My due date was July 31st. On Monday, July 30th, I had my 40-week check-up. I asked my friend, Lindsay, to drive me because I didn’t think I could stand the drive out to Ste. Gen and back without being able to put my feet up. My feet were horribly swollen most of my pregnancy but especially at the end! On the way home, Lindsay didn’t notice a speed bump we were about to drive over so we ended up getting a little air-time... We joke now that the speed bump is what sent me into labor because I started having contractions right after that!
Robbie and I both got home around 6:00PM. I told him I was having contractions. This felt like awful timing because we were in the middle of a conflict that morning before he left for work that still had not been ironed out. I remember thinking, “I CANNOT go into labor now because we are not ok and we NEED TO BE OK!” Well, God is gracious. He allowed us the entire evening (in the midst of very manageable contractions) to have dinner, relax and work through our conflict. His timing is so beautiful like that. Our hearts were united and ready to have our baby! Around 11:00PM the contracting changed from uncomfortable to painful. I decided it was definitely time to head to the hospital! We called our midwife, Kelly Donze, and told her that we were on our way.
One of my big prayers for this labor was that I would not have a miserable drive to the hospital like I did with my son (especially because this drive was much longer). This time it was a very pleasant experience! The contractions were about 8 minutes apart the entire drive so I had plenty of time in-between to rest and talk. There were no cars on the highway. A full moon was beaming from the dark night sky as I held hands with my husband. It was kind of romantic. I felt reassured to see God answering my prayers from the very beginning of my labor… And I was filled with a peace in my heart that spoke to my soul, “All is well.”
Considering the fact that I had an 8.5-hour labor the first time around, we were confident that this labor would be quick as well. But for some reason, it was NOT! We rolled into the hospital parking lot at 12:00PM and got checked in. At this point I had already been in labor for close to 7.5 hours and my contractions were still not picking up. They continued to stay right around 8-10 minutes apart. I walked lap after lap around the hospital. I went up and down stairs. I LUNGED up the stairs. I squatted. I stretched. I bounced on a labor ball. I walked some more! The contractions finally started coming closer together around 2:30AM. I asked Kelly to check and see where I was at, in hopes that I could get into the tub (you are supposed to wait until around 4-5 cm to get in). I was about 95% effaced and 3-4 cm dilated. Sooooo… I walked some more… squatted some more… stretched some more… I was already starting to get very tired and the difficult part of my labor hadn’t even begun yet!
Around 5:00AM I had finally reached 4-5 cm. It was finally time to get into the tub! I was SO HAPPY to be in the water because it was a lot easier on my body/muscles to feel so weightless and relaxed. At 7:30AM, after 2.5 hours of laboring in the tub, I felt like I HAD to be getting close… however my midwife checked me to discover that I was STILL only 4-5 cm dilated. I had not progressed at all! Thankfully, I was in the kind of birthing environment where they allowed me the freedom to let my body do what it was going to do instead of trying to step in and speed up my labor. The baby’s heartbeat was perfect. My body was not in any kind of distress (other than just feeling completely exhausted). This baby was just taking a very long time to decide to come out! At this point, my contractions were intense and only about 3 minutes apart so I did not have very long breaks to relax in-between. I began to fight an intense battle of weariness.
It was in this place of weariness that I was filled with strength as my husband pulled out his phone and began reading Psalm 91 over me. This was one of those life-moments that I will NEVER FORGET! Robbie could hardly get the words out through the tears while he read me this Psalm. “Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. The Lord alone is my refuge, my place of safety; He is my God, and I trust Him…” The presence of God filled the room, sustaining my body when it literally felt impossible to keep going. In that moment I saw a beautiful depiction of what marriage is designed to look like as my husband pointed me towards God’s truth and filled me with faith when I didn’t have enough for myself. I cried, surrendering everything again to my Savior, who died for me, enduring pain and hell just to be near to me. I chose to trust Him completely for this delivery to happen in HIS perfect timing, even though I did NOT understand why it was taking forever and ever and ever.
At 10:20AM I was 6 cm dilated. I still had about 4 more to go! I tried to keep a positive mindset, knowing that it is possible to move to a 10 in a matter of minutes… so I refused to get frustrated.
Well…12:00PM rolled around and I was STILL in the middle of hardcore labor! I was getting more exhausted with each passing hour. Suddenly, all my senses heightened and became super sensitive. Noises were annoying. Smells made me want to vomit. I was getting so frustrated. I hit a low point when I snapped at everyone in the room, telling them to shut up! Then I started to have a crying fit because I felt like a jerk. Haha! I just wanted to get this baby out of my body!
I have never experienced more vulnerability in my entire life then I did at this point in my labor. I felt completely helpless. As I look back now and compare this labor with my first I see that the first time was much more about “my” strength and “my” faith. Of course my husband was undoubtedly a part of it all, but I remember it as more of an experience that brought ME closer to God and deepened MY trust in Him. However, this labor was so much more about my MARRIAGE. I needed my husband’s strength… I was relying on HIM to carry me through and breathe faith into me. I believe that is exactly where God wanted my heart to be. I felt safe in my husband’s comfort. I was so excited to share this moment of triumph with him, knowing that we truly did it TOGETHER!
In the last few hours leading up to delivery, I kept thinking to myself, “I HAVE to be getting close!” but all of that time I felt uncertain if I should be trying to push or not. Kelly told me that my body would know when it was time to push. However, with Gideon I never had that “urge to push” so I felt very insecure about what it would feel like. Since I wasn’t sure, Kelly checked me one final time and said that it was safe for me to push whenever I was ready! This was so different than when I had my son, not having anyone at the foot of the bed telling me when I needed to push. This time I had to trust my body and decide on my own when it was time. Around 3:30PM, I asked Robbie to join me in the tub to help me deliver our baby.
I turned my body facing my husband with my head burrowed into his chest. I tried to focus on his embrace instead of the pain. I was in so much pain and wanted it to be over so bad, but I still wasn’t sure that it was quite time for me to push. Then one of the nurses put her hand on the small of my back and said, “Baby, I command you to come out in the name of Jesus.” She should have said that a few hours earlier because, at that very moment, my water broke! It felt like a water balloon busted underneath me. “My water just broke!” I said. Then with the very next contraction I said, “Okay it’s coming, it’s coming!” Sure enough, “the urge” finally hit me and nothing on earth could have stopped me from pushing this baby out! With 2 quick pushes, our second baby was finally born at 3:42PM (on her due date!)! I couldn’t believe how much easier it was to deliver in the water. It was AMAZING!
Kelly caught the baby and brought it up in-between Robbie and me. I reached down to pick up our baby and held on so tight. Robbie looked down and said, “I think it’s a Coen Elyse”… He and Kelly looked once more to double check and said, “It’s a GIRL! Wow. WHAT A MOMENT! I remember holding her warm little peaceful body against my chest, outside of my womb, but still connected to me. There are not many moments in life that can compete with one like this! My husband and I cried tears of joy, as we drank in the victory...
Coen Elyse Houston was 7 pounds, 2 ounces and 19 inches. Time stopped while I held my daughter. I was completely CAPTIVATED by her beauty. She was a perfect end to all of the pain... And I would do it all over again just to hold her in my arms.