Our beautiful princess, Josephine Bliss, was born on Monday, March 20, 2017 at 3:45am. She was born at home — a planned home delivery with the area midwife who was also with us for Ellis’s delivery. Josephine was one of our midwife’s last babies she’ll “catch” before retiring, and I was so incredibly thankful that we were able to have her care one more time.
After making us “wait” 11 extra days, Josephine came into the world in a fast and furious manner, taking us by surprise and bringing with her such joy. She is adored by her family.
Her daddy knew she was a girl. From the very beginning he said Girl and I said Boy. He said, “I want a name that means Joy,” and I said, “And we still need to come up with some boy names.” He obliged and for the last month, I thought of the baby I was carrying as Wesley or Felix.
Sunday night came and we put the boys to bed. For some reason (maybe in an act of hope?), I set out play clothes for each boy just in case something started during the night. Josiah had some computer work to do to prep for Monday morning and I was feeling tired, uncomfortable, and like my belly was upset. I folded some laundry, watched a TV show while Josiah continued working, and then we made our way upstairs. Ugh. Our bed. In a frenzied, hormonal state, I had complained about how dirty our sheets were that morning right before we headed to church. My husband, being as wonderful as he is, had made sure to get them through the wash and dryer that afternoon, but they hadn’t been put back on the bed. Whatever. I was too tired to do anything right then. We have a guest bed. We’d just sleep there.
As happened with both boys, I woke right around midnight feeling abdominal discomfort. It always takes a few contractions for me to fully believe what it is that woke me. And this time was even more confusing, for the pains were coming every three minutes and lasting almost a minute. But they had just started, right? What was going on? I wondered if it was false labor. I wondered if I had had something to eat that was really bothering me. But, I also wondered if this was it — if the baby had decided that it was finally time. Deep breath. You can do this. You did it for Adrian, you did it for Ellis, and you can do this one more time. And just like you did with Ellis, you’ve got to lay back down and try to catch a few minutes of sleep between contractions for the next couple of hours. This might be it!
That wasn’t about to happen though. 30 minutes later, and although I remained in bed, I woke Josiah, needing my lower back to be rubbed through each contraction. Already. Why did I need this relief so soon? I hadn’t needed counter pressure to be applied until after the first several hours had passed with the boys’ labors. Pull yourself together, Louissa. Close your eyes. Rest. It’s NOT as bad as you think it is. You’ve got hours to go. Figure out how to relax.
Another 30 minutes and I couldn’t handle laying down anymore. I sat on the edge of the bed as another round of pain took over my body and I remember crying at the start and saying, “I won’t make it. If it’s this bad at the beginning, I don’t think I can physically handle the rest of labor.” Josiah responded by asking if I wanted the birthing ball. Yes. And I started getting extremely cold between contractions so I figured it was time to move back into our room where I was planning on having the baby, grab one of Josiah’s hoodies, and try sitting on the ball in there. Walking from one room to the next brought on wave after wave of pain though and I found myself dropping to kneel on the floor while Josiah quickly started to press with so much force on my lower back. Again: Louissa, you’re losing it. And it’s only been an hour. PULL YOURSELF TOGETHER.
Somehow Josiah knew to start pulling together the last few delivery supplies that were spread around the house. Laundry baskets retrieved. Tea ball pulled out of the dishwasher. Flashlight grabbed out of his toolbox. He brought all the boxes of supplies I had put together and set them on dressers for the birthing team. And I learned that I really don’t do well laboring alone. While he was in and out and up and down, I didn’t know how I was supposed to survive without him rubbing my back and reminding me of Who my Help is. I resorted to rubbing my back myself while whispering, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,” over and over. And surprise, surprise — I made it.
