Thank you so much, strong and patient mama, for sharing this incredibly beautiful and captivating birth story. It was such an honor to walk this journey with you, and help you welcome this sweet babe into your family.
It had taken me a good long while to adjust to the idea of this pregnancy. I was blessed with 2 beautiful, healthy, happy kids and I felt that could truly be enough for us. The year prior to getting pregnant I would watch my kids playing and at times get overwhelmed with this feeling that there was someone missing. I saw a third in this sibling group, a little girl was supposed to be running with them. I didn’t know if our life would ever make sense to have a third, so tried my best to push that feeling aside when it presented itself. So, when we found out that a little spirit had joined us, I wasn’t shocked but I sure had a lot of questions about how we were going to make this work.
Having been through this twice before, I found myself surprised by how ill prepared I felt in the weeks leading up to the birth. This pregnancy had been a time of incredible transition for our family in so many aspects, I tried really hard not to lose sight of the fact that we were also needing to make room for another little person. I had spent months in yoga preparing my body and mind; we had spent the whole pregnancy finding the right birthing team and I felt like we were very successful. I was going into this birth with the most amazing woman lined up to support me. I felt as though I had a fool proof plan! But I still felt unprepared. I couldn’t pin the exact reason, but was feeling alone – not ready but totally ready to be done all at the same time. I was missing my mother who had passed away since my last birth and I simply didn’t know how I was going to do this without her. Not just deliver this baby, but to be a mother to 3. She had always been my go-to and I didn’t know what to do without my main resource for all things mothering. I felt so prepared and at a complete loss all at the same time.
I had made the mistake of deciding baby would be arriving early. I have no idea why I made this decision. My first two pregnancies both surpassed their guess dates by several days and this babe had given me no indications that this time would be any different. My son’s birthday is also in October, so I thought baby having its own birth month would be helpful as the kids grew up. I had chosen September 30th to be the day babe should arrive. It felt like a good day. But the 30th came and went. I was still pregnant on October 1st. I got over this fact relatively quickly, telling myself that there was still almost a full week before the ultrasound guess date and 10 solid days before the real guess date…so the 30th really seemed silly to get my hopes up on. I wrapped up work on Friday October 4th, incredibly grateful to be done and eager to get to meeting baby. We hadn’t found out gender and this pregnancy was truly different from each of my others. I was eager to put the guessing to rest and meet this little one! Surly you would be coming SOON! I tried to enjoy that weekend as much as I could without feeling anxious. We were almost to the 6th! And therefore that seemed much more reasonable that baby should be coming! Alas, the 6th came and went and I woke up on the 7th – still pregnant. I woke up uncomfortable. I was having prodromal labor pains that were waking me during the night. Hard to sleep through, hard to re-position. Each and every day I was slowed with these contractions. Uncomfortable, irregular and what I was convinced were unproductive. As the days went by and there was no change – I started to lose hope. I felt the days of my maternity leave ticking by and my sweet baby was no where near being in my arms. I met with Kate on the 9th. Days into erratic pains and little sleep but still a day before THE guess date. She did her best to offer comfort and understanding, but again my patience was gone. I wanted my baby. I didn’t want to be pregnant anymore. I tried so hard to be stoic at that appointment, to not sob the tears I was holding in. I felt so silly to be this impatient when my date hadn’t even come up yet. I wanted to be patient, I really did. I wanted to allow my baby the time he/she needed to develop and come when ready…but my patience was wearing THIN. I left Kate’s office on the 9th quite certain I was never having this baby. Kate offered her gentle reassurance that she almost NEVER needs a 41 wk appointment sheet, so she was pretty confident she would be seeing me before then – but I challenged that statement in my head, I was going to be pregnant forever.
I had started to get specs of doubt in my body and its ability. Why why WHY was my body giving me all this erratic pain and not doing a damn thing?! It hadn’t done this before! This was my third pregnancy and nothing was like it had been before. Was this birth going to be has difficult as my last? More difficult? The memories of my son’s birth kept popping in and out of my head, day and night. I had tried to have him at home also, but I just couldn’t do it. My body stalled at his birth, after after 15 hours, 6 or so at 8cm I had waved my white flag and asked to go the hospital. I knew I had given it my all, but I felt like a failure. He was born a short while later, healthy and beautiful – but not at home. I was so confused as why his birth was so much more difficult than my first. Everyone talked about how the second usually goes so much more quickly – easy! This was not my experience. I told myself over and over that each birth is different, each child has their own journey and story. My heart knew and believed this to be true; but my head was having a hard time buying it. What if my body couldn’t do this? What if this labor stalled again? I know I didn’t have it in me to labor like that again, I simply couldn’t.
