Shiloh’s Birth Story (Part 1)

If you’ve read any of my other birth stories (click that and scroll to {eventually} get to all of them), then you know that my uterus does not like to be predictable. Shaun and I scoff unabashedly at movies that portray a woman’s having a sudden pang in her belly, clutching it, then being wheeled off to birth a few hours later. “That’s NOT how that works!” we chortle. Of course, for some women, it is, indeed, how it works. In fact, when Shaun asked Melena (my rock star midwife): “So, what’s the percentage of women who just go into labor and have a baby in a reasonable period of time?” her answer was a chagrined, “Oh, um, most of them do that.”

Which means that my womb is just more stubborn than most. Color me unsurprised.

ANYhoo, as always, it wouldn’t be one of my birth stories without a rundown of the epic lead-up to the actual birth, so here. we. gooooooooo…

Here’s the thing: I’m no stranger to prodomal (false/build-up/practice/mean-spirited…pick your synonym) labor. With my first, I had none. Not one single contraction. With the rest, it’s been weeks upon weeks. I started Braxton Hicks-ing with Theo at 19 weeks. Joy.

But I know enough to completely ignore all of that nonsense. Honestly, it barely registers anymore. When I start paying even a tiny bit of attention is when the contractions start squeezing a littttttle harder, hurting a little more, and developing some kind of pattern. This usually starts around 35 weeks. And again, I largely ignore them for the next 7 or so.

This time, though, I didn’t have too much of that until week 40. And I was really grateful. Braxton Hicks are easy to roll your eyes at. Legit prodromal labor sets you on edge because, even though you know that there’s nothing doing until you’re in severe pain, you can still spend most of your day contracting somewhat painfully at regular intervals.

Which is what I started to do.

I remember sitting at our homeschool co-op the Monday that marked 40 weeks for me, idly timing contractions that were anywhere between 15 to 20 minutes apart and at least a minute long. They weren’t particularly painful, but I could tell that, if they continued and got stronger/closer together, we might be in business.

Turns out we weren’t. Not that day. And not the next or the next or the next.

Any other labor, we might have been, but these were just messing with my head, so I stopped paying them any mind and went about my business. There was plenty to keep me occupied–homeschooling, exercise classes, birthdays, and the like. In fact, I started wishing that I had fewerthings going on, just in case my body was holding out for that next event or something equally (and yet predictably) goofy.

Of course, through all of this, my mind kept reminding me that I have gone to 42 weeks (exactly) 3 times (and 12 days over once). And I wasn’t there yet. So, I wasn’t “due” yet.

Also, I was fighting something I never had before: anxiety over giving birth. Don’t get me wrong. I always dread childbirth. It’s not a fun thing. I know some people say they enjoy it, and more power to them! I think of it entirely as a means to an end. I do the pain, I get a baby. Worth it. And by the time I’m due or “overdue,” I’m just ready–grimly excited even–to get it over with.

This time, though, I could barely think about birth without a vice of panic beginning to tighten around my chest. So, I just didn’t think about it. I mean, what would be the point? And I made myself Scripture cards of encouragement, which I read through nightly (because the anxiety always worsened the closer to bedtime it got).

One thing I had prayed for steadily throughout this pregnancy was that I would able to do labor without my water breaking. It broke early in the morning with Honor’s birth, if you recall, and although the day before I actually had him wasn’t that painful, when his labor actually kicked in, it was a freight train and so painful that I can’t really think about it without shuddering.

So, when one morning, I sat up and experienced a small gush of liquid, I felt a jolt of fear, then resignation. Welp. Here we go, I thought. Turns out my water hadn’t broken, though. Neither had I had peed myself (phew). Instead, due to some fun hormonal thing or another, my body had just decided to release some liquid. Fun! This was new. It proceeded to keep doing this for over a week, and, while I learned to ignore it, it was yet another layer of, “Huh, this is confusing,” to add to the mix.

