I can't write Everett’s birth story without first updating on the story of Gods amazing power in the midst of a confusing pregnancy. If you need an update on what went down, read here.
Before the birth
The plan from about 24 weeks (when we found out about the kell antigen) to 37 weeks, was to deliver in the hospital with the OB who works closely with our midwife. He is well respected and I felt really comfortable with him delivering our baby. We continued prenatal care with our midwife at the birth center and the plan was to deliver in the hospital since we most likely would need an induction. As we approached our due date, our MFM doctor kept pushing our delivery time back. We thought we would need to deliver between 36-37 weeks but she told us it would be safe to go to 39 weeks. We were excited about this but also confused since we thought this probably meant he would be healthy.
At 37 weeks, we got a call from our midwife telling us that our OB was going out of town straight through my due date. He communicated to her that based on my scans and blood work, he felt comfortable with her delivering Everett in the birth center. I was absolutely shocked when I heard this. Aren't we high risk? Don't we NEED to be in the hospital in case E is born sick? The next day we met with our MFM doctor for the last time and told her the recommendation from our OB to see what she would say. To our surprise she completely agreed and told us it was up to our comfort level where we delivered. She assured us he was at the lowest risk for severe anemia and that the "worst" that could happen would be that he was born with mild anemia (jaundice), which isn't an emergency and could be handled at the hospital later.
I cried every day that whole week. We had already been on such a roller coaster throughout the pregnancy, and it felt like too much to handle this close to the end. I had spent half my pregnancy really wrapping my mind around a hospital birth, preparing my heart, surrendering my desire to have a healthy baby, learning about induction, etc. Now all of the sudden it was as if there was never any risk and we were right back to where we started. It just felt like our health care providers kept changing their perspectives and that left me feeling really overwhelmed.
The unknown was scary but one thing pushed us over the edge in our decision. My dad had pointed out that we had been praying for Everett's health and for peace in the birth process all along, and that we should trust God and our doctors if they were saying all was well. That brought me so much peace, and so we made plans to deliver at the birth center and get all of Everett's blood work done with our pediatrician later that day. He needed extra blood work to ensure there was no late onset of anemia and to test for the kell antigen in his blood.
I wish I could say I was at complete peace leading up to his birth, but I wasn't. I needed to fight daily to believe that God was able to sustain us and prayed constantly for peace and the health of our son. With both of my labors, I never had many signs that I was in labor prior to. I was extremely anxious this time around, and felt like every day leading up to his birth I was just waiting for it to happen.
Monday January 25th 8:30 pm: I'd been having light cramps for months, but in the last week they had been getting stronger. Like bad menstrual cramps. I started to feel them a little more around this time but didn't want to think anything of it.
9 pm: Jordan and I were watching TV and I was bouncing on the exercise ball. The cramps were feeling more contraction like...I can't explain it but something was different and I was pretty convinced this was labor. I told Jordan and we both got excited but didn't feel very emotionally prepared. I think we were so emotionally exhausted from the whole pregnancy. We kept watching TV, laughing and just hanging out.
9:30 pm: Well, these cramps are really coming on, and they seem to be building. I told Jordan I was feeling them more and that I was going to go take a bath and relax. I thought I better start timing them to see if they were consistent.
10:30 pm: I had been timing my contractions for an hour and they were exactly 10 minutes apart and getting stronger. I decided to text my midwife, photographer and doula to let them know, and to tell them I was going to go to bed. When I got out of the tub, I got dressed but didn't make it to bed, I had to get down on the floor to bear through the contractions. They started getting very painful all at once. Jordan and I decided he should still try to get some sleep so Jordan laid down, but only for about 30 minutes because my contractions were getting so intense so quickly that I needed him with me. I also wanted to keep timing them to make sure we knew when to let our birth team know and head to the birth center.
After this - time escaped me. I was in a crazy place. Emotionally I was not doing well. When each contraction came on I was overcome with terrible thoughts about how I couldn't do this, I was such a wimp, and that I just wanted to go to the hospital and get an epidural. These are thoughts I've never had before, so it was scary for me. I tried my best to breathe, relax, and try different positions but nothing was helping. With Reaghan I felt like Jordan's verbal encouragement was a major source of pain relief, but even that wasn't helping. I was making low tones (unintentional, just needed to get it out during a contraction), and found it extremely hard to not tense up. Letting go and allowing my body to relax was the hardest thing to do.
Luckily, Jordan was loading up our car in between contractions, and I had already let my neighbor know that I was in labor earlier that evening, in case they needed to come over and be with Reaghan while we went to the birth center.
