I started having contractions on Saturday (April 4th) evening. They were mild but regular. They faded away for a few hours, but I woke up around 2 AM on Palm Sunday morning with more contractions that were a bit more intense.
That Sunday the contractions continued off and on, but I didn’t really get serious until the afternoon. We decided to meet my parents near the hospital so they could pick up the girls. Dave and I didn’t want to be stuck in the hospital, so we headed outdoors to enjoy the lovely spring day and I walked around, stopping to breathe through contractions. When I’d have a particularly intense contraction, I’d immediately think about how it was Palm Sunday. In fact, as I recently shared, this pregnancy and birth has made my Lent and Easter season so much more meaningful.
When I started to get really serious, we decided it was time to call my midwife. I was admitted to the hospital at 1:45 PM (she arrived shortly thereafter) and discovered I was 7 cm. I knew very little about the hospital since we’d learned only the day before that we’d be delivering there.
The nurses immediately wanted to hook me up to monitoring, something I don’t like. I don’t know how women endure labor when they’re strapped to a bed.
Confined to the bed and monitor, my contractions immediately slowed down but when they came, they were much more difficult to get through. As soon as my midwife arrived, she took off the monitoring belts and told me I could walk around (she’s a Godsend!). She proceeded to show Dave how putting pressure on my hips would ease some of the pain I was experiencing from back labor (I had back labor pain with my first as well).
Before long I was 8 to 9 cm with a bulging bag. At this point, my midwife suggested breaking my bag of waters. While I’m a stickler for not having any medically unnecessary interventions during labor and birth, I did decide to consent to this after talking to my husband and midwife – both of whom I greatly trust.
My water broke and the contractions were immediately more intense. Amazingly, I had Mary Elizabeth less than 10 minutes later. Just before her birth, I doubled over with my most painful contraction and my midwife (who is Catholic) gently squeezed my hand and whispered, “Offer it up.” She then told me to push if I felt the urge to do so. I did push. I was still standing at this point. She suggested we pray a “Hail Mary” but before we could begin, I gasped, “She’s here.”
Our own Mary was actually already crowning. One more intense contraction and a big push later, and they were telling me to pull her onto my chest. I reached down and touched my baby for the first time, pulling her onto my chest. That’s when the tears came. I couldn’t stop crying. It was such a beautiful blur. I didn’t even have time to prepare myself for the pushing stage. The nurses told me I’d pushed for about one minute before she literally popped out.
The hospital staff was wonderful and allowed me to snuggle skin to skin with Mary Elizabeth for quite some time before they performed her newborn assessment. She latched on easily and nursed for about 15 minutes almost immediately after being born. Meanwhile, I continued to cry while my husband stood by our side, watching over his girls.
I have so much to be thankful for – a beautiful birth experience; a supportive and amazing husband turned third-time dad; a skillful, faith-filled, and compassionate midwife who regards her work as a sacred vocation given to her by God himself; a healthy baby who’s a nursing champ; two proud big sisters; the gift of motherhood; and an unforgettable Palm Sunday, Lenten journey, and an Easter where “new life” took on a whole new meaning as I held our newest addition in my arms.
Mary, I am so happy to be a mother to another child. Thank you for granting me a happy and safe delivery and being there with me in my own Bethlehem. I know that you are here with me now as I mother my little girls just as you nurtured our God and creator. Mary, I joyfully praise you and thank you for my bounty of blessings! Amen.