Saturday, February 16, 2013

Asher's Birth Story

This story probably starts a good 3 weeks back, when at 39 weeks gestation, Asher decided to get into a very dangerous oblique position (with feet presenting) which meant I spent a weekend in hospital. I was sure it was from me hurting my back the week before and all the strange stretches I was having to do to relieve the pain. Thankfully she had moved to a "head down" position already on the Friday night and on Monday the doctor's (slightly reluctantly) discharged me. They would have preferred to have induced labour while I was there in the fear that she may move into a bad position again (with us being almost an hour and a half from the hospital). So we were very thankful when I headed home on the Monday.

On the Friday evening I was having to face the possibility of an emergency C-section over the weekend (if my waters broke while she was in that bad position) or an induction and hospital birth on the Monday. So this was really when the Lord started working in my heart and helping me to trust Him even more. It was such a blessing to have Brendon and Sandy (my midwife) supporting me on that Friday afternoon as we discussed things with the hospital staff - and I was just overwhelmed by God's peace through it all. Already then I could testify to the peace that is promised in Philippians 4:6-7 "which surpasses all comprehension" as I gave all my concerns to God and thanked Him for all His provision and care.

I remember getting to my due date (31 Jan) and my sister Michelle asking if the baby was perhaps waiting for her birthday on the 15th of Feb. My response to her was "don't be mean" as we were ready for this little one to arrive from 37 weeks when we rearranged our home to set up the birthing room. Little did I know at that stage that this baby would in fact wait until just after Michelle's birthday to make her arrival.

God was so faithful in those extra weeks of waiting. Every night before bed Hannah would hug my tummy and pray that the baby would be born "soon" or "tonight". At our family prayer time before bed Ruth would pray every night that the baby would be safe and that the birth would go well. There were also some special prayers from Brendon that warmed my heart. Something like "May the birth go well and be a really special experience for Belinda" and another one that had something about "the joy that having a baby in the home will bring to us all." Now looking back I can thank God for those extra weeks and the blessing of hearing those prayers and having all those prayers said for the baby and the birth. I know as the waiting continued there were more and more friends all over the world who were eagerly awaiting her arrival and that also contributed to even more prayers being made for her and the birth. I thank the Lord for that and for answering all of those prayers.

Once we were over that "due date" and the expectations that go with it - we started looking more into different natural options we had for "helping things along". I have a friend who is a physio and also does acupuncture - so she got onto regular acupuncture session with me from a couple of days before due date. I also started taking Evening Primrose Oil and then when I got to 41 weeks Brendon and I agreed that having  "Stretch and sweeps" would be a good idea as well as getting onto homeopathic medication. All of these things were ways of encouraging things to get going and helping to get my body ready. Any one of them might have been enough on it's own - but none of them is going for force labour before the time is right. I won't go into all the details of that last week as I have written about it here. It was a long drawn out latent phase and meant Brendon spent the whole week at home.

Again - looking back at that week it had it's challenges when we went through it and I again had to learn to trust the Lord at a deeper level. I knew that going into the labour I was much closer to Him and far more reliant on Him. It was a really good place to be emotionally - totally trusting in my Heavenly Father who I know cares for me beyond words. The week was filled with other blessings too. One major blessing was that Hezekiah grew up so much. He learnt to accept help from others (instead of me) and I can see how much that helped him to adjust to Asher's arrival.

So after that long week we got to Friday and had one good "last effort" on all our natural "induction" helps. I suspected that again I would have a very active night of contractions and I was at peace about the fact that we may just not get to established labour again. I knew I had Saturday and Sunday to rest before the induction that was booked at the hospital on Monday - but was also hopefully that this final effort would be enough.

During dinner the contractions started up. Again - not regular - but strong enough that I had to stop eating and just focus on breathing through them. Ruth is very aware of things and at one point she was talking to me and just stopped when the contraction started. Dear Hannah stayed totally oblivious though and at one stage Brendon had to explain to her why I was not answering her question. Rachel went off to Youth Group after dinner and specifically asked Brendon if he had the leaders cell phone number so that he could call. She did NOT want to miss the baby's birth after such a long wait.

I had thought that once the children were in bed Brendon and I would sit and watch something. That idea went out the window though as by 7:30 the contractions were getting more regular and needing more of my attention - feeling a lot stronger than any I had had previously in the week. I suggested Brendon start filling the pool. This was probably our last shot at using it - so why not get it ready even if we ended up not using it tonight.

I was thankful that the Youth leader had offered to drop Rachel off after Youth as by 8:45 there was no way I was going to let Brendon go out - even for 10 minutes as the contractions were coming more regularly and he was just such an amazing support to me through them. Rachel did not bother going to bed and by 9:30 the contractions were coming less than 5 minutes apart so we called Sandy to come over. We had told her earlier that things had picked up - so she was waiting for the call. When she arrived at 10pm things had picked up even more and the contractions were about 3 every 10 minutes and lasting for 45 to 60 seconds.
10:28 Brendon was an amazing support

By 10:20 I finally got into the pool. I had been really comfortable up to that point but realized then how nice the pool was. It was so nice to just move around easily and get that bit of support from the water. I was feeling really relaxed and not tired at all. I even asked Brendon to take a few photos in between the contractions. The contractions had definitely stepped up a notch though and so Sandy phoned Maureen to suggest she head over. She had almost an hour to travel - so we wanted to give her enough time to get here. The last two births I have had supa quick 2nd stage - so we can't wait too long. Half an hour passed so quickly and I was still nice and relaxed and coping well with the contractions. I had adjusted as I needed to in order to stay relaxed and allow the contractions to do their job without me adding any tension to my body.

