Ah, how do we even begin to write about the absolute greatest day of our lives? There are so many emotions and everlasting memories that are tied to this date: May 17, 2018. It’s like this event has laid a new foundation down for our lives. Perhaps, a new tree that’s been planted, where roots grow deep, as the trunk grows strong and branches of this new life start to spread and form off of the strength of the trunk because of the grip in the roots. It’s all a new season, physically a new way of life while magnifying the spiritual, emotional and mental. I love this new chapter. Shoot, maybe it’s actually an entirely new book. Either way, I am so, so grateful. It’s hard to even imagine what was before this, but I do know that it was 5+ years of God preparing our hearts, minds, attitudes, faith in His plan and trust that He is All-knowing, powerful, the Great I am, the God of promises and the God that holds us in His right hand. I can’t imagine putting our faith and trust in anything else.
Here’s how it all began:
May 16, 2018
It was day two of total freedom. After 3.5 weeks, I was FINALLY off bedrest. The day before, I had done what I wanted to do: got my nails done, went on a walk, got a COFFEE, went to the chiropractor and had a date night. You know, the essentials. Well, this apparently was exhausting because I could not seem to get off the sofa the next day. I was incredibly tirrrrreeedd; Which, I honestly hadn’t really experienced my whole pregnancy. In the back of my mind, I was definitely like, “Could tonight be the night?”
Jacob: After watching Ash be on bed rest for 3.5 weeks, I knew she was ready to be out of the house to do literally anything. We had prayed for May 15th because if Ash could make it to 37 weeks, she would be able to have Margo at the birthing center. We tried to have a date night that night so I took off from work early and picked Ash up to go shopping. We had a full night planned but after we left the first store and headed to SUPER Target, I looked over to see her falling asleep in the truck! She was crazy tired and I knew it was serious because she loves her some Target. She was really sad about not having the energy to do all the things we had planned out but I told her we could go to Target anytime and we headed home to get her a nap. Later that night some friends came over to hangout and have dinner. It was great to be able to spend time with friends and Ash not have to be confined to the bed or laying on the couch! The next day when I went to work I figured Ash would have another full day planned out and about but she said she was so tired that she ended up sleeping for most of the day on the couch. I just assumed she was exhausted from overexerting herself the day before. On my way home she sent me a list of things to pick-up to finish off her birth list, so I knew something was up!
10:00pm: I started feeling more pain with the random contractions that I had been having 3.5 weeks prior. Before that, they were Braxton Hicks contractions that started around week 26. They were the normal tightening of the abdomen, and were totally pain-free. These were pretty much the same feeling, they just had more pain involved with them. I tried to sleep it off, but couldn’t seem to get comfortable laying down. I ended up not being able to ignore the period-like cramps, as well as the frequent trips to the bathroom.
It honestly felt best to stay on the toilet and I think it was at this point that I was like, “oh yeah, we’re having a baby.” My assumptions were justified when I started losing my mucus plug (for the 800th time, honestly) and having bloody show (CAN WE PLEASE COME UP WITH BETTER NAMES FOR THESE THINGS).
I texted Ruth, my midwife, to let her know what was happening. The contractions were still irregular, but picking up, and the other symptoms were clear signs that a baby was getting ready to enter the world.
Jacob: Before going to bed that night, we finished packing our bags that we planned to take to the birth center, just in case. Ash seemed to be getting up and out of bed more often to go to the restroom but she was not acting like anything had changed. Sometimes she does this kind of stuff thinking I won’t notice as I think she fears it being a false alarm. Regardless, I could tell something was a bit different but we wanted to labor at home as long as possible so I knew our midwife would say to try and get some sleep.
11:00pm – 2:00am: Not much had changed, other than the frequency of the contractions. I started keeping track with an app on my phone, and they were pretty consistent; Coming every 2-4 minutes. Some were worse than others, but it was all still manageable up to this point. I was a little confused because I was told, “Oh, you will definitely know when you’re in labor,” and I honestly couldn’t tell the difference in the contractions that I was having previously, to the ones I was having now. The cramping was more intense, sure, but there was never a defining moment of like, “this. is. it.”
