Summer Reading List that will help me rest and recover from childbirth.
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Cary’s Birth Story {Part 3}

I’m picking up our little girl’s birth story again today. You can read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

To recap a little bit, I started having regular contractions around 36 weeks. The contractions were 4-6 minutes apart and this went on for 12 days straight. I went on bed rest during this time in order to try to slow labor down so I would make it to 37 weeks.

Once I made it to 37 weeks, the nesting instinct kicked in full force, and I stayed very active. I felt very strong, mentally ready for our baby, and very, very stir crazy. We weren’t venturing far from home during this time and my four walls and fenced in acreage was getting old – fast!

birth story
I eventually had to go shopping for some more clothes. I tried hard to make it through, but nothing fit anymore, not even my husband’s t-shirts and shorts. I seemed to expand significantly overnight, and by this point I wondered if I would be pregnant forever. I bought the shirt shown above because I needed to laugh. I mean, I went on bed rest for goodness’ sake because our little “boy” wanted to come early and now “he” didn’t want to come at all.

By the way, if you’re just picking up the story and didn’t read part 1 and 2, we thought we were having a boy …

Then one day our baby decided to take a long nap. One that “he” refused to wake up from to let “his” mama know “he” was okay. I did everything I could to get my little one to move that rainy afternoon, but nothing seemed to work. For a baby who was usually very responsive to my touch, even catching the attention of friends and family often, this scared me. The fear of losing this child hit hard and fast. Not again, Lord!

After talking with our midwives, we made quick work of gathering hospital bags and headed straight to labor and delivery for a non-stress test. The doctor and nurses monitored us for an hour or so and declared us healthy and just fine. What a relief!

birth story
While we were there, we went ahead and let the doctor check me, and we learned that I was 4 centimeters and 70% effaced. At least I was getting somewhere with all this waiting. They offered to strip my membranes, but we decided to wait and let one of our midwives do it. We headed home with our active baby shifting around in my womb once more. We didn’t have anymore scares after that. Praise the Lord!

The next day one of our midwives came by the house to strip my membranes and talk through our scare. We knew that stripping the membranes could help kick start labor, but we also knew that it might not do a thing. By this point, I was willing to try most anything except castor oil. I knew better than to do that before it was absolutely necessary. We were all hopeful that stripping my membranes would be just the ticket …

Except it wasn’t.

I was done after this. I was defeated. I was worn out. I was over it. What was going on? I started labor at 36 weeks. I’d started and stopped several times. I was now nearly 40 weeks pregnant, and I was emotionally drained. I desperately wanted to be on the other side of this ordeal.

But God kept me tight to Him. He kept wooing me back to Himself and even when I was faithless He was faithful. The overwhelming “knowing” that I experienced during this time still amazes me. Each day I woke up and resolved to choose joy. I resolved to enjoy the two children I did have outside my womb, and I kept clinging to His promises.

My membranes were stripped when I was 39 weeks and 1 day pregnant. No contractions came, so we kept waiting.

We got a little slap happy by the end of it all I do believe!

Then, when I was 39 weeks and 5 days pregnant, I woke up feeling different. I couldn’t have told you that then, but something felt different. My mom noticed but didn’t say anything. Mark noticed but didn’t say anything. By this point, everyone was a bit afraid to ask me if I was having any contractions at all. We just went about our day. Contractions started and stopped as usual, but they were stronger.

By the end of the day I was antsy and begged Mark and Mom to stay up with me a bit later than usual and just play some games. I bounced on my ball and let the contractions do their thing. Around 10 or 11 pm they stopped, and I went to bed.

I woke up with a start around 1 am. I wasn’t sure what woke me up, but I needed to go the bathroom. When I came out, I decided to find Mark who wasn’t in the bed. I found him in the toddler bed with Timmy and persuaded him to come back to our room. I was wide awake.

I told him what happened. That something woke me up. By this point I had had a couple of strong contractions, so I told him that I suspected a contraction woke me up. However since I needed to use the bathroom I wondered if I was just making this all up in my head. I didn’t trust my instincts anymore. He assured me that it didn’t matter one way or the other. He was right there and willing to help me however he could.

We laid down in bed, but I couldn’t go back to sleep. I found myself needing to really breathe through contractions, and I just couldn’t get comfortable. I told Mark I was going to get a shower. He was wide awake by this point too, and he came in to sit with me. After about five minutes, I told him that this felt different. These were strong contractions.

Then, everything starts getting blurry for me from this point on because even though I didn’t realize it then, I was in full blown labor. I couldn’t think about anything except the contractions. They were coming in steady waves and lasting much longer now. Mark asked if we should call the midwives and I told him yes. I was nervous that I said yes too soon, but I didn’t have time to think about it before another contraction came. He left to call the midwives and to wake my mom. From this point on he checked on me intermittently, but I was mostly left to myself to labor in peace.

