Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Birth of Lydia Grace

I love birth stories. I’ve read hundreds of them and enjoy every single detail that the mother feels comfortable sharing. You may not. Consider this fair warning that you may learn more about me or our birth than you wanted to know. For others like me, ENJOY! :)

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It is only by the grace of God that I can tell you this story. I have been so blessed by the birth of Clara. Her life brings me joy every single day I am blessed to share with her, but her birth story has been a struggle for me. After wanting and trying so hard for a natural birth, the long, unproductive labor and transfer to the hospital for a medicated birth was disappointing, to put it mildly. Don’t get me wrong, I thank God that it was such a blessed experience overall, that my baby arrived safely, and there were no long term repercussions of doing what we had to do, but deep in my heart, I felt like I had failed at birth, and I had no idea why.

So, from before the moment I knew that another baby was on the way, I had been praying, thinking, analyzing, reading, struggling over my next birth. I shed many tears over wonderful books like Birthing From Within and while delving into the heart of things with my wonderful midwife. I prepared my mind to welcome, accept, embrace the pain of labor. I decided to ignore my labor as long as possible. I read affirmations like “I can do this” “My body was made to have babies” and so on. I prepared to drink red raspberry tea and take calcium and magnesium to help my uterus work effectively. Most importantly, James and I gave my labor and birth over to God and asked for His will to be done. I knew His will and my will are NOT the same, and over and over we verbally and mentally accepted whatever He knew we needed.

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So, five days overdue, on June 10th, James, Clara, Titus, and I went on a walk—with our umbrellas, as it was sprinkling. Mostly we were on a traffic engineer’s errand to see if our neighborhood connected to a certain cross street, so we walked a pretty decent distance. Once we returned, my big, pregnant body was exhausted, so I settled into a recliner and read books to Clara while James put dinner together. I was feeling all kinds of weird sensations as my big baby was wiggling all over inside me and my body was doing some of the mild contracting that it had been off and on for the past few weeks.

After dinner, I felt the contractions strengthening slightly and picking up, so I did some light straightening. The house didn’t need much as I had been in major nesting mode since April. :) I timed a few contractions and found them to be about 2.5 minutes apart and a minute long. I called the midwife to give her a heads up about 11 or so. She encouraged me to take a hot bath or shower and lay down to get some rest. I took a hot shower, but laying down was uncomfortable so I told James to get some sleep and I retired to the living room.

I labored through the night in the green recliner and on the labor ball. I was very chilled. I tried to drink the raspberry tea and the contractions got so intense, that I backed off. I did drink a wonderful “laborade” and took my calcium and magnesium. The contractions were pretty consistent a 6 minutes apart and 1 minute long. I read blogs online and tried to get an idea of what the symptoms and stages of labor were. I read a really neat article on assessing the dilation of a laboring woman without an internal check. I also read other women’s birth stories. When James asked me why, later, I said it was comforting to know that no mater what, all labors had an end! I was not in extreme pain, although I did have to focus and breath through those later in the night. I was calm and positive and doing a lot of praying. I knew I probably wasn’t very far along, but I was okay with the journey my body was taking. The room was dimly lit by the “midnight sun”. We closed the blinds and curtains, though, and left a small light on over the sink. It was cozy.

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At five AM, I saw Clara pitter patter into the bedroom where James was sleeping. I knew she would crawl into our bed and go to sleep again. I was starting to need some moral support and help. I knew I should probably eat something, but did not feel like fixing it myself. Whenever I was up walking around (or in the bathroom) the contractions were closer together and more painful. James came down and made me toast, scrambled an egg, and sliced an apple for me. He started pushing on my back too which helped tremendously with the pain. Even better was when he pushed my hips towards each other, although it was irritating to coach him in this while contracting. By seven, Clara was awake and we called my parents to come pick her up. I was beginning to vocalize through the pain by this point, so I went into the other room to labor while James took care of Clara’s needs.

At this point, I was really tired. I was able to sort of doze between contractions in the wonderful green recliner. I timed contractions again and they spaced out to 8 minutes apart. At 9, my mom arrived for Clara and I said goodbye to my big girl knowing that when I saw her again, she might very well be a big sister. I called my midwife again to give an update. It was obvious to her that my contractions were more intense, but seeing how I was still hungry, chatty, and the contractions were spaced out, she said, “Well, Andrea. This might just be the way you labor.” This was discouraging to hear, but hopeful too. The verse, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made” hit my mind and heart and I knew no matter HOW I labored, that God had made me to labor that way, and it was okay. My midwife told me to try to get in some more dozing on the recliner and to call her back when something shifted. We both knew that I did not want to be watched and laboring naturally would be my best chance for a natural birth. So I tried to doze in the recliner again, but after an hour when waking up to the contractions became too painful to tolerate, I got up again. James and I discussed walking, but as it was a busy Saturday with garage sales and dog walkers everywhere, I didn’t really want to walk down the street moaning. We decided to take a short drive and get out to walk somewhere else.

