by Kate Bechtold
So here I sit. I am 22 weeks pregnant with our 3rd babe. Susannah Faye is 20 months old, and I am just now getting around to putting up her birth story. I posted this on instagram when she turned a month old.
So, it’s ready! I recently became inspired to finish the story based on my excitement about my present pregnancy. I am in the “I feel so good. I have so much energy!” part of this pregnancy. Today I went back and read what I had written for both Saylor’s and Susannah’s birth stories. I loved reading them so much! I don’t keep a journal, so these written accounts of their births are very special to me. Here is Susannah’s:
Susannah Faye’s Birth Story -Started February 2014
This pregnancy went by so fast, probably because Saylor (firstborn, 3 years old) took most of my attention. I spent most of the pregnancy emotional about one thing or another. I felt guilty for not spending time with my unborn baby like I did with Saylor when I was pregnant with him. I didn’t talk to her much, rub my belly much, or take “bump” pictures much. I felt grief over the fact that Saylor would no longer be my only child and that he was growing up so fast. I worried that he would feel rejected when he saw me adoring another child. I worried that his and my relationship would suffer—that we would grow apart. I felt overwhelming love for Saylor during this pregnancy. I dealt with fear and doubt. I feared something was wrong with our baby. I doubted that I could give birth again. I feared the possibility that I could have postpartum depression again. I doubted my ability to handle a newborn and a 3-year-old. God continued to sanctify me during the pregnancy. He showed me (and still is showing me) that He is enough. He is teaching me that I need to have faith in His love even when the circumstances look bleak. I had to admit that I had no faith in my moments of fear and that I distrusted His sovereignty. I had to learn to find rest, and I had to learn to find it before labor started because I knew that my fear would affect the birth.
Labor started very differently than I had expected.
With Saylor, my water broke shortly before I started pushing. But on January 28th, a Tuesday evening, I walked from the kitchen to the living room, and felt a teeny tiny “gush” of water.
“What was that?!”, I thought. “Did I just pee?” Then it happened again. I realized that I had not peed my pants. “Did my water just break? That wasn’t very much…” I told Nathan right away that I thought something labor-related might have just happened and gave him a “OMG, is this IT?!”, shocked look. It was still January. The due date wasn’t until February 7th, and I was sure that I wouldn’t go into labor until a week later than that. So the whole pregnancy I guessed the baby would be born on Valentine’s Day. This came out of nowhere and I was nowhere near finished with my to-do-before-baby-gets-here list. We called our midwife, Kelly, and told her what happened. I had no contractions.
She told us that if nothing else happened that night, to come in and see her in the morning. Well I kept “leaking” all night. Before bed, I lost my mucous plug and all that yucky stuff. I did some last minute things before bed, thinking that labor could start any time.
I woke up the next morning to Saylor climbing into bed with us. I gave him extra cuddles thinking that day was THE DAY. Nathan went to teach a class at the college, and then we headed to see Kelly. Once we got there, she confirmed that the liquid that I was leaking was amniotic fluid. So since I was leaking amniotic fluid, there must have been an opening somewhere in my bag of waters. And that, she said, could be a problem.
Once the seal is broken, the chance of bacteria reaching Baby goes up and the risk for infection goes up. Because I hadn’t started having contractions, we had to monitor my temperature to watch for an infection.
Reality hit. I knew that the longer I went without starting labor, the greater the chance of developing an infection. If I got an infection, then I would have to go to the hospital to receive antibiotics, and the protocol at the hospital is “water-breaking before start of labor=antibiotics + pitocin.”
I did not want to be induced!!! And I wanted to have my baby at home, not in a hospital!
To my surprise, worry did not take over in this moment. All the work God did on me during the pregnancy put my mind and soul at ease, and I found rest instead of fear. On the way home, we called our families and asked them to be praying that I would not contract an infection and that I would go into labor right away. Once we got home, I started taking my temperature every two hours and texting the results to Kelly. Along with that, I started taking all my go-to natural remedies for preventing an infection. That whole day, we had families and friends praying that I would go into labor ASAP! And around 7pm, I did.
I didn’t believe the first contractions were actually REAL contractions. It took two hours of them to finally believe it. “Are these braxton-hicks? Is this real labor?”, I kept thinking. I told my mom right away about the first one, but I told her that I wasn’t sure yet if I was in labor. She replied that of course I was, and that the same thing happened with Saylor. She told me to call my midwife right away, but I waited until I was sure. I wonder if I will play the same silly “denial” game with all subsequent labors.