I really felt most comfortable standing up, and leaning forward over something. It took the pressure of my back, and allowed gravity to relax my belly. That’s what it felt like at least!
Jacob: Ash ended up just staying up and out of the bed as I could tell she could not get comfortable. She said the contractions were about the same in strength, they were just coming more often. There was not much I could do at this point other than make sure she had water or anything else she needed/wanted.
Me: Okay, he’s definitely not giving himself enough credit. He did SO MUCH for me the entire time. I physically could not have done it without him, and as the contractions increased later on, I straight up NEEDED him right there with me. At this point, he was present. And that’s exactly what I needed. Totally in the moment, riding the waves of the contractions with me. He offered hip squeezes and lower back rubs, too!
2:00 – 5:30am: We were still laboring at home, texting Ruth updates and eventually packing the car to head to the birth center. Around 4:00 am I texted Ruth that my contractions were consistently every 2 minutes apart. She asked if I could still walk and talk through them, which I really felt like I could. I remember feeling nervous about heading to the birth center, and the fear of still being only 2 cm dilated. I really didn’t want that, as Jake and I had planned to labor in the comfort of our home as long as we could. I knew with what I was feeling, I had to be progressing but I didn’t know how fast or slow it all was happening. Ruth had me wait it out an hour or so. At 5:30, we were ready to head to the birth center and get settled in there to eventually welcome our new baby!
Jacob: Ash woke me up and said, “Hey, I think you should pack the car to be ready.” This was exactly what I had been waiting for! I didn’t want to push or rush Ash in any of this, but I love being prepared. I packed our bag and the cooler with her birth snacks/drinks into the Forester so we could go at anytime. Ash was laboring between the bathroom and the kitchen but she did not seem to have much pain (basically we just learned she has a ridiculously high pain tolerance). She was still able to walk and talk through each contraction but I could tell that they had picked up in intensity. We were told she needed to labor with a forward lean due to Margo being so low, so early in the pregnancy. This was the best way to get her Cervix positioned correctly for the delivery. Ash mainly was leaned over the bar and just wanted me to put pressure on her low back or into her hips. The contractions were about every 2 minutes apart and lasting for 1+ minute(s) so I finally called Ruth and said we needed to meet her at the birth center because I could tell Ash was ready.
5:45am: We arrive at the birth center and start getting comfortable in the room. Things have picked up for me at this point, but all I wanted to know was if I had progressed. Ruth checked me around 6:00am and I was at 5cm, fully effaced. Ahhh, a sigh of relief! Active labor was approaching!
Jacob: My prayer when we arrived was that Ash had progressed because I knew how disheartening it would be if she hadn’t. Thank you, Lord! Ruth said she was at a 5, fully effaced and already positioned at a +2. (+4 is crowning!)
6:00 – 8:00am: After getting settled, and checked, I was ready to get into the tub to get some relief. Ruth said I needed to be dilated to 6cm before getting in the tub to try and prevent labor regression (from being too relaxed). I was bummed, but we waited it out by moving from the bed, to the toilet, back to the bed, etc. Laying down still didn’t feel good. I wanted to be standing up, and completely leaned over something. That felt the absolute best to me, and I did it A LOT.
At some point, I’m leaning over the bed and told Jake I felt like I was going to throw-up, and then immediately I was like, “It’s coming!” and so he helped me “run” to the toilet. I threw up quite a bit, but I was excited because I knew it was another affirmation of birth approaching. Plus, it just felt good, and I NEVER throw-up. Like, ever.
Once we got through this I felt ready to lay down on the bed and rest. I quickly became cold and started shivering with the chills – also another common sign of labor. Jake grabbed a big quilt, and I felt incredibly relaxed at this point. Almost like I could’ve fallen asleep. Part of me was a little nervous because I noticed my contractions weren’t coming as frequent. They seemed about 4-5 minutes apart, and weren’t very intense. I thought, “this better not be freaking false labor.” Haha, it definitely wasn’t. Ruth came in again and checked me and I was at a 7! So, she started getting the bath ready and I hopped in. Ahhhh, SWEET RELIEF! “There is just something about water,” Ruth said.
