I’ve know Jenny Sue for a long time! She reached out a while ago to say “I want to share my birth story!” To which I said, “Yes girl, let’s do it.”
Well, she sent her story through and it’s simply beautiful.
My favorite part is the role of her rice sock. If you’ve been around the blog for a awhile, you know I love a heating pad and a rice sock for just about everything.
As always, mamas tell their stories best. Here’s Jenny Sure and Selah Joy’s story. ❤️
(Catch the bottom of the post on why you should write your birth story and how to share it!)
My little girl is two and a half years old now, and it brings a smile to my face to remember her birth. When my husband, Michael, and I decided to start trying to conceive, I was afraid. Our first pregnancy two years before had ended in an early miscarriage. What if I couldn’t get pregnant? What if I did, and then we lost another baby? We were living in England at the time, and I shared my fears with a dear British friend who felt like a second mother to me. She started praying for us, and I felt greatly comforted. One of my midwife friends from work (I was a labor and delivery nurse at the time) gave me some left over ovulation strips she had. My mind was blown when I saw a definite second line on the test strip meaning I had ovulated. I told Michael, “the egg has dropped!” This was our third month of trying, and soon we were amazed to find out we were expecting!
I got a beautiful journal and started writing to my “dear little baby.” It was so helpful for me to process through all my thoughts, feelings and hopes throughout pregnancy. I lost my precious Mama several years earlier, and it was really important to me for my baby to have this keepsake from me as I joyed over her. When we found out it was a girl, Michael said, “We’re going to have a little lady!” We had picked out our girl-name before we were even pregnant, sitting on a lovely park bench in the Spring. “Selah” is from the Bible in the book of Psalms and has a musical meaning similar to interlude. I take it to mean, “Pause in God’s presence.”
I kept working all throughout my pregnancy and was blessed to have things go pretty smoothly. I was able to run for a good bit of pregnancy, and I loved doing a Spinning Babies yoga sequence whenever I could. I realized that there is so much you hear that is good to do in pregnancy, but you really have to find a few things that are realistic for you and stick with those.
Being a labor and delivery nurse, I knew so many different stories of beautiful births, but also hard, unexpected ones. It was helpful for me to talk through all of these possibilities with Michael so that we both felt prepared for whatever would come. I prayed to have a natural labor and delivery, spending most of the labor at home, and I continually prayed that God would make Selah a “good eater” as I was excited to breastfeed!
One of my British friends who was just a couple months ahead of me in pregnancy introduced me to the Christian Hypnobirthing App. This app has tracks filled with positive encouragement based on Scripture. I started listening to these as I fell asleep at night, starting around 32 weeks. The calming music and beautiful truth helped me relax and get to sleep quickly. It was helpful Michael was hearing them too.
I made padsicles, collected and froze a few syringes of colostrum, packed our bags, and started feeling ready…except for a couple work projects that were pressing on my mind. I just knew that if I didn’t get these projects done before Selah made her debut, I would be worrying about them on maternity leave (that’s the kind of person I am!). Thankfully a week or two before my due date, I switched to a day schedule and started working 8 hour shifts. More on that later.
Knowing that sex can help with getting labor started, that was happening! One morning after making love the night before, I felt my first uncomfortable contractions of pregnancy. Maybe this was it! I got ready for work like normal, and Michael drove me in (as usual—he’s the best). For the second day in a row, my unit had a really low patient census, so my charge nurse let me work on my administrative duties, and I FINISHED my last two projects. I was beyond relieved and elated. I walked back to my boss’s office and gave her the good news. We wondered together if maybe now my body would relax, and I would have a baby! I was 39 weeks and 5 days pregnant. P.S. My contractions had all but disappeared during my workday.
Michael came and picked me up, and I excitedly told him how I was done with my projects, so Selah could come any time! In fact, it would be great if she came that very night since my friend who I wanted to be my nurse would be working. This dear friend had trained me when I first became a labor and delivery nurse five years earlier. Michael said, “there’s NO WAY she’s coming tonight.” Michael had heard so many of my birth stories, and he knew it is pretty uncommon for a first time mom to deliver the same day she had her first contractions.
So we went on our way, ran some errands/ate dinner. Afterwards, we started off on our 3-mile loop we regularly walked. It was a beautiful, crisp February evening, and my contractions had returned, coming a bit more frequently. The sun was starting to set as we hit the two mile mark, a lot of fluid started flowing out of me.
I started wondering if my waters had broken. I was really excited, and when we got home, I started bouncing on my birthing ball and watched Call the Midwife. Confession: I’m in school to be a midwife—I love all things birth!
A funny twist to this evening was that Michael was just getting started on his beer brewing journey. This was the height of the pandemic, he needed a hobby…and this was the night he was planning on making his first real batch of beer! He told me it would take two or three hours which seemed reasonable, so he started doing that, and then I called my dad. We had a good chat. I was happy and excited, but definitely starting to feel these contractions more. I tried to tidy up a bit. I think we even paid some bills that evening. Michael’s beer was going, and I was doing well.
