I want to go back, WAY BACK… back to when Paul and I found out we were pregnant with “CINCO.”
It was August of 2014 and we were all (all 6 of us) living in a 2/1 flip home of ours – while building our first “dream” home. I was awake in bed at 3am (until 7am) wide eyed and worried. Was I pregnant? I thought… oh my gosh… I think I am quite LATE. We went to pick out floors for our new home then next morning and Paul asked if I had taken THE test and I totally LIED to him. I had actually already taken it and I was indeed PREGNANT with our fifth child. I couldn’t tell him at the floor store, nor was I truly ready to drop that BOMB on him. When he asked again at home (um all 1098 soft of our temporary “space”) I said, “I am,” ran to our bed (mattresses on the floor), flopped onto it crying waiting for my mate to come scoop me up and tell me it would all be okay. BUT GUESS WHAT? He didn’t…. he stood in the living room – jaw dropped – astounded that I was carrying our CINCO. BUT… fast forward a few weeks and we were both thrilled, eager, excited and ready to add this baby CINCO to our already large and wild crew.
One of my BIGGEST fears that haunted me my entire pregnancy was CINCO’S birth. You see Pierson was a cesarean in 2003, then Parx was a VBAC induced birth in the hospital, then Edie was my at home, natural VBAC water birth baby… and then there was… LAKE… my scary cesarean birth with a crew of NICU nurses and doctors waiting to see if her life could even be saved by them. Lake’s birth was terrifying for both Paul and me. We felt somewhat out of body during the cesarean, scared, prayerful, worried and helpless during her birth. She was our severe heart defect baby who was cut out of me so that she wouldn’t endure any birth situations that could lead her to cardiac arrest. Her cesarean was painful… in all the ways you can imagine.
When I found out I was pregnant with Gwen… all I thought about was what sort of birth I would HAVE to have. Would I be forced into another cesarean? Could I have a more peaceful birth with her? What would birthing a 5th child after 2 cesareans look like?
During my pregnancy I knew that I wanted to be in the hospital since it was less than 2 years prior to my 2nd cesarean. I was so excited that our biggest hospital had a team of midwives working of them now… low intervention, mother supported, certified nurse midwives – with their awesome nurse staff … birthing babies without the eagerness to cut their mommies, force them into inductions or intervene in the natural birth process … unless it was 100% necessary or requested by the mom.
I did get have a scary moment when I was pressured to meet with the lead OB at 38 weeks gestation (per hospital rules) who tried to scare me into a caesarean asap to make the best of the situation. I remember him telling me, “Do you have kids? Do they want their mommy around? You doing a VBA2C can cause you to die or your baby (I am summarizing).” I left that meeting TICKED, SAD and 100% frustrated for women. I had faith, I read research and knew that I had already had TWO successful VBACs. He was pushing fear into my head and heart… to get me to opt for a cesarean with him. It was so so sad. Luckily I am strong and confident… and knew that I wanted to try to have Gwen as my 1st VBA2C – and naturally while also in the safety of the hospital.
I went into the midwives office at 39 weeks+ 3 days (2 days after I shot my last wedding). I talked to the midwife and she assured me that once I got close to 40 weeks – I would be pressured to have an induction. All sorts of reasoning with a VBA2C with getting a baby out prior to full term especially in a hospital. I didn’t want to be induced because I feel like I have experienced for myself (and so many women in my life) that induction can lead to interventions that I don’t want to HAVE to worry about. So after discussing with my MW we decided at this appointment to strip my membranes. It was as close to TRYING to get me going into “natural labor” with slight intervention as I was comfortable with. It was Monday and I went home… eager to see if the membrane stripping would work. I went on about my mother of four duties, wife, super pregnant and post wedding life. Paul and I went to bed and I remember dreaming that I was having contractions.
Well, the dream was reality creeping in. I was having contractions around 2am. I got up, timed them, they were fairly close… 6-9m apart lasting 30s-1m. I made a bath and was as quiet as a mouse. I was waiting and wondering, all alone, if I was in labor with Cinco. Through the bath and early morning my contractions continued pretty consistently. I text my girl friend, Maury – who is a L&D nurse, if she was working. She was JUST about to get off of work… 6am’ish, but reminded me that I was having a 5th child and I shouldn’t just WAIT at home because a 5th baby could come so quickly. After hours of wondering and finally waking Paul, we decided to head to the hospital (around 7am).
My Mom came over and we headed for the hospital. It was when we were pulling out of the driveway that I feared my labor was slowing and … contractions were diminishing. I didn’t know WHAT to do. Do we pull back in and wait? What if it was the real deal and I don’t make it there in time? We decided to go onto the hospital to see what was going on.
It was somewhere near 7:30am when we arrived. The L&D ward settled us in and started to monitor me. After an hour or two they told us I was indeed in labor, but it wasn’t quite as active yet… but would be so they checked us in. I was a little bummed, as I didn’t want to have this LONG labor hanging over my head, but… I had already been through 6-7h of on and off again laboring contractions and was doing well.
