Beatrice is just over three months old and her birth story has been sitting here waiting to be finished. Some of you may have thought it would never come, but I love birth and birth stories too much to not get this out of my headand on to the blog. So, here goes.
As I rolled into the final weeks of the third trimester, I can’t emphasize enough how much I was looking forward to meeting the next Haggard baby. I remember with Ian I was focused on how labor and birth would go. By the time Imogen came around I was already a mess so much of the pregnancy and postpartum is sadly a blur.
This time I knew I could give birth because I’d done it twice before. And I was making every preemptive move to not be a mess postpartum, so I had the mental and emotional space to think (over and over) “I can’t wait to see and hold this baby!” I will say, this time around it was really fun not knowing the sex (something we had not done before).
We sailed through the holidays and once those were over, in my mind, it was baby time. Mystery baby was due January 23rd, but since Imogen had come a week early I was more open to the idea that may this baby would come early, too.
That being said, as I met weekly with my midwife in January, there didn’t seem to be any indication that I was going to go into labor soon. In fact, on January 15th I left the office with a cervix that was far back and not dilated. My midwife said “See you next week!”
That night Jason and I finally finished our laundry/office space. He had been working on insulating and sheet-rocking it and the final piece was to take everything out, lay down a carpet remnant, and then put everything back in. After several hours of hard work we went to bed late and tired, but in fine spirits. I did wonder, though, if all the lifting or even just the fact that this final project was done and out of the way, would help my body get in the mood to labor.
At about midnight Imogen woke up because she had wet her bed, so I went downstairs to sort things out. When I bent down to help her change her clothes my water broke. It wasn’t a gush, but I definitely knew what it was.
In the course of the commotion Jason had gotten up and after telling him the news, we called the Richards, who were our childcare. We told them to be on standby and that the baby would probably come in the next 6-10 hours. We also notified Cindie, our midwife, and Jessica, our doula.
At that point I went back to bed and over the course of the next 3-4 hours I dozed, feeling contractions every so often that were enough to sort of wake me. Early morning came and while everyone else was still asleep I got up and sat in the rocking chair in the baby’s room and worked on my BSF and spent some time journaling. When everyone woke we decided to ask Jessica to come over and to get the kids off to the Richards.
Jessica arrived and because my contractions weren’t really going anywhere, we decided it was a good idea if Jason and I went for a walk. We walked the kids down to the end of the street to meet Amanda, who would take them for the day. She was so sweet and excited for us, and had brought me a bouquet of daffodils.
After that Jason and I walked for about an hour. I remember telling him, “Doesn’t it kinda feel like we’re first-time parents, taking a walk and trying to get labor started?” Jessica had warned me that third labors could be a bit wonky with their stopping and starting, but it felt odd to actually be experiencing it. By this point we had resigned ourselves to the fact that we would not have a textbook labor like we had with the other two.
Our little walk was really lovely. The air was cold and we were bundled up, but it felt good to be outside and moving a bit. It was also an opportunity for us to talk and for me to tell Jason I was anxious. I felt like more contractions should be coming and I wasn’t making them happen. I was worried I just wasn’t relaxing enough. Jessica was sitting back at our house, ready to help a laboring woman and I wasn’t much of one at that point.
Jason responded wonderfully and I felt really comforted. I don’t remember exactly what he said, but I think it was something to the effect of “We all love you, we are here to support you, and you are going to do great.” I remember saying “THAT was the most perfect thing you could’ve said to me!”
Contractions did pick up as we walked, and I remember feeling free to let them happen. We would stop every so often when they came. But when we returned home and assessed things with Jessica, they began to slow down again. I wasn’t in labor enough to not feel self-conscious when the contractions would come. I suppose I still had some mind control over them.
I also had this feeling, though I wasn’t able to put it into words at the time, that my body just wasn’t totally ready to have this baby. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but it was like all the pieces just weren’t in place yet. Jessica was great about it all, and said she’d go home and that I could call her at any point either just to talk or to have her come over.
For the rest of the day the contractions would pick up and then slow down, coming anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes apart. I could tell they were definitely doing something, but I could still pretty much go on with regular activities.
It’s been long enough since the labor and birth that I don’t remember exactly how we filled our time the rest of the day. It was unusual (and nice) to have a quiet house with just the two of us there. I believe Jason spent an hour or two making work calls. Cindie called and I gave her an update. I remember her saying, “I just want you to take your time and enjoy this day and what comes of it.” Such a Cindie thing to say–it puts a smile on my face to think about it now.
