Saturday, November 5, 2016

A Story of Grapes, Giants, and Homebirth (Part 5)

The weather was beautiful - a cool, but not cold and rainy November day.  My mom and I got up that morning, took Aviel to preschool and then decided to go eat breakfast at the Coffee Bean on Jaffa Street. 

Feasting on a French Fritatta, I noticed that my normal Braxton Hicks began to come on a bit more strong while we were eating.  A group of ladies, obviously christian volunteers were sitting inside the restaurant, and commented that I looked ready.  I was more ready than they even knew! 

After we ate, we decided to walk around City Center for awhile to see if things might pick up.  At this point, I had pretty well decided that I was feeling early labor contractions, and they were about 10 to 12 minutes apart.  Around 11 am, I thought it best to get Aviel from school, so that we would not need to make another trip in, and go home to rest. 

I called Devin and let him know, as well as the Doctor, since he would be making a lengthy drive in.  I also updated my doula, Sarah, and my friend Natalia, who would be joining us.  Sarah had flown in from California to be with us for our second birth.  I felt so blessed by her commitment to be present.  Natalia, I prayerfully asked to attend, for a few different reasons.  While I was preparing for Aviel's birth, I remember reading that in Modern/Western culture, most women do not experience their first birth until they actually go through one.  Historically, and even at present in the developing world, women were exposed to real birth through helping their mothers, sisters, aunts, cousins, and friends, go through this life changing experience.  How amazing it would have been to have been part of culture where birth was simply part of being a women, whether you were doing it or helping.  I wasn't ready with the first one, but I decided that a way to better our birth culture would be to invite a women to be with me who had not yet gone through this one her own.  Natalia was a perfect fit, because of our already established friendship, she already had a positive attitude toward child birth, and she could provide the gift of playing worship songs while I was laboring.  Since she was coming in on more than an hours worth of buses, she decided to join us rather early, and prepared to spend the night. 

Devin came home late in the afternoon, and cancelled plans to attend parent/teacher forums at work.  I felt so much more relaxed once he arrived home.  The doctor made it around dinner time, at which point my contractions were around 6 minutes apart, but not strong.  He checked me and I was less than 3 cm, so he went to a friend's house for the evening.  I felt a bit discouraged, because I was hoping that I was farther along, and just coping *really* well. 

I felt someone conflicted through the rest of the evening as to how to progress.  Should I go to sleep, or keep moving?  My head was telling me to move, but my body was telling me to sleep.  Eventually, the body gave in and I laid down to rest. 

Sometime after midnight, my contractions began coming closer and stronger, around 3 minutes apart.  Devin called Sarah and she arrived around 1:30am on November 12.  They had again slowed down by her arrival, so I went back to sleep.  Natalia was sleeping on our couch and Sarah slept in our purple papazan chair. 

We woke up early that morning, around 6 am.  I was in a funk.  My contractions had really slowed down at that point, and while I remember waking up the morning Aviel was born, and my body needing a little time to pick up again, this time, since my team had arrived to help me, I felt as if I had let everyone down, and taken up too much of their time!  I was concerned that labor was going to stop and everyone had made their way to be with me for nothing!  Boo! 

Sarah suggested a walk to help things get going.  We went to the pedestrian stairs in our neighborhood and climbed those, walking up and down the hills.  I shared with her how hard the last year had been, how hard the pregnancy had been, but also a lesson the Lord had been teaching me how to be free fro perfectionism and being performance driven.  I was born a failure, so that wasn't something I had to fear.  Yeshua did the work for me, so I could rest in that.  Something of my own words let me release this laboring processes to Him, as I realized I wasn't a show, but doing doing a job with him. 

When we arrived home, Sarah suggested that the house clear out, expect for Devin and I, so we could be alone.  My mom took Aviel out, and Natalia and Sarah met with friends separately.  I actually needed this quiet privacy to get mentally into active labor.  My contractions were somewhat "shy" as Sarah said, and having a hard time picking up with all of the activity. 

I got in the shower while everyone was away and had a real conversation with the Lord. 

I think I've been more afraid than ready, but I'm ready now.  Please bring on my active labor.  

Upon getting out of the shower, things picked up rather quickly.  Devin and I labored together, alone, in the kitchen for quite awhile.  I sat on his lap and worked through the more regular and stronger coming contractions. 

Sarah was the first to arrive back to our house, around 11am.  She tried to check my fundal height externally, but my shy contractions got a little scared off again.  I went back to my bedroom and labored totally alone for a while as the house slowly filled up again.  Devin called the doctor at this point and when he arrived, I was very pleased to be measuring 6 cm!  Fully in established active labor.  He recommend another shower, noting my progress. 

Again, the Lord and I had a conversation. 

Lord, I've been afraid of transition.  I know you will carry me through it, though, let's pick things up a little more. 

