Posted by: Ingrid | December 20, 2011

The birth story

So I totally thought I would have blogged about my birthing experience by now, but guess what… life with two kids is full.  Especially when one of the kids is a high energy toddler.  Somehow eight weeks have passed and I have been unable to take this blog post off of my to do list.  Eight weeks?  Am I the only one wondering how it’s almost Christmas?  Jonathan is definitely not a delicate newborn anymore!

Anyway.  I thought I would have written this up earlier because it was seriously the best experience I could have possibly asked for.  Aside from minor considerations like those last five minutes when you sort of want to die and wonder why on God’s green earth the birthing process entails what it does, Jonathan’s birth was amazing and I wouldn’t have done anything differently.

I feel a little silly blogging about 7 hours of labor and a birth.  How crazily normal is that?  So in order to extend the story we will pick up on my due date (the correct one, on October 23rd).  I woke up and wanted to cry over EVERYTHING.  I was so sad to still be pregnant and was pretty convinced that I was going to be pregnant for at least two more weeks.  It didn’t help that it was Pastor Appreciation Sunday at church and we had to stand up in front of everyone and several people gave me, “I’m so sorry you’re still pregnant” looks.

The one perk to still being pregnant on the 23rd was the fact that when people asked: When are you due?  I could answer: Today.  and see how startled they looked.  As if they expected me to suddenly go into full fledged labor or something.  As if that sort of thing ever happened outside of medical soap operas.

My Dad, who had arrived several days before, took off after lunch for a few days and jokingly said, “Now you’ll go into labor right?”  Ha, ha, ha (insert tears here).  It was, fortunately, a beautiful day.  After 70 minutes on the stationary bike I got Isaac up from his nap and off we went on a three mile walk, stopping briefly to jump on a friend’s trampoline.  While walking I was able to drum up some fairly nice regular contractions which promptly went away as soon as I stopped.  I decided that after Isaac was in bed I would hop on the treadmill and walk some more.  Surely regular contractions ought to do something, right?  In fact, maybe I should just walk for five hours and my body would think I was in labor!

I went to youth group in the evening and managed to not burst into tears.  It was, in fact, during the guest speaker’s message, that I realized I seemed to be having regular contractions that weren’t Braxton Hicks.  30 minutes and five contractions later and I went home to feed Isaac and put him to bed while timing the contractions.  The were regular!  And they sort of hurt!  Finally my wish for painful contractions was fulfilled!

Husband got home and I presented him with a list of times, all five to six minutes apart.  Immediately he went into action mode, pulling out the birthing pool, blowing it up, and beginning the filling process.

Fortunately I had turned up the water heater (which resides in the spider infested basement) during the day, so all systems were go.  I wasn’t sure we should start anything, since I didn’t know if the contractions were going anywhere.  At 11:00 pm I did the sensible thing, ate a piece of dark chocolate, and went to bed.  At which point the contractions pretty much stopped.

Between 2 and 4 am I would have a contraction, think about getting up, and then fall back asleep.  Finally at 4:00 they hurt enough to wake me up and get me out of bed.  I turned the hot water back on and continued filling the tub.

As an aside, I just want to say that I think portable birthing tubs are THE most amazing thing.  I would seriously consider keeping one in our living room for the Michigan winter.  It’s like your own personal 5×7 spa!

Anyway, Clint woke up at 5:30 and found me having pretty decent contractions curled over the inflatable exercise ball.  I was at the point where I had to vocalize and not move during each contraction.  I was also incredibly discouraged.  I didn’t realize just how much Isaac’s birth would come back to haunt me, but as I tried to relax through contractions my mind was going crazy.

-Most babies are born at night.  Was I going to have contractions this painful all day before being able to have my baby?

-What if there was no progress and I was just going to stall out for 24 hours?

-How was I supposed to know when to call the midwife?  What if I was making a big deal about nothing?

-What if I didn’t get to sleep again for two nights in a row and had a really long labor and had to transfer to the hospital?