By 41 and 1/2 weeks, I was pretty over all of the contractions  and the stress of dreading labor. Actually, during the day, I was fine. But, at night, I found myself fighting off several rounds of panic with my Scripture cards/prayer. I could achieve temporary calm, but I still couldn’t figure out any kind of pattern to all of this, and, as much as I wanted it done, I still didn’t have peace about labor. (Side note: I know we’re not supposed to worry, and you better believe I was doing all things Biblical to combat it, but I think there’s a reason that we’re told to take every thought “captive;” sometimes, it’s downright war). 

A few days after Shaun’s birthday (when he predicted Shiloh would come), I woke up in the middle of the night with contractions too painful to sleep through that still refused to get any closer than 10 minutes apart. I knew that, given how long my labors are, even if this was the real deal, I probably wouldn’t have him until well into the next day, which was fine with me because my midwife was unavailable until the following afternoon. I did my best to fall asleep for a few minutes between each one, but during a particularly nasty one, my eyes flew open as a rising panic began to fill my chest. My breath was short. My throat was closing down. And my thoughts were racing too fast to get under control on my own.

I woke Shaun up, told him what was happening, and he helped me breath/pray/Scripture away the attack. I didn’t sleep well the rest of the night, but at least I wasn’t hyperventilating anymore.

Of course, by the time I got up at 5 AM, I wasn’t really contracting anymore either.

That night, I mentioned my anxious feelings on IG and was flooded with prayer and verse suggestions. It was the first night that I went to bed with zero worry in about a week, and I slept all night, waking up refreshed and ready to face the day.

Oh, and did I happen to mention that this just so happened to be one of the more eventful weekends we had had in a while? Between Shaun’s birthday and my brother’s 40th 2 days later, we were running from one event to another, and my kids were alternating coming home for a night and then heading back to my mom’s when the contractions would start up again.

Sunday, the day that I woke up calm and rested, the kids were with us, and we stayed home from church to recoup with a relaxing day together doing family church and playing games. That night, though, the contractions were back, keeping me awake from 1 AM on. I called my mom early Monday morning because she was on standby to cover for me at our homeschool co-op, and she came and picked up the kids for co-op. As they had several other mornings, my contractions weakened around 8 and were nothing more than a painful squeeze or two by 11 AM.

Shaun had been working hard to catch up on his programming obligations to be relatively free for the birth, so we spent a peaceful, if confused, day at home playing Scrabble and, even at one point, climbing the giant hill behind our house so I could knock down some scrub trees with Shaun’s mini-excavator (it was his idea for me to get out my contraction aggression, and it totally worked for a bit).

My mom and the kids were back by 4 PM, and I was having contractions regularly again. They were stronger but no closer together. Given my history of going into labor in the evening (and then laboring and laboring through the night and into the next day, at least), my mom suggested taking the kids back with her. Not going to lie: I was feeling like the world’s biggest mooch. I mean, what was the point? I wasn’t really in labor, and I had no idea when I would be. But my mom didn’t care. Her goal was to give me as peaceful of a laboring process (boy, what an understatement) as possible, and so she graciously hauled all 7 kids home with her again.

Shaun and I had free movie tickets that were about to expire, so we somewhat half-heartedly went out for “one last date” to take our minds off of my contracting-but-not-really status. True to form, they limped along without gaining much momentum, as bedtime approached, and I fought yet another round of anxiety. This time, I was dreading going to sleep, since my bed was very much starting to feel like the enemy.

Sure enough, about an hour after I managed to finally fall asleep, the contractions started…and kept coming…for hours. Determined to make the most of them, I lay flat on my back with my knees out and my heels pulled up toward me (which is pretty much the most vulnerable position in the world, so, of course, it’s the only thing that seemed to ramp them up) and focused on breathing them down deep into the pit of my belly, imagining the baby descending and relaxing my muscles as much as possible so that I could fall asleep at least briefly in between contractions.

After 3 hours of telling myself I could do another 15 minutes, I couldn’t fall asleep for a minute longer. I got up and proceeded to wobble around on rubber legs, feeling sick to my stomach and as wrung out as a dirty dishrag. The contractions had, once again, pretty much stopped.

I texted my midwife my status, and she suggested that I take Benadryl and try to get some sleep. Determined to go nowhere near my bed, I lay down on my side on the couch, waking up with a strong contraction every 15 minutes or so and breathing through them before falling back asleep.

