Monday, March 19, 2012

The birth story of Molly Jo Jubilee

Here's the birth story from my point of view.  Who knows how accurate it is, as it's really difficult to recall every detail!

My pregnancy with Molly Jo was one of the best. Apparently, fifth time is a charm, because I finally figured out how to handle my severe anemia. I had plenty of energy, felt fantastic, and gained the perfect amount of weight (about 40 lbs). I was really excited to be able to have my good friend, Nanci, as my midwife. One of the highlights of my prenatal care was having lunch with her after our appointments!

As we entered March, my anticipation to meet the wee one grew immensely. We had originally estimated my due date to be around the 24th of March, but an ultrasound done halfway through the pregnancy dated my EDD three weeks earlier (March 3rd). Because I had been nursing and my cycles were pretty wonky, this made sense. Besides, my last period had been very strange, and we wondered if it had been a miscarriage (of a twin) instead of a period. Many of the signs pointed to such an event. (I suppose we will not know in this lifetime!)

March 3rd came and went. It's not surprising that I would go passed the EDD as I had gone to 41 and a half weeks with our third child, but the anticipation was driving me crazy, especially since I had the wonderful opportunity of being present at my friend Becky's beautiful home water birth in February. I couldn't wait to hold my little sweetie!

Nanci suggested I get another ultrasound to see if everything was okay with the baby. For about a month or so, her heart rate had been really slow during my prenatal appointments, so we wanted to check up on that as well. The ultrasound revealed I had a surplus of amniotic fluid (which we had suspected). The tech was also pretty sure that Molly Jo had something called situs inversus, a condition in which organs are reversed, or mirrored, from their normal position. She also noted that her heart rate was a little slow.

Nanci and I figured out that any time I laid on my back (as I did when we measured my belly and listened to the heartbeat, or when ultrasounds were performed), Molly Jo's heart rate would be very low, and she would seem very lethargic. Nanci would wiggle her around in order to "wake her up" and get a better, more active heartbeat. From then on, we checked her heart rate while I was standing up which produced a much better rate.

The ultrasound had various measurements pointing to various due dates. I would have been 41 weeks (according to the March 3rd due date), but one measurement pointed to a little over 37 weeks, another at 38 weeks, and others closer to 40 weeks. Averaged, my new due date was March 15th.

This did not sit well with me as my brain did not want to compute that I had even further to go. I was ready, R-E-A-D-Y! (Plus, the birthing pool was already set up and kept mocking me from the corner of my bedroom.) I refused to even consider that the original due date (the 24th) could be correct. I had reached the point of being tired and impatient, and I was already feeling like I had been pregnant forever (since Evangeline and Molly Jo are only 18 months apart in age, and I nursed Evangeline halfway through my pregnancy).

I had to keep reminding myself that the Lord already had her birth date set. He had a plan, and I should just trust His timing.

The evening of March 15th (Thursday), my contractions began to pick up. My husband was working nights, so I pondered whether I should call him to come home. I wasn't sure I was in "real labor", but I was worried that, by the time I figured out it was the "big event" and called him, he wouldn't make it home in time. I decided it was "better safe than sorry", and he called in someone to watch over his job so he could head home. The contractions ended up petering out, much to my dismay, but I was glad my husband was home.

Since things seemed to be on the verge, Brandon decided to stay home the following day as well. We ran a couple errands, got adjusted at the chiropractor, enjoyed a delicious cajun lunch, had a prenatal visit with Nanci, ran a couple more errands, then settled back home where we all napped, kids included!

That evening, Brandon and I snuggled into bed together and loved on one another. I really enjoyed being wrapped in his arms. I had a feeling this would be the last time we would be snuggling around my big ol' Molly-belly!

Sure enough, it wasn't long before the contractions came and, boy, were they uncomfortable. I had been having contractions all Friday, but they were mere tightenings, not particularly painful or uncomfortable. The wee hours of Saturday morning brought contractions that made me believe we would have a baby that day! When I went to the bathroom, I noticed pink-tinted mucus and realized I was beginning to lose my mucus plug.

I wasn't sure whether I should call Nanci or not, but I knew that there were a couple other ladies due so I figured I'd better give her a call and at least call "dibs" in case someone else went into labor! I called Nanci shortly after 3am, and she showed up a bit later. I tried to sleep through the contractions for a bit, but they were pretty uncomfortable so, after a while, I had Brandon fill up the birthing pool so I could find some relief from the back pain in the comfort of the water. That did the trick, and we all rested for a couple hours while I hung my arms over the side of the pool. My contractions were about a minute long and 5-8 minutes apart.

[Tired and laboring.]

