Sage’s Birth Story: Part Two

Now we come to the part of my labor which was not so light, where instead of feeling grounded and present I felt like I was falling apart at the seams. The contractions were very intense now, and close together. I felt like I was breaking, and couldn’t hold it together. I just wanted to cry. I needed far more support from Bryan and Shell than I had needed with my first labor. I tried to push with contractions, but still didn’t feel like anything was happening. At this point the physical pain seemed unbearable, but looking back (and I think I recognized this a little bit in the moment as well), even with as intense as the physical pain was the real struggle was with my psyche…it was emotional.

I felt weak, scared and tired. I didn’t feel like “one tough mamma.” Shell kept saying, “you’re so strong.” But, I didn’t believe her, I couldn’t believe her. I didn’t feel strong. I felt weak, in fact I felt all of the weaknesses and inadequacies that I’d wrestled with ever since becoming a mother two years ago come rushing over me. I felt like I couldn’t do it… and so I couldn’t. I didn’t really want to push her out. I was scared of feeling “that pain” again. I was scared of bleeding too much (as I had with Thaddeus). I was scared that she would be just as difficult as Thad was and scared that I wouldn’t be able to handle having two kids. I was scared that the pain was going to continue forever and just wanted it to be over, but I didn’t want to go through the only door that would make the pain stop.

Finally, I muttered out something about feeling discouraged. Shell decided to do an internal to see what was going on. I remember her putting her fingers against my coccyx on the inside and telling me that was where the baby needed to go, that I needed to push the baby into that space. I knew she was right and I tried to do what she was asking, but it was a half hearted attempt. As soon as she had touched that area I was flooded with the muscle memory of Thad’s birth, I remembered that spot and the pain it took to push Thad past it (Thad had gotten stuck at my coccyx since it hadn’t moved out of the way like it should have, Shell had to pull it out of the way and we are pretty sure I either broke or bruised it during that labor). The memory of that felt so tangible and I couldn’t bring myself to push past it.

It was at this point that Shell suggested we do something she called “the rotisserie” and took a moment to describe it to us. Basically the laboring women lays on her back for a contraction or two pushing her lower back into the floor then turns to lay on her side with her top leg bent and bottom leg relatively stretched out for a contraction or two and then on hands and knees for a contraction or two and then on the other side for a contraction or two and then back to her back for a contraction or two.

We did two rotations this way. I have never known pain like that. It was beyond intense, it was unbearable. I remember kind of hating Shell in that moment for making me do this. Normally I deal with contractions with a fair amount of movement so having to be in one position the whole contraction was excruciating and the fact that most of those positions were not comfortable positions for me made it extra hard.

During my last rotation Shell turned the water on in the bath and started filling it up, I can’t really explain the feeling I felt when I heard that tub turn on. On the one hand I was sort of ecstatic thinking that the end of the rotisserie must be soon and imagining how nice the water would feel. I spent almost all of my labor with Thad in the tub and felt such relief from that. Earlier in labor the tub had come up – I think my sister asked if I was going to use it – and I hesitated and didn’t really know how to answer. Shell said something about how it seemed I wanted to see which came first if I reached my breaking point or if the baby came. I remember thinking she was exactly right.

As I did that rotisserie and heard the tub filling up I knew I had reached my breaking point and it was time for the tub – really I felt like I had reached my breaking point long before this and was just so far past the breaking point as to be completely desperate by this time. I was also angry as the tub filled up though, because I just wanted to get in it right then, and Shell asked me to do another set on my back and on my side – I remember feeling really angry in that moment. I didn’t want to do any more. I wanted to get in the tub. I didn’t think I was capable of doing any more – I was already broken into pieces, there wasn’t any strength left. But, then I did it. When I thought that I was completely unable to, when I thought I had no strength left, when I thought I was already broken as far as I could be…I did it. I broke more. And even without strength I pressed through…screamed through, but made it.

When I finally got in the tub it was such a relief, but things were still moving pretty fast and intense. I remember the water felt like it was really cold to me, even though Shell and Bryan kept telling me that it was plenty warm. I shivered and turned on the hot anyway.

By this point I really wanted it over. I pushed a bit in the tub, but quickly felt like I had to pooh. I got out and went to the toilet. I poohed a little and worked through a contraction on the toilet and then it hit… My bottom split open – or at least that’s what it felt like. I jumped off the toilet and cried out “she’s coming!” Bryan had just then gone to get me more water, so Shell hollered for him to come back and he was there a second later. It was then that I really started to push.

