I’ll give some birth story with these photos.
For starters, it became very clear that God wanted us to birth in this village house. And in these last weeks, God was stripping off all my fears of birth so I could enter this experience with confidence that His design works and needs no help in most instances. With Andre’s birth, I knew this but I was still plagued by fears and what if’s. This was the most peaceful entrance into family birth (i.e., unattended birth) for me. And it really affected how labor went.
Some type of early labor started around Monday but Tues, Wed, and Thurs were quiet. Thurs night, early labor started but thankfully we all just went to bed and got a good night’s sleep. I awoke around 5am, which I’ve been doing these last weeks. Things were going more, and I wanted V to sleep as much as he could before all this became intense.
Around 8am maybe I asked him to fill the tub for me. These contractions were just like during Andre’s birth– and he’d been posterior and there was no comfort. But this time the water helped.
Andre climbed in with me for a while and sat by my head or played by my feet. I stayed in the bathtub most of the time.
These contractions hurt so much. And V was sitting next to me and I’d hold onto his hand and groan. … But this actually made it worse. Trying to breathe deeply and vocalize put pressure on my uterus and hurt.
One thing I learned from this birth– every other birth, I’d looked for comfort outside of myself– massage, etc.— someone else reacting to my pain with me. But this birth, I learned to find comfort with God inside myself.
A contraction would start, and I would start praying. I would relax my stomach region and start thanking God that this was good, that it was going normally, that this felt good (and it did at some points from all this!), and then just go through a list thanking God for various things. V, who was sitting beside me, actually thought labor had stopped– and I was having my toughest contractions! (But me the doula, clearly heard my change in breathing each time a contraction started– if I’d been the one sitting beside myself, I’d have known every time ;) )
Vitaliy sent the three kids to play at the neighbor’s for a few hours. And I did tell him that I wanted a C-section. Being the non-doula that he is, he said I was crazy to even consider it, to exchange a little pain that will soon be over with pain that would last for weeks. …. But still. These posterior births are, for me, so extraordinarily painful.
It seemed to go on forever, and I kept wondering if each stage of the increasing painfulness would be the final stage … please … (In all, active labor and pushing was about 5 hours, which is a lot better than Andre’s which was about 14 hours or so, not counting even all the early labor.) Vitaliy liked this one a lot better too because I wasn’t yelling/vocalizing so much– and I’d actually been practicing during my pregnancy dealing with stuff without vocalizing much, so I guess that was good.
OK, so the kids are at the neighbors, and I want to try getting out of the water. I won’t show pics b/c I had no clothes. I tried, and this was the time some sort of pushing started. It wasn’t a clear change from regular contractions to pushing. It was mixed at first during the same contraction.
I was soon back in the water, then back out. It was very disorienting and painful.
When I was more clearly pushing, I got myself to the bedroom and squatted at the foot of the bed with my back on the bed or supported by the edge of it.
The baby’s head moved up and down inside me, coming down then getting swallowed back up inside.
Finally, her head crowned. I felt the stretching and burning, but I also felt her forehead bone against my pubic bone, and it was not coming out. It went back up inside after the contraction ended.
Vitaliy, being the figure-it-out guy that he is, had been feeling the head and looking at it because something was strange. Like not a head.
The bag was over the head, and apparently the cord was actually going over the head, too, like from forehead to occiput (back). He broke the water (he said later this was emotionally hard to do–and that he wasn’t telling me everything in the moment), water released, and I pushed, buddy, with the next contraction, and her head came out! And then her body with the next contraction. How thankful I am now that I wasn’t in a place where the bag of waters is routinely broken during labor around or after 6cm– what would have happened without the bag’s cushion on the cord?!
I have never seen so much vernix on one newborn in all my life! She was pink and breathing great pretty much right away. And oh, did I feel awesome. Yes, I felt awesome right away. It was all so awesome :)
Here’s the glowing me minutes after she arrived, still at the end of the bed. Did I mention that I felt awesome? ??!!!??!!!
It was at this point also I noted that we had a girl– everyone who predicted said boy, including Vitaly. I personally have no inklings on the matter.
My parents weren’t at Skype at this moment (it was about 1:20pm here), so we Skyped with my sister in TN about the news. That was fun and fast b/c I wanted to lie down soon. I still want to lie down :)
OK, during this painful labor, this is what I was dreaming of– lying down without pain with a squishy newborn next to me:
And that is how I am laying now, too :)
I could photograph this view a thousand times.
The kids came home. Andre saw her breastfeeding his milk, and started to cry and refused to breastfeed himself. But pretty soon, he’s become quite fascinated by this baby, who he insists is a boy, and her breastfeeding activities.
We left the cord intact overnight, then Skyla cut it this morning. It’s just easier for all of us to hold her if we cut the cord (rather than lotus-birthing, which I do sometimes fantasize of doing.)
Her name is Una [YOO-nuh]. we think, though we’re not sure. And we’re not sure about her weight yet.
She looks like my littlest baby of all. Though ironically, everyone’s been asking if I’m having twins, I’ve been so big. I answer no, just one big baby as usual. And here she’s not even big! She sure felt enormous inside of me. That was one fear I had, after having two 10 lb babies– that she would be monstrously big and not able to come out. (I kept telling myself that people do have 11-12lb babies and they slide right out…). Well, we can all snort about that one now–she’s a little sweet patootie :)
I will close with a quote from my devotional book, the reading from yesterday, Una’s birth day, a fitting piece for pregnancy and birth:
You must hand yourself and all your inward experiences, your temptations, your temperament, your frames and reelings, all over into the care and keeping of your God, and leave them there. He made you and therefore He understands you, and knows how to manage you, and you must trust Him to do it. ~H. W. Smith quoted in Joy & Strength by Mary Wilder Tileston, reading for Aug 29.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
forever. Psalm 23: 5-6