Mabel’s Birth Story

I absolutely love birth stories. Most of you already know this about me, but I’m willing to share that info again. I love them. I love all kinds. I love how they are unique to every single mother and to every single baby. There are no two that are identical, and they can’t be duplicated. They are some of the most special kind of stories because it is the story of life. And God, being the giver of ALL life, has somehow designed this amazing and special and intricate process that we get to be partakers of. It’s beautiful and it is each person’s story to share. Every single one ends with a precious baby and so, no matter how, when, or where your baby was born, it is worth sharing and celebrating!
With that being said, here is how Mabel was born.
As with most birth stories, it can start with:
Looking back earlier in the week…..
I had obviously shared in my 38 week pregnancy post that my body was just feeling done. So done. She was so incredibly low and I was noticing a large increase in cervical mucus. Like. A lot a lot. It wasn’t mucus plug(ew), but it was different than normal. I was still fully prepared to go well beyond my due date, so I didn’t put much stock in any of it, other than things were definitely gearing towards the grand finale- whenever that might be.
So, that brings us to Friday night.
Jim and Abigail had made plans earlier in the week to have a backyard camp out together(I mean, holy cute or what?!). The weather was absolutely perfect and they had an awesome time setting up their tent, popping their popcorn, loading up a movie onto the iPad, and heading out for the night…

…leaving me inside the house by myself.

I stayed up way too late writing blog posts and doing other important things like watch Parenthood. I finally went to bed around 1 am and sometime thereafter, kept being woken up by pesky contractions. Now, this had happened back in week 36 and nothing ever came of it. They were just braxton hicks- irritating, sure, but also non productive and therefore not worth getting worked up over. But, then again, this time, I noticed that my low back was hurting as well.

I got up a few different times over the night, getting drinks of water, going to the bathroom, etc. I ate a power bar at 4 am because I was suddenly STARVING and then went back to sleep, tossing and turning as a combo deal of fake and real(albeit extremely mild) contractions kept waking me up.

While I was up, I made this my background on my cell phone so that I could start thinking about positive birth affirmations. (Thanks for sharing this forever ago, Erin! I have had it saved all this time!) My personal favorite is “I am excited to give birth to my baby” and I reflected on that as I tossed and turned.

And possibly also asked Mabel if she could just wait until I had my nail appointment the next morning first.

Jim and A got up early Saturday morning and took the van to get it’s oiled changed while I had a slow and easy morning at home by myself. Β The contractions completely stopped sometime that morning so I didn’t give it much thought other than my body just prepping and preparing for labor down the road. I had texted both my mom and my two BFF’s about it, just saying that I wasn’t convinced they were doing anything, just getting baby into a good position and priming the pump- as it were.

I headed to my nail appointment(yay!) and got my nails painted and my feet rubbed(glory). I came home around 1 and had absolutely zero appetite(strange) but ate a turkey sandwich anyway. Then I started working on a blog post for Mabel about my feelings on being at the end of her pregnancy and all sorts of sentimental things like that(which I will hopefully still get to finish someday!) Jim came inside from mowing the grass and after he showered we just laid on our bed together and talked and cuddled for a while- which is kind of unusual for us, we’re usually busy doing things in the afternoon while Abigail naps. I remember laying there and thinking how nice it was to just have some bonding one on one time together and I told him that I could be totally wrong but I just had this feeling like I think the baby might be coming soon.

And what do you know, as we laid there together, my back started that familiar hurting again.

So I suggested perhaps he go ahead and pack his hospital bag…just in case. I downloaded a free contraction timer on my phone and started to keep an eye on them.

(this is a screenshot from later- I started timing contractions around 3pm)

They were confusing to me because, as you can see, while they were coming very frequently they were also really short. And pretty mild. So, around 3:30 I called my doula and let her know that I was pretty sure I was having contractions but that I also wasn’t convinced that I was actually in labor. She gave me some good advice and told me to keep her posted. I kept sitting on the birthing ball because it felt good and timing then when I realized that they were STILL coming.

So I had Jim start to pack my bags as well(at least I had already packed Mabel’s weeks ago!). He would run around tossing in things I suggested and then race back to me and rub my back on the ball. Then he would race around some more and run back to help me.

I called my Mom to let her know what was happening and she promptly said something like, “I will have your Father get on the computer right this second and change our flights” and then she prayed with me and I had to go.

We made plans to take Abigail to our Pastor’s house(who is conveniently married to my doula!) and then head to the hospital.

But all of a sudden, things changed.Β 

I wasn’t just breathing through the contractions. I was moaning. And groaning. And things were escalating and I thought, oh my goodness. We need to get to the hospital right now.

