With the birth of our 4th child quickly approaching (9 days til the due date!) we thought it would be fun to share the births of our 3 other children and build up the anticipation just a little bit more 😉
Also, our oldest is the only one who ever had a blog post anyway, so this gives us a chance to make up for never sharing the other two (such is life with multiple children, yes??)
Abby wrote this blog post 6 years ago and we thought we’d just share it as it was, with a little updating on the photos.
We hadn’t hired a birth photographer, but we brought our camera to the hospital, naively assuming Brandon could grab a few photos 😉
He did actually take some, but our sweet nurse actually asked if she could pick up the camera for us and grab a few! She enjoyed photography and was comfortable enough with a DSLR camera to at least “snap a few”. We are so grateful she did and while these photos aren’t “magical” by any means, they certainly are precious to us!
Mom’s love to share their birth stories. They also love to scare you with comments like “Just you wait”.
I’d like to say “Just you wait” but for a different reason. Just you wait for the incredible feeling of bringing a life into this world. Just you wait to see the amazing things your body can do. Just you wait to feel a connection to baby as you work together to accomplish this feat. Just you wait to join the millions of other women who have brought life into this world. Just you wait to understand, like you never could before, how much your own mother loves you, what a connection she felt to you, why she acts like only a mom can act. Just you wait, to experience giving birth in your own special way. Without drugs, with drugs, in a tub, on a bed, on a stool, at home, in a hospital, with a doctor, with a midwife, cesarean or vaginal.
Don’t let others scare you or make you feel that it has to be just one way. It is your own story.
January 11. I was 5 days overdue and, considering we had thought we might sneak this baby in before the New Year, it really felt more like 2 weeks overdue! But that seems to be how most women feel towards the end of pregnancy. At 37 weeks they tell you “Well, it could be anytime now”. So you pack your bags, you prepare your home, you do all the laundry and stock up on food…then 4 weeks later there is still no baby, the laundry has since piled higher than Mount Everest, and the food you stocked up on has now landed in the garbage because you forgot to eat it and the smell it was now producing rendered it useless for human consumption.
Okay, to be honest I didn’t pack my bag until sometime in the 39th week. And even then they weren’t fully packed because I was still wearing the yoga pants and tank tops I wanted to take with me. But I did make a list of all the things I needed to add to the bag before we left for the hospital, surprising myself with how organized I was, for once in my life.
And I’m pretty sure the only preparation I made to our home was cleaning our room a couple weeks prior and setting up the little sleeping rocker our baby would be using when we returned home. I recall the less than perfect condition our home was in because when we did return from the hospital I suddenly felt like all I could see was a germ infested slum hole and immediately felt the need to return to the sparkly clean hospital room where everything seemed safer. (In retrospect, we might have had a few dirty dishes and some random things strewn about from our preparation to go to the hospital, but I’d just given birth so hormones are wacky and my new mom eyes viewed everything as dangerous for my fresh little person).
So, back to being 1 week overdue and about the 4th week of wondering if this might be the day Baby arrives.
It was Saturday morning and I was dipping buckeyes (a delicious treat we usually make for Christmas, but I ran out of time). I felt a few contractions but had been feeling them here and there the last few days so I tried not to get hopeful.
That afternoon my mom and I headed to Herberger’s to do a little shopping in the baby section…there were some coupons to use up and we were getting so anxious for baby to come that looking at baby clothes seemed like a fun distraction. While we were shopping I felt contractions coming more frequently and definitely stronger. Enough that I had to stand still and breathe through them. I did all this without letting Mom know what was going on because I didn’t want to get her hopes up in case it wasn’t real. I was starting to feel uncomfortable and wanted to head home, but didn’t want to give away to Mom what was happening, so I tried to seem nonchalant when she asked if I was ready to go home.
Mom dropped me off at home at about 3:00 pm. Brandon was upstairs working on the baby’s room (which, for the record, is still not done…like I said…not the most prepared people) so I started timing my contractions, stopping frequently to lean on the wall and breathe through them. They were 5 minutes apart! I interrupted Brandon’s work to tell him he should probably take a shower now. We both tried to keep our excitement down, still wondering if this could be the real thing.
While Brandon showered I pulled up my list on my phone and started packing which took 3 times as long since every 5 minutes I had to stop for about a minute to breathe through a contraction. I tried to eat some crackers, knowing I wouldn’t be eating once we got to the hospital.
After Brandon was done with his shower and ready to go we called the hospital. They asked if my water had broken, which it had not, and then told us to stay home for now and check back in an hour. So, Brandon heated up some food for supper and I called my mom and told her she better eat as well because it looked as though she’d have to head to the hospital pretty soon (we had asked her to join us in the delivery room). After eating, Brandon thought he better hook the car seat up in the car (again, super prepared we were not).
