Sweet Baby Moses

Awful. Laboring in the car is awful. Bub was as tender as he could be on our dirt road, but each little divot still felt like a cattle prod to my pelvis. Our Chevy rolled down 82nd with me in the reclined passenger seat surrounded by pillows. I was running on toast and Target snacks after laboring all night and early morning and though I was glad to be out of my house, I was already praying to be out of the car. I shoved a fruit leather into my mouth. Shoot, here comes another contraction…chew, swallow, and “Hooohhhhhh…” at least I was a pro at moaning by now. When we finally hit the pavement, I thought surely Bub could start speeding a little bit. “Dear Jesus, make my husband go fast.” All night and all morning, I was trying to take it one contraction at a time, not to think too far ahead or explore the what ifs. But as we got on the freeway, I couldn’t help myself: Would they tell me to go home? Would they transfer me to the hospital? Was I strong enough? Did we forget anything? Would someone bring me a beer? WILL THIS BABY EVER COME?

I started having cramps late in the morning the day before. Naomi and I were at my parents’ house, and we joked about throwing me in the car and speeding to the hospital at a moment’s notice, even though we knew long labors were in my genes. It was 4 pm when the cramps turned to contractions, and I sent texts to Bub and our moms with a huge smile on my face. At home, I started the spaghetti and turned on Beyoncé to get my hips moving. Bub came home around 6, and we ate our spaghetti in a giddy, nervous daze. This was it!

First phase of labor was the long night at home. I called my doula, Jana, at about 5 pm just to give her a heads up, and talked to her again at 9 when I started to feel uncomfortable. She encouraged me to get in bed and rest for as long as I could stand it. But even with Bub rubbing my back, I didn’t last more than an hour before I had to get out of bed and labor in the living room. At my request, Jana came at 1:30 am and her presence was SUCH a relief. Bub could sleep as she labored with me. The hours that followed were so strange and exhausting. No position felt good for very long, so I moved from the rocking chair to the exercise ball, to my hands and knees, to crouching on the couch, and finally to the recliner with pillows. I dozed between contractions and tried not to count them. Every time I’d begin to breathe, Jana would rouse herself from the couch and breathe with me, occasionally tracking them on her phone. Soon breathing turned to moaning, and she helped me keep my tone long and low. When Bub got up at 6:30 Thursday morning, contractions were intense and close together, but not long enough! Common, body! I hated the sight of my own house and wanted to get a move on. After making us breakfast and taking Naomi to Grammy’s house, he helped Jana walk me around outside. And within a few laps, we decided we better call the midwife and talk about options.

One of many blessings for the day: I had a scheduled prenatal appointment that morning, and we decided we could use that time to have my primary midwife check my progress before we drove all the way into town and risked being turned away. So, into the car I went. I labored down the road, labored on the freeway, labored in the parking lot, labored in the office, and finally learned I was 100% effaced and just over 4 cm! So even though they say not to come until you’re a 6, my midwife’s assessment was “good enough,” and off we went to Tacoma. I was now hopeful and slightly energized in my moaning.

Second phase of labor: The Midwifery Birth Center at St Joseph’s! Jana encouraged me to advocate for myself and not let them do any unnecessary cervix checks. So once placed into triage, I spoke up as the nurse and on-call midwife began the assessment and was like, “Hey, Bonnie already checked me and said this. Good enough?” And she was like, “hmm, yes ok, after this and this we can go ahead and admit you.” Phew. Thank you, Lord.

My dear mom showed up while I was in triage. It was a comfort to have Bub, my Mom, Jana, the sweetest of all sweet nurses, a midwife with a kind, calm voice, and soon my lovely birth photographer/postpartum doula, Katy, there to support me. I really don’t mind a crowd when I’m in labor…you can have all the nursing students and staff there you want, as long as they aren’t in my face. Make it a party. A quiet, candle-lit party.

Now it got real. I really can’t describe it, but it was the most excruciating experience and so wonderful at the same time. Everyone spoke softly around me in the dimly lit room. My doula, my husband, and my mom took turns putting pressure on my back or holding my hand. And Jana read some scripture I had written down beforehand. It kept my mind stayed on what was true and good about the God who knew what He was doing. While I leaned over the king sized bed, swaying my hips back and forth as the pain wrapped around my core from my back to my belly, almost pulling a scream from my throat for the first time, she read Isaiah 41:13: “I, the Lord your God, hold your hand […] fear not, I am the one who helps you.”