Eventually I found myself craving the comfort of my bed, even though I knew it would mean feeling those contractions in my back. I changed out of my wet bra and underwear and climbed into bed. I asked my husband to apply pressure to my lower back during contractions, and he did so until he conked out. I let him sleep as I knew he would need the energy later on. I managed to catch a few good winks. If a contraction woke me up, I would use the breathing techniques I had learned from the Hypnobirthing book to keep myself relaxed. I took a bath when I woke up, washed my hair, etc, which felt really refreshing.

Nanci and I took a walk around my neighborhood to see if that would get things moving a bit more. I think it mostly just served to amuse my neighbors. As we circled 'round and came up to the drive of the house, I asked Nanci if she smelled that delicious smell. "Like pastries or something sweet!" I noted. We figured it must be the neighbor's flowers. Then we walked in the house to find the aroma was freshly baked bread pudding, courtesy of my husband! Yum! (My husband also made Nanci and I fried eggs for breakfast!)

[I settle on the couch and look through a magazine after our walk while Nanci updates my chart.]

Shortly after the walk, my parents stopped by to pick up the children. The munchkins were really excited about spending time with Nana and Poppa, and I was excited about laboring in peace and quiet!

That morning, Nanci received a call that another client was in labor. She sent Diana, the midwife who often assists her, to be with her other client. She seemed to be progressing much quicker than I was, so Nanci and I discussed her going to be with this laboring woman since it seemed like I had much further to go. Terry, Nanci's husband, called to check up on us and offered to bring by lunch. I had a filling Spud Max from McAlister's, and Brandon chose a muffaletta. Our friend Shae stopped by with two adorable "My First St. Patty's Day" outfits for Molly Jo to wear upon arrival! Nanci left shortly after lunch to be with her other client. She told me to call if there were any changes. Brandon and I were glad to have the house to ourselves.

Since I figured I had a long day's labor ahead, I settled back into bed to see if I could sleep and renew my energy for the big event. I slept for a couple hours (from about 1:30pm to 3:30pm), then woke my husband (who had conked out on the couch) around 4pm so we could go for another walk.

My contractions became a bit more intense during the walk, so much so that I would have to slow down and take shorter steps. It was a beautiful day out- blue skies with puffy clouds that shielded us from the heat of the sun accompanied by a soothing and refreshing breeze. Definitely a lovely Saint Patrick's Day! My friend Becky called and asked if she could bring us supper (as if I would turn that down!) from a restaurant. I told her we weren't terribly hungry just yet, but would love some Fuddrucker's burgers. I felt like I still had a long time to go, so I told her not to rush.

We settled into the chairs on our front lawn to enjoy the fresh air for a bit, but I found it very uncomfortable and began craving the water again. I had asked Brandon to empty some of the water out of the pool earlier so that, when I was ready, we could pump in some hot water to bring the pool back up to a comfortable temp.

[Resting between contractions]

Once the water was warm enough, I sunk my body into the pool and tried to relax. I was disappointed to find that my contractions were still very intense even when in the water. I was aware that they would likely have felt much worse out of the water, so I felt like the pool was the best place to be. The contractions were about 3-5 minutes apart at that point. I kept reminding myself that they would eventually be one on top of another, and I wasn't looking forward to that.

I tried to keep relaxed through each one, make sure I wasn't holding any tension in my body, especially my jaw. My position of choice was to face the edge of the pool and prop my arms on the sides (or hang them over) while on my knees. I wanted my body to be open so the baby could easily move down.

Brandon and I labored together. He sat outside the pool, his forehead to my forehead. Sometimes he would lay his hand on my lower back where the majority of the pressure was. Even if he didn't press on it, it felt good just to feel the weight of his hand there. I could tell he was praying for me, praising the Father through the labor, and I found that comforting. Nanci called to say she was on her way back. Her other client had given birth to a healthy baby boy, and now Diana and Nanci were going to grab supper on their way to my house. I told Nanci that I had yet to hit transition, so I felt she had plenty of time.

Nanci and Diana arrived around 6:45pm. She took my blood pressure, checked the heart tones. I was being very calm through the contractions (although I really wasn't able to speak through them), and Brandon and I were doing quite well on our own, so Nanci and Diana hung out in the livingroom (as I let Nanci know long before I ever went into labor that I preferred to be left alone, to just labor with my husband). Brandon and I had watched a video on Russian water births that Nanci had loaned us, so Nanci and Diana decided to watch the video while they waited. I was glad they found something to do because I really felt like there was no use in them just hanging out and watching me!