THE guess day arrived! The 10th! It was here! And I was still pregnant. I had lost a little more hope than the day before. I did everything I knew I was supposed to do. I walked the lake every morning, got adjusted, went to yoga. I couldn’t have asked for more gorgeous surroundings during this time. This whole week was perfect MN fall. Crisp colors, cool air, bright sunshine. And every morning, I still woke up pregnant. On Saturday the 12th I was overcome with sadness. I had wasted 1 full week of maternity leave and still had no baby in my arms. I felt myself shutting out the world. The non stop texts and facebook posts “No baby YET?!” – I was being reminded everyday of the obvious and I simply couldn’t take it anymore. On Monday, the 14th, I declared that I would be one of the lone souls that needed that 41 wk appointment sheet at Kate’s. My phone ‘pinged’ and I reluctantly checked the message. It was an email from Kate. Sending love and warm thoughts. Encouraging me to be in this place with my baby because my baby needed me to be there with them. Attached was this article. I read the article and sat in my living room and finally cried. The sobs I had been holding back since the previous Wednesday. I held my hands to belly and did my best to let go. Let go of everything I was fearful of because this baby’s story did not have to be a repeat of it’s brother’s and I had to allow him/her to create it all on their own. I went to bed that night feeling a bit more at peace. The sarcastic survivalist in me held onto the mantra that this was never going to happen, but I fell asleep that night for the first time in a week not fully believing it.
At about 4:30 I was awoken with a contraction. It was a new contraction, not full blown like I know labor to be, but definitely a stronger statement than anything the week before offered. About 15 minutes later, there was another one! I did my best to rest, dozing in between, but they continued – steadily 15 minutes apart until the the rest of the house woke up. I got up and went about the day. Mid morning things were continuing, not picking up but staying the same. 15 minutes apart and feeling productive – FINALLY. I touched base with Kate mid morning and my doula, Brook. Nothing was really changing, I was starting to lose hope. Around lunch I mustered the motivation to take a walk, I knew I had to. The fresh air was beautiful. It was a cloudy day, drizzly and cool but the fresh air was incredible, I remember that. I got home and laid down. The walk didn’t make a difference either, so I had resigned that today would not be the day either. About 2:30 Kate called to check in, she was heading to a home visit so just wanted to let me know she would be a little further away than normal should anything pick up. “Go” I said. “I don’t think anything is changing today”. I had a contraction while on the phone with Kate, it didn’t feel like it had been 15 minutes since the last one, but I was sidetracked with the conversation. I remember Kate’s sweet voice “OK, well call me if anything changes. Sometimes changes happen real slow, and sometimes things change real real fast”. I promised her I would. We hung up and 2 minutes later I had a contraction. This one threw me over the side of the bed. WOW – I was NOT expecting that! 2 minutes later, I had another one and another one and another one. Hope had been rekindled!!! I made my way into the shower. Tried to relax and let the water cover my belly. I couldn’t stay in there too long because the contractions continued at a 2 minute pace and were growing in strength. I made my way out, got some fresh clothes and tied my hair up. I remember thinking: I can’t get to the stairs to get Kevin! Kevin had been doing an amazing job keeping the two big kids downstairs with him while he worked but I felt like it was time, I needed him with me – but I couldn’t get to him! I sent him a text to please come up. He arrived quickly and stayed with me for a few more contractions, I was needing his counter pressure on my hips now. I was swaying and singing quietly, I could not get comfortable. About 3:30 I knew it was time to call the team. I couldn’t think to call, I spent my couple minutes between contractions resting and trying to regroup. I felt myself slipping into “the zone” very quickly. I heard Kevin on the phone with Kate and quick follow up call to Brook, it was time! The house grew chaotic, it was getting hard to focus. The big kids were informed that today was the day, their excitement was piercing. Kate arrived and did a wonderful job rounding them up with helping set up the tub while I waited for my sister in law to come and collect them. I just remember feeling like this was the show and I needed it to be quiet, and quiet NOW. I heard my sister in law arrive, more squeals and giggles from the kids and in mere seconds of the door closing behind them, it was like a vacuum of peace filled the house. Brook arrived soon there after. I remember placing my hands on belly and telling baby “this is it!” I had moved off the birth ball into the bathroom with Brook for several contractions. I was over come with heat, uncomfortable heat. I didn’t want anything on anymore. I was instantly exhausted. I remember feeling like this was moving really fast, it was too early to feel this exhausted. I moved back to the bedroom and laid in bed. The bed had been transformed and I remember laying there feeling that it had never felt more comfortable. My first thoughts of fear crept in. I was exhausted. Contractions were fast and furious and I was simply exhausted. I was just starting and simply didn’t know how I could do this for 10,12 – 15 more hours?! I laid there for I don’t know how long, but I did my best to breathe. Deep long breaths with each wave. The room had grown dark. A soft light was on. I had lost all track of time. I had been informed that Kate’s assistant Kelly had arrived. My dearest friend had also arrived, everyone was there: we just needed baby. I remember opening my eyes and in the softly lit room seeing Kate’s peaceful face smile at me from the corner. “You are doing amazing, Carrie. Just amazing” I heard her say, and I would close my eyes and go back in the zone.
