Actually, it was different. I didn’t have morning sickness or first trimester fatigue. After being sick for 7 or 8 months with my previous two pregnancies, the healthy feeling was a welcome relief. I had spent the previous two years making big changes to improve my health and I guess it helped.
I called the midwife and she had an opening and was excited to take me on. there was no midwife in the area for my previous pregnancy so I had no choice but to have an unassisted birth.
I felt the baby move at about 9 weeks, around the same time as his or her older brothers. It was a surreal feeling to have no morning sickness. If it wasn’t for the movement I regularly felt, I wouldn’t have believed I was even expecting.
I had a pattern of a miscarriage before healthy pregnancy with my first two and, when I conceived my third son, God told me to trust Him and I felt secure in the pregnancy. That was the first time I didn’t have a miscarriage. This time I felt like He was just telling me to wait on Him.
This time I felt like He was just telling me to wait on Him.
And wait I did. I believe my heart always knew that that baby wouldn’t be with us for a long time. Around 9.5 weeks I had a bit of spotting and it started to feel like a waiting game. I waited on Him and I waited to say goodbye. I miscarried the baby at almost 11 weeks.
After my first two miscarriages, I conceived on the next cycle but this time was different. Cycle after cycle came and went with nothing. Apparently God wanted me to continue waiting. Eventually I made peace with the fact it could be God’s will for us to have 3 biological children instead of 4.
After 6 pregnancies conceived after 1 try, pregnancy number 7 was an unexpected surprise after 6 months of waiting. As excited as we were, I still had that surreal feeling. I called the midwife and she was unavailable during the time I was due so I had to start wrapping my head around another unassisted pregnancy and birth. I didn’t have morning sickness. I still hadn’t felt the baby move at 10 weeks. And then not at 11 weeks.
I didn’t feel pregnant.
Maybe I wasn’t really willing to believe I was, just in case. The midwife, who had become a friend, was able to get me booked in for an ultrasound, as per my request, which is something I hadn’t wanted for my previous pregnancies.
At 12 weeks, the day before the ultrasound. I thought I may have felt the baby move.
Thankfully the ultrasound technician confirmed what my husband already trusted to be true: we were going to have a baby!
I experienced only two weeks of morning sickness, from week 14 to 16. Though my uterus got huge (people commented how I must be excited for my Christmas baby and were shocked and embarrassed when I told them I was only 5.5 months) I didn’t have any water retention and didn’t feel like I gained as much weight as my previous children. (For the record, I did. I just carried it differently. I gained over 70lbs each pregnancy.)
I hired a doula who I met when she and I both attended my friend’s birth. She seemed a bit unsure about an unassisted pregnancy and birth but, as she got to know me better, became more comfortable with the idea. We exchanged birth resources (I have quite a home library) and swapped pregnancy and birth advice. She came to pray for me and encourage me when I ended up in the hospital at 35 weeks (for a non pregnancy related incident).
I sent her a text a few weeks before my due date to let her know I had been having fairly strong pre labour contractions every evening for a week. I kept thinking, hoping, I would wake up to have a baby but they always stopped when I went to sleep. It was very similar to my first three experiences of prelabour: 3 days for my first, 5 days for my second, and 8 days for my third.
The week after I had nothing. I hoped for an early birth because I get SPD pretty bad near the end and spent most of my day sitting on my couch so I didn’t injure myself. After 5 days of no prelabour, I figured God wanted me to keep waiting. I made peace with the fact that it would be another two weeks before I could meet my baby and be done with the SPD pain. That was Thursday morning. My doula let me know she wanted to head to the city on Friday (a drive of more than 2 hours one way) and I joked with her about bringing back 3 or 4 Ikea bookcases for me.
That evening I went to bed and snuggled with my 3 year old. I cherished his nighttime snuggles, knowing it was nearing his daddy’s turn to take over his night-time needs. He curled up around my belly and I breathed in the fresh scent of his dirt and grass infused hair.
I woke up around 4:30am to go to the bathroom. (I don’t think I mentioned another symptom I didn’t have was a baby sitting on my bladder so nighttime potty breaks weren’t a regular occurance.) Our bathroom is down the stairs and on the other end of the house so, after traipsing through the cold house, I was very ready to crawl back into my nice warm bed.
