I confessed that, although I had a meeting on Saturday and an event on Sunday, I technically could have the baby on one of those days. Really, though, I’d prefer to just wait until my calendar was open again.

***In fact, when reminded to RSVP for the event on Sunday, I had responded with the following: 



The next day felt like a pretty normal Saturday. We attended morning Mass as a family, I made a cup of coffee and worked on my blog, and we all relaxed. In the late afternoon, I drove to church for a meeting that was supposed to last for an hour or so. At the meeting, we sat on the floor while we prayed, talked, and planned the upcoming year for the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program...and the baby started moving around in very strange ways. I kept shifting into different positions to try and get comfortable, wondering why the baby was moving in this way. Three hours flew by (it was a good and fruitful meeting, and I lost track of time), so--now very hungry and tired--I drove home to pray with my husband and kids, eat chili, and complete my online Safe Environment Training (required for those who volunteer with children). 

As soon as I began the training, at 8:49 p.m., a moderate contraction lasting 45 seconds hit me. Moderate contractions began rolling in every 6-12 minutes. None were a minute long (they all were about 45 seconds in length) and they were very easy to breathe through, but this still felt the most like early labor than anything I had experienced yet in this pregnancy. At around 10 p.m. or so, I decided to call my midwife just to let her know that things might be happening (if something wound up happening in the middle of the night, I wanted her to have advance notice). My midwife encouraged me to get some sleep and "not wait up for the party." 

I went to bed, and contractions eventually slowed to about 10-16 minutes apart, though they were still moderate. The rest of the night, contractions came 15-29 minutes apart, except for a few hour-long chunks where contractions completely stopped. 

On Sunday morning, things started to pick up. Just before 8 a.m., a moderate contraction over a minute long swept through me. Eight minutes later, another moderate contraction, under a minute long, came. All of a sudden, a combination of mild and moderate contractions, mostly 45 seconds long, came every 1 1/2-5 minutes. At 8:27 a.m., I sent the following text to my midwife: “Contractions tapered off around 4 a.m., I did the Miles Circuit shortly after since I couldn’t sleep, and I had only a couple of contractions. Just got up for the day and moderate contractions are picking up. About to eat sausage breakfast and will continue monitoring and will let you know.”

At 8:29 a.m., I had a moderate contraction a minute long. I breathed through it and ate sausage that my husband cooked (it was delicious, although the child throwing a tantrum over the sausage did not agree). Moderate contractions, a minute long each, began to roll in every three minutes. After a few of these, I began to experience strong contractions as well. I walked barefoot in the backyard.  turning my face to the sun and stretching out my arms as contractions pulsed through me. My kids ran around, my oldest declaring that “Mom’s contracting!” each time he noticed my breathing deepen and my body still. At 9:03 a.m., I experienced a strong contraction that was over two minutes long. Contractions kept coming, every 3-5 minutes apart, most of them strong, and all of them lasting well over a minute long. I now knew, with all certainty, that that this was"baby day." 

At 9:19 a.m., in between contractions, I took a photo of myself to commemorate the moment and asked my midwife to come. I walked slowly through the living room, feeling some pressure and soreness in my lower back. Mild contractions now began coming in between the strong contractions, so now I was having contractions every 1-4 minutes, though the mild ones were very short.  

I decided that it’d be nice to get some relief by sitting in the bathtub. As I stood in the bathroom nonchalantly, about to prepare the tub, a strong contraction rolled through me and I had a gut feeling that if I don’t get in the tub NOW, this baby might come out before the midwife gets here! Since I had some complications immediately following the birth of my previous child, I did not want to give birth without my midwife present. So, I asked my husband to fill the tub for me and I scooched in. Immediately, the warm water offered relief for my back, and contractions began to space out--a little. I was still experiencing moderate or strong contractions, but aside from a couple that were two minutes apart, all of them were now six minutes apart. 

Shortly after I got in the tub, one of my kids appeared in the doorway, holding a human body encyclopedia open to the page on fetal development. Look, mom! This is what [the baby] is like right now! he declared, pointing to the picture of the full-term baby in the womb. It was really cute and pretty funny :)  

At around 10 a.m., my midwife arrived and came to the bathtub to listen to the baby's heartbeat. Now that the midwife could stay with me, I asked my husband to put a movie on for the kids. When he returned, I started to get the inkling that I should get out of the bathtub, but at the same time, I didn’t want to get out quite yet. It was really, really nice to get a break from all of the contractions, and the water felt good. But, after my midwife pointedly asked me, a couple times, if I had emptied my bladder yet, I figured that I should get out and move things along. I used the toilet, and admittedly, was a little tentative because I remembered my third child shooting out after I sat on the toilet during my last labor. I let a contraction or two roll through me as I silently sat, holding my husband’s hand and breathing deeply. Nothing happened, and I decided to move around the house. 

In the hallway, I decided to rest on my hands and knees for a little bit, to relieve my back of the soreness that had cropped up again. The midwife's assistant showed up and tip-toed around me so that she could get to the bedroom and help the midwife lay the birth supplies onto a tray. I decided to get back on my feet and walked with my husband into the living room as we listened to the nearby strains of Up. 

Close to the front entryway, I suddenly felt an urge to push (this felt eerily familiar because of how my second child was born). I threw my arms around my husband’s neck and called out for the midwife. “I feel a little pushy!” I hollered. I heard racing footsteps and my body bore down and pushed with intensity and determination. I heard a small splat, followed by the assistant's announcement of: “mucus plug.” I looked down. Yes, after that massive, epic endeavor, I had succeeded in pushing out only a mucus plug. (which is probably a good thing, since at that moment my midwife was in the restroom.) It was pretty funny, though I felt a bit incredulous. The birth assistant cleaned up the plug and I resumed walking, no longer feeling any urge to push. 

