Winter Grace Cox was born in the early hours of the morning on a snowy Christmas Day.
She was due on December 20, but for most of my pregnancy I never even expected to make it to my due date. When I was pregnant with William, I was induced early due to high blood pressure, so I (and my midwives as well) just kind of assumed that my blood pressure would go up again during this pregnancy and I would once again be induced early to avoid the complications of going into labor naturally with hypertension. When my blood pressure was still normal well into the third trimester, I started to prepare myself mentally to go into labor naturally– a first for me! I still never really thought I’d go past my due date though, because seriously, what woman wants to be pregnant more than 40 weeks?!
I was sure of one thing though. I did not want to have a baby on Christmas. With family coming into town and all the holiday festivities planned out, I was hoping to be out of the hospital and feeling somewhat back to normal by Christmas so I could enjoy it along with everyone else, while people ooh-ed and ahh-ed over our newborn baby. So strong was my desire to not have a Christmas baby, I think that I may have created a mental block preventing myself from relaxing and going into labor before then. Because as Christmas Eve rolled around and I was still pregnant, I finally surrendered to the fact that we might have a Christmas baby after all, and that would be much better than staying pregnant forever. And sure enough, that night, I went into labor.
We ate dinner with Garrett’s family at his parents’ house on Christmas Eve and left William to stay there overnight just in case. That night, I woke up at 1:45am with painful contractions and started timing them. After some walking around the house, and convincing myself that I really was in labor, I woke Garrett at about 2:15. I called the midwife who told me that I could probably labor at home for a while before coming to the hospital. My gut feeling, though, was to go sooner rather than later. I planned on having a water birth, and I knew they would need time to set up the birthing tub. Plus the idea of sitting in a warm tub sounded quite nice and there wasn’t really anything else to do in the middle of the night, so Garrett and I gathered up a few things and headed out.
It was snowing as we drove to the hospital, so Garrett drove very smoothly and cautiously as I did my best to relax through the contractions. We knew ahead of time that we wanted to name our daughter Winter, although we hadn’t told anyone. We had joked about how we’d be able to tell each other “Winter is coming” in ominous tones as I went into labor, but I don’t think either one of us actually said it that night.
As it turns out, it was a good thing we went to the hospital when we did, because my labor was quite short. It was about 3 am when we arrived and I was already dilated to about 7 or 8 cm. A nurse got to work right away setting up the birthing tub, but I guess it took longer than usual– something about a smaller hose than usual and water temperature not being quite right… I wasn’t really paying attention. The contractions were so intense and painful that I wasn’t really upset about not being in the tub. It was nice to be able to relax completely on the bed during the short breaks that I was getting between them.
When the birthing tub was finally ready, we could all tell I was getting really close to being ready to push. My water hadn’t broken yet, though, so the midwife informed me that she was going to break my water and then I was going to immediately get into the tub and have the baby. Sounded simple enough. Except the instant my water broke I felt the unmistakable urge to push and I was not going anywhere. Soooo… my water birth didn’t happen, but it’s okay. After ten minutes or so of pushing, Winter was born, just two and a half hours after the labor contractions had woken me up.
I didn’t get to hold her right away. The cord had been wrapped around her neck and she was having some difficulty breathing so they whisked her away pretty quickly. I had caught a glimpse of her as she came out and landed on the bed, thanks to my hands-and-knees birthing position (waaayyy better than giving birth on my back as I did with William!), and I think I said something profound like “I see her!” right before they took her away. A nurse and doctor from the NICU came in to help with getting her breathing– something that seems scary, but no one was acting too worried, so I tried to stay calm as well. Garrett was by her side giving me updates and it was certainly a relief when we heard her cry. Despite all her difficulty getting a start on life outside the womb, she was surprisingly pink! Once she was doing a bit better, they put her on my chest for some skin-to-skin and I finally got a proper look at her.
We spent Christmas Day in the hospital, but it didn’t really feel like Christmas. No one came to visit us because of the snow, but it was very peaceful. After a stressful holiday season of wondering when the baby was going to come and how things were going to work with family plans and such, it was nice to finally just relax knowing that everything had gone well.