I started having Braxton-Hicks (contractions that don’t produce a baby) around week 38 or 39. I would have them for a few hours every night, and sometimes during the day. Since I was induced with Noah at 39 weeks, I had no idea what natural labor could be like, or when it could erupt. The Braxton-Hicks definitely made me think it would be sooner rather than later. Not only was I having these contractions, but I also felt huge, was having the most ridiculous symptoms like waking up to the strongest most painful kicks I ever felt or to vomiting in my mouth. Cute, right?
I was SURE he was coming any minute.
40 weeks came. Nothing… except for a little bit of an appointment that touched some of my deepest fears for this delivery.
The midwife I met with that day told me that a lot of women go past 40, but that he’d likely come soon. In the event that he didn’t before 41 weeks, she wanted to go ahead and schedule an induction or some testing just to make sure everything is okay. That day I learned that stillbirth rate after 41 weeks increases dramatically, as does risks of c-section.
After talking it over with Scott, we went ahead and scheduled an induction for 41 weeks and 1 day. After a tough birth experience with Noah being induced, it was anxiety inducing to say the least. It was the one thing I prayed for – to go into labor naturally because of such a negative birth experience the first time around.
Though it wasn’t what I wanted, I was praying through it, trying to stay actively surrendered to God’s will and what He wanted, ultimately trusting Him more than anything else. In the end, although Noah’s birth was tough on me physically and mentally – I survived, I healed and I was fine.
The week went by so slow and so fast at the same time. The Braxton-Hicks continued, the painful kicking at night continued, all with no signs of baby. Then, day 41 came and I went on my last outing with students and made the most of my day with Noah, knowing that my time with Noah would drastically change. We went to the park that day, and I played and ran around with him… savoring each moments of his laughter where he was my number one focus.
I rifled through my hospital bag after putting Noah to bed, making sure it contained everything I needed. It felt anti-climatic to be able to be so thorough before our drive to the hospital early in the morning. I prayed the Josiah would come in the middle of the night, and then headed to bed. I didn’t even have the false contractions when I fell asleep.
I woke up to my alarm since we had to be at the hospital (which is 30 minutes away) by 6 AM for everything to get started. I was already having contractions again, but didn’t think much of it considering I’d had them for 3 weeks. We made breakfast, ate A LOT knowing I wouldn’t be eating for awhile and headed to the hospital.
There were some nurses chatting casually at the station when we got there. They let us know that it had been a slow night with no laboring mamas in the delivery area and then led us to the room where we’d stay for the next 3 days. I slipped into the hospital gown and they began hooking me up to instruments to measure Josiah’s heart rate as well as contractions before getting anything started. I looked away as they started an IV drip in my arm.
The morning was slow, they monitored me for awhile. Scott and I just did our separate reading right when we got there. I was casually reading through J.I. Packer’s Knowing God but of course was having a tough time focusing knowing what the day would hold for me. Once mine and Josiah’s vitals were cleared for induction, they started me on cervical ripening gel, the same thing that started my labor with Noah – only a little stronger and it only took an hour compared to the 12 hour gel I got when induced with him. Instead of thinking too much about it, Scott and I took the opportunity to catch up on NBC’s This is Us.
They checked everything afterward letting me know that I was dilated to 3 cm and 80% effaced which is exactly what they were looking for. My contractions were stronger and were coming fairly often, but weren’t strong enough on their own. About this time, my doula, Shalene arrived and began doing some acupressure on me to try to get things going even more before we’d have to use another intervention. We were also given time to try to increase the contractions by natural means like walking, etc. I walked around the little labor and delivery look as fast as I could for about an hour. The hour seemed like forever. I memorized the surroundings as I walked in the circle that was the Labor and Delivery unit. I put one foot in front of the other, praying for stronger contractions so I wouldn’t have to use other interventions.
6k steps and an hour of walking only got me to 3.5 centimeters, aka, not far. It was noon, and my midwife came in and wanted to talk decision making. At this point, we could continue waiting for labor, or we could do a number of other things: Pitocin, breaking water or nipple stimulation were on the table if I didn’t want to wait. She was very thorough, very kind, understanding and empathetic toward each of the choices – discussing pros and cons, making sure I knew every detail behind every intervention, etc. My care team really was incredible.
Breaking my water terrified me because I knew if we broke my water the pain of the contractions would be more intense very fast. Having the amniotic fluid around baby just helps dull the pain a little bit and I was hoping to hold on to that as long as possible.
Pitocin meant I would have to keep hooked up to an IV when moving around freely was important to me. Nipple stimulation… I had no idea what to think or expect there. Waiting? That might mean that Noah wouldn’t get to meet his little brother today.
I’m not going to lie, labor is really hard. It stinks. I was dreading it, but I knew I just wanted it over and I knew my water breaking was likely the fastest way to meet my baby, given that Noah arrived 3 hours and 15 minutes after it broke for him. I was also secretly motivated by having Noah meet his little brother on the day he was actually born. We talked it over, and we decided on breaking the water.
It wasn’t cute, it’s like involuntarily peeing yourself… a lot. More than a lot. Like… flooding yourself. And it’s warm, and just gross all around. But the contractions were instantly stronger. For some reason, breaking water was a serious emotional trigger for me and after watching a few snapchat videos of Noah… I just cried through my contractions for a little bit. It was a very emotional thing to make such a decision that I knew was going to bring on intense pain – but also allow me to meet my son.
Contractions lasted for about an hour and 45 minutes before pushing began, and pushing was maybe 15 minutes before Josiah met us. Contractions were hard… but having my doula there to push on my back for counter pressure was so helpful. She also talked to me and guided me through all the emotions that came up during my labor. Josiah’s heart rate kept dipping during every contraction which of course worried my labor team and myself. I made sure to breathe, but it didn’t really change the way he was reacting to the contractions. After awhile and confirming through the way my body was reacting, my medical team guessed that it was likely just because the contractions get so intense so fast because Noah’s heart rate did the same thing.
Pushing was much more painful this time, but the relief of birth also felt more intense and being able to hold my baby right after and appreciate it fully was just incredible. The lactation consultant appeared in my room immediately and got Josiah latched on right away. We’ve been breastfeeding without trouble ever since.
From breaking water until Josiah was born was about 2 hours total. Josiah David Anderson was born at 3:00 PM on February 7th, and his older brother got to meet him around 5 PM, just a couple hours after he was born. Watching them together was like so many dreams coming true.
We named our second son Josiah, because we love the name. However, his name in Hebrew also means “Jehovah has healed”. Back at our 20-week ultrasound, we got news that Josiah could have some medical issues and we had to return for a follow-up. The days in between were nerve-wracking and tough. We prayed through all the scenarios and mentioned that the name would fit no matter the outcome. Of course, at the follow-up, they confirmed that he was actually in fact, a healthy baby boy. Either way, we named our second baby after two great kings of the Jewish people.
We pray that he will come to know and love the Lord and remain faithful to him, just as the kings that he is named after. We love him dearly and we couldn’t be more thankful for the love and support we’ve received from friends and family as we welcomed him into our family.
Shalene Massie of Rhythm of Birth was an incredible part of this experience. She offers doula services and online birthing classes. Head over to her website to check out her services.