What can I say?
Our girls love weekends. Fridays to be more exact, even though technically this one held out until early Saturday morning.
Last Friday morning I woke up to some strange pains in my back... nothing too unusual as the 60 pounds this little girl and I added could be known to catch up with me. I got up to use the bathroom, an also customary and frequent ritual those days, when I noticed bright red blood. I fought back a few tears, but we've had enough pregnancy scares to know that blood isn't always a big deal. Bright red blood most certainly can be.
So began the choking back of my fear.
We got in touch with our midwives, who felt that things were probably fine but assured us we could come in if we wanted. Since I had an appointment already scheduled for the afternoon, Joe and I decided to head up early. A dear friend was going to watch the girls for me that morning so I could take advantage of a prenatal massage Joe got me for Christmas, and when I called to let her know what was happening she immediately began to pray and encourage! We then called a sweet neighbor, who the girls adore, and she came over to watch them. We smiled and totally relaxed when once on the road our phone lit up with a picture of the girls inside a fort they had built in the family room.
We put in the worship CD we made and during the 45-minute drive north I had at least two contractions. Once we arrived the midwife checked me out and told me things indeed looked fine. I was dilated a whole whopping half of a centimeter. She was encouraging and hopeful, even still, that our little girl would be coming sometime soon.
Across the street from the office is a big beautiful park, so Joe and I set out to walk around it. Just to see if things would pick up. We did one lap hand in hand and my legs felt so tired I told Joe that I really needed to take a break. We headed back to the car with my contractions still sporadic but definitely coming. Next we went to Trader Joes to stockpile a few final things for the girls, and I only had one or two small contractions while there. With that we decided to head on home, pray, and wait.
The girls went down for naps shortly after we got home. The contractions began to come a bit more frequently and many of them much more intense. Yet still nothing that made us believe we should jump in the car. I called my former doula who agreed that I should rest if my body was telling me to do so, and so I tried.
I couldn't sleep for the excitement so I clicked around on the computer, watched a little "Pride and Prejudice," and read over and over my verses of truth while Joe took care of me and feverishly worked to get a big project caught up. By early evening we knew that even though everything wasn't exactly time worthy, it was getting close.
We called our same neighbor and within minutes she and our back-up neighbor arrived. I gave the girls, who both love animals, a movie gift I had been saving... "Diego's Jaguar Rescue Adventure." They were beyond thrilled at such a special treat! Our friends fed them a carpet picnic while Joe and I took a walk around the neighborhood. I just wanted to see if things would pick up consistently before we made the drive.
About fifteen feet into the walk, we knew it was time to get going. Every three feet or so I had to sway through yet another contraction. Several neighbors stopped to wish us well, to tell us they were praying, to let us know they were there if we needed anything. We treasured up all that encouragement and headed back to our cul-de-sac.
I left some final instructions, fought back tears again to hug and kiss the girls, and called my parents to tell them it was time. Mom cried and prayed for us. Dusk was settling as we pulled out of the drive. I could see the light on in the playroom over the garage where the girls were being treated to pink pedicures, popcorn, and "Cinderella." We rolled down the windows and listened to the worship songs as I breathed through each hard contraction. Something about the evening breeze, the words of truth, the knowing that she was probably coming. It was one of those times you just know you'll never forget.
Once we got to Vanderbilt, we were trying to find the parking garage and the contractions were peaking. Joe started to ask me questions about the detour signs, as they were reflective and hard for him and his tricky eyesight to read when I barked back, "Are you serious? I'm the one in labor!!" Needless to say, the pain was starting to cloud the nostalgia a bit. :)
Thankfully, we quickly found the right garage and made our way inside. My bladder was about to burst so Joe found me a lady's room asap; then I was able to calm down so we could make it to check in on the fourth floor.
Being with the midwife practice, I didn't have to do the standard check-in which was a God-send. They got me back to a room quickly where I got into my gown and the attending nurse took my vitals. My contractions seemed to slow down, and I thought to myself what a bummer that would be to still only be at half a centimeter! When the midwife and her apprentice came in to check, though, I was joyful to hear the verdict... 4 cm! Active labor had indeed begun! This would be the time, after all.
When the midwives left me to go check on other patients they had suggested that I try to rest all that I could. I agreed as I still felt so tired. Not thirty minutes after their leaving my room, though, my body kicked it into high gear again. HIGH gear!
The rest of the labor and delivery can be described as hard. And healing. A combo that I've learned often go hand in hand, especially when the end result is nothing short of miraculous. And beautiful... very, very beautiful.
Joe immediately started playing our songs, quoting scripture from our book, praying for God to give me strength, encouraging me to breathe and believe. I tried my typical methods of pain management... swaying, rocking, leaning in to "dance" with Joe. I was too tired, and it seemed my legs would not hold up. I tried our birthing ball... still, no relief. The midwife suggested the rocker padded with pillows. It was there that I spent 95% of the labor.... rocking, holding onto Joe and them, stretching out and vocalizing when each contraction would hit the maximum, repositioning once a short break would come.
At one point they were coming so hard and so fast that I began to hyperventilate a little, which scared me as we all know how prone I am to passing out. After I slowed down and got things under control I asked Joe out of a place of fear, "I will get to go home, won't I?" and then I began to sob. All I could think about was climbing into our bed piled high with books and reading to the girls. Joe assured me that, of course, I would go home and he began to cry too.
I spent a good portion of this labor letting go of fear and past memories, crying, letting healing happen. Then I told them all I needed some relief and I needed it NOW... as in go hunt down anesthesia and give them your right limb if you have to! :)
They assured me that I was so close, but the level of pain did little to help me believe them. The midwife suggested we check in again, and sure enough I was right at the door. She had just begun to also recommend we break my water when I had a contraction to beat all contractions and my water literally broke like some kind of Olympic event. They had never seen anything like it! It was God's emphatic exclamation point to our prayers, and then I had the most wonderful three or four minute lull I have ever known.
During this time I centered myself, surrounded in truth, and shoved fear out of the way. God would give me the strength to see my little girl and soon... Philippians 4:13. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!
As the music continued to softly play and everyone got into position I rested quietly and securely in His grace. Fear was gone. Then came the urge to push. The midwife and I communicated well, and in the peace I kept going until I heard the words I had been waiting almost nine months to hear...
She's here... and she's perfect!
Joe and I cried again and marveled at her dark hair, her olive complexion... her striking resemblance to our first born. Joe made me feel like I had basically hung the moon as did those attending the birth. The midwife's apprentice told me through glassy eyes that she had attended nearly sixty births and this is the one that really had her in tears. This love and encouragement was especially beautiful to me because of some afterward complications that required a specialist and almost two more hours of holding on.
Finally we were back to our post-partum room. Phone calls were made, texts given and received, celebrations abounding! We thanked God for bringing us through, for His gift of healing, for the little one who we would come to name Alysse Maribeth Martins. Believing she will speak truth and be a woman after God's own heart, very much like our mothers for whom her middle name is a combination.
As I look down at her right now nursing in my arms, warm against my own body I can't imagine that there was a time she wasn't here. I know she was destined before the foundations of the earth to be in our family, and I feel honored to be her Mama. Her Daddy and sisters certainly agree.
Welcome to the World
Beautiful Alysse Maribeth
"God's honest disciple"
Born at 3:26 am on May 22nd
9 lbs. 8 oz.
I was delighted, two weeks ago, to have received the 'early labor phone call' of a dear friend. I invite you to read her story below: