Mae is currently 2 months old, and her birth already feels both a lifetime ago & “just yesterday”. I wanted to carve out time to write out her birth story before it all becomes too much of a blur, so here I sit trying to get all the details down!
The entire pregnancy I was sure of two things:
- We were having a girl (we opted to not find out baby’s gender)
- She was going to come early
Just 1 day after taking a pregnancy test, I took a sunrise walk on the beach and felt the Lord’s promise of a baby girl. My prayer for the remainder of the pregnancy was that the Lord would continue to give me confidence she was in fact a “she”, and also provide joy & peace that if I was wrong I would not be disappointed in giving birth to a boy.
In terms of the baby coming early: I had no particular reason for this feeling!! Micah was 3 days late, so it’s not like I had past experience to back up my feelings either! However I felt certain she’d arrive early and therefore began prepping with a passion 2 months before her due date just in case!
I guess there’s something to be said for a mother’s intuition because:
- She is a girl!
- She arrived 1 day early!
Mae Avonlea Schmoyer was born April 17, 2020 at 1:39am weighing 7lbs 14 ounces and 20.5 inches long. (A whole pound bigger & 1.5” longer than her brother!)
My maternity leave with Mae began April 2 because I wanted 2 weeks before my due date with no appointments or priority tasks. I had my 37 week check up that day and I was 0% effaced and ½ centimeter dilated. One week later on April 9 I had my 38 week appointment and the plan was to strip my membranes. (I wanted to avoid being overdue because I did not want a medical induction. I went into labor spontaneously with Micah & had an unmedicated birth; my hope was to follow the same plan with Mae.)
My midwife was unable to strip my membranes that day because my cervix was off to the side – it was over my right hip. However she could tell I was 2-3 centimeters dilated & 60% effaced. While stripping failed, I was happy with my body’s progress already especially because I had felt no contractions I could time, just a lot of cramping.
Later that day (April 9), I began to have contractions I could time however they were inconsistent. I did the Miles Circuit and went on a walk with Matt & Micah hoping to spur them on. That night, they felt very real (more painful) and were getting stronger. I texted Emily who was on call to be with Micah to let her know I might be calling her in the middle of the night. (Matt’s parents are 2 hours away so our plan was for Emily to be with Micah while his parent’s drove over!) I decided to take a shower & begin putting final items in my hospital bag; I really thought this was “it”!!
Unfortunately, contractions stopped suddenly around 11pm. I was so disappointed. I went to bed knowing if it was time, I’d wake up with strong contractions. At 1am I woke up feeling contractions and was awake until 3am when they subsided. I spent the next day googling and self-diagnosed my contractions as prodromal labor. While I was emotional & exhausted, I hoped that they were still helping my body get ready for labor & that it was near.
For the next few days I had terrible cramping but no contractions I could time. I continued to do the Miles Circuit and we continued to take walks. While I wanted to help my body along, I also knew I had to listen to my body; if I needed to take a nap, I took one. If I wanted to clean, I cleaned. I tried to let my body take the lead and not overdo it. I even relaxed enough to read a book! All week I went back & forth between waking up feeling like I’d been hit by a bus & waking up feeling ready as ever to physically endure birth. But again, I tried to listen to my body’s needs on a day-to-day basis.
On Wednesday April 15 (3 days before my due date), I had a complete breakdown over the baby’s name. Remember when I said I had a strong intuition we were having a girl? I felt emotionally drawn to 2 girl names and felt confident we’d make a decision once we met her. But boy names were a different story! Matt and I were not on the same page, and while I liked some of our options I didn’t get “that” feeling. Wednesday night I completely broke down feeling weighed down with guilt. What if this WAS a boy and I’d spent 9 months thinking girl?! What if I didn’t bond with him because I thought he was a “she”? What if we couldn’t pick a name?! I had the biggest ugly cry I think I’ve ever had (ha!) and went to bed feeling incredibly overwhelmed with it all.
On Thursday I woke up still feeling the weight of not knowing the baby’s gender yet determined to enjoy the final days of pregnancy. I was actively putting my trust in what I DID know (we were having a baby!!) and believing God would fill my heart with joy & peace regardless of “he” or “she”!
I had my 39 week check up that morning & Matt and Micah were coming into town with me. They waited in the car (since due to COVID19 I could not have guests at appointments) and we planned to take a walk around a local lake, and have a ChicFilA car picnic for lunch.
