The Peaceful Birth of Talitha ~ Part 2

The Peaceful Birth of Talitha ~ Part 2

Here is the promised second part to Talitha’s birth story. If you want the background leading up to where this story begins, click here.

By this point in the afternoon, the noise from downstairs was almost constant, as Chris was doing his best to finish the basement project up by evening.  Lucy had called telling us that their ETA was around 8pm, and just ecstatic to hear there was a good possibility that she might get to be around to see her nieces’ birth (we had told her before that we would love for her to be there, but also told her not to get her hopes up, as there were still two weeks until the due date. I think she prayed pretty hard!). I think it was around 5 or 6 that I went ahead and took a dose of castor oil, hoping that it might help things move along in order to have a baby by morning. We were just getting ready to sit down for supper around 6:30, when Rose arrived at the door-she thought she’d just come hang out, and check in on us! During supper, she noted that I was having to breathe through contractions pretty consistently, to which I replied that “I can still talk through these so I’m trying not to notice them”. She just smiled.  Chris ended up clearing out of the basement around 8pm (Joel finally told him he’d better just clear out-he hardly had time to finish the project after waiting so long to start in the morning!), giving us about 20 min. to sweep, dust, and start getting the bed ready, when Daniel & Lucy arrived at 8:15. Lucy assured me that she could make the bed.  By now I was starting to notice the contractions, so I took Rose to see where baby things were, and we talked more about where we were planning to do the birth, etc. We opted to “camp out” on the main floor, as Daniel was going to be banished to the basement, and we were hoping the toddlers would sleep through the birth in their own beds upstairs. One huge blessing of home birth is the ability to be flexible with the birth location! (oh, and we became more flexible as the evening wore on…)

At 9pm, I felt that release of pressure and felt the trickle that made me think my water had broken…and sure enough, the next contraction confirmed that! Now THIS felt like the “real deal”, and I knew I didn’t have much time before needing a place relax free from distraction. I told Joel that it might be a good idea for the children to go to bed (they were still super excited about the arrival of their aunt and uncle), and he caught the drift, and hustled them off to bed. Daniel disappeared, and it didn’t take real long for our living room/fireplace room to be transformed into a birthing room! Joel had borrowed a large air mattress which he set up in front of the wood stove, and Rose & Lucy got all the supplies out and in good order. I found it most comfortable to sit on the ball, as it helped to be able to move and relax at the same time.

I had always dreamed about having lovely music playing while I labored, and during my pregnancy had been very blessed by the “Sleep Sound in Jesus” CD by Micheal Card. Joel so sweetly made sure to put it on, and I can still remember how special it was to meditate on some of those lovely songs between and during contractions. The mood of the room was so peaceful, with the lamps turned low, Rose & Lucy quietly chatting in the corner, Joel holding my hand (and not minding my squeezing him…during labor I DO NOT want to be touched, but I sure need his hand to squeeze!), and these sweet songs filling the air. The one in particular that stood out to both of us was “Even the Darkness is Light To Him…the lyrics that kept repeating in my mind were “so you are safe as the light grows dim, even the darkness is light to Him…The Father above does not slumber or sleep, He wakefully watches our ways, then there’s no reason for you to weep…would not Jesus safely keep…?” Even though it was intense, it was also amazing to me to feel so at peace and at rest, after so many events, activities, responsibilities, etc. that had taken place those last weeks and months.

Time seems to stand still during labor, or at least you lose all ability to gauge time. I think I spent about 45 min. or so laboring on the ball, and feeling grateful that this time I had a chance between contractions to completely relax and prepare for the next one (so unlike my previous birth!), even though they were coming about every 2-3 minutes.  Joel would encourage me, Lucy would ask questions about labor and birth, we’d all chat for a little bit, and then another one would hit. Although I have such peaceful memories, I’m also struck with the fact that I vividly remember thinking “this is the hardest work I have ever done in my LIFE…how on earth can women forget how hard it is to have a baby?!” So there is one perspective on the roller coaster of emotions in labor! Another thing, that when I’m not in labor I can laugh about, but the one piece of instruction that stands out the most to me from all my years of working with other midwives and childbirth educators, the thing I remember is “if your lips are loose then your cervix is too”. I can’t remember who said it, but it sure is practical! For some reason, that is a point I can focus on, trying to keep my face muscles loose, and thinking about how it means everything else is loose and open, too.