We woke Abigail up from her nap, tossed everything into the van, and Jim drove like a mad man to get us there(on absolute gas fumes I might add, thanks to the trip to get the oil changed earlier in the day. oops) This was at 4:45pm.

I felt worried about what Abigail might think because I was YELLING, but thankfully we had well prepared her for what it might be like. She also took the opportunity to say, “Mom?” yes, sweetheart? “Miss Lynsey said she didn’t yell or scream when she had Valorie and Charlotte.” Thanks for the info, baby girl!

Our pastor and his girls met us right at the entrance and were able to take Abigail from us as I was wheeled up to labor & delivery.

Things were SO intense and I really seriously thought I was dying(oh yeah, we also forgot my birth ball). They checked me right away and I was a 6/7. Which, hooray but also OMG I’M DYING HERE.

I sat on a stool for a few contractions as they got my GBS+ antibiotics started and hooked me up to the monitors, frantically running around getting things ready.

When suddenly, once again, things changed.

My body was producing contraction after contraction and baby girl was NOT handling it well. They instantly had me get up on the bed, tossed an oxygen mask on my face, rolled me with my head and shoulders pressed into the bed with my behind high in the air.

They sent anesthesia in to talk to me about the high chance of me having an emergency c-section at that point because her heart rate was down in the 90’s. He explained what would happen and that I would be put completely out because they wouldn’t have time to do the epidural and what the risks were and when had I eaten last? and meanwhile I was thinking two things:

One: Yes please just knock me out right now and take her because oh my word have I mentioned that I am dying.


Two: If I feel like I am dying, that is because I am so close to being done and I can get her out myself.

So I just started praying to myself, “your will be done. your will be done. your will be done.”

The Dr.(not my Dr. B. she was off the entire weekend) made the plan to put a fetal monitor in Mabel’s head to better track her heart rate, give me an injection to make my body slow DOWN to give Mabel time to rest, recover, and breathe, and to break my water.

They did all of these things and they all worked exactly how they should. They had me laying on my side with my legs up around this big birth ball type thing called a peanut, and told me that I was complete and could start to push whenever I felt the urge.

Except, I felt no urge.

And I kept thinking, this is so horrible, I’m going to keep having these contractions that make me want to die and not want to push this baby out.

When all of a sudden, there she was and she was coming RIGHT THIS VERY SECOND RIGHT NOW.

They rolled me over and got me set up and I was doing a lot of growling and shouting and yelling and other unglamorous things and at 6:35pm I started pushing.

Let us take note of Jim’s bicep being absolutely crushed by me and him just taking it like a total champ.

Also, let me just add, I share these pictures because I think that sometimes people in the natural birth community have a tendency to make birth seem just like this glowing and perfect and ethereal experience. And, while, sure, it is. It also hurts. Like, a lot. And you have to work really dang freaking hard to get to the “glow” at the end. And also, sometimes, you aren’t Gisele Bundchen riding the waves of bliss bringing your baby to you. Sometimes you’re Courtney Spena and you unintentionally yell at your Dr. and cry in pain and writhe on the bed like a primal beast.

But then, at 6:37pm(yes, you read that correctly) TWO minutes after I started pushing.

This happened.

And holy cow yeouch?

Holy cow so worth it.

Miss Mabel tried to come into this world so fast and furiously, with a cord wrapped around her neck, AND both of her hands up by her face, that her little body was just stressed to the max. But the second we got her out? Absolute perfection.

I don’t know if y’all remember my labor and delivery plans, but the biggest things that were important to me this time around were the things that happened AFTER I delivered Mabel.

And y’all, every. single. one. happened exactly as I wished.

Delayed cord clamping.

Delayed bath.

Delayed weighing and measuring.

Immediate skin to skin.

No eye ointment, deferred Hep B, Vit K while I was holding her.

Even with a somewhat scary and intense and FAST birth, everything that I wanted happened. What. A. Gift.

I just held my girl close to me as they rubbed her and checked her out and she cried and she grunted and she was perfect and it was all 100% surreal and I was absolutely in shock because how was she inside me 3 hours ago and now she is here in my arms?

The birth partner who rubbed my back, held my legs, told me I could do it, and didn’t bat an eye or flinch at anything for even a second.

As I was putting this post together I realized that I never got a picture of myself and my doula- what a shame! I promise you, I absolutely 100% would not have had the birth that I had if she had not been there. She made me breathe, she had me moan and hum the correct way, she helped me open up, she advocated for me. She told me I could do it for five more minutes. She told me I was doing it. She held my hands and kept eye contact with me and she was an absolute rock.