I reached up to feel the head as I had with Thaddeus. It felt so different, so smooth, I was a little freaked out at first. It wasn’t until later that I realized what I was feeling wasn’t exactly the head – it was the head still wrapped in the membranes since my waters hadn’t broken yet.

I squatted in a sort of half kneeling half squatting position and pushed, Shell and Bryan pushed in on my hips from either side. I pushed more. There was a popping feeling and sound as my waters broke. It was 3:22am. I pushed more and reached down (Shell said I actually pushed her hands out of the way, but I don’t totally remember that) what I do remember is Bryan and I together catching our beautiful little girl. She was born at 3:25am on labor day, September 5th. She had her hand up by her ear and her chin tilted up instead of tucked down, which explained some of why the pain had been so intense.

I laid her down on the floor in front of me and waited a minute or two till I was feeling like I was back in my body and ready to pick her up. I held her for a moment, but felt pretty shaky and laid her back down in front of me as Shell gave me a shot of pitocin (we had decided to do pitocin right away after the birth since we had some concerns about hemorrhaging). Shell also gave me a drink of Chinese herbs after the shot.

After the cord had stopped pulsating we cut the cord. I remember asking Shell about waiting till I delivered the placenta and having her tell me with a little bit of urgency in her voice that she wanted to get it cut and me laying down. She showed me the cord then and it had clearly stopped pulsating so Bryan went ahead and cut it. Shell then had me lay down with the baby on my chest/belly. Bryan and Shell both kept telling me to look at them and keep my eyes open, which I remember being really annoyed with because I thought I felt fine… just tired. I remember thinking, “It’s all over now so why can’t I just rest for a second?” I also remember feeling a lot of pressure from the placenta and feeling so relieved when it was delivered. Shell said something about it coming out a different way from normal, something about how placentas coming out that way are more commonly low laying in the uterus.

Bryan was asking me what song was playing on the playlist, it was A Thankful Heart, which was the first song that had played from the playlist back at the beginning of my labor. He kept telling me to keep my eyes open and I still felt annoyed. By this point I couldn’t stop shaking, which is not uncommon for women after birth. Shell gave me some oxygen and kept asking “are you with us? Bethany! Look at me.” I guess I must have looked much worse than I felt.

Shell checked me out and told us my bleeding was really light (a big relief), she also told us I didn’t need any stitches (of course that was also a relief). I think she checked my heart rate and blood pressure as well and all was normal. She told us that physically I was perfectly fine. Nothing was wrong with me. But, she and Bryan still seemed worried about me and wouldn’t let me close my eyes. For the next little bit they seemed to focus on keeping me from passing out. Bryan brought me a couple of spoonfuls of raw honey and that seemed to really help. Once I started to feel a bit better I really wanted to sit up since my back hurt and I still felt pressure while laying on it.

I sat up, leaning against the bathroom cabinets and held Sage. It was the first time I really truly looked at her. Bryan sat next to me and we both just stared at her. It was a really sweet moment for all of us and I was glad that we were able to enjoy that time for a little while. I nursed Sage a little, but she wasn’t all that interested. I remember Shell telling us that the song that had been playing when Sage was born was “Hey Jude” – I hadn’t even noticed.

After a bit, Shell took Sage to look her over and weight her. It was about then that Brie came in carrying Thaddeus. Thad cuddled up to me and together, with Bryan next to us, we all watched as Shell checked Sage out.

She weighed 5 pounds 15 ounces and was 18.5 inches long. Shell guessed by her reflexes and size that she was actually about 38.5 weeks gestation (we had already been speculating that my original estimated due date was wrong and this confirmed it). She was a tiny little one, but healthy and strong with the most beautiful rudy coloring.

After Shell was done I got cleaned up and crawled into bed with Sage. Shell took a short nap before checking us out again and heading home to get some rest. Bryan got Thad breakfast and played with him. And thus began our very long first day as a family of four.

Rejoicing in the journey –
Bethany Stedman

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Sage’s Birth Story: Part One

The Sunday I went into labor felt like a long day. I had spent the week before crying multiple times a day over a variety of things. The Friday before the birth my mom left for the Philippines to be with my brother and sister-in-law as their baby was in the hospital and they were still trying to figure out what was wrong. Saturday we had a nice day and my dad cooked us a wonderful dinner. Sunday morning my dad left for a business trip to Costa Rica. I spent most of Sunday feeling discouraged and down, even though Bryan and I were able to spend some nice time together during the day and we had a really nice family outing to the library in the afternoon.