Sometime between 10:15-10:30, I all of a sudden wanted to go to the bathroom. Once again, you’d think I’d know, but when Rose asked if I thought it was time to push, I told her that surely things weren’t that far yet, and that I was positive this was just a result of the castor oil. She looked skeptical, but being the sweet midwife that she is, she just said to go ahead. As I moved to the bathroom, Joel left to get something in the kitchen. Once I sat down, I felt one massive contraction coming on, and immediately needed his hand. After several extremely intense back-to-back contractions, there was that massive feeling of pressure, and instant change in tone. At this point, Joel strongly encouraged me to move off the toilet…and I’ll admit that inside I was thinking that that was a totally crazy suggestion…lots of babies are born on the toilet…and how on earth can I move now?!?  However, Rose had quietly brought in the birth stool, and when I saw it next to me it looked possible to move, which we did as soon as the next contraction was over. I can honestly say that I don’t find pushing enjoyable…it’s like the last sprint in a long race, and I wonder if I’m going to be able to do it…but within 2-3 contractions, our little Talitha entered this world at 10:46pm. Only 1 hr. and 46 min. after my water broke and active labor started-and the castor oil wasn’t even necessary!  She seemed a bit stunned, and took a bit to pink up and really cry…I kept rubbing her over and pinching her toes and telling her to breathe…Rose commented that I sure couldn’t quit being a midwife, could I? Once she gave a good long cry I held her close, and was amazed-she was no little baby, and she had a lovely head of dark hair!

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Less than an hour old here, I think!

The remainder of postpartum went well…I moved from the bathroom (seems like births have a habit of happening in the tight, small quarters of the house!) and snuggled into the temporary bed set up in front of the cozy woodstove (that night was one of the coldest we had that winter!), then Rose did the newborn exam. Even with all my determination to grow a smaller baby (her brother had been 9#), and all my attempts to eat a strict diet and exercise regularly, this baby girl weighed 8#15oz, and that at a good 2 weeks early! And no, my dates weren’t off! Big

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Yoanna meeting her sister

sister Yoanna got to come down and kiss the baby, and her eyes full of awe were so sweet as she gazed on her little sister. After some food, and an absolutely lovely shower, I was packed off to my own bed upstairs. The ladies had the house looking normal again, Rose headed home (by now the snow had stopped, and the snow plows had gone through), and we enjoyed the pampering of Aunt Lucy for the next 4 days. Having her around to entertain the toddlers, cook meals, clean the house, and take care of all the little details was a tremendous blessing, and another gift from God.

Talitha Shalom means “Little Girl of Peace”, and it’s our prayer that she will embody this name as she grows, and that her life can be filled with God’s peace…just like the night of her birth was!

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The children meeting baby the next morning

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Three little ones to nurture!

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Capturing her expressions

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Dear Aunt Lucy and Uncle Daniel!

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Less than 24 hours old!

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Mama has her hands full!

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Talitha with baby E-the one I caught just two days before my birth…this was their first time at church!

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The Peaceful Birth of Talitha ~ Part 1

The Peaceful Birth of Talitha ~ Part 1

Note to my readers: I kept thinking I’d get this story written long before now, but I finally finished it just before my baby turns one. How time flies! My apologies on the length…there were so many details that had to be shared to give the background, but if you aren’t interested in those, just wait for the actual “birth story” coming soon!

