The story of Saoirse’s birth wouldn’t be complete with acknowledging the weeks of contractions before the actual day of her birth. They started most intensely at the end of May, just before I turned the corner of 36 weeks gestation. From that point on, I had many, many bouts of random contractions that I kept waiting to organize and do something, but they never did. This, combined with a possibility-of-leaking-amniotic-fluid scare at 32 weeks made those last two months of pregnancy pretty stressful.
On the morning of Tuesday, June 12th, at 38 weeks and three days along, the random contractions finally started to regulate and strengthen, but were still 10-20 minutes apart. Around lunch time, they got to five minutes apart and I was having a ton of pelvic pressure. Aaron wasn’t home yet and for several minutes there I wondered if I would have to birth a baby all by myself with four kids! But he made it home, the kids went to some friends’ house (who then had nine kids nine and under…they’re amazing!), and the midwife and her assistant got here and all set up. And then…contractions totally stopped! And they didn’t start back up. So the midwife and her assistant left everything and went home and after our wonderful friends kept the kids for the afternoon and fed them supper, Aaron got them…and life continued. But this drama-filled, yet anti-climatic afternoon meant that my parents were en route from Idaho on their ten-hour drive.
My parents got here the next day and still nothing had happened. They were only able to stay ten days and we were hoping that the majority of that would be on the postpartum end so I ended up putting so much emotional pressure on myself to just HAVE THIS BABY…and unfortunately, that rarely ever works! The next five days were an emotional time of lots of walks, hanging out with my parents, and trying to relax about going into labor. Sunday was Father’s Day and I thought it would be fun to give Aaron a baby for Father’s Day, but no such luck.
The following morning, Monday, June 18th, 2018, my contractions started regulating again, but were hardly painful. I timed them throughout the morning as we went to the park for a play-date with a group of moms from our church. They stayed regular at about seven minutes apart, but still not very painful. After the play-date we went to Lowe’s to pick up tomato cages and then for a brief grocery run. During that time, the contractions started to strengthen and were definitely becoming painful and were now about five minutes apart.
We got home and I let Aaron know what was happening and he came home. I also called my midwife, Julianne, while my parents made lunch. She got to the house around 1:30 and checked me (my first cervical check of the pregnancy), but I was only three centimeters dilated and the baby was still so high that she could barely reach my cervix. With that info, and the fact that it was the middle of the day and with my previous births I had tended to progress the most in the nighttime hours, we were pretty sure that it would be awhile before the baby came.
My parents had taken the kids to a nearby park for awhile so Julianne asked if I would be fine if she ran a couple errands while we waited for labor to progress. I was fine with that so she left and I decided to take a shower to help with some of the pain. It didn’t really do much because the contractions started to majorly pick up. Super painful and very close together, I moved quickly from the shower to just lying on my side on the bed with Aaron pushing on my back during the contractions. The next hour is pretty much just a constant blur of pain as the contractions just got more and more intense, with hardly any break in between them. I was timing them with an app on my phone and I had a contraction that was FOUR MINUTES LONG. These super-fast labors are something else…
At one point I remember pulling myself out of my pain-filled daze (I really withdraw into myself during active labor) and telling Aaron that we should probably text Julianne and tell her to come back to the house. To which he calmly replied that he already did and that she would be there in a couple minutes. I was SO thankful for his solid presence the whole time and the fact he had definitely done this before! He also texted my mom to come back from the park as we were planning on her being there for the birth. She brought the two girls with her as they had expressed interest in being at the birth.
Julianne and her assistant arrived, though I have no recollection of when. She saw that I was in transition so she started prepping everything. My mom arrived with the girls and they ended up coming in right as I was moving into transition. Due to the intensity of the crazy fast labor (as amazing as it might sound, I do NOT recommend a two hour labor!), I was being very loud and somewhat out of control so the girls wanted to go right back out and swung on their play-set for about ten minutes while I was pushing. The windows were open and it was interesting to hear their take on it all since they could still hear everything, like when I yelled at Aaron near the end of transition!
My mom obviously stayed though and as the birth photographer hadn’t arrived yet, Aaron told my mom to take some photos with her phone. I started pushing and at one point the baby’s heart rate started dropping so Julianne had me turn over to my other (right) side and thankfully it went right back up. I think I pushed twice and the baby’s head was out and we saw that she was en caul (i.e. still in her unbroken bag of waters). Julianne asked for permission to break the bag, which we granted, and then we saw that the amniotic fluid was full of old meconium (which Julianne thinks was from the previous weeks of contractions). At 3:46 P.M.. another push and the baby was totally out and I pulled her up onto my stomach. She was a little purple and still at first, but started perking up quickly as soon as Julianne started rubbing her down with a blanket. I found out that she was a girl, which I had thought all along.
Once we were sure that Saoirse was breathing fine and everything was okay, my mom went out and brought the girls in so they got to meet their new little sister within a few minutes of her birth and it was so sweet. The birth photographer finally got there about five minutes after the birth so she started taking pictures. My placenta took almost an hour to detach so while we were waiting on that, Saoirse nursed for the first time and my dad and Caedmon came in to meet her (Cedar didn’t want to come in until everyone extra had left) . Once the placenta finally detached, Julianne examined it to make sure it was healthy and explained all about it to the girls. Aaron had never been super into cutting the cord and as it was the first of my births that my mom was able to be a part of, Mom cut the cord and I gave Saoirse to her daddy so I could rinse off.
After my shower, Julianne gave Saoirse her newborn exam on our bed. She was perfect, but tiny at 5 lbs., 12 oz. and 19 inches long. Sometime around then we announced her name: Saoirse Maire. I discovered the name “Saoirse”, the Gaelic word for “freedom”, in my teens and since that time I had always wanted to name one of my daughters that. Different things happened around the time that Saoirse was conceived and we discovered we were expecting her that impressed upon me really strongly that we were going to have a girl and we were to name her “Saoirse” as a declaration of God’s promise of freedom. So my entire pregnancy I had thought of the baby as a little girl named Saoirse…and she was. “Maire” is the Gaelic form of “Mary/Marie” and is to honor my maternal grandmother, Theresa Mary, and my mom, Karen Marie, both strong, Irish women who are some of my biggest role models as a woman, wife, and mother.
For my last several pregnancies, my labors have gotten shorter by halves: Avila was eight hours, Caedmon was four, and now Saoirse, two hours. Cedar and Genoa were both in the 24 hour range. And honestly, though it probably sounds really nice to only be in labor for two hours, it was probably my hardest labor. Going from three centimeters dilated to the baby born in two hours requires basically constant contractions and so almost all Saoirse’s labor is just a blur of pain to me and I don’t remember much. And as someone who loves the experience of giving birth, that’s been hard. But she’s here and we’re so thankful and the last six months with her have been sheer joy. We’re so beyond thankful for Saoirse-love!