My strategy with Cooper was one of avoidance. Don’t do the research, don’t read into how difficult it would be, and don’t think about it. Ignorance is bliss. I had a beautiful birth with Cooper but at the same time, I wanted more. I’ll save Cooper’s story for another day.
My pregnancy with Reagan was entirely different and yet exactly the same as
I actually did my research this time. A book that totally changed the game for me was, “Made For This” by Mary Haseltine. It explained birth through the lens of the Catholic faith and helped me prepare for a spiritual and empowering birth. Alongside that book, I began listening to the Birth Hour which is an amazing podcast that tells all sorts of birth stories from different women with different experiences. Listening to it helped me gain perspective. It made me feel more prepared for the choices I might have to make.
There were four specific things I was praying for during my pregnancy. First, a healthy baby. Second, that she would come a little bit before her due date because I was the Matron of Honor in a wedding the week after her due date. Third, a non-induced, unmedicated birth. And fourth, success at breastfeeding.
As my due date approached I was grappling with the question of whether or not I should schedule an induction or let myself go past my due date and possibly miss my friend’s wedding. I ended up scheduling the induction with the hope of labor beginning earlier.
At 5:30 am on May 22, four days before her due date, I felt my first (little, tiny, very weak) real contraction. I started praying the Rosary out of excitement, counting every contraction and holding my breath in hopes they wouldn’t taper off. I couldn’t go back to sleep so I got out of bed and went downstairs.
My morning was dreamy. My dad and I chatted over scrambled eggs and toast before I saw him off to work. Then, My mom and I chatted over a cup of coffee as Cooper played with cars on the floor beside us. Every two to four minutes I continued to feel the joy of early labor contractions. Not strong, but consistent.
When my husband finally woke we decided to go walk around the mall to keep em’ coming. I could feel them getting stronger and was strangely excited when I had to stop walking to work through them. On the way home from the mall, around 11:30 am, I decided to call the hospital to see when I should think about heading in. To my delight, the nurse told me to pack my bags and head over!
When we got to the hospital it was about 12:45. We signed all the papers and went up to triage where they checked me to see if I should be admitted. At this point, I was holding my breath hoping I wouldn’t get sent home. The verdict was in, and I was 5cm dilated but they left us guessing a little bit by calling my doctor to see if she wanted me to stay. Of course, they couldn’t track her down so we waited and wondered for a half hour or so.
A nurse came in and decided to get my IV placed which meant it was game time. They moved us from triage to our labor and delivery room. Once we were settled in we started walking around the unit. One lap around and we ran into my doctor who asked to check me to see how I was progressing. If I had the baby before 5 pm my doctor would be the one delivering her, but any time after that it would be whoever was on call.
We decided to break my water to speed things up. Once she did that everything felt like it happened so quickly. I could no longer talk or move during the contractions. I spent most the time standing, bent over my bed squeezing a pillow. It was one of the most intense things I’ve ever experienced.
During this part, I lost all track of time. The only thing I was focused on was getting through each contraction. They were coming quickly now, and I couldn’t find a position that was even remotely comfortable. I finally caved and asked for the epidural. I was already 8 1/2 cm dilated at this point and in hindsight, I shouldn’t have bothered with it. Sitting still during contractions so they can stick a giant needle in your back is not ideal.
Right after the epidural was placed I had the urge to push. It didn’t have time to kick in before Reagan was out in the world – her little cries echoing throughout the hospital room. She was delivered at 4:37 pm weighing 7 pounds 2 ounces. No feeling compares to the relief of labor being over and the joy of holding your little one for the first time. There was so much energy, joy, and love flooding the room. It was an incredible experience.
The epidural kicked in after so I laid in bed with Reagan while I waited to gain feeling back in my legs. In the meantime, we worked on breastfeeding. This sweet baby latched on perfectly. We’ve had a smooth nursing experience so far and it’s been such a blessing!
All my prayers were answered. It was a beautiful and empowering birth. I know not everyone’s experience is as wonderful – mine with Cooper was definitely more difficult – but it’s possible and it’s worth pursuing.
God loves when we ask great things of Him! So ask away and accept in loving trust whatever He sends to you. We are so thankful for the gift of Reagan Elyse <3