Around 1 am (maybe?) I was begging for my doula and to go to the birth center to labor there. I had my heart set on laboring in this giant tub in our birth suite, but that never happened! My sweet husband was totally encouraging me but was feeling like it was way too early to have our doula come. It was funny seeing the text messages later between him and my doula saying at 1:30 am that "things were getting intense but we still had a ways to go." Little did he know.
I had Jordan pressing down on my tailbone with all his weight during a contraction to relieve some of the pain. This was the ONLY relief I got the entire time, and even that wasn't very much. After a really strong contraction, on my next contraction my body started pushing. The exact same thing happened with Rae, I never needed to try to push, my body just did it. At this point I screamed at Jordan that I was pushing and that we needed to go NOW. He gathered up the rest of our things incredibly fast and got me in the car. I pushed the front seat back as far as it would go and tried to lean on the seat while I was on my knees. Jordan was inside waiting for our neighbors to walk over to our house, and making sure we didn't forget anything and it felt like an eternity! In reality it was probably 3 minutes. I started banging on the car horn trying to get him to come out because my contractions were crazy painful and pushy.
Probably 5 minutes into the car ride my water broke and I started feeling him coming down hard. It felt like his head was coming out. I was screaming like a crazy person and telling Jordan I didn't want to have a baby in the car and that he was coming out now. I could feel Jordan step on the gas and I was just praying we would get there.
When we arrived at the birth center my midwife basically carried me to our birth suite. I honestly don't remember how I got there. My eyes were completely closed and I was just doing everything she told me to do like...breathe.
All I could hear were the midwives rushing around and giving instructions to each other. They were filling up the tub super quick as I laid in bed. I got in the tub and prayed hard this would be over soon, because I honestly didn't feel like I could take any more. Within 20 minutes our sweet Everett was born at 2:32 am.
Since everything happened so fast, Jordan never texted our photographer back. So, we don't have any pictures of our labor, just after he was born! The first week of recovery was rough, definitely harder the second time around. I also felt like my body was in shock from how quickly labor progressed. It seemed like I couldn't get enough food and water in my body to regain my energy for the first 24 hours after, and we were exhausted.
Not only were we physically exhausted, but emotionally too. Seeing Everett for the first time and how pink he was was a very emotional experience. We thought he would come out with mild anemia and be yellow from the build up of bilirubin, but he wasn't. Me and my midwife just kept saying "he's pink!" over and over.
After getting mended and cleaned up, the birth center draws an herbal bath for mama and baby. This was definitely my favorite part. Just sitting in the warm tub and relaxing for a long while, soaking up my beautiful HEALTHY son, and chatting with Jordan and my friend Casey, who was also our photographer.
I don't know how else to describe this experience except that my life is changed. I feel different. My relationship with God is different. I've let go of A LOT that I had held onto as a brand new mom. Things I felt I had to do to fit in with other moms, or just be the "perfect mom." Things that Rae did as a newborn that stressed me out seemed to roll off me faster this time around. When you're faced with really scary news, all those trivial things fade away. I have so much more gratitude in my heart for this little life and life in general. My heart is more connected to eternity than it ever was before.
This was an incredibly emotional moment for me, when our birth team prayed over us. Just to hear their words and to know that they all had been praying tirelessly for our son over the last several months, meant the world to me. All of the sudden everything was hitting me - we had a healthy baby boy, and God gave us back everything we had surrendered over to him. Throughout my pregnancy, I heard he could be still born, have multiple blood transfusions in the womb, have anemia, heart failure, fluid around his organs. I was told to expect to deliver early, be induced, expect NICU time. Literally not one of those things happened, and God graciously gave back to us the sweetness of being able to have a natural birth in our birth center, such a comforting environment for our family. I'm still in such awe over what God has done and the grace he showed us.
All throughout my pregnancy I kept dwelling on the fact that I just wanted our son in my arms. I wanted to hold him so bad, I wanted to see him and know that he was okay. He's such a snuggly baby and gets so peaceful when he lays his head on my shoulder. I absolutely love those moments. I haven't been able to stop thinking that he rushed out in such a hurry just to get inside our arms.
Our prayer warrior midwife, Donnellyn. Jordan and I have said countless times to each other what a blessing she is to us. She became so much more than our health care provider, she was fighting for us in prayer over Everett's life, and with us 100% of the way. She visited the specialist with us, personally met with our pediatrician to come up with a plan for after-birth, prayed with me and for me, told me hard things I needed to hear, and educated herself on something she hadn't encountered so far in her career. I can't imagine having anyone else support us as we bring our babies into this world.
Sweet Evie, we love you so much and are so grateful for your life.