By this point, I was borderline depressed. I had an appointment for a 42 week bio-physical sonogram to check the status of everything that afternoon, and I desperately wanted to go into labor before we left for that appointment. My exhausted brain kept telling me that, if I could do that, then I wouldn’t have to hear that the baby was 11 pounds or that there was a problem with the placenta or something equally disheartening (bc it really felt like “one more thing” that would do me in), but my even more exhausted body was telling me I couldn’t do real labor right then. My legs were Jell-o, and I couldn’t muster up enough appetite to eat anything more than a slice or two of apple, so my energy levels were zero.

Are you depressed yet too? I wouldn’t blame you. Other than the the twins’ birth, the lead-up to this one was the most taxing, the most confusing, and the most frustrating I’ve had yet. I can’t imagine reading all of that was super-fun.

ANYHOO…

Despite my rather desperate Hail Mary prayers, the Lord did not put me into labor like I asked. So, around 3 in the afternoon, we headed off for the appointment, which was about 30 minutes away. I dozed off on the way there, and–wouldn’t you know it?–the contractions that had stalled out yet again came back to wake me up.

Aaaaaaannnnddd…that’ll have to do it for now, folks. Shiloh is waking up hinting strongly that he’d very much like a snack, and I have typed over 2,000 words about NOT being in labor. Don’t worry, though. I’ll type even more soon. Besides, the very fact that there’s a hungry baby keeping me from writing more means that this story has a happy ending, right? Of course, right.

Be back soon!

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15 thoughts on “Shiloh’s Birth Story (Part 1)

  1. Abbie, I meet you this past weekend and took a picture with you. My jaw dropped when I first saw you, being that seeing you was so unexpected! All I could say is “you, you’re M is for Mama!”
    You were so sweet & generous. Thank you!
    Congrats on Shiloh!! He’s so handsome!!
    Guys, keep reading, she’s JUST AS AWESOME in person as she sounds on her blog!!!

  2. I’ve only birthed 2 babies so far but both of them were very similar to your birth stories! They both came at 41 weeks, so I haven’t been as “over due” as you usually are, but I had the prodomal labor for about 2 weeks with both of them. I can relate to how confusing, frustrating and exhausting it can be! Love reading your birth stories! Can’t wait to hear the second part.

    1. No, I normally labor on my feet, but there’s usually a point at the very end of the labor when, for some weird reason, the position I described in this post, while definitely painful , seems the most effective/restful (and, yes, excruciating … It’s a weird thing) one available. And since getting up was making the contractions stop, I was determined to stay lying down/make them worthwhile for as long as possible.

  3. Have you ever considered not working out so much when your pregnant? Maybe your muscles just can’t relax because of it, hence the incredibly confusing buildup to labor.

    1. Ha, I’ve considered it, yes. But I don’t think they’re related, honestly (mostly bc I know much fitter peyote than I who don’t deal with it and people who don’t exercise at all who do), and I am grateful for how quickly my body bounces back afterwards. My midwife thinks that the main cause of all of my prodomal stuff is how posterior my cervix is. The contractions just aren’t effective until it finally moves forward.

  4. Good for you to read Scripture and claim the promises despite the anxiety and turmoil…such a good example and encouragement to the rest of us! ❤️

  5. I actually went to the hospital three separate times thinking my water had broken near the end of my pregnancy with #9, and each time they told me no, the bag was still intact. I assumed that meant I’d just wet my britches, but now I wonder… What in the world could that be? Looking forward to hearing part 2, Abbie. Your mom didn’t divulge any mid-story details or surprise plot twists yesterday, and I’m still super curious about those hoop earrings!

  6. Your mother sounds awesome like mine when it comes to grandchild wrangling!
    Thank you for sharing this part of the story with us.

  7. Oh my goodness I had the fluid thing with my second! I was like my water broke? Peed myself? Nope. Weirdest thing, and so annoying. I had the whole am I going into labor the last two pregnancies and it’s sooo annoying and emotionally and mentally exhausting! I didn’t go overdue and I can only imagine your body and brain at 42 weeks. So so glad he’s here! Also, your mother is a SAINT.

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