Monday, July 15, 2013

Singing a New Song

Ava's birth story. Part VI of my story about birth and mothering. I had planned to write this a week ago, so it is overdue in true Ava fashion!

I was surprised at how ready David was when I got out of the shower. "Still coming?" "Oh yes! This is it." I found something to wear (not hard since I was down to two shirts that fit), got my iPod, grabbed a reference book. Now I was having to pause and bend over with the rushes. David rubbed my back for me. I could already sense that we were working together as a team. He was taking care of logistics and supporting me. I felt secure. He had made me a breakfast of a bagel with cream cheese and blueberries. I ate it all. I was hungry and I knew I would need the energy.

I called Mom again on the way. I had to pause during the conversation. The closer we got to our destination, the more intense things became. I felt I was in active labor. David wanted to know if we should skip the hotel and head for the hospital. I said no. We stopped at 4 hotels. They were all full! No room in the inn due to the holiday weekend. The last option had one room available. We set up camp. Immediately upon arrival the contractions lost their intensity. I knew this was normal for the new location and what not. I stayed on my feet, emptied my bladder, used accupressure points and did anything else I could think of to encourage things along. The rushes were still steady, just not strong enough. I again reviewed how to help a posterior baby turn during labor.

David and I were both hungry. We headed out to find food. We timed our route to the hospital. 12 minutes. I ate curly fries but didn't feel like anything heavier. Back at the hotel, I found myself still able to talk through contractions. I laid down to just rest and got on the internet for a bit. I sat with David and we kissed for a while. I cried because I was so frustrated that things were not intense enough. We prayed for things to pick up and asked God to go before us.

David told me to find my shoes. He said I needed a change of scenery and a place to walk. I said no to Wal-Mart and Lowe's but half-heartedly agreed to Michael's. We got there about 3:30 pm. I could feel the rushes intensify after walking around for just a few minutes. I tried to not give them any notice but it wasn't long before I was finding a secluded spot to hold David's neck and slow dance with each wave. He timed them instinctively and told me they were moving from 4 to 3 minutes apart. It was when I had to find the restroom that I knew my body was finally in active labor.

Now I was moaning with each wave. We picked up a kit to help me learn to knit, some yarn, a tap measure, and some pens for writing in the baby book. I told David we needed to go. The line looked too long. I went outside to call the midwife. My phone said 4:41 pm. Helen said she had been waiting for my call all weekend. She told me she was there all night and there was coverage the next day too. She didn't want me to worry or be in a hurry. I told her a short summary of my labor so far. We talked 8 minutes and I had only 1 contraction. She said to wait, just to make sure it wasn't too soon. She suggested I go back to the hotel to shower and call her back when I needed to. I agreed.

David wasn't so sure. Now I was beating the car door rhythmically with each wave. Things were finally picking up! I felt calm and confident, thankful for our answered prayer. David reluctantly drove back to the hotel. The rushes were close together again. Once we got in the room, I stood over the bathroom counter and dropped to a squat with a contraction, just like in my dream from the night before. David was VERY concerned. "It is time, Rebekah. I think your body may tell you to push soon. I'm going to pull the car around." I told him I wanted to lie down long enough to get my focus. He said to be ready when he got back.

In the car at 5:30 pm, I called Helen again. I hurriedly said things were moving along and we were on the way. She said to come through the ER entrance and she would be waiting in L&D. I called my family and told them to hit the road. David and I realized we didn't really know how to get to the ER entrance. We had planned to go straight to L&D but this was the weekend so things were different. We parked and made our way through some bushes and back parking lots. It was really quite a trek. I had to stop every 2 minutes, grab a concrete post, and bend over. You should've seen the looks from bystanders. I thought the baby may fall out in the parking lot and I guess they thought the same. As soon as a rush was over, I would look at David and say, "Let's go!" We would run (literally) to the next post, where I would stop and get through another one. (Looking back at this I can giggle.)

The ER staff wasted no time. I was on my way to L&D in less than 2 minutes. They got me to the door in a wheelchair. Just as they called the desk to get the door open, I jumped out of the wheelchair and said, "Sorry! Can't sit there any longer!" The escort seemed so relieved she could leave me. I think she was envisioning a birth on the elevator. The L&D unit was really quiet, what with it being Sunday afternoon. We were greeted with warm smiles. "So you're contracting, right?" "Uh, yeah!" Things were getting more and more intense, and fast. I was coping. Here things start to blur.

I do remember that I never had to tell anyone that I was hoping for a natural birth or anything about our birth plan. I knew I would have continuous monitoring. That was the first thing to do. Baby was great. I wanted IV access but no fluids. They were on the same page. I was in the bed long enough for a baseline monitoring strip, vitals, IV access, and a cervical check. 6 cm, 100% effaced, baby at 0 station. David and I high fived. We had accomplished a big goal of ours: staying out of the hospital until well into active labor. Helen felt my belly and said she thought the baby would weigh about 7 pounds. She told me to get out of the bed and move about. I enthusiastically agreed with her suggestion.

It was about 6:15 pm. I asked for a birth ball and moved to the side of the bed. I answered admission questions and signed all kinds of consents. I felt nauseous and shaky. I knew it was transition because the rushes were very strong and right on top of each other. Still, I was coping. David was right by my side. He was amazing. Helen and the staff were all so impressed with him.