When I sit down to write out the story of Talitha’s birth, the subject that continually comes to mind is that God answered prayer. Seriously. The winter of 2015 was unlike any I have ever experienced to this date, full of stretching in areas physically, spiritually, and emotionally. In order to understand part of the picture of how so many things came together in order to make her birth the peaceful event that it was, bear with me as I give you some background to that cold February night…

My husband, Joel, has served with All-Nations Bible Translation for many years, and earlier in 2014 the decision had been made to build a training base in the State College area, just 2 miles or so from our home. It would take too long to recount the ways God opened doors for a location, permits, funds, etc, but suffice it to say that, as generally happens with construction projects, this one had taken much longer than expected before all the red tape was completed in order to begin building. Which translates into the “crunch” time beginning while I began my last trimester of pregnancy, even though it hadn’t initially been planned that way. While I was not helping with construction J, it was our responsibility to make sure the volunteers had coffee, snacks for break, lunch, and sometimes even a place to stay along with breakfast and supper. Joel had tried to get help in for this, but to make a long story short, nothing worked out-though he was able to get a number of churches and interested individuals to help with some of the food prep, in order to reduce my load. I will admit that these months were HARD. When I’m pregnant, I’m extra emotional, uncomfortable, unsocial, and ready to be DONE. To add hostessing, food prep, and all the effort that goes into that to having two toddlers to care for, all the while dealing with pregnancy issues stretched me beyond what I thought I was physically able to handle. Oh, and I should mention that our small church community (made up of about 7 families) had THREE pregnant mamas, two major moves, a house renovation project AND health issues during the last two months of my pregnancy. But God gave strength, and we pressed on, reminding ourselves that at least the construction project wasn’t something that was going to be repeated!

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How the building project looked in January…so much snow that volunteers had to be taken up the lane in a 4 wheel drive vehicle!

Besides the building project, I also was committed to delivering babies! The “last” baby I had on my radar before my own was due the end of January. When I took on this sweet couple, it was with the idea that January would be my “rest month”, as Joel was actively lining up help for the month in order for me to prepare for our baby. I also figured that since there were a solid 5 ½ weeks between this mamas due date and my own, this also should be no problem. Well…sometimes God has other plans in mind! I started getting a bit nervous about how all of this was going to work out when I began having preterm labor signs of my own around 33 weeks. When I realized that I was beginning to dilate, and that baby was settling lower and lower, we seriously reduced my time on my feet, which helped to slow the contractions. I began praying that God would help baby wait at least until this other baby came…and that baby wouldn’t come before we could do it at home. We figured out a workable plan in which I would sit with my feet up after every hour or two of work, which helped to keep things at bay, though I started wondering if we’d be meeting our baby sooner rather than later. But back to babies…the one due in January was not to be my “last” one after all! One of the ladies in our church, who is a good friend, had some things come up which made their family feel like perhaps the midwife they had chosen was not a good fit for them. While I do not normally get involved with a situation such as this (there’s often a deeper reason when a couple and midwife part ways late in pregnancy, and it’s not something to delve into without concern), we had a close relationship with this family, and felt like we needed to help them out. Incidentally, this mama was due the same week as I was, and we had been neck-to-neck throughout our pregnancies, though she was convinced she’d deliver first, as her babies tended to come early. We lined up a back-up, just in case, as there was the real possibility we’d both be in labor at the same time…

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Getting things ready for baby sister to arrive!

So all of that brings us to the first week of February. At this point, I’m still having contractions whenever I ‘m on my feet for awhile, and I’m waiting on two babies before my own can come. It’s the kind of situation where you keep saying, “Okay, Lord, let’s see how you’re going to work all this out…” 🙂 In the middle of all this, we started a renovation project in our basement…we had help to do it, and wanted to have the basement ready by the time my mom came to help after our birth, and I didn’t want to be dealing with dirt, dust and noise with a newborn, so we dug in. There were times I cried-like when the heater came on in the basement and spewed concrete dust all through the house…but the guys made great progress throughout that week, and one afternoon a sister from church came over to help me clean. After waiting about 10 days from his due date, the “January baby” came…and I felt like it was a direct answer to prayer to have a clear night for travel (no snow and ice on the road) and a straight-forward, relatively short labor, complete with a healthy baby. I felt a huge sense of relief, too, as that was one more responsibility off my shoulders, allowing me to feel more prepared for my own baby.

By the time the third week of February began, my friend and I were wondering who was going go first. I had reached that point where one is chronically uncomfortable, but so had my friend. That Sunday night she went into labor (just 3 days after moving into her newly renovated  house…talk about cutting it close!), and early Monday morning I was called over, helping them to welcome a baby girl within an hour or two of my arrival. Once again, God was gracious, giving them a lovely birth, with no issues that would have been challenging for this very-pregnant midwife to take care of! This week were also trying to finish up the renovation in our basement, as Joel’s sister, Lucy, and her husband were supposed to be arriving that week in order for Daniel to do some trim work at the ABT project. So I napped around construction noise, and felt grateful that meals at the ABT project were being taken care of by another church family who had moved into our community just the week before (remember my mention of two moves over this time?!).

