I've debated about whether or not to share my birth story with my fans and followers but there is so much Love and Joy in Phoebe's story that I can't not share it.
I went into the last trimester of my pregnancy with this baby expecting to go into labor "late" like I had with Lily & Norah. I knew by now that my body takes a while to warm up, but when it is ready, someone better be there to catch my babe. Labor signs started at 39 weeks with the first two, but Phoebe's started at 38 weeks. I assumed that this just meant that I would going through early labor a week longer than before.
But on the evening of the 2nd, a few days before my EDD, I noticed that I had 10 min apart contractions from about 4 pm. They were manageable nothing I couldn't just breath and sway through, but I let Eamon and my birth team know what was going on as I figured that I'd probably be giving them a call later that evening. I was able to sleep in between contractions that night, but by 4 am, they were about 6 mins apart so I hopped in the bathtub to see if they'd stop. Nope! They kept up, so the calls were made.
Eamon was more convinced that I was in labor than I was. He duct taped the hose to the water faucet in the kitchen and began filling our birth tub. I was still terrified that once again my birth team would show up and my labor would stop like it did with Norah.
At about 6 am Angela, Ceci (our birth cinematographer), Michelle (our birth photographer) and Katie had quietly arrived. Angela was supposed to be assisted by her student midwife, Lanette. Throughout my pregnancy I had gone back and forth about whether or not she was supposed to be there, finally deciding that I should know by now that the Lord will have whoever is supposed to be there come. It just happens that Lanette was out of town that weekend so she wouldn't be there.
I was cheerful between contractions, able to keep up normal conversation with these women that I love.
I was consistently having bloody show, and couldn't quite tell where the back side of my cervix was, so I requested to be checked. I had started throwing up and was hopeful that this was transition. Angela held me as I threw up into a bowl and pushed back my hair. Her presence and the fact that I was probably in transition kept me cheerful though. I laid down to be checked... 4. I was 4 centimeters. That, is quite a bit away from transition. And I was pretty discouraged.
I crawled into the birth tub struggling internally. Eamon assured me over and over that we WERE going to have a baby that day, and it was okay if we stopped and started, that it's what this baby needed, but I didn't really believe him. Michelle came to my side and tried to encourage me to regain my confidence and joy. I knew she was right, and I knew not to let pride in like it had before, but this was hard.
The girls woke up with the sun shortly after.
Lily was very excited that I was in the tub. Norah kept asking "BABY?!" It was very sweet.
I labored on around my home.
Most contractions brought me to the floor, all I could do was fold completely in half in child's pose and keep a low moan in my breaths.
8, 9, 10, and 11 o'clock ticked by.
My contractions were consistent, but weren't progressing.
I'd been here before. I hated that I was here again.
Angela said that some of the birth team was going to go get lunch.
As I was sitting in my bath tub at 4 am, I thought I'd surely have a baby in my arms by lunch...
Lunch time came and went. Katie entertained the girls while Eamon and I labored in my room.
The team returned and I told Angela that if by 2 I wasn't in transition that the team could leave
Dr. Cindy came and gave me an adjustment to help alleviate some pain and possibly increase the contractions.
Many contractions later, 2 pm arrived and I requested to be checked again.
Four centimeters. No change.
I went into the bathroom and sobbed alone.
Again, my body was "doing this to me."
I got on me knees and begged Jesus to meet me. To bring me my baby. To give me strength and confidence and patience and trust, because I had run out of all of them.
I asked Angela to pray with me and to tell everyone to leave because I couldn't face them.
Everyone left and Eamon put the girls down for a nap. My contractions slowed to ten minutes, then to fifteen and I was able to rest for maybe an hour and a half between contractions.
When I woke up, the girls were in their room, and Eamon was with me in ours.
Something in me knew "my baby needs help".
I needed to help her. My body was trying, but my baby needed some encouragement.
Something switched in me at that point. I went from feeling sorry for myself to having a renewed determination to meet my baby.
I texted Angela saying that my contractions hadn't stopped. I either needed them to stop so I could get some real rest, or I needed to get this show on the road.
I decided that in between contractions I would start nipple stimulation (which, I'm not gonna lie, was super awkward and embarrassing even though it was just Eamon and me) and then to start a contraction, I would begin pelvic tilts on all fours.
My contractions got back down to 6 mins apart very quickly and I called Angela. Anyone else would have given me benadryl and sent me to bed, but at about 4 pm, Angela made her way back into our home to support me in labor. I told her that if I still hadn't progressed that she could go home and we could do whatever possible to try and stop this marathon labor.
While it wasn't much, all that work had done something! I was finally at 6 cms!
Angela gave me a napkin with some Clary Sage on it to help intensify my contractions in addition to what I had already been doing.
The next hour, it was just me and my baby.
Angela rested on the couch in our living room, Eamon couldn't stay awake and had fallen asleep in the bed next to me.
The work was hard.
I prayed between contractions, moaned into my pillow, but finally had hope that I was going to meet my baby.
By five, I felt my contractions start coming right on top of each other and finally felt comfortable inviting the rest of my birth team back.
Michelle had gotten a stomach bug and had to stay home, and was sending our friend Keri in her place.
I wanted Michelle there since she was such a good friend and because she had been at Norah's birth, but I wanted Keri present throughout my pregnancy, but thought it probably wasn't an option. Once again, God had ordained exactly who was supposed to be there to greet our new baby.
Contractions were very painful at this point, and consistent so I figured it was safe to get in the tub without the warm water slowing them down.
I had Eamon turn on some music for me and I got in the zone.
It was beautiful.