I remember crying at the library. I checked email on the ipad while there and I got a really sweet and encouraging message from my friend, Melissa. In a moment when I was feeling especially discouraged about still being pregnant (I was a week past my estimated due date) she told me she was proud of me and wrote this “So today, instead of saying when is this baby going to get here?! I want you to say ‘I am one tough mama, I can handle this!! I can be patient for nature. Not everyone does this and I am proud of myself for waiting it out!!’ and give yourself a nice pat on the back. Or just pat your belly if that is easier.” It made me smile and then cry. And it made me feel a little better too. Little did I know how much I would need to hear, and remember her words that I was one tough momma in the hours to come.

My labor really got started Sunday evening around 6pm. I’d been having contractions steadily all afternoon, but they weren’t really labor contractions, they were just the same tightening feeling that I’d been having since I was about 20 weeks pregnant. But, around 6pm things changed, these contractions were different, they felt like labor. Suddenly as I felt them I remembered, really remembered, my first birth in a whole new way.

I continued having regular labor contractions as I made dinner and put Thaddeus to bed. When a contraction would hit I’d just lean over against the counter and do what I needed to do to deal with it and then go back to making dinner. We had a broccoli and green bean pasta for dinner. Bryan and I split a beer and toasted to the baby being born soon.

Dealing with the contractions got a little harder while putting Thad to sleep as they got more intense while I was nursing him. Thankfully he fell asleep quickly and I only had to work through two or three contractions while putting him to bed.

After Thad was asleep we called our midwife, Shell, and gave her a heads up about what was going on. Then I had some chocolate crème brûlée that my dad had made the night before and we tried to watch some tv. That didn’t last long.

It was getting later and things were moving along well so we started getting some stuff ready – moving birth supplies into the bedroom, changing the sheets on the bed, etc. We put on the playlist of songs I had made for the birth and danced our way through a few contractions. Shell called back to see how things were going and told us she was on her way. We called my sister and asked her to come be with Thad in case he woke up. We texted my mom (since we knew she was up any way because of the time difference in Cebu) and I sent off a quick email to some close friends who had agreed to pray with me throughout the last few weeks of pregnancy.

When Shell got here she started setting up her stuff, and helped me through a few contractions. Then we all moved out into the kitchen. Shell had one of dad’s crème brûlée’s and a coffee. Bryan and I had some tea and we all just sat and talked in-between contractions. Shell shared stories with us that made us laugh. (She really should write her memoirs some day – I know I would love to read that!)

Soon Brie arrived and joined us for a crème brûlée of her own and plenty of her own energy and talkativeness. The contractions at this point were difficult but manageable and Shell kept saying “I think you’ll be surprised. I think your farther along then you think you are.” which was of course an encouraging thing to hear.

After everyone had finished their desert and drinks we moved back into the bedroom and Shell did an internal exam – more for the opportunity to turn the baby since she was still posterior than to find out how dilated I was, but it was encouraging when she told us that my cervix was dilated to a five on it’s own but could easily stretch to an eight. My sister asked something about how much longer Shell thought it would be and Shell said something to the extent of it being up to me, that my cervix wasn’t really the issue, and it would quickly open and stretch as it needed to once I was ready and about how it was going to be more about me being ready and not afraid to push…or something like that. It was getting harder for me to concentrate at this point.

After I was checked Brie and Bryan started laying down the plastic floor covering stuff that we got to protect the carpet (my dad was worried we’d ruin the carpet in his bathroom again, like we had when my son was born). The stuff we got this time had adhesive on one side so it actually stuck to the carpet and didn’t slide around. It worked really well. My sister got really into the job of covering the carpet and even made a little “run way” from where I was laboring on the floor in the bedroom to the bathroom. It even had an arrow in the middle made out of duct tape. We all got a little chuckle out of it.

It was nice to laugh during labor – my labor with Thaddeus had been really, intense and heavy and even contemplative. Up to this point in my labor with Sage things were much lighter, more relaxed, and I felt much more present and grounded.

Once we moved into the bathroom with everything all set up I hit what I’m going to call the peeing stage of my labor. By this point the baby was very low in my pelvis and putting a lot of pressure on my bladder. For a while this was the pattern that was my reality – have a contraction, go to the toilet and pee, come back out, feel thirsty and have something to drink, have another contraction, get up again to pee, again have something to drink. It went on like this with me peeing about every two minutes for quite a while.

Then things slowed down a bit. I remember my sister asking numerous times “what are we waiting for?” and looking at her phone. I remember her asking Shell how much longer she thought it would be and how far along she thought I was now. I didn’t realize it at first but her anxiety and desire for it to be over started rubbing off on me. I was the one who really wanted it to be over, I was the one working through the pain every few minutes! My stress level rose.

