“I think I felt the urge to push this time.”
I was leaning over the birth ball, trying to focus on deep breathing through a painful contraction when I felt that familiar sensation that signals the beginning of the end.
This was exactly what Cliff did not want to hear. He glanced out the window into the darkness, nervously scanning the driveway for the expected car lights.
Holding onto my hands, he began his own deep breathing as I entered another contraction…
* * * * *
I had given birth to two children at home with a midwife. This was my third, and though I had a history of quick labors (at least from the point that the contractions actually became painful enough I felt I was in serious labor), and though the midwife lived an hour and a half away, I was determined to have another homebirth.
I had had a good pregnancy. Having struggled with some health issues after my second child, I had taken the time afterwards to try to rebuild my health. Eventually I had gotten the “green light” from my doctor. Physically, mentally, and emotionally, this had been my best pregnancy.
Of course with a due date at the beginning of September (Labor Day, coincidentally), July and August were extremely uncomfortable months to be carrying a third trimester baby. As the time drew near I grew more anxious to meet her—and to have my hot, tired, bloated blimp of a body return to normal. 🙂
One night I awoke in a cold sweat, shaking and feeling nauseated. Having had something similar happen a few days before labor with my second pregnancy, I knew this time what was going on. My midwife then had explained that I was having an unusual hormone surge in preparation for labor. She assured me that though it was rare, it was okay.
This time I moved to the couch.
And promptly puked all over it.
After this I knew it would not be long. As the hormones began to change toward the end I felt emotional and weepy, and as the reality that it was really near sank in I began to struggle with the typical mommy doubts and fears: Would the baby be healthy? Would the midwife make it on time? Would my labor go smoothly? Would I be able to handle the pain again? Would everything work out alright? Would I be able to remain healthy after birth?
It was at this time that God began to comfort me from the Scriptures with the image of the Lord as our Shepherd. Passage after passage seemed to leap off the page at me or come to my mind as I turned to Him for peace in the midst of the mommy hormone storm. Isaiah 40:11 had been particularly relevant and comforting:
He shall feed His flock like a Shepherd: He shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.
He shall gently lead those that are with young. I clung to this picture of His tender care, and when my anxious thoughts multiplied within me, His consolations delighted my soul (this verse from Psalm 94:19 had been sent me by a friend).
On Friday the 24th of August I began to have fairly frequent (though mild) contractions. I called the midwife and she was soon on her way.
But after six hours of very mild labor, my contractions weren’t getting much stronger and I wasn’t dilating very fast. In fact, it all just seemed to fizzle out around midnight. The midwife didn’t think the baby was ready yet; she would not engage and stay down in the cervix. The midwife left shortly after that.
Frustrated and disappointed, I knew I would just have to wait a little longer.
Nothing happened the next day until 4:00 in the afternoon. Mild contractions began again—a little stronger than the day before (and some of them actually rather painful), but not strong enough or consistent enough I could be sure I was in labor.
And around 6:00 or 7:00 p.m. they seemed to be getting ready to fizzle out again. I was tired, weepy, sore from the many contractions, and feeling anxious at this point. It was then a friend messaged me, letting me know she was praying for me. I messaged her back and admitted to feeling anxious and discouraged. It so happened that she was with my sister-in-law at church that night and she showed her the message.
Soon I got a text message from Robyn who wanted to check up on me. Instead of responding with a text message, I called her.
“Would you come over and pray with me?”
“Yes, I can do that.”
By the time she got there sometime between 8:00 and 9:00 p.m. the contractions were becoming more painful, but I still didn’t think I was in labor yet. I thought I was “done” for the night. Robyn saw my distress and gently massaged my back through these contractions. Cliff was asleep in the bedroom.
But the contractions didn’t go away. They became stronger, closer together, and lasted longer. After Robyn had timed them for awhile we decided it was time to call the midwife again. She woke Cliff and together they took turns massaging my back through the contractions while we waited for the midwife to arrive.
When she was still about 20 or 30 minutes away I first felt the urge to push. For Cliff this was deja vu—my first labor had been fast and furious and I had been ready to birth long before the midwife arrived (fortunately I had been able to hold off and slow it down by pant-breathing till she got there). He tried to remain calm as he and Robyn continued to work my back. My contractions were extremely painful at this point, and I began to pant-breathe (as per the midwife’s hurried instructions to Cliff). Robyn assured me everything was okay—if the baby came we would just deal with it, lol.
At long last the midwife walked through the door at 11:48 p.m.
The baby was born at 11:50 p.m.
Two minutes. One hundred and twenty seconds. That was it. But we’d made it!
I found out later that my midwife had been stopped by the police for speeding to make it to my birth, lol. But everything about the birth had worked out so perfectly. Robyn had been there when I needed her (even though neither of us knew I was going to need her that night!). She had been able to stay and witness the birth, and she told me later that had been a very special thing for her. It was for me, too. Then the midwife was able to make it in time—by the skin of her teeth!, but in time.
I got to hold Rachelle Adrienne Alloway in my arms for the first time that Saturday night.
It only occurred to me later how fitting her name was, as the picture of the Lord as our Shepherd was a continuing comfort to me in the days leading up to her birth.
Rachelle means “little lamb.”
Know ye that the Lord He is God; it is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture.