This post contains what may be considered “graphic” descriptions of labor & birth. If you aren’t into that sort of thing, feel free to move along.
Labor began with 3 consecutive nights of contractions.
The first night was mild, but the surges were strong enough to wake me up. Each one was low and crampy – something I hadn’t experienced during my labor with Leon. But I knew it meant real labor would come soon. The next morning, a Sunday, I lost most of my mucus plug. I called the midwife to let her know & said I would keep her updated.
Night two was different. I could tell it still wasn’t real labor, but the contractions were getting stronger. I even had to make some noise through them because I was really uncomfortable.
When I woke up on Monday, they continued for a while. Each time, I would lose more of my mucus plug. After about an hour, the contractions died down and stayed away for the rest of the day. I was starting to wonder if we were in for another long labor.
You see, Leon’s labor was a long and painful 36 hours. His head pressed against my spine the entire time and resulted in excruciating back labor. I had been praying and hoping that God would protect me from that this time, because it was truly miserable. And I was sure to visit my chiropractor weekly during my last month of pregnancy to help keep the baby in an optimal position for birth.
On top of that, Leon was born 11 days late. I was super grumpy at the end of that pregnancy (as you can imagine). It felt like torture to wait so long for his arrival. So part of me was in total disbelief that I was having all of these early labor symptoms a few days before Taylor’s estimated due date.
But despite the fact that my first labor was pretty gnarly, I knew I wanted to have an unmedicated, intervention-free birth again. Being so aware & involved during the whole experience is indescribable. It taught me so much about myself, and brought me closer to God and to Anthony. And the midwives take care of you in a way that is personal and intimate. You are their only concern at the time, and that support is so beautiful and comforting.
I wanted this time to be different, but just as impactful. Ultimately, I wanted it to bring God glory and be a powerful learning experience for me, no matter what that meant.
I would love to say that I stayed positive and excited the whole time, but the truth is that by night 3 of contractions, I was really annoyed. When we went to bed on Monday night, contractions started back up. Real ones. The kind that you sort of dread as you feel them building up. Ones that make you grunt like a tennis player.
But I know that being active can help move labor along, so around 1 am I decided to get out of bed. I bounced on my exercise ball, cleaned up Leon’s toys, and walked around the living room. But if anything, the contractions started getting less intense. So I said “Ok, God, if this baby is supposed to come tonight, he is going to come whether I’m up doing stuff or laying in bed.” I knew I had to stop trying to be in control of what was happening. Back to bed I went, and was woken up by strong contractions about every 15 minutes until sunrise.
By 5 am, I was super discouraged. I went around to Anthony’s side of the bed and sat with my head in his lap, crying. Hadn’t I prayed for this labor to be different?
Three nights of endless contractions didn’t feel like the kind of different I wanted. It was hard not to feel like its all totally unproductive when you can’t actually see the progress being made. But Anthony is so amazing. He encouraged me and reminded me that things could still be different, and that I didn’t know what was going to happen next. He reminded me that I was doing good work with each contraction.
HERE’S THE THING:
Natural births just don’t happen during the day.
That might seem like an odd thing to say, but our hormones peak when the sun goes down. In turn, most babies are born at night (or early morning hours), when our hormones cause labor to speed up. Babies that come during the day typically do so because of induction or c-section. If you go into labor naturally and don’t experience interventions, its rare for your baby to be born when the sun is shining.
Man, I could say that at every step of this story.
I am always blown away by his goodness. So often, I forget all that he has done for me. In the midst of my doubt and complaining, he chose to speak to me. And I know that was the moment when things changed. The moment that I said, “Lord, if you want this baby to come during the day, he will come during the day.”
Thank you Jesus that a little bit of faith goes such a long way.
AS THE OCEANS ROAR
I’d like to stop here and address something that I’ve heard many times. So many women tell me “I could never do what you did!” Recently (before Taylor’s birth), someone asked me if I was induced with my first son. When I told them I had given birth naturally, they said “Oh, so was your labor pretty short and easy, then?”.
I am not a super human. I possess no great ability that YOU (any woman reading this) doesn’t also possess. God made your body capable of MAKING A HUMAN INSIDE OF IT. You are incredible. And for the record, as I’ve made clear, my labor with Leon was far from easy. Yet, I still decided to have another natural birth. I hope that speaks volumes.
Natural birth isn’t for a bunch of hippie women who somehow have magically pain-free births.
But I can tell you that it is magical. It is worth it. Its beautiful and empowering and absolutely my proudest accomplishment. Not because I think I’m better than anyone else. But because I have felt the love of Christ through these births. He has taught me humility, trust, surrender, sacrifice. My husband and I have bonded through these experiences. Both gave him unique opportunities to love, support, and cry over me.
So if you have any questions at all about natural birth, please reach out to me. If you want to do it, but you’re scared, talk to me. Stop listening to all the horror stories that your family & friends are selfishly pouring into your head. YOU. CAN. DO. THIS. And if you have zero support from the people around you, its because they are allowing fear to rule their mind.
Come talk to me. I would love to be your support.
OK, OK. LET’S GET TO IT.
Hi, hello, yes. Welcome to my TedTalk, apparently.
I promise I’m getting to the actual birth now! I’m a details person & love to know how other people birthed their babies. So if you’re sick of me by now, I totally get it.
The contractions kept coming, and hard. We got up early & I forced myself to eat breakfast. Anthony & Leon went into the living room while I labored in the bedroom.