I remember telling them that I felt a lot of pressure (which isn’t surprising since the baby was very low by now) and that I kind of wanted to push but didn’t really feel ready. Shell told me if I wanted to push I could try and that if I wasn’t ready it wouldn’t really do anything. For the next few contractions I pushed. Shell listened to the babies heart rate, which sounded great. The pushing felt nice with the contractions, but it didn’t really do anything.

I started to feel discouraged as Brie asked again “what are we waiting for”. There started to be longer distances between contractions. I remember during a particularly long break between contractions I thought to myself “you need to ask brie to leave” it was clear as day and I knew it was what I needed for everything to pick back up again. But I wrestled with telling her for what felt like a mini-eternity. I didn’t want to hurt her feelings, I knew she had said she really wanted to be at the birth. I had planned on having her video the birth and take pictures (as long as Thad didn’t wake up), since I was always a little sad that I didn’t have video/pictures of Thad’s birth. Would brie take it the wrong way, or would she understand? I struggled with these things for a while, but I knew I had to ask her to leave. So, I asked her to go, and she did, and pretty much immediately things picked up again.

…. check back tomorrow for the rest of the story…

Rejoicing in the journey –
Bethany Stedman

If you like this post please consider buying me a cup of tea (Suggested: $3 a cup)

40 Weeks Pregnant

There’s actually lot I could write about right now, but the past few days all I can do is cry. Chalk it up to pregnancy hormones, a difficult goodbye, stress over the future, and of course the fact that I’m 40 weeks pregnant and the baby hasn’t come. Nothing too serious I guess, but enough to make me pretty emotional. And frankly crying doesn’t lend itself well to writing, at least not for me right now.

So, instead of writing a real post I’ll just give you that little update, share a few new belly pictures.

Rejoicing in the journey –
Bethany Stedman

If you like this post please consider buying me a cup of tea (Suggested: $3 a cup)

38.5 Weeks and a Recipe

This week I’m 38 weeks pregnant. And I am so done. I know it’s better for the baby to stay in as long as possible. I’ve read the research, and with Thaddeus I was totally willing to wait it out believing that was best for my baby. But, lately I just feel selfish. I really want this baby to come this week. But, I’m trying to prepare myself now for carrying to term. Somedays I do a great job just letting go and relaxing about it all, other days I don’t. Guess that’s normal though, right?

So, I decided I needed something to keep me distracted and cheer me up a little…my solution: cake. Something sweet and moist and yummy, but also somewhat healthy and fortifying. So, I made up my own recipe for groaning cake. The idea of the groaning cake is a cake that a women makes while in early labor, that she can then eat during and after labor to give her strength and energy. There are other traditions and superstitions that go along with the whole idea, and generally I find the concept fascinating. Seems like a good idea to me too… Something to keep you distracted in early labor, and provide you with much needed calories after labor.

At first I thought maybe my idea for cake was a little too ambitious, since I’ve been reacting to eggs lately, and making a cake without eggs isn’t exactly easy. But, I think I ended up making something that worked really well. I really liked how it turned out (granted my sister also tried it and didn’t like it at all, but my husband and toddler both liked it too so I figured three out of four was pretty good).

The cake has a dark, molasses-like, gram cracker-like, flavor. It’s not very sweet, but I don’t like things overly sweet anyway anymore. Here’s the recipe as I made it, along with the additions I plan on making when I do the next test run this week. If all goes as planned and the second cake turns out as well as the first (not to mention if the baby comes during the day and I’m up for cake making in early labor) I plan on making this cake as a birth day cake for baby girl.

Beth’s Groaning Cake

Ingredients:

2 or 3 plums (I used yellow plums, I think other fruits would work well too – I might try apples or cherries)
2 tablespoons yogurt (I used vanilla flavored sheep’s yogurt)
1/3 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup milk (I used whole raw milk)
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/3 cup coconut sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup mesquite flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Additions I plan on trying next time:

2 tablespoons hemp hearts
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
Some chopped walnuts

Directions:

Mix all ingredients, except plums, together.  Grease a cake pan with a bit of coconut oil and preheat oven to 350. Slice plums and arrange half the slices on the bottom of the pan. Pour cake mixture into pan. Arrange the rest of the plum slices on top of the cake. Bake for about 45 minutes or until done.

Have any of you heard of the tradition of a groaning cake?

Or made one yourself? If so, what was it like?

Or do you have any nutrient dense yumminess you think I should include next time I make this cake?