I moved into a squat position so I could open the birth canal more. I wanted to make every contraction useful, so I knew I needed to be in a good, open position in order for each contraction to produce the maximum result. The contractions continued to be about 3 minutes apart, and with each one I could feel Molly Jo move down. They were really uncomfortable, and I was trying to mentally prepare myself for the intense transition ahead. With every contraction, I would inhale deep and slow and exhale deep and slow, sometimes moaning softly but always using the breath as a downward and inward push like I was breathing the baby down and out. Sometimes, when I inhaled, I would think in my head, "Ooohhh," and when I exhaled, I would think, "Pennnnnn," (Open). I envisioned our sweet baby moving down with ease, believing we were performing a dance routine orchestrated by God.

I was amazed at how my body was opening up as she moved further and further down, and soon I realized she was there, and I mean.. there. It hit me that I had to be in transition already, except this was not how transition had looked in any of my other births. I was totally relaxed. My body wasn't shivering or shaking as it usually did at this point. The contractions were not one on top of the other. I whispered to Brandon, "I think I'm about to birth her head, but don't say anything!" I didn't want him to holler to the midwives and break my focus. I felt like Brandon and I had such a deep bond in that moment, and the Lord's arms were wrapped tightly around us.

I felt something emerge from my body, and I reached down to find a bubble of the amniotic sac protruding. I broke it with my fingers and felt a little relief as some of the pressure from the fluid eased. Another contraction came, and I thought to myself, "Okay, my body has pushed her down this far. I'm going to help push her out now. I'm going to put effort into this, and if I tear, I tear. There is so much pressure, I've got to push!"

As my body bore her down, I bore down with it. I had to straighten my body as the pressure of the baby's head stretched against me. I let out a scream- the first scream of the whole labor. Nanci and Diana rushed in, and within seconds Molly Jo's head was out. The next contraction seemed forever away. I waited, and finally it came and I helped my body push the rest of Molly's little body out. I felt so much relief as the rest of her amniotic fluid flowed out.

I was so glad to be able to get off my feet, relax my legs, and lean my back against the pool. Relief and tears flooded me as I looked at my sweet Molly Jo. She was covered in vernix, thick and creamy. She was pale as most newborns are, but she wasn't crying. In fact, there was mostly just gurgling. Nanci rubbed her hard and fast, flicked her feet... she didn't respond much. She was very lethargic. Diana asked if she could see her, and I handed her up. Someone handed Brandon the clamps and scissors to cut the cord while Diana gave Molly mouth to mouth. I knew it was serious, but I was totally at peace. I had known that something serious was going to happen at the birth, and I had this reassurance that it would all be okay. Nanci later told us that Molly Jo's heart had stopped for over 10 seconds. She's not quite sure how long.

[I snuggle Molly Jo and cry with relief ("Whew! The hard part is over!") and happiness while Nanci flicks Molly's feet in an attempt to get her to cry and breathe.]

Nanci and Diana hovered over baby Molly Jo trying various methods to get the (amniotic) fluid out of her lungs. They suctioned some out, she spit up some, they did chest compressions, they sucked some out with a special gadget, they gave her oxygen, and we all prayed over her.

For me, there was nothing to fear. I knew my Heavenly Father was more than capable of breathing His life into her, and I trusted that He was using Nanci and Diana to heal her. For a couple of years, I come to adopt this belief that the Lord did not hear my prayers (even though I have many experiences that say otherwise), and I realized in this moment that my Father did hear my prayers. I was assured of His love, and reminded that I was His daughter, and it was His delight to answer me when I called out to Him. My body shook with tears of joy as I knew the Lord was in control, working things out, watching over us and taking care of our sweet baby. I began to thank Him and praise Him as there was no doubt in my mind that He would sustain Molly Jo.

Meanwhile, Brandon was wailing and sobbing as he cried out to the Lord. He too said he felt complete assurance and could feel the presence of the Lord in the room. What none of us knew is that Brandon had a dream a week or so before in which a similar scene had played out, and the Lord had assured Him in the dream that He was there. (He had told a friend, Mark, about this dream, but had not mentioned it to me because he didn't want to frighten me.)

Looking back, I can see how frightening and difficult it must have been on Nanci to see her close friends crying and calling out to the Lord. She didn't know that we had peace and assurance over the situation. I think about what a great burden it was for Nanci to carry- this wasn't just any baby, it was OUR baby, her friends' baby. She had never had such an intense situation occur. Both Nanci and Diana were incredibly calm (on the outside, at least!), and I could hear them praying and also praising Jesus every time Molly whimpered or spit up. It was incredibly comforting to me to know that my Molly Jo was in the hands of such wonderful God-fearing, Christ-loving midwives. What could have been such a scary, horrible, fearful moment for Brandon and I was anything but. It was proof to both of us of God's love and care for us and our children.