By 11:00 I knew things had picked up again as I asked Brendon to help me with my breathing through the contractions. He was such an amazing support to me and helped me to keep relaxed through the contractions and just allow them to do their work.
11:48 Enjoying a rest between very intense contractions
Maureen arrived at 11:15 and it was lovely to see her again. By 11:45 I knew things were not too far away and I asked Rachel to try and wake Ruth. She even tried to tickle her but she was too fast asleep. It was lovely for me to feel the total clarity of mind through this whole time that I could even think about waking Ruth. I was able to talk about what I was feeling and how I was coping with it all. I think this is how I specifically need to deal with things and so it was a great help to have the energy that I had (thanks to my great supplements) and be able to stay that focused and aware of everything that was happening.
I clearly remember a contraction that felt so incredibly intense. I know that in previous labours that "transition" time was really overwhelming for me. I remember with Hannah saying "if I was in hospital now I would ask for an epidural". With Hezekiah I got stuck in that transition because of the anterior lip on the cervix and so I felt very overwhelmed for an extended time and felt traumatised from that experience. I remember saying "I don't EVER want to do this again" very seriously to Brendon and Maureen. The Lord was so gracious with this labour and it truly was a very healing experience and this was one of the major reasons for it. When I got to transition this time and had that "overwhelming" contraction - I did not allow it to intimidate me. I saw it for what it was. I remember saying "that means it's not far now". The Lord had allowed me to see it as a positive - that the birth was imminent.
00:08 - just 17 minutes before her birth

At 00:05 Maureen suggested Brendon get in the pool to help me. He had been helping me from next to the pool (as pictured above) and it was probably putting a lot of strain on his back. I had been so comfortable with how we were dealing with the contractions together that I think I was a bit nervous about changing what was working - but I knew he could always hop out again if it did not work. It was great having him in the pool though and I could relax so wonderfully between contractions. I can't remember what happened to get us smiling for this photo (unfortunately it's a bit out of focus). It's a nice one though as it does capture the totally relaxed atmosphere.
At one point Maureen and Brendon were trying to work out how to help me with the lower back pain that I was getting through the contraction (trying different things to see if they would help). Brendon had adjusted his "help" from just placing his hand on my lower back (to help me focus on relaxing) to putting a bit of pressure on the lower back when they were more intense (and it was great how I was able to communicate to him what I needed). Eventually I just decided to lie back through the contraction (previously I was leaning forward for each one - trying to keep as upright as I could). It was so good to be able to realize at that point that all I really needed to do was to allow the pain.
I knew it was because her head was moving down. So mentally I just had to adjust and let go. I had been trying to work out how to be the most comfortable through the contraction - rather than just accepting it as what was needed. Amazingly once I had realized that it felt like I only had 1 more contraction with that pain.

00:15 (Photo to the left - just 10 minutes before she was born) Another of the regular checks of baby's heart rate. She was coping so well and it's always so reassuring to hear and know baby is fine. Just two minutes after this photo was taken I was lying back through a contraction and felt my body starting to push at which my waters broke.
00:23 - just 2 minutes before she was born
At 00:18 one of the midwives wrote "peek" in the notes - so this was where 2ns stage and the pushing started. It was interesting talking to Brendon about it afterwards as I had said how my body was pushing. He said "didn't you push at all" and I could explain that if anything - I was trying to hold it back. Trying to slow things down a little. Sandy knew I had really fast 2nd stage with the last two - so had made a note to try and slow things down. She was a great help in getting me to breath in a way that could help. This photo (without flash) shows how dark it actually was with just a bedside lamp on in the kitchen. So Sandy and Maureen had a mirror and a torch so that they could see what was going on and help give me advice through each contraction. I remember them saying "if you put your hand down you can feel baby's head" and I remember just holding onto Brendon's pants and saying "I can feel" as I did not need to use my hand to know exactly what was happening as well as the fact that I did not want to let go. Afterwards Brendon said he was glad his pants didn't rip I was holding them so tight.
It was only 8 minutes of second stage but it felt like there were so many contractions during that time. I remember at one point just wishing I could have a bit of a break between them and thankfully there was one. It was probably only seconds long - but it was still a break and I could catch my breath. I remember her head was what felt like half-way-out and so it was funny to want it to just stop there for a bit - but it was a relief to just have a break from the incredible power that was taking over. I remember her head just easing out with a contraction and then I remember feeling her turn. I was surprised with the next contraction as with the others it was a matter of their bodies just slipping out - but she must have had an arm up on her chest or something as her shoulders actually needed to be pushed out before she slipped out.
00:27 - just 2 minutes old and look how lovely and pink
she was already.

