We are pleased to announce the safe, and very quick, arrival of our daughter – Afton Reign Lupul. Afton is my middle name, and when I was pregnant with our first daughter, it never seemed to suit. But even before I was pregnant, I felt like if we had another daughter, her name was to be Afton. Afton has a few meanings – in Swedish it means “afternoon or evening”. But it is also a river in Scotland (the poet Robert Burns wrote the poem/song Flow Gently Sweet Afton), and a place in England on the Isle of Wight. Since I have British background and Troy has Swedish roots, it seemed to suit for so many reasons! We chose Reign out of Biblical context – that we want her to reign in life with Christ. Our daughter Elizabeth’s middle name is Grace and that name had meaning for that time in our life as well. So does Reign. And doesn’t Afton Reign have such a beautiful ring to it?
So, strap your seatbelt on – I am going to tell you the crazy birth story we are now happy to share, on the other side!
On her due date, January 17, I woke up at 1:45am with light cramps – the same way labour started for Elizabeth. At my doctor appointment several days prior, he said I was 1-2cm dilated and “soft”. The next few days were spent in anticipation – wondering when the beautiful pain would begin!
So on that morning in the middle of the night when I woke up with ‘that feeling’, I just knew. After about an hour of cramping and increasing discomfort, I couldn’t stay in bed anymore and told Troy, around 3am, that things were happening.
We got up and started to gather our bags – mostly already packed. I had showered the night before but wanted to put some light make-up on and curl my hair.
I felt like I should eat something, going in to labour, so I tried to drink some water and of all things, ate a celery stick – just to have something! I wasn’t hungry, but knew I’d need the energy. Not long after, I felt nauseous and threw up in my bathroom sink. I did the same in early labour with Elizabeth!
It was now about 3:30 and the pain was increasing. Enough to walk and breathe through it though. I turned on Kristene Dimarco’s newest praise album, Where His Light Was, as I started to freshen up for labour (funny I know) … waiting for the pain to increase. And it did. Quickly.
Troy called his Mom around 4am (she lives a half hour away) to come – things were happening! She was to stay with Elizabeth. I asked Troy to heat up a lavender heat pack we had as I felt my lower back pain increasing. This was SO helpful for heat and pressure! I feel like for this labour I breathed through contractions better than I did last time. We called labour and delivery at the hospital sometime between 4:30-5am and I was still able to talk. I said my pain was a 6 out of 10. But at that point the contractions were still about 7-10min apart; not close enough to go.
I applied peppermint essential oil on my temples, neck and back. I did a drop of Balance and Wild Orange and inhaled. Folks, that was all the time for oils that I had! Troy has a photo at 4:57am of me finishing curling my hair. “Smile” he says! I did want more pictures of labour – but smile?! I continued to pace with the heat pack pressing hard against my back. I told him through closed eyes and blurred speech “I don’t want to do this again…” See, I still had some humour intact at that point, even though I was serious!
His Mom arrived around 5am and from there things get blurry as they sped up SO fast! I had a few REALLY strong contractions back to back as I gripped whatever wall or furniture or husband was closest. Then around 5:25/30 two contractions came that had me screaming, bearing down like I needed to push. Oh shoot, I thought. I’m totally not getting that epidural!
As I leaned over the island in our kitchen screaming, my water broke (they had to do it for me in my first labour so this was a new experience!) Troy and his Mom watched me with concern and she said “You need to get her to the hospital!” My daughter woke up from the screaming and as we got out the door Nana had her in her arms, comforting her.
It was now about 5:30am and freezing rain and a 25min van ride was ahead of us. Troy ran about six lights on the way, trying to veer around some early morning traffic. I was trying so hard to breathe properly, but I kept screaming like I needed to push. It was so hard to sit! At the last set of lights before the hospital, Troy was stopped at a light (it was a busy one so he needed to). He reached over and said at that point he felt our baby girl crowning, and sped through that light!
In his hurry, Troy forgot where the emergency entrance was and went to the main. He rolled the window down shouting at a passerby, as I’m screaming in pain, “Where’s emergency?!” He quickly turned around, got to the right entrance and hopped out of the van – running for help. I’m thinking “Don’t leave me here!” I get out of the van and he quickly comes back, trying to carry me. I wanted to walk. Be upright. We walk into emergency – again with me screaming and Troy shouting for help. All I remember next is my eyes were closed and someone telling me to sit. “We can’t get you in the elevator if you don’t sit,” the lady said.
You try telling a woman bearing down on the most painful feeling ever to sit! I did – and the male nurse pushing me said ,”Don’t push, Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.” That helped actually, because all I wanted to do was scream – which was pushing!
The next time I opened my eyes we were in the delivery room, but my husband wasn’t with me! He had to admit me and move the van as we were right where the ambulance comes.
With a rush of nurses around me, they got me to stand, got my boots and jacket off and told me to lay on the table. Again – ouch and really?! But I knew I had to. I crawled up and from what I remember of their words and response – they could see her coming and knew we hadn’t much time. I laid on my back and as they tried to get the monitor straps on me I started to scream and push – and with one push our baby girl literally popped out! I’m so glad a nurse was there to catch her as no doctor was even in the room yet!
My first thought was – she’s so tiny! Relief flooded me. Then I thought, “Troy missed it” and then “she’s not crying!” before I knew it, she was on my chest crying.
Troy says it was at that point he was entering – carrying all our bags – and asked the nurse at the desk where I was. She said, “It’s done!” He walked in – and saw our daughter laying on my chest. I’m glad he was relieved and not disappointed he missed it! He was just glad we were both okay and out of the van! His next thought was “But we have all these snacks!”
It’s funny what runs through your mind after something so intense and fast! To be honest, we both felt so much better after this delivery than our first, and I was ready to eat a burger!
Afton laid on my chest for the first hour, and Troy and I talked with relief about the day ahead to rest their on our own – with another daughter. We stared at her, wondering who she looked like. Our little perfect bundle had arrived. And as fast and furious as it was, I would take that over a long day of labour any day!
When Elizabeth came to the hospital, she looked concerned at first – why was Mommy in the bed with a baby? But she quickly started adoring her and letting our family love on her (thank you family!).
We went home the next day after a long sleepless night at the hospital (hello days and nights switched!). Elizabeth has been transitioning and adapting so well. We’ve had lots of company around, so that likely helps. Thank you to anyone and everyone who has prayed for us, brought food or gifts or helped in some way – we are forever grateful! God has given us another sweet girl to love and raise up – and we know that His grace will carry us through it all! Afton Reign, welcome sweet girl!