Saturday, January 30, 2010

Samuel's Birth Story

Photo by Rebecca Thaden. Birth photos can be viewed here.

I was about 20 weeks pregnant with Samuel when a friend and I were discussing our upcoming births (she was due in September). We both have had homebirths and choose to birth outside of a hospital and without unnecessary intervention for many reasons, but mostly the conviction that
this was the best choice for our families. During one of our talks about birth I mentioned that I had really become convicted about how we had focused so much on me and relaxation techniques to get through labor and deliver with Lucy and Ben that we were not relying on or even acknowledging the Lord and His hand in this aspect of our lives. She agreed that there seemed to be something lacking in our approach to childbirth.

Nathan and I talked about this quite a bit, as I did with my friend mentioned above, and my midwife. We all agreed that the focus was off, and should be shifted to the Maker and Giver of Life, Jesus. Nathan and I agreed that instead of reading through relaxation exercises when I was in labor, he would read through Scripture. I had no idea how this would pan out, but knew that we had been called to trust the Lord in every aspect of our lives, even childbirth. So, this was the route we chose this time around. I had no idea what a blessing that choice would be.

Since both Lucy and Ben were “late”, I knew it was unlikely we’d have a new baby in our home before January 15th. Knowing this helped me to not be frustrated or upset when January 9th came and went. However, when we passed January 15th, I began to have a new understanding of waiting on the Lord and His timing, and trusting Him versus my own idea of how things should be…or those of man-made dates that we seem to get caught up with when pregnant.

By God’s grace, I felt great at the end of my pregnancy with Samuel. Better than I had with Lucy and Ben. He gave me more patience that I would normally have as we waited day after day for this baby to be born. I was definitely disappointed when I’d wake up knowing I hadn’t gone into labor the night before towards the end, but knew that His timing was perfect.

For at least a week or two my body was showing signs that labor was coming. My midwife, my mom, Nathan’s mom and even both of us were convinced he would be born the weekend of the 15th. After all, I would be 41 weeks on the 16th. My mom was so convinced that she and my little sister, Elizabeth, came up to spend the weekend with us. I think we were all disheartened a bit when Monday morning came…without a baby, and everyone back to their regular routines.

By this point Nathan was voicing concern about this baby’s placenta being healthy. When Ben was born, he was 6 days late (though that was likely off since we don’t know the exact date) and his placenta was already starting to calcify. Knowing this, Nathan and I discussed with Cindy, my midwife, what would happen as we approached 42 weeks.

The plan was for us to have a biophysical profile done to see the state of the placenta, fluid levels, baby, etc. As we tried to pan out an appointment time for this we ended up settling for Thursday, January 21st at 9:30am. Based on the profile rating (0-8), we would then decide on the best way to proceed. If all looked well, then we’d continue on with the homebirth plans. If not, we’d have to consider other options.

Wednesday night was like any other night for the last two weeks. After kids were down I would clean anything and everything around, and make sure all was put away. I am a bit of a clean freak, so nesting and I go well together. That night I also decided to go ahead and pick up a few essentials that we were running low on at the grocery store.

While I was at the grocery store I received a message from a family at church wanting to come over to pray with us that the Lord would allow this baby to be born before any intervention was needed. At the time I didn’t realize that a friend of ours had shared a prayer request that night during the adult evangelism class about the biophysical profile in the morning and how the baby needed to be born soon. Oh, the Lord is so good to use His people in accomplishing His will. I am still humbled and grateful that so many of our brothers and sisters and Christ were lifting our family up to the Lord.

After getting home, I put the groceries away, visited with Nathan, read and went to bed. And like any other night at the end of a pregnancy, I was up a few times to go to the bathroom.

At 2:30am on January 21st I woke up. While still laying in bed I had a contraction. Nothing new, I’d woken up many times with contractions over the last week. However, I somehow knew this was different. I decided to go ahead and get up. I went to the bathroom (again) and sat on the couch for a while timing contractions.

