Call it Textbook: The Birth of Daphne Grace

“Oh my gosh, oh my gosh”, I whispered to myself. It was Thursday afternoon and I was in Winifred’s rocking chair, watching her play after nap time. I’d just had my first ACTUAL contraction. It wrapped around my entire torso and made me audibly gasp. I had back labor with Winifred and Braxton Hicks for weeks, so that was an extremely new feeling. My heart nearly exploded out of my chest to feel a normal contraction! I was 39 weeks pregnant, had been losing my mucus plug for days, and was SO ready to meet this baby. The day before I thought my water broke, but upon doctor inspection I’d just been slowly peeing myself all day. That’s always nice to hear, right? HOWEVER, I was so encouraged by this one little contraction for two reasons. 1. This meant my labor might actually be “normal”. 2. We could possibly be having a baby very soon.

My contractions continued most of that evening and I was having about 1 an hour. With each one, I grew more and more shocked that this reality I’d been begging for was happening. My mind was racing and I decided to head to bed, for this might be my last night to sleep for a while! Welp. “A Pipe Dream” is what I call that. The contractions intensified around midnight and my gut told me to start timing them. They were fierce as I laid in our silent house, breathing through them. I tried to be as quiet as possible to not wake Will until absolutely necessary.

There was something empowering about laboring quietly and alone. Me and Jesus got to have a long conversation about Daphne Grace, her safety, and our family. With each contraction and each breath, I asked God to help me endure this pain for the insane beauty that was surely to come. I asked for him to help me accept that this was Daphne’s process to go through and all I had to do was my best to help her enter the world. I tell you what, my best conversation with the big man was laboring over my toilet, breathing in and out. Give it a try.

The contractions increased to 9 minutes apart by 7am. Will rolls over to kiss me good morning and I say “Ok, so we’re about 9 minutes apart”! With wide eyes he says “Ummm ok.”, flung the covers off, and became a tornado of productivity. While still contracting, I hear him rushing around the house; putting the carseat in the truck, packing his hospital bag, showering, and finishing up some work things. I giggled to myself, thinking about what was going through his mind. Guess I should have given him a tiny bit more of a heads up.

I stayed on the toilet most of the morning. It was the place I found the most comfort and apparently “real” contractions make you have to go to the bathroom a lot. Who knew? They intensified very quickly and by 10am we decided to venture to the hospital. The car ride was calm in between contractions. Will and I kept looking over at each other in shock and awe, giggling. We’d had 9 months to prepare for Daphne’s arrival, it’s pretty much all we’d ever talked about! But there is something about realizing that a tiny human being is coming into your life when you have another tiny human being at home, it’s just surreal.

We got to the hospital as the contractions were almost too intense to breathe through. I was wheeled up to Labor and Delivery which, apparently, was in the middle of baby Palooza week! There were 3 laboring mothers in front of me, waiting to be checked in. Nurses buzzed around, phones rang off the hook, and housekeeping rushed from room to room prepping them for the new arrivals. We waited, breathing, and laughing at the situation. Of COURSE Daphne Grace would enter the world during the baby boom of Midland.

We were finally in our room (the same room WJ was birthed in!) and we had an absolute sensational group of nurses with us, several of which recognized us from last year. I got settled into the bed and got my blood taken as they asked me alllllll the questions. Then it came time to check to see how dilated I was, I was shaking. (See Winnie’s birth story for previous trauma with cervix checks). I expressed my fear and apprehension with the nurse. She was empathetic and told me she would do her best to be fast and gentle. She delivered and I heard the most beautiful words a laboring mother could hear. “All right, so you’re about a 7/7.5! You’re staying here!” “SHUT UP!” I said out of pure disbelief. “Are you serious?!” Tears filled my eyes because all those contractions actually did something. My body was working with me this time.

I decided to get the epidural and it’s a decision I’m proud of. I knew what my body could handle and it couldn’t handle another birth like Winifred’s. I labored for about another hour or so and the cutest man came in and gave me a great epidural. Why was it a great epidural? Well, because I could still move my legs and feel all my contractions but nothing was painful. I found great joy knowing I could still work with my body.  I was laid on my side with the peanut ball (God’s greatest invention) and was told they would call my doc and tell him to come check me!

Womp womp. My lovely nurse comes in and tells us that my doctor was out of town this weekend and his on call doctor would be delivering Daphne. My heart sank. I knew this was too good to be true. My labor was going way too textbook to keep going so well. But, what could I do? I was having this baby and somebody had to catch it! I accepted it and prayed some more about the things I could not control. So, the on call doctor comes in and low and behold, she’s the most positive and amazing doctor I could have asked for. I expressed my fear about Daphne’s size and how difficult WJ’s labor was. She encouraged me and validated my fears, while making me feel safe. Another prayer answered.

After 2 hours on the peanut ball they broke my water, and another hour later it was time to PUSH! I was so in shock about how smoothly it was going and how empowered I felt through this process. Will had been so encouraging and wonderful, holding my hand the whole time and trusting me to trust my body. I was shaking, partly from the hormones, partly because I was so nervous to meet Daphne. It almost felt like a first date. “What will she be like? Will she like me? Will I be enough for her?” etc.

When it comes time to push, a FLOOD of people come in the room; nurses for me, nurses for baby, interns and doctor. Will was by my side, my mom at the ready with her camera, and my dad assumed his position behind the chair. Deja vu hit for sure. I began pushing with every contraction and, damn. I had an epidural and it hurt, bad. By the 5th set of pushes I was exhausted and in pain. My nurse gave me oxygen and every one else in the room was encouraging me with “Come on, mama! One more! You can do this! Breathe! She’s almost here!” and I was overwhelmed with emotion. By the 6th set, her head was “right there” and everyone told me that we were going to have a baby with a head full of hair! Everyone took a turn looking, even Will, and I got to feel her head with my hand! Did I mention that all modesty goes out the window when you’re spread eagle in a room of 20 people trying to push a baby out? Cause it does.

The doctor started to whisper to the nurse and the nurse replied with “yeah, she said that happened with her first”. Oh no, I thought. I asked what she was saying and the doctor said that Daphne’s head has a little crooked and getting caught on my bone. COOOOOL, apparently I make babies with crooked heads. My mind quickly went to a dark place as I envisioned forceps, massive tearing, and torticollis all over again. I asked her what we should do and she said it was nothing to worry about and she would guider her with my pushes.  The 7th and 8th sets of pushes were intense as the pain and pressure peaked, her head was coming out and the doctor had straightened her out, no forceps. After the 8th set, my doc looked me in the eyes and said “If you do your best on this one, she’s out”. So, with every ounce of my entire being, I pushed and pushed. With a quick sharp pain and a release of pressure, the doctor was handing me my perfect baby girl. Head full of black hair, covered completely in vernix, and screaming her lungs out; she was here. “You did it!”, Will said holding my hand and staring at our beautiful girl.

They wiped her off and my mom got to cut the cord! I could not get to her fast enough as we started skin to skin. And I got that feeling. That feeling moms tell you you’ll get when you have another baby. You don’t love your first born less, your heart doubles. They were so right. I felt like the Grinch with my heart growing 3 times its size. She was perfect and beautiful, and ours. She was here.

Daphne Grace entered the world at 4:02PM on Friday, September 27th. She was 8lbs 1oz and 20 inches long. She’s perfect and we are so in love!

This birth was different than my first. Traumatic vs. Textbook, but they were both perfect. These births brought my beautiful girls into the world and I’m grateful to my body for both of them.

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