My midwife was able to strip my membranes & told me I was 4 centimeters dilated & 80% effaced. She felt very confident I would go into labor in the next few days, and told me she was the one on call at the hospital. (There are 2 midwives at my practice.) She suggested I walk for 30-60 minutes, and then relax for the rest of the day. She told me not to “chase” my contractions and instead to take it easy & let my body do the work.
Matt, Micah and I went on the COLDEST walk but we powered through because I wanted 30 minutes of walk time like she suggested. We drove around looking at houses in a local neighborhood we like, and then headed to ChicFilA for a spicy chicken sandwich meal (I had this meal right before going into labor with Micah so I hoped to keep the tradition going!)!
I began having cramps in the car but knew it could be from stripping my membranes and not active labor. That afternoon, I walked the stairs 2 at a time and bounced on my birth ball a bit. However I tried to listen to my midwife’s advice & not overthink it. We ate hot wings for dinner (I asked Matt to make all spicy food leading up to my due date!) and I enjoyed a Krispy Kreme glazed doughnut for dessert!
During dinner, I began to have contractions & cramping but they were irregular. Around 9pm I decided to lay down & Matt stayed up playing a video game. I started watching Princess Diaries 2 and at 9:50pm my contractions became much more consistent. I timed them for 30 minutes & then told Matt what was happening. My contractions were 5 minutes apart & while I could still talk & walk through them they were “peeking” & becoming increasingly painful. Originally, I had planned to labor at home until they were 2-3 minutes apart but I felt anxious. My gut was telling me it was time, so at 10:30pm Matt called his parents and I called Emily to come be with Micah. At 11:00pm Emily arrived to wait at our house until Matt’s parents came, and we left for the hospital.
I could still talk & walk through them when we arrived at 11:30pm and I won’t deny that I began to question myself! I hoped this wasn’t prodromal labor again, and Matt made a comment that I didn’t seem to be in as much pain as I was when we went in for Micah’s birth (With Micah, my water broke at home & I labored for 4 hours before checking in to the hospital at 4 cm). We parked at the ER since the main entrance was closed for the night, and made our way to the third floor for L&D. We were taken to a smaller room so that a nurse could confirm I was in active labor before officially being checked in. I continued to have contractions & felt more confident this was “it”.
Around midnight we met our nurse Bridgette and she confirmed I was 6 centimeters dilated & fully effaced. Bridgette was confident I’d have a baby by the time she went off duty at 3am!! She called my midwife to come in, moved us to our delivery room and got out the heart monitor to check on the baby. I also had to have an IV started just in case I needed medication later in delivery. I have terribly small veins & it always takes FOREVER to get an IV in my arm. In this case, it helped distract me!! 30 minutes and 2 nurses later, they were finally able to get the IV started!
When they were done, Bridgette had the jacuzzi ready since I told her I wanted to labor there first. With Micah, I had tried to labor in the tub but felt incredibly hot and didn’t enjoy it much. I also wanted to be on my hands & knees & the hard floor of the tub hurt after a while. With this baby, I knew the benefits of pain management when laboring in the tub so I was determined to try again!! I got in the Jacuzzi sometime around 12:30am. Matt had turned on my Spotify playlist, and we began to wait it out. I laid down in the tub just like I would for a relaxing bath, and we turned on the jets (something I did not do when laboring with Micah). The warm water was relaxing and I loved the pressure of the jets! They hit various pressure points on my body & provided a distraction from the pain.
I’ll also say that laboring with your second is more relaxing than your first. Maybe it was because I knew what to expect? Or maybe it was because even though it was painful, I wasn’t as shocked over the pain like I was with Micah? Either way, I look back & remember ENJOYING the process (I know, I know). But we laughed & joked & Matt continued to throw out boy name options. He was a great support person and I loved that it was truly just the two of us in the room.
My midwife, Anastasia, came in to check on me a little before 1am. She told me she didn’t want me to labor in the water for more than 40 minutes (something about the warmer water for the baby & wanting to check the baby’s heart rate). Shortly after she left my contractions intensified QUICKLY. My water broke (although I didn’t realize it – I knew something happened because I felt a “pop” and saw a burst in the water but at the time my brain didn’t comprehend that it was my water breaking) and suddenly I was SO HOT!!! I felt like I was on fire & all I wanted to do was get out of the water; Matt grabbed a cool cloth for my face. I also felt very sick to my stomach & thought I was going to vomit (I threw up multiple times in labor with Micah but so far had only felt sick this time). I remember getting a little panicked with Matt and telling him he needed to hit the call button in the bathroom for Bridgette because I HAD to get out of the water.
