Reuben John Schweitzer
Born Sunday 1/26/20 (on his due date)
The Day Before Birth
Around dinner time on Saturday I began to have a lot of sharp cervix pain. I had been having contractions all day (for many days!) but these began to feel stronger, my lower back was hurting more, and my cervix just kept aching even without a contraction. I pushed threw and made dinner but it was a struggle. I took my dinner to my bed and ate it there and contractions were about every 10 minutes. I keep feeling “pops” like my water broke but it hadn’t. I wonder now if it was him trying so hard to get into a different position. I got into the bath and Reuben was moving SO much, more than he had the entire pregnancy combined. This was so unlike him and I knew he was really working to get into a different position. Contractions got closer to every 3-5 minutes with every other one feeling a lot stronger. I knew something was different but also felt like it could be a while and stop again. I went to bed around 10pm after they spaced back out more and was woken up by a very strong contraction at 11:15pm and had another strong contraction shortly after. I immediately got scared because they felt much stronger and I felt like this could be it. I sent a group message to some friends just asking them to pray for me and my fear. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:4-5 was sent to me and I repeated this favorite verse of mine in my head over and over.
11:45pm: Water Breaks
Contractions came about 3-4 minutes and were strong enough I got out of bed so I wouldn’t wake up my husband Tim with my noises. I was texting with my best friend Dani and she was encouraging me to wake up Tim, even though I was still not wanting to believe this was going anywhere. I said “I’ll see if the next one comes on in 3 minutes and is strong.” The next contraction came and “POP!” there went my waters. I waddled over to the tarp on the floor by the birth tub and a ton of water gushed to the ground, Thankfully all making it onto the tarp. I went and woke up Tim and texted Dani that my water broke and she could come anytime. I asked her to let Steph (my birth photographer) and other friend Melissa know they could come whenever they wanted.
I remember feeling less scared about the labor ahead of me but had this thought come into my mind as soon as my water broke that was “it’s okay if I have to go to the hospital”. This was strange for me to think since I had been feeling fine about everything but also had struggled a lot this pregnancy with feeling like things were just VERY different. I wanted to be open to going to the hospital as the Lord would prompt but also didn’t want to just go there out of fear. We spent A LOT of time during this labor praying over each decision and asking God for His leading, and boy did He direct us!
12:30am Birth Team Arrives
Melissa, Dani and Stephanie arrived shortly afterwards. Contractions started coming every 2-3 minutes and we all thought he would be here soon just as my others came fairly soon after my water broke.
For about 3 hours following my water breaking I had a good pattern of very strong contractions until about 3 am when they spaced out to every 10 minutes.
I told everyone they should just go next door to Dani’s house to sleep and I was going to try to lay down, expecting they would pick back up after a short rest.
5:30am Midwife Arrives
I ended up being able to rest for a few hours as contractions spaced to about 15-20 minutes apart. I was starting to get more concerned about how not normal this labor pattern was and called my midwife, Debbie, at 5:30am asking if she would come and listen to baby and try to get a better feel for his position. She came over and Reuben’s heart rate was higher than his normal. It was 160’s which is still considered normal for a fetal heart rate but not normal for him. Typical fetal heart rates are 120-160, but Reuben prenatally had been 120-130s so we knew this was higher for him but not a huge concern. We were thinking it was confirming that he wasn’t in a great position. He felt posterior (back to my back, instead of his back to my belly) but even that didn’t feel like it should account for the strange labor pattern since my last 2 babies were born OP easily.
I was still contracting about every 10 minutes but not any closer. They were very strong when I’d have them but just not close. I asked my other friend, Julie, if she’d come over around 9:30am to help me do some positional work to try to get Reuben into a new position. We sent the kids next door to play with the neighbors and Julie helped me do the Miles Circuit and try to get Reuben into a better position. My sweet friend and Chiropractor, Nicoleta, came over around 10:30am to give me an adjustment and that seemed to really help my belly shape and Reuben’s position.
