Sunday, November 6, 2011

Miranda's Birth Story

Expectations.  I had a few of them in regard to Miranda’s birth.  I expected that it would be my easiest labor.  I expected that it would be my shortest labor.  I expected that she would come early.  Well, maybe that last one was a strong hope.  But I was definitely counting on it.  I expected that there would be no complications and that she and I would be completely healthy and well.  I expected that we would have no traffic issues in getting to the hospital/birthing center.  A few of these expectations were met.  A few were not.  Thankfully, the most important ones were the “met” ones.  

With my parents’ visit halfway over and no baby yet, an impending ankle surgery for Grant, and me just 1 cm dilated, I was really stressing. I felt like a watched kettle that wouldn’t boil.   Yes, my parents had agreed to let mom stay with us an extra few weeks and fly home instead of driving with dad, so I knew we would still have help during our time of transition, but I desperately wanted Miranda to be born (and us to be home) before my dad had to leave for Arkansas.  He needed to meet his newest granddaughter. 

I awoke at 1:35 a.m. on October 9 with a contraction.  This was nothing new.  I had been having contractions for weeks, sometimes at regular intervals for hours at a time.  I had mistakenly thought I was in labor at least four times in the past two weeks, only to have everything just die away eventually.  I was beginning to think I would never recognize when I was really in labor until it was too late to make it to the hospital. 

But this time was different.  I knew it immediately.  It was sharper and stronger than I had been having.  I again began to hope that this was it.  Miranda would be born on her due date.  In my excitement, I couldn’t go back to sleep, even though the contractions were at least 7-8 minutes apart.  I eventually woke Grant around 3:30 and made the call to the midwife soon after that.

After hearing my description of what was going on, she thought it was too early to come in, but that I was probably in labor.  While Grant showered and got some things ready, I tried to rest.  Hindsight being 20/20, like it usually is, I realize now that it probably would have been best if we had just hung out at home for a few more hours.  But seeing as it was my 5th baby, I had no idea how fast the labor would go, and I really didn't want to be in hard labor during our 30 minute drive to the hospital, plus the fact that I preferred to get going before the children were up, we went ahead and woke my parents and left the house around 5:30 a.m.
I had four contractions on route to the birthing center, just like before, with Ellia.  With her, we had a baby in our arms less than three hours after arriving.  With Miranda, not so much.
The midwife Beth, the one whom I awoke with my call, (and whom I had only seen twice during my pregnancy – and never with Ellia, since she was new to the practice) checked me soon after I was hooked up to the monitors for the mandatory 20 minute check on the baby.  I was 3 cm. dilated.  Not great, but at least we were moving in the right direction.  Beth seemed a little grumpy.  She left the room after that and we never saw her again. Oh well.   Didn’t bother me too much (Grant either).

At 7:00 was a shift change for the nurses and we met the two that would be with us for the day (Connie and Jessica). I was given the option of having the monitor on for 20 minutes every hour or having the nurse listen with a Doppler for a couple of minutes every 45 minutes.  I chose the Doppler. 

I prefer to labor standing up and spent the next couple of hours walking around the room, occasionally sitting to check facebook or write on my blog. I was getting a little frustrated that the contractions were still 6-7 minutes apart and not super intense.  Things were dragging a little, in my opinion.


Obviously not in serious labor yet.

Around 9:00, Blair came in.  I was so excited to see her, as she was my favorite midwife of the four in the practice and I just felt most comfortable with her.  She has a way of being very cheerful and upbeat while calm and peaceful at the same time, and assertive when necessary.  It’s a great personality for a midwife.
After assessing the situation with my sporadic contractions, she asked if she could check me….I was dilated 5 cm.  She said that although I had made progress in the past 3 hours, she didn't know if she would even classify me in active labor, considering all the information.  According to her, labors with 5th babies are often long and slow.  Well, she’s the midwife, she would know better than me.  She said that if we left things as they were, she wouldn't be surprised if I continued in labor for another 12 hours.  Ick.

wasn't super uncomfortable, but I definitely wanted to have Miranda sooner than that.

She then suggested breaking my water. Four days earlier, my friend Christen’s water was broken at 5 cm (her fourth baby) and she had her daughter one hour later.  (Of course, she had been walking around dilated  5 cm. for nearly 2 weeks and she always has fast labors-- I know that everybody is different, but I can’t deny that her experience was on the forefront of my mind and those expectations kicked in again – surely I’ll have Miranda within an hour if we do this!)
I hastily agreed.  My water was broken at around 9:30.  I dilated to 6 cm, 100% effaced, and Miranda’s head was at 0 station, lower than before.  As expected, the contractions picked up in frequency and intensity almost immediately.  Within 20 minutes, they were over a minute long and about two minutes apart. 

For awhile, I found that standing next to the whirlpool tub watching the water was helpful to me.  Blair said that wasn’t surprised; she always makes sure the tubs are filled even if the expectant mother has no intention of getting in because just the sound and sight of the water can be soothing. 