Later in the afternoon I called Jessica and we had a good talk about where I was at emotionally. I told her I felt pressure to make this happen and she helped me process through that a bit. I spent some more timing journaling, too.
By late afternoon/early evening contractions weren’t necessarily closer together, but they did have a bit more umph to them. Cindie called again and I told her a lot of the same things Jessica and I had talked about. In her calm and cool manner she reminded me that my body would do the work, I didn’t have to. But again, I wasn’t into labor enough that it felt like my mind didn’t have some say in when or how contractions would come.
Cindie also shared that she had just had a patient whose labor progressed in a very similar way to mine. Cindie had deduced that because the patient’s cervix was so far back but her water had broken, she had light labor for a long time. Each contraction, though far apart, was bringing the cervix forward. Once that was ready, her labor picked up and it wasn’t too long before she was holding her baby.
This was exactly what I needed to hear. I knew my body was in the same situation and that my cervix coming forward was the missing puzzle piece. And this was why this labor was so very different than my others. It also felt good to know that every contraction I had been having was doing something productive.
The Tarters came up and chatted with us around 6 or 7pm. I had previously asked Sarah if she wanted to be there for the birth since she is an aspiring midwife, so we needed to give them an update of what may lie ahead so they could plan for the night.
Jessica came back around 8pm. She had been nothing but supportive and helpful during this process, but I could tell when she arrived that I was feeling self-conscious again. Jessica is a dear friend and I knew I wanted her to be there, but we had never experienced this in our friendship before. And you just can’t hide in the middle of labor, if that makes any sense.
I tried to labor in the bedroom on my own, but I just kept feeling like I needed to vocalize to her about how I was feeling about her being there. Getting it out in the open would help me move past it, I knew that. And I knew that’s what God wanted me to do.
Even though it was a bit awkward, she was, of course, really great about it and at the end we prayed. We specifically prayed that the labor would pick up, that I would feel comfortable and ready for what would come, and she would know how to help. I remember telling God, “I have known for months that I want these particular women at my birth (Jessica, Cindie, Sarah, and Amanda the birth assistant). I still really want that, and I pray you would make this a really special time for all of us.”
Now that I think about it, I suppose that was another puzzle piece that needed to fall into place–the last piece. Because after that I went back into the bedroom and really got to work laboring. Actually, laboring just started to happen without my control. Jessica was listening from the other room, encouraging me that I was doing a good job.
Jessica eventually came in and started helping me get through contractions, and soon after Cindie arrived. Sarah came up at that point and helped Jason get our bed set up for birth and I moved into the baby’s room for a while.
Also, while I was laboring we got a call from the Richards that Imogen was not doing so well. It was around midnight and she was feeling homesick and would not go to sleep. So Jason jetted over there to get her and got her into her own bed for the rest of the night (and thankfully we didn’t hear a peep until everything was all over).
I would like to say that as labor progressed it all became a whirlwind, but it really didn’t. I sat on the birth ball leaning onto the side of the bed as I moved through contractions. It felt like I did this for a long time, while everyone else stood around and listened and watched. I was very aware of their presence, but not bothered by it.
Physically, I was doing just fine. My body wasn’t really tired and I was managing contractions with both the help of Jessica and Jason.
Mentally and emotionally I was becoming more tired of the whole thing. Although it hadn’t been hard, the start of all this had been 24 hours ago by that point. Jessica prayed for me, which I appreciated. I remember saying at least once “When am I going to be ready to push?” — I was waiting for Cindie to tell me. In reality, everyone in the room knew she wasn’t going to need to tell me–my body would certainly do that.
Eventually that feeling did come. I don’t even really remember it ramping up, it was just there and I got up on the bed. Jason was sitting on the other side on the edge, and as I kneeled on the mattress I grabbed onto his shoulder and arm. With a strong contraction I pushed with all my might. I was looking into his eyes the entire time and he maintained eye contact, but he had sort of a horrific look on his face.
With that big push the baby’s head popped out. It literally felt like a pop. I obviously knew what had happened, but it took everyone else a few seconds to realize it. Cindie had turned around to do something and when she looked again she said with delight “Oh my goodness, the baby’s head is out! Elisabeth, the baby’s head is wiggling around.”