After getting out of the shower, Sarah suggested, "Why don't you put on something a little easier, like a dress or a skirt." 

I put on an orange sun dress and then walked to the living room. 

Natalia said, "Wow.  You look beautiful." 

Everyone noted in agreement, Devin coming over to give me a kiss.  I didn't really believe them, but trusted that my hormones must be giving me a glow. 

The contractions pick up stronger and stronger.  This time, I was negatively affected by loud noises.  Aviel's playful sounds, for some reason, made it hard for me to cope.  Even at one point, I remember hearing my mom looking through the video drawer, and having to ask her to stop, though she was trying to be quiet. 

Interestingly, though, music was helpful. 

I moved to the couch and labored on my knees.  Sarah pressed my hips through the contractions while Devin helped the doctor set up.  Natalia was paying mostly english songs on the couch next to me at the time and all was peaceful.

Then there was a sudden gush as my waters broke! 

The next few contractions were a bit harder, and then I had a small pause. 

I cried the most peaceful cry.  It was as if I was releasing the hardship of the last year all to the Lord.  I gave him over the stress of the Cushing's Disease, the surgery, being so sick from the pregnancy...  doing all of this alone without family support, on the bus, feeling like I had been a horrible mom to my sweet son, who had needs I could not meet through such a long time of sickness.  I gave it to him.  I laid it at His feet. 

Then transition set it. 

It was much stronger than what I remember going through with Aviel, but I was encouraged.   Knowing that it would not last long, and I was near to the end, I oddly also remembered the story of Perpetua, a young mother who was martyred in the 3rd century AD.  I had studied her story after my surgery, and felt such inspiration in her courage.  It might sound as an strange thought to have during birth, but I trusted fully that the Lord would carry me through this work I needed to do.   

Interestingly, Natalia switched from English to Hebrew worship at that point, fully directed by her own leading of the Holy Spirit. That change brought on a strength in my spirit as well, as I remembered how much prayer had been poured in to Lydia's sweet life long before she was conceived.  Our congregation prayed us through that hard season, and I felt the power of their prayers with me. 

Sarah coached, "tell that contraction where to go." 

So I told the contraction to leave through my bottom parts and began gently pushing them out in that direction. 

Devin was in the bedroom with my doctor and has shared a few times that they could notice a change of pace even from down the hall. "Oh... She's pushing."  The doctor said. 

Them met me in the living room and asked if I wanted to stay where I was or move to the bedroom.  I honestly felt conflicted because I knew they had done so much work to get ready!  Devin and Sarah both encouraged me, that I could stay where I was if I wanted.  That's what I choose, so the men set up the plastic on the couch and Devin helped me move over a little bit. 

I felt a release from transition and started pushing harder, staying on my knees, facing leaning over the back of the couch. 

The baby was moving well, but I still found pushing to be good deal of work! 

Then....  POP! 

We didn't know what it was at the time, but it sounded like a shot gun. 

"That's just your bones and ligaments moving" Sarah comforted.

My mom had once told me she fractured her tailbone while she was pushing me out, and I suspected that I had just done the same.  Oddly, as loud as it was, it actually didn't hurt, so I pushed on. 

As the baby's head began to crown, the doctor switched places with Sarah, and helped guide her sweet head out. "Its blonde."  He said. 

I remember giving a big push and her head was born.  The doctor instructed me to pause for a moment.  At that point, I suspected that the chord might be around her neck, after having read that a small pause in pushing can allow it loosen naturally.  Sure enough that's what was going on, but it was not medical emergency whatsoever.  Just a natural process of birth.  After a moment, he freed me to push again, and Lydia passed through very easily, almost as if she fell out of my body. 

Looking at her between my knees, I pulled off my dress and laid down on the couch. They picked her up and placed her on my chest as we bonded. 

"Oh I love you so much."  I said to my beautiful girl. 

Her hair looked a bit more gingy than blonde, to me.  It was wavy but not as thick as Aviel's had been. 

She was so tiny and small and I could hardly believe she was finally in my arms. 

"Get Aviel."  I called out. 

He had so wanted to see her be born, but I just could not labor well with him around, nor was I sure he would do well to hear me working so hard at pushing. 

He was blessed to see his tiny baby sister, still connected to the chord.  That's something we had talked about during he pregnancy and he was quite interested to see it in real life. 

As it was time to birth the placenta, I asked my mom to take him in the other room again.  It was a little slow to detach and I had a little more bleeding than the doctor liked.  He gave me a pitocin shot to help the process along, and everything was fine.  Aviel emerged from the room again, this time with a plastic toy for the baby.  I suggested something softer instead.  His little hear just so wanted to welcome her with a toy, though!  It was precious! 

"Aviel, can you share the baby's name?" 

