In which I finally overcome my fear of giving birth and the Lord was faithful until the end.
Our sweet baby daughter Willow is one week and 2 days old today and I want to write down the details of her birth before they become foggy. Giving birth has been a touchy subject for me over the years and with past births fear has gripped and overwhelmed me and I have asked for epidurals before even having a painful contraction. I chose pain relief out of fear and not because I was actually in much pain. But this is a topic for another post perhaps. This time I really wanted to have a natural birth without an epidural – I believed this would be best for me and my baby. I spent the last month of pregnancy mentally preparing myself by reading articles and positive natural birth stories and listening to podcasts and periscopes from the natural birth and baby care website. I also memorised Isiah 41:10 along with the children because it was their memory verse. And this verse rolled around and around in my head the entire time I was in labour:
So do not fear for I am with you. Do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
I was overdue and booked into the hospital to have an induction at 41 weeks and 2 days pregnant. I really didn’t want to be induced this time and was hoping and praying I could avoid it. At 41 weeks along I was startled out of my sleep at 6am with the first contraction that made me think “ouch!” I had been having ‘practice’ contractions for weeks but this was the first contraction I’d felt that made me feel like I could actually be in labour. We continued on with the days plans of going to my scheduled doctors appointment and doing a little grocery shopping. It was school holidays and Luke had already started his three weeks off of work. Luke buckled all the children into the car for me and dropped me off at the doctor while he took our four kids to the library.
I had a few mild contractions while waiting for the doctor. When I saw her she checked me and said I was 2cm dilated and did a stretch and sweep. It was nowhere near as bad as I was anticipating it to be. She sent me to the hospital to be hooked up to the CTG machine for a while. I dashed into the supermarket first and bought heaps of snacks because it was nearly lunch time and there was no way I was going to sit in a hospital room with all our little ones without lots of food. We all sat in the delivery suite and watched the CTG machine measure baby’s heart beat. The children were quite entertained. Francis says “I’m really glad I’m not a girl.” Then he looks at Savannah and says “you are going to have a baby come out of you too one day” Holly dropped half a packet of rice crackers on the floor and the boys laughed and said that, “this is so much fun we’re having a picnic!” Oh they are funny!
We made it back home again and I made sure I ate a big lunch. I wanted to make sure I had enough energy to get me through the next few hours. I was still having contractions coming every 10 to 15 minutes – some I had to breathe through but I was still feeling pretty relaxed at this point. We settled in at home and I had a big rest on the couch after finishing off packing my hospital bag.
After the tea and bedtime routine we kissed and tucked everyone into bed and Luke and I settled on the couch with a big screen movie with our projector. I became increasingly uncomfortable during the movie. I kept sitting up and down and changing positions or I would get up and pace around the lounge room. We timed the contractions for a couple of hours on an app on Luke’s phone. They were coming around 7 minutes apart. I was needing to stop and breathe through the contractions and was getting a little hot and sweaty. At around 11pm we decided to call our babysitters to come. A lovely lady from our church and one of her lovely adult daughters. Luke drove me to the hospital and I had a few strong contractions in the car on the way there – thankfully only 25 minutes away.
When we arrived at the hospital it was the usual routine of being hooked up to the CTG machine. Our baby’s heart rate dropped with every contraction, which seemed to worry the midwife a little and so began a night of continuous monitoring. I was in labour all night long. At one stage the doctor was called in and gave me a round of fluids through the drip to see if that would help baby’s heart rate. I asked to sit in the bath but the midwife on duty said she ‘didn’t like doing baths’…I tried really hard to not get upset. I then asked to get in the shower for some pain relief but she couldn’t get the wireless monitors to work. So I sat on the birthing ball but baby’s heart rate seemed to drop more during contractions when I was in this position. Again I tried to stay positive and upbeat but I was beginning to tire. Luke was right with me the whole time and kept bringing me cups of coconut water to sip between contractions. I was a bit annoyed that my labour was taking so long – I was sure it would be quicker this time seeming this was my 5th baby.
Around 7am the next morning the contractions were strong enough that I was letting out a little moan with each one. They hadn’t come any closer together though – still about 10-15 minutes apart. Then by 8am the contractions disappeared. Luke fell asleep next to me in the chair, his head resting against the bed. The midwife had disappeared to the next room because another lady had arrived in labour and was clearly about to push. (She was SO loud) I had to go to the toilet so without the midwife’s consent I pulled all the cords out of the CTG machine and let myself lose! I was ready to throw those monitors out the window by that stage. I layed down on my side and attempted to doze off for a while whilst listening to the lady next door screaming and using the F-word quite liberally.