I don’t think I even waited for another contraction; I pushed again and the rest of the baby came out. Cindie hands were there and she sort of caught her and let her rest on the bed beneath me. I looked down and there she was, all curled up. My first thought and words were “What is it (as in the sex)?” I had to uncurl her and look to discover it was a girl. I was so surprised, more so than I thought I would be.
She was covered in vernix (because she was early), but her little eyes peeked through the white on her face. We laid down and she was tucked between my arm and side. Jason lay next to me in the bed as Cindie and Amanda went to work. I had no tears and the placenta easily came out. After a while Cindie suggested we try nursing and the baby was definitely more interested than I remember my other two babies being. That was encouraging.
It felt really good to just lay there and relax. Jason was so great about staying right there with me in the moments afterward; this is something I specifically requested he do. At the time I didn’t realize how grossed out he was by all the vernix on the baby, the shot of pitocin I received, cutting the umbilical cord (which Sarah did) and the delivery of the placenta, but looking at the pictures you can see it on his face. Despite that, he played the role of doting husband and father very well.
Jason’s looking a little worse for the wear in this picture, but he was amazing.
We announced her name, too–Beatrice Olive Haggard. Even though I had been so surprised, it was such a pleasure to know we had another girl and to look into her face and call her by her name. As I mentioned in her birth announcement, Beatrice means “bringer of joy” and Olive was my grandmother’s name.
After a while Amanda did the amazing thing of asking if she could give me a foot rub, which of course I did not turn down. We all chatted and watched Beatrice for a while. Sarah took more pictures. At one point someone asked if I wanted to sit up or get up and into the bath and I said “No, actually, it feels really good to just lay here and not move.” The hard work of labor was over and I could relax with my baby and husband by my side, and these wonderful ladies nearby.
I did want to make a point of getting a photo of all the women at Beatrice’s birth. They are all so very special to me and I was truly honored and blessed to have them there.
From the left – Amanda (birth assistant and my NP), Jessica (doula and friend), Sarah (friend) and Cindie (midwife).
God really answered the prayer Jessica and I prayed at the start of that evening, that everyone who I wanted to be at the birth would be there and play an important role.
Eventually I did get into the bath and Amanda fed me some of the salted chicken and rice we had made in our postpartum recovery class, which we had frozen just for the occasion. I had very little bleeding and I felt, all things considered, pretty good.
I also got a chance to take a good look at Beatrice’s placenta (I even took pictures, but don’t worry, I won’t share those). Cindie explained to me the various parts of the organ. I am truly amazed at placentas and the work they do in utero. It’s really astounding. Beatrice’s was on the smaller side because she was a smaller baby. It made me wish I would’ve looked at Ian and Imogen’s more to be able to compare.
By the time recovery, clean-up, and Beatrice’s assessment were done it was about 6am. Imogen woke up a little while later (Ian was at the Richards) and we heard her coming up the stairs. We told her we had a surprise and she got up on the bed and peeked in the co-sleeper. She was so sweet about it. Here she is holding Beatrice for the first time.
I can’t quite remember the order of things, but I think soon after that Amanda Richards brought Ian back to meet his new sister. We had wanted to wait to tell him it was a girl ourselves, but apparently he overheard Amanda and Jason talking.
Let’s just say he was not impressed with the news. In fact, he was quite disappointed.
But for being as upset about it as he was, within ten minutes of meeting her he must’ve realized he wasn’t going to be able to change her into a brother, and decided to happily accept Beatrice into the family.
Actually I think what did it was when Jason told him that he gets to be the only brother in the family and that means he has a very special role.
Here is proof of his turnaround:
He’s been seriously doting on her ever since.
I think Amanda took the kids back to her house at this point and Jason, Beatrice and I lay down to get some sleep. After the last two births I remember very distinctly laying in bed with my husband on one side and my new baby in the co-sleeper on the other side. Both of them deep in sleep and I wide awake.
But this time I slept, what a wonder! That was also encouraging; we were off to a good start. And thankfully, postpartum recovery has progressed very positively, even with its normal ups and downs. I intend to share more on that later.
We are so blessed to have Beatrice Olive in our family. I am thankful to the Lord that he brought her to us in His timing and with His protection and care. I can’t say enough how amazed I am at how far we’ve come since that day back in May when we found out we were pregnant.
Here’s one final picture from January 17th. One beautiful baby, all fresh and new.
Yes, the crazy lady had another baby — and it was wonderful!!!