At 00:25 she was born and I lifted her up out the water. I actually have a picture in my mind of seeing her little face looking up at me as I lifted her. As she came out the water I noticed the cord was around her neck. Thankfully I did not get stressed out about it but just let everyone know so that they could help untangle her. The cord was really long and so it was not tight and they could helps slip it over her head. I just thank the Lord for keep her safe and for answering all the extra prayers that went up for her over the weeks before and even through the labour (with people on the other side of the world praying during the labour).

Once the cord was sorted I could look down and let everyone know that it was girl. I remember saying "hello Asher" and it was so incredibly special. Looking into this little girl's beautiful face and welcoming her to the world. Thank You Lord for this wonderful gift of life and the happiness that she already brought to my heart within just minutes of being born. (Asher means happy or happiness).

Rachel took the photo to the righ on the iPad so that I could get a photo quickly onto facebook. There is no time stamp on the photo - but it fits in somewhere here. A really special one with Brendon.

24 minutes old
I then stayed in the water to deliver the placenta. It took longer than with the others and I did not get a strong contraction with it. I just felt my lower back was sore and Maureen told me it was probably a contraction for the placenta. This time I had to actually push a bit and after a couple of pushes that was delivered at 00:50 (25 minutes later). Maureen held it in a container out of the water while Brendon then tied and cut the cord. We used dental floss again as it makes it much easier to deal with in the week ahead than a big clip.

The photo to the left was taken at 00:49. Just 24 minutes old but so calm and wide eyed. It was just so special looking at this dear little face and having her looking back at me.

Another iPad photo taken during her time of feeding
as she changed sides. So lovely and so alert.

I then got out the pool and lay on the birthday mat (semi-reclined with a big bean bag behind me) while I fed her. With the last two I sat in a chair for the first couple of hours while baby fed and this meant my "check" only happened much later. This way I could feed her and Sandy could check me straight away. Although there was a very small tear (as with the previous two - probably from these incredibly fast 2nd stages) this time I did not need stitches (most probably because it was checked so quickly and was already seeming to come together nicely on it's own). I think perhaps if I had had my checks as quickly with the others two I would not have needed the stitches then either.
2 hours

I spent about an hour there but then moved to sit on the couch. During that time Sandy, Maureen and Brendon got started on the room. Maureen was like this with the previous births too - while I sit and feed she gets working. They had the pool not only emptied but packed away and all the "insulation" items folded and stacked to the side too. What a blessing this was to Brendon. Maureen then headed off and Sandy waited until Asher had finished feeding. As with the others she just changed sides a few times and was happy to just nurse away. It is so special to have this time. She was 2 hours old when she finally had her "check".
It's so nice to have baby relaxed when getting weighed. A good 3.77kg (the scale settled on 3.77 after the picture was taken) or 8 1/2 pounds (for all the New Zealand mothers who still think in pounds for babies).
She was 52cm tall. Hezekiah was 54cm but 3,73kg. So even though she is a little shorter - she stayed in that bit longer so that she could beat him on weight. (Rachel was 51cm and Hannah was 50cm).
Head circumference was 34cm - so just slightly smaller than Hannah (35cm) and Hezekiah (35,5cm) but the same as Rachel.
After her check Brendon dressed her and had a bit of a cuddle.
around 2:45
Another iPad photo (on the right) of this precious little one (so that I could get some photos onto fb quickly for family to see her).
At 3am Brendon had gone through to the bedroom to get something and Ruth heard him and came to him. He told her to come through and see her baby sister. She was thrilled to get a cuddle so soon after the birth. Rachel had gone to bed while I was feeding Asher as we did not know how long it would be. So Ruth ended up being the first sibling to get a cuddle although Rachel got to see her first (and be a great photographer along with Maureen who took a few as well).
3:26 - 3 hours old and having a lovely sleep.
Getting born is hard work. :-)

At 3:30 Sandy headed off and we all headed to bed.
I really thank the Lord for this labour and the healing that it brought for me emotionally. With all the other births there was some aspect where I had regret or guilt at not doing something or feeling a certain way. Even with my midwives and Brendon reassuring me that I had done a great job - there were aspects that I was not happy with. With Asher's birth I have no negative emotions or thoughts at all. I think that extra time of having to really rely on the Lord as we waited for her arrival really helped me to learn a lot about truly trusting Him. I also thank Him for how much I have grown spiritually over the last year and a half which has also helped to add to that acceptance of who He has made me and that His love and care for me are not dependent on me doing anything to earn it. I am so thankful for the wonderful love of my Heavenly Father and this special gift He has given to us.
Welcome to our family little Asher.

1 comment:

Nick and Lynn Clevely said...

Wow, what an incredibly beautiful story, and an excellent record of events. I am so glad you posted in such detail, both for yourself and your family in future years, and for your readers! Praise the Lord for all that He has taught you and led you through in these past few weeks.