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Redemptive Birth

On June 18th at 3:41 in the morning, our littlest love was born. Emma Kate entered the world after a quick labor for this second time momma. As far as birth goes, hers was amazing. It was everything I wish my first birth would have been. But maybe our baby girl’s birth seemed so great because of the difficultly associated with my first birth experience. My best friend Kate described Emma Kate’s birth as redemptive, and I think the word redemptive perfectly encapsulates her labor and delivery.

Kate was with me and Stephen for the birth of our son, Joshua. She knows the whole story, all 15 hours of labor, the pain I experienced during transition, the pushing that didn’t seem to be accomplishing anything, the fear that entered the room when our midwife couldn’t detect the heartbeat, the episiotomy that had to be done, the driving to the hospital to repair a third degree tear, the subsequent three day hospital stay full of less than pleasant interactions with some of the staff, and the very real struggles of adjusting to life with a newborn while recovering from the surgery. She was there for all of it and could compare Joshua’s story to Emma Kate’s and speak redemption over it.

The only experience I had to look back on was Joshua’s birth, and the labor with Emma Kate’s birth was so different that my husband and I were caught off guard.  Up until the last 10 minutes of Joshua’s birth, my labor fit the textbook examples to a T. This was not the case with Emma Kate. I woke up around 3:30 in the morning on June 17th with very mild contractions. I started timing them, and they were about 20 minutes apart. About an hour and a half later, I woke Stephen up to let him know I was having contractions and that they were 10 minutes apart. They still weren’t lasting very long, but I thought it would be a good idea for him to take the day off from work just in case. I got up and started moving around more, and the contractions started spacing out again. I had a contraction at 8:40, right before going into the office of the chiropractor we were seeing at the time. Dr. Mark gave me an adjustment and said, “Most women have their babies within 24 hours after receiving that adjustment.” I didn’t have another contraction until 9:50, so just like I doubted Dr. Mark about being pregnant the second time, I wasn’t convinced I would be having a baby within 24 hours. Many of my friends had days of false labor before the births of their second born kiddos, so I figured it would be the same for me.

Stephen and I stopped at Chick-fil-A on Cherry Road because I had to have a chicken biscuit, went to the pharmacy in Publix to have the remaining prescriptions filled that I needed for a successful homebirth, and came home. I spoke with my midwife Lori to fill her in on everything. She told me to note the intensity when contractions began again, time the contractions while doing various activities to see if they continued to come regularly, and that I would know when true labor was upon me. It was almost noon and there had been no more contractions, so I told Stephen he should go to work. At 12:15, I lost my mucus plug, signaling that labor could start within hours or days, so that wasn’t helpful.

Contractions continued off and on throughout the afternoon. I had friends over but the contractions were so mild they didn’t know I was having them, and I didn’t tell them. That evening, we had some friends stay with us who were moving over the weekend and needed somewhere to sleep. We stayed up talking to Jose and Stephanie until around 11:00 Friday night, and I had a few contractions during our conversation with them. Again, I didn’t think the baby would be making an appearance that night, but Stephen and I thought we should probably give them a heads up about the whole homebirth thing before we went to bed. They didn’t know we had Joshua at home, so they were very shocked when we told them that we had a homebirth with him and were planning one with baby number 2. Jose asked, “So we could wake up and there could be a new baby here tomorrow?” Stephen’s response was, “Yeah, like Christmas!” I told Jose it was a possibility but it wasn’t likely to happen. Our houseguests moved from surprise to curiosity fairly quickly, wondering if they would hear anything. We assured them that they wouldn’t, based on the past experience with Joshua where I wasn’t very vocal, but that they may see a light on in the living room if Lori was here. We told them good night, got in bed, and Stephen was asleep within minutes of our heads hitting the pillows. I, however, had a contraction that felt a little stronger followed by another one a few minutes later.

Around midnight, I began timing my contractions while switching positions to see if they slowed down. For the next hour and a half, I ran water in our bathtub, sat on the birthing ball, went to the living room to sit on the couch, and walked around. It was kind of comical that Stephen had no idea what was going on while he peacefully slept. I got the Crock-Pot ready with oil and water for compresses to use during labor, and I woke Stephen up around 1:30 Saturday morning. By this point, my contractions were coming every 3 minutes and were lasting 30-40 seconds.

The intensity of the contractions ramped up as they lasted for 45 seconds to a minute and stayed 3 minutes apart. During this time, I told Stephen a few times that I thought we should call Lori. Based on Joshua’s birth and the 5-1-1 guideline, Stephen thought it would be best to wait for the contractions to be lasting a full minute and for them to be that long for an hour.

Around 3:00, the transition phase hit hard as I clenched the bathroom counter while contractions came one after another. This is also the point where Stephen tried to get me to breathe and relax because I was tensing up. Instead of happily receiving his advice, I glared at him and snapped, “Shut up! You did this to me!” If you know my super sweet and amazing husband, you know how bad I feel about this now. I didn’t feel so bad about lashing out at him in the moment, though. I directed Stephen to call Lori and staggered to our bed, but I fell to the ground as another contraction gripped my body. When it passed, I had enough time to get on our bed and repeat, “Jesus, help me. I’m gonna die.” As I absorbed another wave of contractions, I writhed in pain. When those passed, I asked Stephen what Lori said. His response was, “Oh, I was timing the contractions.” I lost it. This is the point where I may have used an expletive as I yelled at Stephen to call Lori right then, followed by an exasperated, “My water just broke all over me.”

It was 3:13 when Stephen called Lori, and I cannot even communicate how thankful I am that she only lives about 10 minutes away. When he got off the phone with her, I told him I needed to start pushing, so I did. With each push, it felt like my energy was being renewed and excitement grew knowing I would soon be seeing my baby. It didn’t bother me that we were doing this alone, and it hadn’t occurred to me that there had been no monitoring of the baby’s heartbeat during the most difficult stage of labor. I was just listening to my body, and somehow I knew what it was saying.

Lori quietly entered the room and said she would be calling her assistant, Pam, who lives about 30 minutes away. By this time the baby’s head was on its way out, so Lori quickly said, “I’m going to put on my gloves.” No sooner had she snapped her gloves on than I announced, “The head is out.” Lori jumped into action with a, “Yes it is” and prepared to catch the baby after another push. When she passed our little baby up to me at 3:41, I couldn’t believe we had a girl. I had honestly been prepping myself for the birth of Levi Jonathan. I stared at her in amazement and breathed out, “You’re our little Emma Kate.” I planted a kiss right on her fresh out of the womb lips and laid down cradling her close to me, feeling peace and joy I can’t even adequately describe.

Emma Kate’s labor was still labor, but it was a whole new experience. Joshua’s birth was redeemed in a way as Emma Kate’s arrival ushered in the healing of many wounds. We didn’t know the gender of our little one until she was born, but we had her name picked out months before we saw her face. Emma means “whole” and “complete.” Kate means “pure.” My mind continually went back to these meanings as I prayed for our potential little girl to be made whole and complete in Christ and to live a life free from anything that would taint her. Reflecting on her birth experience, I see how it parallels the redemption I encountered at the cross of my sweet Savior Jesus. Christ took all of my impurity onto Himself and exchanged it for His perfect purity. By trusting in Him for the forgiveness of my sins, I was made whole and complete. Not only did Emma Kate’s birth herald restoration in the hours following her delivery, but I can reflect on her name daily to remember the eternal redemption that is mine in Christ Jesus. So, yeah, I think it’s safe to say that Emma Kate’s birth was redemptive.

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