Contractions swept in, and my lower back started feeling a little sore again. In the hallway, I decided to drop to all fours for a few contractions.  At one point, I knelt, slowly breathing through contractions with my husband. “I’m starting to feel a little pushy,” I remarked, and suddenly pads and tarps appeared on the white carpet beneath me. But, as the contractions rolled through, nothing more happened. 

When I was between contractions, my midwife asked me a question: 

“Where do you want to have your baby?” 

Where did I want to have the baby? I considered my options: I didn't want to birth in the bathroom, and I hadn't pushed out the baby in the living room. I could birth the baby in the hallway, I figured, but then I glanced at the ceiling fan that spun in the bedroom and realized that I wanted to be as cool and comfortable as possible. So, into the bedroom I went! 

I had a strong contraction and rested my hand on the dresser, glanced down at the crucifix there, and prayed silently, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, help me.  I knelt on the floor and soon felt an urge to push. Focused and concentrated, I pushed and heard a loud "POP!" followed by the declaration: “Water. Clear.”

“Wait, did my water just break?” I asked. I was informed that yes, my water had broken, and my husband grabbed a towel to dry up the floor where we knelt together. I felt another urge to push and bore down. “Come on!” I grunted as I pushed, hoping that maybe, just maybe, this would be the moment of the birth. But, no baby emerged.

“Dad, the movie’s over.”

My oldest child’s voice floated in from the doorway. Hilarious timing, I thought. We told him to just wait a few minutes, and then I asked the birth team if they could close the door. While I would've loved my kids to see their little sister come out (as they did in the previous birth), this particular birth was requiring a much deeper level of focus, and I wanted to ensure that I could really concentrate as necessary. 

Tired, I flopped my arms and chest onto the end of the bed to rest. The midwife’s assistant offered me a Powerade, and I took sips through the straw. I had already mentioned to my midwife that "this is my most intense labor yet," and it was tiring me out a little bit. 

I can do this, I thought. I CAN do this! None of this work will be wasted.

I felt another push coming on, and kneeling there with my arms still on the bed, I pushed and pushed and pushed—perhaps even a little too much (my midwife gently encouraged me with “gentle pushes, gentle pushes,” but I was also filled with determination to get that baby out!). And slowly, ever-so-slowly, the baby’s head started to emerge.

After a short rest and another big push or two, her whole body came out into my husband’s hands at 11:57 a.m.

My midwife told me that the umbilical cord was really short, so we needed to keep the baby down on the ground while we waited for the cord to lengthen. I continued to kneel there with my husband as we looked down at our beautiful daughter. We were overjoyed, and she was precious! 

A moment or two later, the cord lengthened enough to draw the baby up, and I carefully turned around and sat back. We called in the kids, and my midwife asked the kids if they wanted to cut the umbilical cord. They declined, so my husband cut the cord. I continued to sit back, cuddling with our new baby, my husband, and our three other children!

I delivered the placenta, and the midwife’s assistant took it to the dining room to show it to the big kids. My husband then put the two middle children in bed for naps, and our oldest child got to help the birth team take the baby’s vital signs while I relaxed on the bed and ate a huge bowl of chili. 

One of my kids was very excited to take this photo of us 
the day after giving birth :) 

Thankfully, I had none of the post-birth complications I had experienced before, and I was amazed to see how good and energized I felt! It was my longest and most intense active labor yet, but in the grand scheme of things, it really wasn’t that long (two of my other kids had come out extremely quickly and had active labors that lasted about 2 hours, so even though this "active labor" portion was only about 3 or 3 1/2 hours, it felt noticeably longer). It was probably my most peaceful and prayerful birth yet, too, since I had a little more time to settle in and pray. 

I'm so grateful for the gift of our baby and for the gift of childbirth. Even though the timing did not exactly go according to my plans, God's timing was perfect (as always)! 


  1. Congratulations!!!I just love her full head of hair!!! That's amazing about your short births! I've only had one of those-- the other 3 kids were around 12 hours each, with the intense part being much less. My 4th was my most intense yet peaceful labor, too, although only intense at the end-- he was our biggest and I think that contributed!

    1. Thanks! Did your 4th have much hair at birth? I've heard of a few other babies who were born this summer and had lots of hair (this baby has more hair than any of our other kids did as newborns). It's really strange!
      I'm so glad to hear that your recent birth was so peaceful even with a big baby :) I hope that you all are settling into a good "new normal" with all your little ones!!

  2. I loved hearing about this! I had a homebirth last year, 4th baby, 1st home birth, and love hearing about others' experiences. We did have grandma come get our other children but i wished there was a way for them to stay home. Sounds like you had a very good midwife. Congratulations on your sweet baby!

    1. This is Ellen. Sorry it defaults to anonymous

    2. Ellen, that's so cool that you had your first homebirth last year!!! Did you like the experience? And that's awesome that your kids got to be with their grandma :) We hadn't entirely planned out for having our kids at home for the whole birth, but since nearly every single person we would have asked for childcare help (we don't have family in-state) was at church, and since my labors do go pretty quickly, we just didn't get around to sending them out of the house! And it worked out pretty well, thankfully ;) And yes, my midwife is amazing! She's been a midwife almost as long as I've been alive, and on top of that, she's a nurse-so she has worked with intense hospital/emergency experiences, too, which is helpful (she's probably "seen it all" by this point). And she's a very holy and wise woman. She's pretty great!

  3. What a beautiful, amazing birth story! Many congrats on your sweet baby girl, she is precious!!

    1. Thanks, Elisabeth! She's a little sweetheart :)