Sally’s Birth Story: Part 1

12 Sep

Before I had children, I never thought I’d be someone who would have dramatic birth stories and surprise-in-the night deliveries. I also figured my babies would always be late, because my mom’s were. Perhaps when you’re short and your husband is 6’5″, you get more than you bargain for, because here I sit, new mom of three, and I’ve yet to ever make it to a due date. Actually, I’ve never made it to 38 weeks 5 days. And somehow my water has broken twice, and I have a C-section, VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean) and natural no-drug delivery under my belt, in that order. My doc said there really isn’t any other way to have a baby, unless I want to have one on my bathroom floor. Drew doesn’t like that idea.


Sally and Mama, wearing special laboring gown

I am honored and humbled to have been given the experiences I have been given. I can truly see the Lord’s work in all of it, and the more I go along, the more of His work I detect. I’ve been on a journey where it was His goal and His joy to teach and show me things in pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum-hood, and man..I have been taught and shown so much. What a privilege! I am full of praise, and that is why I write this story.


Jane Darby pictured in the NICU on her birthday

First, because this is where my story of motherhood truly starts, I have to pay tribute to a little 34-week NICU preemie who made me a mama. Jane Darby’s birth story wasn’t exciting or fun or even good. In fact, it was dangerous and terrifying and sad. But without it we wouldn’t have our girl. Having a premature baby who we were later told almost died at birth (I hate to even speak it) isn’t a badge I like to wear, but it’s one of my badges all the same, so I will wear it alongside the others.

photo 2

Mama and Rose on her birthday

Next, I’ll have to admit I feel defeat and fear and total chaos when I reflect on Rose’s birth story. I was so pleased to have her vaginally after my C-section, and not prematurely, but I also left that experience feeling confused, weak and totally wrapped up in the angst of not being able to control the things I wanted to control. The beauty of it, other than our beauty Rose, is there was and is so much to redeem from her birth, and even from her infancy. Jane Darby’s, too. The Lord in His wisdom made room for that, I’m sure. Some of that redemption has already been spun into place, and I can, again, see the Lord weaving a new thread through how I will mother Sally.

Finally, I have to majorly emphasize, because I’ve very much learned, that this isn’t really a story of motherhood, but of parenthood. Looking back on the strides Drew and I have made individually and together over our last five years, not as parents per se, but as teammates who bring babies into the world, I see a result that is truly awesome, and I’m left with gratitude and amazement.


First picture I ever took of Sally, with her special Daddy

My words and phrases here won’t do it all justice, not even for myself. These are my best stories, stories of love and life, of feeling the most love and the most alive. I look forward to treasuring up my stories in the softest little places of my heart for the rest of my days.

That was quite an introduction, but now the good stuff is coming!

Not long after I found out I was pregnant with my third baby, around early January, I started having some issues. I’ll spare details, but I knew it wasn’t normal and my symptoms would have driven any pregnant person to fear and despair. I ended up being diagnosed with an SCH (sub-chorionic hemorrhage.) Basically, something somewhere hadn’t lined up quite right and there was some pain and bleeding involved.

Thankfully, while uncommon, this type of hemorrhage can prove fairly uneventful for a pregnancy. So while I had to deal with my issues for about two months, calling the doctor and making appointments often (extra ultrasounds!), I made it through and finally was able to feel relief. I didn’t do a great job of fully trusting and not worrying, I’ll admit, so I’ll just have to apply it in the future as a lesson learned I suppose.

From about March to June, things were smooth sailing, but then little Miss Sally started being pesky again. I tend to always get Braxton Hicks contractions, and they started really early this time around, so I know what those are and they don’t worry me. In my other two pregnancies, I never had true (definition of “true contraction” being loose) contractions outside of actual labor. Some people only define a true contraction as a labor contraction anyway, i.e. one that changes your cervix and causes you to have a baby, but regardless, in mid-July I started having occurrences that made me go “hmm.”


July 12, 2016, in Labor and Delivery triage

They were like Braxton Hicks, with the tightness and the inability to take a deep breath, but stronger, lower down and regular. One evening, July 12 at 32 weeks, they were so regular that I decided to call in, and I was sent to Labor and Delivery to get checked out.

Seems silly, but when we arrived I was relieved to see that I was actually having contractions that registered on the monitor. (I wasn’t going crazy!) And, they were regular. I never felt worried because I knew from experience these weren’t bad contractions; my only concern was the regularity. The nurse affirmed they weren’t Braxton Hicks, and she gave me a doctor-ordered dose of brethine to relax the muscles in my uterus.