Maury came back to the hospital on her off day to FINALLY help me birth one of my babies – and be MY L&D nurse. Paul and I had tunes, our oils diffusing, I was sitting on the ball, working through contractions and hanging onto his pockets when necessary. This real-raw-unmedicated labor was going! It was just like Edie’s! I wanted to hang on him and just CHILL, breathe and try NOT to tense up with every painful contraction. But this labor was different because I had a lot of moments where my contractions would “stall out” as I like to call it. I had to force myself to move, get up, walk, etc. because that is when my contractions were more consistent. The moment I would lay down to rest… the contractions would slow down so much! It was really exhausting because I was having to work for this labor!
11am-3pm seemed like FOREVER… my contractions were ALL OVER THE PLACE. Close, far, intense, chill… I just felt like a birthing failure. Nothing was consistent, nothing was saying BABY IS COMING soon! it was more like – where in the heck are you baby cinco? I kept thinking… ugh, this is not happening. So I would get up again and move around to get my labor more active.
THEN 2:30PM hit… Oh Lordy. I didn’t have to try to get my labor going anymore, it was going! 3pm’ish was the start of transition. WOWEEEZOWEEE. I changed during transition. I wanted to be in the bed. I was so tired, overwhelmed, frustrated, sad, hurting and nearly defeated. I just lay in the hospital bed getting hot and then cold. I was starting to zone out. I had Maury and Paul helping me… and Maury would get my exhausted tush out of bed here and there to help progress my body, rock, sway, lean, move. I remember my sister came in – she surprised me by just coming to the hospital – and I couldn’t even speak to her or acknowledge her – I was in my own little world. I was IN THE ZONE and honestly felt 100% alone/focused, while also being 100% supported by Paul, Maury and Nikki (plus my MW and another nurse).
I felt almost as if I was in a dark tunnel of solo laboring… waiting for every contraction, every ounce of pain, getting through the next breath, moan, sigh, whimper, and exhale of this intense transitional laboring. It was creeping up on 5pm… and I was snapping at Paul to hold my hand through the crazy intense contractions and then I asked the nurses something… and then telling them TOTALLY RANDOMLY… I NEED TO PUSH, I WANT TO PUSH.
They were not quite ready, but also knew that after THIS MANY HOURS of laboring it could certainly be time. They had to run to get my midwife, Hannah. I was ready, like … READY to push push push this baby. I didn’t have this feeling alone with Edie, we did some maneuvers to get that to happen. This was a LONG labor (I think) and my body and baby were finally ready.
I had Paul, my sis and Maury all cheering me on. They were holding my legs back, telling me what to do and they were all I could hear as I was still in my little lone-tunnel-of labor-darkness. With my eyes shut I pushed…. they cheered. I pushed again – they cheered some more. I remember my precious midwife telling me to look and feel my baby’s hair… and all I remember saying was, “I don’t want to feel her, I want to get her out… and then I will look at her.” I was SO ready to be done with this labor, I just wanted to PUSH. And so I did.
And then it happened… a few solid pushes and there she was! Sweet Gwen entered the world. 4:54pm. After what I like to always remember as FIFTEEN HOURS of labor, Baby Cinco – Gwen Elizabeth arrived. Her cord was so short they couldn’t get her higher than my belly button so I had to wait just a little bit longer to snuggle her in my arms and on my chest. Once they were ready to cut the cord I was able to finally get her HEAVILY VERTIX covered face up to mine.
She was perfect. BIG fish lips, a beautiful face, everything better than I could have dreamed and boy did she know how to cry for us (like the first 3 hours of life). We were totally in love and smitten. I was so tired. I nursed, did plenty of skin to skin and then handed her over to the nursery. They were NOT happy with that, but I was so exhausted and said, “I have been up for nearly 24 hours and just gave birth after 15 hours of labor… this is my ONLY time to sleep before I go home.” (Now, take my darn baby.) 🙂
So here we are TWO years later and I have been wanting to write her birth story out for the last 24 months. I cannot believe I remember it, wrote it and that it is so long. If you kept up with me… thank you! I love having our huge family milestones written for me to remember and revisit.
Gwen is such a joy to us. She is wild, confident, loving, fun and the best thing that happened to our family of six… she made us a family of seven and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Her big sisters and big brother adore her, she loves us so well, has always loved to sing and brightens up our life.
HAPPY 2ND BIRTHDAY to our biggest happy accident!
We adore every single ounce of you Gwenie Poo.
Your birth was redeeming for me and your precious life has given us more purpose and joy than you could ever realize.
My birth story in video/photos… thanks to the talented Aly Renee Photography who hung around SO long for Miss Gwen to be born.
I am forever grateful for you Aly!
This 8min video shows the entire birth through Aly’s perspective or you can see some of my favorite moments below.