While Machen’s pregnancy was very much wanted, it also came during one of the most stressful years of our lives. It was the same year that we were waiting to have our sweet Evelyn home with us and was filled with Social Service visits, adoption training, and endless waiting. We got pregnant in July 2013, and lost that baby in September, on the same day that we were told that Evy had to move back to her foster home after living with us for 4 months, to await official approval. When we got pregnant again in November, we couldn’t have been more thrilled. We were still dealing with the work involved with bringing Evy home, but the prospect of another addition to our family was such a joy.
The pregnancy was hard: both physically and emotionally. I was sick for the first part, and my hips and pelvis hurt terribly through the latter part. I felt that with everything else going on, I didn’t have time to prepare for the actual birth, and hoped that all the previous experiences I had would get me through.
Then, when I was 38 weeks pregnant, I got into an accident. I went out for a horseback ride, and my horse, who normally didn’t give me any trouble, bucked me off. I landed on my bum, and so the baby was fine, but I broke my tailbone and was in severe pain. While before the accident I had been hoping that the baby would come sooner than later, after the fall I started praying that he would just stay put for a few more weeks, so that I could heal. I couldn’t lie on my back or sit up at all, in fact, I could barely walk, and I didn’t want to go into labour while I was so immobile.
On July 27, a Sunday evening, just 10 days after the accident, I knew labour would be starting soon. My water hadn’t “broke,” but I was leaking a little, and I just knew that my body was ready. While we were sitting outside with the kids in the evening enjoying the warm summer night, I told Jared I thought that that night would be the night.
We went to bed early, and slept well. I woke up at 5 am, before Jared woke up to go to work, with mild contractions. They were very gentle, but they were consistently about 10 minutes apart, so I knew I had been right and that I would soon meet my baby. When Jared woke up I told him that I didn’t want him to go into work, and that we should probably get the birth stuff ready.
Because I was leaking amniotic fluid, but was not actually in labour, I did have a fear that it would be a replay of Eli’s birth – days of waiting, followed by a caesarean. Thankfully, after Atticus’s birth I knew my body could do it, and so I hoped things would move along quickly. I was very apprehensive though because of the pain I was still in due to my fall.
By 10 am I was confident that labour had begun, and I called the appropriate people to let them know. Chloe and Joan, who were going to come over to take pictures and help with the big kids, and the midwives. I told them all that I was doing fine and would let them know when I need them.
I spent most of the morning and early afternoon in bed. I napped with Atticus, cuddling with my “baby” one last time. I listened to my hypnobabies tracks. At 2:30 things still hadn’t really picked up, but were remaining consistent. I was definitely in labour, just not very strong labour. At this point the whole family gathered together for a family prayer – just the kind of strength and support that I needed at the time.
After Tuck’s nap I decided to go downstairs to knit and watch TV. Jared continued to watch the kids upstairs and in the backyard. I finished two little hats, and began another while I was in labour. About ½ way through the third hat I’d had enough of the TV show I was watching (Downton Abby, for those who are interested), and was finally having contractions that I couldn’t just sit through. I think things were more painful than they otherwise would have been because my movement was so limited due to my broken tailbone.
I lost track of time through here, but at some point Chloe and Joan showed up. My mom brought dinner for everyone, and I was mildly aware that while I was labouring downstairs, my entire family was having a party in my backyard. My dad, two brother-in-laws and my nephews were even out back!
I finally got into the tub. I did not want to slow contractions down by getting in to the water, but I knew how good it would feel to be in there. I laboured for a while in the tub. At some point each of the kids came down to check on me. Silas was especially interested. I didn’t mind them there, and looking back feel that I managed contractions better when they were there because I had to not scream.
Things started to get to a point where I felt I couldn’t manage contractions any more. At 7:37 pm I told Jared to call the midwives, hoping that they could help. In the pool things were so much better, but I could really only be in two positions: on my knees with my arms over the side, or kind of propped on one side, not on my bum, but up on one knee. On both knees seemed to work best.
I’m not sure when the midwives got there. It must have been shortly after 8. Carol, Wendy, and the student, Janelle, all came. I was not thrilled to see Janelle there, but was so consumed that I didn’t really care. They worked me through a few contractions, and then I felt the baby descend. I told them I wanted my kids down, and so someone ran upstairs to get them. Once they got down there I actually didn’t want them right there, so I sent them back to one of the bedrooms. I didn’t want them to see me like that; I was really not dealing very well, and didn’t want the kids to see that part of it. Later Jared said that I was being pretty funny, but I felt dead serious as I demanded to go to the hospital, an epidural, to adopt next time. I yelled at Janelle to not talk, because every time she opened her mouth I was annoyed. (The funny thing is, I really like Janelle. She was at all of my prenatal appointments and was really nice. I just didn’t want her to tell me what to do!)
Right after the kids went back to the room, my water actually broke with a POP! Immediately after that my body started to push. It was the same as with Atticus’s birth where I didn’t really push, my body just did it. I pushed once and his head was out, and another and his body was out. The kids came out immediately and met their new brother.
Although we didn’t know if we were having a boy or a girl, when I looked to find he was another boy, I was not at all surprised. It was as if I had known all along. He was so sweet. When he first came out the midwives said, “Jenny, here’s your baby, reach down and get your baby.” And I just stayed there on my hands and knees and ignored them for a minute. Even though if felt like it went on forever, I had gone from totally manageable pain, through transition, to baby out, it one hour. Machen was born at 8:37 pm, exactly an hour after we called the midwives.
We waited for the cord to stop pulsing and then Evy got to cut it. I waited for my placenta to deliver, but ended up having to stand up and squat in order to push it out. The midwives were very hands off for that part – they didn’t try to pull on the cord, but told me how to, and just told me different things to try to get the placenta out.
Looking back on the events of the labour I see that it really wasn’t that bad, and that it actually was very similar to Tuck’s birth, except that early labour was longer. But, it really felt so much worse. I was a little shell shocked after the fact. I think it was partly because of the accident, and me not ready to go into labour, but it was also because I went into it emotionally unprepared. I had spent all of my energy on Evy’s adoption throughout the pregnancy, and had little left for the intensity of the labour. Also, I think with Tuck I had something to prove – I had to know if my body could deliver a baby or not. This time I had nothing to prove, and I really just wanted it to be over. I feel bad that I felt that way, but that’s how it went.
Machen’s Apgar scores were 9 and 9. He was exactly 8 lbs at 19 ½ inches long. When he first came out of the water he just snuggled into my chest. After a bit he let out a little wail but really didn’t cry that much. He nursed on my left breast like champ, while we were still in the pool, and lying down in the bed (because I couldn’t sit up) when we got up to my bedroom. Right from the start he was a star nurser. Heavenly Father blessed me with a good nurser, because he must have known that with my injury I wouldn’t have been able to handle it otherwise.