I did this for about two hours before I sent a text to some close friends so that they could be praying for us. At this point the contractions were still only 10 minutes apart and 45 seconds long. They were fairly hard contractions, but I knew it would still be a while. I went ahead and gave my midwife, Cindy, a call to let her know I was definitely in labor. Cindy and I agreed that I would check back with her around 6am, or sooner if contractions were closer together and needed more work to get through.

At about 5am I decided to go back to bed and see if Nathan was up. Thankfully, he was. I told him that I was in labor and had been timing contractions for about 2 ½ hours. He went ahead and got up and dressed, and pulled the birth kit out. After praying together we decided he should go ahead and call his mom to let her know I was in labor since she was going to be here at the house to watch Lucy during the birth.

I remember just being so happy and excited (even if I didn’t show it to everyone else) that we were going to finally meet this baby and find out who God was blessing us with. I was in labor – for real!

I sent a text message to most of our family to let them know that I was in early labor and that we’d update them when the baby got here. I then went ahead called my friend Annie about coming to get Ben since she was going to take him to her house during the birth. We decided she should probably be at the house between 7:30 and 8:00.

I think it was somewhere between 6 and 6:30 when Nathan started reading Scripture while I tried to relax and focus what he was saying during contractions. I still remember that the first thing he read was Hannah’s song from 1 Samuel 2:1-10.

At this point I called Cindy (or she called me, I can’t remember now) to update on how we were progressing. Contractions were about 7 minutes apart, 45-60 seconds long. We decided I’d call her when I thought it was time for her to head our way.

Lucy woke up around 7:00 and came straight to our room, just like she normally does. Nathan got up to get her breakfast and get her dressed. I stayed in bed and concentrated on labor and timing contractions (I think I timed contractions on my cell phone from 2:30 to 8:30 or later – I guess it helped time go faster or it was a good distraction, who knows).

We called Cindy again to tell her to go ahead and head our way since I wasn’t sure where I was in labor, but knew it was getting harder. Contractions were only about 5 minutes apart and 45 seconds long, but were hard.

Nana got to the house at about 7:30, and soon after that Annie got there to pick up Ben. I think they were all working together to get kids up and ready for the day. Ben had just woken up, so he got a new diaper, dressed and left. I was able to briefly say hi to Annie before another contraction came.

I remember getting up to go to the bathroom and watching everyone getting things together. I was trying to stay where Ben couldn’t see me since I knew I couldn’t hold him, and he’d be pretty upset about not getting some mommy time if he saw me. I had to actually stop myself from crying since I knew the next time I’d see him he would be a big brother and things would be so different.

After Annie left with Ben I felt the need to be up and walking around, even during contractions. This was a first for me since with both Lucy and Ben I just wanted to lay in bed during contractions to relax. Not only that, but with both Lucy and Ben I needed silence, but this time I didn’t mind Lucy running around and being silly.

Almost as soon as I began walking around the house the contractions started coming every 3 minutes and lasting 45 seconds. They were hard, but bearable. I would just stand and sway during the contractions as Nathan continued to read Scripture to me.

It was during this time that Nana asked if she could pray for us. We gathered in Lucy and Ben’s room for a sweet time of prayer, and talked to Lucy for a few minutes about how the new baby was going to be here soon. Sweet Lucy – she had been asking for weeks if the baby would be here soon. I am pretty sure she was starting to think we were lying to her.

Somewhere around 8:00 Nana and Lucy decided to go for a walk to get out of the house for a little bit while I was laboring. Since Cindy and Ann had not gotten there yet, Nana stayed on our block so that she could come if needed (she used to be a labor and delivery nurse). I think she was a bit nervous I was going to have this baby before the midwives got there. Which looking back, I can understand why. But in the moment, I still thought we had a ways to go.

Cindy and Ann got to the house at about 8:25. Praise the Lord that they were able to get there when they did. Morning traffic from Hurst to Fort Worth can be pretty nasty, but the Lord graciously allowed them to only hit one traffic spot and get there just in time.

Almost immediately, Cindy and Ann started setting everything up for the birth, checking my blood pressure, heart rate and baby’s heartbeat. I continued to walk around and labor upright.

