She’s here! At long last…..I’d love to share our birth story with you! You’re about to read one of my most empowering moments I have ever experienced in my life. Here we go….xo
We prefer to not find out the gender of our babies at the ultrasound appointment. Instead, we have the tech [Thank you Jessy!] write it out for us and seal up the envelope. We pretty much torture ourselves all day…until our dinner date that same evening. It was just the two of us…..mommy and daddy….at Latitude48, where we opened up the envelope.
ITS A GIRL!!!!!
We were thrilled. And mama cried……happy tears, of course.
Fast forward to the morning of October 21, 2016 [our due date].
Waking up with a stuffy nose was pretty common for me during both pregnancies. It wasn’t a cold, but just extra congestion, I guess. I got up to blow my nose….and felt something else dislodging down south. I knew exactly what this was, but I still “googled” it…..and sure enough it was the mucus plug [go ahead and google it yourself- its amazing what people put up on the internet]. I felt fine, but excitement grew as I knew this was the beginning of a birth story!
It was a gloomy day out and Ezra had the day off from school…..so we called it a cozy day at home, watching movies….AFTER a drive to Krispy Kreme [which has just opened up about a week prior]. I had Ezra take a photo of me before we left the house, mainly because what I was wearing out was absolutely ridiculous [and I had to send my sisters this photo via text], but it’s special as it’s the last photo taken of me pregnant!
At this point I wasn’t sure how or when things would progress so I tried to just enjoy the day just the two of us……which we did!
These were so worth the drive….
From here on out…..there’s not many photos as you’ll soon read why….
Nothing more happened all day. We just rested on the couch and watched movies. I was seriously soaking in this day- just me and Ezra.
Reed brought dinner home and it just so happened to be Taco Del Sol. This was exactly what I craved at the beginning of this pregnancy so looking back on this last meal….we came full circle. Around 9:30pm Reed decided it was time for bed. Although I wasn’t tired, it crossed my mind that I should get sleep…..this baby was definitely going to be coming soon and I should be rested!
At exactly 10:20pm I experienced my first contraction.
OH MY GOODNESS! I knew this was it.
Every mom before me would say “you just know” whenever I would ask “How do you know you’re really going into labor?” They were right! And I KNEW this was it. I immediately grabbed for my phone and opened up my Baby Center app, which had a contraction counter. I recorded this first contraction and every single one thereafter, up until I left for the hospital.
I’ll just pause here and explain Reeds role in our birth plan. He was not going to be my birth coach. He wanted to support me, but in other ways…..like refilling my cups of ice at the hospital ect….he was pretty traumatized from Eras birth, mainly because we didn’t have any support and we had NO IDEA what we were doing. This time around….the Lord provided not only two new friendships during this season in my life, but two women [Brooke & Abigail] who are passionate about birth…who would become my birth coaches.
*Side note- Abigail is a mother of 6 beautiful daughters, all birthed at home and one was delivered by the legendary Ina Mae. I was in good hands, to say the least.
I never did wake Reed up while I began to have contractions. Not only was I committed to “sticking to the plan,” but it honestly never crossed my mind. As soon as this first contraction happened……a serious focus came over me. I never even took a breathing class, but breathing instantly became my focus…the very thing that got me through every single contraction….from the beginning to the end.
I labored in our bed from 10pm until 1am [yep, Reed is still fast asleep].My contractions started getting a little more intense and closer together so I thought it would be best if I moved downstairs.
Ok, so can we talk about the time in between contractions?!? I had no idea what a relief that time is. I mean, it was a few minutes of no pain and I either caught a quick 7 minute nap or I just enjoyed the burst of energy. INCREDIBLE! I was not expecting this at all. To go from not being able to walk or speak to feeling like I could throw on a load of laundry is still so unbelievable to me.
I labored downstairs on my own from 1am-5am. So, thats about 7 hours of laboring on my own. Sounds like quite an experience to be on your own…..but I never felt alone. I felt the presence of the Lord very near to me. There was no fear. I never felt the need to call or text people- it just felt right to embrace this part of a sacred life experience on my own.
Never once was I scared. I wasn’t ever thinking of the actual delivery part at this point either. I just focused on the present and prepared myself for the next contraction. That’s it. I also just fell into the presence of the Lord. There was a peace surrounding my mind and about trusting my body and ultimately trusting the Lord- that His eye was on me and He would see me through this. I believed with all my heart. My prayer during my entire pregnancy was that I would have a fearless labor and delivery. My birth plan was to trust my body. I was created to have babies…..I wanted to allow myself to walk in full faith and strength….into the unknown.
I experienced pain and there were definitely moments where I thought to myself….”I can’t do this.”
