Moshe's little feet
We thank Yahweh for a beautiful, peaceful birth of our little son Moshe exactly 4 weeks ago today!
I seem incapable of writing a short birth story. Although it's been weeks, I remember every detail. Most of those details make it into my story. Some do not. Use your imagination if you wish! ;)
Friday... the end of another work-filled week. Even though I'm tired, I give a hearty effort to have a productive day and be ready for a restful Sabbath.
This particular Friday, January 22, I am on my feet and busy about the house since our alarm went off at 4:50am. Our youngest child, Ruth, is turning 2 the next day, and Joshua's parents are coming for lunch at our house. Such excitement!
The children and I make a pumpkin sheet cake and a poppyseed chicken and asparagus casserole for tomorrow's birthday meal. We do our usual school work, laundry, cleaning... and everything else. By the time dinner is served and the kitchen cleaned up, I'm exhausted.
"I'm SO glad it's Sabbath!" I remark to Joshua, and he readily agrees. After playing with the kids for a while, we brush their teeth and send them off to bed. They were worn out, falling asleep quickly.
I drink several bottles of water. I must be dehydrated, because these Braxton Hicks contractions are rather strong...
I suddenly realize that I've been up for 14+ hours and haven't sat down, aside from dinnertime, a single time all day. I'm not surprised that my body feels so achey... a warm shower sounds like a good ending to the day.
As I comb my freshly-washed hair, I look at the clock. "Honey, what do you think about just heading to bed right now?"
"Well... it's only 7:15. I don't want to go to bed quite this early... How 'bout I read to you?"
Joshua and I snuggle close in our bed and he starts reading from The Promise-Plan of God by Walter Kaiser. His reading is interrupted with my questions, and I soak in explanations of systematic theology, covenant theology, and "promise plan".
But my mind is wandering. Another contraction? I really need to go drink some more water.
I go back to giving my full attention to the book, trying to comprehend what Kaiser is saying. Oy. I understand things much more quickly when I'm reading it with my own eyes!
And I'm so tired...
These contractions are noticeable, yet mostly painless. Regular, yet so far apart.
Maybe I am in labor.
And if I am in labor, maybe I will be giving birth in the next couple hours! (Ha, ha. My previous labors have been 7 hours, 3 hours, and 85 minutes long.)
But... I'm probably not in labor.
"Tammy? Are you awake?" Joshua's voice pulls me from my fuzzy sleepyness.
"Ummm. I think... I fell asleep. Maybe we can read more tomorrow..."
I get up from the bed and head to the kitchen, drinking a bit more water.
Maybe I just need to walk around the house a little, and these silly Braxton Hicks contractions will subside. I wander between the kitchen and living room, tidying random objects and putting away the clean dishes I had washed earlier in the evening. But nothing subsides.
Rats. I am too tired to be in labor right now.
It's 9:30 pm, and Joshua puts aside his book. "Well, I'm going to bed."
It's 9:30 pm, and I'm feeling confident enough to break the news. "Ummm, Honey? I'm sorry, but I think I'm in labor right now."
Joshua's reaction is, of course, excitement! He suggests I call our midwife, and hops in the shower.
I call Charlotte, our midwife, at about 10 pm. My contractions are very regular (3-4 minutes) but not very long and I can still easily talk through them. I'm definitely in labor, but it's all so mild.
Maybe I'm one of those women who can dilate to an "8" without much pain! Wouldn't that be nice! Whee... what an easy labor.
I assure Charlotte that there's no immediate hurry to get here, but that I would like her to come soon since she lives an hour from our house. I convince Joshua to go to bed and get some sleep, telling him I will wake him when I need to.
I putter around... drinking my beloved pregnancy tea... pulling out the box of birth supplies... and getting more and more tired.
I sit on the couch with my hot mug of tea, relaxing. I can still sit calmly through contractions, unlike any of my previous labors. So strange!
So nice, in one sense, to be in labor but remain composed and carry on conversation as normal. But not as nice when I realize how very tired I am getting...
Charlotte arrives with two assistants at 12:30am. I feel embarrassed as I let them in.
I look normal. I'm acting normal. I'm not in any great pain, even during contractions, which come steadily. Will they think this is all in my head?!
I close the bedroom door where our other three children are sleeping. The apartment is dim, and we all speak softly.
