In order to tell this story I’m afraid I have to start a little further back than contractions and water breaking and all that loveliness. Ricky, my husband, and I found out we were expecting a little one on April 20th, 2014. So- the planning began…I wanted to connect with my baby throughout pregnancy and begin bonding early so I searched and searched for names.
I was positive I was pregnant with a girl and Ricky was positive I was pregnant with a boy. We both said we were fine with either but anxiously awaited my first ultrasound to find out. I searched for names and I stumbled upon the name of Jolie- meaning beautiful. I loved it and so did Ricky. After searching even more I found the verses in 1 Corinthians where Paul discusses the joy of Titus. We both fell in love with the name Titus for a boy and Jolie for a girl.
My mom had all 5 of us naturally and 3 of us kids were born at home. Three of my sisters had used a midwife for at least one of their child’s birth. Having been in Nursing School for 2 years, hospitals meant: stress, time restraint, and performance checks- all things I didn’t want to have on my mind while delivering my child. I wanted a peaceful, calming, candle lit birth that didn’t revolve around the clock. For me, “normal” was having an out of hospital birth, which I understand is not so for many other people.
I had researched for midwives in the area and found the peaceful and quaint Jubilee Birthing Center (www.jubileebirthcenter.com) . I called and set up an appointment with Toni & found her to be so motherly. A character I definitely wanted at my birth. I also set up an appointment with Andrea at 16 weeks and found our personalities just clicked. I instantly felt comfortable with her. She was a nurse as well as a midwife. I knew I could be completely honest with her, so I chose her as my midwife.
Ricky and I had experienced some tragedy in the past year & Satan kept trying to fill my thoughts with doubt and fear. I began praying to have confidence in Gods design. Andrea helped boost that confidence with each visit. She always greeted me with “You look beautiful!” “You are doing great!”, and “That is normal!”. She filled my heart with good, positive thoughts. The first time I heard the heart beat- it instantly relieved all fears. It was the most beautiful sound. I could have listened to it all day. Andrea giggled with me as baby kept running away from the Doppler.
On July 6th I went to the ER for pain I later discovered to be a herniated disc in my back, and while we were there, we decided to go ahead and check on baby. After the ultrasound tech assured us he’d been doing this for 17 years- he said “oh! It’s a boy” and circled a small figure between the legs! We saw the baby sucking his thumb and immediately fell in love with our little Titus! I was 17 weeks along and thought surely you can’t mistake a boy- so we never got another ultrasound.
I was in the worst pain I had ever felt- unable to walk. Over the course of the next few months- I saw Dr. Renner Renner (www.rennerchiropractic.com) who relieved my back pain, and, I believe, gave me a much smoother labor. I definitely suggest chiropractor visits during pregnancy!
I began reading books about “raising boys” and how to prepare “him” to be a godly man and understand “his” roughness which were all foreign concepts to me. Everyone who felt “him” kick or spoke to my belly would say “hello Titus! Can’t wait to meet you!” Blue began seeping out of the walls! Blue everything for our baby boy! Our wonderful church family hosted a baby shower for me. There were over 80 guests and at least 75 books all with personalized notes written to “Titus”. This child was already completely adored.
Each week I had a midwife appointment, we got more and more anxious to meet our baby! I felt strong kicks so often. My oldest sister Julia (inspiredbybirths.com) had prepared us through her Birth Bootcamp class. Ricky and I both studied and listened to her every word. She especially emphasized to pay attention to my emotional cues once labor begins. This was a big help to me during the labor process.(P.S. I highly recommend this class- it prepared me and my husband (my birth coach) to work together to bring this new life into our world. It helped us feel prepared to welcome this new life into the world together and the laboring process to go much more smoothly). With the knowledge she gave me- I felt empowered.
My due date of 12/13/14 approached. I knew due dates weren’t “real” and I was willing to accept that. I thought- my mom and sisters were all 2 weeks late- I’ve got time. I was mentally prepared for a 2 weeks past due date, 20 hour labor, probably a 9 pound baby boy. (WRONG x 4!) I started taking tags off and washing and organizing “his” many clothes. Did a large load of blue clothes first…
On Wednesday– Ricky and I both had lots of energy. We vacuumed out the cars, installed the car seat, finished packing hospital bag, filled up the gas tanks and the fridge, paid bills. Went to midwife and chiropractor. Everything looked great. I scrubbed the house from top to bottom on Thursday for Ricky’s grandma who was visiting from out of town. I told her not to be too disappointed but I’m prob not gonna have this baby on time but they were welcome to come down for a visit. My mom was staying with Julia in Dallas. Julia was also pregnant and due around the same time as me. She had experienced some Braxton hicks all week and the only signs I had were loose bowel movements the past week. I hadn’t even felt a contraction yet. So… Mom stayed with Julia. We all figured if I started feeling contractions- mom would have plenty of time to drive in if needed.