Jacob: We headed to our room and started to try and get comfortable. I knew Ash was disappointed she couldn’t get into the tub yet but I knew we were close so I was hopeful we could get there pretty quick. The intensity had picked up and Ash was leaning over the bed and just again wanted pressure on her low back and water every once in awhile (food never sounded good to her the whole time). All of the sudden Ash said she needed a trash can in case she had to throw up, I started to look for one and instantly she yelled “TOO LATE!” I got her over to the toilet as quick as we could and she started puking her guts out. This was freaking me out a little bit for two reasons:
- Ash does not throw up. I have only seen her throw up one other time (in 5+ years) and that was from food poisoning.
- Ash looked up at me in between throwing up and said “This is a good sign.” I was thinking, what the heck is she talking about? That was a freaking weird thing to say but hey if she thinks so!
Not a minute later, Ruth (midwife) walked in and said “Throwing up, that’s a good sign!” So I just trusted it and went with it! For the first time, Ash said she wanted to lay down so I got her over to the bed and covered up. She started having the cold shakes and said she was really tired. Never going through any of this before I had no idea if that was a good or bad sign. I went and got Ruth and asked her if she could check on Ash for peace of mind. Ruth checked Ash and said she was at a 7 and said she was moving right along. Ruth started the tub and Ash was very excited to get in! Ash didn’t have a single complaint through all of this and I was just amazed to see how she was making it seem effortless.
8:00 – 10:00am: I had absolutely no concept of time, but whew, as we started approaching the 10:00 hour I was in full transition. The pain was longer and stronger. I ended up feeling like I was in the tub FOR. EV. ER. And I really think that was due to not knowing how fast or slow I was progressing. I was internally asking myself if there was anything keeping me from progressing. I wanted to be sure there weren’t any hidden “fears” that were keeping me from moving forward. At this point, I was focusing most on working with the contractions instead of against them. Not fearing the pain, but walking through it, knowing it was all so temporary and reminding myself of the miracle to come.
Marlita, Ruth’s assistant, was sitting in a rocking chair watching me labor and giving me great advice as I worked through my contractions. She would watch me and then calmly say, “relax your shoulders, keep your breaths and moans deep, relax your jaw.” There was no greater birth partner than Jacob, but these were great pointers that he wouldn’t have known to say. And I totally didn’t realize how much I was tensing up during contractions, which was definitely working against what the contractions were trying to do.
There were several affirmations that Jake spoke over me (posting these next!) and one that I loved is after each contraction, or sometimes through them, he would say, “that’s one less contraction you’ll never have again.” It helped me stay focused, and feel like I was moving forward. Each one was one step closer to Margo!
Jacob: Once in the tub, Ash seemed instantly relieved. The water seemed to lessen the pressure and relax her entire demeanor. Things picked up very quickly in the tub and the contractions become very intense. I got in the tub so I could help relieve some of the pressure on her low back. I tried to always be in communication with Ash so she knew I was there. We know that birth is a very painful experience and our prayer was never for a pain-free birth but for God to give Ash the strength to endure the pain. I would tell Ash that God designed her body to go through this and that she could do it. She was doing so good letting the contractions come and breathing through them to let them do their work. I hated how much pain I knew she was in but she was seriously a champion through all of it.
We met Marlita (Ruth’s assistant) sometime in this time frame as she began to stage the room for the birth. She got a bin of ice water and rags that she put on Ash’s face and neck for relief. It was incredibly helpful to have Marlita in the room as she brought a sense of comfort. She was affirming Ash in all that she was doing and would give her tips that I had no idea to say. Marlita also would check heart rate every so often and always reminded us of how good little Margo was doing. This was a huge relief to me to just know that she was still doing good in there.
Ash asked when she could get checked and they asked a series of questions to try and gauge where she might be. I could tell Ash was trying to answer in a way that made her seem as far along as possible. I could tell by the answer she gave that they knew she still had a little ways to go before we would transition out.
