It was July 22nd and I was exactly 41 weeks. I was open to trying some things to encourage labor to begin, so at my appointment that day I asked my midwife Haley to do a membrane sweep. After the sweep, I wasn’t confident that anything would come of it, but given that I was already 41 weeks, there was some hope. I went on about my day, feeling a little more crampy and uncomfortable than normal, but I didn’t think anything of it.
As per usual, after my older two kiddos were asleep, I got in bed that evening to watch our nightly episodes of The Office. Also as per usual, I fell asleep during the second one. I woke at about 10:45pm to the end credits of the second episode and the sound of my husband Jared telling some ridiculous dad jokes. It was then that I felt what I now know was the first real labor contraction. I’d had random ones before, but only one here and there, hours or days apart. Then I felt another one. And another. Jared started timing them (after he stopped telling dad jokes), and we quickly realized these were coming about 5-7 minutes apart. We called Erica, the midwife on call, at about 11pm and together decided that it would be best to come in to the birth center to at least be checked. This was my third baby, after all, and my last labor was only five hours, start to finish. We had a 45 minute drive ahead of us, and neither Jared nor I were thrilled with the idea of a car baby. I did think about laboring in the shower for a little bit before we left, and Jared even turned it on, but after having sat on the toilet for a couple minutes, I decided we just needed to get going. I called my doula, Beth, and my photographer, Brooke (who also happens to be a doula). Once my parents arrived at our house so my dad could stay with my older two and my mom could ride with us, we headed out.
As soon as we got in the car I started my labor playlist. Music has always been very important to me, especially worship music. I had a carefully curated list of songs that were reminders of how God has been faithful to me through different eras of my life, songs that brought me back to different encounters with Him. We spent the 50 minute ride to the birth center listening and worshipping while my mom reached over the front seat to put counter pressure on my back during a contraction. It wasn’t the worst ride I’ve ever had in a car, so I had some hope that labor would be more manageable than expected. It wouldn’t exactly turn out to be that way, but it would absolutely be one of the best nights of my life.
We arrived around 12:30am and went straight to my favorite room, the blue room. I was thrilled. Brooke was there and Beth was almost there. When I was checked, though, I was only two centimeters and 50% effaced. I was disappointed, but I knew what was happening with my body and I had seen so many other women progress quickly from this point, one of the advantages of being a doula. I labored in so many different positions... on the bed with a peanut ball, switched sides a couple times, on the birth ball, standing up, and on the toilet. Two hours later, around 2:30am, there was still no change. My heart sank. I was tired. I couldn’t do it anymore, or so I thought. I kept telling Erica and Beth and pretty much everyone else in the room that I couldn’t do it and that I needed something. Anything. I was starting to lose control. I was experiencing back labor, which is incredibly difficult to work through. Mentally, this isn’t what I had prepared for and it caught me off guard, even though I’d had it with my youngest son. Beth, who was my doula with my last labor, knew exactly what to do. I said, “I can’t do this…” She got in my face and said something along the lines of, “Lindsay, get it together. You ARE doing this!” I’m the type of person that needs some tough love during labor, and Beth has always come through for me in that regard. Mommas, get you a doula who knows what you need!!
Two more hours went by. More really, really hard work. At one point, probably while I was on the toilet (because the toilet is the best and the worst place to labor…), we even discussed a shot of phenergan. Erica told me that I’d need to be checked and that if I got the phenergan I’d need to be pretty much on my way to wherever I was going to go, meaning not at the birth center. I thought to myself “Oh heck no. I’m not going anywhere!” After so much encouragement and support from everyone, I was checked again (after three more contractions… it’s hard to lay on your back during labor!) and had made it to 6 centimeters!! Jared says at this point my whole demeanor changed, and I felt it. It was about 3:45 or 4am at this point. And boy did things escalate!
I asked to have the pool filled up because I really wanted to labor in the water. I spent about five contractions on the side of the bed before being told there was enough water in the pool for me to get in, but I would never make it into the water. I had a contraction that caused me to want to push, and I did! When I said “I’m pushing!” everyone was like “Well you either need to lay back or stand up because that baby isn’t going to come out with you sitting like that!” So I stood. And I pushed. And in 7 minutes, at 4:17 am, my baby girl made her way into this world with her hand right next to her face and the words “All of the glory, all of the glory is Yours, is Yours, is Yours, is Yours… You are worthy of it all” playing in the room. Erica handed her to me through my legs, and I just couldn’t believe it. She was here! I did it! WE had done it! After a few minutes, someone looked over at the tub and realized that no one had turned the water off. We narrowly avoided flooding the birth room! After a little cleanup, we spent the next several hours just enjoying each other. We were headed home about six hours after welcoming our daughter into the world.
I had made a prayer list prior to giving birth of things that I felt like I wanted for my labor and delivery. A lot of those things were granted, but not all of them. One of those things was to be well rested when labor starts so I would have the energy to make it through without any medication. Babies are born healthy and mamas feel empowered all the time when utilizing epidurals or other forms of medication in their labor, but this was a path I felt called to take. Not to prove my worth or come out on the other side as some sort of warrior goddess, but truly because I felt called to. I asked God one day shortly after the birth why He decided to allow me to labor overnight, since exhaustion was one of the main players in my asking for some form of pain relief, and that with only having labored for a couple hours. In that moment, He so very clearly spoke to me and said, “Because I needed you to come to the end of yourself.” And that I did. There was absolutely zero of my own energy left but every ounce of Him. My mom later commented that it felt so peaceful in the room, even when I was navigating a contraction and being anything but quiet or peaceful. It was HIS presence that filled the room and sustained me.
I had the best of the best on my support team… my husband Jared, my mom Janice, my doula Beth, my photographer Brooke, my midwife Erica, and my birth assistant Abbi. But the one person I couldn’t have done it without is my Jesus. His Spirit carried me through one of the most transformational events of my life. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
“All of the glory, all of the glory is Yours, is Yours, is Yours, is Yours!”