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Baby E around 24 hrs old…this was the day before my own baby came!

Another aspect of uncertainty surrounding this birth also had to do with the availability of my own midwife. Our dear friend, Rose, had been involved with our previous two births, and we really wanted her for my midwife again this time. For each birth, God answered specific prayer related to her availability, and this time was no exception! She was working down in Lancaster, and while she had permission from her employer to head our direction when needed, my last labor hadn’t given us a lot of warning-and Joel was not in a hurry to do a solo birth again! I had also been hoping to have my student, Emily, involved, even thinking that at least she’d get some good practice if Rose couldn’t make it in time. But she was already committing to attending her next midwifery class in Maine, which was scheduled to take place the last two weeks of February. So we prayed, and committed the situation to the Lord, knowing that He would work it all out somehow…but not knowing exactly who would be a part of our birth team.

Tuesday night, the 17th/18th, I slept fitfully, being awake for several hours with contractions. While intense enough to keep me from sleeping, they wouldn’t get any stronger, and I kept wondering at what point I should be calling Rose to come. When morning finally arrived, I was tired and discouraged. By this time I had experienced many uncomfortable nights with little sleep and lots of contractions, and wasn’t sure how much longer I could survive physically and mentally. After so many hours of consistent, time able contractions through the night, finding myself at only 4cm was so disappointing…surely things should be happening by now! Joel was so understanding, and after giving me time for a good cry on his shoulder, he sent me for a long, relaxing bath, after which he put me back to bed to see if I could sleep. He then proceeded to tell our friend who was working in the basement to wait to come for several hours. I know this seems like an unrelated detail, but it played into the events of the rest of the day!  I was able to sleep in the quiet house, and once I woke up refreshed, Joel told Chris to come back-we found out that Daniel & Lucy were coming that evening, instead of waiting for the next day-so we needed the basement for them to sleep in!

I still look back on that Wednesday as a gift. Up to that day, my life had been so full, the schedule so tight, so many urgent, pressing things to take care, running from here to there. No time for reflection, or for that mental preparation that is so helpful when facing something like labor. Even after having had two natural births, I found myself fighting fears of a different type this time. Nightmares of having to be taken to the hospital, because I couldn’t take the pain. Wondering if I could mentally cope with whatever might come in labor. Every time I would voice those fears, my husband would remind me that they weren’t coming for the Lord, and that I needed to trust in Him, and resist those fears. Yet having a day in which to reflect, and be able to gear up mentally for labor was something I needed in order to be prepared. Joel encouraged me to take the day “off”, and he even suggested taking our little family out for lunch. It’s one of those sweet memories I have…our last outing as a little family of 4, enjoying some relaxed time together at the local Chinese buffet. Talking about when the baby might come, and the children soaking up the time with mommy and daddy.

Contractions continued to come and go throughout the day, and Joel (wisely) wondered if it might not be a good idea to touch base with Rose. He really didn’t want her to be very far away if things did start to happen! Rose informed me that she was off work the rest of the week, and was thinking of heading up to her family’s place in order to do some study, and be closer to us in case baby decided to come. I went for a walk in order to get some fresh air and sunshine (though a storm was brewing), and found contractions very strong and intense while walking, though they would slow down again whenever I would sit. Around this time, Joel and I discussed whether or not I should consider taking castor oil. While we didn’t want to interfere with God’s timing of this birth, we also knew that I was physically very run down, and we were concerned about how I would handle more DSC_0632csleepless nights should things continue. After talking with Rose again, and finding out that she was studying at a nearby restaurant, as she felt from the tone of my voice earlier that she should be close by (and a snow storm was predicted for later on in the evening!), we decided to try castor oil if things didn’t move forward on their own. The mind-body connection is amazing, as contractions began to pick up again after just knowing that Rose was 2 miles away!

To be continued….