10:00 – 11:00am: I remember feeling incredibly ready to get out of the tub. Every position I would try in the tub became uncomfortable, and I could feel my body being ready to push. Marlita asked, “Do you feel pressure in your butt?” At the time, I didn’t really feel a ton of pressure there, but it was kind of hard to “feel” anything – especially in the tub. I said, “no, not really.” But, only a few short contractions later, I was like, “Yep! I feel like I have to poop.” Which I knew were the words they wanted to hear, but they could sense my tricks. 🙂 So, Marlita asked, “Is it a constant pressure, or only when you’re contracting?” Me, not knowing what to say to get me out of the tub the quickest, decided to just tell the truth, “only when I’m contracting.” Haha, they knew I was mentally ready, but they needed to give me time to get physically ready. Hindsight, I’m so thankful for these extra moments in the tub because when I got out, the pressure was much stronger.
I do eventually get out, and make my way to the bathroom. They wanted me to contract on the toilet three times. It was unbearable to remain on the toilet, so I kept standing up and leaning over the metal handicap bar. Once we finished in there, I made my way to the bed. As I got there, I leaned over the side and was squatting uncontrollably. I literally was not in control of what my body was doing on its own from this point forward. It was the craziest, coolest thing. My body was doing what it needed to do, and I just went with it and tried to help it do its thing.
I squatted twice, and on the second squat my water broke and went everywhere! I totally forgot my water still needed to break! It scared me for a second as I thought it was Margo, haha. I remember saying, “slippery,” as my feet were sliding beneath me and I continued to squat. Marlita said, “I know, we’re trying to get it cleaned up.” At that point, I crawled onto the bed on all fours and immediately my body started bearing down and pushing. “Don’t push yet, we need to check you!” Ruth said. I couldn’t stop myself, so Ruth quickly checked me in that position and said, “Yeah, she’s ready.”
Marlita checked Margo’s heart rate and it was dropping. This is very common during this point of labor, but still needed to be addressed of course. “Margo doesn’t like this position, we need you to get on your back,” Ruth said. I remember hearing her, but not getting a break between contractions enough to mentally and physically get myself there. She repeated it once more and it clicked. I laid on my back and began to push like I thought I knew how.
My first push, I sat all the way up like you see in the movies. Little did I know, with the way Margo was positioned, I needed to bring my knees to my chest and push my butt in the air to get her to go under my pubic bone. Once I knew this, it was go time for me. Once a contraction hit (which I honestly didn’t feel anymore, my body was just pushing and I was like, “okay, I guess it’s time) I would push while holding my breath, then lean back and take a deep breath, then push again and repeat. I needed to do this three times every time I contracted and then relax.
Honestly, once Margo was in the birth canal, the “relax” part was the worst part. The pain was weirdly intense. A sensation I have obviously never felt before. But you know what’s awesome? I COULD FEEL IT ALL HAPPENING. I knew where Margo was in my body, and my body was responding to it the way it knew how. I felt in complete control.
After about 10-15 minutes of pushing, Margo was crowning. “I see her, Mama! She has hair!” Ruth said. Jake was affirming me, and telling me “it’s our baby girl, she’s right there, you got this.” I reached down to feel for myself and reared back to prepare for my next contraction. This one would be the one. I’m getting her out of there. I need to see her and hold her!
As I waited for the next contraction, somehow fearful that I wouldn’t feel it because it seemed like an extra long break. My body reared back, deep breath, and puuuuuush. There’s one. Back again, puuuuuush. There’s two. And again, there’s three. I rear back AGAIN, for the fourth and final time (because I couldn’t stop). I hear, “Yes, Mama, YES! That’s it!” from Ruth and I open my eyes and see Margo launch out of me while Ruth moves Marlita’s hand out of the way and catches her in the air.
Haha, I wish that part made the video! My eyes were closed the entire time for some reason, but that one moment of opening them I see our baby girl for the first time. 11:11am on May 17, 2018.
