I told myself the entire pregnancy that I would go at least a week past my due date. Little did I know that I would go exactly a week past March 14th. But of course every time something different happened or I felt something slightly out of the ordinary the week leading up to the 14th and the days following, I would wonder if maybe that day was *the day*. The Braxton Hicks contractions were getting more and more uncomfortable, and many times I would look down at my stomach and see that it had molded into the shape of our baby, however she was positioned at the time. I had a very strange looking stomach at times. 😉
Wednesday evening around 5:00 pm, my midwife texted me and told me that she was going in at 6 for a 90 minute massage. If everything was still pretty chill with me, she was going to turn her phone off, but could definitely leave it on if I wanted her to. I wasn’t feeling like anything momentous was going to happen that night, so I told her to go ahead and unplug and enjoy the massage. I promise not even 20 minutes after I sent that text, I felt something a little stronger and a little more intense than a Braxton Hicks. Seriously? I decided not to say anything and to just see what happened next. They continued all through supper, and by the time we were leaving for mid-week Bible study, I decided it was time to start timing them to see how often they were coming. All through Bible study I had my phone in between Stephen and I and timed every one. They were coming about 5-7 minutes apart and lasting about 30 seconds. Once we were on the road home, I texted my midwife, Kim, and my doula, Stephanie, to let them know what was going on. It was now around 8:30 pm. Just 30 minutes after Kim had finished her massage. 😉
The contractions lasted all throughout the night, some of them causing me to get up on all fours and rock back and forth in the bed until they were gone. Thankfully I was able to catch some sleep in between the contractions. They had slowed down a little bit by the time I woke up the next morning, now coming about every 10 minutes or so. My mom came and picked me up around 9:30 am to drive me in to my chiropractor to get a last minute adjustment to make sure everything would be in alignment for the birth, and we were back home around 11 am. I had a bite to eat and then got out my exercise/birthing ball and rolled around on it during contractions. By 2:00 pm they were causing me to do a little bit more than deep breathing, and coming much quicker and lasting about a minute. I was also starting to shake uncontrollably. After letting my birth team know about these changes, they decided it was time to head out to my house. My mom arrived first and Kim and Stephanie arrived soon after. They began to pull out all the birth supplies as Stephen stood or knelt beside me as I rotated positions between contractions, trying to find what was the most comfortable.
After Kim got all of her things set up, she checked me to see how things were looking, and found that I was almost at 2 cm. and 80% effaced.
An hour later we began a round of the 3 Sisters balancing techniques to see if we could get things a little looser and the baby turned in a more optimal position to speed things along. The entire pregnancy this sweet baby had been facing the left, and at this point was still hanging out in her favorite spot. We were hoping that she would begin rotating to face left to make things much easier for the both of us… Things started to slow down a little bit, so they suggested that I take a shower to relax. After getting out of the shower, I went to lay down and try to take a nap. As I rested, the contractions slowly began to climb in intensity. By this time it was close to supper time, so I snacked on a few things and tried to get some nourishment in me to be ready for the next few hours. I was starting to get tired and just done with dealing with contractions. I even said, “I’m pretty sure I would be okay to be pregnant a couple more months if this could just stop.”
At this point it was around 7 pm and Kim decided to check me again to see how far we had progressed. After 4 hours I was only at 3 cm. and 100% effaced. Her only words to me were, “Well, we’re making progress and we’re pretty much completely effaced.” I noticed that she didn’t mention how much progress I had made in dilation, and I honestly was afraid to ask. So I didn’t. And I’m so glad I didn’t, because I’m not sure how I would have handled it! Even Stephen knew that since she didn’t mention it, that it wasn’t good.
As I sat on the bed, with my Mom and Stephen giving me sips of water, constant encouragement, and soothing massages, Stephanie came up to me and told me that the baby wasn’t moving into a favorable position and was even starting to rotate anterior, and told me that she and Kim had a plan, and asked me if I was ready to do some work to get this baby rotated. Of course at this point I was ready to do about anything to get this baby here. One thought I had during a more painful contraction is that I was almost ready to go to a hospital and cut this baby out. Of course, I wasn’t really wanting to do that, but that’s the thought that ran through my mind.
The plan was as follows:
- Standing Pelvic Release for 15 minutes (Example here)
- Forward Leaning Inversions through 3 contractions while doing the Shaking the Apple Tree (Inversions example here) (Shaking the Apple Tree example here)
- Sifting for 5 minutes, taking a break for each contraction (Example here)
- Side-lying leg release for 3 contractions on each side (Example here)
- Abdominal Lift and Tuck for 10 contractions (Example here)
Let me tell you, those Lift and Tucks were a kind of intense I’ve never felt before. The above rotation of balancing exercises took about an hour to complete, and I was so glad when they were done. I had just finished the 10th Lift and Tuck, and Stephanie (who had been supporting me throughout the entire sequence) stepped away. Another contraction rolled through and I found myself automatically pushing. I was a little bit in shock, was this actually happening? All I said was, “I’m pushing now,” Both my midwife and doula were a bit surprised. My midwife almost couldn’t believe it. So she asked to check me again and found out that I was now at 10 cm. and she could feel the baby’s head. Our baby had completely rotated in the right direction and I had gone from 3 cm to 10 cm in just over an hour.
Now that I knew that the end was in sight and that I was actively pushing to get this baby here, I had my second wind. I transitioned from the bed to the birthing stool and pushed for about 45 minutes. One of the feelings I’ll never forget is the intense feeling of relief when our little baby slid out to meet us. The most amazing part of the birth is that she was born in the caul, or with the amniotic membrane still intact. This is very rare and only happens to 1 in 80,000 births, as my doula told me later on. We definitely see this as God’s protective hand on us and our little baby, because I tested positive for GBS. Because our little girl was born with the membranes still intact, there is no way she was exposed to the GBS during the birth.
Our newest blessing was handed to us wrapped up in a towel, and at this point we still didn’t know whether we had a little girl or a little boy. After a few minutes passed, my mom asked if anyone was going to look and see what we had. My answer? “No, not yet.” 😉 I was just wanting to hold my little baby and not worry about if it was a girl or boy.
As they tucked me into bed several minutes later, I figured I should give my mom and everyone else some relief about what the newest Johnson was. Stephen and I were both fairly certain that we would be having a boy, so imagine our surprise when we pulled back the towel and found out we had been blessed with a beautiful baby girl!
Because we felt like we were going to be having a little boy, and because it was just a little bit easier finding a name we both liked, we had a boy’s name all picked out. We had a harder time finding a girl’s name that we both liked. Both Stephen and I wanted to give our baby a name that had a special meaning behind it, and that was Biblical in nature, either in it’s meaning or it’s source. We also were keeping our name picks just between us, in the case that it changed, or we ended up not using it.
Once we found out we wouldn’t be using our boy’s name that we picked out, we figured that we might need some time to decide for sure if we wanted to use our “maybe” girl’s name or if we wanted to go back to the drawing board. But as Stephen held her for the first time, he said to me, “She’s a Ruth”, which was our name we had tentatively chosen in the case we had a girl. We also both liked the name “Amaris”, so we had played around with the order of these two names as our “maybe” name for a girl. We chose “Ruth” because it means content, and we hope that our little girl will always be content with whatever the Lord decides to do with her life. We also hope that she follows her namesake in the servant’s attitude that the Biblical Ruth exemplifies. “Amaris” means “given by God”, and we definitely see this little blessing as one that God has granted us. We hope that our Ruth Amaris realizes that God has given her this life to live for Him, and that He has a purpose for her.
As of today, it’s been 3 weeks since she made her debut into the world, and we already can’t imagine our lives without her.