I swear to you, if I hadn’t had my doula, the epi would have been in place from the time we got to the hospital and things might have ended up looking quite differently than they did. I am so incredibly thankful for her. So, so thankful.

I have absolutely zero pictures of Abigail’s first nursing session. The fact that my doula captured a bunch for me just makes me so, so thankful. I will treasure them forever.

Our surprise early girl weighed right at 7 lbs even, was 19 3/4 long, and scored an 8/9 on her Apgar. Her GBS cultures came back perfectly, she passed her hearing test in both ears, and has turned out to be an absolute sweetie.

Then they did all of the usual baby stuff with her, gave her back to us, and we spent the rest of the night just staring at her perfect little face. And a perfectly round head! Thanks two minutes in the birth canal!

No but seriously, I was bright eyed and bushy tailed and high on adrenaline for hours and hours and hours after she was born. It was 4 am and I was still cheerfully just staring at her face and holding her and refusing to put her down.

Haha! Oh yes! And of course, I can’t fail to mention that on the night she was born we got to spend some time in our hospital’s “safe” interior room because of tornado sirens and a tornado warning. That’s what she gets for having a May birthday in Southwest Missouri.

And that is Mabel’s birth story! Words fail me to express how thankful we are for her, that she is here, that she is ours, and everything that goes with it.Β 

I have so many more pictures and stories to share. Our first pictures as our family of four, Abigail meeting her for the first time, all of our hospital visitors, our time in the hospital, and other things like that. I can’t wait to share them with you!

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  1. I just love birth stories! They always give me happy tears. I'm so glad you had an amazing doula to support you, as well as Jim! And the end is always worth all that pain. Beautiful Mabel! Congratulations again and again.

  2. Good grief, woman! You got this post up fast. Congratulations on a healthy baby girl! That is crazy that it was just 2 minutes after you started pushing! So glad you didn't have to have an emergency C-section. I won't lie and pretend like I know what all that stuff means that you said you wanted to have happen, but I'm glad it worked out how you wanted it!

  3. OH, Courtney. This post… <3 I have wanted this for you so badly, and though we don't "know" each other, I wish I could run up to the hospital and give you a big hug and scoop up your girl and thank God for her. Congratulations to you and your sweet husband, you're a family of FOUR! And SISTERS. Omigosh. xo

  4. I love reading birth stories as well and Mabel's was a fabulous one! So glad to hear everything went as you had wished. She's beautiful… congratulations!

  5. Loved reading this today! So glad that things went well, despite being a bit hectic in the beginning. Mabel is perfect and I'm so excited for your sweet family! Also, I was happy with pushing for only 15 minutes with Vivian. But two minutes? Dang girl! That's amazing!!!

  6. What a beautiful story! I found your blog several months ago when you were at the beginning of your pregnancy. It has been so wonderful to follow you on your journey. You now have 2 beautiful girls! Enjoy every moment!!

  7. Wow!! What a sweet story. I love that you documented the good and the bad, the fun and the hard times. Such a real picture of the whole birthing process. So glad you and Mabel are doing well. Congratulations on your newest little cutie!!

  8. Girl, how do you look THIS GOOD after just giving birth…sans pain meds, I might add! You rock–times about ten thousand! Beautiful story, beautiful mama, beautiful birth photos, and most of all beautiful baby! I'm so glad everything worked out in your favor. Congrats! <3

  9. Welcome to the world, beautiful Mabel! Thank you for sharing your story, Courtney! I love reading birth stories, even though I'm not quite ready to be pregnant. I find them so fascinating and everyone has a unique story to read. Wishing you a wonderful first week home as a family of four.

  10. I'm so happy she's here! And safe! And perfect! And with a whopping two minutes of pushing! She's amazing already πŸ˜‰ I can't wait to hear and see MORE MORE MORE!

  11. Oh my gosh, Mabel! Well girlfriend knew when she wanted to be born and she made it happen! I'm SO glad that you got everything that you wanted after she was born. What a perfect birth story for you and Mabel. And seriously, that husband of yours… he's a keeper! Such a rockstar also! I love the squeezing of the arm and him staying cool and calm. SO HAPPY she is here and she is perfect! Can't wait to hear and see more more more!