The midwives bring in lots and lots of stuff. Suitcases of stuff. Oxygen tanks. Fishing tackle boxes. And then pillows and sleeping bags!
They take my blood pressure, and we talk about how I'm feeling. Joshua gets up, and we listen to the baby's heartbeat. Lying down, the contractions are stronger than when I'm up. Charlotte says that some labors do produce stronger contractions (and thus progress faster) when the woman lies down.
Our apartment feels packed with stuff and people. I feel like everyone is waiting on me. I've called all these people here... now, I'm supposed to be having this baby.
My contractions aren't getting any closer, and all I feel is pressure (emotionally). They've only been here 10 minutes, but I can feel myself getting tense... and I know this isn't a good sign. I need to retreat.
"I think maybe Joshua and I should go to bed and try to get some rest before things really pick up."
Everyone agrees, and the midwives roll out their sleeping bags on the carpet as Joshua and I head to our bedroom. As our door closes, I sigh.
"It feels nice to be in here, just the two of us. I need to forget that anyone else is even out there."
Joshua and I lay down together. I again convince Joshua to get some sleep. "Just because I'm in labor doesn't mean everyone else needs to miss a whole night's sleep!"
Joshua does sleep... and so do I. My contractions are waking me up, though. I'm so exhausted that I fall asleep for a few minutes, waking midway through the now-painful contractions. Waking is disorientating and I reach the point where I cannot relax at all lying down.
It's nearly 2:30am, and I'm pacing the tiny floor space in our bedroom. I place my hands on my hips and sway through each contraction. I'm trying to be quiet, as Joshua's breathing tells me he's truly asleep. Our living room holds two sleeping midwives. Another is sleeping on the floor in the dining area. And three children are asleep in the second bedroom.
I'm surrounded by sleeping people. Ahhhhh!!!! I need... more... space.
More contractions. More swaying. More trips to the bathroom.
The house is so quiet. The clock is moving so slowly.
Why in the world did I ever want to have a home birth? I could be relaxing in a hospital bed right now... oh, this is crazy. I'm so tired and these contractions really HURT. Abba, help me...
Surely I'm getting close. I think I'll ask Charlotte to check me. I'm probably, like, 7 or 8 centimeters by now.
I timidly wake Charlotte, and she is happy to check me.
"You're 2 or 3 cm... fully effaced... you're doing great!"
Oh, my. I should NEVER have asked.
Two or three??!! That is SO not possible. I could be in labor for days at this rate. I mean, I know that, like, getting to a "7" usually means you're getting close, almost there. Getting to a "2 or 3"? People do that before labor even starts.
I smile. "Okay. Thanks for checking me. I'm gonna go back to bed."
I do go back to the bedroom, but I don't climb into bed. I pray, and pace as best I can, and try not to look at the clock, since it seems like it changes so slowly.
Two or three... I guess I have some work ahead of me. Probably a lot of work.
But I only make it another 25 minutes before I wake Joshua.
"Honey, I need you. My contractions are really strong. Charlotte checked me at 2:45 and said I was 2-3cm. I just need to lean on you and hug you..."
Joshua, sweet man that he is, hugs me and holds me through a contraction and then we leave the stuffy bedroom for the living room.
I sit on the couch between contractions. During contractions, I pace the floor. I wake Charlotte, have a contraction, and feel my water breaking, all at once. I run to the bathroom, and the cotton bath mat makes a nice sponge as I stand through more contractions, holding onto the door frame and Joshua.
At my request, Charlotte checks me again, and has much better news than she did 45 minutes earlier. Eight!
The midwives pull out chux pads and stuff to cover our couch/carpet, and Joshua and I go to the living room again. I soon feel a little "pushy", but wait until my body feels completely ready before giving in. My water breaks again (the rest of the way?) as I push.
I give birth standing/squatting, holding onto Joshua, very similarly to how Ruth was born (except this time we have a midwife to catch the baby!). I love that the midwives stay back, out of our way, and just let us have our baby...
The relief of feeling the warm, wiggling body has me exclaiming "Oh, our baby! Our little baby! Oh... look at him!"
What bliss to lie back against the couch, holding a tiny baby boy... who we called Moshe Paul. We praise Yahweh for His strength, care, and blessing in our lives!
Moshe sleeps, surrounded by his wild and loving siblings!