It makes me chuckle when I think about the surprise you gave me by arriving on your due date! All my previous labors had begun during the night, so when I awoke still pregnant on the morning of your due date, I mentally accepted that you would probably be overdue, though none of your siblings had been.
Since I anticipated a night labor, it never entered my head on Wednesday evening, September 28, while Grandma Mary Kay, Ana, Joy, Titus and I were in Hy-Vee doing some grocery shopping, that the contractions I was feeling were the start of the real deal!! After 10 minutes of shopping and having the usual uncomfortable Braxton Hicks contractions, I decided, while standing by the end aisle display of pita bread, that I wanted to go home and relax. Grandma insisted they would stay home with me, even though I wanted her and the girls to continue their planned evening of shopping at Hancock Fabrics. As I drove home I experienced a particularly strong contraction that made me glad I was headed home.
Meanwhile, Daddy was working on the neighbor’s roof behind our house, and Mark, Joel and Ben were at Wednesday night CIA at the Worstells’ church. I called Daddy at 7:22, when we drove in the driveway, to fill him in. He assured me he’d be able to leave the job pretty soon, and I wasn’t concerned, since he was visible just over the back fence. I still didn’t know whether or not this was true labor. I remember feeling teary and emotional at the time I called Daddy. In retrospect, I can recognize this as consistent with how I felt at the start of Titus’ labor, though at that time, as now, I didn’t recognize it as labor.
For the next hour and a half it was pretty busy around here. While the others put groceries away and started filling the birth pool, I began to time my contractions, which were 3-4 minutes apart. I made calls to arrange transportation home for the boys, and at 7:40 called my midwife Cheryl to alert her that this might be labor. I also called Aunt Pam, who planned to come, as well as Nicole, and sent a text to Rana. At 8:08 I called Cheryl back to assure her that this was indeed labor. In fact, I couldn’t talk through the contraction I had while I was on the phone with her.
The others took care of getting snacks for the boys and readying them for bed while I walked around in my bedroom during contractions. Grandpa Hughes called around 8:30 and I told him you’d be arriving this evening, but I’m not sure he realized this was a hint that I was in labor! Daddy arrived home at some point during all the preparations, and hopped in the shower. Cheryl and her assistant Linda arrived at 8:50. Around 9:00 I tucked Titus and Ben in, and as Titus and I did our nightly “belly bump,” his against mine, and “kiss for the baby,” I knew it was the final night for that bedtime ritual!
By now the chocolate I had purchased especially for the girls during the “labor party” had been opened. It was slightly misshapen because it had partially melted in the sunshine one afternoon while on the birth supplies table. The previous Friday night, September 23rd, I’d called Cheryl to come after I woke with a very long, intense contraction that I thought for sure was the start of labor. She and Linda, Pam and Ariela had come, but my contractions faded away, so after 7 in the morning everyone went home. Cheryl encouraged me to take naps several times that weekend to keep up my strength and be ready when you were ready to arrive. We left the birth pool in place and the table of supplies, chocolate, and boy and girl blankets and clothes in readiness by the window. Even though the table was covered with a towel, the sun managed to change the shape of the chocolate bars! Now that I was most definitely in labor, Daddy, in reference to that previous Friday night, told me using football language that I was not going to get penalized 5 yards for a false start again!
Just before 9:30, after all the boys were in bed and Daddy was finished showering, Linda took my temperature. It was 100.2 so we discussed how I’d been feeling lately and my level of hydration. That day I’d been feeling slightly flu-ish and tired, but I hadn’t taken my temperature, and assumed the symptoms were just part of the fatigue at the end of pregnancy. Your heartrate was in the 160’s, which was higher than usual this pregnancy. Cheryl explained that could be due to my fever, and assured me they’d monitor your temperature and mine for a few hours after birth, to ensure all was well. I went outside for several contractions and walked in the driveway and down the road with Daddy, who prayed with me again for strength and safety, as he had when he first came home. The intensity had really picked up so I was eager to get in the pool. I’m pretty sure I went through transition while I was outside.
Aunt Pam and 7 week old Ariela arrived at 9:40 while I was between contractions. After kissing them both, I got into the labor pool. I think mentally I was waiting for Pam’s arrival before getting into the water, since the birthing pool represented “Baby’s almost here,” and I wanted to make sure Pam was there for your birth! By now my contractions were super strong, but in between them I felt great and could sit back and chat with the midwives. In fact, about 14 minutes before you arrived, I told Daddy between contractions about a funny sound I’d heard earlier that day in the bathroom. He went in to investigate, but when I felt the next contraction coming on I hurried him saying, “Are you coming, honey? Are you coming?” I loved him being by my side holding my hand during these contractions. He made it to my side just as the intensity built, and my water broke a few seconds later.
I felt so normal between contractions. This labor was simple and straightforward. I was feeling very comfortable emotionally and mentally, understanding what was going to happen and what to do. I was still trying to wrap my mind around the fact that this labor was happening during the evening, not the night, and I knew that very, very soon I would be holding you. Everything about this labor seemed to be happening quickly and smoothly, though not rushed. I was still trying to “soak in” the fact that I was going to give birth within a few minutes!
