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!
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
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!