The Birth of Adam Kolbe

All pictures are copyrighted and may not be taken without permission.

(Continued from last post...)

I approached full term and we stayed close to home with the exception of daily Mass. By the grace of God I had taken the boys every weekday morning to Mass the whole year and throughout the pregnancy. When Masses reopened after the Covid shutdowns, I felt incredibly convicted that there was no more important place to be with my family every day. It was such a comfort and no doubt it was one of the reasons I experienced the graces I did. I know the Eucharist was sustaining me and keeping me going each day. Brian and I started our tradition of praying the Consecration to Jesus through Mary preparation on behalf of this baby. With each one we have consecrated each baby to her using the 33 day preparation and ending on the Marian feast day closest to the due time or baptism. We planned it to end on August 15, the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary. Our second oldest Michael joined us through the whole thing as we had asked him to be the baby’s Godfather.

My official 40 week mark was August 20, though whenever asked I would only divulge that I was due at the end of the summer. It was somewhat helpful in not getting impatient towards the end but the closer I got the more I grew attached to the idea of baby being born the 14, 15, or 16. The 14th is the feast of St. Maximilian Kolbe, one of our possible patrons for a boy baby. The 15th is the great Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary, my very favorite feast day of the year celebrating the glorification and redemption of her body (and eventually all of ours with her). The 16th is our wedding anniversary and certainly would have been a beautiful way to celebrate!

The 14th came with no signs of labor. I woke up on the 15th, a Sunday, and got ready for Mass at which we were also planning to complete our Consecration. Before Mass began, we did. Kneeling at the image of Our Lady of Czestochowa in our parish, we consecrated our little one to Mary and also prayed that he or she would be born that day. 

We came home to have a laid back day. It was hot and beautifully sunny. I had another massage scheduled at noon and told her to feel free to use any and all techniques she knew to encourage baby out. She did do some intense work on some pressure points during the massage, during which I nearly fell asleep on the table. I wish I had had access to massage during my other pregnancies! Such a gift.

After she left I ate and then went to visit the kids and Brian playing in the pool. I didn’t feel up for getting in and went back inside. I prepared things for dinner and during that time noticed that I was having some very light surges. As soon as I noticed them, they were about 3-4 minutes apart but so very light and easy to write off as a Braxton-Hicks type of practice labor to which I was no stranger.

Except they kept coming. They were so light and gentle but noticeable. Brian got the rest of dinner ready and I came down to eat with everyone around 4:15. I had begun timing these little sensations and during dinner they got to 2-3 minutes apart. I was joking and smiling and talking through them with the boys and feeling relatively good so it didn’t feel like anything truly “real”. Maybe very early labor but not worth stopping everything for and definitely not time to call anyone. I wasn’t very hungry since I had eaten a sandwich not long before so I ended up not really eating dinner. I went upstairs to be alone and to see if that would change anything that was happening and at least make sure I had all my supplies in order if it was. I had asked a former client and friend who had also had some doula training and whose husband is a photographer if she would up for photographing the birth. I hadn’t had any success finding someone available who fit our budget and my desire to just pay someone to take photos, leaving me the unedited images and all the rights to them. I'm so glad Anna was up for it! During this time knowing that she had to figure out childcare, I shot her a quick text that I was feeling things but not sure and I would keep her updated. It didn’t at all feel worth interrupting my midwife yet. And even if I had, I would’ve probably said the same…I’m sort of feeling things but unsure and I’ll keep you updated.

Right after that text things slowed way down. I was having one here or there but they were now 6-10 minutes apart and still what felt like Braxton Hicks. No pain or even real discomfort and far enough apart to be pretty ignorable. I was glad I hadn't called anyone to come but I was also kind of frustrated wanting it to have been real. Looking back I really wish I had known that it really was early labor and enjoyed it more! It was exactly the gentle labor for which I had prayed but I was blind to it! The unknowing was just kind of annoying at the time.

At about 5:15 or so, the family all came up to our bedroom where I was hanging out and we prayed a Rosary together. It was really beautiful despite that I was pacing a bit, sitting on the ball, and leaning on the bed as we prayed but I was doing that during most family Rosaries while pregnant anyway to stay comfortable. The boys were used to it! During the Rosary I only had a handful of light sensations that weren’t very convincing at all. I was beginning to resign myself to it not being real.

At around 6 Brian went to put the little two to bed (yes, that early…they needed it!) and I turned my birth playlist on for some needed encouragement and worship. He then sent the oldest four to watch a movie because I had mentioned having some time alone together. At about 6:15 we laid down together with the intention of being intimate. I figured it could either get things moving or if not, it would still be a gift to enjoy some time together. Very soon after lying down, I had two light contractions and before anything further could happen things took a huge shift. I jumped up off the bed from the intensity of a big surge and immediately had zero desire for anything further on the intimacy front!

