I’ve been reading a lot of birth stories recently and it made me want to share Caleb’s with you guys! I’m a big believer in honest but encouraging birth stories. Before Caleb was born I wanted to read about what birth is really like so that I could prepare myself as much as possible. On the other hand though I didn’t want to read the type of story that leaves you horrified haha! I hope that reading Caleb’s birth story will be helpful, realistic and also encouraging.
Now, I know that everyone is not the type to love hearing all the details. If that’s you, no worries! You can just celebrate with me that he arrived safely fifteen months or so ago and leave it at that. 😉 But, if you’re interested, read on.
Caleb’s due date was July 3rd, but the day passed uneventfully so Pablo and I went ahead and made plans for celebrating the 4th together. After Pablo got off work on the 4th we went to a patriotic concert. We had a picnic while listening to the Greenville Symphony Orchestra and then enjoyed the fireworks show afterwards. I feel like God gave us that day as a special gift. It was such a fun, relaxing evening and now we have wonderful memories of our last date together before the baby.
The next morning (the 5th) I woke up around 3 or 4 a.m. with my first contraction, although I didn’t even realize that was what it was at first. It started to sink in a little later in the morning when I realized that they kept coming regularly (every 8 to 10 minutes.) I was excited, but knowing that sometimes people can have mild contractions for quite a long time, I tried not to get my hopes up. But, I continued to have the contractions all day, no matter if I was on my feet or lying down. They weren’t too bad at first, but by the afternoon I decided to cancel my grocery-shopping trip because I didn’t feel like dealing with the increasingly painful contractions out in public. At one point in the early afternoon I started feeling very overwhelmed. The contractions were still very manageable, but still it was tiring to have to deal with the pain every eight minutes or so, and I was afraid that later on when they were a lot worse I wouldn’t be able to handle it. I cried a little, but then told myself to get a grip haha!
Pablo got home from work a little later in the afternoon and he brought me lemonade (a favorite of mine, especially when I was pregnant) and a frosty and fries. (He is so sweet!) The world cup was going on, so we sat on the couch and watched one of the games. I guess we also had something for supper while we were watching, although I can’t remember. It was nice to have the game to watch as a distraction, especially because my contractions were picking up a little bit.
Whenever a contraction started I would close my eyes and breath very deeply from my diaphragm. It sounds silly, but I imagined the contraction was a huge wave and with my big deep breaths I was trying to reach the top of that wave and go down the other side. That mental imagery and the deep breathing helped me a ton at that point in labor.
I was also very encouraged by meditating on Psalm 61:2, now one of my favorite verses. I feel like it’s a lifeline-type verse. It says:
“From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.“
After the soccer game was over I decided to take a shower. It was after the shower that the contractions started being a lot more intense. They had already started coming a lot closer together, but now they were getting a bit harder to handle. I figured that at this point we’d probably be leaving for the birthing center at some point in the middle of the night, so I decided to put on some makeup so that I wouldn’t feel totally ugly. That was a bit interesting trying to put on makeup in between contractions. I shouldn’t have even bothered as I ended up looking like death anyway by the end of it all ha! I also finished gathering up a few things that I hadn’t put in our bag to take yet.
I finally got in bed with Pablo, but quickly realized that there was no way in the world I was going to be able to rest. The contractions were much harder to handle when I was lying down, so I got up and knelt by the side of the bed and would sway my hips back and forth through the contractions. They were getting pretty intense and coming very often and I got a little emotional again at one point because I was so tired of trying to concentrate and relax through all the pain.
I had been in contact with my midwife Amy throughout the day and I called her again when my contractions were pretty consistently three minutes apart and lasting for a minute or so. I thought she’d have me come in then but she wanted me to wait a little longer, which was discouraging to hear. I started standing up and holding onto my closet bar during contractions. Some of them were very close together and they were all very intense now. After maybe another 25 minutes or so I texted Amy and asked if I could come in. She told me that she thought it was time. Thankfully Pablo had already put our big bag in the car, so we didn’t have much to grab on the way out.
On our way to the car I had another contraction and had to stop and hold onto Pablo. I was starting to shake uncontrollably and the contractions were so hard to handle. I was having a hard time keeping myself from tensing up. I remembered reading that sometimes the shaking means that you are in transition, but I didn’t want to get my hopes up that I could already be that far along. It felt kind of surreal driving to the birthing center in the middle of the night with hardly anyone else on the streets. Thankfully I didn’t have another really bad contraction until right as we were about to get there, but the drive was not fun. I was thankful that it only took us about 10-12 minutes.