Around 10:30, Grant was standing near me during a contraction and I leaned over on him, hugging in sort of a slow-dance position, and that was a much better alternative to the water-gazing.  We continued our “dancing” as the contractions tumbled on top of each other and the breaks became nearly non-existent. 
At some point in there, the times are fuzzy to me now, or maybe I never even looked at the clock, Blair checked me again.  I was 7-8 cm. dilated.  That was a little discouraging, as the pain was getting nearly unbearable. I remember giving myself a little pep talk in my head, something like, “You can go from 7 cm. to 10 cm. in just a couple of contractions.  It’s happened to me before.  You can do this.”

One of the nurses picked up our camera and shot some photos (without even asking us!) .....
they and the midwife said we were such a perfect "laboring" team, they loved to watch us.
Grant continued to be my strength as it became almost impossible to relax through the non-stop contractions.  Blair sat in the corner of the room, knitting and quietly observing.  She came over at one point and asked why I was leaning forward so much – I explained that it was because my lower back was hurting so badly – not from labor so much but from just standing for hours.  She suggested that we modify our position a bit and Grant put his foot on the bed and I rest my belly on his leg-shelf.  It did help the back pain slightly, but a few minutes later, I decided I had to try lying down.
I lay on my left side on the bed and felt a few moments of hopelessness – that I could never do this.  I kept praying through the pain for the urge to push.  I just couldn't wait for it to be over.  A few minutes later, I felt that blessed urge – and announced it to everyone.  I don’t know what I was expecting as a response exactly, but I remember being a bit shocked at how relaxed Blair was.  She just said, “Ok” and kept knitting.  The nurses were getting last minute preparations ready for the baby – but Blair seemed completely unconcerned.   She moseyed over and stood near me as I started pushing slightly.  wasn't sure what position would be best – and she said I could just stay as I was.  One of the nurses came over and held up my right leg. 

Almost done!  
I have no recollection of this photo being taken and upon reviewing the pictures was surprised to see that I somehow managed to look so peaceful during this stage - it's not how I remember feeling!

I couldn't believe how hard the pushing was.  It seemed more difficult than it ever had before.  I had to change positions to something more familiar.  I sat up partially, with Grant sitting behind me so I could lean on him.  That felt better.  Again, my expectations of how this stage of labor would proceed based on how Ellia's labor was weren't met. I had actual breaks between contractions where I was almost "pain-free" and didn't feel like pushing at all.  Although I had read about this phenomenon, I hadn't actually experienced it with any of my other labors.  (Well, the two with epidurals don't count).  So while the pushing stage in reality was only 10-15 minutes (not sure exactly), it seemed so much longer because of those breaks.  

Miranda was born at 12:05 pm and was a bit purplish and had a gurgley cry, but she was put on my chest and rubbed vigorously with a warm towel by one of the nurses while I snuggled her and rejoiced that we had done it, it was over.  Well, nearly.  We waited until her cord stopped pulsing to cut it, which only took a few minutes, the placenta was delivered, Blair confirmed that I had no tears or issues at all, (thank God!) and Miranda continued to improve in her color and crying - although she remained a bit rattley in her breathing for a few hours.  

We did it...she's here!

Her weight was taken, a whopping 9 lb 5.6 oz, and 21" long.  Big baby!  Not surprising, our others were 8 lb 1 oz, 8 lb 6 oz, 8 lb 13 oz, and 9 lb 0 oz respectively. Definite pattern there.  Getting larger every time!

Grant thought her sticking her tongue out a little was funny.

So back to those expectations.

This was not my easiest labor – that would be Ellia’s. (I’m convinced that my labor with her was easiest because my water didn’t break until the pushing phase.  Just my theory.)

This was not my fastest labor – that was Marissa’s. 

Miranda did not come early – she was exactly on her due date.  (which certainly beats late, I admit.)


We had perfect traffic to the birthing center (Sunday morning at 5:30 in the fall = no tunnel traffic!)

She and I were both healthy and well after an uncomplicated labor and delivery. 

And, I had the bonus of my favorite midwife, something I had barely dared to hope for. 

She is beautiful.  She is perfect.  Even right after delivery, I stared at her, amazed that she had come out of me, in awe that in just 9 short months, this little soul's body had been formed.  Birth and life are such miracles. 

Miranda means "Wonderful, admirable".  Kathryn means "Pure".  Names with significance.  Qualities we desire and pray for in our daughter.  


  1. I loved reading the story of Miranda's birth! We are so thankful that all went well for you and her!!
    Once again, you were blessed with a beautiful child!!

  2. Thanks for sharing the story of Miranda's birth! She was born the same day as a dear friend's little boy. Praise God for sustaining you and for your little girl's arrival... even when it didn't meet all your expectations.

  3. Congratulatoins! You really do look so peaceful in all the pictures! She is wonderful! God Bless!


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