  12. Courtney!! I still can't believe she's here and I'm so happy for you that everything went as you wanted it to πŸ™‚ What a beautiful birth story and holy 2 minutes of pushing!!! Crazy! πŸ™‚ She's beautiful, congrats to all of you again! XO

  13. Congratulations girl! What a sweet story! And how beautiful your baby girl #2 is! She also happens to share a birthday with my father! Happy birthday to your sweet baby girl. Can't wait to see the rest of your updates! Love to you and your precious family! xx

  14. I have been following along with your pregnancy and have been waiting for this post to come. Wow! This is so amazing and I'm so happy for you guys. I have tears in my eyes reading this! Congrats to all of you πŸ™‚

  15. That is SO sweet. SO sweet. And those pics of you giving birth are very tasteful yet show the emotions of the moment. Thank you for sharing this!
    This is the first ever birth story I have read πŸ™‚

  16. What a beautiful story!!! Mabel, and God, had their own plans, but it seems like everything worked out perfectly for you! I am so glad you got the post-labor plans you wanted and everyone is healthy and happy!!! She's just beautiful! I cannot wait to follow this new journey!! πŸ™‚ xo

  17. Wow congrats!! She is perfect! And thank you for sharing the pics and being open and honest about your experience! Did your doula take the photos? I've never really thought about having a doula but I have been hearing more and more about them and will probably consider it once I get pregnant! Congrats again!

  18. Mama, you are amazing! What a special & amazing story of how your sweet girl entered this world! So glad everyone is healthy! When do you get to go home?

  19. LOVED that you shared those pictures. They are beautiful! What a sweet story about how she was born. You are a trooper, mama! God knew what he was doing whenever he took good care of Mabel during the delivery. Praise Him!!!

  20. I love birth stories as well! so thank you for sharing yours. i also appreciate how real and honest you are, because sometimes i feel like a failure already because some people are like 'it was so easy and amazing and look how pretty i look!' lol. Congrats again though, especially on getting the birth you wanted – she is absolutely precious and I can't wait to see more of her. Congrats!!

  21. Holy cow! I think it's so amazing that things can change in just an instant–like from totally mild contractions to crazy productive ones, and no urge to push to only needing to push for two minutes. I LOVED reading this. I am so incredibly thrilled for you and your family and I'm glad Mabel is here safe and sound and you're both doing well. πŸ™‚

  22. Oh, I love everything about this! Praise the Lord for a safe and healthy delivery for both of you, albeit very fast! I'm glad that everything worked out in the end and you only had to push for two minutes! The doctor had to put an internal heart monitor on Emerson because they couldn't find his heartbeat, then when they did is was so low. So scary! I can understand some of what you went through… although, I wasn't having hard contractions like you and my water had already broken, so they had to do an emergency c-section. I'm glad you got to have you natural birth! And I can't wait to hear about the rest of your hospital time. And goodness sakes, I love these pictures, you look beautiful! So happy for you and your sweet little family of four!

  23. All the tears are happening right now.
    What a beautiful birth story! And all of your pictures are so amazing. You are so fortunate to have so many great photos documenting the journey!
    So, so, so thrilled for you and your new family of four!!

  24. Amazing!! I love how animated your story was too….I felt like I have told my stories very similarly πŸ˜‰ Birth is just such an amazing and beautiful thing. So great to have those precious photos as well!

  25. LOVE THIS!!! So happy you got to have a natural birth, and that Miss Mabel came out safely! Sounds like you had a great hospital too–you got all your wishes! Liv came fast and furious too, and I think I was in shock for a while πŸ™‚ So so very happy for you! Enjoy your sweet baby girl and these precious first days as a family of FOUR!!!

  26. you rocked it. holy cow. every moment i know was so so so worth the wait. how beautiful is that story. how beautiful is her journey already!!! i can't get over it. congratulations mama!!!

  27. I cried tears of joy reading this. It brought me back to my daughters birth, almost nine months ago. Her cord too, was around her back when she was born which explained why her heartrate was going down during my contractions. Thankfully I pkeaded and begged for no c-section. I pushed get her out within 15 minutes! I labored at home as well and I was in complete denial at the time. I got to the hospital and was 8cm! They were shocked I wasn't screaming! The pain wasn't bad at all!

  28. So beautiful! You crack me up and HOLY COW you looked amazing even after! I'm impressed! Abigail's comment in the car made me LOL. And tornado sirens?! Eek! What an adventure! Congrats!!! Mabel is precious!

  29. Congratulations!!! I loved reading your birth story, thanks for sharing! So glad to hear that she is perfect and healthy and that you got what you wanted from your birth plan!

  30. GIRL you are such a rockstar. You make me feel confident that I CAN DO THIS labor and delivery thing! So grateful you shared a real and honest account of little Miss Mabel's birth and praising the lord that mama and baby are healthy!

  31. A year late to the party…but I love birth stories! This one is almost exactly like the one I had with my second kid…crazy how fast they come. We almost didn’t make it to the hospital! Oops, thought I had more time then that πŸ™‚

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