I had prepared him in advance to make the announcement, but he felt a bit shy.  Devin and I introduced her as Lydia Yael, the first time our family and friends had heard her sweet name. 

We then worked at nursing, knowing that my GD might make for some low blood sugar.  She latched on surprisingly well.

Our petite little Princess weighed in at 2.8 Kilos, or 6 lbs 6 oz. 

Devin dressed her in her first little sack, and snuggled with her while I showered off.  The entire time I was in there, I just wanted to be out holding my little baby girl.

Our doctor stayed with us for several hours, as is the normal protocol for homebirths...  just making sure everything was fine with both of us.  Lydia's sugar was a little on the low side, but nothing alarming.  A few hours after he left, we decided to check in to the hosptial just for extra care in making sure her sugar was fine.  It was a little hard for us to know for sure, so we took some precautions.   I had packed some milk that a friend had pumped for me, just in case she needed some treatment, rather than formula at the hosptial.   Once we arrived, her sugar was was totally normal, and she did not require any extra care.  A little hosptial stay for about 12 hours after a homebirth is very normal in Israel because it allows us to get our "birth grant" and accomplish paperwork a little easier.  It wasn't what I had in mind, but it had its blessings. 


In remembering Lydia's birth, I think what amazed me so greatly is how the Lord used that experience to bring a great deal of healing to what had been a hard year or two.  It was hard on our marriage, it was hard on my heart.  The way He brought the story together, and made provision for a homebirth, then the way He moved in my own heart to let go so much of what was painful from the previous season was a true gift. 

Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.  1 Timothy 2:15

Saved, here is sozo, which is a salvation that brings a healing.  While birth is an intense experience, the Lord is so present, and He will meet you with every contraction, and in every rest in between. 

For my readers, Lord, I ask that you would grant this sozo healing salvation as they bring forth new life, even as they go back and remember their own stories.  I ask that you would meet them, and show them how present you are, or were, as they birthed their children.  For all who have suffered, may they not look to this experience with fear, but with hope, that they will come forward with renewed and freed hearts, full of confidence in your ability to be powerful in their lives.  May you bless all upcoming births with peace, joy, and the freedom of surrender.  For all who have suffered, let this day be a marker that "It is finished."  May they go forth as more than conquerors.  Amen. 

Related Posts:
A Story of Grapes, Giants, and Homebirth
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Something Special (Part 3) - Aviel's Birth Story 

Friday, November 4, 2016

A Story of Grapes, Giants, and Homebirth (Part 4)

The grapes gave me hope that we were entering into the promises the Lord had for this coming birth, yet I was still waiting on Devin to have the same peace. 

That same evening, our doctor stopped by for his initial meeting with us.

He came over with a very casual, straight of the kibbutz sort of look, and he was much more quiet in his demenor than I expected.  Carly had described him as a "caring and grandfatherly" and I found that to fit. 

We started our meeting sort of getting to know each other.  He shared a little about his professional history, and why he left the hosptial to develop a homebirth practice.  Basically, it amounted to no longer wanting to practice out of fear of his patient.  The liability concerns in risk-based obstetrics led to some ethical concerns on his part, such as not desiring to implement unnecessary procedures if a mother or baby did not really need them.  Also, well studied in the physiology of birth, he believed strongly that women birth best where they feel most safe and secure, whether that's at home, a birthing center, or a hospital.  His desire was to make home a more available option for women who wanted to be home. 

He also asked us some about about why we were thinking of a homebirth. 

For me, I was coming to this decision from a positive place, rather than negative.  Aviel's hosptial birth was a great experience for me.  I did not fear the hospital or feel that I had been mistreated in anyway, although, I could not deny the reality that the two small interventions I had were based on hospital policy and not what my body actually needed to birth the baby.  My acceptance of that was simply based on fact, not on any anger or disappointment.  Also, however, I knew that I labored so well at home.  It was a loving and safe feeling environment and my labor progressed really quickly.  It all went so well, that I often wondered how it would have been to have simply stayed, rather than changing locations!  This time, I wanted to keep that same peace flowing from beginning to end, to have my team join me, rather than changing locations while my hormones were flowing, and then come under a clock again.  On top of that, I had also experienced an intense year of testing for Cushing's Disease, even a brain surgery.  I really just did not want to be in the hosptial any more! 

I was blessed that the doctor did not fear my medical history, whether after learning about my recent surgery, or the Gestational Diabetes. 

We talked through what GD meant in regards of a pregnancy and birth, particularly at home, and he looked over my sugar charts.  We decided to submit my weekly records to him and decide in a few weeks time if I seemed to be managing well enough for a birth at home. 

The doctor left, giving me a some reading from Active Birth by Janet Balaskas about the physiology of birth, and based on the reading, I did some further study on articles by Michal Odent.

