Lyanna's Birth Story
Updated: Mar 27, 2018
By the time I reached those last weeks of my fourth (and probably final) pregnancy, I thought I knew what to expect. But the extra level of deep round ligament pains kept me up at night, and my pelvic bone hurt so much I couldn't stand for too long. Fourth time around, even my maternity clothes were too tight by that last month. Prodromal labor (unproductive contractions) came weeks early instead of just days, and I felt like I never knew when the time would come. You’d think after four babies, you'd know, but each labor and delivery is completely different. But I was anxious to meet my daughter - after having three boys, I had dreamed of what our girl would look like, sound like. I tired to stay cheerful by going on walks and enjoying final outings with our boys before we hit the newborn season. I nested and got her nursery ready, and savored each kick since I knew this was the last time I'd feel pregnancy - and while I was ready to be done with the aches and pains, I knew I'd miss the kicks and the way my round belly looked while growing babies.
I woke up that windy Monday morning to contractions - for a while they drew closer together, and then became farther apart again. But I was sure she was coming that day. We packed our boys up and sent them to stay with their grandparents - I had a weird need to check things off a list, like I HAD to finish our family album up until this moment. I timed contractions and watched as they spread farther apart - 8 minutes, 10, 15 minutes apart - until they'd go away all together again. By 11:30pm, I felt discouraged. I was tired of waiting. I was tired of aching. I went to sleep, grumpy and irritated.
It was 1:15am when I woke up to contractions - I dismissed them since they felt just like the ones the night before. I tried to roll over but couldn’t, because I was more like a beached whale at this point. Finally I got up and walked around for a bit - to my surprise, my contractions were 4 minutes apart! I woke my husband and we grabbed our things and got into the car. He called his mom, and I called mine. I texted our birth photographer. I forgot to call labor and delivery to let them know I was coming, because suddenly it all hit me.
I was going to have a daughter. Would I be a good girl mom? Will I be enough? Will I get postpartum depression again? Will we bond? Am I good enough to juggle FOUR kids? Will I make it in time for the epidural? What if I’m not dilated enough to be admitted?
I felt the contractions rushing over me in the car, and for some reason, at that moment, I knew - I knew there wouldn't be time for the epidural. My husband squeezed my hand, and I just remember him making me laugh. I kept my hands over my belly, feeling my baby girl. I knew she and I could do this.
When we arrived to triage, it was 2:15am. My mom made it just as we did, and I felt a wave of relief. A daughter always needs her mother. To my relief, the midwife told me I was SEVEN centimeters dilated, and my bag was about to burst. Then she asked, “So, we’re you planning on receiving any pain medication?” I said ideally, yes. She told me that we can try to get me one, but that I was progressing quickly, so if my water breaks all bets are off.
I expected to get up and walk to my labor and delivery room, but my midwife didn't even leave my side as she had the nurses wheel me out on the triage bed. As we were going down the hall, I felt my water break, immediately followed by an intense contraction. I remember going through the double doors and closing my eyes, knowing that this was it. She was coming, and fast. I kept thinking of her - my girl. I kept telling myself, “We can do this”.
The next few minutes were a whirlwind. My midwife still never left my side, so I felt comforted knowing there wouldn't be much time. I wanted counter pressure on face, so my mom and husband held my face in their hands together. I buried my face into my husband’s arms. I was afraid, but chose not to give the fear any energy. I rolled with the contractions, and felt so connected to my daughter. We can do this. In between contraction I exhaled and smiled with my husband. I felt the lows and the highs, the pain and the anticipation.
What I wasn't prepared for was pushing. Where were my stirrups? They asked me to pull my own knees into my chest - No, that’s my husbands job! It didn't dawn on me until after delivery that all I knew was how to push with an epidural, where my legs were dead weight. I tearfully reached behind my knees and drew them in, and I felt pressure and pain like never before. But it was the kind of pressure that you have to lean in to, so I did. And suddenly, everyone was cheering and my husband kept saying “She’s right there!” I yelled back at him, "I KNOW she's right there!" We look back at the pictures from this moment and laugh, because he is so excited and smiling and I’m in intense pain. It's crazy and beautiful and intense and real. One more push, and she was there. They told me she was a girl, that she was REALLY a girl, and I heard her cry and felt her against me and it was done. We did it. 8 lbs, 10 oz, 20.5 inches of perfection.
The next few days my body felt weak and fragile, but strong and powerful at the same time. I looked at my little girl and knew that we did such a great job together. That, much like labor, our journey will have high and lows, extreme joy and extremely difficult seasons. But we’ll get through it, together.
Now we're a family of 6 - there are days where I wonder if I'm cut out for this, if I'm strong enough, good enough. But if there's anything four children, four completely different and unique children, have taught me its that you have to ride the waves. That my lowest low isn't permanent, and neither is my highest high. It's normal for some days to feel messy and ugly, but the trick is to not let those days consume you. And so I choose to let the imperfect but joyful moments consume me.
You can view the full gallery of Lyanna's birth here. A special thanks to Cathy Breslow for rushing over at 2 AM to capture this powerful moment for our family!