Monday, June 3, 2013

Jethro's Birth Story

40 weeks had come and gone.  41 weeks had come and gone.  Here I was at 42 weeks gestation and staring down an extra ultrasound to make sure my placenta was still doing it's job and that Jethro was still thriving.  I was quite confident that both of us were doing fine, but I was not at peace with the fact that at 42 weeks I'd only had a handful of braxton hicks contractions THE ENTIRE PREGNANCY.  This is not my normal mode of operation.  In the past, I'd always had weeks of on and off contractions in preparation for the big day.  My biggest fear was that my uterus would not be ready to perform.  You can't go to game time without some warm up!  At the very end, I began to wonder if perhaps we missed a trisomy issue that would cause a lack of progression.  But baby was obviously full size and there were no "soft signs" of any problems, so it was a small concern. 

I would like to say I was a patient mama with a soft glow of Godly maturity highlighting my countenance... but I wasn't.  By 41 weeks I was ready to try to prompt at least a few rounds of contractions even if that meant not actually starting labor.  I tried a regimen of black and blue cohosh and castor oil among myriads of other "natural" ways to start labor.  I got one hour of contractions that day while I rode the quad around hitting all the bumps.  That was it.  Discouraging to say the least.  Days later I felt like I needed a break to talk to God and be alone.  So, while the kids put on a movie, I took to the quad again.  Unexpectedly the Lord confronted me with several internal issues that needed dealing with.  I felt a need to release several things that I had not forgiven over the years.  At first there were just some obvious, more current hurts that I needed to forgive, but then it was like a flood gate opened and I realized how much I was holding on to, little hurts and offenses that I sort of set aside but that were building up as resentment within me.  This was not what I was searching for on my afternoon ride but quite clearly it was something that needed to be dealt with.  When the tears were too much, I parked the quad in the back field and wept out forgiveness to, um... just about everyone.  Wow.  I didn't know it was in there.  A lot of it was forgotten to my conscience but, as it came out, the release was huge.  I begged God to forgive me for holding on to all this and was so grateful that this healing moment, as unflattering as it was, would forever be apart of Jethro's birth story.  I came back to the house much lighter internally, but with no contractions.  However, I knew that my heart was prepared to labor freely and completely when the time came. 

Two days later, at 42 weeks, we needed to schedule that ultrasound and so I gave it one more shot with caster oil and a few other "natural" labor inducers in order to avoid 2 hours in the car and the cost of an ultrasound that I knew would reveal perfect health.  By midnight I was up with non-labor contractions, really just cramping from the caster oil.  This woke me every hour or so and by 3am I needed to be up and walk around and to visit the commode periodically.  Lovely.  Slowly but surely, the contractions did begin to change into uterine contractions and I was hopeful that we might have gotten something started.  At 5am I sent text messages to my dear friends who would need extra time to come attend the birth if possible.  I said, "Just a heads up.  I've been having contractions and I think today's the day.  I'll let you know in a bit."  About a half hour later I called the midwife and talked and laughed with her that maybe things were happening today.  She had a few of us "overdue" and currently due and I just wanted to get first in line if possible.  Selfish I know.  She said she'd take a shower and eat and start to head our way.  As soon as we hung up I was hit with a genuine labor contraction and I wished that I hadn't been so "aww, take your time" about things on the phone.  I asked Andrew to fill up the tub and he got to work on that, as well as patching a small hole he found, then he called my mom so she could start coming as well.  I walked around the house trying to keep the steady contraction ball rolling in the right direction and it definitely was.  I also needed to post to facebook that I was having contractions; so many people had been praying for us and I knew would continue to do so through this labor and delivery.  I probably got into the tub around 6am.  It was just Andrew and I there.  He called my dad to come watch the kids in a couple hours.  (I knew we didn't have hours but I didn't want people there too early.)  I told the kids, "It's not time yet" and sent them to start a movie downstairs.  At first it was "laboring as usual" as I began to survive the early contractions before transition and pushing, but then some thoughts hit me that changed everything. 

Several weeks before, a friend had posted about pain in labor and how it is different than regular pain.  Labor pain is the pain of working.  It is how God designed our bodies to work with us to get our babies out of our bodies.  It isn't something to be fought.  It's to be worked with.  I had also discussed with the midwife and her apprentice about natural adrenal drops called "rescue remedy".  Essentially these help when your body is beginning to "freak out" so that you can relax and get back to work.  For example, if you started to hyperventilate or shake, essentially panic, that might be a good time for rescue remedy.  I suppose before that extreme response it might be good, too, but this was just my tiny take on it.  They told me a couple of stories where, after rescue remedy, the women were able to relax and calmly labor on for a wonderful, peaceful birth.  I realized that I could achieve the same effect by mentally choosing not to enter emergency mode and to avoid stimulating a "fight or flight" adrenal response (which I so eloquently called "freak out" earlier).  Just like when the kids are hurt and I flip the mental switch so I remain calm and thinking and can respond appropriately.  Just like when I deal with angry people and flip the switch so I'm able to respond without being touched by their anger.  I knew this would be key in laboring better as well.  I would need to identify the time when I was conditioned to respond as if it were an emergency and flip the switch from a kind of fear mode to "time to be patient and work with my body" mode. 