For 30 minutes it worked, but then the contractions picked back up and became regular again. So, another dose. This time, they stayed away, and since my cervix wasn’t changing (I was 1 cm when I came in) I was sent home with instructions on how to try to handle them on my own next go-around.

If they got regular again, I was to drink a lot of water, or eat a lot of sugar, or put my feet up, or take a bath. After one hour, if they were still coming, I was to be seen. A few times I was able to keep them under control. But one night, 18 days after my first visit to the hospital on July 30, I just couldn’t keep them under wraps. They were 2-3 minutes apart, not painful, but noticeable.

So back to Labor and Delivery I went. This time, even though the contractions were registering and regular and I was, again, not going crazy!, I was 35 weeks, and so stopping them with brethine was contraindicated. Plus, my cervix wasn’t changing from the 2 cm I was when I arrived, so that was good. Had it been, I would have begged the doctors to stop labor, because I know a thing or two about premature babies. But as it was, I went home and somehow slept them off.

July 30, 2016, a return to Labor and Delivery triage

July 30, 2016, a return to Labor and Delivery triage

Fast forward almost three weeks to a random Thursday night, August 18. It was as I later told my mom and sister “a terrible, terrible, terrible night.” While trying to sleep, I had lots of regular contractions, but they still weren’t strong. (I know strong.) I may have had to focus through a few, but could have talked through them if Drew had been awake to hear me. I knew I could get up, get moving and try to get the contractions to be more productive, but I was so exhausted and the thought of having to have a baby in that state was no good. Also, my bladder felt like it was absolutely on fire. Combine the two and I didn’t sleep at all; just laid there being annoyed by contractions and having to potty every five minutes.

The next morning, August 19, I saw my doctor and said something along the lines of, “You have to help me. I have a serious bladder infection. Also, I feel like I’m getting the flu.” Turns out, no infection, no flu. And, the contractions subsided somewhat. My blood pressure was a bit elevated, and I had even progressed a little bit. Plus, the baby was very low in my pelvis (she had been for a while) and hanging out on my bladder. So, my doctor said this might be the start of early labor, and she sent me home to rest. I called my mother-in-law in May-Day mode to come get my kids, thinking I was going to have a baby or at the very least be a zombie (both the sleepy kind and the mean kind) all day long to my children.

A quick note about babies sitting low. People have always told me toward the end of pregnancy, “You’re still carrying so high. Your baby hasn’t dropped.” I’d just like to say to those sweet people that I have very long babies, and they never look low, but they are. My babies never drop. Trust me!

The contractions actually did come back that afternoon and night, and I focused and breathed through a few, but they never got under the five-minute mark and weren’t causing me pain. However, they must have been doing something, because the next day, TMI, I lost my MP. When that happened with Jane Darby (never happened with Rose) that really got things moving. Of course, I only thought about that correlation after Sally was born.

On Saturday the 20th, Drew and I went for a nice long walk, and on Sunday I went on another walk. I like to walk! But besides doing all that, I went a few days with no contractions. On Monday the 22nd I had an appointment, and this time I was 3 cm. However, I was a little weary of sweet Sally fooling me so many times that I actually put an induction for August 31 on my doctor’s calendar. Yes, I was sure, this would be the baby we’d have to evict, and I wanted that date on my radar just in case. Plus, I was set up to have a quick and easy induction since I’d already progressed to a 3.

I’d forgotten about the little but earnest prayer I had made: Lord, you know my heart and my desires. I’d love to go into labor again spontaneously, and for the experience to be better than Rose’s labor, maybe even unmedicated, and for my baby to be healthy and avoid a NICU stay. But if not, it will be okay.

Boy, did the Lord have something to say to me about my anxiety, pride and control. I love how He answered what I thought was a simple, little prayer in a big, mighty way—and how He had mercy on anxious, prideful, controlling me and chose to write a better story.

When I said goodbye to my doctor at my appointment that morning, I had no idea I’d be seeing her again before the next sunrise. That afternoon, I vacuumed and mopped a dirty house. That evening, we had homemade pizza for dinner and I went to the girls’ school orientation. I had a few nothing-to-write-home-about contractions during that. Afterward, I decided I needed a large diet lemonade and a large strawberry milkshake (shared that with Drew) from Chick-Fil-A. I enjoyed those very much, sat on my birth ball for a while, and by 10:30 dragged myself to bed for a good sleep. I got about 5.5 hours in before things got real, real fast.

Read Part 2

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