-What if I couldn’t handle it?

At 7:00 we got Isaac out of bed and I called a friend who was going to get him at 8:30.  I called my midwife too, and she said she would head over after she got her kids off to school.  I didn’t really know what to say.  Sorry to make you drive out here, I’m afraid I might be wasting your time and this process might actually take days. didn’t seem like the best thing to say.  Somehow I got through the next hour and a half with a toddler around.  That only served to confirm the fact that NO I don’t want my kids with me when I am in labor EVER.  He kept asking me if I was sick and I kept having contractions in weird places (which made them hurt worse) because I didn’t want to scare him or have him touch me.  I cannot stand being touched during a contraction.  Plus there was the fact that he wanted to drive his cars and trucks around the rim of the birthing pool and that escalated to wanting to throw them in.  It was a relief to send him out the door.  No toddlers at the birth for me, and I am okay with that!

Once Isaac left and Connie, the birthing assistant arrived at 9:10, I got into the pool.  I felt an immediate sense of relief and it was the first time I’d felt warm since 4:00 am!  At first I felt a little awkward, I was going to sit in a pool with three spectators on the sidelines?  That soon wore off because the pool’s walls were just the right height to lean over for contractions, the floor was slightly padded and comfortable, and there was even a nifty little step.  The very best part was the fact that the buoyancy of the water felt like it helped during contractions.  Not like it made my contractions fun or anything, but they were definitely more tolerable.  Plus it was nice to just lay back and relax in the warm water in between.

My midwife arrived at 9:30 and checked for progress while I stayed in the pool.  (As an aside, this was the only internal exam during my whole pregnancy, which I am definitely a fan of!).  I was so afraid that I would be 2 cm or something horribly discouraging like that.  I was surprised when she told me I was 6-7 cm (and then she told Clint in the kitchen that I was actually around 8).  It felt so good to know that I really had been working as hard and effectively as I’d felt I had.

So my three spectators set up chairs around the pool as I had regular contractions.  I would joke and talk and laugh in between and then work through a contraction, recover, and repeat.  I did get to throw in a deadpan: You did this to me, in the direction of my husband because I’ve always wanted to remember to say that during active labor.  Mission accomplished.

By 10:30 the contractions were close together and changing.  By 10:50 I was pushing.  By 10:51 I wanted to die.  By 10:54 Jonathan Lawrence Rothell was born.

He was 20 inches long (incorrectly reported as 22 initially) and 7 pounds 7 ounces.  His apgar was 10 and 10 and he came equipped with a great set of lungs!

The birth was such a profoundly beautiful and emotional experience for both Clint and me.  Clint caught Jonathan and when I finally got to hold him and sit with him in the pool my first words to him were:  You are so incredibly ugly!  Because he totally was, with matted hair (hair!) and his wrinkled forehead that made him look so concerned.  Plus he was all round and red and tomato-y looking.  But my comment, I assure you, was said with absolutely sincere maternal love.

Eventually I got out of the pool and made my way to our bed where Clint and I sat and looked at Jonathan and exclaimed over exciting things.  Like the fact that he had fingers.  Fingers!  Imagine that!  It was so nice to feel like I could completely trust my birth team.  I didn’t have to worry about shift changes or demands being placed on me.  I could do things on my time frame.  Everything was so low key after the birth, as we sat there and my midwife and her assistant cleaned up and did some laundry, that it was hard to believe I’d just had a baby.

They left around 4:30 and there we were, just the three of us (a friend kept Isaac overnight).  I couldn’t have asked for a better birthday for our second son!



  1. Oh Ingrid, this made me cry (happy tears!) – remembering the difficulty of your first labor – I’m so glad that this one was beautiful.

  2. Beautiful birthing story. Just beautiful<3

  3. Wonderful story!!! Thank goodness you had such a (relatively) quick, uncomplicated birth this time. And he is just so, so cute.

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