My water broke during a contraction at 9:57. When that contraction ended I announced to Ana and Joy, “It’s showtime, girls!” The girls had texted Aunt Ruth at 9:45 to say that I was in the water, and around 10:00 Pam called her again, as she had when she’d first arrived. Pam put the phone near the doppler so Aunt Ruth could hear the baby’s heartbeat and Cheryl commented, “How cool that she’s with us in spirit.” It truly was special, since I had given updates over the phone to Aunt Ruth during Ariela’s birth, and now Aunt Pam was giving them to Aunt Ruth during your birth!
By 10:02 your head was so far down the birth canal that I could reach down and feel you. As I touched your hair I said to you, “Hi, Little One.” Linda listened to your heartbeat for the final time at 10:05. I hoped you would come with the next contraction. During the next push I felt you coming but was unsure how much of you was out, so I asked, “Is the baby out?” Cheryl said, “The head’s out.” “All the way?” I asked, feeling this couldn’t be possible since there was still so much pressure!! “The head’s out. The baby isn’t,” Cheryl explained. (No wonder I felt like I did!) I gave another push and you slid into the water at 10:07 pm. Daddy and I together lifted you into my arms and I leaned back against the side of the pool. There’s a special picture in the photo album of your body emerging from the water, with Daddy’s hands and my hands holding you. Daddy laughed when you made your first sounds. My first words to you were, “Oh my goodness, you are so cute!” I was trying to see if you were a boy or girl, but didn’t want to pull on the cord or lift you completely out of the water, so Cheryl checked for me. She indicated to Daddy that we had a girl, so he announced your name, and Aunt Ruth was able to hear all the celebrating over the phone. I remember saying to Ana and Joy, “It’s a girl! Girls, you got your sister!” Pam put the phone up to my ear so I could hear Ruth’s congratulations and tell her we had a girl (although I think she’d picked up on that already!)
And just for the record, it was important to me to know what piece was playing on my “Lifescapes: Classical Stress Relief” CD the moment you were born, so everyone was on alert to watch the track number on the CD player! You were born during track 6, a flute piece listed as “Pavane, Op. 50 (Faure).” In the days following your birth, when I listened to that CD and track 6 played, I would tell you, “That’s your song, Sara. You were born to that!” In fact, it is playing right now as I write this portion of your story on July 4, 2013, while you are 21 months and are sleeping peacefully through all the fireworks and firecrackers going off outside!
Daddy cut your cord in just a few minutes, and I got out of the labor pool to deliver the placenta in the bathroom. Daddy, Ana and Joy each held you briefly before Cheryl brought you to me to nurse. After some nuzzling you latched on and were nursing well by 10:20. You were only 13 minutes old!
At 10:35 I came out into the living room and sat in the glider. I looked at the clock and said, “I’ll get to sleep all night!” I laugh when I think of that now, since I am always awake and excited for hours and hours after I have a baby! Whatever was I thinking?! You were wrapped in a new pink blanket I’d chosen for you if you were a girl, and I later saw on the video that I said, “We get to use the pink! We get to use pink, pink, pink, pink! All this pink we get to use! Oh my goodness!! How exciting!”
At 10:40 Dan told Mark and Joel, who were eagerly waiting downstairs in their room, and had heard your first cries, that they could come upstairs to meet their sister! It was so special to introduce them to you, their first baby sister! They’d been so patient downstairs during the whole exciting labor and couldn’t wait to hold you! They stayed up for quite a while so they could watch your newborn exam and celebrate with us by drinking Izze juice and eating chocolate! Daddy tried to wake up Ben and Titus too, but they were both out for the night.
At 11:09 Ana sent out the email announcing your arrival, and by the time you were 1.5 hours old we were finished with the newborn exam and had weighed and measured you. You were 7 lb 12 oz, and 20.5 inches long. After you and I sat down again to relax and nurse, the boys went back to bed. Cheryl suggested I move into our bedroom to eat some scrambled eggs and start relaxing. Daddy came in and we shared our celebration Izze. The midwives left, but stayed in town for a while so I could keep in touch via text messages regarding your temperature and mine. They were just making sure our temps both stayed normal. Once it was clear all was normal, they went home. Aunt Pam and Ariela had left around 1:45. We’d already gotten a first picture of the 2 baby girl cousins!
At 3 a.m. before Daddy went to sleep for the night, he prayed, giving you to the Lord. After he went to sleep I loaded some pictures on the computer, and when you were just 6 hours old, I sent out a Facebook announcement photo! I was on an adrenaline high. So much for sleeping all night! Then you and I cuddled and nursed. I think I slept about an hour that first night.
At 7:55 in the morning when Daddy came out to the living room, he found Ben already awake, and told him there was a surprise for him in the bedroom! Later Ben told me he figured it must be the baby! He had a special time meeting and holding you when no other siblings were even up yet. When he learned he had a sister he told me, “Good thing we had a girl so we could keep up with the Prices.” Titus woke up about 20 minutes later, and Joy, who by now was up, brought him into the bedroom to meet his new sister. He had some very sweet smiles as he held you and kissed you for the first time.
Sara means “princess” and Grace means just that, “grace.” So the meaning we attach to your name is “Princess given by God’s grace.” You are a gift, and we’re so glad you’re part of our family. And as Daddy said to you even while you were inside me, “You’re terrific, you’re the best, and I love you!”