Nice to meet you: The birth of Everly

I knew immediately what I always knew in my heart the moment I saw the positive pregnancy test. It was a girl. It was Everly.

I have wanted to be a mom for as long as I can remember. I’ve always known I would have a girl first, and around eight years ago, I landed on the name Everly. So, it came as no surprise that when I met my future husband, Paul, one of the first conversations we had on our first date was, “Do you like the name Everly? Because I’m naming my first baby (a girl), Everly.” It’s amazing he didn’t take off running. “I love the name,” he said. And that’s the day I knew he was the one.

I also dreamed of being a young mom, but I was 28 when I married, so we started trying to conceive the month after our first anniversary. I knew immediately what I always held in my heart the moment I saw the positive pregnancy test. It was a girl. It was Everly.

I could not contain my joy. I loved being pregnant and had the easiest pregnancy, too. I never had morning sickness and felt better than I ever had before (besides the heartburn). I was a beach ball in the dead heat of summer and enjoyed floating in the pool to pass time until her arrival. When the week of her due date arrived, I was ready to do anything to get her out, not because I was tired of being pregnant, but because I simply could not wait any longer to meet her. I walked laps at the local community center, bounced on the big ball, ate spicy Indian food and even tried the Eggplant Parm myth. I eventually tried taking evening primrose oil to speed things along. Still, after all of this, nothing.

Itch of anticipation
The midwife decided to strip my membranes. Everyone in the office said, “When she strips membranes the baby comes the next day!” This obviously excited us, so we went home, and I started preparing myself for the natural labor I was determined to have.

Paul and I had studied the Bradley Method and had a well-detailed and printed-out birth plan. Then came the contractions for 30-ish hours. I went back and forth from the tub to the bed, to the tub to the bed, to the tub to the bed. We measured each contraction and were positive it was time to go to the hospital. Paul would call the midwife and exclaim, “She sounds like she’s in transition!” and again and again they would tell him it wasn’t time and to wait it out. Finally, the time came to head to the hospital and meet the midwife on call. We arrived in triage, but after checking me, they decided I was not dilated enough to be admitted.

Before giving birth I was a very modest girl. It is true what they say about labor stripping you of any and all dignity. Almost immediately after arriving to triage I needed to go No. 2. “No, that’s just pressure from the baby descending,” the nurse told me. I would reply, “No I promise, I need to poop!” After several contractions, trying to relax through the pain and simultaneously not poop my pants, the nurses finally let me use the restroom. At last, some physical and comical relief! They admitted me shortly after. Due to the pain and my increasing exhaustion, this next part I really have no recollection of, so I’ll let Paul take over momentarily.

A husband’s perspective
I’d been looking forward to the birthing tub part of this whole thing, assuming this could be the moment Krissy could catch her breath. We weren’t even sure we’d get the tub depending on how full the hospital was, but we were relieved to know there would be one open for us.

I knew this wasn’t going to go as well as I’d imagined as soon as I saw the hopeless look on her face while gauging the water temp. There wasn’t a single degree of Fahrenheit that would ease her labor like we’d hoped. Her once coherent English soon gave way to a lazy, slurred speech as if she were drunk. The only sounds I was familiar with now were moans and cries of disappointment. The nurse and I tried everything to make her comfortable—at least enough to consciously breathe through the pain—but we began to see there wouldn’t be anything that would get Krissy into a proper headspace. Nitrous oxide would’ve been the next possible solution, but of course, they were out of it. I knew how much she wanted to give birth naturally, but I also hated seeing her in so much pain. I would’ve given anything to take it away from her.

Plans change
I vaguely remember the anesthesiologist coming in, standing next to the tub and asking me if I wanted an epidural. I so desperately wanted to have a natural birth, but I was so exhausted that I couldn’t fathom going much longer. At this point, I hadn’t slept in over 24 hours, my contractions were one wave after another with merely seconds between them, and I had been stuck at 6 centimeters for hours. I remember asking him (her? I can’t remember) if the epidural would at all affect the baby. They said it wouldn’t, and I remember thinking to myself, why am I doing this?

As they prepared me for the epidural I felt so guilty. Had I let everyone down? I apologized to my husband and to my midwife for not being able to tough it out. I remember my midwife telling me I was doing such a good job of listening to my body and doing whatever it took to help it relax. I was mourning my birth plan, but not for long. The epidural finally took over and a wave of relief washed over my body. In that moment I had so much peace. I was going to try to close my eyes and rest while my body progressed. I was so exhausted, yet so excited that I couldn’t sleep.

The baby’s heart rate kept racing, and I still hadn’t progressed completely. The doctor came in and told the midwife that I needed to get a C-section due to the baby being in distress. I was instantly filled with fear. I asked Paul to come pray for our baby. He laid his hands on my belly and prayed for her, and then the midwife asked if she could pray for her, too. I of course said yes, and she prayed the most beautiful prayer over our girl. She pleaded with the doctor to let her check me just one more time. She did, and with tears in her eyes said, “You’re complete, Mama. It’s time to push now.” I cannot explain to you the feeling that came over me. I was ready. Everything in my life had led me to this moment. I. Was. Woman.

I pushed for 20 minutes and sweet Everly arrived in an instant. I was sobbing tears of joy as she lay on my chest. I hadn’t even looked at her yet and was just exclaiming, “She’s so beautiful! She’s so beautiful!” The nurses giggled at me and the midwife said, “Look at your baby!”

I know you
The moment I saw her is unlike anything I can describe. It was like I had known her my entire life even though I was just really meeting her for the first time. She was my heart beating outside of my chest. She arrived at 5:20 a.m. She weighed 8 pounds, 3 ounces and measured 20.5 inches long. She had a head full of black hair and was the love of my life. In that moment nothing mattered; not how she got here, not the pain, not the waiting, nothing. Only that she was here, safe and healthy. I looked up at Paul and saw my emotions reflected in his face. We looked at each other with such awe. What a miracle new life is, that our love created her and she was here. We knew in that moment that we would spend the rest of our lives thanking God for this precious gift.

By Krissy Kimsal

Images: Courtesy of Krissy Kimsal

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