That must have been around 6:30. I waited and another very strong wave soon came. THIS was labor I was familiar with and now it was clear. I told Brian to fill the tub because I knew I would need some of that relief from the water very soon. I didn't want a water birth this time but at the moment I just wanted to be in the water. While he was doing that I called my midwife’s line and left a message at 6:45. She called back at 6:48 and already I wasn’t wanting to talk so Brian spoke with her and told her it was time. She said she’d pack her things and be on her way estimating about 30-40 minutes.

It was then that another wave came that brought me to my knees at the foot of the bed. I wanted to get in the water right then. Brian had just started recording in the bedroom but then followed me to the bathroom carrying the tripod with him. I’m so thankful I had everything ready for a few weeks and had prepped him that videoing this birth was really important to me. It also gave me an exact timeline of the rest of the birth and that was very helpful looking back! At 6:54 I got into the tub while Brian let Anna know to head over. The relief from the water was palpable but still the intensity of the contractions was already nearing the overwhelming point. It was as though I went from “is that a real surge?” to transition in a matter of moments and it was incredibly disorienting.

We had the music playing and I was praying in the water, not in the peaceful way I had hoped but in a bit of a pleading and somewhat overwhelmed way. A few minutes after being in the water I tried to check myself. I only felt some of the amniotic sac pushing through what certainly seemed to be only a 2-3 cm cervix, no head. That got in my own head a bit because the sensations I was feeling were not at all consistent with that. It made me second guess whether this was real and doubt myself. I wish I could have surrendered to what was happening and trusted my intuition a bit more in those moments.

The next surges were mind blowing. It felt so suddenly as if my hips were being pulled apart. Brian got in the water and applied counter pressure that took a small tip of the edge off but wow, were they intense. I reached that point where everything in me wanted to say I can’t do this but when I opened my mouth, with all my willpower I voiced the words, “I can do this.” I had about three of those and then I felt the pop of my membranes breaking at 7:11. I told him my water had broken. During all this time I was on my knees in the water, rising enough to rock back and forth during surges and then sink back down. Immediately in the next surge I felt the uncontrollable bearing down. I wanted so much for it all to slow down but I couldn’t control it. I had really hoped for a slower and gentler pushing stage but this was more akin to a cannon ball shooting through me. I tried to breathe him down but it was too powerful. I said “I can’t stop” as his head moved down and began to crown all in one surge. During that I let out one huge roar, the loudest I had been through the entire labor. I felt the familiar burning stretch and reached down to cup the tiny little top of a head in my hand. (For weeks after and even still I am brought right back to that moment when I hold his head in my hand.) A few seconds later, his head was completely out. I comically just said “head!” so Brian, who was positioned behind me, would know what was happening. A pause of a few more seconds and the rest of his body slid into the water, official time 7:14.

Time seemed to stand still for just a few moments. It was stunningly beautiful and a memory I will treasure forever. I reached down to catch my baby, a dream of mine for this birth. I slowly pulled him out of the water, unwrapped the cord that was draped around his neck and pulled him up to me as I turned to sit in the tub. He wasn’t making much noise but his tone was great. I rubbed his back a bit. Without thinking I used my mouth to suck anything out of his that might be in the way. Looking back at the video, it probably wasn’t necessary but it was just what I felt I should do in the moment. He let out a small cry and we had those beautiful moments as I caught my own breath, cried, laughed, and thanked God for this precious baby. I marveled at all his vernix, more than any of our previous babies! I remember saying “Oh my baby!” and “thank you, Jesus!” and laughably, “I’m so glad that was real!” I then checked and discovered we had another beautiful son!

So glad Brian thought to grab these pictures!

That vernix!

From getting into the water to baby being born was exactly 20 minutes and only 30 minutes after I had called the midwife. If my check was accurate, I went from that 2-3 cm to holding baby in about 15 minutes. No wonder it was so so intense!

A few minutes later I felt like I should call Maura to let her know. I didn’t really need to do that either since she was on her way and I knew we were both fine. Maybe it was the doula in me that felt like it was what I was supposed to do! She was about eight minutes away. At about 7:23 Brian called the boys down from their movie and woke the two little ones from sleep to let them know. They came into the bathroom to see me holding their new little brother in the tub.