Around 5am Brooke and Abigail arrived at our home. It was dark outside. There was 1 light on in the house and I had lavender essential oil diffusing in the kitchen. I remember the environment well. It was peaceful. All I could hear was my breath. When the ladies arrived…..my contractions were definitely more on the intense side and closer together. As soon as they walked in the door…..they walked quietly over to the couch and sat on each side of me. When another wave came over me…..they breathed alongside of me. Their breath matched mine and I vividly remember thinking “I CAN DO THIS” right smack in the middle of that contraction. It’s AMAZING what support does for our heart and soul.
Around 5:45am I was having contractions about every 5-7 minutes. I had become nauseous at this point and eventually threw up once or twice. Abigail suggested that I call my OBGYN and let her know that we would be headed to the hospital soon. Like I mentioned earlier- I felt like a million bucks in between contractions….so much so that my Dr questioned how far along I really could be, while we were on the phone.
She said “Kelli, you seem really calm right now.”
I said “I know! But Im calling you in between a contraction, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to speak to you.”
She told me to head on in…..
If you’re still reading this……this is where it gets good, funny and just mind-blowing!
So, I needed to grab my hospital bag which was upstairs in our bedroom. There were toiletries that I had yet to pack because I was still using them daily. So…..up the stairs I went! As I began to take steps…..I could tell things were shifting. I had a contraction half way up the stairs and again while sitting at the foot of our bed. And in case you were wondering…..yes, Reed is still asleep. I remember thinking how peaceful this process has been as I was sitting on the bed and both Reed and now Ezra were fast asleep as I was breathing through very intense contractions.
I grabbed my things…..and began to head downstairs. Once again….not just one, but two contractions as I walked down the stairs. I barely made it to the leather chair in our living room….I needed to sit down and as soon as my contraction hit…..I not only need to thrown up, but I had to go to bathroom. Sure enough……I ran to the bathroom and peed all the way there! WHAT WAS MY BODY DOING?!? I felt so out of control, yet in control. It was strange. As I was kneeling over the toilet, Abigail offered to bring me a new pair of sweatpants before heading to the hospital. She asked if Reed would know where to find what I needed…..and I laughed. I wasn’t sure, but there was no way I could walk back up those stairs. I trusted that Reed would figure something out.
When Abigail returned….not only did she have the tiniest pair of Forever21 leggings in her hand, but she had THONG UNDERWEAR!!! ARE YOU JOKING ME, REED?!?! WHAT IN THE WORLD?!?!?! I definitely wasn’t laughing in the moment [although I have laughed for hours about it now], but my focus was so laser sharp there was no time for shenanigans. I picked myself up off the floor and bee-lined it back up the stairs and changed my clothes.
Although it seems crazy that I walked back up the stairs….Im so happy that I did. By this time, Reed had hopped in the shower and Ezra was awake. I stopped to hug and kiss my baby boy. I told him I was heading to the hospital and that I would see him there and that baby sister was coming. I still remember seeing him on the bed. He was my 4 year old. My baby. He still looked small to me. Having that one last look at him and moment with him…..just him and I….was super special.
Once again….contraction after contraction as I was heading up and down those stairs!
We got in the car and headed straight to the hospital. Brooke and Abigail were prepared! They had a towel folded in the front seat, along with a trash can! I probably had 3-4 contractions on the way to hospital, which is only about a 7 minute drive from our house. We were all just breathing together.
We parked. I got out…and walked quickly inside. I sat down on the bench in-between the two glass entry doors and breathed through another contraction. I walked up to the birthing center registration desk and experience what felt like a scene from Zootopia, you know….the Sloths! Oh my gosh!
I had 2 more contractions at the registration desk [almost threw up in the waiting room]……and another while walking down the hall towards the nurses desk.
These next moments here…..could have changed the course of my entire experience.
I looked up at the group of nurses standing at their station and I wondered who would be assigned to me.
“Lord, please appoint the perfect nurse for me” is what I prayed.
When the older nurse with the two braids and glasses walked towards me…..I knew immediately that she was the one. It was confirmed when another wave came over me and instead of raising her voice for help……she took a few steps towards us and smiled. I knew she knew what we were about. As Brooke and Abigail held me up and were breathing alongside of me…..this nurse [much love to you Jill] began to do the same and when it passed she said in the kindest voice “your baby is coming.”
We walked into my birthing room and as soon as I sat on the end of the bed…..another wave came over me, but this time I had the urge to push!!!!!
I still had no idea what this meant. As I said out loud that I had to push….I was pushing. I honestly wasn’t sure what was happening or how close I was to delivering my baby. Deep down inside I really believed my nurse was going to tell me that I was dilated to a 5. Never EVER did I think I’d walk into the hospital and be ready to deliver my baby within minutes! She asked if I had a healthy pregnancy…..as there was no time for IV’s to be placed. She asked about my birth plan and Abigail spoke on my behalf and answered “As natural as possible.”