Around 8pm, I texted Kelly that I thought I was in labor, having “cramps” 10 minutes apart. I ate a snack, tidied-up a bit, and laid down with Saylor to have some very special time with him. My love for him exploded that night! We read a book and watched a movie together while I labored. When he fell asleep for the night, I started to miss him terribly. I ached for him.
I called my dad, and he prayed with me over the phone. Nathan finished up his work for the night, and we retreated to our bed to get some rest. I slept in and out of contractions for a few hours. At that point, the contractions lasted over a minute and about 5-6 minutes apart. Nathan had slept through all the contractions up until this point, but I woke him up because fear started tempting me again.
I could no longer relax through the contractions. I did not fear something going wrong. I feared the pain that was waiting for me. I knew that the present pain was nothing compared to what I was about to experience. I became really scared, and it prevented me from being able to control the controllable contractions I was already experiencing.
I asked Nathan to wake up and encourage me to relax during each contraction. He prayed with me, and he began to go through each one with me. That helped so much! I didn’t realize how much I needed him until then. After two labors, I have learned that he is my ROCK and what makes them peaceful, enjoyable, and even romantic. I wouldn’t let him leave my side. After a while, I did not want to be in bed anymore. I needed to be in the living room, for some reason. But first I went to go use the restroom, and WHEW, the contraction I experienced on the toilet was no joke!
I knew I was headed into transition at that point. I went into the living room where the birthing pool was already blown up. I labored in there on my hands and knees leaning on our futon for the rest of transition. Everything during this time is really foggy in my memory. I remember it feeling like it lasted for days but only seconds simultaneously. It actually lasted 1-1/2 hours.
During this time, Sabrina, Kelly’s apprentice, arrived. Then, shortly after, Kelly arrived. She sat with me for a contraction and observed me. When the contraction was over she said, “doing good work.” Something about that really reassured both Nathan and me.
I think around this time, someone started getting the pool filled with water, which took longer than anticipated. One thing that went differently with this birth, compared to Saylor’s, is that I felt more of what was happening with my body. With Saylor’s birth, all I felt during transition was PAIN! With this one, along with the pain, I could feel the baby actually descending down the birth canal. When she started to get close to crowning, I could tell. Right around the time the pool was filled, I told Nathan that I couldn’t remember when to push. “How will I know?” “Will I be able to tell?” I think this was my way of saying, “I hope I start pushing soon, because I’m not going to be able to do this much longer!” This was the sign that I was getting close. And sure enough, as soon as I hopped in the pool, “the urge” came over me. It was time to start pushing.
My body knew how to do it, and it just did it, without much effort at all. I assumed the position of leaning or lounging on my left hip. I’m not really sure why I did that, but it seemed natural to me. I went through four contractions, and then Susannah Faye Bechtold graced us with her presence.
She came into the world on January 30th, at 5:28am. Active labor lasted around 9 hours. Her gender didn’t surprise us at all. We guessed the whole time we would having a daughter. Right away, I asked Nathan to go get Saylor. I couldn’t wait for him to meet her!
I felt so amazing after delivering her. With Saylor’s birth, I felt extremely tired afterwards. With Susannah’s birth, I felt a huge rush of energy. It lasted a while too. In fact, the entire recovery went so well. I did not struggle with fatigue, soreness, and moodiness like the first birth. (Praise God for that!)
Nursing was easy from day one. All the things that made Saylor’s first few weeks so difficult were not an issue this time around. I am so grateful for that. After the birth, we spent the day as a family of four, snuggling. The sunrise that morning was stunning—a perfect way to close a beautiful night. I have not seen a sunrise like that in all three years we have lived here. Our Susannah sunrise.
The whole month after Susannah’s birth, our families came to spend time with us and help out around here. Once they left, we had to adjust to our “new normal” with 2 kiddos. It was (and still is!) challenging… yet, manageable.
There is so much love in our home, and Susannah helped it grow. I’m in love with Nathan like never before, which I didn’t think was even possible. My love for Saylor skyrocketed to a new level. And my new, deep, aching love for Susannah, was such a sweet surprise. Before she was born, I questioned if I could love another child. It’s true what they say, “Your heart makes more room.”
Here is the birth video Nathan put together.
And here I am NOW, 22 weeks pregnant with our 3rd little one. We’re planning another home birth with our midwife, Kelly attending. The gender will be a surprise then, sometime around late January/early February. We are so thrilled!