Olive's birth Part 1: The Buildup

It's hard to even know where to begin when writing Olive's birth story. It was such a long, emotional journey and yet I already feel that familiar feeling of the experience being over much too soon. There is a quote by Dr. Grantly Dick-Read that says,

"Many women have described their experiences of childbirth as being associated with a spiritual uplifting, the power of which they have never previously been aware...To such a woman childbirth is a monument of joy within her memory. She turns to it in thought to seek again an ecstasy which passed too soon."

 When I started to write this, that's what I felt. As hard as this pregnancy and birth were for me, it is such a tender, sweet memory and it's almost sad that it's over...what a crazy mixture of feelings.

This pregnancy came as quite a surprise to us and although it did take me a small amount of time to be accepting of it, I eventually fell in love with the idea of bringing another baby into this world. We always knew we wanted more children in our family, but God wanted to send another little one more quickly than we had planned. I had much more anxiety this pregnancy than ever before...how on earth would I mother three little ones under the age of three and a half? I worried so much about my capacity to love and to give them each the things they need. I prayed so much that I could step up to the task of being responsible for three beautiful little souls who depend on me so much. For as much anxiety as I felt, I also felt a tremendous amount of peace. Heavenly Father would send me little answers here and there, telling me that things would be alright and that this baby was coming to us at precisely the right time. I tried to remember those tender experiences when I would get extra anxious or worried about the thought of adding to our family sooner than we had planned (I am a planner by nature and if motherhood has taught me anything, it's that things don't always go according to my plans...and even if that's uncomfortable to me, God's plans always end up better in the end...always!).

Since the pregnancy came as a bit of a surprise, it's no shock that our due date was iffy. According to my last menstrual period, my due date would have been October 14th or 16th. When I was 21 weeks along, I went in for an ultrasound to check on the baby's health. Everything looked perfect, but the baby measured small, putting my due date as November 4th. I never felt convinced that that due date was correct because there would have been no way to know I was pregnant if I was really that much less advanced in my pregnancy. I mentally prepared myself for an October-ish baby, thinking the baby would probably come in mid to late October. I didn't really expect a November baby for whatever reason...I guess I should have opened my mind a little more to that possibility looking back!

As a side note, we decided before I was even pregnant again that we wouldn't find out the gender of this baby. I am the most impatient person when it comes to surprises and never thought I'd wait until birth to find out what the baby is, but since we already have a boy and a girl, we thought it might be kind of fun to add another element to the pregnancy. Now that the pregnancy is over and we have found out our surprise...I am still a bit on the fence about whether or not I'd not find out again. It certainly was a joy to learn that the baby was a girl after her birth! But I don't know if I am patient enough to do it again (if we have another baby). I guess I like either way :)

(<------------ 8 days to go until my "due date")

I started to have some early labor at the beginning of October. Not any contractions that I had to really stop through, but definitely things that were my body preparing for the real deal. On October 7th, I had contractions that were 5 minutes apart all evening long. That started to get me excited. Then, on October 9th, we were at church and I began to have contractions that were fairly strong and 5 minutes apart (lasting 1 minute). After an hour, they were 3 minutes apart, so I texted my midwife to let her know that something might be happening. Since my last birth had started and stopped just like this one, then proceeded very quickly at the end, my midwife suggested we go home and get prepared just in case. We left church early to get the house cleaned up and what do you know...the contractions just stopped! I was so disappointed. But, later that night, all of the sudden I felt such pressure in my lower back...I could literally feel the baby's head right below my tailbone. I called my midwife and had her come over just to make sure I wasn't going to be popping out a baby any time soon. The reason I felt nervous is because although I wasn't having contractions, that is exactly how I felt just moments before Maude was born...I didn't want to all of the sudden be in full blown labor and be alone (it's happened before)! My midwife came over and checked me and I was only dilated to 2 centimeters, so she obviously left. I felt better that even if something were to happen, it wouldn't be super quick because I still needed to dilate quite a bit. I had contractions throughout that night and the rest of the morning which once again really made me think that the baby would be arriving soon. She was super low down and just waiting to make her appearance. But, once again, labor just stalled out and I went throughout the rest of the week without anything regular happening.