I stayed in the shower for a while longer letting the water help me deal with the contractions. I love laboring in the shower. The white noise helps me drown out everything else and when the humming starts, and it always does for me, I just go right into a zone that works for me and my babies.

I want to interject here to say that I feared labor this time. With my first, I didn’t know what to expect so there really wasn’t any fear. With my second, I had done it once and knew what to expect. I never once experienced fear of birth with Timmy. But this time, I feared it. I had fear right up until the moment I started active labor. I feared the pain that I knew so well by now. I feared that I wouldn’t be able to do this again. I feared not being comfortable at home. I feared having to be rushed to the emergency room. I feared losing my baby. And on and on it went.

However the moment active labor started, all fear left and I just went into my zone. I prayed for God to carry me through, to help me stay focused and in the moment, not considering how far I had to go or patting myself for how far I’d come. I prayed that the rhythm would carry me, not too fast and not too slow. I prayed for His wisdom and then just released it all in peace.

So, after being in the shower for a bit longer, I got out and asked for my favorite labor gown, my exercise ball, and a towel. I donned my gown and laid the towel over the ball. I dimmed the lights in the bathroom and anchored myself in a corner with a cabinet on one side and the wall on the other. Mark brought me my headphones and started the play list we put together earlier that week, and my mom brought in my water bottle.

I sat on my ball and rolled my hips slowly in circles when a contraction would hit. I hummed with each contraction, the humming growing louder as a contraction reached it’s peak and then I would hum down the contraction. I guzzled water between contractions.

By this time, one of our midwives had arrived and she came in to check my baby’s heart beat and take my vitals. She didn’t say much but mentioned that if I had any pressure in my back, then all fours would be a good position to get in. Then she left me to continue doing my thing.

I stayed like this for quite some time. The midwife would come in to check vitals from time to time. I knew there was preparations taking place in my room. I knew that Grammy was with the boys in their room. I knew that coffee was made for everyone but me. I knew my water bottle never ran dry (thanks, Mom!). I heard faint murmurings and talk of what was needed to get ready for the next phase of delivery, but it was all background. Almost as though I was in a different world altogether. It was quiet and peaceful in my corner in the bathroom. I just hummed through the contractions, rested in between, and listened to my music reminding me of God’s promises and care right that moment.

Eventually, I instinctively knew I needed to change positions. Contractions were no longer comfortable on the exercise ball, and my humming was less humming and more something shy of deep gut moaning. I had no idea what I needed to do next though, and I asked the Lord for wisdom.

As I prayed, a song came on and the lyrics sang “on my knees.” I felt a little silly when I thought, “I need to get on my knees.” I felt cooky to think the Lord was speaking through a song, but I was certain in my gut that’s what I needed to do. So, I left the bathroom and told them I wanted to get on my bed and on all fours.

After a few contractions like this, I told Mark I needed something to prop me up but I wanted to stay in this position. My resourceful husband left and came back with various large furniture pillows to prop me up. Then, he stayed to hold my hands and talk me through contractions. There was no way he was leaving me now.

I started to shiver and shake like I always do in transition. I remember thinking there was no way I was going to be able to finish this thing. I knew that this meant I was in transition and we would be meeting our baby very soon. But God help me, I was so tired and this was getting very hard, harder than I ever remembered it being.

Eventually, I had to push. I took the music out of my ears and concentrated on what I needed to do. Because I was on all fours, I really didn’t know who was in the room. All I knew was that I was gripping Mark’s hands fiercely and praying someone was behind me to catch my baby if “he” came flying out.

Pushing hurt. By this point, I wasn’t humming, I was full blown moaning and writhing with the pain. I forced myself to relax as much as I could to push, and when the pushing would stop I had to will myself to slow my breathing.

It took a lot of coaching for me at the end. Midwives helping me to breathe. Mark reassuring me that all was well and I was doing fine. With each push, I bared down as hard as I possibly could, using Mark’s strength to add counter force, and screamed with all that was within me. I’m still amazed that my children didn’t wake up. I don’t know how they didn’t.

Then, our baby’s head finally came through. The worst and hardest part was over. Or so I thought. With my other two, once I got their heads out, the next push brought them bursting forth. Not so with this baby. What is happening to me? I was told to give it my all … again. Again? I remember whimpering to Mark that I just couldn’t do this anymore. I begged him to help me, although I’ve no idea what I was asking him to help me with.

While talking with him after the fact, it was around this point that he came close to passing out. My grip on his hand was so fierce, and the pushing was so intense, he couldn’t see what was going on because he was at my head, and he was afraid for me. The unknown was overwhelming him, and my mom was as white as a ghost herself. He said all he could see was her eyes as big as watermelons and fear on her face.