The evening sun was shining through our living room windows. Our girls were playing with their Auntie Katie, picking me dandelions. The back doors were open letting in fresh air that I would fill my lungs with before embracing each contraction. Two of my best friends were supporting me, my midwife who never gave up on me sat nearby...This was labor. It was here.
Eamon whispered soft encouraging words to me as I worked. Each wave that came was met with a low moan. I concentrated on keeping the same note throughout the contraction and trying to stay on top of them.
I couldn't see her, but Eamon told me "Ann's here, you can have your baby in twenty minutes now." and I didn't know what he meant, I was in my zone. But a few minutes later I looked up and saw my sweet Ann there. She was present for Lily's birth and was supposed to be at Norah's (but her husband was in the hospital that night with a heart attack) but made it for this birth. Everything was rolling along.
I started feeling really uncomfortable, at this point with Lily and Norah, I got out of the tub, but I really wanted to experience a water birth this time, so I stayed. When I started hearing myself saying things like "I can't do this," and "it just hurts too bad" I knew I was in transition. I could feel a small bubble (still very high up) in front of my baby's head and I knew I was okay with my water being broken, so I asked Angela to check me with the hopes that it would agitate my water bag.
Angela confirmed that I was 8 cms (THANK YOU JESUS!!) and while she checked me my water broke. On it's own or with a little help didn't matter to me, I knew what came next. The contraction that came with it was intense and left me light headed. I thought I was going to pass out, I had never experienced this before. My whole body was tingling and shaking. I thought I needed oxygen, but my midwives kept reassuring me it was because I was getting so MUCH oxygen and to breath into my hands.
The girls came in and were starting to get curious. Norah was checking the tub to see if there was a baby floating in there, and Lily was making sure that I was okay.
I got myself into a very unfamiliar position. Eamon was behind me outside of the tub with his hands supporting my back as I floated up at the top. It was very strange not having anything to brace myself up against. In my head I was encouraging my body to get that "one contraction" that would make me push. I knew that if my body would start pushing, my baby would be here in just a few minutes.
Then, just 3 or 4 contractions after my water broke, I felt it :]
My body started pushing and I was excited.
I yelled to my team "I'm PUSHING!!!!!" and Angela came right over and said "The head is out, Mae!"
Everyone else was still on the other side of the room, but when they heard this they all started running over.
Shortly after she said "There's the body-MAE! Reach down and grab your baby!!!"
It was surreal.
After one push, my baby came into the water where I scooped it up.
It was warm, slippery, and so very, very tiny.
The midwives unwrapped the cord from around our baby's neck as I lay in Eamon's arms in euphoria.
My praises of our faithful Lord rang out in our home as Lily and Norah came to see their new baby.
We excitedly checked to see if our babe was a boy or girl. With her swollen lady parts and cord coming up through her legs, we both momentarily thought she was a boy, but excitedly announced that it was indeed, "Another Girl!!"
Lily was thrilled :]
Our baby came to be one night during a meteor shower, so I knew that I wanted his/her name to reflect that. "Phoebe" means "bright and radiant . Phoebe is also considered the first woman decan in the church. She aided Paul in the early days of church planting. When searching for a middle name, I decided to name her after my friend, Keri, whose middle name is Christine. It means "woman of God." and during my time here in Fort Worth, Keri, the first person I met, has shown me what that looks like. I was thrilled that she and her mama were there to welcome our little lady and told Ann the meaning of her name while we were sitting in our post baby high. There was no blood in the water, all of the women who had taken on the roll of Mother, Sister, and Friend were surrounding us, and my family felt complete, again.
Phoebe Christine Burke
6lbs 15oz | 19.5 in
Lily, who has been preparing herself for the "scary placenta" turned to me and said "Okay, mama, now it's time for the plusempta!!" The placenta came just a few minutes later. I always find it very amusing that I cannot actually push, ha, but we got it out eventually. The only blood that was present in the tub came when Angela tipped over the bowl with the placenta and some blood came out of the sack. I think that kept the girls both very calm and made the after birth less traumatic for them.
Eamon cut the cord and wrapped our baby up in a warm towel while I got out of the tub.
We snuggled in our bed as the bathtub was filled up for the herbal tea bath. I couldn't believe how tiny and beautiful she was. I truly believe that my little lady needed help coming down into the birth canal because she was so tiny!
I got into the warm bath while Katie and Keri got a chance to hold and love on her. She was then passed into the tub with me where I cleaned her off and let her sisters get a closer look at her. We crawled back into bed with fresh clothes and my fashionable depends, prayed and gave thanks for the day, did the newborn exam and (after Angela had been there for about 15 hrs) were left on our own... as a family of five.
I didn't sleep much that night, or the following. Sweet Phoebe was ready for my milk to come in and wouldn't let mama rest until it did. But once it did, she has been the sweetest nursing baby in the world.
Angela asked me a few days after the birth how I was "processing" it. All I could say was "Well, it happened!"
We were so blessed not to have any complications during her birth. Nothing... happened.
But both Eamon and I had a sense of... finality with her birth.
Like, for now, our baby baring chapter has come to a close.
And instead of being joyous that it went so perfectly with all of the family that God's given me here, it breaks my heart. God has confirmed in me that family is beyond blood, through the births of my own. My sweet midwives who have supported me spiritually, physically, and emotionally through several births. My friends who have prayed through lean times, depression, and pain, who have cooked and cleaned, who have become my sisters... I don't want to leave them, but they have taught me what type of women that I want my girls to be.
Phoebe, my sweet darling girl, I am so glad you are here. You were welcomed with an outburst of joy and laughter. I can't wait to introduce to the world Our Father has created for us. Your daddy and I love you so very much <3