Before Matt could call for her, she showed up! Praise!! I had hit the 40 minute tub allotment time (putting us at the 1:10am mark) and she was coming back to move me to the bed. She saw what was happening and began helping Matt get me to the bed. On the way to the bed, I felt an incredible urge to pee so I sat on the toilet. I remember sitting there thinking the baby might just pop out & I needed to get to the bed – there was SO much pressure – yet it was all happening so fast I didn’t know if I was being dramatic!! I continued to say how hot I was even with a cool towel and Bridgette offered to get me a fan. However, as soon as I laid on the bed she immediately sprung into fast action getting my midwife & other nurses in the room. I wish I could ask her for a comment here (ha!) but I assume it’s because the baby was crowning. Anastasia rushed in, they started to monitor the baby’s heart rate & she told me if I felt the urge to push then I needed to push.
I know I keep saying “it all happened so fast” but that’s truly how it felt! I remember laying there thinking there’s no way it was time to push yet… Micah’s labor took so much longer & even the pushing sensation with Micah felt different than this baby. Matt told me afterward he didn’t believe it either & he felt like everyone was being dramatic (ha!). Yet Anastasia continued to tell me that if I felt the urge to push I needed to push.
During all of this, I was lying on the bed on my right side with the heart monitor over my belly. I had just sort of “plopped” on the bed in that position. I think that position made me feel more closed than I actually was which is why I wasn’t feeling as strong of an urge to push. They moved me to be flat on my back and almost immediately the sensation felt stronger! Anastasia asked me to grab my legs when pushing and bear down as hard as I could. 2 nurses got on either side of me to help hold my legs & Matt stayed at my head holding a cool cloth to my forehead.
While the pushing sensation was stronger it still felt different from Micah. I can’t really explain it other than “different”. I feel like with Micah I could feel it all more intensely – almost like I knew he was close. But I never felt that with this baby. The only reason I knew I was so close was because Anastasia & Matt were telling me I was!! I remember looking up at Matt in disbelief and him saying “Look the birth lights are on!! Baby is coming!”!! I looked up and realized the bright heat lights had, in fact, been turned on! Seconds after that, the baby’s heart rate began to drop so I had to wear an oxygen mask for a few minutes, and Anastasia told me I needed to push long & hard at the next urge to get the baby out quickly! NOTHING could have spurred me on more than hearing the baby’s heart rate was low.
Baby came out at the next push and in a matter of seconds a few things happened:
- I asked Matt if it was a boy or a girl – they turned the baby to him and he said “it’s a GIRL!”!
- She was so shocked over the fast birth that they cut her cord immediately and took her to the warm lights for an extra boost & some suction. (She swallowed both amniotic fluid & meconium during delivery.)
- Matt went over to her & he got to cut the cord shorter, then they brought her to me for skin to skin.
She was probably only away from me for a few minutes total. And while of course I would have wanted her on my chest immediately, I think we were BOTH in shock over how quickly it happened that I took those few minutes to lie back & take some deep breaths myself! My entire body was shaking!!
Once she was on my chest, she started nursing soon after & was so natural at it; the nurses asked us for her name & I looked at Matt as I said “Mae”.
With Micah, I don’t remember any of the after birth process and pretty much lived in new-mom-bliss for the first few hours. With Mae, I felt everything … and I was in a lot of pain. I wonder if because it all happened so fast that I didn’t have as big of an adrenaline high afterward? Either way, it was interesting to me to have the after effects be so different between the two of them.
It took us a few more hours to decide on her middle name – we were debating between 2 options – and then we spent the rest of the day soaking in time with our little Mae Avonlea, FaceTiming / calling our family and texting pictures to friends.
Her birth was so different from Micah … not sure in the physical but in the emotional, too. Micah was our first born so with him everything was brand new. With Mae, it almost felt like stepping back into the routine again… there was something familiar and sweet about it. We also didn’t have visitors due to COVID19 and while at first I was sad about it, it ended up being pretty wonderful. We had quiet, uninterrupted time together. I missed Micah, and I wish our parents could have met her in person in those first few hours… but I also loved that it was just us three. I look back on that 24 hour period and kinda wish we had MORE time in the hospital with her!!! Who knows… maybe next time we’ll ask for no visitors even if we can. 🙂
Sweet Mae Avonlea – I’m so honored to be your mama. Thank you for giving me the “girl mom” title, and officially being my little pink wearing mini (even if you do look more like your dad than me!)! Love you forever, Maevy-girl!