So, again and again I pushed. I know now that my little one was still partly in her bag of waters. This was what my mom had seen. She’d never seen a baby delivered with her water partly in tact and she knew the dangers of meconium which she also saw. But after my baby’s head came through, it was one shoulder and then the other, each taking as much effort and strength that I had left to push out. Then, it was on to her hips. Not a single bit of her just came shooting out. I had to work with every inch of her 21 inch frame to get her out.

When she did finally come out, my body collapsed onto the bed. I begged for a cold rag and I released my death grip of Mark’s hands but I didn’t let go. I heard my little one cry and heard the bustle of the midwives wiping and wrapping. We all sighed a sigh of relief. The work was finished.

I didn’t get to bring my baby directly to me. I had to take a moment to catch my breath. I had no strength to hold her right away like I did with Timmy.

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After I caught my breath, everyone helped me get turned over and propped up on fresh pillows before handing me my piece of precious work. If my memory serves me correctly, my first words when I saw her face was, “Wow! You are a Dutton!” I could see the resemblance to her siblings quickly.

Of course, I still had no idea she was a girl. It would be two hours before anyone even thought to check. ha! The midwives took our vitals and oversaw the delivery of the placenta which was huge and “very healthy” they said. Then, they started cleaning up. I was so tired, and I was in no hurry to move anything forward. I just needed to breathe, hold my baby, and eventually try to get her to latch on to nurse. Once she latched on, she had no intentions of coming off anytime soon.

birth story
Eventually we decided to cut the cord. The cord was very thick. It took three clamps to anchor it, but eventually Mark was able to cut the cord. Once the cord was cut, little girl had stopped nursing and I was ready to get cleaned up a bit more and eat something. So we decided to do her newborn exam.

With a fork full of watermelon halfway to my mouth, I waited for them to weigh and measure my baby. I dropped my fork with a clang when I heard, “9 pounds 2 ounces … ” What the french fries? I just pushed out a 9lb 2 oz baby? Naturally? Lord, help me. No wonder. Just no wonder that was so hard!

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Then I hear, “21 inches long …” Geez! That’s a big baby!

We continued to give our information for the birth certificate including spelling the name of our little boy – M-A-T-H-I-A-S  C-A-R-Y.  Yes, that’s right, Mathias Cary. I took another bite of watermelon.

Then I look over to all three midwives. All three of them have eyes wide open and mouths moving like they want to say something but can’t. Finally, one of them gives a little, “Oohhh! Ooohhh!” and I ask, “What? Is there something wrong with my baby?” To which she replied, “When did you find out you were having a boy?” We told her, and she said, “Well, you … you … well, this isn’t a little boy. It’s definitely a girl!”

The room went silent for one split second and then it erupted in chaos.

The midwife quickly covered my little girl up and uncovered her again to be sure.

My mom yelled, “I told you. I told you. I told you it was a girl! I told you.”

My mother-in-love said, “What? Are you sure? Are you sure?”

Mark fell to his knees and buried his face in his hands by the bed. For the record, this was not in disappointment. This was just shock. Total shock.

And I dipped my fork in for another bite of watermelon and said, “Well, how about that? I guess I don’t have to worry about a circumcision now. Wow. Just wow.”

I still cannot believe I have a little girl. Even more than that, I can’t believe I pushed out a 9lb 2oz baby naturally without tearing. I just can’t even… A little girl.

birth story

After pow-wowing with Mark for a little bit after finding out, we decided on the name Susannah Cary. One of my historical heroines is Susannah Wesley, a strong and godly woman. My mother-in-love’s name is Susan another woman of quiet strength and godly character. Cary is a family name on my husband’s side, and we decided to keep the spelling even though it’s not the traditional spelling for a girl. It fits with her story, and we’ve decided to call her Cary.

Susannah Cary
With each of my children, the Lord has given me two words to pray over them from the beginning. Cary’s words are “gentle” and “joyful.” I confess that I found these words strange for a little boy, but no other words came to me throughout my pregnancy. “Gentle” and “joyful” seem to envelope little Cary already.

In case you’re curious, Samuel’s words are “strong” and “courageous,” and Timothy’s are “humble” and “compassionate.”

birth story

Speaking of the boys, they slept through the entire thing. Grammy stayed with us the rest of the morning and Papa brought by donuts to celebrate. They were waiting for the boys on the couch when they woke up.

They cuddled and talked and the boys didn’t even ask why they were there which gave me more time to rest a bit more before bringing them in. Eventually they asked the boys if they were curious why Grammy and Papa were at their house that morning, and they said they were.

