There is no way to understand the desperation of an overdue pregnancy than to experience it. It feels like labor could be any minute, or never at all.
Even now, nearly three weeks later, these feelings are hard to recall. I am able to reflect on it fondly, as if being overdue is some sort of fun waiting period not the time of daily crying and sighing that it truly was.
One week after my due date I awoke to use the bathroom for the third time that night and noticed that there was some blood when I wiped. I couldn’t help but be excited even though I knew birth would still be hours or days away. A few minutes later after I had laid down I was back up washing sheets because our 4 year old had wet the bed, our bed, which he climbed into sometime during the night.
I was now fully awake in these wee hours of the morning. I relaxed and experienced mild contractions with prayer and thanksgiving.
Eventually Brad awoke and I told him “This might be the day!”.
We breakfasted the kids and told them “This might be the day!”.
The months my belly grew I spent a lot of time reflecting on and praying about the process of birth. I reread my precious birth stories and found two central themes: new life and anxiety. I declared this labor was to be courageous and not full of worry. I declared that I would trust my body and God’s timing.
We spent the day as normally as possible. Brad finished up a few house projects, the boys played outside, and I made brownies while my belly contracted. Disappointment creeped in after lunch when I realized I still wasn’t having much stronger contractions. That anxiety ended up slowing my contractions even more, despite my best efforts to focus on the perfection of God’s timing. Finally, Brad declared that we would take the kids to the park to get my mind off of what was happening (or not happening).
I sweated and contracted on the playground as the kids ran around on that sweltering afternoon. We came home, ate dinner, made plans for the grandparents to come in the morning because we were pretty sure this baby would come in the middle of the night and the kids could just sleep through it. A few nights prior, Ira had a dream that he woke up and I was sitting on the couch with the baby. I was hopeful his dream would come true.
As the kids went to bed, my contractions immediately increased. We prayed and I thanked God for this process. I quietly continued to ask for His presence and his peace. We watched a few shows while Brad timed contractions. They came closer and closer, and then eventually increased in intensity.
I would ask Brad, “Do you think it’s time to call Patty yet?” and he would calmly answer, “Let’s wait another 30 minutes”.
In the past we’ve almost always arrived at the hospital or had the midwife come too early. This would contribute to my anxiety and then make my labor even slower. Brad and I had discussed that we wanted to wait until the last possible moments to bring others into this process.
Around ten it was clear that the pain was enough to get the midwife (who is an hour away) there. I told my dear friend Sarah that it was time and she arrived about 30 minutes later. For four births it’s just been Brad and I present, but early on in this pregnancy I really felt a pull from the Spirit to ask Sarah to be there with us. She loves birth and she loves us. Her presence immediately comforted me, and we chatted about the day in between contractions.
Patty arrived around eleven. She told me that if I wanted her to check me I could, but I declined at that moment. I wasn’t feeling too bad and I didn’t want to be discouraged if I was only dilated a few centimeters. I asked about getting in the tub and she suggested that I try the shower.
The warm water flowing over my back was such a relief. I moaned through the pain while Sarah prayed quietly on the other side of the curtain. God was there.
Eventually I needed a change of pace, so I got out and walked for a minute. I asked Patty to check me and was blown away when she told me I was probably a 7 or 8. Never before had I gotten that far in labor with such little pain and suffering. The contractions were intense, but I was still laughing and talking in between them. We praised God for his hand in this delivery.
I labored on the bed for a while and decided to get back in the shower. Patty wanted me to wait until I felt pushy before getting in the tub. A few minutes into the shower I felt that small urge to push and transferred to the tub.
The warm water felt so good to my tired and pained body. As I laid back Brad came alongside and we just sat there together, through the contractions and through the stillness in between. I felt the contractions pushing the baby down, and often pushed along with them. Patty decided to check me again and said I was nearly 10 centimeters! She thought there was just a little bit of my cervix still in the way so she maneuvered the baby’s head around that as I pushed through another contraction or two.
Up to this point I was managing the pain and pushing surprisingly well was still amazed that I was sitting at 10 centimeters and didn’t feel absolutely miserable.
I began to feel nauseous, a sure sign that labor is nearing its end. I truly hate throwing up, and this is one of my most dreaded parts of labor. Surely everyone was laughing at my ridiculousness as I said with every contraction “I’m going to throooooooooww upppp” (in a very sad voice). Every time Sarah got the bag for me to throw up in, I pushed that feeling back down and shook my head no. I probably would have been a lot more comfortable had I just let myself throw up…but boy I really hate vomiting.
The pain increased to the unmanageable place that I remember. I finally hit the point of “I can’t do this” and “just pull the baby out”. At this point in the pushing I’m always certain somebody could surely just reach in and grab that baby to help me out.
I felt overwhelmed in the tub so when Patty suggested I change positions I gladly got out. I was planning on heading to the air mattress set up in the addition but collapsed in another contraction right before making it to the bed. She was coming! I didn’t expect her to pop out so quickly, but there I was in the most awkward crouch/sit on the floor, half turned burying my screams in the pillow while simultaneously motioning angrily for someone to close the door so my shrieks didn’t wake the kids. Moments before giving birth, I was still mom’ing it.
I’m not sure how many times I pushed, maybe twice, and her head was out. Previously my babies have all kind of popped out at once, but I had to manage her being half in and half out of the world while I waited way too long for another contraction to hit. The pain came, I gave it my all and Margaret May slid out into her papa’s arms and into the world at one minute past two.
I sat with her on the floor for awhile as we wrapped her in towels and admired her fingers and toes. There is no relief like the relief of having just given birth. Everything hurts, but it’s oh so wonderful.
Everyone helped me up and to the bed so we could snuggle and I could get cleaned up. Brad and I stared in awe at this fifth miracle our bodies have produced, and I moved her to nurse. She ate with vigor.
Eventually, with her cord still attached I birthed the placenta. We’ve never had a baby remain attached to the placenta for that long, and it was so beautiful to see what had given her life for the months she grew in my womb. God is so incredible to have created us and care for all our needs.
Brad took her to be measured on our dining room table. 8 pounds and 9 ounces, losing the record for heaviest Pauquette baby by only one ounce to her big brother Ira.
I got cleaned up and tucked into bed with my brand new baby girl. Two daughters and three sons, what a dream.
We said goodbye to Sarah and Patty and slept for a few hours until Solomon Daniel made his way downstairs, in awe of a new baby sister. He woke everyone else up, so excited to tell them I had the baby!
It was a sweet time of newness that I will never forget.