Friday, February 25, 2011

Birth Story

Tonight will mark 4 weeks since I gave birth to Elijah. I thought I might finally put down a few thoughts about his birth to remember for later.

*Warning: This is a birth story. A home birth story. I tried to be discreet but by nature, this story might contain more information than you want to know. :) Read at your own risk.

My parents' first day in Morgantown was Thursday, January 20th, 2 days after my due date. I was so relieved when they made it here and I hadn't started labor. We were just really hoping that they would be here when the baby arrived, especially since we were planning our first home birth. Everyone was enjoying being together again so much that we cheerfully went through the weekend without really being concerned about labor still not starting.

I think it was Tuesday morning, the 25th, that I woke up in a terrible mood. I think it finally hit me that my parents might miss the birth after all. I couldn't shake my unhappiness all day and it was just a lousy day all around, for everybody.

Wednesday morning I was still blue, but beginning to accept what was happening. I knew that once labor began, it would more than likely take a long time. My track record is no pre-labor and long labor once it starts. I knew I could easily walk around having contractions for a day or two before any serious contractions started that would end in the birth. Since there was still no sign of this beginning on Wednesday, I knew that we were running out of time and perhaps God's plan wasn't what I *thought* it would be. :) Dad and Mom ended up taking me and Cecily out to a nice lunch at Red Lobster while Peter got the other kids together to go ice skating for the homeschooling skating time. After lunch, we drove over to the rink to see the kids before heading home. By the time we were home I was significantly cheered up.

Thursday morning I thought I was possibly having some contractions. We talked it over and decided to go to the mall to walk around and encourage labor. As we circled the mall, I was definitely having more and more contractions. The rest of the day I had contractions when walking, but not much else. In the evening they seemed to get more regular, happening without the stimulation of walking. I called the midwife and she suggested that I get to bed early because I could wake up in full labor. Once in bed, I woke every 1/2 hour to 45 minutes with contractions, consistently all through the night.

When I finally decided to get up for the day the next morning, I was happy, expecting that labor would keep progressing and I'd be seeing the baby by the end of the day. Once again, things didn't happen exactly like I expected. As soon as I got up, the labor completely stopped. It never picked up again all morning. I felt strange. I was hot and sweaty and tense all over. It was like I was in labor, but without contractions. I didn't feel like I could really participate in the activities of the day with the kids. I wandered aimlessly and felt the need to rest. I finally gave in and napped shortly after lunch. I slept very soundly, but was aware that I was once again beginning contractions. They were regular. Almost exactly 20 minutes apart. I stayed relaxed and timing the contractions for quite some time, then finally got up. To my amazement, they stopped again! Apparently only when I was resting/sleeping was I able to maintain labor. We ate dinner. Contractions gradually came back. They were never closer than 20 minutes, but they were getting pretty intense. I called my friend, Marlene, who was planning to come for the birth and help assist the midwife. She came over and took my vitals and called the midwife. They agreed to wait a little longer before the midwife would actually come. She had her bag packed and we knew she had a 1 1/2 hour drive to get to us, but it was still so hard to tell how long it would be.

Meanwhile, the children went to bed and Dad, Mom, Peter, Marlene and her daughter, Hannah and I all went downstairs and watched an episode of Little Dorrit to pass the time. I let them know whenever a contraction hit and we timed it. Eventually, Dad and Mom decided they'd better get to bed and try to catch a little sleep before the birth. Contractions were still 20 minutes apart, but FIRM. The rest of us watched a little more TV and talked until suddenly, I was in so much pain that we decided it was time to head back up to the bedroom where I had the birthing tub ready. Marlene had called Donna, the midwife, shortly before this and she was on her way. I got into the tub. I'm not sure, but I think I only had a few contractions in the tub. They did get a little closer together but were still something like 11 minutes apart. Marlene told me that they were lasting longer than two minutes each though. I could tell that each one was tremendously effective. I could feel the baby's head move down like 6 times in a single contraction. I knew it wouldn't be long now. Peter went to wake my mom. She came in a minute and held my hand for the next contraction, at the end of which I was ready to push. Peter and Mom helped me get out of the tub and onto the bed to push. Since the contractions were so spaced, we sort of sat and waited. On the second or third contraction, he was born. (Amazing how these details escape you when you're the one in the midst of the pain). Marlene was there coaching, but alas, the midwife didn't make it. I was not in the least concerned about this insignificant detail. All I cared about was that he was born. I was fully prepared that she would not be there. Peter and I weren't nervous about that. I knew she was coming and that was what mattered. Peter lifted our beautiful little boy onto my stomach, covered him with a towel to keep him warm and we waited. Soon, Donna came in and looked us over, delivered the placenta, cut the cord, did the baby check and weighing, etc.
Elijah was perfect. His apgar was good and he pinked up immediately. He was alert, but not hungry initially.

I realize that this story is not the picture most of us have in our head of what a birth looks like. It was strange for us too in many ways because we've had 6 births that were not at home. Though it wasn't perfect and I think we would know better how to make it more comfortable in the future, we weren't nervous about it. After all the months of the most thorough prenatal care I'd ever had and talking with Donna who has been delivering babies at home since the 1970's, we felt ready. Donna has delivered over 400 babies and is a wealth of information. Each prenatal visit, she would come to my home, sit on my couch and talk and answer my questions for 1 to 2 hours. By the time it was time for delivery I was not concerned about being overdue or about delivering our own baby at home. I understood that this was normal and nothing to be concerned about. I was really only concerned that the baby would be born before Dad and Mom had to be at the airport on Saturday morning! The Lord graciously allowed that to be the case. We certainly felt His grace in that. We were and are so grateful for the safe delivery and our healthy new son. Thank you for PRAYING us through it!!

The prayer requests I made before the birth were answered in many ways. The children were all provided for in the way of attention and stability by the extra love and time spent with my parents. As far as trusting Christ in labor, I think it went well. It was bearable. I was able to focus on relaxing and helping the contractions to be effective. The long spaces between contractions helped me rest and keep up my energy. I felt the nearness of my God in these details. Again, thank you for praying for these things.

1 comment:

Laffing Dawg said...

Thank you, Julie, for this detailed story of Elijah's entrance into the family. I always worry about home births, but when I saw your Midwife's picture I felt calm and peaceful. She looked just wonderfully experienced and the type of person you would want with you during that special time. How fun is that that Elijah was born before she arrived. That tells us a lot about him and our God just in that "decision". Hugs to all of you. Elijah's gift is currently being constructed. Such Fun.

Love, Kathy