I have been meaning to share about Josiah’s birth for a while now. The reason I have been wanting to do this is mostly because I was inspired and encouraged to try a natural(unmedicated) childbirth after reading other people’s stories. Maybe someone will read this and look into their options for childbirth, or just rejoice with us about God’s provision in Josiah’s birth.
We had taken a childbirth class from a Christian perspective called First Birth Ministries*a couple months before Josiah was born. We loved the class so much that we decided to have Sharon, the teacher of the class, be our doula for Josiah’s birth. She is a wonderful God-fearing woman who has helped many women through the birthing process for over ten years. We absolutely love her ministry and are so thankful the Lord put her in our path.
Anyway, the night before Josiah was born, Dirk and I worked cleaning and getting baby stuff from our recent showerput away because his dad and stepmom were coming to visit us the next day. I didnt realize that I might have been ‘nesting’. In fact, my body was giving me all kinds of signs that I was ready to go into labor, but I think I missed every single one of them! So the next morning, Saturday March 31 I woke up at 5 am needing to go to the bathroom. I went and realized that what had really happend was that my water had broken! I called to Dirk to tell him, and in his sleep stupor he thought I meant the water pipes had broken and that we would need to call the plumber. When I started talking about calling the midwives and heading to the hospital, he shot out of bed. We were instructed to call the midwives when my water broke since I was Strep B positive, I would have to come to the hospital and begin antibiotics. We called and spoke to some very sleepy women who told us to head up to St. Lukes.
It was strange. For most women, the water breaking is near then end of labor, not at the start. If I had begun to have contractions first, we would have stayed at home as long as possible. Sharon would have come to us and driven with us to the hospital when I was closer to giving birth. But since my water broke first, I had to come in to have antibiotics administered to me to protect Josiah from the strep.
We arrived at the hospital around 6:30(why so long, you ask? Dirk hadn’t packed his bags yet, and it was hard for both of us to think straight with so much excitement) When I got settled in my room it was about 7 am. They started me on an IV and we just had to wait for out midwife to arrive. I had only begun to feel light contractions–more like cramps–on the way to the hospital, and they were very irregular. The midwife finally arrived around 9:30 or 10 and allowed me to be unhooked from the monitors to walk the halls. I began to have what felt like very strong contractions and I would stop and to hang on to Dirk until they were over. They came very close together, so I was excited that possibly I would have a short labor! When our midwife, Theodora, checked me, I was only at 1 cm! I was beginning to be fearful that if this was what 1 cm felt like, I couldnt imagine what 8cm would be! Sharon arrived and encouraged me to begin some positions that would help Josiah along. I leaned on Dirk and swayed, sat on a birthing ball, walked around, and all sorts of other things. It was really fun during this time to receive family members that came to visit. Two of my neices were waiting in the family waiting room and we were able to go and visit them–what a treat!
A contraction is a very interesting sensation. They came and whatever I was doing I would stop, relax, and breathe. It probably was strange to watch, but it was the best way to cope. In class, Sharon described it as waves. That you shouldn’t fight the waves, but let them flow over you. That was a great way to understand it, because that was exactly how I experienced it. The other great thing about contractions, Sharon also reminded us, was that they all have an end. Contractions dont last much more than a couple minutes, and in between the Lord gives you rest. He allows you to relax and be refreshed.
When I started the next stage of labor, the contractions became much steadier and stronger. Family that came in to say hello did not stay long as Theodora wanted me to be able to concentrate. I was able to take a shower with Dirk spraying my back with warm water to relax me. I became very sluggish and Theodora said some of that was fatigue, but it also was my natural endorphins kicking in as the contractions became stronger. It was like I was literally drugged by my body, allowing me to relax. At 2 o’clock, I was at 4 cm, and at 4 o’clock I was at 8! I have to attribute that to sitting on the birthing call (yoga ball, pilates ball–whatever they are) because I would rotate on that and every few minutes or so, I would feel a sharp sensation of a feeling that made me jump. Sharon told me that was most likely Josiah dropping further down. I was getting very encouraged as the nurse(who was great, by the way) wheeled in the delivery cart with all its special implements. When I was checked at 9 cm, Theodora checked Josiah and he was turned on his side! In order to get him to rotate back I had to lay on my side, and get up and lay over the back of the bed to help shift him back. He turned and we celebrated, and then he turned back again. It was very frustrating because my body was ready to push! It is amazing how the Lord has made the female body to push out babies–it would have–and tried to–push him out without me! As my body began to tense up and push, Theodora and Sharon told me NOT to push, and to wait until he had turned. in the meantime, they had me grunt–it sounds weird, I know–and it really helped cope. Once Sharon had me cough, and even that felt like he was being pushed.