After awhile I was getting words of encouragement to change position. I had been there a long time and it was time to move. I was not a fan of this idea. I did not want to move, I was good where I was! But the encouragement continued, so I compromised and rolled to my other side – this appeased the crowd. Brook and Kevin were a truly amazing team together. I could not have continued on without Kevin’s incredible pressure on my hips and heat to my low back. Brook took my hand with each contraction and was the strong voice of reassurance: stay with your breath Carrie, just breathe. Rumblings among the team was that it was time to get in the tub. Encouragement that it would help with the pressure, it would be warm: a position change would be so good right now. I simply wasn’t interested. I heard Kate ask – Carrie, are you OK having your baby in bed then? I answered YES. I was certain that I was no where near ready for the tub, it was too early. I was scared it would slow things down as it had each time before. As the contractions kept coming I was losing my grip. Exhaustion prevailed and I simply did not think I could go on. I remember crying out that if this isn’t transition I couldn’t keep going. I let Kate check me, which I didn’t think I was going to want, but I needed something – SOMETHING to give me hope. “At least an 8” I remember those words. “You’re at least an 8 Carrie, I really think its time to think about getting into the tub – it will help with all pressure from baby’s head”. My heart sank a bit in that moment. 8. This is where my body stalled last time. This was the point I had given up last time…
I labored a bit longer. I heard whispers and side talk – “HOW ARE WE GOING TO GET HER INTO THE TUB?!” I knew they knew it was time but I simply couldn’t bring myself to move. Awhile later I was told I had to go to the bathroom. I didn’t want to move, but this suggestion seemed logical to me, more so than the tub, so I agreed. Brook walked me through the dark hall. I hovered over the toilet in the dark for 1-2 contractions and then I felt it, heard the burst. OH THANK GOD I thought, my water broke! As I walked out of the bathroom something in me said – YOU NEED TO TURN LEFT. GET IN THE TUB NOW. So I pushed across Brook gently to turn her toward our living room and I reached the tub under her support. I got in the water and sank onto my knees. OH MY GOD! RELIEF!! The water felt SO amazing. Warm and soothing, heavenly. My first contraction in the water felt 100x worse than all the others. I didn’t know how I was going to keep going. The next one came and my body just pushed. I pushed with every ounce I had. Once that contraction passed I simply decided I could not keep going. I looked up and looked at my dearest friend of 25 years, I shook my head, I said the words: I’m done, I can’t do this. She touched my hand and whispered: Yes, you can. You will. The next contraction came and I was determined that this would be it! And out came the head! I felt my body jump up from the water in response to the sensation. My hips were quickly covered in gentle hands to cue me to stay submerged so baby stayed submerged. What felt like an eternity later, my next contraction came and I pushed out my precious precious baby into Papa’s hands. I reached through my legs to pull her forward, untangled the cord from her neck a few times and laid her on my chest. In that moment we met our baby GIRL! Oh God, she was gorgeous! And my first thoughts were of me eldest, how she would be so incredibly thrilled to have a baby sister! I was so overwhelmed with joy it is a blur. I leaned back to kiss Kevin, he was crying. Our third child and he had never cried before, but he was crying. October 15th at 7:54pm our baby girl had decided THAT was her moment to enter this world. And she picked her perfect moment. I simply couldn’t believe it. After all those moments and thoughts spent in fear over a repeat long labor, our little girl came cruising earthside in 4.5 hours!
These moments of bliss were fleeting. Kate moved in to do her initial assessment. Our little girl didn’t look great. She was so calm and beautiful to me, I was mesmerized. But I knew in the back of my head, she wasn’t giving us the cry Kate was looking for. After a bit, it was decided that it was time to go the hospital. My heart sank. I knew my baby fine, I didn’t want to leave, but I knew she wasn’t reacting the way we needed her too to stay home. Kate said it was time to go and I trusted her so we went. Baby never fussed. She looked quietly and contently at met. She stayed on my chest the whole way to the hospital. In the ER, the moment they took her off my chest and laid her on the exam table – she landed. The scream that came out of our baby girls lungs was loud and clear and BEAUTIFUL. I thought to myself: if only you had done that a half hour ago!!! We stayed a couple of hours. Allowed some tests to be run and everything came back all clear. Kevin and I were so incredibly grateful that our whole team joined us in support at the hospital. We finally crawled into our bed about 2 am, Kate tucked us in, started my postpartum herbs and left the three of us to be.
We hadn’t agreed on a name prior to meeting our girl. We had two front runners, my husband and I each leaning a different way. At the hospital I had over heard Kevin telling folks he knew her name. He declared he knew it the moment he saw her. I had laughed to myself thinking no way, I am naming her like I had named the others! So there we lay, in our bed, in the quiet of night and I ask “So what’s her name then?” He teared up again and surprised me: Tennyson. It wasn’t either of our front runners but a name he had turned down for our girl list earlier in the pregnancy. But that night my husband had declared that this was who he knew her to be, and he was right. Tennyson is the only name I could picture on the perfect little face. In the book I had found it in it meant Storyteller. And it felt most fitting. Her pregnancy was such a lesson for me in patience. In allowing the pregnancy be about her and not me or my previous experiences. Her name felt right for the babe who was intent on making it her story, her way, from conception through pregnancy to birth and beyond. She is the calming spirit who completes our family. The little girl spirit I felt following my kids the year before, had made her entrance and we simply could not be more thrilled.