At 11, I discovered “bloody show.” This very good sign was totally depressing to me. I had been laboring 14 hours at this point, and I knew bloody show to be the sign of 2-3 cm dilation. My water still hadn’t broken, which I was thankful for, as this had started the clock ticking on my first labor. We got in the car and drove to a park. James jokingly suggested bringing the birth supplies just in case. I said, “Let’s not, then we might actually need them.” In my mind, the labor coming to a quick end was the best solution possible! The park was too crowded, so we drove to Mat-Su College campus, where our whole relationship had started as we fell in love between evening Russian classes. Driving over gravel was the worst, but even as we drove around for an hour, I only had 4 or 5 contractions in the car. We got out and walked a bit. It was VERY slow going, and I stopped frequently. We talked about my slow labor, and I cried a bit wanting desperately for one of those 3 hour labors some women have—or goodness, even a six hour labor would have been nice! James teased gently that 6/12 was a very nice number. I hoped he was saying 6:12pm, then hit him as I realized he was suggesting I’d be in labor past midnight! I remember saying that if my slow labors were due to emotional hang ups, I didn’t know why since I LOVED babies. Sniff. Sniff. :)

Just before 1 PM, I told James that I probably should go home again, since I needed to use the bathroom again. We both thank God that we didn’t do something dumb like try to find a public restroom! At home, I made a bee-line for the bathroom. Once there I felt a little pop and warm gush of liquid! My water had broken! I was at once nervous and excited—this was it, my baby would be born soon, but things might be more painful and intense and, if things WERE like my last labor, this could mean 30 more hours of labor and a transfer to the hospital. James suggested calling the midwife and I said, lets see what happens and watch a few more contractions.

James started heating lunch and I had another “normal contraction.” James suggested we time them, so I moved to the computer by the recliner. He held my hands as I contracted again. I started singing “God is so good” through the contraction, instead of moaning. But the contraction went on and on and on. James says I said, “Ouch!” towards the end. Then suddenly water was gushing. I was wearing an absorbent pad, but it just came and came and came. Suddenly I was barking orders for James to get me a chux pad to go on the floor and a towel to put between my legs and my shower cap. :) I was going to jump back into the shower to clean off. James said, “How about I call the midwife?” and I yelled, “Good idea!” over my shoulder.

Soon I was in the shower and the contractions were like waves in a storm: one on top of another with barely a break between them. I was leaning on the shelf built into the corner and groaning, yelling, and mooing with the intensity. James called the midwife but she was in the carwash and couldn’t hear what he was saying! So he called my dad and told him to send my mother over. The midwife called back and said she was heading for home to pick up one or two items, but don’t worry because she had called Stella, the assistant and left a message on her machine! James came over to the shower to see me and pressed on my back. I remember saying, “I am so glad Clara isn’t here!” Then the phone rang again. And he left me while I yelled, “Don’t leave me! Don’t leave me!” It was my mother asking if she should wait to come since she was in a crowd of Christian friends who might suspect what was up if she made a quick exit. She paused in the middle to try to figure out what that noise was (Me hollering) and said, “Do you need to get back to Andrea)?” He said, “Just come, I don’t think it matters now!”

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I really didn’t know how long I would be in “active labor.” The “books” said 2-4 hours. I had suddenly felt like moving to all fours in the shower. James came over to see me, and I felt a little push at the end of my contraction. Since with Clara, I had been medicated at this stage, it was a completely new feeling, but there was no mistaking it! I told James, “My body is pushing!” My midwife called back to say she was stuck in construction traffic. James calmly said, “Well, then you better tell me what to do, because Andrea feels like pushing.” The midwife directed James to get me out of the shower and lay on the bed on my side. Somehow I waddled into the bedroom to follow the instructions, but I called for James to get the quilt off the bed first!

All of the birthing supplies were in a couple of boxes in the corner of our bedroom. I had intended for the midwives to set them up where they wanted them. Now there was no time for that! James laid a large chux pad on the end of the bed and I lay lengthways on the foot of the bed, my wet body sticking to the paper. The midwife asked James what he could see. And he said, “I see a head!” Then with the midwife calmly giving instructions over the phone, James relayed instructions on pushing (to hold my legs and tuck my tailbone into the mattress) and applied olive oil and a cloth to support me and keep me from tearing (I had to send him flying around the room looking for the olive oil and there were supposed to be hot compresses in a crockpot waiting for this stage, but the midwives hadn’t been here to prepare it! He got to watch the miracle of Lydia’s head being born (no mirror for me this time!) and the natural rotation of her head as her shoulders prepared to be born. He checked her neck for a cord and gently loosened it then helped her shoulders birth, one at a time. With one final directed push from me (the only “on purpose” push of my labor), Lydia was born and her daddy knew we had a girl. “Oh Andrea,” is all he said.