I woke up to that beautiful sound of a newborn crying. Only it wasn’t my baby. That was it – I officially lost the plot. I started blubbering and crying my head off, the more the baby next door cried the more I cried. I had been awake all night in labour, I was tired and losing it. One of the other midwives came in to write some notes and saw me in my state on the bed. She asked me if I was okay. I half nodded and shook my head at the same time and managed to blubber “it’s the baby crying. The baby wont stop crying. It’s not my baby. Where’s my baby??…” And I would cry again.
They rang my doctor and it was decided that she would come back and break my waters to see if it would help get things going but all the midwives were busy with the other lady who was apparently losing a bit of blood. So the doctor wouldn’t come until 12pm and we were ushered into another quiet room (away from the baby) so we could get some quiet rest before the doctor came.
While laying in the next bed I had a few whopping contractions that made me want to leap out of the bed. I had to moan through them and grab onto Luke’s arm. They kept coming every 7-10 minutes again so I sat up on the birthing ball and while leaning forward onto Luke’s lap. I started moaning like a cow. Thankfully baby’s heart rate got more consistent with the overnight readings so they had let me go without the monitors for a while. I kept going to the toilet every 5 minutes and was feeling more and more uncomfortable. I got in the shower in the room we were in and worked through more contractions in there whilst still moaning through each one. Luke stood nearby in the bathroom still supporting me. The hot shower was so soothing on my back, it was just what I needed. In the shower I would go from thinking “I can’t keep doing this” then I would try to snap myself out of it and think “I’ll never have to have that same contraction again and every contraction is bringing me closer to my baby” I imagined my cervix stretching and tried to imagine what my baby’s face would look like. I realised if I wanted to do this without an epidural I would have to stay positive. I didn’t know it at the time but I was in transition labour and by 11:30am I was fully dilated.
The next hour was a blur. We went back to the delivery suite. All I remember is me pushing in lots of different positions, at first I pushed standing up, and the doctor was touching me way too much and I snapped at her to leave me alone. I would push and the doctor would ‘stretch me’ trying to get the baby’s head in the right position. I’m not quite sure what she was doing down there but it was more painful than the contractions and I firmly asked her to stop, which she did. After pushing for an hour, my baby’s heart rate was dropping very low when I had contractions and the the doctor declared that the baby needs to come out quickly! She put the ventouse suction cap on my baby’s head. By this stage the room was full of midwives and two doctors I had my eyes closed the entire time and I was wailing like a baby. I remember crying out loud “why is this taking so long!!” I had a few almighty contractions where my body just took over and her head came down the birth canal. I gagged and was moaning very very loudly. I think I won the screaming contest with the lady next door. I had wanted a quiet calm birth but I couldn’t help it I had to scream. At times it was a triumphant scream rather than a scream of pain. Anyhow, I screamed. I screamed the baby’s head out and with only one little push came the glorious feeling of the rest of her body slipping out with ease.
I’ve started welling up with tears as I write this because that feeling directly after your baby comes out is something I can’t explain in words. My baby is here! She was placed up on my chest. I held her and Luke and I shared a moment in awe of our beautiful new daughter and the miracle that God had preformed before our eyes. She was perfect. She didn’t make any noise and was pinking up nicely. The doctor gave her a check over and gave her an agar score of 9. Relief swept over me and all the pain was gone.
I praise God for the blessing of our new daughter Willow. I have watched her grow in my belly and I am so thankful for her. She is very precious to us. I feel like I have a special bond with her as she is the 5th child in her family and I am also the 5th child of my family. If my parents hadn’t decided to have a 5th baby I wouldn’t be here. Willow is a blessed baby, she is supposed to be here. I am so thankful that Luke and I said yes when God spoke to our hearts about having another baby. We named her Faith as her middle name because it took faith to say yes to having another baby when at the time it didn’t look like we could ‘afford’ another by a worldly point of view. But during my pregnancy God has blessed Luke with a new aged care job with better hours and we were even able to move to a bigger house. With a thankful heart we welcome these little ones into our home.
How can you say no when God wants to give you this