harper’s birth story.

harper evelyn o’donnell
born in shizuoka, japan — june 10, 2011 at 1:10p
3200 g — 7lbs
50cm — 20in

i have a history of start-and-stop labors, which tend to be very frustrating, as you never know when the contractions will actually stick around and lead to birth.  at least with this being my third baby, i was a little bit more prepped for this — but it still made waiting hard.

for about a week and a half before harper was born, i would wake up around 1a every other day, with contractions 10 minutes apart that lasted for about an hour.  two days before she was born, they started at midnight and got progressively stronger until they puttered out around 2a.  one day before she was born, contractions woke me up around 12a and stuck around till 4a, coming every 8 to 10 minutes.  i definitely thought, “this is it,” and even when they stopped, i was certain they would start up again in the morning and i would have a baby girl in my arms on june 9th.  alas, that was a rough day.  as the day continued, i got progressively crabbier until i needed to have a weep session with bryan.  we prayed together, we talked, and i thought the rest of the day about things having to do with patience, God’s timing, not being afraid, etc.  seems i must always hit a point like this before the baby is born — its happened every time that he/she comes pretty quickly after this.

that night, after doing some reading and praying, i was looking forward to a good night’s rest (as good as it can get when you’re up every few hours to pee) after such an emotional day.  NOT. TO. BE.  alas, contractions started up again around 10:30p this time, before i was even able to fall asleep.  thankfully, they weren’t that strong, so i did eventually fall asleep, only to be awoken about 12:30 by a really strong one.  i started timing them — 10 minutes apart.  bryan came home from karaoke about that time and we decided to call my midwife — since it was my third baby, with lots of prodromal labor, i could be far enough along that i would have to go in quickly if things picked up.  she had us come in for a check around 1:30a — i was about 3cm dilated, and by that time, the contractions had slowed down again.  we went home to sleep.  i slept off and on all night, with contractions coming every 20 to 30 minutes, occasionally waking me up.  the boys woke up one at a time, around 6:30 and 7:30 prospectively.  since it was a short night, we stuck in a video for them and kept sleeping.  at 8a, though, i had a doozy that got me out of bed and moaning.  the switch flipped, and i said to bryan, “we’ve got to get ready to go.”

after that one, one in every four was enough to keep me on my toes and make me think, “we need to get in the car now.”  then the next would come, and would be so mild that i wondered if she’d be born before midnight.  at this point, around 9:30a, contractions were coming every 10 to 12 minutes.

bryan and i left the house, bags in tow, around 10a.  we drove through mcdonalds so he could eat something, and i was dying for some caffeine, so i got a latte.  we drove to a park close to my midwife’s and walked around, talked, prayed — it was nice just to be outside.  other moms were playing with their kids, old men were out for walks, housewives were walking home with groceries in tow, and i was leaning up against a phone booth, asking my husband to apply counter pressure during a contraction. my bet is that i was a strange sight for them to behold, but the normalcy of everyone else’s goings-about was very calming for me.

around 11:15, contractions were coming every 6 minutes, so we decided to head to the midwife’s.  she checked me at 11:30, and i was 6cm.  i wasn’t exactly excited at the prospect of laboring for a number of hours in a tiny room, so 6cm was a little disappointing.  regardless, we headed upstairs to the room where harper would make her appearance.

for some reason, standing was the most comfortable position to me in this labor, and the only tall thing in the room to lean against was the window sill, so i had a chair put by the window so i could sit in between contractions.  eventually, i just kept standing because the contractions didn’t seem to have an end.  around 12:45, i felt a little hungry, so i asked the midwife to make me a rice ball. while she was downstairs making it, i had a contraction that told me she was coming soon, so i somehow managed to tell bryan to get the midwife upstairs and forget about the rice ball — the baby’s coming!

bryan sat on the bed and i kneeled on the floor, bracing myself on his legs — i tried pushing a little with the next contraction, and it felt good.  the next two contractions, i pushed, and it seemed to make the pain go away.  with the next one, however, that didn’t work.  there just is nothing pleasant about the feeling of a baby moving down and out — i had to mentally get over the fact that this would hurt and there was no way to make it go away, and once i just decided to push into the pain, things moved along rather quickly.  i stood up around 1:00p (we have pictures that help me document the time), thinking it might feel a bit better, and two contractions later, i heard the midwife saying, “okay, her head will come probably come out with the next one” and i thought, “already??!! don’t lie to me!”  but this gave me the extra gumption i needed and with the next contraction, she was born straight into her daddy’s hands — 1:10p, an hour and 40 minutes after our arrival at the midwife’s.

after both of the boys’ births, i had this overwhelming sense of relief at just being DONE — pushing with both of them was quite difficult, and especially with ezra, i have lots of painful memories.  and now i’m wondering if i just didn’t “push into” the pain, and that was why they seemed so awful.  but this time, things happened so quickly toward the end, that i could just revel in and enjoy a new baby!

birth tidbits:
-harper moved around during the whole labor process — and during contractions it was quite painful.  she was my most active baby in the womb, but i really didn’t think it would last until the very end!
-considering that labor is always painful, i would say this was a fairly easy birth.  thank you Jesus!  i’m still smiling in the pictures taken an hour before she was born!  let’s just say this wasn’t true of my previous experiences..
-when we were at the park, just before coming to the midwife’s, we saw a lady we met previously there — she was pregnant at the time we met, but was pushing around a stroller with a newborn in it this time.  it was encouraging to remember, yes! it does end!
-i did a little google research on caffeine during labor, just to make sure it wasn’t a no no.  couldn’t find much, and thought having a little pick me up, since i was so sleepy, would help me emotionally, even if it didn’t physically.  i quite enjoyed my latte in the park.
-i used the squatty potty at the park four times while there. IN. LABOR.  hooray for me! living in asia has definitely improved my flexibility.  people are always squatting here, even if its just to wait on the curb for your friends to pull up.
-all of my babies have come exactly four day past their due dates.
-my milk came in less than 48 hours after birth this time! i was pleasantly surprised.

coming later — more tidbits about my japanese midwife experience and postpartum stay!


11 thoughts on “harper’s birth story.

  1. Hooray for Harper, hooray for her mama! Thanks for writing this all up so soon – I was really excited to see it pop up in my feed reader. 😉 It *almost* makes me want to have another one. So glad the labor was relatively quick and easier than with Ezra!

  2. Congratulations!! Thanks for sharing your great story. Sometimes I wonder if I could do it again (I have a 4.5 month old), and I like to read stories like yours where you know labor sucks at some point, but it’s worth it 🙂 Blessings to your growing family!

  3. Ah, I’m crying over here! I’m so glad Harper is here and that you share your labor with the rest of us. You’re a trooper, Jamie! Can’t wait to see more pics. Love you, friend.

  4. Wonderful! Thanks for sharing your story with the rest of us. So glad that Harper arrived safely and it was
    “relatively” easy! 🙂

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