The hour passed amazingly quickly and it was now 2:00. “Should I call Regina [amazing midwife] and your mom?” Josiah asked. I couldn’t even think straight enough to answer so he picked up his phone and called. Several calls to the midwife. Her phone wasn’t working. She’d pick up but we couldn’t hear her and we had no idea if she could hear Josiah. Call after call. Same thing. Finally, Josiah sent her a text giving her the report. I thought it sounded lame and like we were rushing things by contacting her so early on: “Louissa’s been having contractions for the last few hours. They’re about 3 minutes apart, lasting a solid minute or more.” Within seconds Josiah received a text back: “Sounds like things are really progressing. I’m on my way. Call the rest of the team.” Really progressing? Call the rest of the team? But it’s been just over two hours. Everyone is going to get here and twiddle their thumbs for hours before this baby finally arrives. But ugh, why are these pains SO INTENSE ALREADY?!
Phone calls made while Josiah continued to rub. A sister arrived to help with the boys should they wake early — and 3:00 came and the oldest one did wake, quite confused by why his mama was sitting on a ball/half laying on a bed while letting out soft, low moans (poor kid!) every few minutes, and all sorts of people were arriving and rushing about the upstairs. My mom arrived and immediately set to work on making the bed ready for delivery (no having to unmake it though!) and stroking my hair and singing through each contraction. My midwife, Regina, arrived. Then another sister. Then an assistant-to-the-midwife/friend. Then a friend who will start midwifery school in the fall and is shadowing my midwife. And then another sister.
I don’t think I acknowledged any of them — I was too focused, too shaky between contractions, too worn out feeling. ALREADY. Oh, Louissa. You’ve got to get a handle. This is going to be the longest day of your life if you’re already in such rough shape. But they were there, all starting to help prep things for delivery, rubbing my back when our oldest boy needed daddy to go to his room and help him process what was going on, encouraging me, and just being with me. I love delivering at home. Is it wonderful to be surrounded by the comforts of your own space while laboring and after delivery? Yes! And it’s wonderful to not think about getting up to leave a day later. But what I love most is the people that can surround me – a room full of women I love and who love me helping & encouraging me along. A midwife who I feel so comfortable and confident with doing her thing. A husband who is my biggest, best cheerleader in the world. All gathered in my home in anticipation of the arrival of another blessing. And the celebration of that new person only minutes after delivery with family & friends as they adore that baby with you — I love it.
And I’ve gotten sidetracked.
My midwife, so understanding and so bossy — like you need her to be while your body is going through what it goes through to bring forth life — took a quick second to check on baby. Good — still head down. Now to listen to baby’s heartbeat through a contraction and after it ended. Without thinking anything of it, I told her the contractions weren’t really ending at this point. Go use the bathroom, she said. Empty that bladder. Nothing in me wanted to walk down the hall to the bathroom, but I went. And blessed relief — there was a pause in contractions! Regina went downstairs to sterilize some tools, Josiah stood beside me, ready to support through the next contraction, and I sat there in the bathroom with eyes closed, reveling in the few seconds of calm I was being given. But suddenly, massive pain and I could feel baby starting to push down — and it felt like I had lost control of my body. I wasn’t trying to push, but I couldn’t stop and I yelled out, “I’m PUSHING!” So much scurrying. Assistant rushed in and yelled down to Regina who was up seconds later, I heard Josiah yell, “I feel a head!”, and I heard Regina say, “You are not having Baby in this bathroom. Get down to the bedroom.” I wondered how on earth I was supposed to waddle back down when it felt like the baby’s head was partially delivered (later I was told that the head had crowned, but it wasn’t fully out like it felt in the moment of walking and panting down the hall), but you don’t argue with Regina and somehow I managed. It’s amazing how much you can do when you absolutely have to. I made it to the bedroom. Not all the way to the bed, but to the bedroom.
And minutes later, a few pushes more, after laboring for 3 hours and 45 minutes, our sweet baby girl was born. She came out with her cord wrapped around her neck and arm and leg, she gave out a holler right away, and she came soft, squishy, and absolutely perfect. I was the first one to say, “Ahhh! It’s a GIRL!” Josiah was right. And what an absolute gem. We love our baby girl.
Josephine Bliss. God will increase/add joy.