Thursday, November 10, 2011

Oh Glorious Day - A Birth Story


Yes, this is a birth story (and a rather long one, too). And the most glorious, amazing part of the story has little to do with me or Zackary. The best part of the story to me, is all the answered prayers.

It was my deep desire to birth this baby naturally--that is, medication-free. I had never done it before...but there is a first time for everything, right? We took a birthing class, read many, many books, watched many more videos, watched my diet, and did a "bit" of exercise (a tiny "bit"). But most importantly, we prayed.

We prayed about lots of things...for a healthy pregnancy, and a healthy baby; for wisdom in choosing a doctor and birth location; for a healthy, natural delivery. God answered all these prayers and we are so thankful. But here's the fun part: We prayed for when to give birth, and God even answered that!

When we went in for our 39 week check up, we talked to our doctor about what days he was on call. It was so important to me that he be our delivering doctor, and I was tempted more than once to be worried that we would miss his day. When we came home, I marked his days on the calendar and started praying.

Now, I had more things on my mind than my doctor's schedule. We had a pretty crazy schedule ourselves. Earlier in the year, around April or so, we decided to have our kitchen know...before the baby was born. We had had our fixer-upper house for about a year, and the pregnancy gave our remodeling plans a now-or-never feel. So we got a quote from the family construction company, and got started, right? Uh, no. We got a quote, and then we started dragging our feet--so typical of us. Months would roll by, and we would say we better get started! If you know us, you won't be surprised when I say that we didn't give the go-ahead until sometime in August.

Working back from the date that our special-order cabinets would be delivered, our contractor figured up the work schedule. The Demolition Day would be...drum roll, please...October 17th. That was already a special day for was my due date.

Okee-Dokee. Tim and I are more the "responder" type than the "planner" we can roll with this drama. But, factoring in the doctor's on-call days puts things totally out of our control. Only 2 of the Dr's call days fell before the 17th--the demolition day for our kitchen. Now, the idea of laboring at home while construction workers were in my house was it became my earnest prayer that God would bring this baby before the 17th...specifically on the 12th or 13th. God could do that, right?

Our appointment had been on Monday, the 10th. I was about 2 cms when the doctor checked me, and I had some contractions that day, but nothing steady. Tuesday--same story. On Wednesday the 12th--one of our 2 "on call" days--still the same. Irregular contractions. It was a little disappointing. That night as I was getting ready for bed it was heavy on my heart. We had one day left. As Tim and I were chatting about labor, it dawned on me that if we were asking God to deliver our baby the next day, maybe we should be ready for him to answer! So, we made a list of what we needed at the hospital, Tim got back out of bed, and we started packing. Clothes, cameras, car seat, birth plan, etc. (One might have thought that by 39.5 weeks pregnant we would have had our bags packed...but we are "responders," remember?) When we were done, we climbed back in bed and lifted our prayer to God to please deliver our baby the next day. It was a bold prayer.

Each time I woke up during the night I was having contractions. They began to feel a little different than usual. By 6 in the morning, my back was hurting so bad that I couldn't stand to stay in bed any longer. I got up and spent some sweet time with Jesus. I hadn't spent time with Jesus in a while, but I enjoyed knowing that by God's grace, I could call on him boldly. The prayers I wrote in my journal were simple--for God to carry me through the day, and for him to make the baby come that day.

Here's how the day played out:

6:00 a.m. I got up and going. Breakfast, prayer, and business emails :) Contractions continued. Getting up made my back feel better.

7:07 Emailed friends and asked them to pray. Hung out with Tim...contractions slowed down a bit. I got up and did some things around the house to get them going again. Contractions picked back up and were very manageable. I asked Tim to stay home from work.

8:45 Contractions were going strong enough that I emailed family and let them know that I thought I was in labor. William and Tim and I did some work in the kitchen to get ready for the demo crew. Contractions got stronger and I had to stop what I was doing to concentrate on relaxing through them. I greeted each one with a joyful prayer of "praise the Lord, oh my soul, and all my inmost parts!"

10:20ish I started keeping track of my contractions, carrying around my pencil and paper while I worked on the house. They were 4-5 minutes apart, and were 1-2 minutes in duration.

11:30ish My contractions got stronger, and I was having a hard time relaxing through them while on my feet. I went up to my room and sat on a birthing ball by my bed and read a "comfort book"--The Return of the King. :) Tim brought me some hot apple cider...aahhh. It was a nice calm time. Each time I had a contraction I would put down my book and lay my head on the bed and relax. I knew I was definitely in labor.

12:45 p.m. The boys came in one-by-one to have me tie their Karate belts before their lesson. Mom took them to their Karate class, and afterwards to get haircuts and buy new shoes. Yay Mom for getting them out of the house! Once they left I came downstairs and Tim made me lunch.