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James handed her up to me on my tummy. Her slick body slid, but we both caught her, and I sat up to hold her better. She was rather blue and had not taken her first breath yet. We were both calm as we knew that the umbilical cord pumped oxygen rich blood into her system. We gently rubbed her, spoke to her and (eventually) I blew a little on her face until she took a little breath and made a little cry. We kept rubbing her and stimulating her as she was just a tad floppy. The front door opened and someone came up the stairs. My mom walked in. She was shocked to see us sitting there with a baby in our arms! She ran down the hall to wash her hands, then came back to help us rub her. Lydia was making stronger cries now and acting much more alert. Mom asked, “Is it a boy or girl?” I checked for the first time. “It’s a girl!” “What time was she born?” I laughed. Who had been watching the clock? 2:15 PM we guessed (official time was 2:17 by the midwife’s car clock)—just about an hour from the time my water broke!

The door opened again and another person came up the stairs, James walked out to see Stella, the apprentice midwife, had arrived. James said, “Hi, nice to meet you. Come meet my daughter.” Stella set to work assessing Lydia and me, checking my blood loss and Lydia’s heart rate. By this point we were laying down and Lydia had started nursing. A little bit of me felt like I had been hit by a train. I felt exhilarated and happy to be holding my baby in arms, but sore and achy too. I thought the relief of being done with the pregnancy and birth would mean I felt terrific, but I had a little ways to go! A few minutes later I birthed the placenta and we discovered that it had an extra triangle shaped lobe on it, meaning it was extra large. That plus my big baby (9lbs 12oz, 21 inches) meant that I was bleeding more than I needed to.

The midwife arrived soon. They were dosing me with bitter herbs, homeopathic remedies, and (eventually) two shots of Pitocin in the legs and a few Methergine pills to get me to stop bleeding. Eventually I did before it became necessary to transfer to the hospital. My midwife repaired a bit of tearing. The umbilical cord was cut after an hour (the placenta lay on the bed next to me for a while). Lydia was weighed and measured and given a newborn exam to check for the infant reflexes and any abnormalities (there were none). We both got into a warm herb bath together to help speed our healing. I was given a clean nightgown and settled into a clean bed to rest with my baby.

Then I had all the time in the world to reflect on the beautiful gift we had been given—an amazingly perfect little girl born completely naturally into her daddy’s hands. Through my ENTIRE pregnancy, I had had not one internal check, and didn’t have to lay flat on my back for that particularly painful (or discouraging) exam during my labor either. In my 17 hours of labor, I had no one fussing over me to check hear tones with a Doppler. I didn’t have an IV or any drugs or interventions of any kind. I birthed a baby. I feel so strong, capable, whole, and thankful to God for this gift of healing He’s given me. I will never doubt my ability to birth again!

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Photo by Katie Cannon when Lydia was 2 Weeks Old

I love my midwife. If I am blessed with the opportunity of giving birth to another blessing, I will do my best to have my midwife attend my birth. I asked James if he wanted to catch another baby (with my midwife there in person!), but he said, “Nah. We’ve had this midwife for two pregnancies so far, and she hasn’t caught any of our babies. If we go for three, we’ll let her catch that one!”

Happy 3 Month Birthday, Little Girl!

7 comments:

  1. One more disclaimer: I do not want to say for a second that I do not support hospital birth, medicalized birth, dopplars, or anything mentioned in this blog. This story is about ME not anyone else. I was blessed to have a safe birth while having my body's ability to birth affirmed in a powerful way. I will always choose to have a medical professional at my births to help guide and support us to a safe outcome. This birth just had a few fun surprises thrown in. :) God was in charge, and He gave us a ride we won't soon forget!

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  2. What a beautiful birth story (and baby!). Congratulations!

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  3. Thank you for sharing your story! It really is amazing to see how God works through the situations in our lives. He is good!

    Your baby girl is so beautiful!

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  4. LOVE LOVE LOVE! I'm soooo glad you got the birth of your dreams! What an answer to prayers. Thank you for the reminder of how much God cares about the details!

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  5. I love it!!! i love birth stories!! i'm still excited for you and James! God is so good. SO many prayers were answered when Lydia came into this world. Thank you for sharing Andrea!

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  6. Ooooh..awesome birth story!! Thank you so much for sharing it. I'm happy to have met you through the "blog-world" and I'm enjoying your blog. We seem to have quite a few commonalities as well. I was happy to see that you belong to the church of Christ. While our family is currently homechurching, we still consider ourselves to be with the church of Christ.

    Take care,
    Janice from SAHMville

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  7. beautiful story, thank you so much for sharing. so thankful you were able to find healing. and james just cracks me up with his commentary! you are a lucky woman with two beautiful little girls!

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