In walked a CRNA with the apparent goal of convincing me I was stupid for not wanting an epidural. I will skip the details here, but this conversation ended with me asking to have a spinal if I did have to go to the OR, to which he responded, "Oh, if you have a C-section, it will be an emergency and you WILL be under general anesthesia and this guy (David) won't be in the room." I was shaking even more now. I signed a consent to have no anesthesia and he began to walk away. This was a serious blow to my confidence and I began to feel panicky.

Helen walked in immediately. David says she made a comment about standing up to the guy. I didn't hear her. The pain was getting to me. I was losing my focus and losing my ability to cope. I was also angry and tense. I became vocal with each contraction. A staff member walked in right away. "She sounds complete." Helen wanted to check again. 9 cm. I stood on my knees and held onto the back of the bed, rocking my hips and groaning (this word sounds nicer than yelling) with each wave. I wanted to vomit so badly, but I just couldn't.  Someone asked if I wanted my mother. "Yes. Send my mom!" I kept my eyes closed for the most part.

Mom was shocked because she had no idea that I was THIS much in labor. She stood by me as I hummed the Marine Corps anthem. "Rebekah, what are you singing?" "I don't know, Mom, just whatever I can think of." "Is it, um, patriotic?" "It's 'From the Halls of Montezuma." "That's what I thought." I could feel my baby moving down with every rush. It was so intense. I began to feel disconnected from all that was going on. When I heard people talk, it was like I was dreaming. "She's pushing!" "Is everything ready?" "Do what you need to do."

I could no longer cope on my knees. I got on my right side. Helen broke my water and I immediately had to push. I vocalized every thought I had. Loudly. I didn't mean to. I just did. I heard, "Oh, she's right there!" "We see her head!" "She has dark hair!" While these things were meant to be encouraging in response to my cries of "I can't do this!" they instead sent up red flags. "I don't believe you," I sobbed. Puzzled looks spread across the room. My mom leaned in closer. "That's what they said with Nora, Mom." She hurriedly explained to everyone what I meant. My midwife spoke. "We do not lie. She is right here. She is coming." David was to my right. He looked at me intently. "Rebekah, everything about this is different."

Someone walked in with a mirror and I demanded that they take the thing away immediately. But before they could I realized that my baby was indeed coming. She was crowning. Someone set up a fan to blow on me, since I had yelled that I felt like I was suffocating. I saw the OB walk in. She had a strange look, arms crossed. I remember saying, "I don't want this anymore."

"Rebekah! Rebekah!" "What?" I looked up to see my husband donning a gown and gloves, hands held up in front of his face. "I'm gonna catch her!" "I DON'T CARE!" I wish I hadn't said that. I did care. David took it in stride. The OB came over to my right, where David had been. "You want motivation? I've got motivation. I can do your C-section right now." I didn't know how to take that. A threat? I didn't have much time to process it. A rush...I closed my eyes and let go, pushing with all my might. Something changed dramatically. "What was that? Her head?" I looked up at the doctor who had just pushed me to finish my task. "Oh my gosh!" "You have to get the rest of her out!" I pushed a little and felt my baby being born.

7:50 pm. "Praise God! "Praise God! Praise God!" My husbands heart poured out of his mouth as he caught his brand new daughter and lifted her onto my abdomen. In an instant some switch deep inside my innermost being flipped. This was out of this world. This was my baby, hot, wet, squishy, lying on my abdomen, looking up at me. My fear and pain had melted into love and awe. I could not bask in the beauty enough. Everyone in the room surrendered to the joy.

"That was amazing! I did it, Mom!" Later that night, as I sat in our dark, peaceful room and quietly studied my baby, it all came crashing down on me. I didn't do this. I had done nothing! God did this thing! Oh, praise God! Praise God! Praise God!

Praise the God who hears!

Praise the God who cares!

Praise the God who heals!

"I waited patiently for the Lord; 
And He inclined to me,
And heard my cry.
He brought me up out of the pit,
Out of the miry clay.

He set my feet upon a rock,
He established my steps.

He has put a new song in my mouth-
Praise to our God;
Many will see it and fear,
And will trust in the Lord."
(Psalm 40:1-3)


  1. Reliving this moment brought tears to my eyes. (And laughter to my heart when I remembered you humming the Marine Corps Hymn.) What a blessed event! It was extraordinary for me to watch my first natural birth...all my c-sections having deprived me of that moment. It was glorious. You were amazing and God is so good.

  2. That was such a beautiful story Rebekah! I am sitting here sobbing and remembering so well all of my babies being born, that exact feeling of awe and wonder when they were placed on my belly, the rush of adrenaline right after the baby comes and you feel like you could do it again right then! (that must be how God helps mothers have twins!) And I remember all the crazy things I said that made everybody in the room laugh, but I didn't think it was funny AT ALL! I am so proud of you for hanging in there, figuring it out and trusting God to lead you in the paths of righteousness! He is so faithful! Thank you for sharing your story! Your writing is poignant and insightful just like your mother's! God Bless You and your beautiful family!