I decided to go on a walk around 12:30pm to try to get contractions closer now that he seemed to be in a better position. Dani and Melissa joined me and we walked around the lock, stopped for contractions a sweet lady sitting in her wheelchair in her driveway offered me her extra wheelchair so I could get back home. We laughed and said “no thank you” and made it back home.
At this point, my water had been broken for 12 hours and I was GBS+ and felt like we’d really like to try to have active labor really going strong by the 18 hour mark as this is what I felt comfortable with for this labor. I can’t say I’d always feel that way because I wouldn’t think I would but I really just knew something was very different and I wanted the Lord to lead us in keeping Reu safe. We continued to pray heavily for wisdom and direction.
1:30pm Midwife Returns
Debbie asked to come back over to check on us and got there around 1:30pm. She listened in and Reu sounded great, back to his normal! It seemed like his position was better and helped his heart rate. Contractions also seemed to pick up more since the walk and we all felt more hopeful this was the shift we were hoping for. Debbie, Melissa and Dani left to give me some space and I laid back down to try to rest more until the contractions wouldn’t let me but they still were 10-15 minutes apart.
Tim and I spent some time in Reu’s room talking about what we wanted to do next. We had decided that we wanted to try to get the contractions closer together before the 18 hour mark we would transfer to the hospital to get antibiotics and help getting contractions closer. This is not something I would particularly think I would choose to do in this situation, but with this pregnancy, this labor and this time I felt very strongly the Lord was leading us in that.
5pm Castor Oil Milkshake
We decided I’d take castor oil at 5pm to try to get contractions closer. I did that and by 6:30pm I was having even less contractions. This felt SO strange to me because I had taken castor oil before and it worked so well so quickly. We very much took this as a sign that God was leading us to go to the hospital. We decided to fill up the birth pool so I could just relax more in it while we waited another hour to pray and make the decision about transferring. Tim and I were alone in the birth pool and spent time praying, listening to worship music and talking. I was beginning to really feel like God was telling me we needed to go, and we needed to not even wait until 8pm like we had originally decided to do. We got everything ready and had Laura come over to stay overnight with our kids. It was so sad to say goodbye to them and especially sad for Gracelyn who really really wanted to be at the birth like she was for Arrow’s. We explained to her that we were going to have the baby at the hospital and we left for the hospital. By this point my contractions were even further apart and less intense.
7:30pm Arrive at the Hospital
When we got to the hospital, they put me on the monitors and his heart rate was 150-160s with accerations up to 170s. This isn’t again totally out of range but I knew for my baby it wasn’t normal. I brought it up to the nurse but she wasn’t concerned. She checked me and said she would have to do a test to confirm my water had broken. I laughed at her and said “this is my 6th baby, and I’ve been gushing and leaking for 18 hours, I know it’s broken” but she insisted. She checked me and said I was 4cm and 80% at 9pm. She came back around 9:15pm and said that the first test said my water didn’t break and she’d need to do a different one. I again laughed and said “you just don’t believe me huh?” By this point I began to feel very nauseous and knew the castor oil was beginning it’s delayed response and giving me stronger and closer contractions among other things. The nurse came back in and said the second test also couldn’t confirm my water broke. I was just shocked because I KNEW it had broken. She then says I can stay until 10pm (20 more minutes) and she can check me again to see if I progressed anymore within the hour I’d been there, otherwise I’d have to go home. At this point I am very clearly shifting and contracting HARD and CLOSE and panicking about how I’d ever make it back home. We waited the 20 minutes in triage while I am progressively getting louder, and more intense and freaking out. Debbie and Tim kept trying to calm me down. The nurse comes back to check me and say that I have not changed and I would be going home. I was so shocked since I was very clearly changing in my contractions and how I was acting and I can only explain why the nurse didn’t keep me there as God’s grace. He knew I didn’t want to have my baby there, and He was making it VERY clear we were not supposed to be there. I was so scared to drive back home because things we getting so intense. I called Dani on our walk out and told her to empty the birth pool of all the cold water so we could fill it with hot water. I knew he was coming soon. She couldn’t believe they were sending me home hearing me on the phone and so she knew he was coming soon too.