Daddy brought the boys back to our room and said, “We have a surprise for you guys!” Their eyes lit up when they saw me holding their baby … but wait. They don’t know yet. So, I said, “You know how we thought we were having a little brother? Well, we were wrong. You actually have a sister!” If only words could explain the joy that spread across their faces.

“The Lord has heard your prayers my precious ones. He gave you a sister after all!”

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Sam leaped out of his Daddy’s arms and scrambled softly onto the bed to get a better look. Timmy followed behind him and they both gazed happily and with sheer amazement at Susannah Cary nestled in my arms asleep. Joy! Un-Explainable Joy!

And with that, we became a family of five!

Check out the birth stories of my other two kiddos:


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  1. Awwww, what an amazing story! You and I do similar things in labour… 🙂 I also enjoy the shower (although I didn’t do that with my fourth) and tend to pull into myself and just do my thing by myself. I spent transition with my fourth on my knees on my bed and delivered my daughter that way and yep, pushing was HARD that time around. I love your reaction to finding out she was a girl!!! I laughed out loud. 🙂 Congrats to you all! So happy for you. 🙂 Love her name too. 🙂

    1. My first labor I was surrounded by people, and I’ve since learned that doesn’t help me relax. Pulling into myself really works for me and I’m grateful that I’ve been able to do that with my last two. I remember talking with my husband after my second son was born about how he “felt bad I was on my own” but he also “just knew I needed to be alone.” He’s an extrovert who has learned to love an introvert well. 🙂 As for my reaction, haha! I was DREADING another circumcision. When you do home birth it’s a hassle to work out the logistics of that on top of well visits and everything else to keep yourself “legal.” 😛 I also realize that’s probably TMI, but well, it’s a birth story. All of it is TMI. 🙂

      1. Yeah, my hubby commented he felt “left out” during the birth of our third. I pointed out that I basically ignored everyone – him AND the midwives. They just patiently watched and quietly checked me and let me labour. He’s also an extrovert and I’m an introvert. 😉 We obviously haven’t had to worry about circumcisions LOL but it sounds like homebirth is more accepted here in BC. Although my midwives were actually excited for my homebirth because most of their clients chose a hospital birth. I love homebirths. 🙂

  2. Leigh Ann that was a beautifully written birth story! God is so good by helping you through it and answered your family’s pray of having a girl. I love her name and the two words to pray over her. I am going to pray for words for my children.
    You have given me lots to think about as I approach my own labour and delivery. I’m expecting baby number 3 in mid to late October. We did not find out what we’re having so it will be a fun surprise.
    Enjoy your new family of 5!

  3. How very beautiful! I had 2 girls after 4 boys and it was such a precious surprise. You are an amazingly strong woman and I praise God that He got you through. You are such a blessing and thank you so much for sharing your story.
    Congratulations to you all!

  4. What an amazing story. When saw the title of your first post, We Never Got to Hold our Baby Boy, I was afraid that something terrible had happened, and you’d had another loss. I’m glad to know that’s not the case. And now I see how God weaved some incredible details into your lives to get you through the long weeks of prodominal labor, then the birth itself. I’m so glad you got the unexpected joy of a baby girl, and a little sister that your boys had been praying for. I had tears in my eyes as i read this. Such a sweet story! Thank you for sharing your birth story with the rest of us. May God bless your family.

    1. What is interesting is that I did have to process a sort of “grief” of not holding a little boy. My heart was set on this little boy, being a boy mom, etc. It was an interesting set of emotions that I worked through not holding a boy. So, it wasn’t a loss in the literal sense, but it was a set of emotions that still needed to be worked through. It was odd. Not sure if that makes sense, but once all was processed, I was so happy and overjoyed to be holding a little girl. She’s a perfect fit into our family and I already can’t imagine what life was like before her. 🙂 Such a gift!

  5. This was SO beautiful! I am prepping for our 4th home birth and we are having our 2nd boy. My kids were so excited to have a brother and we will have 2 and 2 unless He ends up a She 😀

    All my emotions, I am totally bawling here over this story! The hand up by the head could have caused your prodromal labor, I had the same with Baby #2. Yay for Spinning Babies!

  6. Congratulations on your new addition of a little girl my so precious!! I have had seven children and my first was 10lb 4oz. My number four was only 8lb but all my other children were between 9.5lbs and 10lbs. I had 2 boys 3 girls then another 2 boys. I had a home birth with number six. Apart from my first I had all the others on all fours and found that by far the best way to deliver these big babies. Praise God He never ever leaves us but blesses us that love Him, and He is very our all in all. He has blessed you and your family and has amazing things ahead for you. Keep on seeking Him and putting Him first in your lives and fear not for He is with you! Amen!!