I was nearly asleep again when I got what felt like a contraction. I checked the clock (it was 5am) and started timing. 6 to 7 minutes apart. I started 2 minutes apart with my third son so I figured I had lots of time but, after 3 or 4 contractions, I realized I couldn’t sleep through them. Poked my husband and told him he wouldn’t be going to work because we were going to have a baby. He mumbled and I headed downstairs. I started my contraction timer app and noticed that walking downstairs had shortened the interval to 2 to 3 minutes. I shouted up the stairs to Adam to get the pool ready and sent a text to my doula. She didn’t respond so I waited until a contraction was done and called to let her know she should probably reschedule her trip to the city. It was pretty close to 6am at this point and she was getting up anyway and lives less than ten minutes away.
She came in the door and was surprised by how far into active labour I already was.
Adam was heating water on the stove and filling the pool. I was so concerned about the pool because it had a leak and I was convinced he hadn’t taped it up well enough. The hose also didn’t fit on our faucet so I was concerned about the water spraying all over the kitchen. She got right to work and held my hips and rubbed my back in a way that calmed me. We were joking around in between contractions and Adam was making fun of me for being so obsessed with the pool issue (that according to him wasn’t an issue at all).
Jesse, the 3 year old, came down the stairs first. He was some great comedic relief as he jumped on the mini trampoline beside me like a bouncy little energizer bunny. I love how he asked why the pool was downstairs and we told him the baby was coming and he just went with the flow. Birth is not something thst kids naturally fear. Caleb and Isaac, almost-9 and 6, came downstairs right after I got into the pool. They were so quiet but so excited to see me in the pool and knew that the baby would be out soon. I thought they were quietly excited anyway. Apparently they were making fun of the noises I was making. (I’m a pretty vocal birther). Jesse was holding my cup of water and made sure to offer it every time I looked up at him. My doula was holding my hand. Adam was telling the boys to be more polite and keeping track of the water temperature and level.
So that is what the rest of them were up to while I did my thing. I am always surprised by how coherent I am, even during the final stages of labour. I laboured in the pool for a while and gave myself pep talks about how I could do this and to breathe the baby down in between contractions. During contractions I would say, out loud so everyone could hear, about how it wasn’t working and that I just wanted to be done and that I was taking too long and things didn’t seem to be progressing.
During pushing contractions my inner pep talks all but stopped as I tried to figure out why the baby wasn’t out yet and why it was taking so long. I quickly discovered the baby wasn’t in a good birthing position and I went from hands and knees to upright on my knees. He immediately went from being pushed backwards to going forwards and crowning . I told them all I didn’t know what way he was going to go, behind me where someone else would have to catch him or forward where I could grab him.
His head came out and I felt something very soft and squishy. During pregnancy I had thought he might be breech so I wondered if that was confirmation. Then I felt his eye and breathed a quick sigh of relief, knowing his head was out and the hardest push was done. It felt like ages until the next contraction came and his little body came sliding out into my waiting hands.
He opened his eyes and looked straight at me the instant he was out of the water. He has been awake and moving all during labour and was totally ready to greet the world. I kept saying, “he’s MY baby!” The emphasis on “my” because he is the first of my sons that I see myself in. It felt like a little me looking back at me. He looked over my shoulder at his brothers and I said to Jesse, “he sees you.”
My husband was in disbelief and asked, “it’s another boy?” That was when I realized I didnt actually know and should probably check. Sure enough, he was all boy.
Since the day my husband and I started talking about having children, we wanted 4. I always said I would rather have 4 boys than 4 girls and, over the years, my heart grew more and more fond of the idea of 4 sons. With Asher, which means “happy” in Hebrew, I felt like my heart would burst with joy at my dream coming true.
He is now over a month old and I still spend most of my day on the couch, snuggling a sleeping baby or starting into the eyes of a very attentive newborn. People have asked if I’m disappointed to have only sons. I tell them I couldn’t be more happy.
Asher was born at 7:28am and was 7lbs and 18.5 inches long. What felt like a long labour was only about 2.5 hours with only 6 pushing contractions. I thank the Lord that everything went so smoothly!
If you would like to read about my third son’s birth, it was a truly spiritual birth experience. I also plan to make a list of my top 10 favorite birth books so sign up for my newsletter to hear when I publish that resource.