Maura and Anna both arrived at about the same time. Right around then, he latched on to nurse with almost no help from me. I had been holding him on my chest and barely moved him into position and he was on before I even tried. I had had thoughts of attempting the breast crawl if I hadn’t been in the water but in the water it isn’t really as feasible with needing to keep the baby up and out of the water, at least with how I was sitting. After getting her things settled, Maura and Brian helped me out of the tub. I felt ready to birth the placenta so I did just that in a standing position next to the tub into the bowl we had ready. Maura asked if I minded any traction which I didn’t and that helped it come right out. I then made the traditional awkward and comical hobbling postpartum walk to the bed to rest - midwife holding the chux pad underneath me, baby in my arms, and Brian connected to us with the placenta bowl.

This picture made me laugh when I saw it. I don't remember that many people on my bed...

I love that Anna grabbed this. Midwives are so helpful with ALL the things! Trying to picture the OBs I've worked with doing this...

This is a great image to show a truly delayed cord clamping and what the cord should look like. Also, I make really long cords.

We then had several hours of meeting this new little person, baby’s first exam, checking my vitals, snacking on some food the boys brought up, and me just trying to process that it really had happened and so breathtakingly quickly. I had a strange perineal injury where skin had separated but it wasn’t actively bleeding. Maura thought that it was possibly a previous tear site that had given way as he crowned. At the time it wasn’t looking like a good fit for her to stitch it back in place but it did end up causing a lot of pain and uncomfortable pressure the next few weeks. I was able to do my own semi-repair a week later that immediately helped but didn’t completely heal it. With how fast he came out it’s honestly a grace that there wasn’t more tearing especially with the amount of scar tissue I have. But I was disappointed that my hopes to avoid any perineal injury weren’t met, though I knew it was a long shot since I’ve had them with every birth.

We attempted to do a cord burning having heard about it for the first time during this pregnancy. We did do it for a while but then I started getting a bit sore and antsy about 8-10 minutes in and we ended up cutting through the rest of it. But it was neat to have that be a slower process and have the boys involved more than usual!

Once he was separated we had his exam. 8lbs 1oz and I think 20 inches long and everything beautifully healthy. How we have been blessed with so many healthy children, I sometimes cannot comprehend. 

Maybe around 9:30 Anna and Maura left and Brian put the little boys back to bed. The older boys stayed up a little bit longer before we sent them to bed as well. And there we were, lying in our own bed with our fresh from the womb, fruit of our love, Adam Kolbe. His name is a tribute to Christ the New Adam whose cross and Resurrection allowed His Mother and hopefully someday each one of us to be fully redeemed in body and soul as well. It is also after the original Adam, created in the image and likeness of God, made for union and happiness with Eve, and ultimately with the Trinity. I love the icons I've seen of Jesus reclaiming and redeeming Adam on Holy Saturday. Kolbe is after the great martyr of charity, Saint Maximilian Kolbe, who was killed in Auschwitz after offering his life as ransom for another prisoner.

I write this about 12 weeks out from this birth and I’m still processing everything about it as well as the abrupt shift to postpartum life. It’s strange but I still feel a bit in shock at how quickly it happened and how intense it was. I’m working through with the Lord how He answered my prayers and worked through this birth even if it all wasn’t as I expected. I'm trying to understand the words He gave me at the beginning of pregnancy in light of how difficult the postpartum time has been. In so many ways He did give me the birth I asked for. The beginning of the birth was incredibly gentle and joyful, even if I got in my own way of recognizing that! I was able to pray and worship with my family and then alone while in labor. The entire time I was in the tub I was praying and surrounded by worship. I caught my own baby, a moment that I pray will forever be etched in my memory. He was born on my absolute favorite feast day of the year. He was even born to the song that had touched my heart so deeply during pregnancy. And I didn’t pray for this part but He gave me the gift of doing almost all of it unassisted. I actually wonder if there was some subconscious part of me that needed this birth unassisted and that’s why my body shot into hyper evacuate mode almost to the second after I called the midwife.

My heart aches a bit at the thought that I will likely never experience pregnancy and especially the mystery and sacred beauty of birth again. I want so much to go back and do it all over and relive those moments (maybe a bit slower this time!). I feel greedy thinking that since I have been so abundantly blessed to have experienced it seven times but if anything each birth has only increased my awe for its power and glory and for the design of God.

Praise be to the Father for His beautiful design of birth and for the eternal sacred gift of our precious Adam Kolbe. I am undeserving and forever grateful.

No comments

Thank you for visiting and reading! I love hearing from readers so if a comment box on a post is turned off, it's because Blogger is terrible about filtering spam. If you'd like to send me a message, please use my contact page. Thank you!

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.