Nanci and Diana worked on Molly Jo for about 20 minutes- quite a long time but it felt like it was only 5 minutes (probably felt like hours to Nanci and Diana!). Afterward, Diana came to my side in the pool and asked if I thought I was ready to birth the placenta. I tried to push it out a few times, but nothing happened, and then I gave one great push and out it came (ah, and more relief!). Diana checked out the placenta later and found that the baby side looked great, but the maternal side looked strange. They said they usually saw that sort of thing in mothers who smoke (I don't) or if the placenta is old (Molly Jo was definitely not overdue judging by all the vernix!)

I know it was quite an exhausting event for Nanci and Diana. I am forever grateful that the Lord placed them in our lives and used them in such a beautiful, miraculous way. Molly Jo ended up pinking up and was nursing like a champ by the time they left. They took such good care of us. I had put together a little gift basket for them, but wished I had something more to give them. What do you give the people who were the hands and feet (and mouth) of Jesus, putting their all into making sure our little girl breathed?

I am doing really well. I normally hemorrhage really bad after birth, but I have not had that problem at all this time. I haven't even passed any clots, besides one that I passed shortly after giving birth to Molly. This is totally abnormal for me. I know this is due to God's grace in giving Brandon and I wisdom in how to care for my anemia. (For those who are curious, I took Hemaplex Iron along with a good quality Kelp capsule and Alfalfa capsule.)

Our friend Becky had brought over Fuddrucker's burgers for supper. She arrived shortly after Molly Jo was born, but, unfortunately, right in the middle of the chaos. Even though the burgers were cold by the time we ate them, they were the best burgers ever! I'm pretty sure I could have eaten dirt and it would have tasted good! Everything tastes fantastic right after birth!

Molly Jo's labor and birth was a wonderful, beautiful thing for me. Really, I felt I had the best of both worlds. In Molly's birth, my love for unassisted birth and the beauty of a midwife-assisted birth had embraced. Brandon and I had those deep bonding moments like we had in Keagan's unassisted birth and were pretty much left to "do our thing", but we also had the watchful eye, great support, and amazing care of the midwives. I couldn't have asked for anything better.

Moreover, I have never felt so incredibly loved in my life. My friends poured out their love on us. I knew they were thinking of us and praying for us even though they weren't physically present. I knew I was on Nanci's heart, and I felt very loved by her and Diana. And, as always, I felt very, very loved by my spouse who tended so well to my needs and was perfectly in tune with me. He knew when to leave me alone and knew when it was time to be there with me. He anticipated my needs, prayed for me often, and his love spoke volumes even in the silence.

[My weary husband holds his newest sweetie!]

We feel so fortunate to have been blessed with another gift in Molly Jo.

Molly Jo Jubilee was born at 7:12pm on March 17th, 2012 (Saint Patrick's Day!!).
She was 7 pounds & 14 ounces and 21 inches in length.

She has more hair than her sister Evie!

Her middle name, Jubilee, is a gift from Diana who suggested it. Nanci's suggestion for a middle name was "Praise-the-Lord-she-breathed", but that was a bit long. *Smile*

Molly was the name that stuck with me and stood out when we were thinking of names. I love the simplicity of it. Jo is in memory of my husband's father, Joseph, who passed away about 15 years ago.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Edit : Nanci just sent me this email which I thought I would share with you all.

I talked to Diana this evening and she told me something interesting. On the way to your birth, she was listening to a song called Slumber. She said its hard to understand the words, but the only line she knows is "Baby wake on up from your slumber and open up your eyes" When she then left the birth, she heard it again so she googled it to see who sings it. And guess what? Its written by "Need to Breathe!"

I think this is very fitting words and a very fitting band!

Love you and hope you are resting well. -Nanci

*Smile* Oh all the little ways God sings and whispers to us!

Please excuse any typos!

Read more thoughts on the birth:

Post:  What Will I Have Done With Them?
Post: Worry or Trust?


Linsy B said...

so awesome! thanks for sharing that. I really love reading your birthing stories!!

Melissa said...

Thank you so much for sharing...what a beautiful birth story!

Anonymous said...

Wow! What an incredibel God-story! My husband and I don't have any children yet, but when God decides to bless us we are considering having a baby at a birthing center. Not sure what God will have in store for us, but your story was immensely encouraging~ I would love to have the blessing of godly, caring midwives. That is so awesome how God revealed His presence to your husband and what He revealed to Diana! Gave me chills.

May God bless you, Molly Jo, and your family!

In Christ,
Erica Sersen


Jeanette said...

How amazing! What a testament to the Lord! He has many great things planned for your percious gift! She is a BEAUTY!

Lewis Family said...

That was amazing! Thank you immensely for sharing your beautiful journey to having your sweet girl in your arms. I came over from Nanci's site. Diana was my midwife for my last baby (number 7 for me, but my first at home), and Nanci assisted. I'm pregnant again and am looking at who to have for my care and delivery (Diana moved out of state). It's not too interesting or updated(!), but my website is Thank you again!