Around 5:45 pm we thought my water broke so we called the hospital and told them we’d be coming. We packed up our bags, put Myla (our dog) in her kennel and headed for the hospital.
We checked in and headed up to The Birth Place. It took awhile since I insisted on walking, trying to encourage baby to come any way I could. They settled us in a delivery room and hooked me up to the monitors to watch the contractions and hear that beautiful heartbeat. They also checked and told me my water had not broken and I was dilated 1 whole centimeter…visions of a never-ending labor ran through my head. I stayed on the monitors for the next half hour while they decided if they would send me home or not.
Before anyone had to decide, my water broke (about 7 pm), so we were staying.
Water breaking is the strangest feeling. Everyone happened to have left the room so I was all alone for about a minute. During that minute I heard a pop and then out gushed the water. I didn’t know what to do. I felt like I should be getting up and running for the bathroom, but I was hooked up to monitors and if I had gotten up it would have just made more of a mess. So I just laughed and called out to Brandon, who was somewhere in the hall, to tell the nurse that my water had broken. Now the fun would begin.
The very next contraction hit me like a steam roller. I couldn’t talk, smile, or even open my eyes. I have been asked, “what does a contraction feel like?” I, myself, asked this same question in the past and it’s very hard to give a good answer. It is it’s own pain, it’s own feeling. Nothing feels the same so there is nothing to compare it with. For me, each wave that hit reminded me that I was one more contraction down, one contraction closer to having my baby.
I had previously read only one blog about giving birth naturally and tips to do so. After reading it I decided I didn’t want to read anymore…no reason to scare myself, I’d have to give birth whether I wanted to or not. But she did have some helpful ideas. She suggested walking as much as you can. When a contraction hits, try to relax and let your body do what it is supposed to do. In between contractions completely relax every muscle in your body and rest. Close your eyes and fall asleep even.
I sat in a chair by the bed. As each contraction came and pressed my feet against the bed rung and leaned back into the chair. I breathed deep breaths in through my nose and out through my mouth (I definitely sounded like Darth Vader). I consciously relaxed my muscles as much as I could. And I picked a different hymn or worship song to sing in my head, giving me something to concentrate on besides the pain.
To everyone else around me I looked like I was in a bit of a trance. I would hardly open my eyes between contractions (this is how I deal with physical pain or sickness…keep the eyes closed, it somehow seems better), and I answered questions with nods of the head or “mhmm”. After each contraction finished I purposely relaxed every single muscle, allowing my body to rest, which seriously works. This continued for the next 2 hours.
Around 9 pm my midwife, Chillon, checked to see how far I was dilated. I was at 6 cm! We were moving along quickly. I could get into the tub now. It took quite the progression from the bathroom to the tub. No one tells you that you when you use the bathroom it takes 10 times as long since you are getting hit with contractions every couple of minutes. But I was finally able to get into the tub.
It was comfortable in there, I could move/float around freely while contractions hit me. About 10:00 pm a contraction hit me and I knew I needed to push. After a couple pushes there was an unusually long wait between contractions…close to 4 or 5 minutes, I think.
As I mentioned above, I was relaxing completely between every contraction…so much that I actually fell asleep in the tub during this extended wait. Apparently, I scared everyone a little as I went limp and just laid there, not responding.
But have no fear, the next contraction hit and you can believe I was awake for that one! I believe that pause was my transition into the real pushing contractions. So, I pushed with each contraction listening to the coaching from my midwife, each time coming closer to the end. 20 minutes of pushing and out came our baby. Brandon brought her up out of the water and onto my chest.
We couldn’t believe it! A girl! We were so certain we were having a boy. This was the ultimate surprise and we loved it!
Brandon cut her cord and carried her over to get cleaned up. My mom and Chillon helped me out of the tub and back to the bed to deliver the afterbirth and get some stitches (fun fun).
Brandon is the most curious person I know. He asks questions about EVERYTHING. It’s great, really, because I get to learn so much just being a bystander. So, knowing this, Chillon showed us the placenta and we looked at it, studied it, she showed us the blood spot that we had been watching throughout the whole pregnancy to be sure it wasn’t something serious…it was a very interesting couple of minutes.
She was here, 6 lbs. 11 oz. and 19.5 in. long. Brown hair and beautiful, blue eyes.
Reagan Aileen Johnson.
January 14, 2020
“Because when you stop and look around, this life is pretty amazing.”
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