In between contractions I was able to carry on conversations just fine, and remember being really confused as to how far in labor we were. Cindy offered to check me if I wanted, but I declined. I knew myself, and didn’t need to play mental games with myself based on how far dilated I was. Plus, I hadn’t been checked yet in labor (or during this pregnancy at all), and wasn’t about to start. I’d trust the Lord’s timing in it and depend on His continued grace to get through each contraction (something that Cindy had to remind me of).

At about 8:35 my water broke while I was already going to the bathroom (Nana joked that Nathan and I are so tidy that we managed to work that out so there was no mess to clean up). I knew it couldn’t be much longer since the baby’s head would now be putting direct pressure on my cervix to dilate.

It was at this point that the decision was made to give Rebecca, our friend and photographer, a call to head on over. She had taken the photos at both Lucy and Ben’s births, so we knew we’d want her to be there for this one as well. Nathan had called her earlier in the morning to let her know we were in labor.

From about this time on I needed to really concentrate on relaxing and focusing on what Nathan was reading to me. I distinctly remember Cindy praying as Nathan was continuing to read. What a sweet memory that is to me.

I continued to make trips to the bathroom in between contractions, and was starting to notice a lot more pressure from the baby. While in the bathroom at around 9:00 I heard Rebecca come in the front door and people talking. I was having a hard time getting through a contraction and wanted this to be over…and soon.

I went back to our room and almost immediately had really intense lower back pressure. I knew from Ben’s birth that this was the baby descending into the birth canal, and that Cindy had been incredibly helpful before with counterpressure. I asked Nathan to get Cindy and let him know that I was going to need Lucy to be quiet now (she was being her happy self right outside our bedroom door, and it seemed to bother me all the sudden).

Cindy came in and started putting pressure on my lower back as Rebecca set up and began taking photos. By 9:10 I felt intense pressure and the urge to push. Before I could even say I needed to push, my body was already pushing. It is amazing how God created our bodies to know just what to do when in labor and delivering a baby.

Almost immediately after I realized my body was starting to push, I took off my bottoms and probably said something about needing to push to Cindy and Nathan. I was standing next to our bed when all this happened, and since I was already pushing I was not about to move. So, I leaned on Nathan and pushed standing upright. Cindy called for Ann, who was in the living room talking to Lucy at the moment.

At 9:15 our sweet baby was born. Cindy handed our baby to me immediately and I was delighted to tell Nathan, “it’s a boy!” I’ll never forget the smile and look when he asked, “it’s a boy?!” I don’t know why we were surprised, almost everyone thought we were having another boy. We didn’t care either way, but were excited that our little Samuel Thomas was finally here.

Nathan went to the other room to get Nana and Lucy, and Lucy was able to meet her newest little brother within a minute or two of his birth. Since we’d shown her pictures from her and Ben’s births, and some videos, she knew babies were “dirty” (as she puts it) when born, so she wasn’t bothered by the messiness of birth…except she wasn’t interested in holding Samuel until he was clean. (Quick side note – Lucy has been saying since Christmas that she was ready for the baby to be dirty, which meant she was ready for the baby to be here. Sweet girl.)

I got up on the bed with Samuel to nurse him and delivered the placenta soon afterwards. We made some phone calls to let our family know he was here and would call back with more details later. We also called Annie to let her know he was here, and to have her bring Ben back to the house to meet his new brother.

After nursing for a bit, Samuel and I took an herbal bath together in our tub. We stayed in there for a bit, where I gave him his first “bath”. After handing him off to Nathan, I got dressed and headed back to our room to nurse him a bit more, and for his newborn exam. Lucy was able to hold him for the first time while I was getting dressed.