Rejoicing in the journey –

Bethany Stedman

If you like this post please consider buying me a cup of tea (Suggested: $3 a cup)

32 Weeks and 29 Years

I am 32 weeks pregnant this week and today I turn 29. In honor of these two significant numbers in my life this week I’m going to share with you all 3 things I’m praying for this baby + 2 things I’m praying for this birth. Then I’m gonna share 2 things I’m praying for this coming year + 9 things I’m thankful for from this past year.

3 + 2:

  1. I’m praying that this baby is a much calmer baby than Thad was – that she doesn’t have colic, that she sleeps well, that she’s not as sensitive as her brother, and generally that she’s the kind of baby her daddy was and not the kind of baby I was.
  2. I’m praying that she is light and joy. Maybe it sounds strange, but the first time I thought to myself “I think I’m pregnant” was on winter solstice, when light starts coming back into the world. Ever since then, I have had this prayer that I want this baby to bring light and joy. God knows that after this past few months Bryan and I and our whole family really need a ray of light and joy.
  3. I’m praying that this baby girl is wise beyond her years. I’m praying that although she would be full of joy and light and bring those things to all who know her that she would not be trivial or flighty. I pray that there would be a solidity and a wisdom to her that would be at the root of her joyfulness.

+

  1. I, of course, pray for a healthy birth for me and baby girl. I pray that there would be no complications, no need to transfer to the hospital, and for a quick and healthy afterbirth delivery with no excessive bleeding or hemorrhaging. I pray that the baby would have no problems and would adjust quickly to life outside the womb.
  2. I also pray for this birth that it would be a more grounded, joyful experience than my first birth. Thaddeus’ birth was beautiful and intimate, but it was also shockingly intense and overwhelming. I feel like I know more of what to expect this time and I hope and pray that will make it less intense and shocking and enable me to be more grounded and joyful in the process. My first birth was also a very intimate experience between Bryan and I, which I loved, but this time I feel the need for more feminine energy, involvement, and nurturing, and pray that I can find that.

2 + 9:

  1. This coming year feels so uncertain for me still and so I pray often for clarity and guidance as we step into it.
  2. I also pray for place…for a place that we can belong and feel at home. A place where we can rest, heal, connect, feel supported, grow into ourselves, etc.

+

  1. I’m thankful for our friendship with the Stewart family over this past year. We haven’t seen them in six months, but they were a life-line of support, creativity, love and friendship for us the first half of my 28th year and I am so grateful that I know that no matter where life takes them and us they will always be dear friends.
  2. Another couple that was such a blessing to Bryan and I this past year is the Schwenders. Carrie and Mathias, we are so grateful for you both and all that you have done for us. We miss you guys – miss our prayer times, drinking times, Friends watching times, Želivka picnicking times, and just being with you both!
  3. I’m also grateful that for half of this past year of my life I got to meet regularly with some of the most beautiful women I know. The three of you were an enormous encouragement to me! Thank you!
  4. I’m thankful that this year Thaddeus moved out of the baby stage and into the toddler stage. Sure there are struggles with having a toddler, but I am so grateful for his growing independence and most of all his growing vocabulary. The first year of motherhood was so hard for me, and I’m so grateful that this second year has been much better.
  5. As always, I’m thankful for Bryan. I can’t imagine walking through life with anyone else. He is an encouragement, strength, and deep friend. Bryan, I love you, and I really like you too! I would rather spend time with you than anyone else in the world. Thank you for the amazing husband and father you have been, especially in this past year. Whatever comes, I’m glad we get to face it together.
  6. The past few years have been difficult for us financially, but as I look back especially over this past year I can see time and time again how God has stepped in and provided for us, occasionally in big ways, but more often in little ways – like the time when I really wanted butter, but Bryan hadn’t been paid on a project yet and we literally didn’t have money for butter that week, but found EXACTLY the amount for butter in coins on the street while taking a walk. I’m really thankful for God’s provision over this past year.
  7. I’m so thankful that we started co-sleeping and have kept that up this whole past year. It was one of the best things that happened for me this year.
  8. I’m thankful that we were able to come back to the states when we did and that we’ve been able to see my chiropractor and midwife and spend time with family and friends here for the past few months.
  9. I’m thankful for the baby growing in my womb. As difficult as this pregnancy has been and even with as freaked out and unprepared as I sometimes feel to have two kids, I am so thankful for this baby girl and so excited to meet her in just a few more weeks.

Well, hope you enjoyed this little look into my current thoughts and prayers. Maybe someday my blog will go back to being slightly less personal, but for now it’s just nice to write about where I’m at. Thanks for continuing to read 🙂

Rejoicing in the journey –
Bethany Stedman

If you like this post please consider buying me a cup of tea (Suggested: $3 a cup)