A lot of people have asked me why my mom was not present at Josiah’s birth. She was right down the hall, but I guess it is common for her to be right there in the room. Neither of my sisters have had anyone present except their husbands, so I never saw it as necessary. I’m sure they have great reasons, and ours was that Josiah’s birth was a sacred event and since no one but us is responsible and will be held accountable for his guidance and upbringing, we were the only ones present. It was special for us. Also, since we had decided we really wanted a natural childbirth, we didnt want to worry about anyone stressing out about my comfort or pain.
When it was finally time to push, I was so thankful. Sharon and Dirk held my legs and I probably pushed no more than 20 minutes. The midwife reassured us between pushes that my some women were just made to push out babies, and I was one of those women. For once ‘childbearing hips’ was a compliment! When we started pushing, Josiah was already at a 2 station, which meant he was in a good position to come out. I did a little hysterical screaming, but it was a relief! The midwife had Dirk come around to catch Josiah as he came out and they immediately placed him on my stomach. I think officially the time was 5:18pm. It was so amazing to see this little baby that had been growing for the past 9 months! I had a few stitches to be made, and while the midwife did that Dirk was holding Josiah and walking him around. Sharon went out and told my family that he was here and they begged her for details. Since he hadn’t actually been weighed or measured, she just told them that they would have to find out from us. He ended up being 7lbs 9oz, and 19.5 inches long.
I think part of the reason that I wanted to give birth naturally is that I had heard of this huge high that you get after its over. I’ve heard you feel great and you are chatty and can even walk yourself to the bathroom–they’re not lying! I felt amazing afterwards. They brought me a hot meal and Dirk’s dad and stepmom and my parents were able to come and visit before I went to my recovery room. I felt like I had downed several espresso shots at once. I was positively giddy.
I cannot express fully with words my gratitude to the Lord for his kindness towards us. We had hoped and prayed for a natural birth, and even though we were not promised that, He was kind to us in answering our prayer. I am tearing up as I type this thinking of all the compassionate, supportive people that were there for us. The nurses–ah, the nurses–they are amazing at St. Lukes. They were so gentle and ever-present. Our midwife from the Women’s Specialists of Houston was so so so wonderful. She said exactly what we needed to hear and was incredibly attentive. Our doula Sharon was amazing in helping us, her experience and presence really helped us to remember what we had learned in our classes.
And since I’m writing this, I want to say how amazing and helpful Dirk was. He was so incredibly loving, supportive and present. That probably sounds like a weird adjective to use, but honestly, I needed his support most of all. He held my hand probably 12 hours straight. It really was our labor, not just my labor. There were a few times Dirk had to run to the bathroom or get something to drink–and those times it felt too long that he was gone. I really thought that I would get annoyed at him for prodding me along, or holding me(you know, like you see in movies) but he was absolutely essential! I needed his support and I treasured his help.
*I would also like to take a moment to give a plug for First Birth Ministries. The ministry offers a seven-week course that educates couples about the process of childbirth in order to be informed about all options. I appreciate that Sharon’s goal in the class is to help couples to honor the Lord in the birth of their children, and to help women from making decisions about the birth of their children out of fear. The more educated you can be about the birthing process, the more likely you will not make choices motivated from fear of the unknown. Whether you are considering going natural, or would prefer an epidural, I cannot recommend this class enough. Sharon is someone that I could talk to for hours–and indeed we have! She is a wealth of knowledge and experience.
We are so thankful for our whole experience! It was amazing and powerful, and wonderful. There is so much more I can and want to say, but since this has gone on long enough, I’ll stop here. We love our little Josiah and we cannot cease thanking the Lord for him and His help!