Thursday I watched this amazing video (http://youtu.be/GZk4hT7ncv0and) and reflected on the last 40 weeks. I felt pretty good, but pretty exhausted. Ricky and I had been running errands and cleaning nonstop the past 2 days (didn’t realize this spurt of energy meant labor soon). My dad was driving from Arizona and I remember sending him a text at 1:30 AM Friday morning: “I can’t sleep”. He replied “maybe it’s a sign”. my reply:”LOL I wish..” I had a pretty rough night and Ricky and I had stayed up till 2 AM just unable to sleep- a lot on our minds.. 2:30 AM I felt something slide out of my body. I got up and ran to the toilet where a gush of fluid escaped from my body. Ricky rolled over in bed and said “that doesn’t sound like pee…” “I think my water just broke- hand me my phone.”
So I called Andrea on the phone while sitting on the toilet… Half asleep, she answered the phone. I let her know my water broke and she said okay well why don’t you try to go to sleep and I’ll come over in the morning. 3 AM, more awake now, she texts me and decides to come on over. She checks my vital signs and my blood pressure was pretty high- 141/__. Baby heart rate was great. And everything seemed fine. She checked the water to make sure it was straw color & really was amniotic fluid. We decided not to do a vaginal exam and just go back to sleep. (Less checks- less risk for infection) We were both sure we had a long day ahead of us.
I started to get worried- did my water break too early? Would I have to go to the hospital after 24 hours? Andrea cut me off “let’s not even go there. We have plenty of time.” And she helped me realize it was not the time to worry. It was time to rest. A little bit after she left and all the lights were off I laid my head back on my pillow and felt the first contraction. It was similar to menstrual cramps and began in my back. I closed my eyes and told The Lord “I get to meet my child today. Lord- be with me.”The next 3 hours consisted of sleeping, feeling a contraction, felt a LOT of pressure in my rectum- nothing and then repeating. I was pretty exhausted, not having much sleep. But I just kept trying to rest. I knew that was important at this time. At about 6:30 I woke up and the contractions were getting a little bit more intense where I was unable to go back to sleep. I told Ricky- maybe… Go into work at 9. (Still thinking we had ALL day). He just tossed the idea aside and said okay.
By 7:30 contractions were a minute long. I put my arms around Ricky and swayed during some of them. I kept trying to find a comfortable position- but couldn’t. I remember sitting on and off the toilet- telling Ricky he didn’t need to rush. He was turning on lights and putting stuff in the car. I kept sitting on the toilet backwards to try to relieve pressure. Then about 8:10, with my eyes closed: I told him ” I need you to slow down. I need quiet.” This was getting intense quickly- how could I do this for 10-20 hours?? Ricky got our workbook out and read some affirmation phrases to encourage me. He spoke with such strength. The breaks between contractions started getting shorter. I felt so disorganized. I realized I was already in transition due to my emotional cues. I wasn’t prepared for fast. I felt overwhelmed. I tried getting on the couch backwards and ended up laying on the floor waiting for Ricky to come get me.
I texted Andrea- I need you. She said she was waiting at the birthing center. Ricky said the car was ready about 9. We got in and were about to leave and I said “Wait!” And I jumped out and leaned against the car for another contraction. I wanted to get through one more outside of the car. Ricky said- we’ve got to leave and I’m not stopping once we go. I had about 7 contractions on the drive. I had my eyes closed the entire drive. Ricky held my hand. I was silence. The first time in my life I didn’t want music on. We got to the birthing center about 9:30.
I hadn’t even been able to text my mom since I woke up. Was anyone gonna be there? I had a list of close friends I was gonna text when labor had begun- I didn’t even know where my phone was!
9:30 We got inside, and I hugged Andrea and said “I’m not doing as good as I thought I would.” She looked at me with sweet eyes and said “let’s go see where we are.” I got up on the bed and Andrea checked me. I felt her touch baby’s head and I asked “did you just touch Titus’ head?” That gave me excitement as she nodded and smiled. I was about to see this beautiful baby! She said- “I don’t feel a cervix.”All logic escaped me- I thought- it disappeared??? It’s gone? How do we get it back? Then Logic returned- wait.. Already?!?!?
Toni came in and double checked me- she said I was at a 9. I noticed Toni and Andrea’s pace quickened. I got on the toilet backwards while they prepared the bed and Andrea rubbed my back which felt heavenly at the time. She told me I was doing great and to just try to find a comfortable position.
I was exhausted. I hadn’t eaten anything. I had a playlist. I was gonna have candles & soak in the tub through contractions. I had scriptures written down that Ricky was gonna read. But I didn’t want any of that at that time. I wanted the lights off. I wanted silence. I didn’t want Ricky to leave me- I wanted him there the whole time. I wanted to breathe. Ricky gave me sips of water between each contraction and held my hand and kissed my forehead. I was laying on my side on the bed. Toni and Andrea put 2 pillows between my legs to finish opening the cervix. They offered me a cliff-bar- I think I took one bite. Ricky started diffusing peace and calming and tried to send a quick text to our moms. I kept thinking “keep jaw relaxed- try to think OPEN” and tried to welcome each contraction: as Julia had instructed me.