When we arrived, Amy greeted us and had us go straight to the exam room so that she could check my progress. I was still shaking a lot and had another contraction on the exam table. When Amy checked me, she said that his head was right there and that I was already at 8 cm. I couldn’t believe it! I was expecting to maybe be at 4 or 5, so hearing that I was already at 8 was SO encouraging to me. Amy took us into the bedroom and told me to just keep doing what I had been doing. She said that her nurse, Ashley, was on her way and that when she arrived I would be ready to push. Knowing that I was so close to the pushing stage really helped me to deal with the next few contractions before Ashley arrived.
Just a minute or two after she arrived, they told me I could go ahead and start pushing. I pushed while lying on my side at first and then they eventually had me lay on my back. After the first push I immediately got sick. I was like seriously?! Thankfully though I didn’t get sick again. 🙂 I’d heard of some lucky people almost dozing off in between pushes, but that was impossible for me because I felt so much painful pressure and was SO uncomfortable and unable to relax in between.
As I already mentioned, in the months before my due date I’d read tons of stories of natural births to try to prepare myself for what to expect. So far, things had gone pretty much the way I had expected… labor was the hardest thing I’d ever done, but it was what I expected. However, in most of the stories I’d read, when it came time to push, that usually meant that the baby was very close to being born… maybe in a half hour or even less. So, when I kept pushing, and pushing, and pushing, I started to feel very discouraged. Pushing was by far the hardest thing that I had (and have) ever done. It. was. not. fun. I was very grateful though for the calm encouragement of both Amy and Ashley, as well as of course Pablo, who sat up on the bed next to me the whole time. I couldn’t stop shaking all over so he and Ashley both helped to hold me still. Amy kept encouraging me that I was doing exactly what I needed to do. After every pushing contraction Amy would check the baby’s heartbeat and it was always very strong. I kept praying silently with every push that the baby would finally come, but I felt like I was making no progress, even though Amy assured me that I was. It seemed like his head was right there for forever. Finally, after an hour and thirty-six minutes of pushing, Caleb Adrian Gaspar was born at 3:21 am on July 6th, 2014.
I was so surprised when he was born because I’d been feeling like it was never ever going to end! He came out red and alert and started crying right away. They lifted him up to my chest and let me hold him right away. I couldn’t have asked for a better reward! It was amazing how alert he was, just looking all around. I could hardly believe that I was finally holding him… I kind of felt like it was all a dream and that I would wake up and have to go through everything all over again.
After holding him for a little, the ladies took him and got him cleaned up and measured. He weighed 7 lbs. 7 oz. and was 20 in. long. As I waited for him to be brought back in, I was a bit surprised at how much pain I still felt. I guess I’d thought that I would forget it all the minute he was born! :p I think though that it wouldn’t have been quite so bad if he hadn’t decided to be born with his little hand right by his head, giving me a lovely tear on the way out ha! But, he was so so so worth it!!!
Caleb was not thrilled about getting his measurements
When they brought him back I tried to nurse him a little but he wasn’t too interested. We swaddled him up and he slept propped up on a boppy pillow in between Pablo and I for the rest of the night. In the morning he was a little more interested and I was able to feed him for a few minutes. We sat in bed and called our relatives, and then enjoyed a nice breakfast that Amy ordered us from Panera. After that, Amy came in and talked to me awhile about caring for myself and the baby. She gave me the biggest compliment that I could’ve asked for when she told me that I gave birth like the Amish women that she had trained with. She said I wasn’t all dramatic and emotional but that I just buckled down and did what I had to do. I can’t say how encouraging that was to me. She also commented on what an amazing and supportive husband I have and I couldn’t have agreed more! <3
It was around noon when Pablo and I packed up and took our little boy home! The birthing center had been great but it was even greater to be home.
I know that giving birth can go a lot of different ways, so I am SO thankful to the Lord for allowing me not to have any complications so that I could have a safe, natural delivery and for giving me the strength to get through it. I have to say I pretty much felt like Super Woman after all of that. 😉
As a side note, in case you’re curious, I am not at all opposed to epidurals and pain meds. The reason I chose to give birth without those things is simply because I really wanted to give birth with a midwife at a birthing center and she did not offer any of that. Also, call me crazy, but I kind of wanted to prove to myself that I could do without. And, realistically even if I could’ve chosen an epidural it probably would’ve been too late since I was already about ready to push when I arrived.
Would I do it the same way again? Yes. I appreciated being able to labor at home as long as possible, I really liked the relaxed atmosphere of the birthing center and I loved being able to head home just nine hours after Caleb was born. Giving birth was by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done but as long as I concentrated and took one contraction at a time I could handle it.
And let me tell you, Caleb was SO worth it!!!
Caleb at one week old
If you’ve shared your birth story online somewhere feel free to leave the link in the comments, I’d love to read it!