When I heard those words come out of Abigails mouth I got a little nervous. I mean, would I REALLY be able to pull off a natural birth? I was definitely going to give it 100%, but I wasn’t fully sure of myself. This here is the reason us women need other women in our lives, especially during a time as this. They believed in me….more than I was believing in myself.
Well, I still had my pants on! And my sweet nurse just said “Well, if you’re pushing…we gotta get those pants off!” Once again, my nurse was so calm….and was just the most perfect addition to my birth team.
I pushed twice before my Dr even arrived. She was clearly shocked to see that I had progressed this far along- on my own- in the comfort of my own home. There was no time for talking at this point…..my baby girl was on her way!
I just have to say….even at this stage of labor…there was still a peace over me. I felt so calm and collected. I was very aware of my surroundings and what I needed to do.
As I pushed again…..I quickly glanced around the room and thought to myself “Reed isn’t here!” I wondered if I could stop the process- just suck up the baby for a moment. NOPE! Not happening. I had to re-focus myself and stick to the plan. I was breathing deeply at this point, I actually needed to change my breath to short pants of breath. Our babies heart rate was beginning to drop so I really needed these final pushes to bring her earthside.
I started to question myself- thoughts were quickly coming and going….one of them being if I could just not push anymore and buy some time….or just hang out a bit. Obviously not an option. For a moment….I felt in between two worlds and a mountain in front me as I was faced with a choice. No one could do this for me. I had the best of help on both sides of me….even my Dr, who I was locked eyes with. I spoke to myself….”You can this, Kelli.”
Next, a low groan accompanied my final pushes. I had never heard this sound come out of me before. Once again, Brooke and Abigail were on each side of me…..matching my every breath and groan. I remember Abigail calling it the birthing groan. They were so in this with me….I was not on my own.
Im not sure how many more times I pushed, but what I do know is that I checked into the hospital 6:55am, my Dr broke my water at 7:14am and our sweet baby girl was born at 7:48am.
The first words out of my Dr’s mouth were “you have a red head!”
My Dr was handing her to me in mid air when in come walking Reed and Ezra! They were RIGHT ON TIME! It could not have been better timing and I love that Ezra was there too! The three of us were looking at the 4th member of our family, together. That moment is a forever one. So special.
She was 8.06 pounds and 19 1/2 inches long…..and perfectly healthy! Praise God!
The story behind her name // IMOGENE JOY
We have this thing…we want to see our baby before giving an official name. For 7 straight months the name on the top of our list was Esther. One week before she was born….I was talking with a friend that inspired the name IMOGENE. Reed had suggested a few times that my middle name [Jean] be part of our daughters name. My moms middle name was Jean and my grandmothers first name was Jean. So, although its not spelled the same…we refreshed it and made this into a family name. As soon as we saw her face and her wild ginger-y hair……we both looked at each other and agreed that IMOGENE was the perfect name for her. JOY was a word spoken over me during my pregnancy [thank you Cameron, Heather & Vanessa] so it seemed fitting to include this promise in her name.
For hours and days following….I was constantly reminiscing about my birth story. It was special to have Brooke and Abigail there to recount all the sweet details….as well as make phone calls telling my friends and family about what I had just done.
I HAD A NATURAL BIRTH!!!!!!!
If you know me at all, you know how HUGE this is for me. There was a time when I thought about not having children, mainly because I didn’t want to face the pain of childbirth….or spending time in a hospital.
My birth experience is my experience. It doesn’t make me better than anyone or my story more powerful than another birth story. The fact that us women grow a baby in our bodies for 9 months and deliver them earthside, regardless of how it is done…..is a miracle! This birth has empowered me personally. What I set out to do and put my mind to…..has been a beautiful testimony to me that I [we] are capable of more than we think we are. And that God is a God of love and redemption. I needed this. This story is mine and was beautifully designed for me….for such a time as this.
Im proud of myself. Im proud to have faced years and years of fear. Im proud to have faced the unknown. Im proud to have pursued support for this pregnancy, labor and delivery. Imogene’s birth story is drastically different than Ezras…..I learned a lot from my first go around and I knew I wanted something different. More than that….I needed to experience something different and the Lord provided every step of the way. As my sweet nurse Jill said…..I wouldn’t have had this birth story without Ezras birth story. I love how life is so intertwined and God always works all things together for good.
I would have a million more babies the way Imogene was born.
Ezra is praying for another baby…..mainly because he misses my belly.
For now….we are enjoying and adjusting to being a family of four.
Thank you Jesus for this gift of LIFE. We so needed this.