Fluid was still flowing, so by this point I was pretty certain that my water was broken. Selah was moving great, so I didn’t feel in a rush to go in to the hospital. As things started to feel more intense, I decided to get in the shower. With my Christian Hypnobirthing tracks rolling, I went through contractions spraying warm water on my belly and doing some squats and lunges. Being a first timer, I didn’t have any idea what a contraction would feel like. The best way I can describe it was that my belly felt like a bone basket that was being pushed from the inside out. The water helped a ton!
After my shower, Michael came up and did the Spinning Babies’ side-lying release stretch for me on both sides. That felt amazing! Michael told me repeatedly, “don’t worry about the beer! We can go to the hospital whenever!” But I think it really helped me mentally to have a goal in mind for how long I was going to stay at home (p.s. his brewing definitely took longer than 3 hours!). I wanted to labor at home as much as possible and avoid lots of hospital interventions, so his beer brewing actually worked in our favor! I used a giant rice heat pack that was infused with essential oils and was microwaveable. This felt so good on my belly during contractions! I was starting to get noisy, and everything felt like it was intensifying, so I decided I was ready to go to the hospital.
By this point it was a little after midnight. We got in the car, and set off on our 25 minute, countryside drive to the hospital. Michael kept my hypnobirthing tracks playing, and I put on an eye mask to focus…that didn’t last long. I was really starting to roar a bit during these contractions, but Michael reminded me to breathe and repeated back to me some of the truths from the tracks. This really helped me stay in control. It was amazing, because since I was already familiar with these truths, when Michael repeated them back to me, it was like an arrow hitting its mark in my heart. The journey to the hospital was pretty magical. It was a clear night, and the moon was huge and hanging low, cut at a beautiful angle, a white barn owl flew across the road, and we spotted some bunnies and deer!
As we walked into the hospital, Michael asked me how dilated I thought I was. Trying to be realistic and not get my hopes up, I guessed 3 cm, while he guessed 6 cm. I had texted my friend that I was coming in, so she was expecting me. Many people have asked me if I felt weird giving birth with my co-workers, but honestly, I felt so safe. I trusted these people—we had been a team during so many intense situations! When I walked in, the first thing I did was put my rice pack in the microwave, and THEN I walked down to triage! I had to poo, so before my friend checked me, I made a quick bathroom stop. When I came out, I said, “sorry guys! I think I smell like poo!” Of course, they didn’t mind. My friend did a speculum exam to assess if my waters really were broken. She could see my intact bag of water, and…hair! She pulled the speculum right out and checked me—I was 6-7cm dilated! I could hardly believe it!
We walked to the room, and I asked Michael to go get the bags. My friend asked if I wanted an epidural, but I declined. Instead, I asked if she thought the midwife would just come in and break my water? I still was in shock that I was so dilated, and I kept telling my friend/nurse, “this is crazy!” This whole time, I felt fine in between contractions and was able to converse happily. I tried nitrous oxide for a few minutes, but it didn’t feel like it did anything—it just tasted like cotton candy. I had to poo again, but started getting really loud in the toilet, so we checked again, and I was 9 cm dilated. I sat on the edge of the bed, and just rocked with my friend. She really helped me stay in control as I was starting to scream here and there! Michael kept my tracks playing, which was so helpful!
I had it in my head that I wanted to deliver in hands and knees, but that just was not comfortable. I tried lots of positions…with difficulty, as I felt like it was so hard to move around at this point. Finally, I ended up lying on my left side. The midwife arrived, and broke my water, and I started to push! I think I must’ve had a high leak—so much fluid had already come out of me! Michael was supporting my right leg as I pushed, and we both were in awe that we were at this point in the process! Selah started crowning, and Michael got really excited and said to me, “I see her head! She’s coming!” In his excitement, he had let my leg drift into the dear midwife’s neck. She quietly asked, “Um, could you please hold her leg?” We’ve had some good laughs about that!
As I pushed, the midwife was trying to coach me to push gently to deliver Selah’s head, but instead, I gave giant push and felt the tearing. Ouch! One more push and Selah Joy was born (at 2:21 am)! The midwife placed her on my chest, Michael cried, and I beamed! We were so thankful she was here! She started crying right away. Michael got to cut the cord after delayed cord clamping. Someone was taking pictures, and I’m so thankful for these! Selah latched on pretty quickly, and then the repair began. Ugh—I didn’t realize how sore and tender everything would feel down there despite the lidocaine numbing. But finally, that part ended! Sweet relief!
Selah’s birth was truly one of the sweetest experiences of my life. I kept repeating over and over how kind God was to us. I’ve seen so many different births, and I knew things could have gone very differently—I was flooded with thankfulness for the gift of a smooth labor and delivery. These days, I often relive these moments with joy. This is my birth story!
All the feels right?
And the rice sock in the microwave on the way to triage – priorities! Also, lady after my heart.
My other favorite thing – the speculum exam where all you see is hair! Gosh, I love that, but it doesn’t happen often.
The light on the speculum lights up the bag of water and through the fluid behind the membranes of the bag of water, you can see the hair flowing back and forth (you can also see specks of white vernix). Birth is so cool.
Jenny Sue is on her way to becoming an amazing midwife and I know she will bless the path of each woman and family she touches. 🌟
Want to share your birth story too? We want to share it. I can’t tell you how much learning happens through storytelling.
Read how to write and share your birth story here. Even if you don’t ever share your story, you won’t regret writing it.