Around 10:08, suddenly, my whole body overcame me. I made this deep, uncontrolled grunting noise which Ricky said later scared him. It reminded me of a horse sound. Toni said- that sounded like a pushing noise are you needing to push? I couldn’t speak- I just nodded. 10:10, They turned me on my back and propped pillows behind me. This was happening so fast.
Andrea stayed right in front of me. She applied pressure on the floor of my perineum as I pushed. It was uncomfortable but it did provide me with a focal point. It reminded me to push down. My strength has always been in my legs. I kept trying to use them to push. Ricky was bracing my left leg, Toni my right, and Andrea in between. They kept having to remind me to use my core. I sometimes panicked while they held my legs- didn’t feel able to fully relax. But then I would just think core and focus downward. I knew they were helping remind me.
They applied warm towels that had been soaking in the crock-pot to my perineum which felt wonderful. They lathered olive oil which provided comfort. And cool rags on my sweating forehead. Ricky kept providing sips of water and saying you’re doing good, babe! Keep going! Toni had a Doppler and after each push we listened to baby’s heartbeat. Such a comfort & a sweet reminder I was getting somewhere. After each push the Doppler was placed lower on my body which showed me the baby was descending and gave me a visual of my progress.
In middle and high school I ran track- I was never good at sprints. You tell me to run 10 miles, I can finish. Sprints? That was too much…
This felt like a sprint. However, each labor pain was bringing me closer to meeting my child. Is this really happening? I was thankful for the breaks between. I was struggling with an internal battle of “wait- slow down” and “I want this over with so I can meet my baby”.
Suddenly Ricky said- “I see lots of hair!!” Really?? Already? I remember mumbling “that’s why I had acid reflux.” Toni & Andrea encouraged me to do 3 pushes with each contraction. That gave me baby steps to focus on. I could tell when a push was a good one. I just had to focus and reign in my mind. When a push was good all 4 of us could tell and we all shared in the excitement together. One break was a little too short and I started backing up my body to try to fight it saying “I can’t!”. After I said it- I didn’t believe it. I knew this body God created was able to do it. I trusted Gods body more than my own mind. Do it for the baby. Almost there. Almost there.
Andrea asked me if I wanted to reach down and feel baby’s head. There it was- so squishy. Lol I think I said “it feels like a brain!” (Literally thinking of the organ I had held in nursing school). Oh Lord- we can do this. Not much longer. No more waiting. I can meet this baby. I can see their face and hold them in my arms. This is it.
Andrea asked Ricky if he wanted to catch the baby and he said Yes! I gave a big push and let the baby crown and waiting till I gathered up more strength. There was the ring of fire but I knew it was close. Andrea soaked the babies head in olive oil and continually applied warm cloths. I gave another big push and felt her entire body slide out. Ricky caught her and they placed her immediately on my chest. He said my face completely relaxed. And I was no longer overwhelmed. It was over and there was the sweet cry. I looked at this beautiful face and was so grateful for this perfect gift. They left the cord in until it stopped pulsating and Ricky was able to cut it.
Toni looked at Ricky- “the name is Titus??”
We all looked down and then back up at each other. Andrea said my jaw dropped to the floor. I looked at Ricky and he was beaming with tears in his eyes- “still want to name her Jolie Grey??” “YES!!!” And I looked at Andrea “Well, we don’t have to pay for a circumcision!” Then i said “oh no! We only brought blue!” I looked down and saw my beautiful daughter. Ricky came and sat next to us and I looked at him- she has your eyes. And kissed him. And I counted 10 perfect fingers and toes. She was beautiful. Completely beautiful. All fears were gone. She was perfect. Immediately, all pain was gone.
7 pounds 8 ounces, 22 inches long.
Ricky kissed my forehead and slipped the James Avery Mothers Heart Ring on my finger. I of course had forgotten his present as I had forgotten everything it seemed. There were three of us now.
Andrea helped me with the afterbirth. She didn’t rush it. I was out of strength & we had to deliver to over the toilet where I sat backwards again to use gravity. I remember telling Andrea after it was all over “I don’t know why women think they can’t do this- it was hard but very possible”.
The midwives prepared an herbal bath for me. I rinsed off in the shower while Ricky held and doted on our surprise or a daughter. Ricky’s mom brought me a delicious Schlotzky’s sandwich. Finally, We dimmed the lights, turned on my “labor” playlist, and laid in the warm soothing bath where I held Jolie and just adored her. Here was my quiet peace I had been longing for all day. We had made it. It wasn’t me that was so mighty and able to deliver Jolie. It was God- his design for our bodies to be able to do so.
Jolie’s footprints were put on the wall of the birthing center. Ricky’s mom ran to Kohl’s and found the only pink newborn outfit available & we put blue socks on her. She was ready to come home. And we were able to go home that same day by 4:00. We spent that night as a family.
I was so thankful for the strength Ricky gave me the entire labor and delivery. He knew I was struggling, but held my hand the entire time. He believed in me. Andrea was a wonderful positive light that kept my eyes on what needed to be focused on the entire pregnancy. I am especially thankful to The Lord and all He has taught me through this experience. We can do more than we believe we can if we only trust in him.