1:15 After lunch, Tim and I took a car ride. It was a good idea--he wanted to make sure that later, when it was time to go to the hospital, my labor wouldn't stall out. He figured that if we made a practice run, it would make it easier later. He drove us to the hospital and back--he drove there one way, and timed it, and back home another way, and timed it, so he would know which was was faster. :) I had my eyes closed most of the time, concentrating on relaxing.

1:45 When we got home, I went back upstairs and took a shower--I thought that would be more soothing than it turned out to be. :) I asked Tim to stay nearby, "just in case". Afterward, I asked Tim to put on a movie so we could hang out...I picked a "comfort movie"--Napoleon Dynamite. I went back to the birthing ball, and leaned on a chair so Tim could rub my back. I couldn't really sit up to enjoy watching the movie, but I enjoyed listening to it, and could laugh between contractions. Tim took over timing the contractions.

3:00ish Halfway through the movie, I took a long potty break while Tim laid on the bed watching the rest of the movie :). While Tim was chilling out, I was laboring in the bathroom (not exactly part of our birth plan, but oh well). I sort of got stuck on the toilet--I just couldn't summon the courage to get up, the contractions were so strong. I had been waiting as long as possible to let myself get in bed and lie down, but I felt like it was finally time. When I left the bathroom, Tim was on the phone in the hall (I think with the doctor's office), and it took a huge effort to crawl up on the bed.

3:45ish I made it through maybe two contractions before Tim came in, at which point I burst into tears. I sobbed that I needed him to help me relax...and he came to my rescue. He laid behind me and petted my arm and my hair and calmed me down. Things were pretty serious for me. I think I made it through maybe 5 more contractions while laying on the bed? It's such a blur. When one would come on, I would just tap my finger towards the paper and pencil, and Tim would write it down. I was miserable. I think I started shaking pretty hard for awhile. Finally, I just couldn't lay there any more, and headed back to the bathroom.

4:00 I felt nauseous, so Tim got me a barf bowl and some water and stayed by my side while I sat on the toilet. Not sure why the toilet was where I wanted to be, but it worked. He stood by my side with his arm around me, and I laid my head on him. It was pretty hard to relax through the contractions, and I was sighing--or moaning or something like that--through each one. My prayers of praise were no longer joyful, and were fewer and farther between. Mostly I was just praying Help me! I had no idea of time, but later I saw that Tim noted that the contractions were every 2 minutes. My back had started to hurt again, and did until the end. The shaking would come and go--pretty violent shaking that made me think of "transition".

5:10 I had to get up. Tim helped me back to the bedroom, and I sank down on my knees by the bed. That next contraction was a doozie--I think it scared Tim a little. My arms and head were on the bed, and I was in so much pain I couldn't hold myself up. I asked him (frantically) to lean on my butt--I needed the counter-pressure. That position clearly didn't work, and I plopped myself down on the floor, taylor style (or indian style, or criss-cross applesauce...whatever you like to call it). Tim looked me in the eyes and told me it was time to go to the hospital. Our plan had been to wait as long as possible to go there, and I was happy to obey. During the next contraction, Tim went and cranked the car and opened all the doors along the way. When he got back, he grabbed my arms and pulled me up. That brought on another huge contraction, and as I clung to him to keep from collapsing I finally experienced that POP that people talk about. My water went gushing down my legs, which I found rather exciting, since it has never done that before. It was a good confirmation that it was time to go. We walked as fast as I could go out to the stairs, which I rushed down. Tim had my flip flops by the door, and then we were at the car. I had another contraction next to the car, at the end of which the boys came out of the house. I'm not sure I even knew they were home. I dreaded seeing them, but God poured out his grace, and I was able to perk up and admire their new shoes and haircuts with a smiling, albeit tear-streaked face. My contractions stalled long enough to give them all hugs and kisses and wave good-by. I think they had been kind of worried about me, and I was happy to get to put on a cheerful face for them. Thank you, God!

That done, Tim got me in the car and took off for the hospital. My contractions returned full force, and I learned first-hand why everyone says laboring in the car is miserable. After several blocks, I noticed that Tim was was tearing up the road--I'm sure that minivan had never been driven so hard! Even though I was miserable, it was a fun ride...being rushed to the hospital by my protective husband. :)

5:45 We arrived at the hospital emergency room and after what seemed like hours were finally wheeled up to a delivery room. I heard afterward that the admitting nurse didn't think I was in labor because I was too calm (that picture at the beginning of the post is during a contraction). I think she called our doctor, who told her he was pretty sure I was in labor. I love that. All our relaxation practice paid off!

Our birth instructor (and dear friend, Shayne) met us on the maternity floor, and it was such a blessing to look up and see a familiar face. She was such an encouragement and help. She helped me get gowned up in the bathroom, and then while we were getting settled, she went out and gathered all our stuff from the car and brought it up.

Getting settled in bed was exhausting. Every big move brought on a whopper contraction. But, what can ya do? I was having a baby, right?