The request I brought to the Lord most often during pregnancy was that I’d be calm and quiet during labor. I know when I get scared and stressed, I start to talk too much and think I need to give people orders, which just increases my anxiety. But I didn’t. I was so calm. I was blessed with loving support and a peaceful environment, and enough reading and discussion before hand to know how to control my breath and my voice. God was so good to me.

The first time the midwife checked me after laboring for maybe an hour in the beautiful room, I was 7 cm. I could get in the tub! While they filled the water, I tried to endure a few contractions on the toilet (optimal position), sitting backwards with my hands on the labor bar while Bub put counterpressure on my back. It was here that I felt my body give the first wild, spontaneous push. Jana looked at me with surprise and said, “ohhh did you just feel the urge?” Yep, kinda just happened on its own. “Alright then, let’s get in the water.”

In the water, I leaned back and braced my feet against the opposite side, letting the cool wet cloths on my neck calm my nerves. Bub and my mom took turns giving me fresh cloths and Jana brought out some lavender oil for me to smell. I remember Isaiah 66:9 as I was pushing with all my might and feeling ready to give up: “’Shall I bring to the time of birth, and not cause delivery?’ says the Lord. ‘Shall I who cause delivery shut up the womb?’ says your God.” Praise Jesus, there would be an end. The water was not euphoric for me as I’ve heard many women claim it to be. But with the candles, Bub’s hands on my shoulders, and Jon Foreman singing in the background, it was still better than the rocker or the bed.

Up until this day our son had yet to be named. I was leaving the final decision up to Bub, but was hoping it would be Moses. And in the midst of my pain I thought how fun for the meaning of his name to be literal: “drawn out of the water.” I mean, right?! But a drug-free water birth was not to be checked off the list for 2017, because my cervix began to swell. Oh darn.

They helped me out of the water, got me dry, and I climbed on the bed. I was hands and knees leaning over the exercise ball, gripping Jana’s hand with all my might as pushes came faster and faster. I remember hearing the midwife say she couldn’t see his head yet and I was like “Are you kidding me.” Naomi’s head was visible for at least half an hour before she came out! How progressed was I?! But I tried to stay calm and just kept moaning and pushing while everyone spoke quietly around me. In the end, I was the only one who knew he was coming when he did. He hadn’t even crowned, and with one giant push I felt my body open and heard him fall softly to the bed. Everyone gasped behind me and shuffled forward, my midwife pouncing to scoop him up. Jana’s grip on my hand relaxed and I immediately started to weep. They helped me lean back and passed my baby boy through my legs and into my arms. He was slimy and crying and beautiful. Once I was finally lying down, someone said, “so what’s his name?” I raised my eyes to Bub. He thought for a moment, looking at his son, before finally saying, “It’s Moses.”

Moses was born at 1:30 pm on Thursday, September 7. He was 7 lb 11 oz and 20 inches long. He was so small compared to his 9-pound sister! I couldn’t believe I did it and it was done. “Is this a dream?” I said with some tears and a laugh. The relief that comes with the delivery of a baby just takes my breath away, man. *Mom feels* And this time, feeling ALL of it, I got to experience a different awe for my Creator than I did with Naomi. Both births left me so thankful, broken, amazed, and feeling incredibly LOVED by the One who made me and who now has made two of my babies. I’m grateful to have two very different birth experiences under my belt.

The next seven hours were painful with placenta-delivery and stitching and cramping, but precious with skin-to-skin baby snuggles for both me and Daddy, successful breastfeeding, and prayer and thanksgiving as second-time parents. I loved chatting with the nurses and midwife (even though they had to squish my uterus every 30 minutes) because we were the only couple in the birth center for the night and everyone was so relaxed. As we finally drove away with our brand-new progeny, Bub said, “Babe…I feel so much better than when we had Naomi. Let’s go have a drink!”

I almost said yes.

 

 

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