For some reason, my body likes to go into labor on Sundays, because the next Sunday, I did the same thing again. I stayed home from church to get some rest and what do you know...I began to have really regular, close together contractions. I tried really hard not to get my hopes up, but of course I did. And of course, the second I alerted anyone that something could be happening...they stopped. Huge bummer.

This type of pattern went on and on for weeks. Eventually, it got very mentally challenging for me. I just wished that I could know when it would happen. Even though I was past my "due date," I wasn't really concerned. I was mostly just anxious about the fact that it seemed to start and then it'd stop. I had experienced that with Maude's labor over about two days and it seemed like the longest wait ever. I thought no birth could ever top that but boy was I proven wrong! The wait for this birth definitely topped Maude's in the length department!

On Sunday, October 23rd, I was a few days past my due date and went into "labor." Contractions were very regular and close together and I thought for sure things would happen. My midwife came over and of course, once more my labor stalled. She checked me and I was only dilated to 3 centimeters. I was so sad and felt defeated. After all, I had been contracting fairly hard all afternoon and no change? We talked about the idea of breaking my water to get things moving so Travis and I decided to go on a walk to discuss it. It was about 4 am when we went for a walk. Before we left, he gave me a Priesthood blessing that we would be able to know what we should do and feel peaceful about it. As we discussed all of our options on the walk, we both kept feeling like we needed to be more patient and just wait. As much as we felt like we could break my water and probably have things end up being okay, we didn't feel good about taking any sort of risk that could compromise the health of the baby or make us end up in the hospital out of impatience. I knew that if we rushed things and didn't feel peaceful about it, if things were to go differently than we had planned and we needed to end up transferring to the hospital, that I would have a very hard time emotionally with a different outcome and I wasn't prepared to be disappointed with myself like that simply because I became impatient. I was open to God's will and knew that things would go according to His plan...and I was okay with that. I wasn't okay with interfering because I knew impatience could lead to a different outcome than we wanted. We went back, told my midwife, and she and her assistants left. I felt so good that day...really happy and at peace with our decision. The next day, however, the impatience crept back in and I was back to feeling really anxious and ready for the baby to arrive!

(<---------- Pictures of our family at the Halloween party I thought I'd be bringing a newborn to!)

My mom decided to come down and be with me that week since Travis had to go back to his clinical rotation and I was worried about being alone when labor actually hit. She got here on October 25th and we hoped that the baby would come soon. Of course, no signs of labor...at all. Finally, during the night before Halloween, I had contractions all night long that made me think maybe we'd have a Halloween baby. Of course by morning, they were gone and I was a little relieved we weren't going to have a holiday baby :) But that meant...November! What a surprise. We were going to have a November baby.
I really tried hard to be patient in the last weeks of this pregnancy and I would have days where I'd be okay, then I'd have days where I wasn't okay at all. I just wanted to meet this baby. I wasn't terribly uncomfortable physically - thankfully, I tend to have fairly easy pregnancies. But I found myself slipping into a depressed, anxious state more and more as the days passed. That scared me because I didn't want to be depressed when my baby came and I most definitely didn't want to experience postpartum depression again. I felt so guilty for feeling sad that my baby was taking so long. After all, so many people simply desire to be pregnant or to stay pregnant for 40 weeks. And here I was feeling anxious that I was still pregnant. I recognized however that my feelings were valid and probably created by all of the hormones that were on a roller coaster. I tried not to focus too much on any feeling - guilt or impatience - because either way, it'd leave me feeling sad. I prayed a lot during this time for help from Heavenly Father. I asked Him to either please make the baby come soon or at least support me during the time I had remaining. I did find that He supported me. I wasn't left alone completely and that reassured me. Each time I met with my midwife, I felt better and when we'd talk about rushing things in an aggressive way, I didn't feel peaceful about it. I just felt, as much as I wanted to fight it, that the baby needed more time inside of me.

I tried various things after my due date to speed things along but nothing was working. I literally tried every natural method possible (black and blue cohosh, stripping membranes, lots of walking, sex, acupuncture, strong chinese herbs, nipple stimulation, magnesium to create diarrhea/contractions, etc). NOTHING would rush this baby. In many ways, I am glad I tried all of those things because even though each time nothing would come of it, it gave me an increased amount of patience that told me it was okay to wait and that the baby was just not ready yet.

So we continued to wait. And wait. And wait. 

Up next...REAL labor begins.