So I settled down in the tub, with a cold wash cloth in hand, and just felt my body working.  It was amazing.  Eyes closed, I would rub my face, neck and chest with the cold cloth through the most intense contractions, often gently rubbing my tight belly and sometimes quietly whispering "down, down, down", breathing in deeply through my nose at the beginning and exhaling through my mouth, to encourage relaxation. If I felt baby move I would pray for God to position him just right for an easy delivery.  As the contraction relaxed I would just melt back against Andrew's knees and wait quietly for the next one.  I welcomed each contraction and could truly feel it moving baby down.  Breaks felt so long between contractions but I was at peace with the timing and the work that was being accomplished.  Soon I felt the very end of one of the contractions draw out a need to push from within me.  The next contraction did the same.  The progress was amazing.  We were here, at the threshold of pushing, and I had relaxed through the entire thing.  It was around this time that I heard the midwife arrive.  Andrew stood to go greet her at the door but I whispered not to leave, she knew the way.  I heard him tell her we probably had a couple hours.  I whispered, "He's coming soon."  The apprentice arrived next and I had a few more pushing contractions.  She tried to check for baby's heartbeat to see how he was responding to labor but he's always been hard to find due to the placenta being attached in the front.  A friend who was bringing her camera with her was the next to arrive and she began setting up.  The girls popped in to check on me and one of them encouraged me, "You're doing good mom."  I could only respond that it wasn't time yet.  At the advice of my midwife I rolled over to my knees so we could insure baby's cord wasn't being compressed.  Just a few minutes later my mom arrived and I was already actively pushing.  I could feel baby moving down but, as I checked on my progress, could not feel his head yet.  Also, I had not felt my water break.  The midwife helped with stretching and guiding baby's head down.  He took his time.  His head came through broadly centered, rather than tipped, with the back of the head leading, so it was a lot of work and explains why I couldn't feel him crowning and probably part of why I didn't have any braxton hicks.  I put all my energy and focus into pushing and did not vocally express as much as I have in the past.  Finally his head was out.  I heard encouragement to keep working hard.  I had to keep pushing to get his broad shoulders through as well.  Finally he slipped out and the midwife passed him to me between my legs.  She told me to grab my baby.  I was so relaxed even though I was working so hard.  I grabbed him and pulled him up. 

For the first time I didn't feel the need to ask if he was alright.  I was so confident of the process, I just savored him and rubbed his little body all over.  He was covered in thick vernix.  I've never had such a buttery baby!  He cried just a bit and I held him in the water, trying to keep him warm and just admiring what God had been up to these past 42 weeks.  "Get the kids" was the first thing I said.  We left the cord attached until it was thoroughly done pulsing and he got all that good oxygen filled blood into his body.  I have no idea when my water broke.  I've always felt it break in labor.  In the hospital of course they broke my water to "speed things up".  With Jack it broke as he was being born.  I wonder if maybe my water broke days before as I had noticed a little trickling from time to time, but still, I felt no gush at any time and my fluid levels were good.  It's a mystery.

This labor and delivery were a pure miracle to me.  A blessing, a gift... I wish every woman could experience it.  Complete confidence, peace...  I've delivered 6 babies before Jethro.  I know that it was much different this time because of the change in me.  There is a night and day difference between home birthing and hospital birthing, so much so that it's hard to even begin to explain to people.  But even beyond that, there was such a benefit to understanding and embracing the process of birth and controlling my emotional response which affects the physical adrenal response.  God's presence was evident as he led me through the entire thing.

So, the worst parts of this birth were, first, delivering the HUGE placenta.  It was basically another small child only uglier and interrupting my time with Jethro.  Also, I believe because I had taken the caster oil before bed, and my body had eliminated all food reserves by morning, I threw off my blood sugar.  I was having severe cramping for after pains, much worse than I've ever had in the past.  I felt weak and shortly I was unable to hold Jethro or even really sit up.  I was not losing a lot of blood but I was definitely "off".  All I knew was that something was wrong.  I asked the midwife to check my blood sugar, I was sure it was low, even after eating apples and peanut butter and a scone to try to get my energy up.  In fact, my blood sugar was high, probably my body compensating for lack of food during labor.  I cancelled my order for orange juice and asked for cottage cheese (Nancy's cottage cheese THE BEST EVER!!).  Within in just a few bites I was revived and feeling great.  Cramps became a normal level, just regular after birth pain and not as frequent.  I could enjoy my newborn again and get on to all the measurements and checking him out.  He was 9 lbs even and 21 1/2" long.

When it was all said and done the midwife said Jethro was not an overdue baby and would have been fine in there another week even.  Due to the physical response I had afterward, I don't think I will use caster oil again in the future.  I think I'll trust the process and wait for his time completely.  (Remind me of this at 42 weeks next time!!).  I loved her comment in the end, "Some babies just cook longer."  He was perfectly done and has been a content, peaceful baby.

Welcome to the world Jethro Asher Daniel Nordstrom.  We love you so much!
Slow and steady wins the race.
Jethro... meaning His excellence, his posterity, overflowing, abundance... over and above!  Thank you Lord!  This has been so true of his birth and his life so far.

Asher... meaning happy, blessed.  You are so content and bring much happiness to our family.  Truly a blessing!

Daniel... meaning God is my judge.  May you always remember that it is God's good opinion and judgement that matters most.


StephanieKD said...

Beautiful telling, roomie. I love you!

SLMW8MAN said...


Lord, lift me above my own narrow horizons, that I might fulfill your true vision for me. - B.J. Hoff