Once I was settled in the bed, the doctor came in and checked me. I was 8 cms...I was both pleased and disappointed. I was really hoping for 9 or 10. But, God knows best. In hind sight, I think it was good that I was where I was. As it turned out, I had meconium staining in my 'water'...never had that before. Our doctor recommended inserting a catheter into my uterus to flush out the meconium with saline water. We had never heard of that before, but Tim made the decision to follow his recommendation. My labor wound up lasting long enough that by the time I birthed Zack, my amniotic fluid was clear again, and we didn't have any problems.

The time I was laboring in the hospital sort of flew by in a blur. I was so uncomfortable in the bed--my back hurt so bad. Tim stood next to me, and held me. As miserable as I was, it was still a sweet time.

At one point, the doctor wanted me to get my fluids up to help the baby's heart rate. Since I had refused a hep-lock, he wanted me to drink lots of fluids. Out came the apple juice, which I drank and drank and drank. It made me think of Dumbledore in the Half Blood Prince...except apple juice is yummy and refreshing. I just didn't feel like drinking it. I guess it did the trick, because they didn't make me take an IV. Doctor also had Tim give me oxygen through a mask.

8:00 Finally, someone checked me, and I was at 10. They said I could push, but I totally didn't feel the urge. We waited awhile longer, and then the doctor said he wanted me to start pushing. He seemed a little worried about the baby's heart rate still, but when they sat my bed up a little straighter for me to push, the heart rate sounded better. Doctor said that was the first baby he's seen that liked Mom to sit up. Very interesting, since that was my favorite position all day. (Thanks, God for "coaching" me even when I didn't know it!)

I pushed sort of half-heartedly for a while and finally I began to get the urge.

9:00 After an hour or so of what I remember as mediocre pushing, baby's head was starting to crown with pushing. The doctor was called in, and the spot-light set on the point of action. Nice.

Many people have asked me about my labor with no meds. Yes, pushing with no epidural was a little scary! I've read tons of birth stories...enough to know about the 'ring of fire'. Yes, it hurt, but scared as I was, I knew the only way to get it over with was to push.

9:13 After about 6 pushes his head was out. Then they told me to pant...and pant I did. Something was going on down there, and it was not comfortable. I had expected to get a little relief once the head was out, if only for a minute. I found out later that baby had one little hand resting on his cheek as he came out. The doctor had to pull that hand and arm out before I pushed any more. Yow.

9:14 Hello Baby! That baby did not "slip" out as some babies do. The doctor pulled, and I pushed and pushed and pushed. I agree with the doc, that was "one chubby bunny!"

The total relief after the baby was out was amazing. So was hearing the words, "It's a boy!" Four boys. Oh My Word.


He cried right away, and they put him straight on my tummy for his rub down and nose-suctioning. He was nursing within minutes.

Tim was so sweet the whole time...I love that we have pictures of him stroking my hair. Yep, fill up that love-tank, Honey! :)

9:26 The cord had stopped pulsing, and Tim got to help cut the cord. It was fun to have that happen right up on my chest.

Then it was Orange Juice and Photo Op time. Orange Juice is a hallmark of the Bradley Method of birthing, and Shayne even brought us our own Bradley cup. And she was right, OJ never tasted so good. Sorry, Tim...I recollect that I didn't share.

Our Fantastic Doctor:

9:45ish I finally relinquished my beautiful little baby to be weighed and measured. He came in at 9 pounds, 4 ounces, and 21 inches long. My biggest baby yet! And with such a barrel chest, no wonder he didn't just slip out.



9:50ish I got that baby back, and it was time for Shayne to go. What a gift you gave me, Shayne, with your time, your knowledge, your encouragement, and at the end, all the great photos and video!!! I love you, friend!

10:15ish Baby got his first visitors--Grandmother and Granddad.

11:30ish My famished husband went home to have the dinner that he had missed, and my mom got to come up for a midnight visit. I'm sure I didn't sleep more than a wink that night...I was too busy reliving all the drama over and over again.

We made it! God did carry me through the day, and he did answer my prayer to have our baby that day. What an intense, glorious experience--laboring with my Maker and Savior, and also with my dear husband.

Thank you, Father, for hearing my voice, answering my prayer, and pouring out your grace on me. What a good job you did designing our bodies, and all that they do. I couldn't have done it without you.

And thank you, Honey, for adopting my crazy dream. Thank you for believing in me, and helping me. What a picture you have shown me of Jesus. I couldn't have done it without you, either. :)

1 comment :

  1. Jill!!! I am a total birth-story junkie and this hit the spot! I am still working on writing up mine. I love how our God is so loving and gracious to sometimes give us the desires of our hearts. I desperately wanted to go into labor without an induction and without an epidural. God granted me both. And we get wonderful, healthy babies, too? He is so much more than I deserve. I am so thrilled you had such a perfect birth. I share in your joy and in your praise to our great God!