10:15pm Sent Home From Hospital
The drive home I had 2 contractions. After one of them I told Tim he was coming very soon and he needed to get home. We only live 10 minutes away but it felt like forever. We pulled up and was greeted by Dani and Laura at 10:30pm. Dani hugged me and said “I have the pool all filled up and ready for you.” I wanted to cry. I was so relieved. We hugged and laughed at how CRAZY this felt that I was back home and we were back to doing this there.
I got into the tub around 10:45pm and began praying and begging God to be my strength. I didn’t feel like I could do this as the contractions we’re building. I told Dani “I know I was just checked to only be 4cm, but I also know God can dilate me and bring my baby very soon.” I honestly felt like I had no choice, God brought me home and I was doing this there and He was very clearly going to be the one to get me through it.
Tim read scripture out loud to me and held a bottle of peppermint oil for me to smell between contractions.
I got out to go to the bathroom, and had a very pushy contraction on the toilet. I rushed back to the tub. Had another contraction and had to get to the bathroom again, remember, castor oil, ugh! I said “I can’t have him here, I need to get back quickly” and rushed back in. Debbie came and asked me if I wanted her to check on his heart rate but I said no. I knew he was almost here and I also knew God had brought us back home and Reu was safe. I had another pushy contraction that prompted Dani to go wake up Gracelyn who was VERY confused since she went to bed thinking we were at the hospital.
I continued to cry out to the Lord begging Him to help me get through this. I began to push and could feel him descending but was so confused on what I was feeling. There wasn’t hair and it didn’t feel like a normal head. I wondered if maybe he was breech but that didn’t feel right either. I pushed again and his face came out. I cried “I’m stretching” and I tried to slow down and breath. I also apparently bit down on Tims hand at this point which he handled so gracefully. After that contraction he grabbed a towel to lay down on his hand for me to bite.
We waited for the next contraction and I bit down and pushed the rest of his head out.
One more contraction and he flew out into the water. It took me a moment to gather myself to pull him up. He had his cord wrapped around his neck 1 time so I unwrapped that and pulled him up. He had a really short cord so I could only pull him up just above the water. It really took me a bit to even look at him as it was such an intense and fast ending to a very long labor.
I didn’t feel the intense joy and relief I felt after Arrow’s birth right away because my body felt like it was broken. I was still in a lot of pain in my tailbone and pubic bone were very bruised with him coming out face presentation. But then I saw my baby, and love came instantly!
I kept feeling the cord in the tub to see if it was almost done pulsing because I really wanted the placenta to come out. I got up onto my knees and finally was able to push it out. That also hurt more than I expected, I’m guessing because of my bruised bones.
I passed Reu to Dani and Melissa took the placenta in a bowl and they brought him to my room while I got out of the tub and dried off.
We settled into my bed where Melissa cut Reu’s cord. We all looked at the placenta to make sure it was intact and marvel over how amazing God is to create this organ to sustain my baby and then just expel it. A new one for every baby supplies each baby‘s needs. And God does that, He designed that to grow and nourish my baby with my body. It’s just amazing. It isn’t this gross thing we are made to believe it is, it is incredibly beautiful but also so glad it comes out and we can be done with it!
We weighed Reu to be 7lbs 11oz and he was 20.5 inches long. Dani and Melissa emptied the birth tub, Steph took pictures, Debbie checked out Reu and I and Laura was so quick to bring me things we needed and be an extra set of hands. It was so amazing to see how God worked out so many details of this birth, I’m sure there are loads I’m forgetting but I will never forget how tenderly my Lord spoke to me, how sweetly He cared for me, and how very clearly He gets the praise for working out seemingly crazy details to allow me to have just what I needed. Praise Him!