Beautiful Photos by my dear friend Cheyenne Schultz. Thank you. We will treasure these forever.
I didn’t fully realize what a life changing experience Milly’s birth would be. I have learned to surrender my plans to the Lord’s throughout my pregnancy, and I learned to surrender to Him in a very real way during Milly’s birth. To provide a bit of context to my story, we decided to have a natural childbirth, free of medication. I was on the fence about this decision until taking our Bradley Birth Classes (“Husband coached childbirth”), which provided such helpful knowledge that educated myself and Will of the benefits of doing this naturally. In addition to the helpful information, I had this gut feeling that I should trust that God has given me everything I need to give birth. I had a lifelong fear of natural childbirth, and I felt Him calling me to overcome it. We have no judgement towards anyone who thinks and chooses differently than we did about labor and delivery – it is a deeply personal decision. I simply thought it helpful to give a bit of background before sharing our story. With that said, here is the story of how Milly Elizabeth Ray entered into our lives…
My first contraction woke me up at 3:30am on May 25th. I wasn’t sure if it was a contraction or not, but a similar feeling of cramps woke me up again each hour until 6:30am, when I started timing them. After I timed a few at 10 minutes a part while laying in bed, I finally woke Will up around 7am and told him that I think this might be the day our baby would be born! I also said that we shouldn’t get our hopes up, because the cramps might just go away and life could continue as usual. We snuggled a few minutes, then he jumped out of bed and said “we have stuff to do!” He skipped his usual coffee and morning routine in favor of preparing the house, wrapping up work, and loading up our bags in the car. He worked all morning. I had some coffee and prayer, wrote in my journal, and ate a big breakfast, then joined him in preparing for what could be the start of my maternity leave. We contacted my Mama and my friend Cheyenne who would be photographing the birth, to let them know that this could be the day!
The first half of the day consisted of work. I was glad for the distraction, and I had several blogpost drafts and emails to finish. We had been working for months to launch our new brand, and I after finishing the final touches on the website just 2 days prior, I wanted to make sure everything was set and ready to go. I worked in the studio while having contractions until Noon, then Will made me a big hummus and veggie sandwich for lunch. The contractions were slowly getting stronger throughout the morning, but I could still have a conversation and eat. I would just pause and breathe a little slower as I ate my sandwich. Meanwhile, my Mom was catching a flight (which was quite the task on Memorial day) and Cheyenne was packing her bags.
I was timing contractions throughout the day with my Pregnancy Plus app – my favorite app throughout pregnancy. With a full belly and manageable contractions, we decided to rest. I took a shower and laid on the bed for a while, and Will put on a Calming Christian Playlist on Spotify that allowed me to pray and worship while trying to sleep. I never actually fell asleep and neither did he, but it was nice to just lay on my side and rest for a while. It really wasn’t until this point that I believed this was it. I didn’t want to get my hopes up, so the entire morning I kept telling myself “these could stop at any minute. This might be a false alarm.” At this point, I realized there was no turning back.
(Above: we were laughing as we felt our baby’s hiccups!) After resting, I curled my hair and finished gathering my things. I’ll never forget putting in 3-4 rollers at a time, then having to bend over the bed to breathe for a minute, then going back to the curlers to continue the process. I put on my favorite pregnancy shirt – one of will’s softest t-shirts – and gym shorts. Simply getting ready took so long, but I didn’t mind it. I enjoyed having small tasks to focus on between contractions for most of the morning, until things began to change around 3:30 in the afternoon.
I started to have a difficult time talking through the contractions. All of the intensity was located down low, like cramps, and in my lower back. My contractions were 3-4 minutes apart at this point, lasting 45 seconds. Will called Cheyenne and said it was time for her to come. The car was loaded and the work was complete, so all we had to focus on was the work of labor ahead of us. My sweet Mother in law had just picked up my Mom from the airport, and they both stopped by to hug and encourage me.
Cheyenne arrived late that afternoon, and my contractions had slowed down a bit, to 5 minutes apart. We sat on the couch with her for a while, just talking. At first I was nervous and didn’t want to become “undone” in front of her, which is laughable considering all that she witnessed that day. It was so sweet to have her there with us! Will and I decided to take a short walk together, to hopefully get things moving. With Cheyenne’s encouragement, we then decided to order dinner and allow Will to sleep for a while. We called my Mom to come over, so she and Cheyenne could be with me while Will slept. Toni, our dear friend who would be filming, was on her way to get some footage and she brought Will and Cheyenne some pizza, while I ate some peanut butter crackers.
Let me pause here and tell you that I was convinced I would not be noisy when in labor. Will and I took a Bradley Birth Class (which we loved), and I would laugh at the women in the DVDs who would moan and make crazy noises. Let’s face it – it’s really an odd and funny thing to witness when you’re not actually going through it! I told Will that I thought I’d be a quiet laboring woman. Boy was I wrong!
Right when Will was ready to head upstairs to take a nap, the moaning began. I was trying to hold it back, but I couldn’t. Simply put, making noise just helped. My mom had just arrived, and at that point I looked at Will and told him I didn’t want him going anywhere. I needed him with me! Poor guy didn’t get the nap he really needed, but it’s just how it was. My mom would lay her hand on me and just say “Jesus.” Calling on His name was exactly what I needed for the hours ahead, and hearing my Mom’s prayers refocused me on the One who would give me the strength to go on. The Lord knew I needed to hear my Mom’s prayers at that specific time, just as things turned a corner.
From 7pm until 11pm I had my most intense active labor at home. Will called the hospital to let them know I would be coming soon. My contractions were 3 minutes apart, lasting on average for 1 minute each. I was moaning with each one, trying to drink as much coconut water as possible in between. I stayed much of the time on the birth ball, leaning on Will. My legs began to shake, and it was difficult to do anything that required my legs to hold me up. I took a bath around 10pm, and with each contraction my legs were shaking like crazy in the tub. It was at this point that we started talking about leaving for the hospital. Being that we live in a 3 story townhouse and I was on the 3rd floor taking a bath, I just wanted to be sure that I could make it down 2 flights of stairs with my shaky legs! I threw on a dress, and as soon as contraction was finished I’d tackle one flight of stairs. A few more contractions, then I tackled the next flight of stairs and got into the car with Will. Mom and Cheyenne followed behind. We were on our way!
Part Two coming up next!
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