Jacob: Ash was definitely over being in the tub as it was becoming more and more painful. These contractions were much harder for her to breathe through as it seemed like her body wanted to grit down and start pushing. I asked if she could go get Ruth and Marlita could tell that Ash was just about ready. We transitioned out of the tub and got Ash to the bathroom. I tried to get her a change of clothes and somewhat dry her to help her transition to the bed. She had three very intense contractions in the bathroom that I could tell were more painful as the water was not providing relief like it did in the tub. We got her to the bedside and I went to change clothes and go to the restroom really quick. I could hear Ash go through, what sounded like the hardest contraction as I tried to hurry as fast as I could to get back to her.
I got back to the bedside as Marlita put a pad below Ash, instantly Ash squatted down and her water burst everywhere. I had no idea what this was supposed to be like but it was everywhere and the floor was slippery. Marlita and I were scrambling to dry up everything and get Ash up onto the bed. Ash got on all fours and it seemed like her body just started compressing down into a squat by itself. Ruth checked her and said she was ready to start pushing while Marlita took Margo’s heart rate. I watched them every single time when they took her vitals. I tried to gauge their demeanor so I would know, if they are not worried then I should not be. They told us her heart rate was dropping and Ash needed to turn over. Ash seemed like she could not physically turn over and there was not any break between the contractions. Finally we got Ash turned over and onto her back and Margo’s heart rate normalized.
Ash’s first big push she almost sat up and Ruth said she needed to re-adjust to basically stick her butt in the air. Marlita and I each held one of Ash’s knees back to her chest to help with the angle, to allow Margo to come out. Ash’s next push and we could see Margo’s hair!!! Ash was pushing with everything she had and I could not have been more proud of her. Between contractions I knew she was feeling the most intense pain she had ever felt but we reminded her that the pressure was good. That pressure was BABY MARGO! Ash was speaking so much truth over herself through all of this it was incredible to hear and watch. She looked at me and said “It’s our baby girl! She is really coming!!” Marlita and Ruth were coaching Ash in what she needed to do and constantly affirming how well she was doing and that with every push, she was making progress. In each contraction they told her they wanted her to get three good pushes. For her to push with everything she had, not letting any breath come out, take a break with a deep breath in between and repeat for the three pushes.
A few contractions in and on the first push, Baby Margo’s head came right out! It was a shock and we all were telling Ash that her head was right there!! That she was beautiful and had a full head of hair! Ash was in incredible pain but when she heard us say these things she was in between a push supposed to be taking in a deep breath but instead she reared straight back up, with full force and literally launched Baby Margo straight out! I witnessed Ruth push Marlita’s arm out of the way and CATCH Baby Margo in the air. It was the craziest thing I had ever seen but she was so beautiful and I was so incredibly proud of my superhero wife.
Ruth was able to get Margo straight on to Ash’s chest for skin to skin as we laid there crying at the most incredible site we had ever seen. I just remember being in awe of what I had just witnessed and to see Baby Margo right there in Ash’s arms.
11:11am Our baby is here!
She was so cheesy and so, so perfect. We could not have been any more overwhelmed by the love we felt pouring out of us.
I’m convinced there’s no greater earthly love than what Jake and I experienced together and as a family. My heart has never been so close to Heaven, and my mind and body have never been so fully present. Our prayers were answered beyond what we were even asking. Moving forward, we pray for wisdom to raise this beautiful gift the way that God has designed her. We pray that we don’t try and mold her into something that’s comfortable for us, but that we steward her one-of-a-kind personality and heart, and that we do it well.
Thank you so much for your grace as you read through our hearts and danced through our minds during one of the greatest moments of our lives. I pray that God is glorified throughout this post because it was ALL HIM, and ONLY through Him.
Jacob, Ash + Margo
Ps. There’s always so many stories to share off of one big story. If you are interested in an alternative birth plan, or have any questions at all about the story, please message me! Comment here, send me an email or direct message on Instagram. I would love so much to chat more about it.
Photography: Ellie Be
Video: Wendy Bobarikin
Midwife + Birth Center: Ruth Cobb, Special Delivery Birth Center