Sunday, September 11, 2011

Max Isaiah's birth

Our twelfth child has arrived.  It's a boy! That makes 6 boys and 6 girls. How awesome is that? He is absolutely beautiful!

7 lbs, 10 oz. 20 3/4 inches. He was born on Monday, September 5 (Labor Day) at 7:47pm.

His birth story still amazes me.  If you don't want the gory details, stop here. I don't know what is gross to others, I just share the story as it happened.

I've had some really intense labors. And obviously, not just one or two births. It's true that after my first I forgot most of the pain. After my second I still didn't think the pain was that big of a deal. My 3rd was like a 2 hour contraction that was so intense I was afraid of labor with my 4th. And that fear has been an issue for me ever since. Some of my labors have been worse than that 3rd one, others about the same. I tend to have my babies come fast and furious and after a while it's just scary knowing it's coming. With this last pregnancy, one of the first thoughts I had when I saw two lines on the pregnancy test was, "Oh, I have to go through labor again!"  Seriously folks, I spent time last weekend thinking "I'm stuck. I don't wanna stay pregnant, but there's no way to get this baby out without some pain."  So I prayed a lot. And I asked a lot of people to pray for me. I was praying for a pain free labor. You know, you hear about young girls not even realizing they're in labor and then they need to push. I figured why not ask? The book of James tells us we do not have because we do not ask. So I asked. And I asked for prayers about the fear too.

God answered all my prayers with this labor.  About 2 weeks before he was born I was noticing I still hadn't even really had any Braxton Hicks contractions. That seemed weird to me. I usually have tons.  But I've been drinking red raspberry leaf tea every single day for a long time now and figured maybe my uterus is plenty strong now and didn't need the "practice."  Who knows. Then I started "talking" with a fellow momys (from the email list MOMYS--mothers of many young siblings of which I've been a member for about 8 years now) who was due about the same time.  She was sharing her similar experiences of fast, intense labor and that God answered her prayers and had given her pain free labor. She did what we tried with Gwen's birth--to focus on God and praise and worship Him through the labor instead of focusing on contractions--and it worked for her. With Gwen's birth the worship time got interrupted and I never could get back to it.  But I was determined to make it work this time. I discussed it with my midwife and she was in agreement with me that we could have an awesome birth experience if we worshiped God through it.

So after first praying and asking God for pain free labor, that very night I began to have some light contractions. They didn't feel like Braxton Hicks. They felt like they were actually working, but not very hard and not very fast. My momys friend said she'd had this for about 2 weeks before her pain free deliveries, so I figured cool, I could handle a long, slow labor that let me still function throughout it. I tolerated these contractions quite nicely. Sometimes they'd take my breath away and I would have to stop what I was doing, but they never hurt at all.  Just felt like things were happening really really slowly.  After about a week and a half of this, I was dilated to 4, but still couldn't say for sure I was in labor. The contractions would come and go and never hurt and were never regular and just fit in with my life as I went about taking care of the kids and house and trying to get projects done before the baby came.

I had a list of things I wanted to get done before the baby came. It was written on the chalkboard we have up on the wall in our dining room. On Labor Day, I got up and began to work on the last two items on my list--get the fan pull done for the baby's room, and bind the last 2 of the 3 quilts Grace, Claire and I had made for the baby's room. I finished one, then cut and pressed strips of fabric to make binding for the very last one. I was ready to go sew it onto the quilt, but went to the bathroom first. Bloody show. In the past that meant we'd have a baby in 12-24 hours so I let Roger and the midwife know, then hurried to the sewing room to finish the quilt. I felt a few contractions as I sewed and figured this was nothing really. It didn't even hurt as much as menstrual cramps.  But I also knew that the position I was sitting in trying to hurry and finish this quilt was making me more uncomfortable and I needed to go relax. But I finished the quilt, posted pics on facebook, got the fan pull ready to be hung (and it's still waiting for someone to attach it to the chain for the fan), then went to lay down and rest. I was feeling really sleepy.

I laid down on the bed and slept. I would wake up, realize a contraction was ending and lay there for a while wondering what was going on because I could feel my body changing, but nothing hurt at all.  Occasionally I'd feel a big contraction coming on, lots of tightening, but suddenly it was as if I was drugged and I'd fall asleep. Then I'd wake as it ended. My awesome heavenly Father was putting me to sleep for the strong contractions!! I seriously never felt pain with these!

I had some praise and worship music still prepared on my computer from Gwen's birth. I had Roger turn that on for me, and at some point I had to get up so they could prepare the bed. The whole labor is really a bit of a blur for me since I slept through most of it. I know at one point I felt this weird movement in my belly. I have no way to describe it other than it felt the baby just jumped down into position. I glanced at the time and saw it was 7:02 and knew that now it was safe to push. We were past Samuel's birth minute.  But for some reason, I just couldn't believe it could possibly be time to push. Nothing had hurt yet, no one was there telling me I could push, I just felt I had to wait until everyone was ready. From that point on, the contractions hurt because I was literally holding back trying to work against them and not push.  But I only had a few and the pain of holding back is nothing like the pain I'd experienced in past labors.

I finally asked the midwife to check me. She said I was fully dilated and could push. I didn't believe her. She kept assuring me it was okay. Roger climbed up on the bed to support me, but then we had to wait for him to take off his boots. Then he needed support so Claire climbed behind him. I had these visions of poor Claire getting squished by her dad because I was pushing against him. I remember trying to lean forward more so she wouldn't get squished. I remember looking up once and seeing a wall of kids watching off to the side, then looking up a little later and that wall of kids had moved way closer. And I pushed. I don't know how long, but even that didn't hurt. We were all praying and worshiping as I pushed. Usually I feel stinging as the baby comes out, but not this time. And then he was here. A boy! And so beautiful! And we were done! I am still just in awe over the beauty of it all.

That night as everyone else slept, I just kept going over the birth in my mind and would have to suppress laughter. God answered every single prayer I'd had over this birth. Our daughter Faith was home for the weekend and had to leave by 8 to get back to school before curfew. It had to be hard for her to leave, but at least I wasn't still in labor! She got to see her new brother before she left. And there were so many other little things that were all needing to fall in place and they did. God is so amazingly awesome and loves us so much. He wants to give us good things, but we have to ask and be willing to receive.

I do have to say, I've asked for pain free labor before and didn't receive it. I think the big difference this time was that I focused on HIM through the labor. I asked Him to help me through, but then didn't focus on me this time, I focused on Him.  When I stopped listening to Him, I did have pain. He was telling me it was time to push and I wouldn't listen. I wouldn't believe. And it hurt. But when I re-focused on Him, the pain went away again.  What a life lesson that is! 

It makes me think of this old hymn--Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.  It's so true! Jesus, please help me remember that every day!!!