Although I was coping with labor much better this time, I didn’t know if progress was being made. Leon was supposed to go to his Granny’s house, but was super worried about me and was refusing to go anywhere. Anthony was trying everything to distract or comfort him, but that left me to labor by myself. My prenatal appointment was scheduled for that day at 2 pm, but it was only 9:45 am. There was no way I was waiting that long!
I called the midwife between contractions & she said I could go ahead and come in to get checked. Leon finally decided he would go with his Granny. Anthony & I drove to The Nest, where appointments are held. Thankfully, Michelle took me right back to her office. I had warned her that if I had a contraction in the middle of that waiting room, it was going to be quite a show. LOL
She listened and watched as I went through a contraction. Taylor had been a wild child throughout the whole pregnancy, moving constantly. The last couple months were so uncomfortable. At times, his movements were even painful for me. So I shouldn’t have been surprised when he was wiggling & moving DURING my contractions. These were not light contractions, guys. And this kid was moving around even while he was being squeezed.
Apparently that’s a good thing though, because it meant he wasn’t stressed at all. He was ready to party!
Michelle did a quick check between contractions and, PRAISE THE LORD, I was already 5 cm dilated! But contractions were still about 7-8 minutes apart. She sent me home & told me to update her when they were closer together.
I don’t know if she physically stimulated labor by checking me, or if the news of making so much progress was the boost I needed. But by the time we made the 8-minute drive back home, I was having contractions 2-3 minutes apart. They were long and definitely getting more painful.
So we hopped back in the car and headed to the birth center. In case you’ve never experienced it for yourself – being in the car while in active labor freaking SUCKS. It legit was probably my least favorite part of the whole deal.
We arrived at the birth center around 11:30 am. I immediately stripped down so Michelle could check my progress. It had only been an hour since she last checked, but I was already 7-8 cm dilated! “Just a little bit more work left to do,” she said. So I put on a diaper because my water hadn’t broken yet (labor ain’t cute!) & got to work.
I had been laboring on my hands and knees, which was the only position that gave me slight relief. But I was pretty tired from the restless nights leading up, and my arms were starting to shake. Michelle suggested that I lay on my side to conserve energy for the delivery, and I agreed. That was the position I was in when I delivered Leon, and I really liked it.
Michelle and Monica left the room to allow me to labor in private. (Monica is a midwife-in-training from Brazil, who we agreed to allow at the birth – she was so sweet and helpful. Meredith was the Midwife’s birth assistant, and is equally as kind and helpful! I love the whole team over at Celebrate Birth).
But Michelle came back in what seemed like minutes. She said I sounded different (midwives just know!) & asked how I was feeling. I had the urge to push, so she encouraged me to go with it.
That’s when my water broke! I was so amazed and excited, and the team quickly prepared for the baby’s arrival. If you’ve given birth before, you know that transition and delivery can be a bit of a blur. Time stands still, but is also in fast-forward somehow. Its bizarre!
“HE’S REALLY BIG!”
I squeezed Anthony’s hand. The midwives gave me a cold towel for my face & switched it out every few minutes (the cold towel has given me so much relief in both labors!)… One of them held my top leg up as I laid on my side and pushed.
My body had reached the point of no return. Pushing was actually a relief, and I was in full on hulk-mode at this point. When the contractions would start to build, I would breathe as calmly as possible and wait. Each one was long enough for me to get about 4 good pushes in a row. I had a few panicky moments, wishing it was over and that I didn’t have to feel the pain anymore.
But Michelle was so incredible. She was funny, and light, and encouraged me so much. I don’t think midwives can ever understand what an impact they make on the lives they touch. Every time she would update me about the baby moving down, or starting to see his head, I would get a new wave of determination. Its weird, but I can honestly say that I never once wished I had drugs to dull the pain. Part of me felt like no drug could even touch the pain I was feeling, because it was so strong. But mostly, I knew that being present for each moment was exactly what I wanted. I could literally feel his body moving through the birth canal, and that experience is incredible.
Once Taylor’s head was visible, it didn’t take long for it to fully emerge. Michelle had to slip his shoulders out because they were crazy wide. Once his body was half way out, she told me I could reach down and grab him. But I was in the middle of a strong push & could feel that I was going to have to push him all the way out!
I’ll never forget the moment Taylor arrived. Michelle caught him and said “I don’t know if I can hand him to you. He’s really big!” 9 lbs 9 oz of sweet, screaming baby love.
MY TATER CHIP
Taylor Santino Sgro was born at 12:45 pm on June 25th. ON HIS DUE DATE, PEOPLE. I am amazed. He was born during the day, when the sun was shining as bright as could be, on his actual due date. To say that is rare is an understatement. And I know that this miracle speaks directly to the type of person he will be.
The birth was painful, of course. But the thing about pain is that once its over, you almost immediately forget what it felt like. You know it sucked, but you aren’t feeling it anymore. So yeah, I experienced the “ring of fire” as I birthed Taylor’s giant 14.5 inch head. I had to push every bit of his 21.5 inch body out. But it was the most beautiful experience, once again.
Anthony and I just looked at each other in amazement. We did it! Our beautiful boy was here, and God had certainly given me a birth that was quite different from the first.
Thank you, Lord, for this precious gift. I promise to do my best to lead him to you and demonstrate your incredible love in his life.
Thanks for reading, friends. I hope this story reminds you of His goodness!