I'm not sure exactly when it was that Devin got fully on board, but he did feel very comfortable with the doctor after our visit.  It was several more weeks before we would nail down a decision for sure though, as we were watching my sugar.  Eventually, the we reached a point where I knew I needed to have an official answer for the sake of my emotional and mental preparation.  The doctor felt I was managing well, so we made a commitment. 

That decision was confirmed a few days later, when a friend graciously donated to cost of our homebirth.  As we skyped, she shared, "A few weeks ago, the Lord gave us a specific amount of money to give to you for your birth.  We wanted to wait until you had decided so that it wouldn't influence your choice.  And I don't really know why it was this amount, because I know it doesn't cover the full cost, but this is what He led." 

When she told me how much they had decided to give, I was awed by God's goodness.  Around this time, I had been working on a graphic design project and decided to commit my earning to our homebirth.  The amount my friend heard to give was exactly - to the shekel - the difference we needed to cover the expense.  If she had given the full amount, I would not have seen the Lord's handiwork so clearly behind this entire decision! 


So there are grapes, and there are giants.  Next, we faced a doozy of a Goliath. 

The Ob/gyn I had been seeing through our kupat cholim (insurance clinic), had been on vacation for the last month, which spaced out my pre-natal care with him a little more than what is preferred.  During that time, I had strong reason to believe the baby was head up.  My tummy was much more uncomfortable than I remembered with Aviel.  I could feel a big bulge right under my rib cage that I thought to be her head.  Sure enough, when we had our 5 minute long appointment at 36 weeks, plus a few days, the Kupat Ob/gyn confirmed that our baby was head up, my water was low,  and he believed her to be very small for her gestational age.  He gave us a hafnaya (order) to go the emergency room at the hospital for further testing. 

While it was all a bit distressing, I had a peace because the Lord had granted me a promise from scripture during that same time. 

So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told.  Acts 27:25

I trusted that He was leading this way, and we would defeat the giants, for His glory. 

We went in the next morning for further testing.  She was measuring small, but not as small as the other doctor presumed.  Personally, I was not worried, because, well, at 5'2", I'm small!  The staff was rather discouraging about the possibility of being able to turn her, though, due to my low water levels. 

We called our homebirth doctor once we arrived home, and he was very calm about the entire situation.  He recommended that we contact a colleague who had a great record, a world record, actually,  for turning babies for a second opinion.  Meanwhile, I did spinning babies exercises, ate tortilla chips, and drank coconut water, to help increase my water levels, and get the baby moving.  I also spent a lot of time praying for her, and really believed I heard the Lord say that she had not turned because she was fearful!  I prayed against a spirit of fear, and you know what, that little girl is one brave toddler today!  She's also a bit of a gymnast who loves to do flips!  I look forward to seeing the long term fruit of those prayers in the future! 

We made an appointment for our External Cephalic Version (ECV), a few days later, since my reading suggested that it was most successful at 37 weeks, exactly where I was at the time. 

I went into the hosptial, met with the doctor, who told me "drink a lot of water and do not pee" before sending me on to an ultra sound.  The baby had moved about 45 degrees from the spinning babies exercises, but was still well breech.  My water was lower that what I read online that most doctors look for, so I fully expected him to say it wasn't even worth trying.  I was surprised, however, when he said, "Its a little low, but it either works, or it doesn't!"  He was totally willing to try. 

An ECV isn't as earthy as it might sound, someone using their hands to manually re-position your baby.  Its a full on medical intervention.  I was connected to a monitor and given a muscle relaxer.  The doctor told me I'd probably feel nervous as a side-effect.  That was an understatement.  I remember laying there overcome with fear about whether or not this was the right choice.  Devin was extremely reassuring and reminded me that some of my nervousness really was a side effect of the meds.  The doctor came in, and distracted me with conversation. 

"When did you have your appendix removed?"  he asked noticing a scar on my tummy.

"My appendix? Ohhhh.  I didn't.  I had an endoscopic transphenoidal surgery and that's where they removed that fat pad.  I had Cushing's Disease." 

"You had Cushing's disease?!"  Both him and his assistant were shocked and asked a number of questions while he went about turning my baby.  It was quite uncomfortable, but he was successfully able to get her into the correct position.  And for the first time in weeks, I could take a full breath!  It was amazing.  

I stayed in the hosptial for about an hour for observation, and was given instructions to do fetal monitoring the next day, to ensure that the baby was doing well.  At that appointment my water had greatly increased, bu I was having contractions about 10 mintues apart.   I could feel them coming.  I called our homebirth doctor and he recommended napping and calling him if they continued on.  Everything slowed down, and sweet Lydia rested peacefully in her new head down position for another two weeks.  

We faced a giant, but we feasted on grapes.  :) 

Related Posts:
A Story of Grapes, Giants, and Homebirth
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Something Special (Part 2) (Aviel's birth story)