While nursing Samuel again, Cindy brought his placenta in to show me how it looked. Although the placenta was very healthy, it was also very calcified from Samuel being in the womb for almost 42 weeks. Both Cindy and Ann said it was the most calcification they’d seen on a placenta in a while. Ann said that had we gone in that morning for our biophysical profile (remember, it was scheduled for 9:30 the morning that Samuel was born), we likely would have gotten a 4 out of 8 rating. Basically meaning we would have been trying more intervention to get this baby here before we had to make plans for his birth. In God’s sovereignty, He chose for Samuel to arrive at this point, and definitely used his birth and everything along the way to teach us about trusting Him and His timing. Not only that, but using His people to encourage and spur us on in the faith as we waited. I was also reminded of why it is that God would have the husbands lead the family, as Nathan’s biggest concern with going late was the state of the baby’s placenta. I am thankful that Cindy was quick to point out how God had laid that on Nathan’s heart, and how the Lord uses our husbands as the heads of our households. Such a blessing!

I think we were all surprised again when Cindy weighed him and he was a whopping 9 lbs 7 oz. He looked so small to me…how in the world? I guess that would explain why my belly was that much bigger, and I had stretch marks on my stomach for the first time. He was 21 inches long and his head was 14 inches (and no, Shannon, that is not big).

Annie brought Ben home during the newborn exam, and he sat next to me for quite a while. He was very shy with everyone around, especially towards Rebecca. It was really cute.

After the newborn exam Nathan got Samuel dressed, and was showing him to Ben. To my surprise, Ben gave Samuel a kiss, then Nana and then Daddy. That little guy likes to give out kisses (unless you are the mama that just had another baby and can’t pick him up, then he is just mad at you for a little while).

Just like when we had Ben, Nathan, the kids and I all piled on the bed for family pictures. We love those first pictures of our family with a new baby, and are grateful for Rebecca’s skills and willingness to be there for each of our children’s births. We were now a family of five…praising the Lord for these blessing He gave us.

The day after Samuel was born a family from church brought us a meal for dinner. This sweet mom has had five homebirths herself, so I was excited about getting to share how God had used Sam’s birth to teach us. She told me that she had gotten up at about 2:30 the morning Samuel was born to deliver papers and had been praying for me since then. Amazing! It is both humbling and encouraging to know that from the time I woke up in labor to when he was born, we had been covered by prayer. What an awesome God we serve.

"I will bless the LORD at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul will make its boast in the LORD;
The humble will hear it and rejoice.
O magnify the LORD with me,
And let us exalt His name together.
I sought the LORD, and He answered me,
And delivered me from all my fears."
Psalm 34:1-4


Stam House said...

what a beautiful birth story, Praise the Lord!

Thanks for sharing!!!

Haley said...

That's my favorite one yet! God has a way of bringing himself glory when we get out of the way. :)

JB and Cindy said...

You made me cry! You are such a great writer. What a wonderful testimony for your family, and a "rock" on the wall for Samuel to look back at. I love you, thanks for allowing me the honor of being there. Thanks for teaching me through all of this, you have blessed me more than you know.

Memaw and Papaw said...

We are so proud of you and Nathan.
God continue to bless you. We love you.

Annie said...

We serve an awesome God! Your beautiful birth story is such a wonderful reminder of that....our family loves your family:)

Sarah said...

Congratulations! I realized it had been awhile since I had last checked in to your blog, and remembered that you were expecting again last I'd seen. How fun to open to this post--so recent and answering the question I had! So happy for you! Love the birth story.

Helen Carruth said...

God is so good! What a beautiful story and what a blessing it must have been for Cathy to have shared that experience with y'all. You are a wonderful mother and your husband and children are blessed.
We love you and want to see you as soon as it is convenient for you.

Kensie said...

This is so beautiful! And what a wonderful idea to use the scriptures. We will definitely be using this next time, thank you! And congratulations!

Tammy L said...

Beautiful! And I love the picture of you all in bed -- so sweet!! :) Thanks for sharing! Now... too bad we don't live a little closer so our boys could play together! ;)


Mommypotamus said...

Beautiful story! I love how you talk about the changes your other children were facing as you birthed this little one. Nothing ever stays the same and even though it's good it's hard to let go! (At least for me) Thank you so much for sharing ; - )